- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2007

Scolding Vietnam

The U.S. ambassador to Vietnam yesterday denounced its repression of dissidents and called on the communist government to free political prisoners and embrace democracy.

Ambassador Michael Marine, in an opinion article sent to newspapers in Hanoi, named several dissidents whose “only crime was the peaceful expression of their views.”

He called the eight-year sentence imposed last week on a priest, the Rev. Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly, “baffling considering his crime was peacefully speaking out in favor of political change.”

“For the sake of Vietnam’s further international integration and development, its government must release these and other individuals now,” Mr. Marine wrote. “It must also take steps to revise or repeal laws so that peaceful expression of one’s views — even if they are critical of the state — is no longer illegal.”

The ambassador also listed prominent political prisoners, including journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, property rights advocate Bui Kim Thanh and lawyers Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thi Cong Nhan and Le Quoc Quan.

Mr. Marine recognized Vietnam’s economic success, calling it the “next Asian Tiger,” and noting that its growth rate is second only to China’s in East Asia. He congratulated Vietnam for joining the World Trade Organization and hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit last year.

However, he warned Vietnam that its progress is crippled by “the cancer of widespread corruption.”

“Corruption affects all strata of society, and failure to address this threat fully and openly will continue to gnaw away at the country’s ability to fulfill its economic, social and political potential,” he wrote.

Romania’s success

Romania placed itself “firmly within the most important alliance in history” when it joined NATO and created military links to Western Europe and the United States, U.S. Ambassador Nicholas F. Taubman said this week on the anniversary of the treaty that created the trans-Atlantic partnership.

“Romania’s membership in NATO and in the European Union marks the success of our common objective of linking this great country to its European neighbors and to the trans-Atlantic community as a whole,” he said.

“Romania’s future success as an ally and partner in these two premier organizations is something that we all need to nurture and to support today, tomorrow and in the years to come.”

Yesterday Mr. Taubman announced that U.S. troops will begin arriving in Romania later this month under a bilateral agreement to open four American bases in the country.


The Scottish singer with that one name defined the flower-power side of the ‘60s, and he proved, 40 years, later that he can still capture an audience, even if most of it was middle-aged, when he performed at the Greek Embassy.

Donovan (whose last name is Leitch) looked a little grizzled, himself, but his voice was still mellow.

Greek Ambassador Alexandros Mallias invited Donovan to perform at the embassy last week to emphasize the singer’s enthusiasm for Greece, where he has sailed in his yacht and roamed through cities and villages.

“Everyone knows about Donovan’s trip to India, but few know about his love of Greece,” Mr. Mallias said, referring to Donovan’s famous visit to India with the Beatles in 1968 in pursuit of transcendental meditation.

“An enthusiastic crowd of over 200 guests … rocked and swayed in nostalgia to some of the most popular songs of the times, ‘Jennifer Juniper,’ ‘The Hurdy Gurdy Man,’ ‘Mellow Yellow,’ ‘Riki Tiki Tavi’ and more,” said Connie Mourtoupalas, an embassy press aide.

Donovan also displayed artwork that he calls “Sapphographs,” described as “highly stylized black-and-white photographs of his wife, daughter and grandson.” The art was inspired by the works of the ancient Greek poetess, Sappho.

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

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