- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Regional powers must do more to help isolate and undermine rogue regimes such as Zimbabwe and Burma, U.S. officials said yesterday.

Lorne Craner, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said pressure from the United States and Europe can go only so far in influencing some of the world’s worst human rights violators.

Neighboring countries “ought to be concerned because those regimes are sullying the reputation of their region,” said Mr. Craner. He said such regimes can hurt neighboring economies, scare off foreign investment, and create spillover problems with drugs and refugees.

Stepping up the Bush administration’s criticism of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell publicly called on South Africa and other regional states to intensify efforts to end Mr. Mugabe’s increasingly authoritarian rule.

Mr. Powell, in an opinion piece published yesterday in the New York Times, said the increasing poverty and political repression faced by average Zimbabweans demand stronger measures.

South Africa and other African countries “can and should play a stronger and more sustained role that fully reflects the urgency of Zimbabwe’s crisis,” Mr. Powell wrote.

“If leaders on the continent do not do more to convince President Mugabe to respect the rule of law and enter into a dialogue with the political opposition, he and his cronies will drag Zimbabwe down until there is nothing left to ruin — and Zimbabwe’s implosion will continue to threaten the stability and prosperity of the region.”

Mr. Craner made his remarks yesterday at a State Department briefing to release a survey of U.S. efforts to promote democracy and human rights in 92 countries considered to have the worst records on political liberties.

He said the report is intended as a companion piece to the department’s annual survey of human rights records around the globe.

Countries covered in the new report range from Iraq and Iran, part of President Bush’s “axis of evil,” to allies such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and several Central Asian republics.

Turkey and Israel, which have been targeted by human rights groups in the past, are not included in the report, although U.S. efforts to promote democracy and human rights in Palestinian lands occupied by Israel are surveyed.

The report said the United States hopes to make Iraq a beacon for democracy in the Middle East, although the situation there remains uncertain.

Mr. Craner said the report covered some of the world’s worst human rights abusers, as well as several countries struggling to improve their political and human rights records.

“I think you can certainly say that we don’t have a cookie-cutter approach to democracy around the world,” he said.

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