- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 14, 2001

No talks 'under fire'

An Israeli delegation arrived in Washington yesterday to explain that Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon is ready to seek peace with Israel's Arab neighbors, but not "under fire."

Meanwhile, a leading Palestinian lawmaker, also speaking here, said the Bush administration appears to be reassessing Middle East policy, which she thought was too pro-Israeli under President Clinton.

Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States, told reporters that Mr. Sharon, who opposed the peace efforts of the previous Israeli government, is prepared to deal with the Palestinians.

"But we will not do it under fire. We will not do it while terrorism is going on," said Mr. Shoval.

Mr. Shoval; Moshe Arens, a former defense and foreign minister; and Dore Gold, a former ambassador to the United Nations, are scheduled to meet Secretary of State Colin Powell today.

"We are coming to a friendly administration, which we know quite well," Mr. Shoval said. "We want to bring to everyone's attention what the new government's position on the peace process will be."

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi yesterday denounced Mr. Sharon as a war criminal "who should not be raising the peace flag."

She told reporters the Palestinians believe President Bush will develop a new approach in the pursuit of peace in the Middle East.

"We are ready to engage with the new administration on this substantive approach," she said. "The time has come for an honest and genuine assessment."

Cellucci to Canada

President Bush yesterday chose Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci as the next U.S. ambassador to Canada in a move applauded north of the border.

"Governor Cellucci is a friend and a fellow governor," Mr. Bush said in a statement.

"As a governor from the Northeast, he has worked closely with Canada over the years on issues of mutual concern like energy, trade, and preserving the environment. His appointment signifies the importance I place on the close relationship between the United States and Canada."

Canada also viewed the choice of Mr. Cellucci as a symbol of Mr. Bush's commitment to the United States' largest trading partner.

"We are pleased with the administration's choice," said Canadian Embassy spokesman Rodney Moore. "[He] is well-known to us, and [he] knows Canada well."

Mr. Cellucci, who vacations regularly in Canada, has also served as chairman of a forum of New England governors and Eastern Canadian provincial leaders.

"The Bush administration has signaled its commitment to the importance of the Canadian-U.S. bilateral relationship," Mr. Moore added.

In Massachusetts, Mr. Cellucci told reporters, "It's a great honor to be asked to serve a president I greatly admire."

Mr. Bush "is putting a great emphasis on relations within this hemisphere," he said, adding, "This is an important assignment."

Backlash in Bosnia

U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia Thomas Miller emerged more popular after being denounced by two members of the country's collective presidency for meeting members of the political opposition.

The U.S. Embassy received "hundreds" of faxes and letters from Bosnian citizens supporting Mr. Miller and criticizing Zivko Radisic, the Serbian chairman of the presidential panel, and Ante Jelavic, the Croatian member.

They had threatened to expel Mr. Miller, according to Bosnian news reports last week. The third member of the presidency, Muslim Halid Genjac, argued against revoking Mr. Miller's diplomatic status because of possible repercussions from the United States.

"There was a backlash. We received hundreds of faxes. Some said, 'Keep Miller. Kick them out,' " said one diplomatic source.

"It turned out really well."

The source, who asked not to be identified, explained that Mr. Miller was "doing his job by meeting with opposition figures." The United States has been critical of the rise of nationalist political parties.

The source said Mr. Radisic and Mr. Jelavic started to back down last week by claiming they were misquoted and had not actually called for Mr. Miller's expulsion.

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