- The Washington Times - Monday, September 8, 2003

Kuwait seeks justice

The prime minister of Kuwait tomorrow plans to ask President Bush to try or release about a dozen Kuwaitis detained on suspicion of terrorism, the Arab state’s ambassador said yesterday.

“It’s been two years, and we feel due process should move forward,” Ambassador Sheik Salem Abdullah al-Jaber al-Saber told editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

The Kuwaitis are among the prisoners held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Sheik al-Saber said the visit by Prime Minister Sheik Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah will be a “historic event.”

“This is the first high-level encounter between Kuwait and the United States since the end of the war in Iraq,” he said.

The ambassador said his government is confident that the United States will remain in Iraq for as long as it takes to stabilize Kuwait’s giant neighbor, which invaded his nation in 1990.

“President Bush is committed to seeing a resolution. Nobody thought it would be an easy ride,” he said, referring to Mr. Bush’s Sunday speech. “I sensed his rock-solid determination to see this through to the end.”

Sheik al-Saber said the people of Iraq need to have a “timeline” with target dates for elections and other developments that will help restore the country.

“Tell the Iraqi people where they are going. Give them a road map,” he said.

Tomorrow, the prime minister meets Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. He holds talks on Thursday with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and congressional leaders.

He is accompanied by Energy Minister Sheik Ahmad al Fahd al Ahmed al Sabah, Commerce Minister Abdullah Abdelrahman al-Taweel and Information Minister Muhammad Abdullah Abulhassan.

Envoys meet Bush

Nine new ambassadors, including Britain’s David Manning, presented their diplomatic credentials to President Bush yesterday.

The others are Mikhail Khvostov of Belarus, Andoulaye Diop of Malawi, Raul Gangotena of Ecuador, Jose Octavio Bordon of Argentina, Rastislav Kacer of the Slovak Republic, Evan Jeremy Paki of Papua New Guinea, Barbara Mosima Masekela of South Africa and Juri Luik of Estonia.

Chavez warns U.S.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned the United States against interfering in a planned referendum that could force him to resign, after the American ambassador met last week with officials overseeing the recall effort.

“Gentlemen of the U.S. government, I recommend that you forget the idea of sticking your hands in here because the people will not accept it and the government will not accept it,” Mr. Chavez said in his weekly radio address on Sunday.

“This is a sovereign country, Mr. Ambassador, and you are obliged to respect this country, its laws and its constitution.”

U.S. Ambassador Charles Shapiro met last week with officials of the National Electoral Council and offered the assistance of the International Foundation for Election Systems, an independent U.S. nonprofit organization.

“If the opposition complies with the legal requirements, Venezuela’s constitution orders that a referendum be held, [and] the National Electoral Council acts as judge,” Mr. Shapiro told Reuters news agency in the capital, Caracas.

Mr. Chavez, in his radio address, added, “As a Venezuelan, I did not like it one bit that the U.S. ambassador was welcomed” by the council.

The Venezuelan Constitution allows a recall referendum if at least 20 percent of the electorate, about 2.4 million voters, sign petitions calling for a new election.

Mr. Chavez, who has increased ties with such rogue nations as Cuba and Libya, was in Havana last week to meet with President Fidel Castro when he denounced the recall effort and accused opponents of fraud.

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

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