Friday, December 15, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Asahi Shimbun

North Korean nukes

TOKYO — For the first time since November 2005, the six-party talks over the North Korean nuclear issue will resume on Dec. 18 in Beijing.

It is good that the upcoming negotiations will at least defuse the deepening confrontation and render new developments possible. The six-way talks is the only framework that has the potential to resolve the North Korean problem through diplomacy.

However, resumption of the talks will not mean any immediate untangling of the complex web of tough problems. A detailed road map for the North’s abandonment of its nuclear ambitions is indispensable, and creating one will likely become a focal task when the talks resume. …

As declared in the joint statement, “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” is a goal confirmed by all parties. China, Russia, South Korea, Japan and the United States must maintain this principle and guide North Korea toward making the decision to abandon its nuclear ambitions as soon as possible.

Corriere Della Sera

Augusto Pinochet’s death

MILAN, Italy — Tyrants, when they die, leave behind nostalgia and even people’s love: This is a moral scandal that is difficult to understand through concepts and reason, the scandal of grieving Chileans in the squares … shedding emotional tears at the funeral of the great “butcher.”

But the dictators who symbolically represent the sensitivity of part of the people draw extreme feelings. Great hatred, but also great love. Their end coincides with a feeling of liberation for the victims of the dictatorship. But for another, substantial portion of the society, the buried dictator attracts feelings of regret for a past [that is] manipulated by nostalgia … and which fails to remind of the suffering it caused to the opponents.

It is hard to admit, but part of Chilean society, not wanting to see the prisons crowded with opponents, dissidents disappearing, the tortured and the dead, has felt that re-establishing order was a priority before any other consideration.


Issues in Lebanon

MADRAS, India — Hezbollah appears to have pushed Lebanon to the brink of either a fundamental political change or chaos with its campaign to oust the government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora. The militant Shi’ite organization is pressing for the formation of a Cabinet of national unity that will supervise fresh elections. In a show of determination, Mr. Siniora and several ministers have confined themselves to the government headquarters in Beirut for the past several days, even as tens of thousands of opposition supporters laid siege to it. Hezbollah and its allies have warned that they might soon escalate their campaign by cutting roads and blocking airports and harbors.

The opposition’s short-term objective is to secure more than a one-third share in an interim government so that it could … veto decisions. [In the Lebanese government system, two-thirds of the ministers need to agree on any decision]. Mr. Siniora has indicated he is prepared to yield some ground, but will not allow a virtual Hezbollah coup. This confrontation is not likely to wind down soon, since the two … groups are locked in a struggle that could determine the future of Lebanon’s “confessional politics.”

Traditionally, the high offices of state are allocated to the major sectarian and ethnic groups on the basis of their numbers as recorded in a census taken decades ago. While no estimates of Lebanon’s population have been made in recent years, it is widely believed the Shi’ites make up the largest group. A community that was marginalized until Hezbollah built it up into a monolith is now demanding its due.

For the moment, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah has not asked for a change in the constitutional scheme under which the president must be a Christian, the prime minister a Sunni, and the speaker of parliament a Shi’ite. His demand is that Shi’ites be given a decisive say in the choice of prime minister. The Sunni, Christian, and Druze parties, which form the core of Mr. Siniora’s coalition, are not likely to concede.

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