- The Washington Times - Monday, May 27, 2002

Taken for granted
Thailand is a close U.S. ally but is taken for granted too often in the corridors of power in Washington, says Thai Ambassador Sakthip Kairiksh.
Take canned tuna, for example, he said in a recent interview with the Asian Insider newsletter.
Mr. Kairiksh and other Asian ambassadors have been complaining for months about U.S. efforts to grant special trade preferences for tuna and other products to the Andean nations of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. They fear their exports to the United States will be hurt by cheaper items from the four South American countries.
The trade bill is aimed at encouraging peasant farmers to stop growing illegal drugs and switch to legal crops. However, Mr. Kairiksh said, his country also has been a U.S. ally in the war on drugs.
"What is inconsistent in U.S. policy here is that such privileges are being granted to the Andean countries in recognition of their role in the fight against narcotics," Mr. Kairiksh said.
"Yet this same act will destroy the level playing field in the trade of canned tuna, discriminating against countries such as Thailand that have long worked with the United States in this very same area."
Mr. Kairiksh said one of his goals as ambassador is to increase Thailand's profile in Washington and across the United States.
"Too often in government circles here, countries such as Thailand do not attract attention because we do not cause any problems," he said.
"Unfortunately, however, being off the radar screens sometimes means that we are taken for granted."
Mr. Kairiksh also noted that Thai soldiers "have stood shoulder to shoulder" with U.S. troops in the defense of Southeast Asia.

Ukraine in NATO?
The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine reacted diplomatically to the news that Ukraine, a country with one of the poorest human rights records in Europe, wanted to join NATO.
"Ukraine's statement is a powerful landmark statement on Ukraine's intention and the priorities it gives to Euro-Atlantic cooperation," Ambassador Carlos Pascual said in remarks released by the U.S. Embassy in Kiev.
President Leonid Kuchma last week said he wanted Ukraine in the Western alliance for security reasons.
"There is not a single country in the world that does not understand that NATO is a structure that can guarantee European security," he said.
Ukraine's membership in NATO would bring the alliance to Russia's border, but such a development is unlikely to take place until Ukraine improves its human rights practices.
The State Department, in its human rights report, criticizes Ukraine for torturing prisoners, beating army draftees, restricting press freedom, and failing to control religious and racial discrimination.

Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Tomorrow
Alejandro Foxley, a member of the Chilean Senate, who addresses the Chilean-American Chamber of Commerce.
Wednesday
Takashi Inoguchi of the University of Tokyo and Jitsuo Tsuchiyama of Japan's Aoyama Gakuin University, who join a panel discussion on the future of U.S.-Japanese relations at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Bishop Akolgo of the Integrated Social Development Center of Ghana, Marie Shaba of the Tanzania Association of Non-Governmental Organizations and Lawrencia Adams of the Pan African Organization for Sustainable Development. They participate in a congressional briefing on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, beginning at 8:45 a.m. in room 2105 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
Fritz Bolkestein, the European Union commissioner for internal markets and taxation, who holds a news conference at the office of the European Commission delegation.
Ephraim Yuchtmann-Yaar, co-author of the monthly Peace Index public opinion poll and director of the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University. He addresses the Middle East Institute and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Thursday
Karen AbuZayd, deputy commissioner-general of the U.N. Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, who holds a 1 p.m. news conference at the National Press Club.


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