- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 22, 2002

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Egyptian Gazette

Bush's vision

CAIRO After months of consultations with Middle East leaders, U.S. President George W. Bush is expected soon to unveil his vision for defusing long-running tensions in the area. If the U.S. officials' recent statements, including Bush's, are any guide, then little can be expected from the American president's coming speech on the Middle East.

Bush himself has made no bones about his support for Israel's incessant and devastating attacks on the Palestinians. In late March when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered a massive and bloody incursion into the West Bank and the blockade of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, Bush reacted coolly (to put it mildly), labeling the Israeli practices as "taken in self-defense." He renewed the same posture last week during talks with Sharon.

These lopsided stances apart, for Bush's plan to save the day for the volatile Middle East, it must be long in substance and very short in generalities. For instance, he must provide a timetable for the creation of the Palestinian state. Now that he has got firsthand accounts of the Middle East scene, Bush would do better if he showed impartiality and a sense of balance, ingredients hitherto missing in the American formula.

The Guardian

What Mrs. Blair said

LONDON Just for the record, let's be clear what Mrs. Blair did say yesterday. Appearing with the queen of Jordan at the launch of a London charity appeal for Medical Aid for Palestinians, she said: "As long as young people feel they have got no hope but to blow themselves up, you are never going to make progress."

In yesterday's circumstances, with 19 dead in the latest suicide bombing in Jerusalem, these remarks were a truthful and appropriate response to a question about terrible news. They were not "comments which appeared to show sympathy with Palestinian suicide bombers," as the London Evening Standard mendaciously claimed yesterday.

They did not justify the media's own spin that led too many of the herd to rush down the same path. [The controversy is] part of a pattern of abandonment of journalistic reporting standards, of poor judgment and lack of objectivity. Most serious of all, it is beginning to seem like a pattern of mindless media mob rule against an elected government.

Dagens Nyheter

A Mideast initiative

STOCKHOLM George W. Bush is preparing for a peace initiative in the Middle East. It may possibly come this coming week. But the president is fighting an uphill battle. His proposal for a Palestinian state has been rejected by both [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon and [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat. U.S. analysts believe that because of this, Bush wants to avoid the issue and instead is advocating a gradual process with confidence-building efforts, international commitments and direct talks between the parties. But any real conditions for a breakthrough are difficult to see. The United States accuses PLO of being corrupt and wants to get rid of Yasser Arafat. Ariel Sharon's opposition to a Palestinian state is deep-rooted. Still, Bush is right in trying.

Asahi Shimbun

Seeking asylum in China

TOKYO China claims foreign government offices do not have the right to provide asylum for citizens of third-party nations. It asks embassies to hand over all "intruders" who enter their premises.

China has been taking a stern stance against asylum seekers because its relationship with North Korea could be undermined if it allows refugees to pass through its borders into South Korea and other countries.

China may also be frustrated that the international community does not understand the magnitude of the problem of dealing with asylum seekers, who are said to number in the tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands. However, it is insensitive and unreasonable to label North Koreans seeking the protection of other nations as intruders.

China is a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention that basically aims to protect people who seek asylum. Common sense dictates wherever you are in the world that people in desperate straits need help. If China continues its pattern of reacting violently to such situations, the international image it is trying to build as it prepares for the Beijing Olympics may be ruined.

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