- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 29, 2003

ACT UP hits Chirac

Adding one more headache for the French, radical American AIDS activists plan to protest outside the French Embassy today to demand that France spend more to fight the deadly disease.

Protesters say they will carry a giant white flag in their 12:30 p.m. demonstration to symbolize what they say is France’s surrender in the global war against AIDS. They will also wear masks resembling French President Jacques Chirac, who has already upset a large number of Americans over his opposition to the U.S.-led war that liberated Iraq.

The protesters, in a statement yesterday, challenged Mr. Chirac to meet President Bush’s commitment to AIDS relief. Mr. Bush last week signed a bill to provide $15 billion to fight the disease in parts of Africa and the Caribbean.

“Chirac claims he is an AIDS activist, so where is France’s money to fight AIDS?” they asked. A French Embassy spokesman could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The demonstration is organized by the Student Global AIDS Campaign, which is supporting the ACT UP group in Paris in its demand that leaders attending next week’s G-8 summit in Evian, France, “adequately fund” the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) has chapters throughout the United States and other countries to promote funding and treatment for the disease.

The group frequently engages in civil disobedience to further its goals and draws press attention because of its frequently bizarre tactics.

Protesters once draped a 35-foot condom over the home of Jesse Helms, the former Republican senator from North Carolina, and threw the ashes of an AIDS victim on the White House lawn.

Highlighting anti-Semitism

Congress is appealing to President Bush to call for a G-8 summit statement condemning attacks on Jews after last summer’s “alarming spike in anti-Semitic violence” in Europe.

“We respectfully urge you to raise this matter of mutual, international concern and seek a joint commitment to work closely together to counter this disturbing trend,” 35 members of the House and Senate said in a letter to Mr. Bush this week.

“We believe that a joint, public commitment from the political leaders, reflected in the summit communique, will bolster further efforts to eradicate the disease of anti-Semitism, deliver an unmistakable message to those who would promote bigotry and hatred and encourage other leaders to speak out on this problem.”

The signers included most members of the congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Jordan a ‘natural place’

Jordan’s role in promoting Middle East peace efforts made it a “natural place” to host next week’s meeting of President Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

“Jordan is the natural place for such a meeting to take place given the very active role played by the kingdom in developing the road map [for Middle East peace] and keeping the momentum for peace,” Edward Gnehm, the U.S. ambassador to Jordan, told Agence France-Presse.

Mr. Bush is due to visit the Red Sea resort of Aqaba on Wednesday for the meeting. He is also scheduled to meet King Abdullah II.

Portuguese visit

Portuguese Prime Minister Durao Barroso, a key European ally in the U.S.-led war in Iraq, will visit Washington for a June 6 meeting with President Bush.

Mr. Barroso will also meet administration officials and members of Congress, Portuguese Ambassador Pedro Catarino said this week, as he announced the visit.

“Portugal has stood from the first hour with the United States in the war on terrorism and on Iraq,” Mr. Catarino said.

Portugal hosted the Azores summit just before the war when Mr. Bush met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.

“We were honored to host the … summit,” Mr. Catarino said. “Portugal also promptly granted authorization for the use by the United States of the air base facilities in the Azores and will be participating in the stabilization force in Iraq.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorris[email protected]

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