- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2000

Emphasizing Pakistan

Pakistani Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi is trying to underscore the importance of her country's relationship with the United States as Washington prepares for a high-profile visit by the prime minister of India, Pakistan's regional rival.

"In our bilateral relationship, we need to evolve common approaches to the broad goals that the two countries share: promoting peace and security in South Asia; averting a nuclear and conventional arms race in the region; and fostering peace and stability in Afghanistan," she said in a recent speech.

Miss Lodhi also criticized India's control over part of the disputed Kashmir region and called on India to demonstrate its commitment to controlling the spread of nuclear weapons.

India and Pakistan exploded nuclear devices two years ago, raising fears of another confrontation between the two countries that have fought three wars against each other.

Miss Lodhi, addressing Pakistani-Americans on a visit to Atlanta last month, said, "It must be realized that violence in Kashmir will end only once India agrees to desist from its brutal repression of the Kashmiri people. A Kashmir solution, as the U.S. itself proclaims, must be in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people."

She praised Pakistani-Americans for their "positive contribution to American society" and called them a "vital resource" for Pakistan.

"Your success is our success," she said.

Miss Lodhi called on Pakistani-Americans to "contribute to Pakistan's national renewal, foster understanding and harmony … and promote and strengthen U.S.-Pakistani relations."

"Our national goals are clear, namely, economic revival, national renewal, institutional rebuilding and political stability," she said.

Pakistan has been struggling to recover from a military coup last year that deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and installed Gen. Pervez Musharraf as "chief executive."

Sharif, widely accused of corruption, was convicted in April of hijacking and terrorism, stemming from accusations that he tried to prevent a commercial airliner carrying Gen. Musharraf from landing in Pakistan on the day of the Oct. 12 coup.

President Clinton devoted only a day trip to Pakistan on his five-day visit to India in March. The reciprocal visit to Washington next week by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will showcase the depth of the new relations between India and the United States.

Mr. Vajpayee will meet with Mr. Clinton and address a joint session of Congress on Sept. 14.

Mr. Vajpayee and Gen. Musharraf are in New York this week for the U.N. Millennium Summit, but the Pakistani leader will not visit Washington.

Focus on terrorism

A Greek government official due here tomorrow plans to focus on new efforts to fight terrorism, an issue that has haunted Greek-U.S. relations.

Michalis Chryssohoidis, the minister of public order, will sign a cooperation agreement with Attorney General Janet Reno on Friday that will commit both countries to closer cooperation in crime fighting, including the use of U.S. laboratories to test evidence in certain crimes committed in Greece.

He is also due to hold talks with FBI director Louis J. Freeh, CIA Director George Tenet and other senior officials.

In Athens, U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns told reporters, "The fight against terrorism will be high on the agenda."

The United States has been critical of Greece's failure to arrest any member of the November 17 terrorist group. The government holds them responsible for 20 assassinations, including four Americans, and more than 40 bomb attacks since 1975. November 17 terrorists killed Brig. Stephen Saunders, British defense attache, in June.

"The assassination of Saunders by the November 17 terrorist group … has further strengthened the Greek government's determination to combat the scourge of terrorism in cooperation with the United States, Britain and other countries," the embassy said in a statement yesterday.

Greece is offering a reward of $4.2 million for information leading to the arrest of November 17 members and the "dismantling of the elusive group," the embassy said.

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