- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2000

Condemning Castro

With the Elian Gonzalez saga on center stage, a Cuban-born member of Congress is marshaling the Washington diplomatic corps to condemn Fidel Castro.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has invited ambassadors and diplomats from 15 countries to meet with her tomorrow to build support for a proposed U.N. resolution denouncing the Cuban dictator for human rights abuses. The resolution is expected to be considered by the U.N. Human Rights Commission at a meeting in Geneva later this month.
"For over three decades, the Castro regime has been flagrantly violating the basic natural rights of its citizens, using oppressive tactics to maintain its power," the Florida Republican said in a statement yesterday.
"It has betrayed the very essence, principles and provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Cuba is a signatory.
"The democratic and free countries which are part of the commission must proceed with conviction and determination. The Cuban people need them to stand firm against the heinous acts committed by the Castro regime.
"It is imperative for these nations to send an unequivocal message to the Castro regime that it must improve its dismal human rights record and abide by international human rights and moral standards."
Ambassadors or lower-ranking diplomats from Argentina, Brazil, Britain, Chile, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Poland and Spain are expected to attend the meeting in her congressional office.
A spokesman for the Cuban Interests Section could not be reached for comment on Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen because he was dealing with the press over Cuba's demand for the return of the 6-year-old Cuban boy.

Remembering the war

U.S. Ambassador to Britain Philip Lader has drafted Tom Hanks, star of the film "Saving Private Ryan," to judge a teen-age essay contest on the British-American alliance in World War II.
Mr. Lader's plan is to instill in a new generation an appreciation for the hardship and heroism of those who lived through the 1939-45 war.
The ambassador also recruited former Sen. Bob Dole, who was severely wounded in the war, and British broadcaster Sir David Frost to serve on the panel that will meet in September to review the essays.
The contest is open to British schoolchildren from 14 to 16 years old, who must write a 1,000-word paper on the impact of the Anglo-American alliance on families and the two nations.
"The contest aims to honor the generation that won the Second World War by encouraging young people to reflect upon those heroic achievements and the impact of the alliance of our two nations on history," the U.S. Embassy said.
Mr. Lader created the contest after he began to realize how little children knew of the U.S.-British cooperation.
"As the first American ambassador to the United Kingdom born after the Second World War, I believe that it is important that we work hard to keep these memories alive," he said.

Change of plans

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright has decided to visit Ukraine ahead of her planned trip to Central Asia in order to return to Washington in time for a meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Mrs. Albright had intended to stop in Ukraine after her tour of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. She also shortened the planned two-day visit to Ukraine to one day on April 20.
She will meet Ukrainian leaders to discuss plans to accelerate free-market reforms to help the country move more quickly into an economic alliance with Western Europe.
"She will underscore the United States' strong support for the ambitious reform agenda being undertaken by President [Leonid] Kuchma and Prime Minister [Viktor] Yushhenko," said spokesman James P. Rubin.
Mrs. Albright is due to arrive in Ukraine on Friday and begin her Central Asian tour the next day.
She will return to Washington in time to meet Mr. Arafat, who arrives here April 20.

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