- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 11, 2005

New Asia team

Christopher R. Hill, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, is expected to be named assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, the Kyodo news service reports in a dispatch about President Bush’s second-term diplomatic team for Asian issues.

Mr. Hill, who has been ambassador in Seoul since August, would replace James Kelly and would serve as Washington’s top negotiator in the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, the Japanese wire service said yesterday.

Mr. Hill, a European specialist for most of his career, is a former ambassador to Poland and Macedonia. He also served as senior director of Southeast European affairs at the National Security Council (NSC).

Kyodo noted other members of the new Asian team include Victor Cha, a North Korea specialist at Georgetown University who has been appointed director for Japanese and North Korean issues at the NSC.

Evans Revere will remain as principal deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and Richard Lawless, deputy undersecretary of defense for East Asian and Pacific issues, is expected to remain in his post at the Pentagon.

Imitating Ukraine

A former ambassador from Kyrgyzstan is benefiting from pro-democracy protests inspired by Ukrainians in her quest to be reinstated as a candidate for parliament.

About 150 demonstrators protested in the Kyrgyzstan capital, Bishkek, yesterday for the fourth day to demand that Ambassador Roza Otunbayeva be allowed to run in the Feb. 27 elections.

Mrs. Otunbayeva is among four former ambassadors disqualified from running for parliament because they have not lived in the Central Asian nation for the past five years. A former foreign minister, she was ambassador to the United States from 1992 to 1994 and later served as ambassador to Britain.

Reporters in Bishkek said the demonstrators wore yellow scarves and were inspired by Ukrainian pro-democracy protesters, who wore orange clothing or carried orange flags to demand a rerun of the vote in the controversial presidential election that the Ukrainian Supreme Court later overturned as fraudulent.

Mrs. Otunbayeva, who was among the demonstrators, accused Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev of attempting to muffle the political dissent. The State Department’s annual human rights report criticizes the Kyrgyz government for widespread violations of civil liberties and using the state-controlled press against the political opposition.

“Every day, state television and radio carries out its brainwashing, so we have come to protest,” Mrs. Otunbayeva said. “We diplomats have become this election’s first victims.”

Mrs. Otunbayeva is the leader of the Ata Zhurt, or Fatherland, party.

Mr. Akayev, president since 1991, has promised not to run in the Oct. 30 presidential election.

New in Greece

The new U.S. ambassador to Greece presented his diplomatic credentials yesterday, after declaring both countries close allies in the war on terrorism and in the promotion of stability in the Balkans.

Ambassador Charles Ries, who replaced Thomas Miller, met with Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos.

Mr. Ries, in an arrival statement on Monday, promised to work with the Greek government “on issues concerning NATO and the European Union, the promotion of stability and prosperity in the Balkans, the improvement of our trade and economic relations, the war on terrorism, Middle East peace, as well as other issues that will concern Greece and the U.S. as members of the U.N. Security Council.”

“The U.S. and Greece have cooperated closely for many years through NATO, the EU and bilaterally, and we are close allies in the greatest challenge of our time — the war on terrorism,” he added.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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