- The Washington Times - Monday, June 28, 2004

Africa trade renewed

African ambassadors praised the congressional approval of a bill to renew an African trade bill that they said will save more than 200,000 jobs.

“They care about Africa and also about the hundreds of thousands of lives that would have been devastated [if the bill had failed],” Ugandan Ambassador Edith Ssempala told reporters last week.

The Senate on Thursday approved a House-passed bill to renew key provisions of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.

The bill extends the right of companies in sub-Saharan Africa to make clothes from fabrics from another country and ship them duty-free to the United States. The so-called “third-country” provision was set to expire in September.

The bill also encourages long-term U.S. investment in Africa by extending trade benefits that were set to expire in 2008. The benefits will not expire until 2015.

Bernadette Paolo of the National Summit on Africa joined Mrs. Ssempala to applaud the congressional action.

“Nearly 200,000 people can sleep better tonight knowing they have a job tomorrow,” she said at the Friday press conference.

The White House last week said President Bush will sign the bill.

Pressure on Nigeria

The United States is pressuring Nigeria to revoke an asylum pledge and hand over former Liberian President Charles Taylor to a special U.N. war-crimes tribunal.

“Taylor must be brought to justice. That is why we are in dialogue with Nigeria on how that can be brought about,” said John Campbell, the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria.

Nigeria last year offered Mr. Taylor political asylum as part of an international deal to end a civil war in Liberia. The tribunal has indicted Mr. Taylor on 17 counts of war crimes for his support of brutal rebels In Sierra Leone, a neighboring West African nation where 50,000 people died in a 10-year-long war.

Faithful in Romania

Romania has honored U.S. Ambassador Michael Guest with one of its highest awards for civic service.

President Ion Iliescu bestowed upon him the Order of Faithful Service in rank of Grand Cross in appreciation for his “high professionalism, dedication to his mission and affection for the Romanian people,” the Romanian Embassy said.

“He is one of the diplomats who traveled up and down the country and made an effort to learn Romanian. He can be proud of his contribution to the Romanian-American partnership,” Mr. Iliescu said of the ambassador.

Mr. Guest, a career diplomat, is set to end his tour in Romania next month after three years there.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• A delegation from Colombia with Sen. Rafael Pardo; Rep. Rocio Aria Hoyos;Carlos Franco of the Vice Presidential Office on Human Rights; Gustavo Villegas, a representative of the mayor of Medellin; and Daniel Garcia Pena, director of Planeta Paz. They brief invited guests of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on the peace process in Colombia.

Tomorrow

Chee Soon Juan, secretary-general of Singapore’s Democratic Party, who addresses invited guests at the New America Foundation in a forum, “Singapore: Asia’s Standard-bearer for Authoritarianism?”

Wednesday

Ivonne A-Baki, Ecuador’s minister of international trade, industry and competitiveness and a former ambassador to the United States. She holds a 3 p.m. press conference at the National Press Club.

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

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