- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 30, 2001

'A sister republic'
The foreign minister of Venezuela this week called for the removal of U.S. sanctions against Cuba and praised the "courageous" countries opposed to the embargo.
Luis Alfonso Davila also expressed his country's desire for better relations with the United States.
Mr. Davila urged the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States to support the "complete integration" of the hemisphere, saying no country should be "excluded."
Cuba was suspended from the OAS three years after the 1959 communist revolution. It is the only country in the hemisphere without a democratic government.
Mr. Davila praised the "courageous stance taken by countries supporting the call to lift the embargo on Cuba" and added "there is no reason … to keep a sister republic excluded."
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has close relations with Fidel Castro and has frequently expressed his admiration for the Cuban dictator.
Mr. Davila also congratulated the OAS for its efforts to draft a democracy charter for the hemisphere.
He said the charter must "reflect the hemispherewide political will and consensus surrounding democratic ideology."
"Democracy without full and real representation of citizens is not democracy," Mr. Davila added. "Representative democracy is reinforced and deepened through ongoing ethical and responsible participation of the citizenry within a legal framework that is consistent with the constitution."
He said Mr. Chavez is pursuing "participatory democracy" in the many constitutional changes adopted under his administration but more needs to be done.

'Inciting revolt'
Cambodia yesterday warned foreign diplomats against criticizing the government, following the U.S. ambassador's complaints about slow efforts to combat official corruption.
The Cambodian Foreign Ministry accused diplomats of "inciting revolt" by their criticism. A letter delivered to all embassies in the capital, Phnom Penh, complained that "certain ambassadors" had been acting like opposition politicians but did not mention U.S. Ambassador Kent Wiedemann by name.
"The Royal Government of Cambodia cannot accept these arrogant attitudes," the letter said. "[The government] requests all ambassadors to respect the principles concerning the relations between states."
Mr. Wiedemann, at a conference in Phnom Penh last week, complained that the government was making excuses for its failure to control graft, after Prime Minister Hun Sen told the conference the government needed more time to adopt anti-corruption measures.
"The government keeps coming up with excuses. My point is that it's just excuses. There's immediate action they can take now," Mr. Wiedemann was quoted as saying in the Cambodia Daily newspaper.
He said the government at least should make top officials reveal their personal wealth and sources of income.
Mr. Wiedemann also told the government it risked losing international aid if it failed to tackle corruption. At a meeting in Tokyo in June, donors pledged $615 million in aid, after the government assured them it was working to eliminate graft.

Cole probe continues
The U.S. ambassador to Yemen has disputed news reports about the status of the investigation into last year's bombing of the USS Cole.
Ambassador Barbara Bodine this week said the probe "is still continuing, and as long as the investigation is developing new information, it will continue."
Mrs. Bodine told reporters in the Yemen capital, Sanaa: "This is not an easy case that can be solved in a short time, but a series of rings linked not only to two or three people. There is a wider link of people who stood behind that attack."
The New York Times reported earlier this month that the investigation into the suicide bombing that killed 17 sailors had "virtually ground to a halt."
It said Yemen authorities refused to expand the investigation into the suspected involvement of Islamic terrorist groups and would try only the six suspects who were arrested shortly after the Oct. 12 bombing.
The United States suspects the bombing was planned by the exiled Saudi militant Osama bin Laden.


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