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BRITAIN



Published: Mon, May 7, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Guardian, London, May 1: It has been one of the more peculiar conventions of Northern Irish politics. Almost as a matter of politeness, one is meant to discuss Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army as if they were two separate entities. Ask Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein's president, why the IRA have done this or failed to do that and he will tell you to put that question to the IRA or insist he does not speak for them but for the wider and vaguer "republican movement." He will never, despite countless attempts to trap him, speak of the IRA and Sinn Fein as if they were synonymous. Unionists may refer to Sinn Fein/IRA but republicans themselves never confuse the two.

IRA senior figure: Now Mr Adams' partner in the republican leadership has broken that convention. Martin McGuinness has ended decades of denial and hedging to admit what close observers said they always knew: that he was a senior figure in the IRA.

This was a risk worth taking. For the pretence of complete separation of Sinn Fein and IRA was another example of the abnormality of Northern Irish politics. The secretary of state, John Reid, says this burst of honesty signals a new openness. We hope that it signals not only that -- but a new maturity, too.

JAPAN

Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo, April 29: The fundamental structure of the U.S.-China relationship under the Bush administration is almost the same as that of during the Clinton administration, which viewed China as a "strategic partner." But, the U.S. administration seems to have shifted its focus from cooperation in the Clinton era to confrontation.

Olympic Games: There are a number of issues between the United States and China that could lead to further deterioration of bilateral relations if not dealt with properly -- including China's bid to host 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and China's entry into the World Trade Organization.

We urge the two countries to engage in a constructive dialogue to build a stable relationship. But, at least for now, we have to be prepared for strained relations between the Untied States and China.

LEBANON

As-Safir, Beirut, May 1: The kind of news that came out of Baghdad marking Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's birthday on the 28th of April evokes feelings of pity more than any other sentiment, including rage, pain and even disgust.

Pity is generated by the reality that what is truly an oppressive, decade-old siege against the Iraqi people and that which all the Arabs are trying to lift, seems like a mere drop in the sea of another siege that the Iraqi regime is imposing against its people.

Saddam's birthday: Since the end of its invasion of Kuwait and the start of sanctions against Iraq, Baghdad has been saying that tens of thousands of Iraqi children have died because of lack of medicine and milk, and that a similar number of sick and elderly people have lost their lives because of lack of treatment, and that the oil for food program only barely provides the Iraqi people with their basic needs, etc. There is no need to demonstrate that what Baghdad says in this regard contradicts totally with what this same Baghdad says about lavish expenditure on celebrations marking Saddam Hussein's birthday.

EGYPT

The Egyptian Gazette, Cairo, May 1: Talk about easing Palestinian-Israeli tension should be a reason for cautious optimism. But Israel's gimmicks are adding to regional uncertainties. During his brief visit to Cairo on Sunday, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres announced "unconditional and immediate steps" to make life easier for the Palestinians.

The announcement inspired hope that at long last Israeli leaders have experienced a change of heart. But on the ground, Israel is as brutal as ever in its oppression of Palestinians.

All-out war: Despite Peres' announcement, Israeli troops continue to wage an all-out war in Palestinian areas. Palestinian officials contend that the announced "unconditional and immediate" steps proclaimed by Peres during his whistle-stop tour of Egypt and Jordan are nothing short of hollow promises.

Israel's unchecked infringements and unkept promises are fueling regional turbulence and leave no room for the recovery of an apparently moribund peace process. Israelis will not escape the fallout.

THAILAND

The Bangkok Post, April 30: NASA's firm opposition to Mr. Tito's space adventure was based on the notion that he had no business being on board the International Space Station. He is an amateur. He might do something foolish or get in the way. Such statements are the product of snobbishness. Only people with "the right stuff," such as NASA's privileged few, are capable of the discipline needed to function in space.

Dreams: Mr. Tito's trip shows that not only has everyone the potential to fulfill his dreams through hard work and dedication but that we all have the innate ability to accomplish any task set before us. It shows that spacemen are not a superhuman breed but real people just like the rest of us.




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