- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2000

Don't go there

Japanese Ambassador Shunji Yanai is hinting that his country might retaliate with its own compensation claims if the United States tries to compel Japan to pay damages to Americans who were held as prisoners of war and forced into slave labor.

Mr. Yanai, in a news conference this week, repeated Japan's position that all compensation claims were settled in a 1951 treaty signed in San Francisco.

The United States waived the rights of POWs to seek reparations, and Japan agreed not to make any claims against the United States for seizing the assets of Japanese companies after the end of World War II.

"The Japanese side has something to say to the U.S. regarding the compensation issue. If that lid is reopened, a grave consequence would result," Mr. Yanai said.

"Reopening the issue, which was settled 50 years ago, would cast a dark cloud over efforts by both Japan and the U.S. to improve their ties," he added.

Japan's Kyodo news service also reported that Mr. Yanai signaled that Tokyo is ready to support Japanese companies already named in suits filed by former POWs.

"Japan has no option but to counter the campaign in court," Mr. Yanai said.

California last year authorized former POWs to sue Japanese and German companies for which they were forced to work in violation of international law. Thirty lawsuits have been filed against Japanese companies.

'Hard work, great fun'

The deputy chief of mission at the Romanian Embassy leaves Washington this week to take up his new position as ambassador to the United Nations.

Sorin Ducaru admits he ends his two-year assignment here with "mixed feelings of both nostalgia and excitement."

In a farewell letter to friends he made in Washington, Mr. Ducaru says, "I have to confess that I was blessed to work and enjoyed my stay in such a great and interesting place like the powerhouse of global politics which is Washington, with such an extraordinary embassy team and with such exceptionally good friends and partners.

"I really had a great time. A time of hard work and great fun."

He returns first to Romania for consultation and takes up his U.N. post in August.

'Art of compromise'

President Clinton's special envoy for Cyprus is appealing for compromise between Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot leaders and warning there will be no agreement on reunifying the island if they stick to their current positions.

With another round of talks scheduled next week in Geneva, Ambassador Alfred Moses told reporters in Cyprus this week: "What we need is the art of compromise. That's the purpose of negotiations. That's why the parties are going to Geneva on July 5."

The Greek-Cypriot administration, the internationally recognized government, wants the two sides of the island reunited under a single federal system.

The Turkish-Cypriot side, recognized only by Turkey, is insisting on being treated as an equal state in the negotiations and wants a loose confederation.

Mr. Moses, a former ambassador to Romania, said he is not concerned that neither side has shifted publicly from its formal position.

"It's not unusual for the leaders on both sides to state their positions," he said. "They don't change them in advance of negotiations."

Mr. Moses added that each side knows its position is unacceptable to the other.

"The question becomes one of compromise," he said. "Negotiation is never a zero-sum game."

Preparing for floods

U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Douglas "Pete" Peterson tomorrow will hand over more than a million dollars worth of field hospital equipment to help the Vietnamese Red Cross prepare for annual floods.

The donation includes technical equipment, non-medical supplies and vehicles for a field hospital, and medical supplies to replenish clinics in the country's eight central provinces that are most at risk.

Nearly 600 people were killed in floods in the central provinces last year.

Vietnamese Red Cross President Nguyen Trong Nhan will present the ambassador with a medal to recognize his humanitarian concerns for Vietnam.

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