- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 8, 2000

Uganda's 'arrogance'

Congo Ambassador Faida Mititu has denounced the "arrogance" of Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, who has said Uganda's intervention in Congo's civil war is good for business.

Ugandan Ambassador Edith Ssempala, however, said the envoy from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) is distorting the words of her president, who called for stability and prosperity in the region.

"It is a diversion and out of context," Mrs. Ssempala told Embassy Row yesterday.

The BBC World Service last week quoted Mr. Museveni as saying that his support for a rebel faction trying to overthrow Congo President Laurent Kabila "must be helping the economy," Mrs. Mititu said in a statement.

"The Ugandan president's comments reflect a remarkable arrogance and complete disdain for international law," she said.

"No reason, economic or otherwise, can justify the illegal invasion and occupation of a neighboring country."

Mrs. Mititu said Mr. Museveni's comment exposes the real reason Uganda intervened in the war.

"The statement dispels the notion that Uganda's occupation is based solely on security concerns as [it has] argued," she said. "While average people are suffering severe economic hardship, the war is profiting an elite group of Ugandan businessmen and generals.

"In addition to acquiring new markets by force, their armies are stealing the Congo's diamonds, gold and coffee."

Mrs. Mititu denounced Mr. Museveni's comment as "particularly abhorrent considering the revelation of large-scale massacres taking place in Ugandan-held territory."

"These massacres are the direct result of Uganda's policies and actions to control the region," she said. "Since August 1998, millions of innocent Congolese citizens have incurred ongoing abuses and atrocities in these areas. This will continue until Uganda and all other hostile forces leave the Congo."

The Ugandan ambassador disputed all of the claims of her Congolese colleague.

"President Museveni's comments must be put in the proper context," Mrs. Ssempala said. "He was saying that when there is stability, business prospers. He was not talking about the conflict… . Stability creates prosperity. That is what he was talking about."

She said her country is involved in Congo because of the instability created by Mr. Kabila's government.

"Basically our intention is to protect ourselves from instability and terrorism from Congo," she said.

Problems with India

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright yesterday said the United States still has problems with India, even though President Clinton is planning to visit the world's largest democracy.

"The trip is one that will be important, but it is not just a sign that everything has been dealt with and all the problems have been resolved," Mrs. Albright told reporters in Washington.

She cited India's conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir and testing of nuclear weapons.

"The United States has made quite clear that having a relationship with the world's largest democracy is important," Mrs. Albright said.

"But obviously we continue to have very serious concerns about the issues of nonproliferation and about the dealings on Kashmir and hope very much that the Indian government understands and will continue to deal with those issues because they are essential."

Mrs. Clinton plans a five-day visit to India beginning March 20 and a daylong visit to Bangladesh. So far he has not included Pakistan, where a military government came to power last year.

Spain's king to visit

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain plan a state visit to Washington Feb. 23.

His meeting with President Clinton "will reaffirm the strong and warm relationship between our two countries and the two leaders," said White House spokesman Joe Lockhart, who announced the visit last week.

This will be the king's eighth trip to the United States.

This visit was originally planned last year but canceled because of threats of protests by anti-Castro demonstrators who were angered at the king's plan to travel to Havana for an Ibero-American summit after his Washington visit.

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