Saturday, January 30, 1999

Hawaii as top
Pacific site for

WIN one, lose one. The state has been selected as the site of the Pacific Basin Economic Council's annual meeting in 2000. The council is an international organization representing more than 1,100 companies in 20 countries. That was a big win for the Cayetano administration's efforts to gain recognition for Hawaii as a meeting place. But it was coupled with an equally big loss -- rejection of the bid for the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization this November.

The WTO is the premier international organization for trade matters. Trade ministers from 133 countries gather to make decisions that are often of immense economic importance. The host city gains world-wide publicity as well as the direct economic gains from the presence of about 7,500 visitors.

The Cayetano administration went all out to win this prize for Honolulu, competing against 39 other American cities. The governor himself went to bat with President Clinton and Vice President Gore during their stopovers here in November. A heavyweight delegation including former Govs. George Ariyoshi and John Waihee journeyed to Washington last month to lobby the national administration.

Honolulu was included in the six finalists to host the conference, but lost to Seattle. It was a disappointment because our city appeared to have a realistic shot at victory.

In his State of the State address, the governor mentioned the Pacific Basin Economic Council coming here and cited the decision as an opportunity "to enhance our state's reputation as a first-class destination not just for recreation but also as a place for serious business." That it is, but winning the WTO conference would have been sweet, too. Apparently Hawaii's image as a place to have fun, not work, blocked approval.

There will be other big conferences in the future that might come here, and Hawaii should be out bidding for all of them. The new convention center is drawing raves and will be a major attraction on top of all the state's other strengths.

MEANWHILE Mayor Harris is hosting two international conferences this weekend -- a China-U.S. Mayors Conference starting today and an Asia-Pacific Environmental Summit beginning tomorrow.

The mayors conference, similar to the Japan-U.S. Mayors Conference, is the result of Harris' visit to China in 1997, when he met with Beijing's Mayor Jia Qinglin. In addition to Beijing, nine other Chinese cities are represented.

The environmental meeting will bring together some 300 delegates from the Asia-Pacific region and the United States to talk about worsening environmental conditions in the region and how to solve these problems.

These sessions are important contributions to the same end as the state administration's efforts -- to make Hawaii and Honolulu in particular a major center for conventions and conferences dealing with regional and worldwide issues.


Jordan’s King Hussein

THE most durable figure in the history of Mideast peace efforts may not have long to live. King Hussein of Jordan has been rushed back to the United States after suffering a relapse in his battle with cancer. Hussein had just appointed his son, Abdullah, 36, as crown prince, replacing Hussein's brother, Hassan, who had that designation for 30 years.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright paid a quick visit to Amman to meet Abdullah and pledged that Washington would stand by its key Arab ally -- an indication of the importance Hussein holds in American eyes. Albright said the United States looked forward to Hussein's recovery but U.S. officials expressed confidence in Abdullah's abilities and insisted they expected no change in policy if the prince, an army officer, became king.

During his 47 years on the throne, Hussein, 63, has been a stabilizing influence in the search for Arab-Israeli peace. In the 1970s he was the first Arab ruler to open communication with Israel. In 1994 he established diplomatic relations with Israel, making Jordan the second Arab state to do so.

Last October he left his sickbed to help President Clinton with his efforts to mediate between Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the PLO's Yasser Arafat in the Wye River negotiations.

Hussein has had to be adroit to keep his kingdom from disintegrating in friction between native Bedouins and Palestinian immigrants. Internationally Jordan's situation -- between Israel, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia -- has also frequently been precarious.

The question now is whether Hussein's son is up to the demanding job his father may soon bequeath to him. Jordan's fate, and more, depends on the answer.


Missouri’s opening

IT'S been six months since the battleship Missouri arrived in Hawaii from its berth in the mothball fleet in Puget Sound. Its welcome was enthusiastic, but the historic old ship wasn't in great shape. For the last six months thousands of dedicated volunteers have donated more than 25,000 hours at Pearl Harbor to restore the ship -- chipping, sanding and painting the teakwood decks and steel superstructure.

Yesterday the Missouri was ready to receive visitors and had its grand opening. It was the 55th anniversary of its launching at the New York Navy Yard. It was also the beginning of a new life as a museum vessel, a dramatic symbol of victory in World War II. It's moored just 100 yards from the sunken battleship Arizona, symbol of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack that thrust the United States into the war.

Kudos to the dedicated people who conceived the idea of bringing the Missouri to Hawaii and worked to make it happen -- and to those who have restored it to its current condition.

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