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Embassy Row

- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2008

MERIDA MONEY

The Mexican ambassador is urging Congress to approve a $1.4 billion anti-crime package to attack the drug cartels that have made the U.S.-Mexico border one of the most dangerous in the world.

Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan praisedPresident Bush andMexican President Felipe Calderon for crafting the Merida Initiative last year. He said the package that would provide training and equipment to Mexico to fight organized crime represents a "positive sea-change" in U.S.-Mexico relations.

"Mexico's historic suspicion and resentment of its larger, richer neighbor [the United States] has long prevented closer ties that would benefit both sides," the ambassador wrote in the monthly e-mail newsletter Mexico Dispatch.

"Today Mexico confronts an unprecedented challenge to its public security, to its institution and to the well-being of its citizens, as organized crime lashes out against President Calderon's offensive to break them."

The initiative has critics on both sides of the border. In Mexico, some observers complain the United States does too little to crack down on the demand for illegal drugs. Some U.S. analysts are suspicious of sending so much money to a government widely noted for it corruption.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Monday

*A delegation of professors from the International Islamic University of Malaysia with Dean Ibrahim M. Zeinof the International Institute of Islamic Thought & Civilization; Abdullah al-Ahsanof the Department of History and Civilization; and Muhammad Arif Zakaullah of the Department of Economics and Management Sciences. They discuss how the Koran influences government in a panel discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

*Yves Poulin, director of international cooperation at Quebec's National School of Public Administration, who addresses the Hudson Institute on Canada's effort to train Haiti's civil servants.

*Andrea Renda, a senior research fellow at Belgium's Center for European Policy Studies, who discusses international broadband policy in a forum organized by the Technology Policy Institute.

*Phil Goff, New Zealand's minister of trade and defense, who discusses challenges and opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region at a luncheon meeting of the Peterson Institute.

Tuesday

*Gareth Penny of South Africa, managing director of the international diamond cartel De Beers, who joins a panel discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations about development in Africa.

*Michele Montas, a former Haitian journalist and now spokeswoman for U.N.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, andMichele Duvivier Pierre-Louis, executive director of Haiti's Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty, who speak at the Library of Congress.

*Gerhard Mangottof Austria's University of Innsbruck;Panagiota Manoli of the International Center for Black Sea Studies in Athens;Rasa Ostrauskaite of the Council of the European Union; Alexandros Petersen of the Caspian Europe Center in Brussels; and John Robertsof the London office of Platts, an international energy information firm. They participate in a panel discussion at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Wednesday

*Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations and now chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. Mr. Annan andJohn J. Danilovich, chief executive officer of the Millennium Challenge Corp., announce a plan to aid African agriculture.

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