- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 24, 2003

Serbia emergency lifted
The removal of the state of emergency in Serbia after the arrests of most of the suspects in the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic proves the country respects democracy, a Serbian diplomat said yesterday.
"It shows the resolve of the democratic authorities to pursue reform and get rid of the last remnants of the [Slobodan] Milosevic regime," Dragana Aleksic told editors and reporters over lunch at The Washington Times.
The former strongman, deposed two years ago and now on trial for war crimes, imposed states of emergency to uphold his dictatorship.
Mrs. Aleksic, spokeswoman for the Embassy of Serbia and Montenegro, said 12 suspects were arrested as ringleaders in the March 12 assassination. Two remain at large. More than 4,500 others were arrested on organized-crime charges during the 42-day state of emergency, lifted on Tuesday .
"It's obvious the assassination could not have happened without a coordinated effort," she said.
Serbian officials in Belgrade said the assassination involved a plot to overthrow the government and reinstate Mr. Milosevic. The assassins were also targets of Mr. Djindjic's crackdown on organized crime.
Mrs. Aleksic said new Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic is grateful that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell stopped in Belgrade to express his support for the fledging democracy. He also visited Mr. Djindjic's widow on a brief stopover after a meeting in Turkey during the Iraq war.
"It showed support for the democratic forces, and it was a sign of support for the murdered prime minister," Mrs. Aleksic said.

Mongolian mission
Mongolia is sending 200 peacekeepers, engineers and medical personnel to help the U.S.-led coalition redevelop Iraq, the Mongolian Embassy said yesterday.
Maj. Gen. Ts. Togoo, chief of the general staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces, offered the contingent in recent talks with Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Washington, and at U.S. Central Command headquarters in Qatar.
The troops will include a light infantry company of the 150th Elite Peacekeeping Battalion, the embassy said.

Azerbaijan also willing
Azerbaijan President Heidar Aliyev this week told U.S. Ambassador Ross Wilson that he will send about 150 troops to help rebuild Iraq.
"We are ready to send peacekeepers to Iraq," he told Mr. Wilson on Tuesday.
Azerbaijan also has a small number of troops on peacekeeping duty in Afghanistan.

Blackwill's departure
Indian newspapers yesterday praised departing U.S. Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill, but some speculated he was forced to resign by pro-Pakistani forces in Washington.
"India will lose a friend … ," the Punjab Kesari said in an editorial. "We thank you, Robert Blackwill, for understanding us and presenting us in the right light."
The Dainik Tribune credited Mr. Blackwill with establishing the best U.S.-Indian relations since the end of World War II.
The ambassador believed that the United States and India "can work together to establish and strengthen world peace," the Tribune added.
Mr. Blackwill, a strong advocate of Indian positions, announced Monday that he plans to return to his teaching position at Harvard University, which he left to work on President Bush's 2000 presidential campaign and to serve as ambassador. He said he informed the White House in January.
Political circles in India immediately speculated that he was forced out by Pakistani advocates in the State Department.
"There are enough reasons to believe that Ambassador Blackwill's resignation was a forced one," said the Amar Ujala newspaper. "He was getting too close to the Indian establishment, and some in Washington did not like that. Blackwill's resignation is a sign that the pro-Pakistani lobby in the State Department has prevailed."
However, an Indian diplomat who knows the ambassador well saw no mystery in his resignation.
"He was a tenured professor at Harvard whose leave was not being extended. If he goes back by August, he will be tenured for another five years," the diplomat told our correspondent, Janaki Kremmer, in New Delhi.

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