- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Search for a partnerIsraeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon says his country is searching for a Palestinian partner who will keep peace commitments instead of fostering terrorism.”Without terror, without incitement, without hatred, without military pressure or economic boycotts — we want peace as equals,” he told about 800 Christian supporters of Israel at a prayer breakfast last week.”We will keep outstretching our hands until we find a partner who will be trustworthy, who will keep their commitments, who will be willing to take the path with us — no matter how difficult it is — without terror or violence.”Mr. Ayalon did not mention Mahmoud Abbas, the new Palestinian prime minister, or the Bush administration’s “road map” for Middle East peace, which envisions a Palestinian state by 2005. The Bush administration hopes that Mr. Abbas, unlike Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, will stop terrorism against Israel.Mr. Ayalon, addressing the annual Israel Solidarity and Prayer Breakfast at the Israeli Embassy, urged his guests to “keep the faith.”“We have the same faith,” he added. “On the road, there are many trials and tribulations, many challenges ahead. We will always keep the faith together.”Meanwhile, Israeli Tourism Minister Benny Elon, who said Israelis will never surrender the West Bank, will hold a news conference tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel to present a response to the road map.”Our stay in Judea and Samaria is not temporary,” he said in a statement, referring to the ancient Jewish names for the occupied West Bank. “A Palestinian state in the heartland of … Israel will be a disaster for both the Jewish states as well as the Palestinians.”Hill forms Kazakh groupCongressional members are preparing to inaugurate a joint forum with legislators from Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic with an abysmal human rights record but rich in oil, gas and other natural resources.Kazakhstan also is considered one of Washington’s chief Central Asian allies in the war against terrorism.The Kazakh parliamentary delegation, led by Deputy Speaker Mukhambet Kopei, will meet tomorrow with House members led by Florida Democrat Robert Wexler and Pennsylvania Republican Joe Pitts to open the U.S.-Kazakhstan Interparliamentary Friendship Group.In a letter inviting the delegation to Washington, Mr. Wexler and Mr. Pitts said the group “can serve as a platform to bring our two nations closer as we work to fight international terrorism, dismantle weapons of mass destruction, strengthen the protection of fundamental human rights and support the emergence of democracy in Central Asia.”Kazakhstan has taken “important steps to build democratic institutions and to reach out to the United States in friendship,” they said. They also noted Kazakhstan’s condemnation of the September 11 attacks.The State Department’s new human rights report criticizes Kazakhstan for weak democratic institutions, as well as government corruption and press harassment.Kazakhstan’s “poor human rights record worsened, and it continued to commit abuses” in 2002, the report said. U.S.-Canada defenseThe U.S. ambassador to Canada is urging the northern neighbor to join the United States in developing a space-defense system against rogue states with missiles that could hit North America.”We are hopeful that Canada will make a positive decision,” Ambassador Paul Cellucci told reporters in Ottawa last week.Mr. Cellucci said Canada’s participation will strengthen NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense system, which is run by both nations. The Bush administration hopes to integrate a defense system into NORAD.Canada, however, remains undecided.”We have had reservations about national missile defense,” Foreign Minister Bill Graham said at a ceremony with Mr. Cellucci to sign a new U.S.-Canadian air travel agreement.That could change if former Finance Minister Paul Martin succeeds Jean Chretien as prime minister. Mr. Martin, the leading candidate to replace the retiring prime minister, favors Canadian participation in the project.

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