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24 September 2001

New Envoys Speak of Terrorism at Senate Confirmation Hearing

(Five envoys head for African posts) (580)
By Lusungu Kayani
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- The Senate confirmation hearings for seven new U.S.
ambassadors-designate, held on September 21, were dominated by the
themes of terrorism, human rights, and economic development.
In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World
Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon building near Washington,
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony in Washington
from ambassadors-designate to Cote d'Ivoire, the Central African
Republic, Guinea, The Gambia, Namibia, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.
All seven diplomats told the lawmakers they were in support of the
international effort against terrorism that President Bush had
outlined in his address to a joint session of Congress the evening
before. They said they hoped to take major steps to strengthen
relations with the countries in which they will work if confirmed by
the full Senate.
The envoy to Indonesia, Ralph Boyce Jr., commented that Indonesia has
its own war on terrorism to deal with, but it will work with the
United States in an effort to combat terrorism there and within the
United States. He said Indonesia's president, Megawati Sukarnoputri,
has issued a statement on terrorism.
Robert Jordan, the envoy to Saudi Arabia, also promised that the
United States and Saudi Arabia "will be shoulder to shoulder in
dealing with the investigations of the recent terrorist acts. There
will be full cooperation," he added.
Human rights were also at the center of the hearing and the envoys
addressed the topic as one of their primary areas of attention. The
envoy to the Central African Republic, Mattie Sharpless, suggested a
focus on the judiciary as a main pillar for the rule of law and a
buttress for the protection of human rights.
Regarding the abuse of child labor, Sharpless said that "the Central
African Republic has admitted that there is a problem," and a study is
being undertaken to promote "prevention, protection, enforcement, and
prosecution" of those responsible.
Ambassador-designate Barrie Walkley was asked about the human rights
situation in Guinea and whether measures had been taken to ensure that
the nation's military was not abusing its power. He assured the
lawmakers that the military would be well monitored.
In addition, he said, there will be "medical training provided. And
with the consent of Congress, some military training will be provided
in dealing with border issues. All training will have human rights
components."
In addition to the military aid, Walkley said, the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID) works closely with Guinea and has
several projects there focused on democracy building. Other projects
are aimed at improving literacy rates, increasing the number of women
in schools, and reducing the infant mortality rate.
Economic development in the designated nations is clearly a focus for
the diplomats. Sharpless, the ambassador-designate to the Central
African Republic, spoke of possible trade opportunities with the
United States within the agricultural sector. While the United States
is still providing assistance to the Central African Republic,
Sharpless said, there is a shift in policy for greater trade to help
supplement current aid levels. The developing agricultural industry in
the C.A.R., she added, will help the nation export to its neighbors
and to the United States.
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
http://usinfo.state.gov)



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