- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 8, 2003

Denouncing Jiang

A former U.S. ambassador who founded a human rights group to support Chinese dissidents is calling on President Bush to denounce former Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin.

Mark Palmer is one of the founders of the Friends of Falun Gong USA. Falun Gong practitioners in China face severe repression for belonging to what the Chinese government calls a dangerous sect that threatens the regime.

“Our problem is not with China or even the government of China,” Mr. Palmer said in a statement released by his organization. “Our problem is with Jiang Zemin and those around him.”

Mr. Palmer, ambassador to Hungary from 1986 to 1990, criticized Mr. Jiang for establishing the Falun Gong Control Office, which he said is used to persecute and torture members of the exercise group in China.

He urged Mr. Bush to “focus attention and actions on those directly responsible for the continuing violations of human rights” in his dealings with Chinese leaders.

Mr. Palmer said denouncing Mr. Jiang would also help Chinese officials who want an “honest, accountable system” dedicated to the rule of law, “not the communist bosses.”

Envoy leaving Bahamas

Richard Blankenship is planning to resign as U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas, after a two-year tour focused on stopping drug smuggling.

Mr. Blankenship, a political appointee, said he will leave July 18 to return to his family business in Florida and work for President Bush’s re-election.

The ambassador was both praised and criticized for his candor in pressing the Bahamian government to take tougher measures against drug traffickers.

“Joint drug seizures are at an all-time high, as are arrests of suspected major drug dealers and pending extradition requests,” the U.S. Embassy said in a statement released in Nassau.

“Due to his personal interventions, there are increased U.S. resources being devoted to this effort in the Windward Passage, and discussions are under way on how the U.S. government can help the Bahamian government with the burdensome costs of repatriation [of illegal immigrants].”

The Windward Passage, which runs between Cuba and Haiti, is a popular route for drug smugglers.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Borut Pahor, president of the Slovenian National Assembly. He is accompanied by Rudolf Petan, chairman of the assembly’s defense committee, and Jelko Kacin, chairman of the foreign policy committee. They meet Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, other members of Congress and members of the administration.

• L.K. Advani, India’s deputy prime minister. He meets Attorney General John Ashcroft, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Tomorrow he meets Vice President Dick Cheney and holds a 3 p.m. news conference at the Indian Embassy.

• Azim Surani of Cambridge University and Martin Raff of University College London. They participate in a meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

• Benedicte Suzan of the European Parliament, and Xavier Greff and Patrick Juillard of the University of Paris. They discuss U.S.-French relations at a forum sponsored by Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies.

Tomorrow

• Thaksin Shinawatra, prime minister of Thailand, who delivers the keynote address at a dinner organized by the business council of the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Thursday

• Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, who meets Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to discuss Middle East and trans-Atlantic relations.

• Arun Jaitley, India’s minister of commerce and industry and minister of law and justice. He addresses the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

• Vivian Moses of King’s College, London; Doug Powell of the University of Guelph, Ontario; and Javier Verastegui of CamBio Tec-Canada. They participate in a conference on biotechnology organized by the American Enterprise Institute.

• Twelve German mayors and county commissioners, who hold a 10 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club to discuss U.S.-German relations.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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