- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2004

Saudis expelled

Several Saudi diplomats must leave the United States this month because they no longer perform the duties for which they were accredited, according to the State Department.

However, they do not present a terrorist threat, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. He did not name the diplomats or identify the positions they held at the Saudi Embassy.

Ahmad Kattan, the deputy chief of mission at the embassy, said the United States revoked the diplomatic visas of 14 staff members of the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Studies in America and ordered them to leave the country by Feb. 22. They include nine Saudi citizens.

Mr. Kattan said the revocation of their diplomatic visas “does not preclude [them] from applying for re-entry to the United States.”

Mr. Boucher hinted that the diplomats lost the accreditations because they were doing some kind of work outside the embassy.

“As a condition of their appointments, persons accredited at embassies must perform duties directly related to and in support of the embassy,” he said. “When it comes to the department’s attention that they no longer are performing duties on a full-time basis at the embassy, they lose their entitlement to this status.”

Asked whether they presented a threat, Mr. Boucher said the department acted “solely” on the basis that these “individuals did not appear to be engaged full time in the conduct of diplomatic duties within the Saudi Embassy.”

He added that he had no information on whether the diplomats might have been involved in fund raising. Saudi authorities have closed several Saudi charities that were suspected of laundering money for terrorists.

“We have asked the Saudi mission to arrange for the immediate departure of these individuals,” Mr. Boucher said.

Indian business

Indian Ambassador Lalit Mansingh is promoting a major U.S.-India business conference at the Federal Reserve in Philadelphia later this month.

Mr. Mansingh will deliver the keynote address at the forum sponsored by the District-based U.S.-India Institute for Strategic Policy and the Philadelphia-based Global Interdependence Center.

“After very little interaction for over 50 years, corporate America is engaging with India as never before,” the Indian Embassy said in announcing the forum. “As the same time, a new corporate elite is emerging in India that is looking to interact with the U.S. business world in ways unimaginable only a few years ago.”

The embassy said most contacts are in the fields of information technology, pharmaceuticals, auto parts and defense.

“The symposium … aims to promote greater economic, business and trade opportunities between the two countries,” the embassy said.

The registration cost for individuals is $100, and more information is available at www.interdependence.org/ev040226.html.

Pakistani’s appeal

A retired career Pakistani diplomat is urging his country to face the reality of the United States’ developing closer relations with India, its historic rival.

“The time has come when Pakistan must face the ground realities as they exist and not as it would like them to be,” wrote Afzaal Mahmood, now a columnist with the Pakistani newspaper Dawn.

“Compared to India, we are a small country and cannot hope to be an effective rival of our big neighbor in international politics.

“It is therefore futile on our part to oppose India’s efforts to achieve its potential and act as a big power in world politics. We simply cannot prevent it.”

Mr. Mahmood, who retired after serving as ambassador to Vietnam, said Pakistan should focus on creating a “progressive, democratic, peaceful, stable and prosperous country.”

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

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