- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 24, 2002

Ex-envoys eye N. Korea

Three former U.S. ambassadors to South Korea are planning a four-day visit to North Korea next month at the invitation of the communist government. Their trip will coincide with President Bush's state visit to South Korea.

Ambassadors Donald Gregg, William Gleysteen and Richard Walker will visit the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, beginning Feb. 19, the same day Mr. Bush is due to arrive in the South Korean capital, Seoul.

South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper yesterday said the trip is an effort by North Korea to influence relations with Washington.

"The official purpose of their trip lies in opening informal dialogue, as the North Korean and U.S. talks have all but frozen," the newspaper said.

The trip is being organized in the United States by Robert Scalapino, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and a specialist on Korean issues, and Tony Namgung of the university's Center for Korean Studies, the newspaper said.

Lee Geun, a North Korean diplomat at the United Nations, is coordinating planning on behalf of his government, which has extended the invitation to all former U.S. ambassadors to the South.

The ex-ambassadors will pay their own travel expenses, the newspaper said. The visit also coincides with the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Mr. Gleysteen was ambassador in Seoul from 1978 to 1981. Mr. Walker served from 1981 to 1986, and Mr. Gregg was the U.S. envoy from 1989 to 1993.

Not like Malaysia

The U.S. ambassador to Malaysia sounded frustrated yesterday as she complained that authoritarian governments were trying to compare laws used against political opponents to U.S. measures against terrorism.

Ambassador Marie T. Huhtala, speaking at a conference on terrorism in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, singled out the country's Internal Security Act (ISA) as an example.

"It is fashionable in this country to draw a parallel between your ISA and the measures that we have put in place since September 11, but actually there are very few similarities," she said.

The State Department has denounced the ISA as a tool Malaysia uses to quash internal political opposition.

Referring to the al Qaeda prisoners held at the U.S. base in Cuba's Guantanamo Bay, Mrs. Huhtala said, "Those people are not on trial. They're being held right now for the prevention of further acts of terrorism."

She also defended the detentions of hundreds of suspects after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

They will continue to be held "until they cooperate with the authorities," she said.

The Reuters news agency reported that a senior member of Malaysia's government party compared the new U.S. laws against terrorism with the ISA.

"We are very happy that some other countries are following suit," said Tengu Ahmad Rithauddeen Tengku Ismail.

Princely departure

A Moroccan prince who had criticized the king moved to the United States yesterday but insisted he was not in a self-imposed exile.

Prince Moulay Hicham, 37, told the Associated Press he was relocating with his wife and two daughters to New Jersey to end "unhealthy tension" in the royal family.

Prince Moulay, a first cousin to King Mohammed VI, said he had been harassed by Moroccan secret police since he criticized the monarch last year in an article he wrote for the French newspaper Le Monde. He said the king had too much power and called for a public debate on the future of the monarchy.

"It is not an exile," he told the AP before leaving his home in a suburb of the Moroccan capital Rabat. "I am leaving in the spirit of responsibilities to recharge my batteries."

Turkish memorial

The Turkish Embassy today will hold a wreath-laying ceremony to honor Turkey's role in the Korean War.

The 10:30 a.m. ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the Mall also is sponsored by the Defense Department and the American and Turkish Veterans Association.

The occasion marks the 51st anniversary of the award of the Presidential Unit Citation to the Turkish Brigade.

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