- The Washington Times - Friday, May 12, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Asahi Shimbun

WTO’s Doha round

TOKYO — The ongoing Doha round of global trade talks under the World Trade Organization is faltering. An unprecedented confrontation between industrial and developing countries is bogging down efforts to push negotiations forward.

To save this round from failure, each country must share a burden commensurate with its economic power.

Industrial countries can easily handle the cost of a major concession. The United States, in particular, should reduce protections on its domestic farm produce. Japan also must make more contributions to reviving negotiations. It must be willing to make a bigger, braver offer, such as opening its rice market much wider to imports.

The government could offset to a considerable degree the cost of farm concessions through positive effects gained through structural reform. Although not emphasized in the talks, further liberalizing services, which would allow Japanese financial and telecommunications service providers to expand worldwide, would also bring benefits.

Tired of slow progress in the multilateral talks, industrialized countries now tend to push bilateral and regional free-trade agreements. Such moves will hinder many developing countries from benefiting from global trade, because they have fewer competitive exports. If the WTO system loses effect, world trade will shrink, hurting industrial nations in the process. Leaders in the developed world must clearly recognize the importance of the multilateral talks, quit dithering, and reach an agreement.

Corriere della Sera

Italy’s new government

MILAN — French policy on the Middle East has for months appeared to be closer to that of Washington: From Lebanon to Iran, Paris is now playing with the United States. With greater caution and more differences, the evolution of German politics is heading in the same direction. … Italy is left out of the restricted negotiations about Iran, but it is for the best that its future government be alerted to the turning point that has occurred in the heart of continental Europe that leaves behind the 2003 issue of Iraq.

If Russia and China maintain their opposition to economic sanctions being enforced, the possible scenario is a new “coalition of the willing” — a group of sanctioning countries outside the U.N. Security Council led by the Americans and supported by major European countries plus Japan and Australia.

This is a very unpleasant scenario for Italy, which is both the biggest European trade partner of Iran and the only big European country that is not part of the negotiation process. One can say with some certainty that the real foreign-policy test for the new government will not be the already decided withdrawal from Iraq (the past), but what position to take toward Iran (the future).


Hamas and Israel

STOCKHOLM — Hamas definitely has blood on its hands. The movement has, for a long time, seen terrorism as the only way to fight the Israeli occupation.

Within Hamas, however, there are moderate forces seeking a political way. Right now, they have the upper hand. To refuse a dialogue with Hamas in this situation is foolish.

Hamas has not, in words, said it will refrain from terrorism, nor has it recognized Israel. But in practice, it has observed a unilateral cease-fire for more than a year and has supported President Abbas in his dialogue with Israel.

At the same time, Israel shoots Palestinians with attack helicopters and fortifies its self-declared borders, while the international community closes its eyes and withdraws aid to the Palestinians.

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