- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 27, 2006

Saudi aid

Saudi Ambassador Prince Turki al-Faisal thinks the $1.8 billion in aid his government is giving to Lebanon and the Palestinian territories will help rebuild Arab communities devastated by the war between Israel and Hezbollah terrorists.

“The people of Lebanon and Palestine are in dire need of assistance as they face this ordeal,” he said this week. “Saudi Arabia continues to support the people of these nations and to strive for a rapid end to this crisis.”

Prince Turki added that his government is working with the United States and other nations to find a way “to restore peace.”

The aid package to Lebanon includes a $500 million grant dedicated to reconstruction of the areas of Beirut and southern Lebanon targeted by Israel because they were strongholds of the Hezbollah rebels, who provoked Israeli retaliation by kidnapping and killing Israeli soldiers.

Saudi Arabia will deposit $1 billion in the Central Bank of Lebanon to help support the Lebanese economy. The kingdom last week provided $50 million in emergency aid, the ambassador said.

For Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the Saudis earmarked $250 million for an international relief fund.

In addition to governmental aid, Saudis pledged $26.7 million in a fundraiser for Lebanon ordered by Saudi King Abdullah, the Saudi Embassy announced.

Undermining Cyprus

The Embassy of Cyprus this week responded with its own accusations, after officials of the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot authority complained that the Greek-Cypriot government refused to help in their efforts to evacuate foreigners from Lebanon.

“It is truly sad that some waste no time on politicizing even the utmost humane actions of a legitimate government in order to promote the partition of Cyprus,” said embassy press officer Katerina Karakehagia.

The ethnic-Greek government is internationally recognized, while the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) has diplomatic relations only with Turkey.

Miss Karakehagia called the complaints by Osman Ertug, the TRNC representative in Washington, “simply an attempt to undermine” the response from the government of Cyprus to accommodate tens of thousands of evacuees from Lebanon.

In Monday’s Embassy Row column, Mr. Ertug said Turkish-Cypriot rescue ships have to sail from Lebanon to the TRNC for refueling and then to Turkey to transfer the evacuees because the Greek-Cypriot government will not allow the passengers to use the Cypriot airport for flights home.

Miss Karakehagia said, “It is very unfortunate and unfair that Cyprus is criticized for not allowing illegally registered vessels constituting … a threat to international maritime safety and security to enter its ports.”

She added that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the Greek-Cypriot government’s relief efforts “remarkable” when Miss Rice stopped on Cyprus last week on her way to Lebanon.

Threat in Mayfair

When wealthy residents of London’s tony Mayfair district want to air their complaints in public, they do not march in the street. They take out an ad in the venerable Times of London.

Yesterday, residents who live near the U.S. Embassy placed a two-page ad in the newspaper to express anger with the London police for refusing to close streets around the massive diplomatic mission, topped with a golden eagle, that anchors one side of Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square.

They expressed fear that they and their multimillion-dollar Georgian town houses could become “collateral damage” if terrorists placed bombs around the embassy. A year ago, Islamic militants set off bombs in several subway stations and a city bus.

Police told reporters that they do not close streets unless “absolutely necessary.”

U.S. Ambassador Robert H. Tuttle said the embassy got the same response from police after requesting street closures after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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

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