- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 30, 2002

'Groundless charges'

The Chinese Embassy yesterday denounced a lawsuit filed by American members of Falun Gong, a group outlawed in China for "cultist" practices.

The embassy, in a statement, responded to an item in yesterday's Embassy Row, which reported on the group serving a Chinese diplomat in Washington with a copy of the suit.

The embassy said the group is trying to use the U.S. legal system to bring "false and groundless charges against Chinese government ministries and officials."

"Their ulterior motive is to smear the Chinese government, disrupt normal exchanges and cooperation between China and the U.S. and undermine China-U.S. relations," the embassy said.

"But this political farce is doomed to failure. According to international law, one country's court has no jurisdiction over another country. The Chinese government enjoys sovereign immunity, and no American court is entitled to accept any lawsuit against the Chinese government and officials."

The Falun Gong members have accused Chinese diplomats of mounting a campaign against their group by urging city and state officials not to recognize Falun Gong activities. They also charge Chinese diplomats with harassment and slander.

China accused Falun Gong of being a dangerous sect and outlawed the group in 1999. Falun Gong describes itself as a meditation and exercise group.

"No government can turn a blind eye to the cult's illegal deeds in threatening people lives and social stability," the embassy said.

Arafat effort 'abysmal'

Yasser Arafat's efforts to control Palestinian terrorism are "abysmal," the U.S. ambassador to Israel said in an interview published yesterday.

Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer told the Jerusalem Post that "there is no excusing" Mr. Arafat's failure to arrest terrorists, despite the damage done to his Palestinian Authority by the Israeli army in recent raids.

"Disappointing sounds like too weak a word," the ambassador said. "It has been abysmal in terms of using the resources at his disposal the [Palestinian] police, security forces and intelligence apparatus to stop this kind of activity.

"There are going to be some cases where that capability has probably been diminished over this past period, but that does not excuse the absence of performance in places where the capability has not been diminished."

Mr. Kurtzer said CIA Director George J. Tenet will raise that issue when he meets Mr. Arafat on his visit to the Middle East later this week. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns arrived in Egypt yesterday and will join Mr. Tenet.

"We have made very clear from the beginning of the intifada that Arafat, as the elected leader of Palestinians, has a responsibility to do what he can and is able to do to stop the violence and the terrorism," Mr. Kurtzer said.

His failure to stop the suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli civilians has set back efforts to create an independent Palestinian state.

"By not clamping down on the terrorism and the violence, Arafat has pushed the date of independence off, rather than moved it forward," Mr. Kurtzer said.

"There is great disappointment in his performance, but we will continue to work with the [Palestinian Authority] and Arafat, even as we pursue reform of the institutions and the security services."

Lithuania and Russia

Once leery of Russian intentions, Lithuania is now pointing to its "constructive dialogue" with Moscow as an additional reason why it should be admitted into NATO.

Lithuanian Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas this week applauded the new Russian alliance with NATO, an arrangement that worried the Baltic nations after they regained their independence from the old Soviet Union.

Lithuania felt especially vulnerable because of the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad that is surrounded by Lithuanian territory.

Now, however, Lithuania also has a new relationship with Russia, Mr. Usackas said on a visit to Oregon, where he addressed the Portland World Affairs Council.

"Once accepted into NATO, Lithuania's constructive dialogue and experience in regional cooperation with Russia will bring an added value to the new NATO-Russia relations," he said.

Lithuania hopes to be admitted to NATO at the November summit in the Czech capital, Prague.

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