Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Saudis condemn tape

Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan denounced the latest message from terror network al Qaeda, which urged Muslims to travel to Iraq to kill Americans.

The speaker on the tape, aired Monday on the Al Arabiya television network, said he was Abdur Rahman al Najdi, a Saudi terrorist wanted by the United States, the Associated Press reported.

Prince Bandar, in a statement, condemned the message as a distortion of Islam and repeated Saudi Arabia’s support for a new government in Iraq.

“As a nation that has suffered from terrorism, we strongly condemn terrorism and acts of violence,” he said.

“The incitement contained in the tape has nothing to do with Islam. Violence in Iraq will not help the Iraqi people. It will only make their lives more difficult and their situation more dangerous.

“We look forward to the stabilization of Iraq and the establishment of a permanent government that can maintain the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.”

The tape is reported to be the first call from the terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden for Muslims throughout the Islamic world to join the resistance to U.S. forces in Iraq.

Prince Bandar’s condemnation of the tape comes as Saudi Arabia finds itself under increasing pressure from the United States to shut down suspected terrorist-financing networks in the desert kingdom.

Council mourns Helton

The Council on Foreign Relations is mourning the death of one of its top officials in the bombing of the United Nations’ headquarters in Iraq.

Arthur C. Helton was director of peace and conflict studies and a senior fellow for refugee studies and preventive action.

“Arthur was one of our most respected senior fellows and a noted expert on refugee and humanitarian issues and international law,” council President Richard N. Haass said in an obituary on the group’s Web site (

“He devoted his life to improving the lives of others and, as part of that goal, was in Iraq to consult with the United Nations to help find ways to relieve human suffering.”

Mr. Helton, 54, is believed to have been meeting with Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N. special representative to Iraq who also was killed in the suicide bombing.

Mr. Helton, a lawyer, was also an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Law School. He is survived by his wife, Jacqueline D. Gilbert.

Cellucci sees reforms

The U.S. ambassador to Canada believes that the power failure that blacked out large parts of Canada and the United States will lead to reforms to encourage investment in the electrical power network in the countries.

“My sense is that this incident is going to be a pretty powerful incentive for both governments to act and to make sure we get to that regulatory regime that encourages investment we need,” Ambassador Paul Cellucci told Agence France-Presse.

“I think one of the obvious answers is the modernization of infrastructure. That’s something that we have to do, and the way you get at that is you make sure the regulatory regime encourages that private-sector investment to get it done.”

Cuban dissident to speak

Cuban dissident Ramon Colas will hold a 3 p.m. news conference tomorrow at the National Press Club to discuss his efforts to promote human rights on the communist island.

Mr. Colas is the founder of the Independent Libraries of Cuba, which promotes freedom of speech in defiance of Cuban President Fidel Castro.

The group says it features books, magazines and other publications “to which there is no access in state institutions because they were being considered enemy propaganda and stereotyped as a crime against the powers of the state.”

The International Federation of Library Associations denounced Cuba’s intimidation of the independent libraries in a 1999 letter to Mr. Castro.

The federation complained of a “pattern of state-supported-and-instigated harassment … including threats, intimidation, eviction, short-term arrests and the confiscation of … book donations or existing book collections.”

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail

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