- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 24, 2011

KILL THE MESSENGER

Carlos Pascual, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico who resigned last weekend in a diplomatic scandal that outraged officials south of the border, remains at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, where he is helping with a transition to a new chief of mission.

“Ambassador Pascual is still there until a new ambassador is appointed,” State Department spokesman Tanya Powell said this week.

The first diplomatic causality of WikiLeaks, Mr. Pascual was brutally critical of President Felipe Calderon in classified cables released to newspapers in Mexico by the anti-secrecy website. Mr. Calderon complained to President Obama during a state visit to Washington and publicly denounced the ambassador in the Mexican press.

One newspaper columnist this week saw the dispute as little more than a smoke screen by Mr. Calderon to distract the public from his failure to stop widespread drug violence along Mexico’s border with Texas.

Mr. Calderon “finally achieved what he wanted: Kill the messenger,” Denise Dresser wrote in Reforma, an influential independent newspaper in Mexico City.

“Obtain the resignation of Carlos Pascual for having made the president uncomfortable … for telling the truth … that the president does not want to hear.”

DIPLOMAT REBOUNDS

A former Bulgarian ambassador to the United States who returned home in disgrace happily learned this week there is, indeed, life after Washington.

Lachezar Petkov is the new director of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Crisis Center, which rescues Bulgarians in distress in other countries.

“The Washington, D.C., page of my life is closed, and I am looking only to the future,” he told reporters at an announcement ceremony Tuesday.

Mr. Petkov left Washington in December 2009, thinking his 30-year diplomatic career was over, all because his cleaning lady accidentally threw out ballots cast by Bulgarians in the United States in a parliamentary election in July.

He resisted demands for his resignation for months until President Georgi Parvanov bowed to domestic political pressure and recalled the ambassador.

“You can’t blame the ambassador for what the cleaning lady did,” Mr. Petkov complained before his resignation.

BLOCKING POINTS

The ambassador from Sri Lanka is worried that congressional pressure for a war-crimes probe and a U.S. human rights law are stalling the redevelopment of his south Asian nation after 26 years of brutal civil war.

“Those are blocking points for U.S. business,” Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya told the Associated Press this week.

The ambassador dismissed accusations that Sri Lanka’s own reconciliation commission is biased toward the government, as some members of Congress claim. The commission is investigating charges of human rights abuse during the war that ended in 2009 with the defeat of Tamil rebels, who conscripted child soldiers and pioneered the use of suicide bombers.

He also complained about a law barring U.S. support to foreign armies suspected of war crimes.

Mr. Wickramasuriya said new American investment in Sri Lanka is hamstrung by the law, known as the Leahy Amendment, after Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat.

The United States is already the largest foreign investor in Sri Lanka, but China is catching up, Mr. Wickramasuriya said.

The ambassador arranged a trip to Sri Lanka this week for executives from Boeing, Caterpillar and the Starwood hotel group.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washington times.com.

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