May 23, 2003
World Media Watch
by Gloria R. Lalumia
BUZZFLASH NOTE: Once again, these are the views and perspectives of the individual papers, not of BuzzFlash or Gloria. They offer BuzzFlash readers a way of reading what other nations are saying about the crisis, whether we like it or not. We repeat: This is not an endorsement of their viewpoints.
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1//The Moscow Times, Russia--PUTIN SENDS MESSAGE TO BUSH (President Vladimir Putin informed U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday that Russia is ready to work with the United States on all fronts, the strongest personal signal from Putin yet that he is eager to mend ties that were strained over the Iraq war...After seeing the U.S.-led coalition win the war, Moscow decided not to flatly reject Washington's suggestion that Russia forgive Iraq's $8 billion debt. Instead, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin agreed at a meeting of G-8 finance ministers last week for the debt to be settled through the Paris Club. Finally, after weeks of diplomatic pressure from the United States, Russia agreed to vote in the UN Security Council on Thursday to lift the sanctions on Iraq.)
2//The Independent, UK--BLAIR OFFERED TO STAND DOWN IF BROWN SUPPORTED EURO REFERENDUM (Gordon Brown has turned down an astonishing deal under which Tony Blair would stand down as Prime Minister in return for the Chancellor giving the go-ahead for a euro referendum. As the Government's turmoil over the single currency deepened, sources in the Blair and Brown camps told The Independent that the two men discussed "the succession" during preliminary talks on the single currency last year.
CABINET UNITES BEHIND 'ROUTE MAP' TO EURO ENTRY (A "route
map" for Britain to join the euro is likely to be published
when Gordon Brown delivers a "not yet" verdict on the single
currency on 9 June.)
4//The Dawn, Pakistan--MMA LEADER THREATENS OF LAUNCHING CAMPAIGN
(Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal Vice-President Qazi Hussain Ahmed warned
on Wednesday that the MMA, in collaboration with other opposition
parties, would launch a mass mobilization campaign if talks on the
LFO failed and President General Pervez Musharraf did not relinquish
his army post by Aug 14. Speaking at a news conference, the parliamentary
leader of the MMA said the opposition's struggle was aimed at restoring
the sovereignty of parliament and independence of the government.)
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Moscow Times Friday, May. 23, 2003. Page 1
PUTIN SENDS MESSAGE TO BUSH
"There is more substance that unites us than questions that we differ over," Putin wrote in a message delivered to the White House on Thursday by Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, according to the Kremlin press service.
In his message, Putin said he was looking forward to holding talks with Bush in St. Petersburg and noted that the entire international community benefits from U.S.-Russian cooperation, which enhances global stability and security.
Ivanov held 20-minute talks with Bush and his National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who on the whole "assessed the conversation as very positive and warm," Itar-Tass reported from Washington. There was no immediate official reaction from the Bush administration.
The official agenda of Ivanov's three-day visit is consultations on strategic arms, possible cooperation in the development of anti-missile defense and the fight against terrorism. In reality, however, the trip offers Putin an opportunity to have his close confidant try to patch up relations behind closed doors in Washington ahead of the presidents' meeting in St. Petersburg on June 1.
Russia has been gradually softening its once tough stance on Iraq ever since Putin announced in early April, while fighting in Iraq was still going on, that Russia did not want to see the United States defeated.
After seeing the U.S.-led coalition win the war, Moscow decided not to flatly reject Washington's suggestion that Russia forgive Iraq's $8 billion debt. Instead, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin agreed at a meeting of G-8 finance ministers last week for the debt to be settled through the Paris Club. Finally, after weeks of diplomatic pressure from the United States, Russia agreed to vote in the UN Security Council on Thursday to lift the sanctions on Iraq.
BLAIR OFFERED TO STAND DOWN IF BROWN SUPPORTED EURO REFERENDUM
Gordon Brown has turned down an astonishing deal under which Tony Blair would stand down as Prime Minister in return for the Chancellor giving the go-ahead for a euro referendum.
