- The Washington Times - Monday, April 2, 2001

Egypt's priority

Egypt's former ambassador to the United States is worried that President Bush is paying too little attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and too much time on containing Iraq.

Ahmed Maher, ambassador here for most of the 1990s, hopes Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will try to redirect Mr. Bush's developing Middle East policy when the two leaders meet today at the White House.

Mr. Maher, in an interview with Agence France-Press in Cairo, said he doubts Mr. Bush will be able to avoid the deep personal involvement engaged in by former President Clinton in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Palestinian uprising has made U.S. diplomacy crucial, he said. "Time is of the essence."

The election of Israel's hawkish prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has worsened the situation, he said.

"Mr. Sharon's policies are to us very dangerous policies, and I think the president will stress this point" to Mr. Bush, he said.

Mr. Maher said he also expects Mr. Mubarak to urge Mr. Bush to revive the practice of a "strategic dialogue" between the Egyptian foreign minister and the U.S. secretary of state.

Uzbek show trials

Uzbekistan's authoritarian government is extending its grip on society through "continuous criminal trials" that are nothing but kangaroo courts, according to a leading Uzbek human rights activist.

Talib Yakubov, the general secretary of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, told guests at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that Uzbek authorities have arrested tens of thousands of people since a crackdown began in 1997.

They are routinely accused of threatening the state by trying to spread a radical Islamic fundamentalism, he said.

"Groups of 10 to 30 individuals are tried at once," Mr. Yakubov said on a visit to Washington last week.

He said his group has monitored many of these trials and found the courts regularly convict defendants without any evidence.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He meets President Bush and congressional leaders. Mr. Mubarak is accompanied by Foreign Minister Amr Moussa.

• Ivan Baba, deputy foreign minister of Hungary.

• Margot Wallstrom, environment commissioner of the European Union, and Kjell Larsson, environment minister of Sweden, who meet Sen. Robert C. Smith, New Hampshire Republican and chairman of the environment and public works committee.

• Swedish Environment Minister Kjell Larsson as head of a European Union delegation to discuss President Bush's policy on the Kyoto Protocol.

Tomorrow

• Jordan's King Abdullah, who will meet with President Bush, U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and members of Congress to promote a free trade pact.

• Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski.

• Cypriot Foreign Affairs Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, who meets Secretary of State Colin Powell and other officials.

Wednesday

• Chi Su of Taiwan's Tamkang University discusses U.S.-Chinese relations with invited guests at American University's Center for Asian Studies.

Thursday

• Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh. He meets Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on Friday.

• Jacques Rupnik, a former adviser to Czech President Vaclav Havel and now a professor who specializes in Balkan issues. He addresses invited guests at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

• Sir Sean Connery, who will join Scottish-Americans in celebrating National Tartan Day. He will receive an award at a public ceremony on the West Terrace of the Capitol at 11 a.m. and hold a news conference at the National Press Club at 9 a.m. on Friday.

• Lord John Laird, chairman of the Ulster Scots Agency, Michael McGimpsey, minister of culture, art and leisure in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and Jerry McKenna, vice chancellor of the University of Ulster. They will announce the opening of the Institute of Ulster Scots Studies at Virginia Tech and meet members of Congress.

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