No Tunisian extremism
If Osama bin Laden is looking for a new safe refuge, he will not find it in Tunisia.
“If you are looking for a country on the globe where bin Laden would have the least sympathy, it would be Tunisia,” said Tunisian Ambassador Hatem Atallah.
Mr. Atallah told editors and reporters at The Washington Times this week that his North African Muslim nation has no support for Islamic extremism.
“Tunisia rejects outright any kind of terrorism,” he said.
Mr. Atallah also doubts whether bin Laden has much popular support anywhere in the Islamic world, where most Muslims resent the terrorist stereotype that bin Laden projects.
“He never had wide solid support, really,” the ambassador said. “There was talk that the Muslim world would rise up to support him. That did not materialize.
“The Muslim nation in its overwhelming majority resent the fact that we are being represented by that form of Islamic extremism, which has nothing to do with the religion.”
Mr. Atallah said Tunisians know the war in Afghanistan is a fight against terrorism, not Islam.
“The people of Tunisia understand there is a distinction to be made that what is happening is not against the Arab world,” he said.
A three-man delegation from Uzbekistan today will discuss their country’s role as a key ally in the war against terrorism in neighboring Afghanistan.
Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov, Defense Minister Kadir Gulomov and First Deputy Foreign Minister Sadyq Safaev will hold a 4 p.m. news conference at the National Press Club.
The Uzbek government is allowing the United States to use its territory as a staging area for military operations.
No Pakistan airlift
The Pakistan Embassy has denounced reports that Pakistan is airlifting Pakistani Taliban fighters from Afghanistan.
The embassy this week blamed Indian newspapers for first reporting the stories, which were picked up by other international media, including the New York Times.
In a statement, the embassy said, “No Pakistani aircraft has flown into Afghanistan since the coalition action against that country.”
It referred to comments from the Pentagon, also denying any Pakistani government presence in Afghanistan, including troops and ISI secret service.
“A section of the foreign press continues to be misled by fabricated stories originating from the Indian media,” the embassy said, without naming a specific news organization.
“This story was in fact first published by some Indian newspapers and was promptly contradicted by the government of Pakistan.
“A section of the foreign press is unfortunately recirculating the reports without realizing the biased reporting of the Indian media against Pakistan.”
Hungary honors Bush
With the world’s attention on President Bush and the war against terrorism, Hungary has remembered his father for his role in ending the Cold War.
The Hungarian Embassy yesterday said former President George Bush this week received the country’s highest award for a retired foreign head of state.
In a ceremony in Budapest, Hungarian President Ferenc Madl presented Mr. Bush with the Great Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary.
“The honor is in recognition of Mr. Bush’s historic role in ending the Cold War, fostering peaceful democratic changes in Central-Eastern Europe and supporting Hungary’s transition to democracy,” said embassy spokesman Gabor Turi.
At the ceremony Tuesday, Mr. Bush said Hungary has “become a decent democracy with vibrant political and economic life.”
Senate will consider
President Bush this week sent to the Senate five nominations for foreign-affairs positions.
They are: Steven Joseph Chabot and Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, to be representatives to the U.N. General Assembly; Ambassador Donna Jean Hrinak, to serve as ambassador to Brazil; Francis J. Ricciardone Jr., to be ambassador to the Philippines and Palau; and Frederick W. Schieck, to serve as deputy administrator of the Agency for International Development.