- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2002

Stigma of AIDS
South African Ambassador Sheila Sisulu yesterday criticized African governments and businesses for contributing to the stigma AIDS victims suffer along with the deadly disease.
Mrs. Sisulu said some African mortgage companies require loan applicants to submit to an AIDS test, and some insurance firms will refuse to pay claims if their clients die within two years of receiving life insurance policies.
The ambassador said those policies add to the stigma and discourage AIDS victims from disclosing their disease and seeking medical help.
"Who would want to come forward?" she asked, speaking at an AIDS forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Mrs. Sisulu said her government now is taking a more active approach to the disease that has hit South Africa worse than any other country on the African continent. South African President Thabo Mbeki previously denied that AIDS was the largest cause of death in his country and questioned the established link between the disease and HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus.
Mrs. Sisulu also called on the United States and other Western governments to offer more help, such as free drugs that could prolong the lives of AIDS victims.
"The burden of the disease in the developing world remains at untenable levels, compounded by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and by the vicious cycle of underdevelopment and ill health," she said.
"This burden is not even spread. The poor, the marginalized and displaced carry the greatest burden of preventable and treatable disease and death. Women, children, youth, the elderly, orphans and people with disabilities are among those who are also vulnerable to disproportionate burdens of ill health."
The forum, which focused on AIDS in Africa, included Ambassadors Josefina Pitra Diakite of Angola, Idriss Jazairy of Algeria, Tony Kandiero of Malawi, Armando Panguene of Mozambique and Mamadou Mansour Sek of Senegal.
The Bush administration was represented by Walter Kansteiner, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Jack Chow, the State Department's special ambassador for AIDS issues, and Anne Peterson, assistant administrator of the Bureau of Global Health of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Saudi cooperation
Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan insists his country is cooperating fully with the United States in the war on terrorism, as criticism increases in Washington about Islamic extremists and their suspected links to top Saudis.
"Saudi Arabia and the United States are collaborating closely and effectively in the struggle against terrorism," Prince Bandar said Sunday in an interview with the official Saudi Press Agency.
"The orders from Saudi leaders are clear on this subject. They are to pursue and strengthen this cooperation and to take all measures required to do this."
Prince Bandar did not comment on reports that his wife, Princess Haifa al-Faisal, made charitable donations to Saudis in the United States who later helped fund some of the September 11 terrorists.
The Saudi Embassy today has a scheduled news conference with Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign policy adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah, to confront charges of Saudi links to terrorism.
"These erroneous reports have distorted the truth about [Saudi Arabias] solid commitment to cooperate and lead in the war on terror," the embassy said in a statement issued yesterday.
Mr. Jubeir plans to release a report detailing the investigation of Saudi charities suspected of supporting terrorism, the freeze on assets of organizations linked to terrorists and the arrests of suspected extremists.

Ambassador stalked
The driver of a pickup truck stalked the U.S. ambassador to Egypt over the weekend but was chased away by Egyptian police bodyguards, a U.S. Embassy spokesman told Agence France-Presse.
At one point, the truck pulled in between the car carrying Ambassador David Welch and one of the vehicles driven by his police escorts, spokesman Philip Frayne said.
The truck followed the ambassador's convoy into a gas station but sped off when approached by one of the police officers. The commanding officer of the police escort fired two shots at the truck, but the driver was not hit.


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