- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Terrorists in our midst

Israeli Ambassador David Ivry is warning of a new threat as worrisome as Iran, Iraq and Palestinian suicide bombers.

"The severity of this problem has reached a new level, even in so-called moderate Arab states. The next generation of Middle Eastern children is being taught to hate, and terrorists are being bred in our midst," he said in a recent speech to the Israel Policy forum.

He blamed Iran and Iraq for "vigorously" promoting anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric that "fuels the fire of hatred in our region."

"This incitement inflames the negative perceptions of Israel and America spreading throughout the entire Middle East," he said.

Iran and Iraq, which along with North Korea form President Bush's "axis of evil," present "strategic threats" to the United States and Israel, Mr. Ivry said.

"Of particular concern is their rapid development of weapons of mass destruction and their extensive involvement in state-sponsored terrorism," he said.

He blamed Iran for supplying arms to the Palestinian Authority. Israel last month intercepted a ship, the Karine A, carrying 50 tons of Iranian weapons, including rockets and plastic explosives used by suicide bombers.

"The Karine A incident was just one example of increased cooperation between states and terror groups that has continued in spite of September 11," Mr. Ivry said.

Iraq has cooperated with Iran by opening its airspace to the shipment of Iranian arms, he said. Mr. Ivry also cited Iraqi and Iranian support for Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorist groups.

"On September 11, the world witnessed that terror knows no borders. Its influence, followers and targets have spread throughout the globe," Mr. Ivry said.

"Terror is no longer simply a regional problem. Terror lies in everyone's back yard."

Maturing relations

The new U.S. ambassador to the Philippines yesterday said Washington and Manila have reached a new level of maturity in their diplomatic relations, especially in the war against terrorism.

Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone Jr. told reporters he is proud that U.S. troops are helping train Philippine soldiers to fight the Abu Sayyaf, a group linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.

"I'm really proud our soldiers are standing together in a training exercise to prove the capacity of both sides," he said. "But there's so much more to work on now.

"Anything we can do to improve on cooperation in law enforcement, economic affairs [and] the global campaign against terror is very good. It's not just military. We'd like to cooperate across the board."

U.S.-Philippine relations have improved under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, one of the first foreign leaders to endorse President Bush's war against terrorism. In the early 1990s, the Philippines closed U.S. military bases.

"The U.S. and the Philippines are poised for a new level of maturity in our relationship, a new level of cooperation across the board," said Mr. Ricciardone, who most recently served as director of the State Department's anti-terrorism task force.

Canada praises OAS

Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham says the Organization of American States has become a "relevant, integral and important institution" in the Western Hemisphere.

The OAS, once spurned as a diplomatic talk shop, has proven it "not only talks, it acts," Mr. Graham told the OAS on a visit to its Washington headquarters last week.

He congratulated the OAS for its "categoric condemnation" of the September 11 terrorist attacks and adoption of a Convention Against Terrorism.

"In the past dozen years, the OAS has reached out to member states in their hour of need, from the smallest to the largest [country]," he said, in his first OAS speech as foreign minister. "We have seen countries turn toward the institutions of the OAS for assistance on highly sensitive issues border conflicts, human rights and crises of democracy."

Mr. Graham also praised the Inter-American Democratic Charter, saying, "No other region can boast a similar document."

"Canadians are very pleased with the return on our collective investment in the OAS," he said.

Canada joined the organization in 1990.

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