As the Government's turmoil over the single currency deepened, sources in the Blair and Brown camps told The Independent that the two men discussed "the succession" during preliminary talks on the single currency last year.
The Blair camp is convinced Mr Brown is not against the euro but wants to take Britain in - after he has become Prime Minister. One Blair ally said: "Gordon was offered the keys to Number 10. He turned them down. The problem is not that Gordon is against the euro, it is that he wants to do it as Prime Minister." A Brown ally said Mr Blair's offer to make way for the Chancellor was in Mr Brown's mind when he said on Sunday: "I would never make some sort of private arrangement when the national economic interest is at stake."
Some cabinet ministers believe a private deal has been discussed again during the current tense negotiations on the euro policy statement the Chancellor will make on 9 June. They hope that an agreement can still be struck that allows Mr Blair to call a referendum soon after the next general election with Mr Brown campaigning for a "yes" vote. After achieving his ambition to take Britain into the euro, Mr Blair would leave Downing Street and urge Labour to elect Mr Brown as his successor. But other ministers believe the Chancellor will hold out until he is convinced that the economic conditions are right.
The Independent 23 May 2003
CABINET UNITES BEHIND 'ROUTE MAP' TO EURO ENTRY
A "route map" for Britain to join the euro is likely to be published when Gordon Brown delivers a "not yet" verdict on the single currency on 9 June.
After the Cabinet discussed the issue yesterday, pro-euro ministers were confident that the Chancellor's announcement will leave the door open for a referendum before the next general election. One Cabinet minister said last night that a referendum in this parliament was "more likely than not".
KHATAMI LASHES OUT AT HARD-LINERS AS POWER STRUGGLE HEATS UP
Council of guardians moves to limit presidential purview; Steps suggested by conservatives 'limit my authority so much that in certain cases it would be less than an ordinary citizen's'
Compiled by Daily Star staff
TEHRAN: Iranian President Mohammad Khatami blasted the continued obstruction of his reforms by conservative opponents bent on limiting his powers Wednesday, but his spokesman insisted that he was not considering quitting.
Khatami dismissed as "unacceptable" the proposed rewriting by a conservative constitutional watchdog of a bill to boost his authority, saying it would have the opposite effect.
The amendments suggested by the Council of Guardians to the bill "limit my authority so much that in certain respects it would be less than an ordinary citizen's, and that is unacceptable," he told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.
It was Khatami's first reaction to a decision on May 9 by the Council of Guardians to veto the second of two bills which have brought his show-down with the conservatives to a head. The bill would notably have given him the power to annul arbitrary decisions by the judiciary, another institution firmly in the hands of the conservatives.
The Council of Guardians claimed the bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the reformist-majority parliament, breaks at least 15 articles of the constitution and sent it back to Parliament for review.
Khatami, who came to power in 1997 on a mandate to extend civil liberties and has repeatedly complained of lacking the necessary means to uphold the law, also attacked a veto by the council on another key bill. That measure would have stripped the Guardians of their powers to bar election candidates wholesale. They have rejected hundreds of reformist hopefuls on flimsy pretexts.
candidates bill was "the minimum required for conducting
state matters," Khatami said, adding that "if this bill
is really against the constitution, then we have to change the constitution."
Tuesday, 116 reformists and dissidents published a statement which
accused the conservatives of clinging to power by misusing "sacred
principles" and denounced their "reactionary interpretation
of Islam." The group, which included legislators, journalists,
intellectuals and student leaders, warned that without deep reforms
the regime would face the same fate as Saddam Hussein's Iraq and
the Afghan Taleban.
MMA LEADER THREATENS OF LAUNCHING CAMPAIGN
ISLAMABAD, May 21: Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal Vice-President Qazi Hussain Ahmed warned on Wednesday that the MMA, in collaboration with other opposition parties, would launch a mass mobilization campaign if talks on the LFO failed and President General Pervez Musharraf did not relinquish his army post by Aug 14.
