- The Washington Times - Friday, May 18, 2001

Tibet coordinator
The United States yesterday elevated the position of its coordinator for Tibetan issues by naming a top State Department official to the post.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell selected Paula Dobriansky, undersecretary of state for global affairs, to fill the Tibet position that was held by lower-ranking officials in the Clinton administration.
Tibet supporters praised the high-level appointment as a sign of a stronger commitment to human rights in the Himalayan region that has been occupied by China since 1950.
The appointment comes as the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, is due in Washington next week.
China, meanwhile, warned the United States to stop using the Tibet issue as an excuse to "meddle" in its internal affairs and to express opposition for Tibetan independence.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Miss Dobriansky "will work to promote a substantive dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama and his representatives. She will maintain close ties with the Congress and with nongovernmental organizations.
"The special coordinators role is to assist in preserving the unique cultural, religious and linguistic heritage of Tibetans — objectives that are consistent with our support for human rights in China."
John Ackerly, president of the International Campaign for Tibet, said the appointment of Miss Dobriansky "elevated the stature of the position," which had been held by an assistant secretary of state and by a director of policy planning in the Clinton administration.
"We are extremely pleased that Secretary Powell has filled this position with a person of such ability and standing within the State Department," Mr. Ackerly said.
He added that the appointment demonstrates that the United States "has clearly demonstrated its commitment to safeguarding the Tibetan identity and interest in promoting a negotiated solution to the Tibet issue."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi told Chinas Peoples Daily, "The issue of Tibet is purely an internal affair of China, which no other country has the right to interfere with."

Bangladesh anger

Bangladeshi opposition parties yesterday joined the criticism of U.S. Ambassador Mary Ann Peters, oblivious to the irony of their anger.
The political parties, which have boycotted Parliament since July 1999 and fomented 85 days of violent strikes in which 50 persons died and 500 were injured, complained that Mrs. Peters was interfering in the countrys domestic affairs by expressing hope for a free and fair election in October.
The ambassador, in a speech Tuesday to the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh, said, "I am confident that Bangladesh will rise to this challenge, that the coming elections will be free, fair and credible, that the winners will win graciously and the losers will accept defeat graciously."
That was too much for leaders for a coalition of 11 left-wing parties.
"Such comments are expression of naked imperialist interference and are devoid of accepted diplomatic norms," said Manjurul Ahsan Khan, president of the Bangladesh Communist Party.
"Peters should immediately be declared persona non grata, as her remarks were a naked interference in Bangladeshs politics and economy," said Bimal Biswas, general secretary of the Bangladesh Workers Party.
The main opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami also criticized the ambassador.
"She should not dictate to us. We know how to practice democracy and run parliament," said BNP leader Imran Saleh Prince.
Prime Minister Sheik Hasina Wajed, leader of the ruling Awami League, also has criticized Mrs. Peters for giving "sermons."

Afghan aid

The United States yesterday promised $43 million in food relief for Afghanistan to prevent famine.
"After more than 20 years of war and now the third year of a devastating drought, the country is on the verge of a widespread famine," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told reporters.
He said the aid, which includes 65,000 tons of wheat, will be delivered through international agencies and none will go directly to the ruling Taliban militia.


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