- The Washington Times - Monday, April 1, 2002

Colombia's future
The United States should remove restrictions on military aid to Colombia and allow the battered nation to use the assistance against Marxist rebels who threaten the South American democracy, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG).
The ICG, in a new report, also says the diversion of aid should be conditional on human rights reforms in the Colombian military.
"The U.S. should help by offering more military aid and removing counter-drug limitations on its use, but only if Colombia holds its military more accountable on human rights and severs links with the paramilitaries," the report said.
The Colombia military is suspected of cooperating with armed right-wing groups in its fight against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym FARC, and the National Liberation Army, or ELN.
Both the paramilitaries and the rebels are accused of persistent human rights abuses. U.S. military aid to Colombia has been restricted to use against the production and smuggling of cocaine and heroin, which also help finance the rebel groups.
Peace talks broke down in February, four years after President Andres Pastrana tried to coax FARC rebels into negotiations by allowing them to control an area of Colombia the size of Switzerland.
"Colombia's immediate need is to strengthen military and police forces, which cannot exercise authority throughout much of the country and to protect presidential elections [in May], even if this means a temporary redeployment of some troops from anti-drug efforts," the ICG said.
John Biehl, a former Chilean ambassador to the United States, said the government must regain control of the entire country.

Kazakh question
The United States is calling for the release of a political opposition leader in Kazakhstan who was arrested last week.
The U.S. Embassy in the Central Asian nation expressed its "surprise and concern" after Mukhtar Ablyazov of the Democratic Choice movement was arrested on charges of illegal business activity.
"While the embassy cannot comment on the veracity of the charges against Mr. Ablyazov, we urge that he be released from pretrial detention," the embassy said in a statement on Friday.

Peterson joins firm
Douglas "Pete" Peterson wanted to cap his career as the first U.S. ambassador to Vietnam by running for governor of Florida, a state he represented earlier as a member of Congress.
However, instead of entering the race for the Democratic nomination, he ended up back in Washington as an international lobbyist.
Mr. Peterson has joined Stonebridge International, a firm started by a fellow Clinton administration veteran, Sandy Berger.
"Pete brings unparalleled knowledge of emerging markets like Vietnam and the complex business environment faced by multinational corporations seeking to do business in Southeast Asia," said Mr. Berger, who served as President Clinton's national security adviser.

Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Stephane Dion, Canadian minister for intergovernmental affairs, who addresses the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on the Canadian Charter of Rights.
cDmitri Trenin, deputy director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, who addresses the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is the author of "The End of Eurasia: Russia on the Border Between Geopolitics and Globalization."
Aquilino Pimentel, minority leader of the Philippines Senate, who discusses the war against terrorism in the Philippines with guests of the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Kyongsoo Lho, of Seoul National University, and Paul Hsu, a Taiwanese lawyer, who participate in a panel discussion on Northeast Asia at the Brookings Institution.

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