- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 10, 2001

Syria 'astonished'
The Syrian Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker this week to express its "astonishment" over the U.S. reaction to a comment by Syrian President Bashar Assad during the visit of Pope John Paul II.
Officials told Mr. Crocker that remarks from a State Department spokesman were "built on misinterpretation and ignorance of the details of what was said" by Mr. Assad on Saturday when the pope arrived in Damascus, according to a statement in the official Syrian News Agency.
Mr. Assad accused Israel of inciting the violence in the Middle East and then blamed the Jews for trying "to kill the principles of all religions with the same mentality in which they betrayed Jesus Christ and the same way they tried to betray and kill the Prophet Mohammad."
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on Monday said Mr. Assads remarks "are as regrettable as they are unacceptable."
The Syrian statement added that "nobody can cancel historical facts" but said Mr. Assad did not refer to the Jews by name.
"The presidents speech did not refer to the Jews by name because his aim was not to tarnish or incite hatred against the followers of any divine faith but to demand an end to the daily bloody actions of the occupation of Israeli authorities against the unarmed Palestinian people," the statement said.

Cuts in Lebanon

The United States has endorsed a large reduction of U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon, even though Lebanese officials fear the cuts will jeopardize their security.
David Satterfield, the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, told reporters in Beirut this week that the withdrawal recommended by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is "appropriate." He also defended a State Department report that described the Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon as terrorists.
Mr. Satterfield said the U.N. plan to cut the 4,500 troops to 3,600 by July and to 2,000 by February will not "in any way constitute pressure upon Lebanon."
"We support these recommendations, and we look forward to their adoption when theyre considered by the Security Council," he said.
"We think its an appropriate step to take to ensure the most effective and efficient working of the U.N. forces in Lebanon to make sure that the border is monitored and that violations on the border by any side are appropriately reported and, we hope, corrected."
Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud said the troop cuts would leave Lebanese in the southern part of the country, which borders Israel, "without a sense of security."
Mr. Hammoud, who met with Mr. Satterfield on Tuesday, also raised concerns about the State Department report that cited Hezbollah for engaging in "terrorism."
Mr. Satterfield said, "I expressed our own views on the reasons why this language was chosen." He declined to elaborate.
U.N. peacekeepers have been in Lebanon since 1978, when Israel invaded Lebanon to stop attacks on its northern border. Israel withdrew its troops last May.

Kissinger scholar

Princeton University professor Aaron Friedberg has been appointed as the first Henry Alfred Kissinger scholar at the Library of Congress.
"Dr. Friedberg will set a very high standard at the start of this program, which will be a catalyst for fresh analysis and a bridge between the world of ideas and the world of affairs," said James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress.
Mr. Friedberg, director of Princetons research program in international security, will concentrate on "the rise of Asia and its implications for America" during his nine-month appointment, the library said in a statement.
The scholarship was created by friends of the former secretary of state "to honor him and emphasize the importance of foreign affairs," the library said.
"The Kissinger chair program offers a unique opportunity to pursue advanced research in the largest and most international collection of library materials in the world."

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