- The Washington Times - Monday, October 16, 2000

Embassies to reopen

U.S. embassies in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia were due to reopen today after being shut down Friday out of fear of anti-American violence, stemming from the suspected terrorist attack in Yemen and continued fighting between Israelis and Palestinians.

State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said diplomatic missions in 22 countries were affected by the order. He noted that many U.S. embassies in Arab countries maintain a Sunday-through-Thursday schedule and are normally closed on Friday for the weekly Muslim holy day.

"In light of the worldwide caution and in response to developments in Yemen and Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, the Department of State has directed heads of mission in the Near Eastern region and a number of South Asian and African posts to close public operations at embassies and consulates," Mr. Reeker said Friday.

The announcement followed the suspected terrorist attack on the USS Cole, a Navy destroyer refueling in the harbor at Aden, Yemen.

The State Department closed the embassies in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Other missions were closed in Djibouti, Kenya, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Tanzania.

The embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were attacked by car bombs in 1998, killing more than 220 people and injuring thousands of others.

The State Department also shut diplomatic missions in Pakistan because of its proximity to Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding. The United States suspects he was the mastermind behind the African embassy bombings.

Mexican visit

Mexico City Mayor Rosario Robles called July's Mexican presidential election a "historic moment" for a country that was ruled by one political party for seven decades.

The election of Vicente Fox toppled the Institutional Revolutionary Party from a position it held since 1929.

"Mexico today is at an historic moment, a moment of unprecedented events, uncertainty and a myriad of expectations," she said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on a visit to Washington last week.

"Without a doubt, the elections on July 2 represented definite progress toward electoral democracy. This evaluation is based not so much on the results of the vote, as on the process itself."

She noted that Mr. Fox is facing a tremendous challenge.

"Mexico has an enormous quantity of backlogged social demands in areas that are fundamental to human development health, employment and [civil] rights," she said.

"The solutions depend not on what happened on July 2, but on the specific plan of government, complete with difficult choices, concrete policies and strategies for implementation that will govern the country the next six years."

Mission to Haiti

The Organization of American States has dispatched a delegation to Haiti to try to promote stability in a country prone to political violence.

Assistant Secretary-General Luigi Einaudi, who is leading the mission, noted the importance of the OAS effort before he left last week.

"The OAS is in the forefront of international efforts to help Haiti, and a great deal is riding on our efforts," said Mr. Einaudi, a former U.S. ambassador to the organization.

He returned from Haiti last month after failing to persuade political parties to reach an accord on the conduct of new elections.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Sheik Hasina Wajed, prime minister of Bangladesh, who will meet with senior officials during a visit this week. She holds a news conference at the National Press Club at 3:40 p.m. on Wednesday.

• Martii Ahtisaari, former president of Finland, who discusses trans-Atlantic relations with invited guests at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide