- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2005

Movement in Malabo

At least one ambassador is happy with the State Department’s report on trafficking in human beings.

Ambassador Teodoro Biyogo Nsue of Equatorial Guinea this week said his government is “very pleased” that the United States promoted the tiny, but oil-rich, West African nation from a blacklist of the world’s worst offenders to a middle rank of countries that are responding to the forced labor and sexual exploitation of women and children.

“We have worked closely with U.S. officials for over eight months to address the issue and ensure that it is not a problem in my country or an issue that undercuts bilateral relations,” Mr. Nsue said.

The State Department report recognized the country’s progress, but still expressed concerns over continued abuse.

“The government of Equatorial Guinea does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so,” the report said.

“Over the past year, the government has made a number of efforts that attest to its commitment to address Equatorial Guinea’s small, but significant, trafficking problem.”

The department raised Equatorial Guinea from a “tier 3” nation, which includes those countries that have made no efforts to end human trafficking, to a “tier 2” nation.

Mr. Nsue said his government has adopted laws to ban trafficking in humans and has assigned officials to monitor compliance, especially in the capital, Malabo, where the problem is the worst. The government also adopted U.S. recommendations for a public-awareness program to explain the issue to its citizens and a government office to assist victims of human trafficking.

“This is a worldwide problem, and my government is committed to ensuring that it is not a concern in Equatorial Guinea now or in the future,” the ambassador said. “We will continue to work closely with U.S. officials to monitor the situation.”

Despite its progress on combating human trafficking, the country’s human rights record remains poor, its government is authoritarian and its bureaucracy corrupt, according to the State Department’s human rights report.

Mission to Europe

The top U.S. diplomat for Europe yesterday tried to put the best spin on the turmoil created by the French and Dutch rejection of the European constitution.

Daniel Fried, the assistant secretary of state for European affairs, told reporters in Berlin that the United States needs a strong partner in Europe to face joint security threats throughout the world, according to a dispatch from our correspondent in the German capital, Tom Goeller.

“I have come here after the referendum in France to send a message to our European friends,” Mr. Fried said.

“We want a strong Europe as our partner, a Europe that faces the challenges that are beyond our shores, located in the Middle East and in other parts of the world.”

He praised U.S.-EU cooperation, especially in the promotion of democratic reforms in Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine. However, he noted the disagreements over EU plans to consider lifting a ban on arms sales to China.

“We need a debate with the Europeans about East Asia in general and China in particular. We want Europe to work with us on foreign policy challenges,” he said.

Mr. Fried also visited France and Italy this week to prepare for the June 20 U.S.-EU summit in Washington. President Bush is expected to host EU Council President Jean-Claude Juncker, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, French President Jacques Chirac and the leaders of the 22 other EU nations.

Two other U.S. officials were barnstorming Europe on similar missions yesterday. Christopher R. Hill, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, met with NATO officials in Belgium, and Treasury Secretary John W. Snow began his five-day visit to London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and Frankfurt, Germany.

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

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