- The Washington Times - Friday, August 23, 2002

Supporting Sri Lanka

A top U.S. diplomat's visit to a war-torn peninsula on Sri Lanka is a demonstration of American support for peace talks to end 30 years of civil war in the South Asian nation, a Sri Lankan diplomat said yesterday.

"It is very important to have U.S. support for the peace process. We need U.S. support," said Jayalatha Wijewardena, charge d'affaires at the Sri Lankan Embassy. "This is a very important visit. It is a kind of beginning."

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage yesterday visited the village of Sarasalai on the Jaffna peninsula, once the territory of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The government drove out the rebels in 1995, but the Tigers attempted to retake Sarasalai in 2000.

Mr. Armitage said the battle-scarred village reminded him of hamlets he saw during his combat duty in Vietnam.

"I served six years in Vietnam, and it reminds me of nothing more than the villages here. It is a keen reminder that enough is enough," he said, according to a report by Agence France-Presse.

"Let us resolve differences peacefully rather than through shot and shell. Seeing what you have seen here is all the encouragement one needs to push as forcefully as we can. The answer lies here. It is up to the government and the LTTE to resolve their differences peacefully."

A government source told the news agency that Mr. Armitage's visit to Jaffna "sends a powerful message to the LTTE."

"The U.S. supports a solution that does not break up Sri Lanka into two countries," the source said.

The LTTE has been fighting to impose an ethnic Tamil state in the north and east of the island since 1972.

Sri Lanka was Mr. Armitage's first stop on his Asian tour that includes visits to India, Pakistan, China and Japan.

Kuwait's female corps

Women still cannot vote in Kuwait, but they are making gains in the diplomatic corps.

The Kuwait Information Office in Washington recently added two women to its staff, and the Kuwaiti Embassy is expecting a woman to serve as a cultural attache.

Tehani Terkate joined the information office staff as a media attache earlier this year. Fatma Kalifa, who received a doctorate in public policy at George Washington University recently, also was appointed as a media attache.

She previously taught at Kuwait University's School of Administrative Sciences and was a consultant to the Kuwaiti government on communications matters.

"In Kuwait, the executive branch of government has traditionally been the progressive force in society that expanded the role of women in the work place and public square," she said.

Tareq Mezrem, the information office director, added, "We're excited to have someone of Fatma's background and caliber on our team."

Mission to Ethiopia

Two U.S. senators visited the prime minister of Ethiopia this week to discuss the country's efforts to support the war against terrorism.

Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican and vice chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, met Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on Monday, the government-owned Ethiopian Herald reported.

They told the newspaper that their visit was part of a "move to fight international terrorism in Africa" and that their talks with Mr. Meles were "positive."

Mr. Meles called on the senators to support efforts to open the U.S. market to more products than those covered by the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa said Mr. Shelby and Mr. Specter stopped in Ethiopia on a fact-finding mission that will also include visits to South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya and Sudan.

German vote counting

The German Embassy has invited guests to attend a reception to watch the results of the Sept. 22 German parliamentary election, but Embassy Row hopes the invitation does not foretell political disaster.

It has an illustration of a ballot that looks like that pesky Florida punch card of the 2000 presidential election.

The invitation even includes a familiar photo of that Florida vote counter, holding his glasses on his forehead and trying to divine the hanging or dimpled chads on an election ballot.

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