- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

IRANIAN NIGHTMARE

Israeli Ambassador Sallai Meridor this week told a Jewish student organization in Texas that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a “nightmare” for generations to come.

He also insisted that his country will continue to work for peace with the Palestinians but expressed little hope for dealing with the terrorist organization Hamas until it accepts Israel’s right to exist.

Addressing Texas Hillel at the University of Texas on Wednesday, Mr. Meridor said Iran’s pursuit of nuclear power is “the most defining threat for the 21st century.”

Iran, he added, “exports terror all over the Middle East.”

“God forbid if it gets nuclear capabilities. It could create a nightmare for your generation and your children’s generation,” he said, according to reports in Texas newspapers.

Mr. Meridor also urged Arab nations to engage in future peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

“They say it takes two to tango,” he said. “But here, it takes three to tango. Israel, alone, cannot make peace.”

Mr. Meridor also said he saw little hope in trying to deal with Hamas, as long as militants in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip keep firing missiles at Israeli towns.

“We are trying to find a way. Peace is the simplest thing to do, but perhaps the most difficult for them. They refuse to do it because, idealistically, they are married to an ideal. As long as they don’t change fundamentally, it will not happen,” he said.

VISAS IN LIBYA

The U.S. ambassador to Libya hailed the reopening of a visa office at the American Embassy on Thursday as a “tangible” sign of the new diplomatic relations with a nation Washington has long accused of sponsoring terrorism.

“I am very pleased to celebrate the opening of U.S. visa services to the Libyan public,” Ambassador Gene A. Cretz said at a ceremony to dedicate the new visa office.

“This is a tangible and important symbol of the commitment of the United States to establish a normal relationship with Libya and with its people.

“With this step, we are sending the message to the Libyan people: Our doors are open for business, study and travel.”

Mr. Cretz, the first U.S. ambassador to Libya in 30 years, added that he expects the Libyan Embassy in Washington to soon open its own visa office so Americans can more easily travel to the North African nation.

As president, George W. Bush re-established diplomatic relations with Libya in 2006 and removed Libya from the U.S. blacklist of nations that support terrorism. The move followed a promise from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to abandon his quest for weapons of mass destruction.

Last year, Libya agreed to pay the United States $1.5 billion as part of a bigger package to compensate the relatives of U.S. citizens killed in a Libyan-planned terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988.

ATLANTIC APPOINTMENT

Damon Wilson, a Bush administration adviser on European affairs, is the new director for the International Security Program at the Atlantic Council of the United States.

“Damon brings to the council in-depth policy-making experience, extensive relationships on both sides of the Atlantic and unique insights from working in crisis-management operations in Washington, Brussels, the Balkans and Iraq,” said , chairman of the Atlantic Council’s board of directors and a former Republican senator from Nebraska.

Mr. Wilson, who served as senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council, said the Atlantic Council “fosters cutting-edge work” in support of a strong Europe that is “whole, free and at peace” and a “transformed” NATO alliance.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail James Morrison.

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