- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 18, 2000

'Pink Lloyd' to quit?

Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy insists "rumors [of his resignation] are greatly exaggerated," but speculation continues on his political future.

Known to friends as "Pink Lloyd" because of his liberal views, he prompted the guessing game when he told reporters last week that he is undecided about running for re-election.

Should he step down, Canada would lose one of its best-known faces in Washington, where he is a frequent visitor.

Mr. Axworthy has even confronted some powerful members of Congress over such issues as the International Criminal Court. In June, he warned the United States it would be blamed for undermining the court if it seeks to exempt U.S. troops from the authority of the tribunal.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, and House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, want to cut off military aid to countries that ratify the court.

Mr. Axworthy is best known for his advocacy of an international ban on land mines.

Canada's Southam News Service quoted Mr. Axworthy on Saturday as saying he had received a "very attractive offer" from the University of British Columbia.

Rumors of Mr. Axworthy's possible departure delighted the Calgary Sun, one of the top conservative newspapers in the West.

"His foreign policy initiatives … always seem to put the interests of Canada and our allies second to the interests of other nations," it said in an editorial.

Cashmere and Scotland

A leading Scottish politician is here this week to fight another round of the banana trade war that is jeopardizing Scotland's struggling cashmere wool industry.

Henry McLeish, technology minister in the Scottish government, met yesterday with aides to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott to seek support for removing cashmere from a list of products in the European Union that could face a 100-percent increase in U.S. tariffs.

"What I tried to get across was this is more than just a product. This could be disastrous for the local economy," said Mr. McLeish, the second-most-powerful leader in the Labor Party, the majority partner in the governing coalition.

He is counting on the help of the Mississippi Republican, who helped save the cashmere industry last year when it was first threatened by the dispute. Mr. Lott, a Scottish-American, has a strong affection for the land of his ancestors.

He sponsored a resolution that created National Tartan Day, an annual celebration of Scottish-American heritage, and wore a kilt in the Senate this year on the April 6 holiday.

Mr. McLeish said the cashmere industry was beginning to recover, with the United States as its major market, when Scotland again found its quality wool product at risk.

The United States is threatening to impose the penalties because of the EU refusal to abide by a World Trade Organization order for Europe to open its market to bananas grown in Central America by U.S.-owned corporations. The union gives preferential treatment to bananas grown in former Caribbean and African colonies.

Scotland's Struan Stevenson, now a member of the European Parliament, and George Reid, now the deputy presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament, last year appealed to Mr. Lott to get the Clinton administration to remove cashmere from the first list of targeted EU goods.

On another issue, Mr. McLeish said he was not surprised by the resignation yesterday of the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), the official opposition in the Scottish Parliament.

Alex Salmond said he is resigning after 10 years because he has been party leader long enough and has advanced Scottish independence to the point where a majority of Scots support the cause.

"He has not been performing well. His interest has waned a bit," Mr. McLeish said. "His party is divided. Maybe his heart had gone out of it."

Alison Duncan, the SNP representative in Washington, said Mr. Salmond's resignation was expected and is not an indication of a divided party.

"The SNP owes him a great deal," she said. "He has been tremendously successful in promoting Scottish independence… .

"He's not leaving the party. He's not leaving the cause," she added.

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