- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2001

Egyptian anti-Semitism

The Anti-Defamation League is trying to keep up the pressure on Egypt over anti-Semitism in the Egyptian press, as Washington prepares for the visit next week of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The ADL, one of the largest Jewish organizations in the United States, plans to hold a news conference today at 9:15 a.m. in Room 2203 of the Rayburn House Office Building to denounce "the anti-Semitic and anti-American [political] cartoons that continue to appear by the dozens in the Egyptian press."
Last week Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmy told Embassy Row that his government does not "condone or accept any sort of intolerant reference to anybody of any faith" when asked about complaints raised by another Jewish organization, the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The center raised objections to the Egyptian press coverage of Secretary of State Colin Powell's visit to the Middle East. It called on Mr. Fahmy to condemn the news reports because the Egyptian government maintains broad control over the media through licensing and the appointment of editors.
Al-Akhbar, commonly referred to as an "official" government newspaper, criticized Mr. Powell for wearing a yarmulke, a Jewish skull cap, on his visit to Israel.
The newspaper also said Mr. Powell, the first black secretary of state, "shed his skin, tore himself from his roots and today represents only himself and has no connection to the black American community, which led the revolution for democracy, equality and human rights in the world."
The ADL news conference will feature Reps. Benjamin A. Gilman, New York Republican, and Democrats Tom Lantos of California, Gary L. Ackerman of New York, Alcee L. Hastings of Florida and John Lewis of Georgia.
Mr. Mubarak is due to begin a Washington visit on Monday.

Japan praises Baker

President Bush's decision to name former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker as ambassador to Japan is receiving high praise from top officials in Tokyo.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry this week said selection of Mr. Baker, who also served as chief of staff to President Reagan, is a sign of Mr. Bush's high regard for U.S.-Japanese relations.
"As Senator Baker is said to have been long acquainted with major Cabinet members of the present U.S. administration, the government of Japan welcomes his nomination as a sign that the Bush administration values Japan-U.S. relations highly," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"The government of Japan sincerely hopes that Senator Baker will play an active role in further developing wide-ranging cooperative relations between Japan and the United States in political, security as well as economic and cultural fields."
The former Republican senator from Tennessee is virtually assured confirmation from the Republican-controlled Senate.
Mr. Baker, 75, served three terms in the Senate, during which time he was both majority and minority leader. He will replace Ambassador Thomas Foley, a former Democratic speaker of the House.

Vietnam bars visits

Vietnam is getting testy with U.S. concerns about the safety of American citizens in the country's central highlands where the army was sent after Christian minorities began protesting official repression.
Authorities have rejected a request by U.S. Ambassador Douglas "Pete" Peterson to visit the area to check on Americans who were working in the area, a U.S. official told reporters in Hanoi earlier this month.
Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Dinh Bin, in a meeting in February, warned Mr. Peterson against "interference in Vietnam's internal affairs," Vietnamese press reports said this week.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher last week also issued a call for Vietnam to allow visits to the area.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh yesterday said provincial authorities in the central highlands are too busy to accommodate visits by "journalists, businessmen and diplomats."

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