- The Washington Times - Monday, November 5, 2001

Dispute deepens
The diplomatic dispute between the United States and Venezuela intensified with the recall of the U.S. ambassador in a sign of Washington's increasing anger over Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's criticism of the war in Afghanistan.
After both the White House and the State Department rejected Mr. Chavez's statement, Ambassador Donna Hrinak was recalled late last week for consultations.
Washington is angered over Mr. Chavez's denunciation of the U.S. bombing for the accidental deaths of some civilians. He compared the bombing campaign to fighting "terror with more terror."
At first Venezuela tried to downplay the recall of the ambassador, with Foreign Minister Luis Davila referring to the development as "normal" and emphasize the "good relations" between Venezuela and the United States.
However, Mr. Chavez regarded the matter serious enough to devote his weekly Saturday radio message to the dispute.
"I want to be your friend," Mr. Chavez said to the United States.
He also claimed his remarks were misinterpreted, explaining he was not criticizing the war but only issuing a "reflection and call for peace."
"There wasn't the smallest intention of offending anyone, or condemning anyone because I'm not a judge, and I don't pretend to be one," Mr. Chavez said.
"I lament very much that my reflections have been interpreted in a different manner than in the spirit which gave rise to them."
Ignacio Arcaya, the Venezuelan ambassador to the United States, last week reiterated his country's support for the war on terrorism.
Venezuela, one of the United States' major oil suppliers, has promised to increase production if Middle East oil is cut because of the war, Mr. Arcaya said.

Snubbing hard-liners
Hard-line Serbs who would like to dismantle Bosnia will get no respect from the new U.S. ambassador, who has promised to avoid them at all costs.
Ambassador Clifford Bond, who took up his position last week, told reporters in Sarajevo that he will not meet with members of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS) until the party is "ready to reform itself."
He said his task is to help rebuild Bosnia, which is still suffering from the destruction of the 1992-95 war. The SDS, founded by a man now wanted as a war criminal, is the ruling force in the Serb Republic, one of two ethnic entities set up by the peace accords that ended the war.
The SDS has opposed efforts to unify the country by strengthening central institutions and moving to integration with Europe.
"I intend to meet with people who are committed to the viability of Bosnia," Mr. Bond said.
"If there are people like that in the [Serbian Republic], I will meet with them."

Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Today
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who meets President Bush tomorrow. He also holds talks with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and congressional leaders.
Jacques Beltran of the French Institute of International Relations, who discusses the French view of the terrorist attacks on America at meeting with the New American Foundation.
Mayor Antanas Moekus of Bogota, Colombia, who discusses terrorism and his city in a forum at Georgetown University.
Tomorrow
Ivory Coast Prime Minister Affi N'Guessan, who addresses the International Republican Institute.
Peruvian Vice President Raul Diez Canseco, who leads a commercial delegation for talks on textile exports. He holds a news conference Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at the Peruvian Embassy.
Wednesday
Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who meets President Bush on Friday. He also meets administration officials and congressional leaders.
Thursday
Shlomo Avineri, Israeli politician, writer and professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He addresses the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Friday
Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, who holds a noon news conference at the National Press Club.


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