- The Washington Times - Monday, November 28, 2005

Doing the right thing

The U.S. ambassador to Japan thinks President Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had such a successful summit earlier this month because they respect each other and share the goal of promoting democracy around the world.

Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer said the two leaders have developed a personal relationship that strengthens the national relations between the United States and Japan.

“As I listened to their conversations … I thought to myself that both leaders should be proud of the fact that Japan and the United States are doing the right thing,” Mr. Schieffer wrote in Tokyo’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

“We are standing on the side of the fundamental aspirations of people everywhere to live in peace and freedom and to have opportunities to prosper.”

He said the U.S.-Japanese alliance is “based on shared values, shared interests and a shared commitment to freedom.”

Mr. Schieffer said he was “struck” by Mr. Koizumi’s response to a reporter’s question about the problems with U.S. bases in Japan.

“In his words, ‘in order to be able to benefit from safety and peace, we have to pay a certain cost.’ In the United States, we like to say, ‘freedom is not free,’ meaning that we have to understand that there are financial, material and human costs to the maintenance of freedom,” the ambassador wrote.

He said Mr. Bush and Mr. Koizumi “affirmed” their commitment to help Afghanistan and Iraq “move toward stability and democracy,” to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear-weapons program, to prevent the spread of the current strain of bird flu and to promote free trade.

“Prime Minister Koizumi and President Bush always acknowledge their personal friendship when they meet,” the ambassador added. “There is no pretense or posturing between them, whether in private or in front of the media.

“They look at each other with confidence and warmth, and speak to each other with understanding and candor.”

The ambassador’s article is posted on the U.S. Embassy’s Web site (https://tokyo.usembassy.gov).

Security tightened

A threat in a faxed message signed in the name of the al Qaeda terrorist network prompted police in Bangladesh to increase security around the U.S. Embassy and other Western diplomatic compounds.

Police also tightened security around the British Embassy, which received the fax early Sunday.

The fax said “they would blow up the British, U.S. and all European embassies,” Agence France-Presse quoted police inspector Rabiul Islam as telling reporters in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka.

He said the fax was signed by a man named Maniq Hossain, who claimed to be a member of al Qaeda.

Norwegian lights

Norwegian Ambassador Knut Vollebaek will open the Christmas season in Washington this evening with a ceremony that has become a tradition for nearly 10 years.

Mr. Vollebaek will preside over the lighting of a 32-foot tree donated by Norway at 6:30 p.m. at Union Station. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

“It has been a Norwegian tradition to give a Christmas tree to cities in Europe as a thank-you for the vital assistance given during World War II,” he said yesterday. “Since 1997, Norway has given a 32-foot tree to the city of Washington as a sign of gratitude and to strengthen the already strong ties between Norway and the United States.”

The Christmas-tree lighting is the largest Norwegian cultural festival outside of Norway, he said.

Norway’s world-champion runner Grete Waitz will throw the switch to light the tree, while the National Cathedral Choral Society sings Christmas carols.

Another feature of the celebration is the Holiday Model Train, which chugs along through a Norwegian scene of model villages and mountains. The festival runs through Jan. 8.

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

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