- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 30, 2009

WARNING ERITREA

Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, warned Eritrea on Wednesday to stop aiding Somali rebels linked to al Qaeda or face stiff international sanctions.

“It is unacceptable; and we will not tolerate it, nor will other members of the Security Council,” she told the House Foreign Affairs Committee, referring to reports that Eritrea is supplying arms to the al Shabab rebels who control much of Somalia, including most of the capital, Mogadishu.

Eritrean officials deny the charges, but the African Union, with 4,300 peacekeepers in Somalia, has accused Eritrea of supporting the rebels and called for U.N. sanctions.

“There is a very short window for Eritrea to signal through its actions that it wishes a better relationship with the United States and, indeed, the wider international community,” Ms. Rice said.

“If we do not see signs of that signal in short order, I can assure you that we will be taking appropriate steps with partners in Africa and the Security Council.”

HUNGER STRIKE

Iranian activists Wednesday began a hunger strike across from the White House to demand that the United States defend disarmed Iranian rebels at a camp in Iraq, as Iraqi authorities continued to assert control over the former resistance fighters and their relatives.

“We will continue as long as necessary until we get guarantees from the Obama administration to protect the Iranians in Camp Ashraf,” said Shirin Nariman, an Iranian-American activist in Washington. “The news is not good.”

Citing reports from sources among the resistance, Ms. Nariman said Iraqi authorities have killed nine Iranians in the camp since they raided the facility Tuesday. Reports from Iraq confirmed seven deaths.

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the senior Republican on the panel called on the Iraqi government to honor a commitment it made to U.S. forces to guarantee the safety of the 3,500 residents of Camp Ashraf and promise not to force them to return to Iran, where many of them fear they would be executed.

“The Iraqi government must live up to its commitment to ensure the continued well-being of those living in Ashraf and prevent their involuntary return to Iraq,” Rep. Howard L. Berman, California Democrat, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican, said in a joint statement.

The Clinton administration listed the Iranian resistance as a terrorist organization to meet a demand from Tehran when the United States attempted to normalize relations in 1997.

DINING WITH DIPLOMATS

President Obama repeated his call to “start a new era” in American diplomacy this week, as he hosted foreign ambassadors for hors d’oeuvres at the White House.

“Diplomacy has always been critically important to all nations,” he said.

“But in many ways, it grows more important with each passing year because the interconnectedness of our world means that, in the 21st century, we cannot solve our problems until we solve them together.”

Mr. Obama added that he brought “a strong commitment to renew American diplomacy and to start a new era of engagement with the world” when he assumed the presidency.

“This must be a moment when we engage on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect so that we can build new partnerships for progress,” he said.

Mr. Obama also praised U.S. diplomats, saying, “I couldn’t be more proud of the job that American diplomats are doing around the world.”

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

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