Speaking at a news conference, the parliamentary leader of the MMA said the opposition's struggle was aimed at restoring the sovereignty of parliament and independence of the government.
The Jamaat-i-Islami chief, who returned from a five-day visit to Iran on Tuesday, said no civilian set-up or parliament could serve people as long as an army chief with all powers in his hands was sitting over its head.
He admitted different parties in the combined opposition held different views on many issues but maintained all of them were united on the question of sovereignty of parliament and separation of the offices of president and army chief.
He said the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal had made a sincere offer to the president to help him get elected as constitutional president if he stepped down as COAS. Commenting on a report that quoted corps commanders as having expressed the desire at a meeting on Tuesday that Gen Musharraf should retain the office of COAS while continuing as president, the MMA leader demanded of generals to refrain from getting involved in politics.
He believed that generals' involvement in politics was endangering the security of the country. They should maintain discipline as required of them by the Constitution, he said
SLIDING GREENBACK HIGHLIGHTS TRADE DEFICIT
If the United States thought Asia would cut it any slack on its US$500 billion annual trade deficit, it has been wrong so far. The dollar continues to fall sharply against Eurozone currencies to make US products more competitive on world markets. But Asia's mercantilist economies, now increasingly concerned about the effect of severe acute respiratory syndrome and other issues on their financial systems, continue to seek to expand exports to the West while maintaining their already-sizable trade surpluses.
They are daring serious trouble. It is increasingly clear that the day of reckoning predicted for years for the US trade balance may finally have arrived. By some estimates, the United States will be spending as much as $200 billion to $300 billion a year before the decade is out to service its foreign trade imbalance unless the deficit is corrected. All of its trading partners will suffer collateral damage.
The international trading system has lived on US deficits for decades as the United States became the importer of last resort. But now the dollar has gone into a long - and increasingly steep - glissade against the euro, falling by nearly 40 percent from its brief lowest point, and against other currencies such as the Mexican peso and the Australian and Canadian dollars by about 15 percent. But America's trade imbalance with Europe and its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners pales when compared with those of the Asian nations whose currencies continue to track the dollar. The US trade deficit with China rose to a record $103 billion in 2002 and was $70.1 billion with Japan.
But that competitiveness is growing increasingly dangerous. While a weaker dollar could help the flailing US economy by driving up the price of imports from Europe and making US exports more competitive on world markets, the United States' biggest trading partners in Asia are eating everybody else's lunch. The Eurozone is already teetering precariously on the edge of recession. Relentless Asian export competitiveness, let alone US competition as a result of the cheaper dollar, bids fair to drive it over the edge.
Germany has already suffered two quarters of falling gross domestic product (GDP). And, as the dollar has fallen 40 percent against the euro, so have most of the Asian currencies. It likely won't be Chevrolets they will be buying in Europe. It costs probably 15 percent more to produce a Mercedes-Benz than it did two years ago, and while the same currency fluctuations make a Lexus probably 15 percent less expensive in Bremen or Brest or Belgium. A wide range of products that the Eurozone exports across the planet, particularly machine tools and other precision manufacturing items, can be expected to face additional difficulty finding markets.
As Asian exports retain their edge in US markets, the world's economy is increasingly at stake. Without an Asia-wide revaluation or a fall in the dollar so steep that the Eurozone probably could not bear the pain, the United States could well fall back into recession. And, with Eurozone economies bound by tight labor regulations and close regulation of corporate structures, the region faces problems in reacting. In many European counties, trade retaliation could well become a possibility.
In addition, for the first time since the 1930s, the United States is facing the distinct possibility that it may follow Japan and Germany into devaluation, thus basically stalling out the world economy. US retail sales and import prices both fell at the sharpest rate ever in April and consumer-confidence data show that some 73 percent of Americans consider economic conditions in the US to be negative. US factory-capacity utilization is currently running at about 75 percent.
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©2003, Gloria R. Lalumia, email@example.com
Radio for the Left at http://www.zianet.com/insightanalytical/radio.htm
otherwise noted, all original