- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2000

Smith frustrates British

The British Embassy is fuming over remarks by a member of Congress who is questioning the British investigation into the murders of two civil rights lawyers in Northern Ireland.
Publicly, the embassy will say only that it is "aware" of the views expressed last week by New Jersey Republican Christopher H. Smith, chairman of the congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Privately, however, the embassy is frustrated by Mr. Smith's remarks because British officials have talked to him in the past about the cases of Patrick Finucane, killed in 1989, and Rosemary Nelson, killed last year.
Both lawyers had represented clients with cases against the Northern Irish police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
Mr. Smith, after hearing testimony from Mr. Finucane's widow and Miss Nelson's brother last week, met privately on St. Patrick's Day with Peter Mandelson, Britain's secretary of state for Northern Ireland, who was visiting Washington.
Mr. Smith, in a statement, said he told Mr. Mandelson that the survivors of the two slain lawyers "have provided compelling testimony to Congress, which raises serious questions about state collusion and possibly even [a] coverup" of wrongdoing in the RUC.
"Justice will only be achieved when there are public, judicial inquiries into these murders. Without justice, it is very difficult to hold a peace."
The embassy said arrests have been made in both cases, however investigations are continuing.
"We are aware of Mr. Smith's views on Northern Ireland, and, following recent events, the more general concern in the United States into policing standards," said embassy spokesman Peter Reid.
U.S. police tactics have come under intense scrutiny since the fatal police shooting of Amadou Diallo in New York. Four New York policemen were acquitted in the case.
Mr. Reid also said the British government will be in a "better position to know what other actions will be needed after criminal investigations are finished."
Mr. Smith told Mr. Mandelson that he was impatient with the British government's response in the two killings.
"The two previous investigations into Mr. Finucane's murder were never published, and witnesses in the Rosemary Nelson murder investigation refuse to give testimony because of fear of retribution from the RUC," Mr. Smith said.
"In each case, your police investigations have been more successful in raising suspicions about state collusion than in tracking down murders."

Ecuador's view

Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Heinz Moeller will hold a 9 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club today to discuss his country's political and economic conditions and U.S.-Ecuadoran relations.

More NATO expansion

The United States yesterday repeated its hope that Russia will eventually drop its opposition to the further expansion of NATO.
"There is no country that has a veto over the membership of one country into an alliance," said Walter Andrusyszyn, acting deputy assistant secretary of state for European affairs.
Mr. Andrusyszyn, addressing reporters at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, told a Latvian journalist that the United States supports NATO membership for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
"We want to be at the side of the three Baltic states and help them to get ready for entering through the door of NATO membership some time in the future," he said.
Ronald Asmus, former deputy assistant for European affairs, urged Russia to accept NATO expansion as an element of stability.
"NATO enlargement is going to occur again, and we are going to try to enlarge in a fashion that projects stability to the region," Mr. Asmus said.
"And we would urge Russia not to set artificial benchmarks or standards or problems.
Mr. Asmus said the inclusion of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic last year helped ensure "stability and security throughout Europe."
"And we hope that the Russians, over time, will gradually come around and realize that as well," he said.

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