- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Chile favors U.N. role
Chilean Foreign Minister Maria Soledad Alvear said yesterday that the United Nations should be an active participant in the formation of a new government in Iraq but added the exact role remains to be defined.
"The U.N. should play a role," Mrs. Alvear told the Chilean American Chamber of Commerce at Bank of America's downtown penthouse office. "I think there is an important role to be played by the U.N. in all the process: humanitarian aid, reconstruction."
As for governance, "that is a process still to be defined," she told The Washington Times' correspondent Sharon Behn and other reporters after the breakfast meeting.
Chile is a member of the U.N. Security Council, which is expected to meet this week despite U.S. demands that the international body hand over control of the multibillion-dollar oil-for-food program in Iraq.
Mrs. Alvear said she raised the issue with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on Monday.
Chile tried to delay the war in Iraq by proposing a number of benchmarks for Baghdad to reach before coalition forces would strike.
Mrs. Alvear denied that Chile's stance hurt its prospects of having its free-trade agreement with the United States ratified by the U.S. Congress.
"We trust that this divergence will be seen as a legitimate difference of opinion between two nations who enjoy a solid relationship and, most importantly, are allies in promoting peace and international security, as well defending democracy and free trade."

Powell set to travel
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell plans to confront Syrian President Bashar Assad about his support of terrorist groups and suspected acquisition of weapons of mass destruction on a visit to Syria this week.
Mr. Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday that he plans to have "full and very direct conversations" with Mr. Assad.
He is expected to leave this evening or early tomorrow on a trip that will first take him to Spain, which strongly supported the U.S.-led war in Iraq. He will then travel to Albania, Syria and Lebanon before returning Sunday.
Mr. Powell has scheduled another Middle East trip beginning May 8 to discuss administration plans for a "road map" to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. He will travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah on the West Bank, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
In Ramallah, he will meet Mahmoud Abbas, the new prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.

Strength in numbers
Honduran President Ricardo Maduro said the recent visit of five Central American leaders showed that the region has learned how to get Washington to listen.
"If we move together, we have a get a much higher degree of attention. It's better than a state visit," he told editors and reporters at a luncheon at The Washington Times on Monday.
Earlier this month, Mr. Maduro and Presidents Enrique Bolanos of Nicaragua, Francisco Flores of El Salvador, Abel Pacheco of Costa Rica and Alfonso Portillo of Guatemala traveled to Washington for talks on free trade and other issues.
Although Washington was focused on the fall of Baghdad, they met President Bush, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and House and Senate leaders.
"We met just about everybody we were interested in meeting," Mr. Maduro said.
Mr. Maduro is in Washington this week for the annual meeting of the Council of the Americas. He is accompanied by Foreign Minister Guillermo Perez and presidential aide Ricardo Alvarez.

Russia welcomed
Russia should forget its opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq and help rebuild the country, the U.S. ambassador in Moscow said this week.
"We would hail Russia's involvement in the postwar restoration of Iraq and urge Russia to take part in current discussions on the problem," Ambassador Alexander Vershbow told Russia's Interfax news agency.
Russia should participate "on the basis of pragmatism," do "what is best for the Iraqi people, and not focus on its former disagreements with coalition members," he said.

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