- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

The oil question

Algeria's energy minister predicts that a war on Iraq could cause only a temporary shortage in world oil supplies that Saudi Arabia would quickly fill.

"If the disruption is localized in Iraq, only a million barrels a day would be out of commission. That could be made up by Saudi Arabia, which is producing under capacity," Chakib Khelil said on a visit to The Washington Times yesterday.

All other nations of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are producing as much oil as they can, he said, predicting that prices would go up a few dollars a barrel.

"If the situation goes beyond Iraq and affects Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, we'd have a different scenario," Mr. Khelil added. "You could have a situation where prices could go very high and stay there for a long time."

The prospect of a disruption in U.S. energy supplies is one reason Mr. Khelil is in Washington to meet with Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham today.

Algeria is hoping to expand its exports in liquefied natural gas (LNG) beyond its current primary market in Western Europe, where it sells 60 billion cubic meters of LNG a year.

"You are trying to diversify. We are trying to diversify," he said.

Algerian Ambassador Idriss Jazairy added, "We are looking to contribute to the energy security of the United States."

Remembering Rabin

Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon was joined by former President Bill Clinton this week at a memorial service to remember Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister assassinated two years after he signed a now-tattered peace pact on the White House lawn in 1993.

"Yitzhak Rabin has earned his place in history. He is not only ours. He belongs to the world," Mr. Ayalon said during the service at the Israeli Embassy.

Mr. Clinton took time off the campaign trail on Tuesday to praise Mr. Rabin for his efforts to achieve peace with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Mr. Rabin and Mr. Arafat shared the Nobel Peace Prize for signing the so-called Oslo accords.

"I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt we would have had a comprehensive peace" if Mr. Rabin had lived, Mr. Clinton said. "I never loved a man more than I loved Yitzak Rabin."

Mr. Ayalon said Mr. Rabin, who was killed by a Jewish extremist on Nov. 4, 1995, "reminded us that peace is not just a strategic choice."

"It is our moral obligation," the ambassador said. "It is the nature of our people. Israel's goal today remains the same. We are committed to peace, as we always have been when we had honest partners who were also committed to peace."

The peace accords have broken down under intense Palestinian suicide bombing and Israeli retaliation.

"Today Palestinian terror has reached every corner of Israel," Mr. Ayalon said. "And terror is striking globally, threatening our values and lives. They attack us not because of what we do but because of who we are."

The attacks have only toughened Israel's resolve, he said.

"In the face of adversity, our true character has come forth," Mr. Ayalon said. "Our bravery and resilience proudly define us. We have shown steadfast determination to overcome any threat and to advance the ideals we believe in.

"We stand together with the American people, united in a struggle against hatred and terror."

Ivory Coast online

The Ivory Coast Embassy has opened a Web site with the latest news about the political crisis in the West African nation.

Ambassador Pascal Kokora said the site, www.embaci.com, will provide the latest information in English and French on a powerful Internet server.

The site currently has posted several stories about the government's attempt to conduct peace talks with rebels who captured the northern half of the country in an uprising that began Sept. 19. Both sides agreed to a cease-fire three weeks ago.

One news story on the Web site links the rebels to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.

"The embassy is committed to providing all Internet visitors with the best that new information technology can offer," said embassy spokesman Bamba Franck Mamadou.

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