- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 3, 2008


The U.S. ambassador to Japan remains worried about possible damage to U.S.-Japanese relations over President Bush’s decision to remove North Korea from a blacklist of terrorist nations.

Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer publicly expressed his concerns on Wednesday after meeting with relatives of several Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s to use them to train North Koreans to spy on Japan.

“I hope it hasn’t had a bad impact on the management of the alliance,” Mr. Schieffer said, referring to Mr. Bush’s decision last week to lift sanctions on North Korea and remove the Stalinist nation from the terrorist list in response to North Korea’s progress in ending its nuclear program.

Japan had urged Mr. Bush not to remove North Korea from the list until North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il makes a full disclosure of the fate of the kidnap victims. North Korea released five Japanese citizens in 2002 but said eight others died during their captivity. Tokyo has demanded proof of their deaths and details of other Japanese citizens believed to have been kidnapped by North Korea.

Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura last week told reporters in Tokyo that his government wanted the United States to link the removal from the terrorist list to the fate of the kidnap victims.

“We would like to use it as a card to spur progress in resolving the abductions,” he said.

In his meeting with the relatives of the kidnap victims, Mr. Schieffer tried to reassure them that the United States still supports their goal of a complete accountability from North Korea.

“I understand the families would want more progress on this issue than has been made,” he said.

In October Mr. Schieffer privately warned Mr. Bush that he risked angering the Japanese if he removed North Korea from the blacklist. He sent the president a private cable and complained that the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo was not consulted by State Department officials who were negotiating with North Korea.


The United States plans to give Jordan an additional $450 million in aid as Washington and its key Arab ally prepare to celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations.

“This assistance from the American people will support Jordan’s efforts to advance its economic and social development goals, while meeting its security needs,” U.S. Ambassador David Hale said as he announced the anniversary gift that President Bush authorized on Monday.

Suhair Al Ali, Jordan’s minister of planning and international cooperation, joined Mr. Hale in announcing the additional aid and thanked the United States for its continued support of Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

Of the total grant, the kingdom will receive $200 million in economic aid and $50 million in security assistance this year. In 2009, during the 60th anniversary of U.S.-Jordanian relations, Jordan will receive $100 million in economic aid and $100 million in security assistance.

The additional $250 million in aid this year will bring the total U.S. assistance in 2008 to $561.4 million in economic and $373.3 million in military grants, Mr. Hale said.

The ambassador, on the U.S. Embassy’s Web site (amman.usembassy.gov), expressed his mixed feelings as he prepares to leave Jordan later this year. Mr. Hale will have served nearly five years in his assignment.

“It is saddening to leave such a hospitable country where I have made many friends, visited many fascinating historical sites and made lasting memories,” he wrote in a farewell message.

“But I also leave with boundless admiration for the way Jordan is facing its challengers and seizing its opportunities.”

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

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