- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 31, 2003

Rich versus poor

Brazilian Ambassador Rubens Barbosa complained that the United States and other rich nations are failing to keep their promises to help poor countries gain better market access for agricultural products.

Mr. Barbosa told a Washington think tank last week that there has been so little progress since trade talks in 2001 that a deadline for a new global trade deal might have to be postponed.

“If … we have to sacrifice deadlines, we have no objections,” he told the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

“Now we are 17 months from the end of negotiations, and we are stuck with difficulties because there was no progress on the issues that were supposed to be the core of this negotiation.”

Mr. Barbosa was referring to the goal of reaching a new World Trade Organization deal by January 2005. WTO officials from the 146 member nations are to gather in Cancun, Mexico, next month for another round of talks.

The ambassador dismissed the latest proposal by the United States and European Union because it would allow rich countries to keep high levels of farm subsidies and high tariffs on imported steel.

Spotlight on the Dutch

The Dutch prime minister meets President Bush on Wednesday, as a congressional commission reviews the Dutch leadership of Europe’s main human rights organization.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who took office earlier this year, is making his first visit to Washington in his new position.

“This visit is basically to get acquainted and talk about issues of mutual concern,” said Dutch Ambassador Boudewijn Johannes van Eenennaam. “Iraq will be high on the agenda.”

The ambassador said the Netherlands supports U.S. efforts in Iraq and has committed 1,200 troops to help stabilize the country.

Mr. Balkenende will also hold talks with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and members of Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar.

Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer will accompany Mr. Balkenende and will testify Wednesday before the congressional Helsinki Commission, which monitors the work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Mr. Scheffer is chairman of the 55-nation human rights group, which has its headquarters in Vienna, Austria. The Netherlands assumed the yearlong chairmanship in January.

The hearing will review such issues as the war in Chechnya, human rights abuses in Belarus, and OSCE efforts to combat anti-Semitism and human trafficking, said the commission’s co-chairmen, Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Colorado Republican, and Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican.

The hearing begins 3:15 p.m. Wednesday in Room 562 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Korean follow-up

South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan is expected in Washington tomorrow to review the six-nation talks held last week on North Korea’s nuclear program.

Mr. Yoon is to meet Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and members of Congress on his weeklong visit.

Saudis dispute reports

The Saudi Embassy is disputing news reports about Saudi terrorists crossing the border into Iraq to fight U.S.-led efforts to reconstruct the country.

Embassy spokesman Nail al-Jubeir said the United States and Saudi Arabia have discussed the reports, but “the Saudi government has, nevertheless, not been presented with evidence that supports media reports of illegal movement across its 500-mile border with Iraq.”

He added that Saudi Arabia maintains border guards throughout the area.

“Although the land along the border between the two countries consists of vast stretches of desert and is largely uninhabited, Saudi Arabia maintains buffer zones as well as manned border posts,” he said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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