- The Washington Times - Friday, July 27, 2001

Crooner Powell
He can sing. Who knew?
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, no stranger on the world diplomacy stage, took the theatrical one yesterday in Vietnam, where he performed a sketch on the last day of a meeting of Asia-Pacific foreign ministers.
Mr. Powell sang a peculiar rendition of an old Texas song about a cowboy who falls in love with a Mexican girl and ends up shot dead in a gunfight.
"Out in the West Texas town of El Paso," he sang, "I fell in love with a Vietnamese girl."
Instead of the dark-eyed Felina of the song, the object of his affection is named Makiko, which, of course, is a Japanese name as in Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, who was also part of the sketch.
Mr. Powell appears first on stage accompanied only by a guitarist. Soon he is joined by a chorus, the "Unnamed Senior Officials," the Associated Press reports from Hanoi.
Mrs. Tanaka enters, wearing a typical Vietnamese conical hat, and a ruckus breaks out over attempts to win her affection.
A shot is heard. The secretary of state lies dying, as the foreign minister of Japan kneels by his side, kissing and comforting him. The crowd roared.
Such sketches have become a tradition at the summit meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
In Washington, a State Department spokesman was asked if he knew Mr. Powell could sing.
"The secretary is a man of many talents," said Philip Reeker, "and he never ceases to amaze his loyal staff."

Japan's defense
The U.S. ambassador to Japan yesterday said Tokyo may have to reconsider its constitutional restrictions on its military in the future.
Ambassador Howard Baker told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper that Japan must decide whether it plays any role in a mutual defense pact with Asian allies.
"It is far too early to think about revising Japan's constitution, which has served it well for over 50 years, and the U.S. is not in a position to tell Japan what to do. But times change," Mr. Baker said.
"There are responsibilities that go with being a great nation, and Japan will no doubt consider that responsibility and what, if any, role it plays in peacekeeping missions."
Japan's constitution renounces "the use of force as a means of settling international disputes" and bans the government from maintaining "land, sea and air forces."
But Japan has more than 236,000 uniformed personnel called the Self-Defense Forces.
Mr. Baker also urged Japan to join the United States in the development of a regional missile defense system.
"Missile defense is tomorrow's technology and how it develops is uncertain, but I think it is important for both Japan and the U.S. to cooperate on the direction of this technology," he said.
Japan is engaged in joint technical research on missile defense with the United States.
The system is considered as a potential defense against missile threats from North Korea against South Korea and Japan and from China against Taiwan.

Surprise in Colombia
The U.S. ambassador to Colombia, after a year on the job, is still surprised at the amount of coca and poppy crops grown in the South American country to produce cocaine and heroin.
"Everywhere we look there is more coca than we expected," she told reporters in the Colombian capital, Bogota, this week.
The latest estimate shows 336,400 acres of coca, the base ingredient for cocaine, according to a U.S. survey in December. In 1999, the State Department estimated the crop at 303,000 acres.
Colombian police believe about 15,300 acres are producing poppy, which is processed into heroin, but Ambassador Anne Patterson said she suspects the estimates are too low. "There is more out there than we can find right now," she said of the poppy crop.
Mrs. Patterson noted that an exceptionally pure grade of heroin is showing up in New York and Philadelphia.
The United States is rushing more aid to Colombia, with a dozen combat helicopters due to arrive tomorrow.
More crop-dusting planes are due next month, and Mrs. Patterson predicted they will help eradicate the drug crops through increased spraying flights.
The Associated Press described Mrs. Patterson's news conference as her "first substantive on-the-record briefing."

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