- The Washington Times - Monday, February 28, 2000

Up from Peru

Here's a bit of diplomatic diversity: A Japanese Embassy official from Peru comes to Washington to talk about the Peruvian presidential election and discusses his weeklong visit with reporters at a restaurant named America.
Masahiro Takagi, who arrived in Peru in 1997 just after the rebel takeover of the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima, is now the embassy's political officer and is closely tracking the campaign for the April 9 presidential and congressional elections.
He said public opinion polls show President Alberto Fujimori, a Peruvian of Japanese descent, is highly favored to win a third term.
"The issue is whether people want to keep stability in Peru and strong anti-terrorism policies or change to a softer government," Mr. Takagi said Friday.
Mr. Fujimori, who ended the four-month siege by ordering a police commando raid, is popular among the "masses of people … who want a better standard of living," Mr. Takagi said.
Peru's intelligencia its "high society," as Mr. Takagi put it views the president as an authoritarian ruler and favors the two leading opposition parties.
However, Mr. Fujimori of the Peru 2000 Party polls more than twice as high, at 40 percent, as the combined total of his two closest opponents, Lima Mayor Alberto Andrade of the We Are Peru Party and Luis Castaneda of the National Solidarity Party.
While Mr. Fujimori is expected to win a third term, his party could lose its majority in the Peruvian Congress, Mr. Takagi said.
"We are not sure what is going to happen," he said.
Mr. Takagi said Tokyo strongly supports Mr. Fujimori.
"Fujimori's policies are very good for stability in the region," he said.
In Washington, Mr. Takagi met with State Department officials, the National Democratic Institute and Human Rights Watch, which is critical of Mr. Fujimori.

'Train is waiting'

Nicaraguan Ambassador Francisco Aguirre Sacasa is warning Nicaraguans living illegally in the United States that the deadline is near for them to apply for an amnesty program that will allow them to stay here.
"Nicaraguans are realizing that the train is waiting, that it's boarding passengers, and that it's about to leave," Mr. Aguirre Sacasa told reporters last week.
He said the embassy has been running a promotional campaign to explain the benefits of the law and about 43,000 Nicaraguans have registered.
March 31 is the deadline for the Nicaraguans to apply for legal residency under a 1997 law aimed primarily at helping those who fled the Marxist Sandinista government in the 1980s. If they fail to register for the program, they could face deportation.
Critics of the law have complained it places tougher requirements on illegal immigrants from other Central American nations, such as El Salvador and Guatemala, who suffered from civil war.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
* Former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard, co-chairman of the Eminent Persons Group on the proliferation of small arms. He holds a 9 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club.
* Serbian Orthodox Bishop Artemije and Raska Andrzej Mirga, co-chairman of the Council of Europe Specialists Group on Gypsies. They participate in a 2 p.m. discussion on Kosovo, sponsored by the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe in Room B-318 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
* Three former prime ministers Toshiki Kaifu of Japan, Hanna Suchocka of Poland and Abdul Salam Majali of Jordan. They will receive the Distinguished International Visitor Alumnus Award in a State Department ceremony. They also participate in a panel for invited guests at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
* Former Iraqi Oil Minister Isam Chalabi, who participates in a panel discussion with invited guests of the Middle East Institute.
* Ying-Mao Kau of the 21st Century Foundation of Taiwan, who participates in a panel discussion on Taiwan's presidential election with invited guests at the American Enterprise Institute.

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