- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 3, 2000

Praise for Polish envoy

President Clinton saluted Polish Ambassador Jerzy Kozminski as "a friend to America" and "a friend of democracy" when he learned the envoy is leaving Washington.
That is high praise indeed from the leader of the world's only superpower who first met Mr. Kozminski as one of 12 ambassadors herded into the White House on June 23, 1994, to present their diplomatic credentials.
Five-and-a-half years later, Mr. Clinton had developed such respect for the ambassador that he took the unusual move of writing a personal farewell letter and having it hand-delivered by a top aide at a diplomatic reception.
"I salute your achievements in bringing our two nations to an historical high point in our relations," Mr. Clinton wrote in a letter to the ambassador last week.
The Polish Embassy, which released the letter on Tuesday, said Mr. Kozminski is returning to Poland in March to serve as president of the new Polish-American Freedom Foundation.
Mr. Clinton congratulated Mr. Kozminski for his efforts to bring Poland into NATO and for other accomplishments as ambassador to the United States.
"This process was capped in April 1999 at NATO's 50th anniversary summit in Washington, when Poland participated for the first time as a full member of the alliance," Mr. Clinton wrote.
"Your tireless efforts and diplomatic skills contributed importantly to the fact that Poland stood at that summit as one of NATO's new members.
"In departing, you leave not only as a friend to America, but a friend of democracy. Your integrity and effectiveness here in America and in the democratic revolution that has transformed Poland will always be remembered."
"Thank you for all that you have done to strengthen the bonds between Poland and the United States," Mr. Clinton concluded.
Mr. Kozminski yesterday told Embassy Row he is "honored and very pleased" by the letter. He called it a "great surprise" when he was handed the letter by Anthony Blinken, senior director of European affairs at the National Security Council, at a reception for Mr. Kozminski by the U.S. Committee on NATO.
Mr. Kozminski said, "I will leave Washington with great emotions."

Jews in Costa Rica

Costa Rican Ambassador Jaime Daremblum is proud that the American Jewish Committee has picked his country as the site for its annual board meeting.
"This is the first time the AJC has held a board of governors' meeting in a country other than the United States or Israel," said Mr. Daremblum, who is Jewish.
The four-day meeting that began yesterday will include sessions with Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodriguez and Foreign Minister Roberto Rojas. AJC President Bruce M. Ramer will present Mr. Rodriguez with the committee's award for distinguished public service.
"Costa Rica stands out as a dear friend of the Jewish people and a stalwart ally of Israel," said David A. Harris, the committee's executive director.
"We are coming … to express in person our deepest appreciation for Costa Rica's remarkable friendship and support, exemplified by its laudable decision in 1953 to establish its embassy in Jerusalem, one of only two countries in the world that still maintains its embassy in the Israeli capital."
El Salvador is the other country with an embassy in Jerusalem.

A little respect

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez yesterday took a tolerant view of some strong remarks against his government by a top U.S. official.
Mr. Chavez told reporters he places "little importance" to criticism expressed by Peter Romero, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.
Mr. Romero, in an interview published Saturday in a Spanish newspaper, said, "You don't see a government in charge [in Venezuela], only plebiscites, referendums, more elections, and they tell us 'wait', but we gringos are not known for our patience."
The State Department this week said Mr. Romero was only expressing U.S. concern about Venezuela's economic troubles that have been worsened by the floods that killed 30,000 people in December.
Mr. Chavez said, "While we listen to every criticism, we also ask for respect."

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