- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Canada's envoy leaving

Canadian Ambassador Raymond A.J. Chretien will be leaving Washington soon to become ambassador to France.

His appointment was announced this week in a diplomatic shuffle that also affected Canadian ambassadors to the United Nations, Britain, France, Germany and Italy.

Embassy Row reported June 16 that Mr. Chretien, a French-Canadian, would be receiving the appointment to France. Canadian news reports said Mr. Chretien, nephew of Prime Minister Jean Chretien, will be expected to prevail upon French officials not to endorse independence for the French-speaking province of Quebec, which is expected to sponsor another separatist referendum next year. France in the past has publicly supported Quebec's independence.

Michael Kergin, now the prime minister's chief foreign policy adviser, will become the new ambassador to the United States.

The Canadian government also announced that Ambassador to the United Nations Robert Fowler will go to Rome. Paul Heinbecker, an assistant deputy foreign minister, was named the new U.N. envoy.

Mr. Fowler will replace Jeremy Kinsman, who will become ambassador to Britain. Marie Bernard-Meunier was named ambassador to Germany to replace Gaetan Lavertu, who will return to Canada to become deputy foreign minister.

On special assignment

Lithuania's former ambassador to the United States is back in Washington this week to find ways to fight organized crime in his Baltic nation.

Alfonsas Eidintas, ambassador here from 1993 to 1997, is accompanying Kazys Pednycia, Lithuania's general prosecutor, for talks with officials at the Justice and State departments.

They are scheduled to meet Attorney General Janet Reno and Daniel S. Hamilton, a deputy assistant secretary of state, and other officials at the FBI.

Mr. Eidintas campaigned tirelessly, if unsuccessfully, for NATO membership for Lithuania while he was ambassador in Washington. Now he holds the positions of ambassador for special assignments.

'Remain vigilant'

The ever-cautious State Department yesterday encouraged Americans traveling abroad to enjoy their summer vacations but "remain vigilant" against terrorists.

The department added in a public announcement that it had no specific threat and did not want to alarm anyone.

However, it said, "The possibility remains that terrorists and other groups or individuals may take actions against Americans and American interests."

Spokesman Philip Reeker said the department frequently issues such warnings, even when there is no evidence that terrorists are targeting Americans.

"No one is trying to make anybody nervous," he said. "What we are saying here is that Americans should take appropriate precautions when traveling abroad, such as always being attentive to their surroundings and exercising caution generally.

"Enjoy your vacations, enjoy your travel abroad, see the world, but be smart and safe while you're doing it."

Defending the troops

The president of South Korea defended the presence of U.S. troops in his country in talks this month with the leader of North Korea, saying their deployment prevents regional domination by China or Japan, according to a former South Korean ambassador to the United States.

Hong Choo-hyun, ambassador here from 1991 to 1993, told the Kyodo News Service that North Korea's Kim Jong-il "showed understanding" toward the explanation offered by President Kim Dae-jung.

The North Korean dictator, who at first complained about the stationing of U.S. troops, grasped the South Korean "viewpoint of the geopolitical situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula," Mr. Hong said.

Kim Dae-jung told his counterpart the Americans were stationed there to "keep stability" in the region, Mr. Hong told Kyodo, the Japanese news service.

"The South Korean president added it would be better for the forces to be kept in South Korea to prevent Japan and China from engaging in efforts to gain hegemony in the region," Kyodo reported, quoting Mr. Hong.

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