- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2008

POLAND’S APOLOGY

Poland on Monday issued an apology to President-elect Barack Obama, after a controversial right-wing politician called the Illinois Democrat “a black crypto-communist” whose election marks “the end of the white man’s civilization” and must “delight” al Qaeda terrorists.

The Foreign Ministry noted that Polish lawmakers have a right to express themselves but Artur Gorski of the Law and Justice Party damaged Poland’s relations with the United States in his remarks in parliament last week on the day after the U.S. presidential election.

“We feel we have a duty, as the department responsible for Poland’s external relations, to express disapproval,” the ministry said in a statement released to reporters in Warsaw.

Mr. Gorski’s own party also dissociated itself from his outburst.

Joachim Brudzinski, a senior party official, said he sent a letter to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw to offer “a clarification, apologies and a clear declaration that [Mr. Gorski’s] point of view was not that of the party.”

“We congratulate the president-elect. We congratulate the American people, and we consider this choice and this presidency good for Poland,” Mr. Brudzinski told reporters.

Last week, Mr. Gorski called Mr. Obama a “black crypto-communist” and a “naive individual whose election must delight al Qaeda.” He added that Mr. Obama’s victory “is a disaster [and] the end of the white man’s civilization.”

INVITED TO DEPART

Venezuela created another diplomatic clash with the United States when it moved its consulate in Houston without getting the required approval from the State Department, which responded by asking the diplomats in Texas to leave the country.

The Venezuelan consular officials were “invited to depart the United States,” Nicole Thompson, a State Department spokeswoman, said over the weekend. She said one official can remain temporarily until the State Department decides on its request to relocate its offices. The consulate is headed by Consul-General Antonio Ramon Padrino and includes seven other consular officials.

Venezuela in August requested permission from the State Department to relocate its offices in Houston. In October, the State Department learned that the consulate had signed a new lease and was operating in another location in the city.

This dispute is the latest diplomatic confrontation between the two countries. In September, Venezuela’s anti-American president,Hugo Chavez, accused U.S. Ambassador Patrick Duddy of plotting to overthrow him and ordered the American diplomat to leave the country. The State Department responded by expelling Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez.

NO TERROR WAIVER

South Korean Ambassador Lee Tae-sik signed an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to make sure that no terrorist suspect takes advantage of a new program that allows Korean citizens to travel to the United States without obtaining a visa.

Under the new agreement as part of the visa-waiver program, South Korea and the United States agreed to furnish any criminal records on travelers planning to visit either country in advance of their trips. Paul Schneider, deputy homeland secretary, signed the agreement on behalf of the United States on Friday.

In Seoul, the Foreign Ministry on Sunday said the exchange of the information will “prevent terrorists and other criminals from entering each other’s country.” The visa waiver for South Koreans is effective Nov. 17.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail James Morrison.