• Belgium — the nation famous for its commitment to human rights and its lectures to Bush and his European allies as well as attempts to put same before an international tribunal — asks that the Dalai Lama cancel his visit to Charleroi in June (in officialese: "The problem was put to the Dalai Lama") because King Albert II is to pay an official visit to China that same month. It's a "very difficult situation" says foreign minister Karel De Gucht, using traditional jargon to describe what amounts to double standards and/or caving in to authoritarian governments.
• On a visit to Tripoli, a smiling Defense Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie tells Muammar Gadaffi that she brings the Libyan strongman the "very warm salutation" of Jacques Chirac and holds a speech in which she says that she would like "to explain [sic] to her host" that — in typical "war is never the best solution" mode — the military solution is not the correct one with regards to the problems of the African continent.
In addition, the first French minister to visit Libya since Gadaffi seized power in 1969 hopes that the two parties "will soon concretize the relations of trust between Libya and France" through the signature of an agreement on "strategic cooperation", i.e., on arms sales. While Dassault, Thales, and Snecma have British and Russian rivals, there are none of the unprincipled and treacherous Americans present in Libya, since Washington retains its embargo on arms sales to Gadaffi's régime.
• And from Hervé, we have this Sky News report on the death of an African dictator:
Africa's longest-serving ruler, Togo president Gnassingbé Eyadéma, has died while being flown to France for medical treatment.While this comment causes Hervé to call France "the cemetery of dictators", notice how Éric Fottorino's column on Chirac's dubious elegy concerning the "dinosaur of Françafrica" reveals a troubled or slightly ironic tone of voice which is the most critical flavor one can expect from France's mainsteam media on French foreign policy, far from the castigating, mocking, and crusading tone used when and where Uncle Sam is involved.
The Togolese army said it had decided to hand power to one of his sons, Fauré Eyadéma.
…The European Union suspended aid to Togo in the 1990s in response to vote-rigging by Mr Eyadema in parliamentary and then presidential elections.
Britain's Foreign Office website says opposition to his rule often resulted in imprisonment without trial, torture and even execution.
French president Jacques Chirac was reported as saying: "France has lost a friend, and I, too, have lost a friend."