- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2001

'Ruthless acts of terror'

The U.S. ambassador to Israel yesterday condemned the "ruthless acts of terror" that killed two Jewish women, one of them an American citizen, in an attack on an Israeli West Bank settlement.

Ambassador Martin Indyk delivered a prepared statement that also expressed the outrage of President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell over the Palestinian ambush on Tuesday near the town of Bethlehem.

"On behalf of President Bush and Secretary of State Powell, I wish to express the outrage of the U.S. government at the premeditated terror attack … which resulted in the murder of Sarah Blaustein, an American citizen, and Esther Alban," Mr. Indyk said.

They were killed while they were on their way to the funeral of another settler who was shot dead in another ambush also on Tuesday.

"We condemn this murder in the strongest possible terms," Mr. Indyk said. "These ruthless acts of terror are unacceptable. Leaders need to speak out now against this violence and work determinedly to end it."

The eight-month-long Palestinian uprising has claimed the lives of 468 Palestinians and 88 Israelis.

Basketball diplomacy

With Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski leading the cheers, it was a slam-dunk for the American team, as U.S. diplomats, politicians and reporters this week defeated a team of Lithuanian officials in a friendly basketball game at a NATO conference.

Afterwards, Lithuanian officials said their country should be granted its long-sought goal and admitted to NATO as a consolation prize.

Miss Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, led a "rousing halftime cheerleading show," according to reports from the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

The Lithuanians loaned native son Sarunas Marciulionis, a former player in the National Basketball Association, to the American team as a goodwill gesture and found themselves defeated 65 to 57.

Vygaudas Usackas, Lithuania´s ambassador to the United States, said the game showed that Lithuania can work with its allies and play hard, too.

"That is what the whole idea is about, to show that we are interoperable not only in peacekeeping operations or on the battlefield, but that we can also play together on the court," he told reporters.

Rep. John Shimkus was recognized as the most valuable player of the game for sinking three 3-point shots in the second half to — lead the U.S. team to victory.

"My friends won´t believe it if you write about this," the Illinois Republican told the Baltic News Service.

He was awarded a ball from the Northern European Basketball League.

Mr. Shimkus was likewise philosophical about the game.

"These things have to happen to show that we are all people and that we all sweat," he told Agence France-Presse.

Basketball is Lithuania´s favorite sport, even if its diplomats are not the most high-scoring players.

Alfonsas Eidintas, a former Lithuanian ambassador to the United States, once showed up with a broken arm at a meeting with former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott in 1997, when he was lobbying furiously for his country to be admitted to the alliance.

"I got this knocking on NATO´s door," he told Mr. Talbott.

He actually injured himself playing basketball.

The U.S. officials were in Vilnius this week as part of a NATO meeting with 16 non-alliance countries to discuss the future security of Europe.

Armenian Christians

The spiritual leader of Armenian Orthodox Christians will discuss the price Armenians have paid for practicing their religion since the third century AD at the National Press Club today.

Karekin II, the supreme patriarch and catholicos of all Armenians, will hold a news conference a 9 a.m. in the First Amendment Lounge at the club, 529 14th St. NW.

Last week, he met President Bush for a 15-minute meeting that lasted a half- hour and delivered the opening prayer in Congress.

Mexican press attache

Miguel Monterrubio is the new press spokesman for the Mexican Embassy.

Mr. Monterrubio, who arrived April 30, replaces Jose Antonio Zalboitia, who returned to Mexico City as director of the Latin American and Caribbean bureau of the Mexican Foreign Ministry.

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