- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 13, 2005

Lebanon’s complaint

Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karami continued to fuel the diplomatic dispute with the United States when he was quoted yesterday as complaining about the “insolence” of foreign ambassadors and warning about “interference in our internal affairs.”

Reinforcing earlier comments by other Lebanese officials, Mr. Karami aimed his criticism at U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman, along with French Ambassador Philippe Lecourtier.

The United States and France last year sponsored a U.N. resolution, calling on Syria to withdraw its 14,000 troops from Lebanon. Mr. Feltman last week said the United States will monitor the legislative elections in May to watch for Syrian influence.

Mr. Karami told Lebanese reporters, “Our national dignity is violated each time we receive one of these ambassadors. This interference in our internal affairs is shameful and unacceptable, and there is not one Lebanese who can accept such insolence.”

Mr. Karami condemned U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 as a “proposal for sedition” and vowed his government “will not stab Syria in the back.”

Opposition politicians, however, view Syrian troops as an occupation army and welcome the U.N. resolution.

Lebanon is the “only satellite state in the world,” opposition leader Walid Jumblatt complained earlier this month.

Mr. Feltman angered the Lebanese government when he revealed that Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, on a visit to Syria, told Syria’s authoritarian President Bashar Assad that the United States will monitor Lebanon’s election “closely and with great interest.”

Vatican’s view

Pope John Paul II may have opposed the U.S. war in Iraq, but he wants the United States to stay there long enough to secure the country, according to Jim Nicholson, the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

“I will say that virtually everyone I talk to at the Vatican does not want the United States to pull out of Iraq,” Mr. Nicholson told the Associated Press this week in Rome. “They want us to stay in there, solidify and pacify Iraq and help it become a free, stable and democratic country.”

“We had an honest disagreement between two great leaders,” he added, referring to the pope and President Bush.

The ambassador said the pope expressed support for many of Mr. Bush’s other policies, such as opposition to abortion and human cloning, when the two met in June.

“The president thanked him for that affirmation and said it would be helpful if he could receive more of that [support] from senior members of the [Roman Catholic] church community,” Mr. Nicholson said.

Mr. Nicholson is due to leave Rome soon to take up his new assignment as secretary of veterans affairs.

Israel optimistic

Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon says his country is hopeful of achieving peace now Mahmoud Abbas has been elected president of the Palestinian Authority.

“We are very optimistic about the year ahead, and we’re looking forward to [reaching] real and lasting peace with the Palestinians and our other neighbors in the region,” he said this week at a reception in his honor at Georgetown University.

University President John DeGioia, who toasted Mr. Ayalon, expressed pride that America’s oldest Jesuit university promotes programs for the three major religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Mr. Ayalon noted Georgetown’s “Program for Jewish Civilization,” and said, “Education is crucial in developing peace between people and especially in maintaining peace.”

The guests at the reception included Ambassador Karim Kawar of Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

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

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