- The Washington Times - Monday, June 13, 2005

Test for U.N.

The scandal-plagued United Nations must adopt broad reforms if it is to live up to the values of its founding charter, the new president of the U.N. General Assembly said yesterday.

Jan Eliasson, Sweden’s ambassador to the United States for the past five years, challenged member nations to adopt a “litmus test” as he was elected to preside over the 60th session of the General Assembly, which convenes in September.

The world body is facing one of its greatest tests, as the oil-for-food scandal has damaged the reputation of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The United Nations also is reeling from multiple reports of sexual abuse by its peacekeepers.

Mr. Eliasson said the 191-nation body must never again allow humanitarian disasters like the killing fields of Cambodia, the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur, Sudan, or the killings of thousands in Srebrenica in a U.N. “safe haven” during the war in Bosnia.

“We cannot — after Cambodia, Rwanda, Srebrenica and Darfur — say, ‘Never again,’ without seriously undermining the moral authority of the U.N. and its charter,” Mr. Eliasson said.

“The litmus test and the measuring rod for U.N. reforms must be the difference they make for … the starving child, the AIDS-stricken mother, the war-torn country, the polluted river, the desperate refugee, the oppressed and neglected, and, not to forget, the struggling and unselfish humanitarian workers of the U.N. and [nongovernmental organizations], as well as the U.N. and regional peacekeepers,” he added.

Mr. Eliasson’s election marks his return to the United Nations where he served as Sweden’s ambassador from 1988 to 1992. He was later appointed the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs. Before serving as ambassador in Washington, Mr. Eliasson was Sweden’s deputy secretary of state for foreign affairs.

Syria criticizes U.S.

Syrian Ambassador Imad Moustapha is dismissing U.S. charges that his country still has spies inside Lebanon.

“I would say it is a shame that the world’s unique superpower, the United States of America, will degrade itself to this level,” he told CNN’s “Late Edition” Sunday.

“The day we completed our withdrawal from Lebanon, the very same day the United States repeatedly continued saying from the very early stages, ‘No, Syria has not withdrawn from Lebanon. Syria has agents there. We have information and reports that Syria still has agents there.’ ”

He compared the U.S. claims about Syria to American intelligence reports that Iraq had large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

“This is untrue. This is just as credible as the story of Iraq’s WMD before the war,” Mr. Moustapha said.

The Bush administration last week said it was troubled by press reports that Syria had compiled a “hit list” of anti-Syrian figures in Lebanon. Earlier this year, Syria withdrew troops that had occupied Lebanon for nearly three decades.

Artful diplomacy

London’s social circles are abuzz with news of the expected arrival of a new U.S. ambassador, already being described as “colorful,” politically connected and culturally correct.

Robert Holmes Tuttle, a top fundraiser for President Bush, is a wealthy car dealer who also served as chairman of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. He once famously said, “Cars are a business. I collect art.”

London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper yesterday said his interests and his family “should help him to counter the standard European stereotype of Republicans as cultural barbarians.”

Mr. Tuttle, whose nomination must be approved by the Senate, raised more than $100,000 for Mr. Bush’s re-election campaign and contributed another $100,000 to his second inaugural.

The Telegraph predicted Mr. Tuttle and his wife, Maria, will “cut a dash in society circles.”

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

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