- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 26, 2006

Canadian resigns

Canadian Ambassador Frank McKenna, a political appointee of the Liberal government defeated Monday, submitted his resignation this week to Stephen Harper, the Conservative prime minister-elect.

In a letter to Mr. Harper, Mr. McKenna acknowledged the difficulty of establishing the “appearance of total confidence” between a prime minister from one party and an ambassador from another, especially in Canada’s most important diplomatic post. He offered to stay in Washington until a replacement is named.

“It is this perception of closeness that provides a strong platform for the Canadian ambassador to advance Canada’s interest,” Mr. McKenna said in the letter.

“While I would have no difficulty working with you or your government, it would be virtually impossible to establish the appearance of total confidence and support in a jurisdiction where political ambassadorial appointees traditionally resign immediately after an election.”

Mr. McKenna, a former Liberal Party premier of New Brunswick, extended his “sincere congratulations” to Mr. Harper and noted that “it was a hard-fought campaign.”

The Liberal Party hammered Mr. Harper during the election and tried to paint him as a puppet of President Bush, but a major bribery scandal crippled the Liberals, who lost control of the Canadian government for the first time in more than a decade.

Mr. McKenna is considered the front-runner to replace former Prime Minister Paul Martin as leader of the Liberal Party after former Deputy Prime Minister John Manley announced Wednesday that he will not seek the leadership position.

Preston Manning, former leader of the conservative Reform Party, is considered a likely candidate for the ambassadorship to the United States, which is Canada’s closest trading partner.

Nuclear mishap?

India said yesterday that U.S. Ambassador David C. Mulford apologized for comments attributed to him earlier this week when he was quoted as warning India against supporting Iran at an upcoming meeting of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency.

“The ambassador expressed his sincere regrets, saying that his remarks had been taken out of context,” Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran told reporters in New Delhi.

Mr. Saran called Mr. Mulford’s statements “inappropriate and not conducive to building a strong partnership between the two democracies.”

However, the U.S. Embassy said Wednesday that Mr. Mulford was accurately quoted in a report by the Press Trust of India, when he warned India that it may jeopardize a landmark nuclear deal pending before the U.S. Congress if the country refuses to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council at the Thursday meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“The ambassador just wanted to give his honest opinion on how he thought the U.S. Congress would react to such a scenario,” embassy spokesman David Kennedy told the Associated Press.

At the IAEA meeting, the United States and European Union plan to bring Iran before the Security Council, which could impose economic and political sanctions on the regime for pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

Congress must approve a major agreement that would allow the United States to provide India with civilian nuclear technology and nuclear fuel.

Left-wing Bolivian

Bolivia’s new ambassador to the United States is described as a “left-wing human rights activist” whose first task will be to seek the extradition of a former Bolivian president to stand trial on genocide charges.

Sacha Llorenti, 33, was named this week by the new president, Evo Morales, who counts Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez as political allies.

She will “look for legal mechanisms to secure the extradition” of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who fled to the United States in 2003 after protests that left 67 dead.

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

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