- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cyprus did it before

The ambassador from Cyprus was not worried when the United States and other countries called on the small Mediterranean nation to act as a staging point for the evacuation of foreigners from Lebanon.

Ambassador Euripides L. Evriviades recalled that Cyprus had done it before in 1983, when it served as a base of operations for U.S. efforts to recover the remains of the victims and evacuate the survivors of the terrorist attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut.

“We did then what we are doing now,” he said. “We are cooperating with the United States and assisting people in need in any way we can.”

In another parallel, Hezbollah, the same terrorist group that bombed the Marine barracks, also provoked the current war with Israel by kidnapping Israeli soldiers. Israel is responding with air strikes and missile attacks against Hezbollah strongholds in southern Beirut, where the group frequently hides its rockets in residential neighborhoods.

The evacuation of Americans, thought to number about 25,000, and thousands of other foreigners is a huge operation for the Cypriots.

“This is a critical humanitarian undertaking of major proportions, and we are working all-out to assist and support those evacuating from Lebanon,” Mr. Evriviades said.

Israel gets support

Americans overwhelmingly support Israel and denounce Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorists, according to a poll released yesterday by the Israel Project.

“Americans understand exactly what is happening here and who is behind it,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of the Washington-based group, which promotes Israel in the press and public forums.

The poll of 1,000 likely voters showed that 59 percent of Americans think Israel is justified in its attacks against Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon, while 19 percent called the strikes unjustified. Fifty-six percent approved of Israeli attacks on Hamas sites in the Gaza Strip, while 24 percent called them unjustified.

Seventy percent identified either Iran or Syria as the primary supporter of Hamas, and 74 percent cited either country as the main backer of Hezbollah. Fifty-four percent cited Hamas as a terrorist organization, and 60 percent identified Hezbollah as one.

Sixty percent called themselves either “a strong supporter” or “a supporter” of Israel, while 7 percent applied those labels when asked about the Palestinians.

The poll was conducted Sunday through Tuesday by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and has a margin of error of three percentage points.

No base in Mongolia

Mongolia has no intention of inviting the United States or any other country to open a military base in the strategically placed Central Asian nation, Ambassador Ravdan Bold said yesterday.

Mr. Bold cited Mongolia’s 1992 constitution, which expressly prohibits foreign military bases. He added that Mongolia can invite foreign troops to participate in military exercises, but that they must leave after the maneuvers. The United States is expected to join other nations next month in Mongolia for a peacekeeping exercise known as Khan Quest.

China is suspicious of Mongolia’s close relationship with the United States. State-owned Chinese newspapers have reported that the United States is trying to establish radar stations and electronic-surveillance sites inside Mongolia to spy on China, which borders Mongolia on the east, west and south.

On another issue, Mr. Bold sought to calm U.S. concerns about Mongolia’s links to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Washington is concerned that the group, led by Russia and China, might be an attempt to squeeze out U.S. influence in Asia.

“Mongolia has no intention of joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization until the intentions of this organization become clear for the international community, but it will maintain its observer status,” he said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

washingtontimes.com.


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