- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Insider notes from United Press International for Jan. 21 …

It's going to be quite a summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, in May — and what could become the prototype of a new G-10 meeting of the real global powers. The confirmation from New Delhi that India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will combine his regular Indo-Russian annual summit with President Vladimir Putin with the celebration of St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary party brings all the key actors of the world stage together. President George W. Bush will be there, along with China's new President Hu Jintao, France's Jacques Chirac, Britain's Tony Blair and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder. So this assembles in Putin's hometown the usual G-7 crowd (which includes Italy and Canada) with Russia as the extra making up the G-8, and India and China for the G-10. India and China, Asia's two regional superpowers, have long grumbled at their exclusion from the white folk's club of the G-8. Interestingly, Vajpayee will be visiting Hu in Beijing this spring, just before the Russian summit, and Indian diplomats are weighing a joint Indo-Chinese proposal to make the G-10 meetings into a regular fixture.


Meanwhile, India has other diplomatic avenues to explore, beyond its traditional leadership of that Cold War relic, the Non-Aligned Summit (next month in Malaysia). Iranian President Syed Mohammad Khatami visits Delhi this week to consolidate a new friendship that is based partly in India's energy needs, partly on joint interests in Afghanistan and Central Asia, and very much on their shared concern about the instability of their joint neighbor Pakistan. What is new about this week's agenda is the confidential defense cooperation talks. India's head of Naval Staff, Adm. Madhvendra Singh, is in Iran this week for high-level talks. Ship visits and other military cooperation — including joint weapons development — are expected soon.


Even though it is stalling on U.S. basing requests, Turkey is making quiet preparations for war — of another kind. An instant town of 24,000 tents to receive refugees in the event of a conflict is being established in Silopi in Sirnak province, several miles from the Iraqi border crossing at Habur. Turkey's Red Crescent humanitarian relief organization is also establishing its main warehouse Turkish Petroleum International Company's facilities in Silopi as it prepares for a tidal wave of up to 100,000 refugees. Turkish authorities have drawn up contingency plans to establish 13 camps for refugees on Iraqi territory and five more camps on Turkish territory. The effort is being coordinated by Emergency Rule Regional Gov. Gokhan Aydiner, Sirnak Gov. Huseyin Baskaya and Silopi's Unal Cakici. According to Aydiner, "the aim of all these works is humanitarian aid."


As the 1,200 members of the French National Assembly and the German Bundestag gather in Paris for Wednesday's historic joint parliamentary session, commemorating 40 years of the Franco-German Treaty, a new call comes from Brussels for a full-fledged federation of the two countries. Two members of the EU's Commission, Germany's Guenter Verheugen (who looks after the EU's enlargement portfolio) and France's Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, have issued a joint open letter, published in the Berliner Zeitung and Liberation, calling for a common government to run the two countries' foreign, security and financial policies. Stressing that they do not want to create "an island without bridges to the European Union," they propose that other EU countries be invited to join them and create a "core Europe." What they don't say, but the implication seems clear enough, is that if pro-American poodles like Britain want to slow progress toward a full-fledged EU federal state, France and Germany are prepared to build a new institution from which American Trojan horses are excluded.


This week's World Economic Forum at Davos is looking a bit thin on headliners. The organizers failed to get South Korea's President-elect Roh Moo-hyun, and have to make do with a "special envoy" from his Millennium Democratic Party, Chung Dong-young. The stars confirmed so far are Secretary of State Colin Powell (U.N. complications permitting), Brazil's new President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Mexico's President Vicente Fox and King Abdullah of Jordan. Americans glancing over the program may feel they are being got at. Featured events include a critical "foreign view" of the U.S. economy that will focus on its trade deficits and growing dependence on foreign investments, another on the doom of Detroit (or the prospects of a hydrogen-fueled economy), U.S productivity as miracle or myth, and a session on "What We Don't Know About al Qaida."


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