- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Remembering Rabin

Israeli Ambassador David Ivry first met Yitzhak Rabin in 1958 when he was a young captain in the Israeli Defense Forces and Mr. Rabin was deputy chief of staff.

He last met Mr. Rabin nearly 40 years later on Nov. 3, 1995, when he was seeking to retire after 10 years as director-general of the Defense Ministry. Mr. Rabin, then prime minster, urged him to stay on.

Mr. Rabin, who signed a peace accord with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1993, was killed the next day by an Israeli extremist.

"With just three shots from an assassin, Yitzhak's potential as a leader was brought to an end," Mr. Ivry said at a weekend memorial service in Washington. "His life was cut short, and the future of the Middle East would never be the same."

Today, the Oslo Accords that Mr. Rabin and Mr. Arafat signed at the White House seem like a distant memory. Israelis and Palestinians clash daily after the assassination of another Israeli leader, Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi, killed by Palestinian gunmen.

"Yitzhak was a man of integrity and vision an honorable soldier whose greatest mission was his battle for peace," Mr. Ivry said.

Mr. Rabin's widow, Leah, died last November.

"Their memories are inscribed on the stones of history sustained in our hearts and minds forever," Mr. Ivry said.

The ambassador also referred to the long U.S.-Israeli alliance, strained recently by sharp words from both sides over Israel's military response to the Zeevi assassination.

"Although regional stability has been shaken, the ties that bind us remain strong," Mr. Ivry said. "As our two nations mourn the tragedy of September 11, it is clear the United States and Israel are forever partners in the pursuit of security and peace."

Hopeful Russian visit

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is due here tomorrow for talks with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, as the U.S. ambassador to Russia is predicting that Moscow soon could accept U.S. plans for a national missile defense.

"They will be discussing the whole range of U.S.-Russian relations, especially when we are preparing for the Washington and Crawford meetings," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said this week.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to hold talks with President Bush in mid-November in Washington and at Mr. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas.

While Mr. Ivanov is in Washington, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage will be in Moscow for talks on Afghanistan with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov. Russia has strongly supported the war in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow told reporters in Moscow last week that Russia and the United States could reach a breakthrough agreement on the missile defense plans. Russia has opposed the missile defense as a violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Mr. Vershbow said the recent meeting between Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin in Shanghai "opened the way for a possible agreement, perhaps as early as Putin's visit to the United States, on a complex of issues relating to strategic offensive and defensive arms."

He did not give any details on the kind of agreement he expected.

Romania's view

Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase yesterday expressed no surprise at the sudden criticism in the U.S. media over the war in Afghanistan.

"It's natural," he told Embassy Row. "When you don't have success immediately, you have public opinion asking questions."

Commentators and some politicians, from the left to the right, have begun complaining that the U.S. air war is failing to rout the Taliban.

Mr. Nastase said the next several weeks, however, will be crucial, as wintry weather sets in and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins. He also is worried about the continued ability of Pakistan to support the war.

"A good effort has to be made in the next couple of weeks [and] a clear solution has to be found for the next government [to replace the Taliban]," he said.

Mr. Nastase met Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday and was due to meet Vice President Richard B. Cheney tomorrow.

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