- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Holding the door

The U.S. ambassador to the Slovak Republic warned Slovaks they could be shut out of NATO if they elect a government in September that does not share the values of the Western alliance.

Ambassador Ronald Weiser told Slovakia's SITA News Agency, "The doors of NATO and the European Union are wide open for this country. It is important that Slovakia realizes the opportunities that are out there and it chooses a direction because if these doors close, they will not open for a while."

Mr. Weiser, in the recent interview, insisted the West is not trying to dictate the outcome of its parliamentary campaign, even though both Washington and NATO have strongly cautioned against the re-election of Vladimir Meciar, the authoritarian leader of the mid-1990s.

"We are not trying to speculate on what the next government will look like," he said, adding that he is aware of the public opinion polls that show a lead for Mr. Meciar.

"We only expressed concerns whether the leaders of the former government would respect NATO principles based on their acts in the past," he said. "Words alone are not enough to change our mind.

"We have gathered no information that the leadership of the government from before 1998 has changed. Our position is clear, and it will not change."

Mr. Meciar opposed NATO membership for Slovakia while he was prime minister but has recently endorsed joining the alliance.


Delaware diplomacy

The ambassador from Lithuania appreciates support for his country's membership in NATO from wherever he can find it even from one of America's smallest states.

Both houses of Delaware's legislature have endorsed a resolution calling for NATO to admit Lithuania along with its two Baltic neighbors, Latvia and Estonia, when it meets in November in the Czech republic's capital, Prague.

"The Baltic countries and Delaware share the same motto liberty and independence," Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas said, in announcing the adoption of the resolution two weeks ago.

"Therefore it is not surprising that Delaware has become one of the first states to support the admission of the Baltic countries into NATO."

Delaware has a history of being first. It was the first state to ratify the Constitution in 1787. While Delaware's population of 780,000 makes it the fifth-smallest state, it carries a national political punch with Democrat Joseph R. Biden Jr. as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Mr. Usackas, along with Latvian Ambassador Aivis Ronis and Estonian Ambassador Sven Jurgenson, attended the General Assembly session to watch the adoption of the resolution.


Pakistan visit

Pakistani Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider is due in Washington today on a visit that will include the first meeting of a U.S.-Pakistani working group on terrorism and the illegal drug trade.

Mr. Haider will meet Attorney General John Ashcroft to discuss the working group established in February when Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf visited President Bush.

Mr. Haider is also expected to inquire about the detention of Pakistanis held on immigration charges since after the September terrorist attacks.


Radioactive diplomat

Mexican diplomat Ignacio Duran never expected to set off alarms when he attended a White House celebration for Cinco de Mayo.

But Secret Service agents pulled him aside when he entered the White House Friday after he passed through sensitive detectors that showed he was radioactive.

Mr. Duran was not trying to smuggle nuclear materials. He was just following his doctor's orders.

The cultural affairs minister at the Mexican Embassy had visited his doctor earlier that day. As part of a heart test, his doctor injected him with titanium 99, a radioactive isotope.

Mr. Duran produced a certificate from his doctor, explaining the procedure and the agents allowed him to attend the celebration.

He was accompanying Mexican Ambassador Juan Jose Bremer, Manuel Angel Soto Nunez, the governor of the Mexican state of Hidalgo, and several other dignitaries.


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