- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Envoy condemns raid

Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan yesterday denounced the terrorist raid on the Riyadh housing complex this week as attack on “humanity” by suicide bombers who had “perverted” Islam.

Prince Bandar, in a statement, also expressed his condolences to the families of the Americans, Saudis, Europeans, Arabs and Asians killed in the Monday night explosions.

“My government promises that we will not rest until, together, we hunt down these criminals and bring them to justice. And when we do, their punishment will be swift and severe,” he said.

Prince Bandar noted that the victims were Muslims as well as Christians.

“The attack was an attack on humanity,” he said. “We reject the terrorists who express their hatred for our people and our friends through such cowardly actions.

“These terrorists have turned their backs on our people, and they have perverted our faith. They do not in any way represent Islam. They only represent hatred towards all of humanity.”

Pakistan’s friend

Sen. Sam Brownback was moved by a Muslim cleric reading from the Koran yesterday at a ceremony at the Pakistani Embassy to honor the Kansas Republican.

Mr. Brownback, a Methodist, expressed his respect for all religions.

“They are all a yearning of the soul,” he said after receiving the Hilal-i-Pakistan, one of the country’s highest civilian awards.

But religion is a “terribly unfortunate thing when it is used for ill purposes,” he added.

Mr. Brownback noted he always has promoted U.S. aid for education in Pakistan because an illiterate population can succumb easily to “the lure of extremism.”

He praised Pakistan for its cooperation in the war against terrorism, especially for the recent arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden’s.

“That was the most important terrorist arrest in history,” he said.

Pakistan’s foreign minister flew in from a U.N. Security Council session in New York to represent Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri called Mr. Brownback a “true friend of Pakistan and its people” long before Pakistan became a pivotal U.S. ally against terrorism.

Mr. Brownback was “promoting Pakistan … even when the [U.S.-Pakistani] ties were not as vigorous as today,” the foreign minister said.

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, Mr. Brownback argued for lifting the economic sanctions against Pakistan long before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The sanctions were imposed in 1998 after Pakistan conducted nuclear weapons tests in response to tests by India, which also was hit by sanctions. The measures on both countries have been repealed.

Pakistani Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi placed the Hilal-i-Pakistan medal attached to a silk sash around Mr. Brownback’s neck and thanked him for “his tireless endeavors.”

Guests at the ceremony and luncheon included Thomas Pickering, undersecretary of state in the Clinton administration; Karl F. Inderfurth, former assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs; and Robert Oakley, a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan.

Mongolia off SARS list

Mongolia was removed from a global watch list for SARS, the Mongolian Embassy said this week.

Tserendorj Jambaldorj, the deputy chief of mission, said the World Health Organization concluded that his country had met the standards set for tracking and containing severe acute respiratory syndrome, which had spread through much of Central Asia.

“The cumulative total of probably SARS cases in Mongolia is nine. No deaths have occurred,” he said in a statement. Six victims have recovered, and three remain in isolation in a hospital designated to treat SARS patients.

The WHO lifted the “emergency security condition” in the capital, Ulan Bator, on Friday after finding no new SARS outbreaks for the last 20 days, Mr. Jambaldorj said.

“WHO does not recommend any restriction on travel to Mongolia,” he added.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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