Sunday, April 22, 2007
Presidential candidate Richardson talks of need for diplomacy
By EMILY CHRISTENSEN, Courier Staff Writer
CEDAR FALLS --- Bad guys like Gov. Bill Richardson.The New Mexico governor has worked with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to broker a fragile 60-day cease fire agreement in Darfur. He has helped a scared wife rescue her journalist husband from a Sudanese prison thanks to his relationship with the African leader.More recently Richardson was in North Korea, collecting the remains of six soldiers lost during the Korean War, from a country that has been less-than-friendly with the United States in recent history.Richardson, a Democratic presidential hopeful, said it is his commitment to diplomacy that has afforded him the opportunity to arrange such meetings.
It is that same diplomacy Richardson said is needed in Washington to begin moving this country in the right direction. "We should have a foreign policy that we do things not just for our own interest, but because it is right," Richardson told a group of about 150 on the University of Northern Iowa campus Friday. "... We have forgotten that element in our foreign policy. ... I think that buys us goodwill and eventually that translates into something that advances our issues." He was in Cedar Falls as part of a larger program sponsored by the Center for International Peace and Security Studies that focused on conflict and conflict resolution in Africa. "What you do here, mediation and conflict resolution, that's the reason I am running for president," Richardson said. If elected, Richardson said he will make Africa and the Darfur region and other third-world countries that he said have been neglected under the current administration a top priority of his international agenda.
But, Richardson said he isn't interested in starting another war on the behalf of these countries. Instead he wants to use United Nations peace-keeping envoys, economic sanctions and diplomacy to end the wars now raging in many third-world countries. He also would divert funds currently being used in Iraq --- his first order of business would be to remove troops from that area --- to fund additional foreign aid and refocus our military efforts at U.S. ports and in Afghanistan." America also has to protect its own interests. ... The war in Iraq is taking away from the real threats to America," he said.
Richardson, who is in his second term as the New Mexico governor, served as the Secretary of Energy under President Bill Clinton, was a Congressman and an Ambassador to the United Nations. His work has earned him four nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.