- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Offense to Costa Rica

Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey invited Costa Rica’s chief prosecutor to Washington to attend a summit of Central American law-enforcement officials. But everything went wrong when Francisco Dall’Anese arrived on a stopover in Miami last week, where he complained that he was treated almost like a suspected criminal.

Mr. Dall’Anese was so outraged that he suspended all legal cooperation with the United States, including extraditions, until he receives an acceptable apology and his government receives reimbursement for the cost of the trip.

“The apology of the U.S. Embassy is not enough,” he told reporters in the Costa Rican capital, San Jose.

Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno sent a letter to Charge d’Affaires Peter Brennan, expressing the government’s anger.

“This treatment is completely incomprehensible and unacceptable. This offense to our chief prosecutor is an offense to all Costa Ricans,” Mr. Stagno said.

Mr. Dall’Anese was detained for nearly two hours when he arrived in Miami Wednesday . A security officer allowed him to enter the United States but escorted Mr. Dall’Anese to an airline counter to make sure he reserved a return flight to Costa Rica for the next day.

Miami security officials justified their actions, saying Mr. Dall’Anese was subjected to a routine check because his name was similar to one on a list of suspicious people, according to reports from San Jose.

The U.S. Embassy apologized and promised an investigation.

“We are investigating the circumstances, and we have expressed our apologies to the Costa Rican government,” the embassy said in a statement released to reporters. “We never intended any disrespect for Dall’Anese, the government of Costa Rica or its citizens. We value the close relationship we have, and we will do everything in our power to make sure it continues.”

Korean risk

The U.S. ambassador to South Korea yesterday defended the Bush administration against critics who say Washington has been too weak in negotiations with communist North Korea over its nuclear program and links to a suspected Syrian nuclear-weapons plant.

“We are not going to compromise our standards in getting the necessary commitments and verification measures from North Korea,” Ambassador Alexander Vershbow told reporters in the South Korean capital, Seoul.

Mr. Vershbow’s assurances follow Republican congressional outrage last week over earlier indications that Washington negotiators will accept something less than North Korea’s full disclosure of its nuclear program along with U.S. verification that the Stalinist state has shut down all of its nuclear plants.

“From all appearances, [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-il believes that the United States will take whatever deal we can get,” 14 Republican senators told President Bush in a letter obtained by The Washington Times.

Mr. Vershbow yesterday insisted that the United States will demand “very strict verification and strict compliance” in a final agreement with North Korea. Mr. Kim already has ignored a Dec. 31 deadline to reveal his nuclear programs, as he had promised in earlier talks with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

Mr. Vershbow cited the North Korean connection to a Syrian nuclear plant that Israel destroyed in a September air raid.

“The fact that they were involved in a covert program with Syria just underscores the gravity of the proliferation risk and puts even more weight on the requirement to achieve an effective verification regime,” he said.

The ambassador also predicted that a U.S.-South Korea free-trade pact will be approved by both the U.S. Congress and the South Korean National Assembly.

“A huge trade agreement of this kind is not easy, but we’re optimistic,” he said.

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

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