- The Washington Times - Friday, January 19, 2007

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Guardian

Bush, Blair Iraq legacy

LONDON — Departing from elected office according to a timetable rather than the whim of colleagues or the taste of the voters is quite an unusual business. It leaves the incumbents struggling to pre-empt history.

This week both George Bush and Tony Blair grappled, in very different ways, with the deadly legacy of Iraq — the issue that has dominated the greater part of their time in power. Both understand how deeply unpopular they have become. Neither is yet prepared to acknowledge criticism. [On Monday] Mr. Blair managed to address Britain’s most senior military leaders virtually without reference to the war that has so profoundly damaged himself, his government, his party and his country. …

It is not enough to point out that Western horror at the cost of war merely plays into the terrorists’ hands. … And there does not have to be an image of the body of a soldier for every flag-draped coffin to raise again the question: Is it worth it?

Lietuvos Rytas

EU energy policy

VILNIUS, Lithuania — The European Commission has finally announced a new energy strategy for the EU. Although Russia is not mentioned directly in the communique, the strategy points out threats that face Europe, which depends on Russian crude oil.

This document is politically very important for Lithuania and the other Baltic States. For a long time both Brussels and big member states like Germany and France ignored warnings from Poland and the Baltics that Russia is using its monopoly position in supplying Europe with gas and oil for political influence.

Asahi Shimbun

East Asia community

TOKYO — At the second East Asia Summit, held Monday in the Philippine island of Cebu, leaders of the 16 Asia and Pacific countries agreed to start a joint study for economic integration within the region. The agreement appears to be a step toward creating the East Asia Community, a vision … championed by Japan.

The series of meetings in the Philippines highlighted the fact that Japan and China have two different visions for the East Asia Community, with Beijing currently enjoying a slight edge over Tokyo in their competition to lead the regional debate on this ambitious enterprise. Instead of focusing on short-term gains and setbacks in their diplomatic campaigns, Japan and China should try harder to offer better ideas for achieving the ultimate goal.

What is troubling, though, is the fact that Japan is still struggling to ride the wave of free-trade agreements sweeping through the region. While China is expediting its negotiations with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to strike a free-trade deal by 2010, Japan keeps disappointing ASEAN members in trade talks by showing continued reluctance to open its farm market to imports.

Hindu

India-Pakistan relations

MADRAS, India — The proximate reason for Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Islamabad might well have been the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit that India will host in the first week of April, but the external affairs minister is bound to take quiet satisfaction from collateral accomplishments on the bilateral front. Mr. Mukherjee’s visit has underlined the fact that the peace process is firmly on track.

… For the moment … New Delhi’s approach centers on the push to widen and deepen the people-to-people contact between the two countries. While this is sensible, the irony is that so little has been done by the Indian government to clear the single biggest obstacle in the way of the greater flow of visitors: the absence of visa-issuing offices in Bombay and Karachi.

Nearly three years after a decision was made to reopen the two consulates, it remains on paper because Pakistan has been unable to find suitable office space in Bombay for locating its consulate.

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