Cuba, Nicaragua and Tanzania attacked the United States today at the U.N. Decade for Women Conference, criticizing a U.S. attempt to condemn "outlaw" terrorist states and accusing Washington of sponsoring terrorism in Latin America.
The dispute over who is and who is not a terrorist came on a day when the conference, intended to appraise women's progress in the past decade, also was hobbled by Middle East hostilities.
A speech by Sara Doron, head of the Israeli delegation, was interrupted when dozens of women, most of them from Arab and Soviet Bloc countries, walked out of the Kenyatta Conference Center. Outside the hall, they chanted, "Zionist terrorists go home!"
Opponents of the United States seized on the controversial antiterrorism proposal today as an opportunity to condemn U.S. policies. Since arriving here 10 days ago, the U.S. delegation had gone out of its way to denounce countries that, in the words of some of its members, try to saddle this gathering with global political gripes having only a tenuous connection with "the unique concerns of women."
Alan Lee Keyes, the only male on the 33-member American delegation and its leader on political strategy, said last week that such political posturing was "not only absurd, but a transparent manipulation of the women's movement."
Thus when Keyes over the weekend tried to insert into the conference's final report a condemnation of an unnamed "small group of outlaw states" for helping international terrorism, indignation was expressed by delegates from many of the 160 countries represented here.
Today, Cuba accused the United States of harboring and training terrorists whose activities include "attempted assassinations of heads of state." Nicaragua, referring to U.S. support of forces opposing its government, insisted that any condemnation of terrorism must mention "covert" acts of "state terrorism." Tanzania said that one country's "freedom fighters" were another's "terrorists" and that it considers U.S. behavior in Central America to be "terrorism."
Maureen Reagan, head of the U.S. delegation, today characterized the American proposal as a negotiating ploy designed to show "some people" that "we can play the same games they can play." Speaking at a press conference, she added that she believed terrorism to be a "unique concern of women."
Reagan today denied that the U.S. delegation had approved a resolution that says women should receive "equal pay for work of equal value" as that performed by men. The Reagan administration opposes this so-called "comparable worth" idea.
A U.N. official, however, insisted that the Americans had approved this language in a closed committee meeting. The official said that the United States had helped create the procedure under which resolutions are approved in closed meetings and noted that other nations "will raise hell" if the United States tries to change what it already has agreed to.
The United States came here saying it was determined to keep the conference from being dominated by the same political issues -- apartheid, Zionism, a Third World demand for more of the world's wealth -- that preoccupied past women's conferences. But the numerical superiority of the countries wishing to dwell on those issues has thus far prevailed.