- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2003

Russian relations repair
The U.S. ambassador to Russia believes Washington and Moscow will repair their relations, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's denunciation of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Ambassador Alexander Vershbow told a radio program last week that he had predicted Russia's opposition to U.S. diplomatic efforts at the United Nations could damage relations but denied earlier news reports that he had threatened diplomatic retaliation.
"Yes, I did say there was a danger of damage to our relationship, but I made no specific threats. I made no linkage of any one issue to this crisis," he told Moscow Echo radio.
Mr. Vershbow said the United States and Russia have too many shared interests to allow the dispute over Iraq to cause permanent damage to their relationship.
"There is no doubt that we have a very serious disagreement here; but we've been able to overcome serious disagreements of the past years, and I think we will overcome this one," he said.
He predicted that President Bush will visit Moscow as planned in May.
"I have every confidence that President Bush will come as planned, and he very much looks forward to seeing his friend, President Putin," Mr. Vershbow said.
The ambassador defended Mr. Bush's decision to invade Iraq to remove the country's leader, Saddam Hussein, and establish a democratic government.
"Certainly doing this through military means is not the normal method, but in this case we believe that, as we eliminate the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, we now have an opportunity to give the Iraqi people a chance for freedom and democracy. We intend to make good on that opportunity," he said.
Mr. Vershbow dismissed contentions that the United States is an illegal aggressor.
"We absolutely reject any notion that what we are doing is aggression," he said. "What we are doing is trying to uphold the authority of the U.N. resolutions and to eliminate a serious and immediate threat to the security of the region and the world."
German relations hurt
When German Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger addresses the Council on Foreign Relations tomorrow, the words of his American counterpart might still be ringing in his ears.
Daniel R. Coats, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, said last week that Americans are "very disappointed" that Germany failed to stand by the United States on the Iraq issue.
"We never asked Germany to take part in a war," he told the German newspaper Bild. "We simply asked a friend to be by our side when America felt threatened, just as we've been by Germany's side in difficult times."
"Damage has been done" to the relationship, he said, although he predicted that the United States and Germany "will work together again."
"We Americans are very disappointed because we have been partners for a long time," he said.
Diplomatic traffic
Visitors in Washington this week include:
Today
Jordan's Queen Noor, who is on a tour to promote her book, "Leap of Faith: The Memoirs of an Unexpected Life." She appears at 11 a.m. on Diane Rehm's radio show at 88.5 FM. Tomorrow she appears at the National Press Club at 6 p.m.
Tomorrow
Friedrich Merz, deputy minority leader of the German parliament, who addresses the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
Two Sri Lankan officials: G.L. Peiris, minister of enterprise development, industrial policy, and investment promotion; and constitutional affairs, and Sandresh Ravindra Karunanayake, minister of commerce and consumer affairs. They address the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Wednesday
Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who meets the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On Thursday, he talks with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, meets with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and inaugurates a new Pakistani Embassy on International Drive NW. On Friday, he meets President Bush and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
Rabbi Ron Kronish and Issa Jabber of Israel's Interreligious Coordinating Council, who address Adas Israel Congregation in the capital on the challenges of Jewish-Arab coexistence.


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