- The Washington Times - Friday, December 15, 2000

'Glad it's over'

Most ambassadors left it to their presidents and prime ministers to send congratulations to President-elect George W. Bush yesterday, but many diplomats privately shared a sense of relief that the long, contested election had come to an end.
"I think most people are glad it's over because of the growing discord that was evident on the talk shows," said one diplomat, who asked not to be identified.
Another diplomat was concerned about the damage done to America's reputation from the lengthy court battles and political disputes.
"We are happy to have America back. It is the only superpower," the diplomat said.
Among the ambassadors who delivered messages to Mr. Bush, China's Li Zhaoxing sent his "warm congratulations on this very happy occasion."
"The embassy looks forward to working with the new president, new administration and new Congress to promote stronger and closer China-U.S. relations in the years ahead," Chinese Embassy spokesman Zhang Yuanyuan added.
Austrian Ambassador Peter Moser, in his message to Mr. Bush, said, "There is no doubt that, in a period of dramatic change, your leadership is of utmost importance, not only for the United States, but for the entire international community.
"One bedrock for the preservation of peace and prosperity during the last decades has been the strong relationship between the United States and Europe."
Mr. Moser urged Mr. Bush to visit Austria:
"You would be welcomed most cordially by the Austrian government and the Austrian people."
Some diplomats privately expressed some anxiety about the new administration because they know little about Mr. Bush's foreign-policy priorities.
One Arab diplomat noted that Condoleezza Rice, expected to be named national security adviser, has written extensively about European and Russian issues, but little on the Middle East.
"People are hoping for more engagement in the Middle East," he said. "But we have some concern that Mr. Bush doesn't have any experience in the Middle East."
He said he felt comfortable with Vice President-elect Richard B. Cheney.
"He is familiar with the area. But we don't know about Powell," he said of the expected appointment of retired Gen. Colin Powell as secretary of state.
Costa Rican Ambassador Jaime Daremblum said his president sent congratulations to Mr. Bush and a message to Vice President Al Gore and his running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, to recognize the "dignity with which the race was brought to an end."

Pickering retires

Thomas Pickering, one of America's most respected diplomats, will retire from government service next month and enter the private sector as a senior vice president for international relations at the Boeing Co.
"He's one of our most senior career diplomats. He's been an eminent ambassador in many places around the world," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday.
"Both for the career Foreign Service and for this administration, he's been a very active and important element of our diplomacy, and I'm sure he'll be missed in that regard. But we all wish him well in his new job."
Mr. Pickering, as undersecretary of state, is the third-highest ranking diplomat behind Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott.
Mr. Pickering, 69, also holds the high-ranking Foreign Service title of "career ambassador."
He has served as ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria and Jordan.
He was also ambassador to the United Nations from 1989 to 1993.

Scheduling blunder

Carol Moseley Braun, the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand, refused to attend a diplomatic reception at the Japanese Embassy in New Zealand that was held on the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The embassy said the scheduling was a mistake. The Dec. 7 reception was held to celebrate the birthday of Emperor Akihito, even though his birthday is Dec. 23.
"We never thought about that," Yoko Takahashi, the embassy's political officer, told New Zealand's Dominion newspaper.
"We wanted to have a reception before everyone is leaving."

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