- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Rebuilding Sudan
Sudanese Finance Minister Abda El-Mahdi appealed for U.S. aid in the reconstruction of the war-torn African nation during a recent visit to Washington.
She said peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebels of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army continue in Kenya and are expected to lead to a settlement in June, ending the country's 20-year civil war.
"We felt like this was the time to ask support of the international community to mobilize resources for debt relief in Sudan," Ms. El-Mahdi told Washington Times correspondent Olga Kryzhanovska said.
Ms. El-Mahdi also said foreign investors would be attracted to Sudan once political and economic stability is achieved. She said the United States recognizes the strength of Sudan's economic reforms, but the attitude toward Sudan in Washington is still tied to the success of the peace process.
In October, Congress passed the Sudan Peace Act, which urged the Bush administration to impose penalties if the Muslim government in Khartoum fails to make a genuine effort toward peace with the rebels from the mainly Christian and animist south of the country.
Those sanctions would include downgrading diplomatic relations, imposing a U.N. arms embargo and denying the government the use of its oil revenues.
The act requires the administration to submit a report to Congress by the end of April on the progress made by the Khartoum government.

Minsk visa ban lifted
The United States has lifted visa restrictions against Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and his aides after he allowed the reopening of a European human rights office in his capital, Minsk.
The State Department, however, will continue to monitor Mr. Lukashenko's government to make sure it does not interfere with the operation of the office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
"We expect the Belarus authorities to continue this cooperation, thereby ensuring the necessary conditions for an effective and unimpeded operation of the OSCE office," State Department spokesman Philip T. Reeker said last week.
The United States joined the European Union in November in denying visas to Mr. Lukashenko and seven of his top government officials after the forced closure of the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group.
Mr. Reeker said, "The United States and the European Union remain seriously concerned at the continuing deterioration of democracy and the respect for the rule of law in Belarus, as well as its failure to fulfill international commitments.
"Serious violations of human rights and recurrent restrictions on fundamental freedoms imposed by the government of Belarus are in clear contradiction of internationally accepted democratic standards."
Mr. Reeker also criticized the Belarus government for the "flawed" elections in March and for the imprisonment of peaceful protesters in a recent demonstration.
"We have repeatedly called on the Belarussian authorities to stop the harassment of opposition politicians, journalists and intellectuals," Mr. Reeker said.
"Belarus must make fundamental reforms to strengthen democratic discourse and the participation of its citizens in the political process."

The Danish factor
The Danish Embassy wants to make it clear that Denmark was with the United States before the first shots were fired in Iraq.
"Right from the beginning, Denmark has participated in the military operation Iraqi Freedom as an active member of the U.S.-led coalition … contributing personnel and equipment," said embassy spokeswomen Lis M. Frederiksen.
In addition to two combat naval ships and a medical team, Denmark approved $50 million for humanitarian aid and reconstruction efforts.
The submarine "Seal" helped provide intelligence and the corvette "Olfert Fischer" patrolled shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf.
The embassy noted that Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, "Only the Americans have the military strength to disarm Saddam and liberate Iraq, but we have an obligation to help. We cannot just sail under a flag of convenience and let others fight for freedom and peace."

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