- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Syria outraged
Syria has demanded an explanation from U.S. Ambassador Theodore Kattouf over remarks by a top U.S. official that implied Syria is working with Russia to develop nuclear weapons.
"A formal complaint was presented to [Mr. Kattouf] over what is being circulated by State Department spokesmen on Syrian-Russian cooperation in the field of nuclear research," the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement reported by the official SANA news agency.
SANA said a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency has "demonstrated that the Syrian nuclear program is dedicated for peaceful purposes."
Syria was outraged by comments last week by Undersecretary of State John Bolton, who told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "We remain very concerned that the nuclear and missile programs of Iran and others, including Syria, continue to receive the benefits of Russian technology and expertise."
The Foreign Ministry added, "Since 1987, Syria has been calling for transforming the Middle East into an area free of all arms of mass destruction, including nuclear arms."
However, nuclear-weapons watchdog groups share Mr. Bolton's concerns.
"While constrained by limited resources, Syria has shown interest in and taken steps to develop and acquire weapons of mass destruction and their delivery system, especially chemical weapons and ballistic missiles. There are strong indications that Syria is pursuing nuclear weapons," according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a group founded by media mogul Ted Turner and former Sen. Sam Nunn, Georgia Democrat.
A CIA report in January noted that Syria's current program is for civilian use, but added concern about the future.
"Broader access to Russian expertise could provide opportunities for Syria to expand its indigenous capabilities, should it decide to pursue nuclear weapons," the report said.
"We will continue to monitor Syria's [research and development] program for any signs of weapons intent."
The United States considers Syria a nation that sponsors terrorism, but has also acknowledged its cooperation in hunting down Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

U.S. praises Congo
A top U.S. diplomat yesterday praised Congo for turning over a key genocide suspect to a U.N. war-crimes court.
However, Pierre-Richard Prosper, U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes, added that the government must do more in its pursuit of suspects still wanted for the 1994 massacres in neighboring Rwanda.
Congolese President Joseph Kabila two weeks ago ordered the arrest of Tharcisse Renzaho, the former governor of the Rwandan capital, Kigali, who was transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
"I came here to congratulate the government for having captured and sent to the [tribunal] the former governor of Kigali," Mr. Prosper said. "But more must be done to capture other genocide suspects who are still in the region."

A knight for the opera
The British Embassy last night presented an honorary knighthood to opera great Placido Domingo to recognize not only his legendary talent, but also his humanitarian work.
"Placido Domingo is one of the greatest singers of his generation," said British Ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer, as he presented the honor bestowed on Mr. Domingo by Queen Elizabeth II.
Mr. Domingo was inducted as a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. He can add the letters "KBE" after his name, but not use the title "Sir," which is only appropriate for British subjects who have received a knighthood.
Mr. Meyer noted that Mr. Domingo is a regular performer at London's Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.
He has used "his international standing to raise money for charities across the world and to boost the careers of young opera singers."
"Placido has also used his talents to help the needy by raising millions of dollars through benefit concerts, helping, among others, victims of AIDS and natural disasters," Mr. Meyer said.
Mr. Domingo has also worked with the Prince's Trust, a charity established by Prince Charles.


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