- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2003

'All aid is political'
A report from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) outlines the Bush administration's goals for overseas aid, including official development assistance and private or charitable initiatives.
Stressing that "all aid is political," the report to be presented at the United Nations this morning by USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios calls on donors to consider the broader effect of assistance, even in humanitarian emergencies.
The report, which affirms the link between foreign aid and national security, will bring some relief to aid agencies that have watched nervously for signs that Washington would emphasize the war on terrorism at the expense of other programs.
However, the report includes no recommendation to increase overseas development assistance, which is well below the targets set by industrial nations a decade ago. The authors also underline the expectation that recipients will work toward good governance and accountability.
"Foreign aid programs must help developing countries make permanent gains in the rule of law, the protection of human rights and the establishment of a civil society that can constrain the abuses of government," the report says.
Key players to huddle
At least a half-dozen foreign ministers, including those of Germany, France, Russia, Britain and Spain, are expected to attend a Jan. 20 Security Council meeting on counterterrorism.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was planning to attend, U.S. officials indicated last week.
The meeting is organized by France, which holds the rotating presidency this month.
"We consider this is the key issue on the agenda of the council," said Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere of France. "We have to take stock of this work, we have to make an evaluation, and we have to [find] new ways to combat terrorism."
France's last turn heading the council came during September 2001, and it co-sponsored the speedy resolution creating the council's counterterrorism committee, which in theory received unprecedented powers.
Diplomats said it was difficult for many ministers to make it to New York on relatively short notice, but the opportunity to meet informally at a time of crisis was a powerful incentive.
The Security Council is preoccupied with Iraqi weapons inspections and the prelude to a likely war on Baghdad. In addition, North Korea's withdrawal from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty must be discussed.
Immunity waiver sought
The State Department asked the government of Pakistan to waive the diplomatic immunity of its U.N. envoy after New York police filed a domestic violence report last month.
Ambassador Munir Akram says he will stay on and represent Pakistan at the United Nations and in the Security Council, and brushes aside questions from reporters.
"I'm very resilient," he said Thursday, hustling out of the Security Council after a meeting with the U.N. weapons inspectors.
On Dec. 10, Mr. Akram's girlfriend, identified in the police report as Marijana Mihic, phoned 911 to complain that during an argument he hit her and slammed her head against a wall.
Although Miss Mihic, 35, declined to press charges, New York police are required to file reports on domestic violence calls. The District Attorney's Office is prepared to file misdemeanor assault charges.
A Pakistani familiar with the situation downplayed the matter.
"His friend is prone to getting worked up, and she called the police," he said. "She refused to file a report because she was not feeling well, and it was a misunderstanding."
The friend said Miss Mihic lives in New York, in her own home, and that "they are still friends because nothing occurred that is the basis for legal action."
The future of Mr. Akram, 57, is not clear, however.
Dawn, Pakistan's largest English-language daily, reported during the weekend that Islamabad was embarrassed by the publicity.
"Even if it was largely a weak case, Pakistan's government will not let an individual, no matter how competent, hamper Pakistan's presence at the United Nations," the newspaper quoted an official as saying.
"It's an unfortunate invention, but it carries on," said Mansoor Suhail, press attache at the Pakistani mission. He said there has been "no talk" of recalling the ambassador.
Betsy Pisik can be reached by e-mail at UNear@aol.com.


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