- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Diplomatic retaliation

The State Department yesterday threatened to retaliate against the Congolese Embassy for the expulsion of two U.S. diplomats from the Congo over the weekend.

"We are considering an appropriate and commensurate response to the Congolese government's unjustified actions, and we will announce these measures shortly," said department spokesman Richard Boucher.

In diplomatic parlance, that threat usually means a tit-for-tat reaction.

In this case, the State Department could order two Congolese diplomats to leave the country.

The Congo has only five accredited diplomats in Washington.

U.S. Ambassador William Swing met with Laurent Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on Saturday.

"He protested the Congolese government's expulsion of two members of the American Embassy from Kinshasa," Mr. Boucher said, referring to the Congolese capital.

The two diplomats, identified in the state-controlled media as public affairs officer Denis Burgess and political counselor Roger Moran, are back in the United States.

According to Congolese reports, they were accused of encouraging the overthrow of Mr. Kabila, the authoritarian leader who came to power in a coup in 1997 and is now struggling to hold on to power against a rebel army allied against him.

Mr. Boucher refused to describe anything the two American diplomats are reported to have said at a diplomatic function, but he denounced the charges against them as "false and outrageous."

"We don't see any ground or any justification for this [expulsion]," Mr. Boucher said.

"To start parsing whether somebody went to a dinner and said something, didn't say something, might have said something like it … frankly, I don't think it's material.

"The fact is we don't think it's justified. We're going to take appropriate action in response."

The newspaper L'Avenir accused Mr. Burgess of using his diplomatic cover to spy for the CIA.

The biweekly newspaper Vision said Saturday, "The Americans who want to kill Kabila have been expelled."

A Congolese church leader, interviewed on state television, said the U.S. diplomats told church and civic leaders it is time for Mr. Kabila to go.

Packing his bags

Thomas Foley is ready to come home after nearly three years as U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Mr. Foley yesterday told reporters he will submit his resignation after the November election, regardless of whether Vice President Al Gore or Texas Gov. George W. Bush wins. He will finish his third year in Tokyo in November and will likely serve until the new president is inaugurated in January.

"I don't have any desire to serve for any extended period," Mr. Foley, 71, told reporters at his official Tokyo residence.

"I've enjoyed it very much because there's been so much going on, but it will be time for me, after 3 and 1/2 years or so, to return to the United States," he added.

Mr. Foley, who began his diplomatic tour when Japan was mired in recession, has strongly advocated the deregulation of the Japanese economy.

He noted that many of the U.S.-Japanese trade disputes were not as intense as in the past.

The two countries last month settled a disagreement over the fees Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. charged U.S. telecommunications firms and agreed to extend talks on the deregulation of U.S.-Japanese trade for a fourth year.

Mr. Foley noted the high level of bilateral security, but that could decline if there is a reduction of tension between North and South Korea.

"I think at the moment, support in Japan for our security relationship is probably, in overall terms, at a record high," he said.

"But I think that if there is a long period of reduction of tension on the Korean Peninsula, there may be some growth of opinion in Japan that the security relationship is not as critical and I think that this may be something we'll have to face."

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