- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 1, 2009

‘ONLY OPTION’

The U.S. ambassador to Japan on Monday urged Tokyo to honor a deal to relocate a U.S. military base on Okinawa, as pressure grew on the government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to force the Americans off the island altogether.

Ambassador John Roos held talks with Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, in a meeting that was opened to reporters. Mr. Roos argued that the relocation of the Futenma Marine base farther north within four years is the “best and only viable option.”

Mr. Nakaima pressed Mr. Roos on the status of a high-level U.S.-Japan review of the 2006 agreement on the relocation, asking when the review will be completed.

“As soon as possible,” the ambassador answered. “I’m hopeful that, again, we reach an expeditious conclusion because I think it’s important to do so, and I know you do, too.”

The relocation of the Marine base is part of discussions on the future of 47,000 American troops in Japan. The plan includes redeploying 8,000 Marines to the American territory of Guam.

Mr. Nakaima told Mr. Roos that Okinawa residents, who complain about noise, pollution and crime from the American base, are increasingly demanding that the U.S. troops be removed entirely from the island.

‘CREDIBLE’ ELECTION

The International Republican Institute praised Honduran voters for a “credible and peaceful” presidential election, especially in the intense political crisis facing the Central American nation.

“With preliminary results indicating a turnout that paralleled, if not exceeded, the 2005 elections, IRI observers witnessed an election free of violence and overt act of intimidation,” the institute said Monday in a report on its observer mission.

The team — led by former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor David J. Kramer — also praised poll workers, “who were well-prepared, enthusiastic and professional in carrying out their duties.”

Sunday’s election came in the midst of international criticism of Honduras for removing leftist President Manuel Zelaya, even though the Supreme Court and Congress authorized his ouster on charges of violating the constitution.

The IRI team included: Carlos Hernandez Ferreiro, a Spanish analyst with the European Partnership for Democracy; Ignacio Cosido Gutierrez, a member of the Spanish Chamber of Deputies; Barry Jackson, a former assistant to President George W. Bush; Maria Martens, a former Dutch member of the European Parliament; Ivideliza Reyes Hernandez, a member of the Mexican Congress; Michal Safianik of Poland, deputy executive director of the Permanent Secretariat of the Community of Democracies; and Rafael Yamashiro, a member of the Peruvian Congress.

TALL MOUNTAIN

When Awista Ayu was 2 years old, her parents fled Afghanistan. That was in 1981, following the Soviet invasion in December 1979. The young girl grew up in the United States, where she devoted herself to sports.

After the fall of the ruthless Taliban, which prohibited girls from getting an education, Ms. Ayu returned to her native land to promote athletics for girls. She is responsible for a thriving sports program, which features 15 female soccer teams.

On Tuesday evening she tells her story, recounted in her book, “However Tall the Mountain,” before an audience at George Washington University in a briefing sponsored by Institute for Global and International Studies, the G.W. Social Enterprise Forum, the Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Sorority and Fraternity, and the Graduate Program in International Affairs.

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


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