Wednesday, February 18, 2004

U.S. needs the world

Sweden’s new foreign minister urged the United States to cooperate more with the European Union to avoid “mistakes of the past,” such as the opposition of some European nations to the Iraq war.

“The world needs the United States, and the United States needs the world. It’s just as simple as that,” Laila Freivalds told the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Mrs. Freivalds is on her first trip to Washington since her appointment in October to replace Anna Lindh, who was murdered in Stockholm in September.

Mrs. Freivalds’ visit included meetings with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice “to keep all the lines of communication and dialogue open.”

She expressed Sweden’s strong support for trans-Atlantic relations with the United States, even when Europeans and Americans disagree on foreign policy issues.

“Acting together does not necessarily mean that the EU and the U.S. should do exactly the same things or agree on every single move,” she said. “But it does mean ensuring, through close and continuous dialogue, that there is broad agreement about goals and strategy.”

Mrs. Freivalds referred to the “disagreements in the run-up to the war in Iraq” when some European countries, notably France and Germany, tried to block the Bush administration from liberating Iraq. President Bush got support from many other nations, including Spain, Italy and East European countries preparing to join the European Union and NATO.

“Issues such as the International Criminal Court and the Guantanamo detainees make parts of European public opinion doubt that we, in fact, share fundamental values across the Atlantic,” she said.

Mr. Bush rejected the criminal court’s claim of jurisdiction over American troops stationed abroad. European activists have denounced the United States for holding terrorism suspects at the U.S. compound at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Some Swedish politicians have demanded the release of a Swede of Tunisian origin held there.

However, Mrs. Freivalds said, “the benefits of good trans-Atlantic relations and intensified cooperation between Europe and the United States are so obvious and desirable that it is everybody’s responsibility to make every effort not to repeat the mistakes of the past or let them linger on and become obstacles to progress in the future.”

Living memory’

The existence of Israel is a testament to the 6 million Jews killed during World War II, Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon told Holocaust survivors this week.

“Israel, established so soon after the Holocaust, represents the living memory of all our brothers and sisters who were murdered by the Nazis,” he said.

“Our first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, is an example of Israeli and Jewish spirit rising from the lowest depths to soaring excellence.”

Col. Ramon, a decorated fighter pilot, was killed with the rest of the crew in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster on Feb. 1, 2003.

Mr. Ayalon addressed about 200 guests at the Mayflower Hotel during the weekend. The gathering included Holocaust survivors and public school teachers who have studied the Nazi efforts to wipe out Europe’s Jewish population.

The 11th National Alumni Conference on the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance was sponsored by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors.

Envoy to Chile

President Bush tapped a senior career diplomat to serve as ambassador to Chile.

Craig A. Kelly is a former minister for political and military affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Paris and most recently served as executive assistant to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

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

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