- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 28, 2006

Canada’s new voice

Canadian Ambassador Michael Wilson is talking tough to reflect the new Conservative government’s determination to underscore Canada’s efforts to promote democracy and combat terrorism around the world.

“Canada does not cut and run,” he recently told the Canadian Association of New York, explaining his government’s dedication to rebuilding Afghanistan, where it has deployed 2,300 troops.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper traveled to Afghanistan on his first foreign visit to show Canada’s commitment to that nation.

“Canada recognizes that we cannot allow terrorists to find safe haven in Afghanistan or anywhere else ever,” Mr. Wilson said, adding that Canada will remain a reliable U.S. ally in Afghanistan.

“Together we will succeed in Afghanistan because the cause is just, because our will is firm, because democracy is a potent tonic.”

Mr. Wilson said the Conservative Party-led government has moved firmly on several foreign-policy fronts.

“Canada’s new government is taking decisive action on flash points around the world,” he said.

“We denied landing rights to a Belarusian aircraft on its way to Cuba. We listed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as a terrorist group.

“And, after Hamas’ election victory and refusal to repudiate violence, Canada was the first country in the world to cut off contacts and suspend assistance to the Palestinian Authority, while preserving humanitarian support for the Palestinian people.”

Mr. Wilson noted that Canada has taken a leading role in international efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, including a pledge of $1 billion to the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, established at the 2002 Group of Eight summit.

The prime minister is scheduled to meet with President Bush in Washington on July 6, Mr. Wilson said last week. The two leaders earlier met at a regional summit in Cancun, Mexico.

Taiwan trade

The visit to the Republic of China (Taiwan) by a high-ranking U.S. official is a good sign for the prospects of a U.S.-Taiwanese free-trade agreement, said Taiwan’s top diplomat in Washington.

David Tawei Lee, head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, said he saw progress in the talks last week between Chen Ruey-long, Taiwanese deputy economic minister, and Karan Bhatia, the deputy U.S. trade representative. Mr. Bhatia is the highest-ranking American official to visit Taiwan in six years.

They conducted the fifth round in talks that could produce an agreement to eliminate trade barriers between the two sides, which do $57 billion in business.

“The Taiwan government welcomes the opportunity to explore avenues to further enhance our already robust economic relationship with the United States,” Mr. Lee said.

“I believe that through these ongoing Trade and Investment Framework Agreement talks, the two countries can continue to work toward the goal of a bilateral free-trade agreement.”

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who meets with President Bush. On Wednesday, Mr. Kagame holds a 2:30 p.m. press conference at the Voice of America, 330 Independence Ave. SW.

Tomorrow

• Mustafa Hejri, leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, and Abdullah Muhtadi, leader of the Komala Party of Iran, who speak at a conference of the Kurdish National Congress of North America and the Kurdish American Committee for Democracy in Iran, beginning at 1 p.m. in Caucus Room SR325 of the Russell Senate Office Building.

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


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