- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 2003

Russia missile defense
The United States is serious about its proposal to collaborate with Russia in the development of an anti-missile system, according to the U.S. ambassador in Moscow.
"Given that Russia has tremendous scientific know-how and some experience with defense systems, we think this could be a really serious partnership that would benefit us both," Ambassador Alexander Vershbow said in an interview published yesterday.
Mr. Vershbow said the collaboration could be on a U.S. system or one that could serve both countries.
"The system we are developing for early deployment is only in its initial phase," he said. "We haven't even decided what will be in the latter phases of this program because technologies are still in a formative stage."
Mr. Vershbow said he is aware of a "bit of skepticism" from some of Russia's top brass who doubt the United States will share the missile-defense technology.
"Let me tell anybody from the Russian military reading this interview that we are serious," he told the Interfax news agency.
President Bush decided to deploy a limited missile defense by next year, after withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Russia at first objected to the U.S. decision but later relented when Washington exercised its right to pull out of the treaty last year.

Concern in Lebanon
The United States yesterday complained about Lebanon's censorship of two independent television stations for broadcasting critical reports about Syria, the power broker in Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia.
Ambassador Vincent Battle said he raised the actions against NTV, an opposition station, and the private MTV station in a meeting with Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
"We obviously talked about the issue of NTV, and I shared with the prime minister the concern of the U.S. government about what appears to be steps taken that reduce or limit freedom of expression," he told reporters in Beirut.
A Lebanese court closed MTV in November for "harming" relations with Syria. Authorities cut NTV's satellite link for four hours Saturday to prevent it from broadcasting a report on Saudi Arabia.

Honorary Libyan
Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi this week named an American beauty pageant contestant as his honorary ambassador to the United States, which has no diplomatic representation with the North African nation that is featured prominently on the U.S. list of terrorist countries.
Tecca Zendik of Los Angeles won Col. Gadhafi's heart when she cried at a ceremony last weekend in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, as he described the 1986 U.S. bombing of his compound.
In addition to the dubious diplomatic appointment, he declared her an honorary Libyan citizen.
It is not clear from news reports of the beauty pageant whether Miss Zendik knows anything about Col. Gadhafi's role in terrorism.
Miss Zendik, 23, was only 7 years old when President Reagan ordered air strikes in retaliation for Libya's role in the bombing of a nightclub in Germany that killed an American serviceman. In 1988, Libya was implicated in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Miss Zendik was the U.S. representative in the "Miss Net World" contest, an Internet pageant that allowed online voting for the winner, which turned out to be Britain's Lucy Layton.
But Miss Zendik was the star of the weekend. She helped release "doves of peace" and declared that she would work to encourage Americans to love Libyans.
"She is a beautiful bird of peace that came from the United States to ensure that relations between the Libyan and American peoples are embedded in the roots of history," the Libyan Foreign Ministry said.

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