- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 7, 2002

The Western front
Lithuanian Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas this week took his nation's campaign for NATO membership to the "Big Sky country" of Montana.
Mr. Usackas told the Billings Committee on Foreign Relations that the Atlantic alliance should be expanded as much as possible when NATO leaders meet in November in the Czech Republic, and that the European Union should also embrace new members.
"New members will not only bring new capabilities and new markets from the north and south of Europe but also new enthusiasm and dynamism into both organizations," he said.
The ambassador said his country can also offer a special understanding of Russia, which is angling for its own relationship with NATO.
"Lithuania will enrich NATO with specialized military capabilities as well as with unique regional cooperation and experiences and constructive practices with Russia."
Mr. Usackas said the larger the number of new members, "the better we can advance Europe whole and free and the stronger foundations we can cement for peace, security and prosperity."
Lithuania and its Baltic neighbors Latvia and Estonia are among nine nations seeking NATO membership. The others are Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Bush singing praises
The U.S. ambassadors to Yemen and Tajikistan this week hand-delivered letters from President Bush to the leaders of those nations to thank them for cooperating in the war against terrorism.
Ambassador Franklin Huddle yesterday passed on Mr. Bush's message to Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov, who later told reporters that his government will continue to back the United States.
"We are ready in every possible way to contribute to the success of the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan in order to create in that country a stable and flourishing state that lives with its neighbors in peace and harmony," he said.
The Central Asian nation has maintained close ties with the Northern Alliance, which helped U.S. forces topple Afghanistan's Taliban regime.
U.S. Ambassador Edmund J. Hull on Tuesday delivered a letter to Yemeni President Ali Adbullah Saleh, expressing Mr. Bush's appreciation to the country that was the scene of a terrorist attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 Americans in October 2000.
"The U.S. president voiced appreciation for Yemen's stances backing the United States of America and the international anti-terror efforts," the official Yemen news agency Saba reported.
"Furthermore, Bush underscored his country's keenness to present aid to Yemen in security and developmental fields, and to urge the donor states to assist Yemen in economic and developmental fields so as to help strengthen Yemen endeavor in fighting terrorism."

'Cowardly terrorists'
The Organization of American States has condemned the slaying of a member of the Colombian Senate as a "barbaric act perpetrated by cowardly terrorist groups."
OAS Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria also convened the organization's "deepest sympathies" to the family of Martha Catalina Daniels, who was killed by the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
"Daniels' death is another blow for Colombia and for democracy," Mr. Gaviria said in a statement.

Photodiplomacy
Donald Bandler is showing that he is more than just a diplomat. He is an artist.
The U.S. ambassador to Cyprus this week opened an exhibit of photographs he has taken of the divided Mediterranean island, and his biggest fan turns out to be Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides.
"It is a happy coincidence that a diplomat can exhibit his sensitivity and love for the place and the people of the country in which he is posted, and, once more, art becomes a link in the bonds of two countries and their peoples," Mr. Clerides said Tuesday at the opening of the photo display in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia.
"I believe the term of 'art-photographer' is an appropriate one for Mr. Bandler, since the product of his work stands witness to his complete mastery of the medium and of the aesthetic level of his perception."


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