- The Washington Times - Friday, August 16, 2002

Israel seeks visitors
Israeli Ambassador Danny Ayalon is encouraging young people to visit Israel, where tourism has been damaged by Palestinian suicide bombers and other violence bred from the Arab-Israeli conflict.
"One of the tragic consequences of this violence is the cessation of travel to Israel by thousands of Jewish teenagers around the world, whether for camp, youth group or study-abroad programs," he told more than 2,000 Jewish athletes at a gathering on the National Mall this week.
"These trips are crucial, as young people foster a personal connection to Israel by hiking through the Golan Heights, exploring sites in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, scuba diving in the Red Sea and praying at the Western Wall."
The July 31 bombing at Hebrew University killed and injured young people from at least five countries, underscoring the dangers faced by foreigners as well as Israelis in the Jewish state. Five Americans, including two students in the 20s and a 36-year-old university official, and two Israeli students were killed. The explosion injured more than 80 other students from Britain, Israel, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.
In his first public speech since presenting his diplomatic credentials two weeks ago, Mr. Ayalon addressed Jewish teenagers from Australia, Israel, Mexico, Poland, the United States and Venezuela who were in Baltimore this week for Jewish athletic games.
"As I stand here in the presence of some of the most talented young Jewish athletes in the world, I would be remiss in not mentioning the difficulties Israel has experienced in the past two years," he said.
"I would like to pay tribute to the hundreds of young Israelis that have been killed and thousands injured due to Palestinian terrorism."
Mr. Ayalon said as he looked at the White House, Capitol and Washington Monument, he was reminded of America's and Israel's "commitment to democracy and freedom, tolerance and peace."
"We stand together just minutes from the Pentagon where innocent Americans perished on September 11, and we are united in the fight against terrorism that has plagued both our countries," he said.
"We do not despair. Freedom will prevail, and we will succeed."

Chavez pledges talks
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is committed to a dialogue with his political opponents, even those who support his removal from office, according to Venezuela's ambassador to the Organization of American States.
Ambassador Jorge Valero told the OAS Permanent Council this week that Mr. Chavez will hold talks "without exclusion" to help heal the political crisis in Venezuela, still tense over the aborted coup in April that toppled the president for 48 hours before his supporters restored him to power.
Mr. Valero quoted Mr. Chavez in a recent radio address as saying that the political dialogue needs to "reflect and embody the will of the vast majority of Venezuelans."
The OAS on Wednesday adopted a resolution restating its commitment to support "the national reconciliation that both the Venezuelan people and the international community yearn for."
U.S. Ambassador Roger Noriega, the council chairman, "commended the Venezuelan government's initiatives to promote and conduct dialogue involving the opposition and all sectors of the society," the OAS said.

Quick study
Spain's new foreign minister, Ana Palacio, is proving to be a quick study, as she confronted a crisis with Morocco shortly after taking office last month.
On a visit to Washington this week, she told United Press International that she immediately read a book by Alfonso de la Serna, Spain's former ambassador to Morocco, and met with the retired diplomat to get insight into the conflict with the North African nation.
She also reached for a book on Europe's post-war development by another former Spanish ambassador, Raimondo Bassols, when she needed a primer on the European Union.
The foreign minister and conservative member of the Spanish parliament also is proving she is a skilled diplomat.
"I have fulfilled a wish that I know I have shared for a long time with many citizens, not just here in America, but all over the world, to just be close to, to shake hands, to speak to and to listen to Secretary of State Colin Powell," she told reporters, as she stood next to Mr. Powell.

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