- The Washington Times - Friday, January 7, 2000

More aid needed

Venezuelan Ambassador Alfredo Toro-Hardy Thursday sent a New Year's message to the thousands of Americans who donated time and supplies to help the victims of the Dec. 15 mudslides.
The message was direct: Venezuela is grateful for the aid but needs much more.
It mostly needs cash donations to help purchase the medicine and construction equipment to rebuild the devastated areas and relocate the homeless to safer grounds.
"We are very grateful for all the contributions from the American government, corporate America and U.S. citizens," Mr. Toro-Hardy told Embassy Row. "We are very moved by the help from so many private citizens."
The Venezuelan Embassy and its eight consulates have collected more than $23 million in donated supplies, which included eight helicopters and seven planes, he said.
The ambassador said the Venezuelan recovery effort is entering a new stage as the country prepares for the reconstruction of the damaged coastal areas and promotes the relocation of many of the victims to safer areas in the country's interior.
Seventy-five percent of the country's population of 23 million people live along the coast.
The mudslides, torrential rains and floods claimed 50,000 lives and left 250,000 homeless.
The ambassador said the reconstruction efforts could take up to eight years.
In Venezuela Thursday, health officials warned of the risks of epidemics, especially cholera, dengue and yellow fever.
The Venezuelan Embassy has posted its medical needs on its Web site (www.embavenez-us.org) and is asking that cash donations be made to the Venezuela Relief Fund at the following accounts:
* First Union Bank, account number 2000002966991 (ABA number 054001220)
* Sterling Bank, account number 061023594 (ABA number 113005549)
Donations can also be made through the American Red Cross by phoning 800/275-7575. Credit-card donations can be made to the relief fund on the Internet at www.i-charity.net/go/vene/flood.
Other donations can be mailed to the Venezuelan Disaster Relief Foundation, P.O. Box 25491, Washington, D.C. 20007.

Israel's cornerstone

Turkish Ambassador Baki Ilkin held a farewell party this week for Israeli Ambassador Zalman Shoval, who took the opportunity to praise Turkey as Israel's best friend in the Islamic world.
With Israel seeking a peace deal with Syria, Mr. Shoval called Turkey the "permanent cornerstone" in his country's efforts to develop ties with its Muslim neighbors.
"Israel is making an effort to lay the foundations for peace with our immediate neighbors," he said.
"Though nobody can predict how solid and stable the buildings erected on these foundations will be, the Israeli-Turkish relationship is now and will continue to be a permanent cornerstone in our approach to the overall question of peace and security in our region."
Turkey established relations with Israel shortly after the Jewish state was created in 1948.
Mr. Shoval is leaving Washington later this month after serving a second tour as Israel's ambassador to the United States.

Indian envoy hopeful

Indian Ambassador Naresh Chandra is still hoping the United States will side with India and declare Pakistan a terrorist state.
India claims Pakistan is linked to the terrorists who hijacked an Indian Airlines plane on Christmas Eve.
Mr. Chandra this week told the Potomac Institute of Policy Studies that Washington has not rejected India's allegations against Pakistan.
"What the U.S. has said is that the matter is under review," he said.
"Recently, I read reports that the U.S. rejects India's request for a declaration [against Pakistan]. There is no such thing as rejection."
Mr. Chandra said the United States has said only that it "does not have sufficient evidence to justify such a determination."
India believes the hijackers had a base in Pakistan.
"If you use the pattern of circumstantial evidence … I don't think any reasonable man would have any doubt that the people who planned this whole operation … had a base anywhere other than one country," he said.

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