Egypt and Pakistan are raising questions about Egyptian and Pakistani citizens detained in the United States after September 11.
The U.S. ambassador to Egypt was called to the Foreign Ministry yesterday where a senior official, Mohamed Abbas, asked about the status of those held in connection with the U.S. investigation into the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Ambassador David Welch told reporters in Cairo that neither the U.S. nor the Egyptian government knows how many Egyptians are under detention.
“This subject is of increasing concern to the government of Egypt and to the citizens of Egypt,” Mr. Welch said.
The United States, he explained, “understands its responsibilities under the Vienna Convention, under international law, to provide access to anybody in detention.”
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations established procedures for the notification of foreign governments when their citizens are detained.
“We intend to look into this matter because we understand our responsibilities, and we take them seriously,” he said.
In Washington, the Pakistani Embassy raised concerns about three Pakistani citizens. The embassy identified them as Syed Farooq Ahmed, 33, detained in New York; Mahboobur Rahman, 47, held in Carroll County, Md.; and Qaiser Rafiq, detained in Suffield, Conn.
“The embassy has established contacts with the FBI, the State Department and the relevant detention centers to provide the requisite consular assistance to the detainees,” said embassy spokesman Asad Hayauddin.
Terror against India
The U.S. ambassador to India yesterday warned nations that support terrorists that they will be the next targets in the war against terrorism.
Ambassador Robert Blackwill told reporters in New Delhi, “The fight against terrorism will not end until terrorism against the United States, as well as India, has ended.”
India claims that terrorists in the disputed Kashmir region are supported by Pakistan, currently a U.S. ally in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan.
“A terrorist is a terrorist. They are not freedom fighters,” Mr. Blackwill said when asked about Muslim militants in Kashmir. “No country will be permitted to provide sanctuaries to terrorists.”
Mr. Blackwill also reiterated his views on the growing U.S.-India alliance, following the Nov. 9 meeting between President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
“The two leaders had a very successful meeting in Washington that is likely to enhance Indo-U.S. cooperation whether it relates to intelligence-sharing or arms sales,” Mr. Blackwill said.
The ambassador said he also expects to see a resumption of U.S. weapons sales to India. The United States suspended military relations with India after India’s 1998 nuclear tests.
“We now anticipate a conclusive acceleration of defense cooperation,” Mr. Blackwill said. “It will include arms sales, joint army exercises and military-to-military cooperation that happens between very good friends.”
India, meanwhile, announced it has sent a diplomatic mission in Afghanistan to begin re-establishing relations that were suspended in 1996 after the Taliban came to power.
The mission includes a special envoy, senior diplomats, interpreters, doctors and nurses, Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh told the upper house of the Indian parliament yesterday.
The United States believes Japan is making a “powerful” contribution to the war on terrorism, even though it has declined to dispatch battle ships equipped with the sophisticated Aegis anti-missile system.
“It’s a very powerful, very real, very visible commitment to the battle against terrorism,” James Baker, the U.S. ambassador to Japan told reporters in Tokyo this week.
Japan has decided to send supply ships, destroyers, transport planes and multipurpose planes, along with 1,400 personnel to support the war in Afghanistan.
Mr. Baker said he was disappointed Japan decided against sending an Aegis-equipped destroyer.
“But I don’t think it’s important in the scheme of things,” he added. “They have dispatched significant naval assets to the region.”