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JORDAN



Published: Mon, April 15, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Jordan Times, Amman, April 7: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell should bring a new approach to resolving the conflict when he arrives in the region. The United States has appeased Sharon for far too long, and it is time it demonstrated the necessary leadership by unequivocally demanding an end to his war. Powell's mission started on the wrong foot when Washington announced that Powell will not meet Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. Arafat is the elected leader of the Palestinians. No other person claims representation of the Palestinians. Nor will anyone.

Powell should know better than to further squeeze an entire people under siege. Despite its proven bias toward Israel, the United States is still seen as the only party that can put an end to the insanity that the Israeli government has forced on the region.

Right message: By meeting Arafat, Powell can send the right message to the Palestinian people and to Israel. If he persists in refusing to meet with the Palestinian leader who has negotiated every peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel, he will be telling the Palestinians that they do not count. More dangerously, he will be giving his country's seal of approval to every crime Sharon has committed. Powell can have no explanation for such a stand.

BRITAIN

The Guardian, London, April 8: Tony Blair yesterday addressed himself to what he sees as the biggest political danger in the modern world. The danger does not come from Saddam Hussein's Iraq, on which the prime minister also had plenty of important things to say. It comes from George Bush's America.

Plenty of people who do not normally see eye-to-eye with Mr. Blair would agree with that. But they and the prime minister would draw radically different conclusions about the nature of the American threat. While the left critics fear an overactive America, what Mr. Blair fears is its opposite. He didn't himself put it quite like that yesterday, of course. But a reading of the speech that Mr. Blair delivered at College Station leaves little room for doubt that it is what he means.

Greatest fear: The prime minister's greatest fear is of a U.S. that pulls up the drawbridge and retreats into a Fortress America policy of isolationism and non-engagement. Engagement, he said, is the hardheaded pragmatism of the 21st century. It is the best way of protecting economic and political stability in an interdependent world. It is an immensely important message, and Mr. Blair deserves great credit for making it so insistently, even if the price he is sometimes prepared to pay to have America's ear is excessive.

FRANCE

Liberation, Paris, April 9: Without a doubt, the American president believed he had built up trust with the leader of the Israeli government, and thought that if he so much as spoke, actions would follow.

That shows little understanding of a man who thinks he has nothing left to lose, and whose tactic is always to go further than imagined at the outset.

So now President George W. Bush has been defied, forced to dryly repeat what he made clear last Thursday: The Israeli army must withdraw from the Palestinian territories "without delay" and not try to buy time.

Mini ceasefires: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon hasn't yet said it openly, but clearly he dreams of mini ceasefires, town by town, zone by zone. It's a way to control the West Bank in the short term, to deny national Palestinian sentiment despite all proof to the contrary and to indefinitely postpone political negotiations with an adversary who has been weakened considerably.

It's this plan, which would settle strictly nothing in the medium-term, that constitutes Sharon's biggest challenge to Bush.

SWEDEN

Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm, April 10: Noticeable changes have taken place in Afghanistan lately and it is hardly an exaggeration to say that the country never before has had a better chance to build a solid future. But peace is far from secured.

The war still goes on. Besides the security situation is far from good. It is security it is primarily about -- without security, there is a risk that every success is fragile, every aid dollar wasted and every attempt at rebuilding useless.

Truth: We have won the war, but now it is a matter of winning the peace, former U.S. President Bill Clinton's security adviser, Sandy Berger, said in Kosovo. This is a truth that is even more relevant in Afghanistan.




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