- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2003

NATO's new beginning
Poland's ambassador believes NATO's decision to admit seven new members will transform the alliance into a "more efficient tool" to fight international terrorism.
"It is not an exaggeration that the results of the NATO summit in Prague constitute the new beginning not only to the seven new countries but to the whole of Europe and to transatlantic relations," Ambassador Przemyslaw Grudzinski said in the latest Polish Embassy newsletter.
NATO in November invited Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to join the alliance. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic became members in 1999.
"The enlargement and other Prague summit decisions will transform NATO into a more efficient tool to fight international terrorism, as well as create a new, more stable and secure environment in all of Europe," he said.
Mr. Grudzinski noted that the expansion "fulfills the strategic vision presented by President Bush," who called for a "Europe whole and free" from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
'Self-reflection' needed
South Korean Ambassador Yang Sung-chol believes the United States pushed North Korea into its current belligerent state by cutting off oil shipments after discovering that the reclusive Stalinist nation violated promises not to pursue a nuclear-weapons program.
Mr. Yang told Foreign Affairs magazine that the Bush administration's action was a "contributing factor" in North Korea's decision to expel U.N. inspectors monitoring a nuclear facility as part of a 1994 agreement with the United States.
Oil shipments were suspended in November after North Korea admitted that it had a secret uranium-enrichment project.
He said North Korea "cannot go without being punished, but we could have given them some breathing space."
Mr. Yang, in apparent criticism of U.S. policy, said, "Any sound policy must start from self-reflection rather than self-righteousness."
The ambassador also said the United States can no longer count on South Korea to "automatically follow" the U.S. lead on the Korean peninsula.
Close allies "consult closely not automatically follow the other side," he said.
"That's unilateralism. America has a policy, and then [South] Korea is just following," he said.
Insulting Turkmenistan
State Department spokesman Philip Reeker has upset the leadership of Turkmenistan by accusing it of violating international law in its pursuit of suspects in an attempted assassination of President Saparmurat Niyazov.
The editors of Turkmenistan's state-controlled newspaper threw a fit last week as they accused Mr. Reeker of a "groundless" and "unfriendly attack."
They called his remarks a "stab in the back" in an open letter that must have lost something in the translation. According to an Agence France-Press report from Turkmenistan, the editors said:
"We advise you, Philip Reeker, not to do your utmost in the hope that your defamatory fabrications, which are more like blanks fired from a gun, will alienate the Turkmen people."
Mr. Reeker said last month that Washington was "deeply concerned" over the investigation into the November assassination attempt and over the denial of U.S. diplomatic access to one suspect who holds dual U.S. and Turkmen citizenship.
The newspaper editors also accused Laura Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador in Turkmenistan, of contacting Boris Shikhmuradov, a former foreign minister and opposition leader at a time when he was on the run from authorities who suspected him of plotting the attack. He was later sentenced to life in prison.
Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Hernan Buchi, former finance minister of Chile, who discusses trade between the United States and Chile at the Cato Institute.
Sergio Marchi, Canada's ambassador to the World Trade Organization and chairman of its General Council. He discusses global business with invited guests of the Washington International Trade Association.

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