- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Right from Berlin

Angela Merkel, the leader of Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) who is expected to become the country’s first female chancellor after the Sept. 18 election, sent one of her party’s most seasoned foreign policy hands to Washington yesterday to tell the Bush administration what to expect from Berlin if the CDU wins.

The official, Wolfgang Schaeuble, is an old acquaintance of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s from their days of working together on Germany’s reunification in 1990. Mr. Schaeuble was the chief German negotiator, and Miss Rice was part of the U.S. team as a National Security Council official.

Yesterday, Mr. Schaeuble told Miss Rice that a CDU government would work to persuade its EU colleagues that strengthening the European Union should not be at the expense of relations with the United States, our State Department correspondent Nicholas Kralev reports.

“European integration is not an alternative to trans-Atlantic partnership,” said Mr. Schaeuble, currently vice chairman of the CDU parliamentary group in the German Bundestag in charge of foreign policy.

He told reporters at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel that sending German troops to Iraq is “not possible” but noted that President Bush’s push for democracy in the Middle East is “in the overall interest of improving the situation” in the region.

Mr. Schaeuble, who also met with National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley yesterday before flying back to Berlin, said he has seen “a lot of improvement” in the Bush administration’s foreign policy in its second term. He cited U.S.-European relations and the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs under way in Beijing.

Warning in Mexico

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza cited his duty to protect American visitors when he urged the State Department this week to extend a travel warning about deadly gang wars in the lawless Mexican border areas where 30 U.S. citizens have been kidnapped during the past year.

“The safety and well-being of American citizens abroad is an ambassador’s single most important duty, and I am committed to ensuring that my countrymen have access to the information they need to make decisions about their travel to Mexico,” he said in a statement posted on the U.S. Embassy’s Web site (http://mexico.usembassy.gov/).

A turf war between two of Mexico’s most dangerous drug gangs has turned the area south of the U.S. border into a deadly no man’s land. More than 600 people have been killed in the region this year, including the chief of police and 18 policemen in the town of Nuevo Laredo.

“The Mexican government is beginning to address concerns about the unacceptable level of violence along our border,” Mr. Garza said. “[However] these disturbing reports make clear that Mexico needs to do much more to bring safety and security to our common border. …

“A lot of hard work lies ahead in our common effort to put an end to lawlessness along our border, but I am convinced that the government of Mexico is working to address the situation.”

The alert is the third Mr. Garza has issued this year.

Cuba coordinator

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has selected a senior congressional aid to serve as the next director of efforts to promote a democratic government in Cuba, said a source who added that the announcement is expected this week.

Caleb McCarry, Republican staff director at the House International Relations subcommittee on Western Hemisphere affairs, will be named the coordinator for Cuban transition.

The position was held by Roger Noriega, now assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere issues.

The post was established by the 2003 Cuba Transition Act.

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

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