- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 11, 2002

India express
A "continual parade" of high-ranking U.S. officials to India and several major joint U.S.-Indian military exercises demonstrate the intensity of bilateral relations under the Bush administration, the U.S. ambassador to India said.
"I'm absolutely delighted that this phenomenon has occurred," Ambassador Robert Blackwill said in a video message to the 20th annual convention of the Indian-American Forum for Political Education.
Mr. Blackwill said U.S. officials used to avoid traveling to India because the trip was inconvenient.
"American officials would say to their Indian counterparts: 'Well, why don't we try to meet in the U.N. coffee shop?' It just seemed too far to come all the way to India on behalf of the bilateral relations."
Mr. Blackwill, speaking from the ambassador's residence in New Delhi to the convention in New Jersey last week, said, "In the last 20 months, this has changed entirely."
While U.S. Cabinet officials rarely visited India, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have traveled there "more than once," and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice is in frequent contact with her Indian counterpart, Brajesh Mishra, Mr. Blackwill said. Mr. Mishra is in Washington this week.
"We've had over 100 senior policy-makers who have been here in the course of the past 13 months, which I think reflects entirely the intensity of U.S.-India bilateral relations," he added.
"So there is this continual parade of very senior American policy-makers here."
U.S. and Indian troops also have conducted six major military exercises.
"India has been one of the staunchest allies of the international coalition and of the United States in the war against terrorism," Mr. Blackwill said.
"In Afghanistan, we are marching absolutely together diplomatically in trying to ensure that that ravaged country never again becomes an incubator for international terrorism."

Ukrainian press abuse
The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine yesterday denounced violations of press freedom in the former Soviet republic.
Ambassador Carlos Pascual appeared at a news conference with human rights activist Nina Karpachova, a member of the Ukrainian parliament. The British and French ambassadors accompanied them.
"People should have a voice," Mr. Pascual said. "That voice should be expressed politically and by the press.
"There are many authorities in Ukraine who are saying that the question of freedom of the press is the main issue, and we agree. Without that freedom, there can be no progress in democracy."
About 62 percent of Ukrainian journalists say they have faced censorship, a recent poll shows. Several have been assaulted and one, Georgy Gongadze, was killed. His headless body was found in November 2000 in the capital, Kiev. The circumstances surrounding his death remain a mystery, but Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has been accused of ordering his murder. Mr. Kuchma has strongly denied the charge.
In October, Ukrainian journalist Mikhailo Kolomiets was found hanged in a forest in neighboring Belarus.

Embassy in Panama
The United States plans to build a new embassy in Panama on the grounds of a former American military base.
The new mission will be built at the former Fort Clayton, a 2,000-acre site about 30 minutes from Panama City where the current embassy is located, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday.

New Iraq Web site
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has opened a Web site dedicated to news and analysis on Iraq.
"The coming days and weeks will be pivotal in this critical international situation," the endowment said yesterday. "What weapons does Iraq possess? Will the new round of inspections succeed? Will the U.S. invade? If the Bush administration does topple Saddam Hussein, what next? What are the chances for a wave of democratic reform in the Middle East?"
The think tank's site, titled "Crisis in Iraq," at www.ceip.org/iraq, will include daily news updates, analyses from Carnegie specialists, and maps, charts and photos of Iraq's arsenals.

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