Fifty-First State?

Fifty-First State?

Fifty-First State?

What the foreign papers are saying.
July 29 1998 3:30 AM

Fifty-First State?

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Taking up a cause recently promoted by its Canadian proprietor Conrad Black, the conservative British Daily Telegraph (circulation 1 million) argued Britain should apply for membership--or associate membership--in the North American Free Trade Agreement. It said in an editorial Monday that Black's proposal was supported not only by Margaret Thatcher, several leading members of the opposition Conservative Party, and Britain's largest circulation newspaper (Rupert Murdoch's Sun) but also by House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas.

The notion that the United States wants Britain to remain part of a European bloc is "becoming out of date," the paper said. "US commentators are waking up to the fact that the [European Union] contains an important anti-American component. Henry Kissinger, perhaps the most influential of post-war foreign policy thinkers, recently warned against further European integration." The Telegraph said the case for "associating with the New World" doesn't rest simply on an affinity of culture, language, or political values but is based on hard economic calculation.

Black's Israeli newspaper, the Jerusalem Post, congratulated Jordan's ailing King Hussein Monday on the fact that the longevity of his rule--46 years next month--"has been achieved mainly through consensual rule rather than despotism." The paper's editorial recalled American journalist Walter Lippmann on the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt--"the genius of a good leader is to leave behind him a situation which common sense, without the grace of genius, can deal with successfully"--and suggested Hussein has achieved this.

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India's Asian Age led its front page Monday with the news that India plans to cash in on the Viagra craze by exporting its essential chemical ingredient to countries not yet covered by Pfizer's patent. In a report from Chennai (Madras), the paper said Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals plans to start exporting sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient in Viagra, to countries in South America and eastern Europe at the end of August. Orchid has had trade inquiries from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Bangladesh; it has the necessary licenses from the Indian government to manufacture and export the chemical and has already started importing the raw materials.

In an editorial about a U.S. decision to suspend all scientific collaboration with India and to send several Indian scientists home, the Asian Age said "few scientists from the erstwhile Soviet Union faced such treatment as has been meted out to Indian scientists now, even at the height of the Cold War." If the United States continues to behave like an international bully, "the result will certainly not be greater peace and cohesion in the world: that much is for sure."

Pakistan's main English-language newspaper, Dawn, focused Monday on the crisis in Kosovo, Yugoslavia. Accusing the United States and other Western governments of "inexplicable delay" in checking "Serbia's relentless offensive" against Kosovar Muslims, it warned that if the world community continues "to waver and dither over what is happening in Kosovo for long," it will find a "Bosnia-like conflict in [its] lap."

The Russian newspaper Segodnya, commenting on Vice President Al Gore's visit to Russia, said President Boris Yeltsin, vacationing in Karelia, had deliberately distanced himself from Gore because he didn't want to look as if he was begging for American money. But the daily said this "must have left an unfavorable impression."

In Japan, Mainichi Shimbun criticized the new Liberal Democratic Party leader Keizo Obuchi for being "devoid of fresh ideas" for reviving the Japanese economy. "Obuchi should remember that while the Japanese public has an intense desire to see an economic upturn, it is not waiting for easy-to-swallow solutions," the paper said in an editorial. "Even if the measures implemented require painful sacrifices, people are willing to bear them if they promise a secure and healthy future."

The Japan Times said Tuesday that Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji "may be obliged to reconsider his pledge to hold steady the value of the currency. That in turn could--most likely would--trigger another round of devaluations in Asia and set back the region's recovery." It concluded, "Japan cannot afford to stand idly by: China's difficulties make ours look small in comparison."