- The Washington Times - Monday, February 17, 2003

Australia on high alert
Australian Ambassador Michael Thawley says his country has been on a higher alert against terrorism since the bombing on the Indonesian resort island of Bali that killed nearly 90 Australian tourists.
"We certainly are in a state of higher alert," Mr. Thawley told Fox News Channel last week during the Washington visit of Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
"Ever since the Bali attack last year, clearly there is a great deal of concern in Australia about the risk of terrorism."
Mr. Thawley said Australians grieved with Americans after the September 11 attacks, especially because dozens of Australians were among those killed at the World Trade Center.
"Australians were very, very shocked by what happened to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon," he said. "So there was a great sense of shock that the attack in Bali where so many Australians, nearly 90, were killed very close to home. It really brought home to Australians the risks that we're facing."
Mr. Thawley repeated his government's position that Iraq must disarm and called on the United Nations to enforce its resolutions that demand Saddam Hussein disclose his weapons of mass destruction.
Referring to November's U.N. Security Council resolution, Mr. Thawley noted that after 12 years of "demanding that Saddam Hussein destroy his chemical, biological and nuclear weapons said, in effect, … 'Listen, mate, you are at the end of the road.'"
"From the Australian point of view," he added, "Saddam Hussein and the weapons of mass destruction are an awful threat in the 21st century, as is terrorism, and it's important that the United Nations carry through on its decision."
Mr. Howard met last week with President Bush, who later declared Australia a member of the "coalition of the willing" that is prepared to attack Saddam with or without U.N. authorization. Mr. Howard, however, has not publicly committed to that coalition, although he has expressed strong support for Mr. Bush and has sent troops to the Persian Gulf.
Meanwhile, in Australia last week, the opposition Labor Party kept up its barrage of criticism against U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer by accusing him of interfering in Australia's domestic affairs.
"He does not have the right, nor does any ambassador, to interfere in the domestic politics of this country or to cast his views as being against what the Labor Party is standing for and pro what the government is standing for," Labor leader Simon Crean said.
Mr. Schieffer, tired of hearing Labor attacks on Mr. Bush, accused Mr. Crean of engaging in a "rank appeal to anti-Americanism."

Envoy to Moldova
President Bush has nominated a career diplomat to serve as ambassador to Moldova.
Heather Hodges is deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Spain. She also served as deputy ambassador in Peru and Nicaragua, and handled other foreign service assignments in Guatemala and Venezuela.

Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Today
Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who meets President Bush and participates in the White House forum at the American Museum of History. She meets Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on Wednesday.
Costa Rican Foreign Minister Roberto Tovar, who meets officials at the State Department and National Security Council to discuss plans for the reform of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.
Tomorrow
Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, senior minister of foreign affairs for Senegal, who discusses the African Union and other issues at Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies.
Thursday
Peruvian Prime Minister Luis Solari. On Friday, he addresses the North American Peruvian Business Council and the Inter-American Dialogue.
NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, who holds a 2 p.m. news conference at the St. Regis Hotel, 923 16th St. NW.
Friday
Sahin Alpay of the department of political science and international relations at Turkey's Bahcesehir University. He discusses Turkey's new ruling Justice and Development Party at a luncheon briefing sponsored by the Institute of Turkish Studies and the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association.

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