- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2000

Egypt eager to pay

Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmy says his country is happy to pay its share of the cost of the investigation into last year's crash of an Egyptian airliner that plunged into the ocean off Massachusetts, killing all 217 persons aboard.
Mr. Fahmy this week told Rep. John J. "Jimmy" Duncan Jr., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure aviation subcommittee, that Egypt has agreed to pay the $10.6 million requested by the State Department. He said $5 million will be paid "immediately" and the rest "expeditiously."
A spokesman for the Tennessee Republican said Mr. Duncan is pleased by Egypt's promise to help cover the cost of the investigation but wants more details on the payment plan.
"We need a time frame," said David Bayloff. "The Egyptians have been very cooperative, and we have a good relationship with them."
Mr. Duncan's subcommittee oversees the National Transportation Safety Board, which has borne the expenses so far and needs reimbursement, said Mr. Bayloff.
Mr. Fahmy, in a letter to Mr. Duncan on Monday, said, "It gives me pleasure to inform you that I have advised the State Department today that Egypt has agreed to pay the sum of $5 million immediately, and the remaining amount will be pay expeditiously."
He said the State Department informed him on May 24 of the amount it assessed as Egypt's share of the cost.
"This information was general in nature and did not include the details as to expenditure or scope," Mr. Fahmy said.
"Nevertheless, and even though the reimbursement request did not factor in expenses incurred by the Egyptian side throughout its participation in the investigation, we have taken the position indicating once again our constructive contribution to this investigation."
The fundamental dispute is not the cost but the cause of the Oct. 31 crash. Some investigators suspect the crash was caused by an Egyptian co-pilot on some sort of suicide mission. Egypt denies human error and insists the plane crashed because of a mechanical failure.

U.S. will help Ukraine

Steven Pifer, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, has assured the country that the United States will continue to provide financial aid after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is closed.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, hosting a visit by President Clinton last week, announced the site of the world's worst nuclear accident will be shut down on Dec. 15.
Mr. Pifer, speaking after the summit meeting, told reporters in the Ukraine capital, Kiev, that the leading industrialized nations and the European Union will continue to support Ukraine.
"On Dec. 16, the United States is not going to walk away from Chernobyl," Mr. Pifer said.
He said the additional aid will be "substantial" but gave no other details.
The United States will contribute $78 million to reconstruct and stabilize the structure that covers the Chernobyl reactor that caught fire and exploded in 1986. The total cost is estimated at about $760 million. International donors have already contributed $400 million.
The explosion at Chernobyl on April 26, 1986, sent a highly radioactive cloud over much of Europe.

Japan seeks solution

Japanese Ambassador Shunji Yanai says his country is trying to find a solution to the dispute with the United States over Japanese telephone access fees before Washington files a trade complaint.
"Japan will try to find an option that would be acceptable for both parties," he told reporters at the Japanese Embassy last week.
"It is important to bring bilateral negotiations over the issue to a successful end before the matter can go to a dispute-settlement procedure under the WTO."
The United States is threatening to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization by July 28 unless Japan reduces fees imposed by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. on foreign telecommunications firms.
Japan has proposed a 22.5 percent cut over a four-year period.

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