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Wednesday, May 16, 2001

Three days of Bush bombardment ends

Staff writer

AWAJI ISLAND, Hyogo Pref. — In what turned into three days of criticism of U.S. foreign policy under President George W. Bush, former world leaders wrapped up the 19th plenary session of the Interaction Council on Tuesday.

The council closed with the issuing of a 26-point communique, covering issues including AIDS, information technology, China and reform of the United Nations Security Council.

On Africa, the council announced support for a call by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan for a global trust fund to fight AIDS, and noted the epidemic claimed 2 million Africans in 2000.

The council also called for funding to develop telecommunications infrastructure in 50 countries, many in Africa, to allow them to participate in the information age. The final communique did not, however, address the issue of debt relief for the world's poorest countries, a contentious issue at last year's G8 Summit in Okinawa.

"The issue did come up, briefly, in discussions. I think you would find, in general, the council supports the idea," said former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, who co-chairs the council along with former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa.

But it was recent actions by the United States, including Bush's decision to reject the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases, that most upset council members.

"If we are to overcome global problems, every country has to sacrifice something. I hope the U.S. is having second thoughts about the rejection of the Kyoto Protocol," Fraser said.

Behind the criticism was the fear that the world's lone superpower will bully other nations and act unilaterally, especially in its planned theater missile defense system.

"The intention of the United States to construct a missile defense system is contentious and opinion is divided. We hope that present consultative efforts by the United States will lead to international agreement on this issue," the communique said.

Finally, the council stressed its support for the U.N. Security Council as the sole source of authority for the use of force.

While not all council members support giving Japan a permanent seat on the security council, they agreed that its structure does not reflect the balance of power between nations, and that it should be modernized.

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The Japan Times

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