- The Washington Times - Friday, November 11, 2005

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Yomiuri Shimbun

Leprosy compensation

TOKYO — Measures should be taken as soon as possible to aid former leprosy sufferers in South Korea and Taiwan who were segregated in leprosariums during Japan’s colonial rule of the regions.

The government has said it will consider a comprehensive relief package for these former leprosy sufferers. It intends to seek a court-mediated settlement with the South Korean and Taiwanese plaintiffs.

An important task facing the government is to ensure the South Korean and Taiwanese plaintiffs do not feel they are being treated less well than former Japanese sufferers in terms of what classes of sufferers will be compensated and how much they should receive.

Financial Times

Summit of the Americas

LONDON — The Summit of the Americas is supposed to reinforce the hemisphere’s commitments to democracy and open markets. It is an opportunity for leaders from north and south to work out common ways of fostering development and prosperity. When the first summit was held 11 years ago, it took place amid hopes of economic convergence.

Sadly, last weekend’s meeting in the Argentine seaside resort of Mar del Plata provided a stark contrast. It served only to highlight discord and disunity, leaving the U.S., Mexico, Central America, Colombia and Chile in one camp and Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela in the other. This division reflected new, more sober realities that must be taken into account in fashioning U.S. policies in the region.

The contentious issue was the formation of a free-trade zone stretching from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego — the Free Trade Area of the Americas, originally launched in 1994. All but five of the 34 countries signed a clause in a declaration agreeing that talks on the matter should continue next year. But three of the biggest economies — Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela — refused to do so. The time spent on the negotiations and the acrimony of the exchanges meant there was little time to consider more important issues.

The sad thing about the division is that it could have been at least contained. Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s radical president, arrived at the summit determined to “bury” an agreement he sees as characterizing the worst excesses of “neo-liberalism.” Yet U.S. negotiators pressed countries to accept a deadline for resuming talks on an accord that had been on the back burner for at least two years.

Without any possibility of winning access to the U.S. market for their agricultural products, Brazil and Argentina in particular — the region’s most efficient farming nations — were understandably reluctant to sign up to precise deadlines. Moreover, President Bush has repeatedly recognized that freer trade in agricultural products is itself dependent on the progress of the world trade talks that resume next month in Hong Kong.

Cape Times

Blair’s blunder

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — The [British] prime minister’s judgment is in question. While David Blunkett was undoubtedly an impressive politician, it was wrong to bring him back into the government so quickly; it was right for him to resign; and it was wrong of Tony Blair to say he need not have resigned because he had done nothing seriously wrong.

Mr. Blair on Wednesday sought to deflect criticism of Mr. Blunkett’s judgment, and of his own judgment in supporting him, by saying the media “frenzy” made it impossible for the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions “to do that job properly.” But any suggestion by Mr. Blair that the Independent on Sunday’s report last week that Mr. Blunkett had broken the Ministerial Code was part of such a “frenzy” is unworthy.

The report was sober and factual. Former ministers are required by the code to seek the advice of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments before taking up paid jobs within two years of leaving office. They are not required to take the advice, but they are required to seek it. Mr. Blunkett did not. This seemed a sufficiently important issue to lead our front page.

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