- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2001

Japanese visit off

The prime minister of Japan yesterday called off a planned visit to Washington next month to meet President Bush, as the U.S. ambassador apologized to the emperor and empress for the sinking of a Japanese ship.

Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori cited the need to stay in Japan to prepare a government budget by the April 1 deadline as his reason for delaying his trip. He had been expected to travel to Washington in early March, although an exact date had not been announced.

"How would I be able to leave when we must do everything to have the budget pass?" Mr. Mori told reporters in Tokyo.

Meanwhile Ambassador Thomas Foley apologized to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko for the sinking of the Ehime Maru by the USS Greeneville nuclear submarine on Feb. 9.

Nine of the 35 persons on board are still missing and presumed dead.

Mr. Foley visited the Imperial Palace to promise that the United States will make every effort to determine the cause of the accident and recover the missing passengers, a palace spokesman told the Associated Press.

The ambassador, who was planning to end his diplomatic tour on March 1, has decided to delay his departure to deal with the aftermath of the incident, which has caused widespread anger in Japan.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Embassy yesterday asked reporters to refer to the Ehime Maru as a high school training vessel, not a fishing vessel. The ship was owned by a school for aspiring commercial fishermen and most of the passengers on board were students.

'Get out of Lebanon'

Lebanese security forces yesterday clashed with demonstrators supporting Iraq and demanding the removal of the U.S. ambassador.

Police stopped the protesters, numbering in the thousands, from marching on the U.S. Embassy on the outskirts of Beirut. A Reuters news agency correspondent reported that the crowd broke through barriers on the road to the embassy, but security forces beat them back. About 20 people were reported injured.

They called Ambassador David Satterfield a "coward" and demanded he "get out of Lebanon."

The demonstrators, mostly students angered by U.S. and British air strikes on Iraqi radar stations, shouted, "Death to America. With our blood and our souls we will redeem you, Iraq."

Kazakh media law

Kazakhstan insists a new media law is designed to encourage local programming, but the U.S. ambassador there suspects the move is another effort by the authoritarian government to control the flow of information.

U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones yesterday told reporters in Almaty that he has raised his concerns with government officials over proposed changes in the law that would restrict access to the Internet and curtail the retransmission of foreign television and radio broadcasts.

The United States repeatedly has complained of human rights violations in the former Soviet republic.

"We are sympathetic of the governments goal in increasing the proportion of local programming in the mass media," Mr. Jones said.

"However, we believe that goal can be achieved by providing incentives to the media rather than adopting rules that constrain or threaten to constrain the freedom of speech."

He also criticized a provision of the proposed law that would hold Kazakh media liable for "statements from other sources, even if they are reported correctly."

Soderberg's new job

Nancy E. Soderberg, an envoy to the United Nations under former President Clinton, has taken a new job in New York with the International Crisis Group.

"Ambassador Soderberg's impressive record in international negotiations will be a terrific asset in ICG's efforts to prevent deadly conflict," said Gareth Evans, ICG president and a former Australian foreign minister.

Ms. Soderberg was deputy assistant at the National Security Council before serving as deputy U.N. ambassador.

ICG is a New York-based organization that tries to prevent or contain wars and other international crises.

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