- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 6, 2001

Muslim protests
American Muslim groups demonstrated outside the State Department yesterday to protest Washingtons "continuing and uncritical support of Israel."
No one was arrested, and the groups pledged to hold more demonstrations at the State Department and outside the White House.
"We will keep reminding our government officials that their uncritical support for Israel has compromised Americas interests and damaged its reputation worldwide," said Nihad Awad, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
They demanded that Israel withdraw from Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered similar concessions before Palestinians began the latest round of rioting that has cost the lives of more than 400 Palestinians and dozens of Israelis.
"We … are compelled to carry out this act of civil disobedience because of our countrys continuing and uncritical support for Israels immoral, illegal and unjust policies toward Palestinian Muslims and Christians," they said in a statement before they held a "sit-in."
"U.S. interests will be served and our credibility enhanced when we accept the role of a true honest broker and impose a level of responsibility on Israel consistent with the billions of American taxpayer-funded aid Israel receives per year," they stated.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher yesterday said U.S. policy is to work for an end to the violence and a return to negotiations.
The group involved in the protest included the American Muslim Council, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Islamic Association of Palestine and the Muslim American Society.

Bulgarias bid
Bulgaria, once the most slavishly pro-Soviet state in Eastern Europe, now stands a good chance of joining NATO, according to a U.S. congressman who led a delegation to the Balkans nation.
Rep. Doug Bereuter, a member of the House International Relations Committee, met last week with President Petar Stoyanov and Prime Minister Ivan Kostov to assess Bulgarias preparations for NATO membership.
"If Bulgaria continues to play an important role in establishing peace and stability in the region and to maintain good neighborly relations with Greece, Turkey, Macedonia and Yugoslavia, it has all chances to be discussed as a possible candidate for joining NATO," the Nebraska Republican told Bulgarias Pari Daily newspaper.
Other likely candidates are Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia and Slovenia, he said. NATO is planning to consider candidates for another round of expansion at its summit meeting next year in Prague.
"It would be good if at least one member of Southeast Europe is admitted," he said.

'Dedicated service
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert praised Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty for promoting democratic values through 50 years of broadcast service.
Mr. Hastert, who visited the radios operations center in Prague, congratulated the broadcasters for "50 years of dedicated service."
The radio "has been and continues to be an integral part of the promotion of Americas democratic values and ideals throughout the world," said the Illinois Republican.
"Adhering to its mission statement that 'the first requirement of democracy is a well-informed citizenry, RFE/RL has been paramount in making that axiom become a reality throughout Europe and beyond."

To the Senate
President Bush yesterday sent three diplomatic nominations to the Senate for confirmation.
They include two career foreign service officers and a political appointee who served on his inauguration committee.
The nominees are William A. Eaton to be assistant secretary of state for administration, Alexander R. Vershbow to be ambassador to Russia and Mercer Reynolds to be ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
Mr. Reynolds, co-chairman of an Ohio investment firm, served on Mr. Bushs nine-member inaugural committee and raised more than $100,000 for his presidential campaign.
Mr. Bush this week also announced he will nominate Patrick M. Cronin to be an assistant administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Mr. Cronin is currently director of research and studies for the United States Institute of Peace.


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