- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2008

Diplomats on message

President Bush’s nominees for ambassadorships in Egypt, Kuwait and Bangladesh this week delivered a common message in their Senate confirmation hearings: The countries in which they would serve are all key U.S. allies in the war against Islamic terrorism.

“Like the United States, Egypt has suffered terrible human and economic losses from terrorism and has long been a stalwart ally in the war against terror,” Margaret Scobey told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a hearing on her nomination to serve as ambassador in Cairo.

“U.S.-Egyptian security cooperation has saved lives throughout the region and will continue to do so.”

Ms. Scobey, a former ambassador to Syria, said she also will maintain U.S. pressure on Egypt to adopt democratic reforms and improve its human rights record.

“Progress on political reform has slowed, with limitations on political pluralism and major obstacles to opposition parties taking their rightful place in the political life of Egypt and to debate freely government policy and actions,” she said.

Ms. Scobey also criticized the Egyptian government for indictments against seven newspaper editors and for the incarceration of Ayman Nour, who ran against President Hosni Mubarak and was later sentenced to five years on fraud charges.

Deborah K. Jones, nominated to serve as ambassador to Kuwait, praised the Persian Gulf state for its “material and logistical support” for U.S. forces in Iraq and “the global war on terror.”

“We share with the government of Kuwait a common interest in combating the spread of extremist ideology and rooting out terrorist elements that threaten peace and security in the region,” Mrs. Jones said.

She also commended Kuwait for political reforms that included granting women the right to vote and increasing press freedom.

“Kuwait continues to build positively on a proud, indigenous tradition of boisterous political discourse,” Mrs. Jones added.

Bangladesh, one of the poorest and most populous nations in the world, faces severe challenges, Ambassador-designate James F. Moriarty said.

“In Bangladesh, our interests revolve around … democracy, development and denial of space to terrorism,” said Mr. Moriarty, a former ambassador to Nepal, noting that Bangladesh remains under a state of emergency declared a year ago after an outbreak of political violence.

“The seventh-most populous country in the world, Bangladesh is overwhelmingly Muslim and has in the recent past been grindingly poor. If, under such conditions, it succeeds in building a tolerant, prosperous democracy, it will serve as a shining beacon for much of the world.

“If it fails, it could become a nation of ungoverned space and a potential safe haven and crossroads for international terrorism.”

Sen. John Kerry, who presided over the hearings Wednesday, promised the career diplomats that they will get quick action on their nominations.

“We are going to try to get you out there as soon a possible,” the Massachusetts Democrat said.

Jordan working

Jordan adopted international standards to improve working conditions in both the private and public sectors of its economy, a Jordanian official told a Washington forum yesterday.

Labor Minister Bassem al-Salem explained that the government inaugurated a program called “Better Work Jordan” as a joint project of his ministry, the U.N. International Labor Organization and the World Bank’s International Finance Corp.

“There should be no doubt that Jordan is committed to enforcing our labor laws and meeting international standards,” he told the forum hosted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the Center for Global Development.

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

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