Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Canada helps in Iraq

Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham yesterday said his country is prepared to contribute more than $225 million, along with civil-affairs training, to help rebuild Iraq.

Mr. Graham told Secretary of State Colin L. Powell that Canada can help train judicial officers, police and prison administrators to help repair the civil infrastructure.

However, the issue of Canadian troops in Iraq did not come up.

“Nobody is asking for Canadian troops,” Mr. Graham said, adding that Canadian forces are already stretched thin with peacekeeping commitments in Afghanistan and other places.

He also briefed Mr. Powell about his recent visit to Afghanistan, where Canada has more than 1,900 troops and two Canadian officers in the top command ranks of the U.N.-authorized International Security Assistance Force.

Mr. Graham said they also discussed a newly established antiterrorist group of U.S. and Canadian officials patrolling the border between the two countries.

“The whole issue is the defense of the continent,” he said.

Mr. Graham, who also held talks with members of Congress, said he has recently traveled throughout the United States and still encounters questions about Canadian opposition to the war in Iraq.

“The issue comes up. While we disagreed on the approach, we agreed that Saddam Hussein was a dangerous man,” he said, noting that Canada wanted a stronger authorization from the United Nations.

“We’re going to have disagreements, but ultimately we come together 99.5 percent of the time.”

‘Bond of blood’

Israelis grew closer to the United States after the September 11 terrorist attacks because they realized that on that date Americans came to know the Arab violence that the Jewish state sees every day, an Israeli official said yesterday.

“There has always been a special bond between Americans and Israelis,” Gideon Meir, the deputy spokesman for the Israeli government, told editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

“September 11 brought us even closer. We now share a bond of blood.”

Mr. Meir, on a Washington visit, said he wished the United States had never been attacked but the tragedy brought a “better understanding of what Israel goes through.”

“It’s the same enemy facing Americans and Israelis,” he added. “It’s the enemy of freedom. It’s the enemy of democracy.”

Hungarian solidarity

Hungary supported President Bush early this year when he was seeking allies to remove Saddam Hussein and is still supporting the effort to rebuild Iraq, Hungarian Ambassador Andras Simonyi said yesterday.

Although Hungary incurred the wrath of the French and risked its entry into the European Union, Hungary realized that a regime change in Baghdad was part of the war on terrorism that began two years ago today with the terrorist attacks on the United States, he said.

“Our message is democracies in Europe and America and elsewhere have to hold hands in the fight against terrorism. … There is no alternative,” Mr. Simonyi told Embassy Row.

Hungary will remain a pro-American member of the European Union when it joins next year, he said.

“Hungary is a close ally and friend of the United States and will stay that way as Hungary moves into the EU,” he said.

Hungary is also supporting the reconstruction of Iraq by training future government leaders and providing 350 combat-transport troops.

To honor the victims of the September 11 attacks, Mr. Simonyi tomorrow will host a concert at the Hungarian Embassy, featuring the Hungarian pianist Petronel Malan.

“This is to honor those who died in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania,” he added.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail

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