- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Telephone diplomacy

President Bush yesterday continued his personal diplomacy with foreign leaders in telephone calls to the presidents of Egypt and Nigeria.

He spoke to Hosni Mubarak about the future of Middle East peace efforts, according to reports on Egyptian state-run television.

"The two presidents affirmed the importance of exerting efforts to put the peace process back on track," the television report said.

Mr. Bush called Mr. Mubarak while the Egyptian president was on a visit to Tunisia.

Mr. Bush also talked to Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo in a "get-acquainted" conversation that lasted about five minutes, the White House said.

"The president acknowledged Nigeria's role in regional stability" in west Africa and "pledged [U.S.] support for democracy and economic development," said spokeswoman Mary Ellen Countryman.

Over the weekend, Mr. Bush spoke briefly with South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Message to Haiti

The secretary-general of the Organization of American States (OAS) is sending a special message to Haiti's Jean-Bertrand Aristide, urging him to respect democracy and human rights when he is sworn in tomorrow to a second term as president.

Cesar Gaviria, who decided against attending the inauguration, has dispatched Assistant Secretary-General Luigi R. Einaudi to deliver the message.

The OAS said Mr. Einaudi, the former U.S. ambassador to the hemispheric organization, "will use his presence in Haiti to keep the lines of communication open to all involved."

"The secretary-general continues to insist that broad political representation, fullest citizen participation and security are critical to stability in Haiti," the OAS said.

The political opposition boycotted the November presidential election that Mr. Aristide won with 92 percent of the vote. The election campaign was disrupted by political violence.

The 15-party opposition alliance, Convergence, accuses Mr. Aristide of drifting toward dictatorship and complains of fraud in last year's legislative elections in which Mr. Aristide's Lavalas party won 80 percent of the vote.

A certain honor

Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Argentine foreign minister yesterday agreed they shared a certain honor in the critics who attack them. In this case, it was Fidel Castro.

Mr. Castro has "denounced" Mr. Powell and Foreign Minister Adalberto Rodriquez Giavarini for criticizing Cuba for the detention of two leading Czech citizens who met with Cuban dissidents.

"They talked about democracy in the hemisphere and how to strengthen our work together," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

He said Mr. Powell and Mr. Rodriquez noted that Cuba "is the distinct exception to democracy" in the region.

"Both ministers, having recently been denounced by Fidel Castro, shared a certain honor in that and talked about the situation of the Czechs who are in jail in Cuba for the mere fact of meeting with some dissidents."

Former Czech finance minister Ivan Pilip, currently a member of the Czech parliament, and former student leader Jan Bubenik have been detained since Jan. 12.

Mr. Powell and Mr. Rodriquez also discussed Argentina's recent economic recovery and Argentina's efforts to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas.

Holocaust heroes

Swiss Ambassador Alfredo Defago and Hungarian Ambassador Geza Jeszenszky will join author Meir Wagner tomorrow to promote his new book about Swiss citizens who saved Jews from the Holocaust.

Mr. Wagner, a Romanian-born Jew, is a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp. He migrated to Israel after the war and later moved to Switzerland to take over a family hotel business.

While in Switzerland, he researched and wrote "The Righteous of Switzerland: Heroes of the Holocaust." The book tells the story of Swiss citizens who sheltered thousands of Jews from the Nazis.

The book signing begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Institute of World Politics, 1521 16th St. NW. For reservations to the reception, call 202/462-4600, Ext. 304.

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