- The Washington Times - Friday, January 11, 2002

Apology in Japan

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Howard Baker yesterday apologized for the accident that claimed nine Japanese lives last year when a U.S. submarine collided with a Japanese fisheries training ship.

"I hope each of you will accept the heartfelt apology that I humbly offer on behalf of the people and government of my country," Mr. Baker said at a memorial service for the students, instructors and crew of the Ehime Maru.

The boat sank after the USS Greeneville sliced through it while demonstrating an emergency surfacing drill for civilian guests aboard the submarine. Twenty-six persons were rescued from the training vessel.

The memorial service drew about 1,200 people to the boat's home port of Uwajima, about 800 miles west of Tokyo.

Rear Adm. Robert Chaplin, commander of U.S. naval forces in Japan, and Rear Adm. William Klemm, who directed the raising of the ship, also attended the ceremony.

Apology in Israel

An Israeli legislator has apologized for insulting U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer by calling him a "little Jew boy."

Zvi Hendel of the right-wing National Union Party said he meant to call Mr. Kurtzer a "little man" but the word came out as a racial slur.

"Instead of saying 'little man,' I admit that I had a slip of the tongue and said, 'little Jew boy,'" Mr. Hendel said on Wednesday, a day after he delivered the original insult in remarks on the floor of the Knesset, Israel's parliament.

Mr. Hendel returned to the Knesset and said, "In the event that someone was hurt by that expression in this house or in this country, I fully state that I did not mean it, and I apologize."

In his original remarks on Tuesday, Mr. Hendel denounced Mr. Kurtzer for criticizing Israel's policy on Jewish settlements. He accused the ambassador of interfering in Israeli domestic affairs.

Other members of parliament immediately objected to Mr. Hendel's statements. The Knesset is expected to schedule a special session next week to offer Mr. Kurtzer a formal apology.

Choppers for Colombia

The U.S. ambassador to Colombia this week handed over 14 Black Hawk helicopters to Colombia to help in combating drug-trafficking rebels.

Ambassador Anne Patterson said the helicopters will be used against drug crops in area controlled by Marxist guerrillas.

"We will continue to work together to liberate Colombia, the region and the hemisphere from narcotics," Mrs. Patterson said at a ceremony at Colombia's Tloemaida Army Base with Colombian President Andres Pastrana.

Mrs. Patterson said U.S. assistance last year helped Colombian counternarcotics troops destroy 1,400 jungle labs that turned coca leaves into coca paste, 84 labs that processed the paste into cocaine and nearly 60 tons of cocaine.

Mr. Pastrana also praised the helicopters as the latest weapon in Colombia's drug war.

"We will fight and work together, and together we will defeat our common enemy," he said.

Alarm in Peru

Peruvian Ambassador Allan Wagner this week again urged Congress to renew a special trade pact for South America's Andean nations or risk an upsurge in narco-terrorism in that region.

"Drugs and terrorism go hand in hand, and we are experiencing in the Andean region a resurgence in terrorism and the threat of an increase in [cocaine production] if we do not create jobs to fulfill social demands," he said in an interview with Reuters news agency.

Mr. Wagner in December raised similar concerns in an interview with Embassy Row.

The ambassador urged the Senate to renew and expand the Andean Trade Preferences Act, which has passed the House. When the act expired on Dec. 4, imports from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru were subject to a 21 percent U.S. tariff.

Mr. Wagner repeated his warnings that the fragile democratic governments in the region could fall unless they produce jobs for an increasingly restive population.

"Our governments have to be able to produce results. If democracy doesn't deliver, our people will again become frustrated and protectionism will rise," he said.

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