Powell outraged over Czech draft resolution on Cuba

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell

A Czech-sponsored resolution for the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, which condemns human rights violations in Cuba has met with disapproval from the United States. On Saturday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who criticized the resolution earlier last week, telephoned Czech President Vaclav Havel to voice his deep concern over the way Czech diplomats have been handling the situation.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan wants to include a passage in the resolution opposing American economic sanctions against Cuba, which says that such sanctions are counterproductive. Last Friday, Mr Kavan said that preparations for the resolution have received far too much attention in the media, which could make its approval by the UN Human Rights Commission more difficult. Mr Kavan has already proposed two very similar resolutions in the past, but in each case, the passage condemning U.S. economic sanctions was removed from the final version. I asked commentator Jan Urban why Mr Kavan is so keen to have this passage included in the resolution? Following his conversation with Colin Powell, President Havel indicated that he is more in favour of the American approach, and that the text of the latest Czech resolution should not differ too much from the version approved last year. According to Mr Havel, the Czech side should start immediate negotiations with the United States on the issue.