- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 1, 2011

TRUE FRIEND OF MALTA

Student groups in devoutly Catholic Malta are praising U.S. Ambassador Douglas Kmiec, who announced his resignation after State Department bureaucrats criticized him for spending too much time discussing religion.

Mr. Kmiec “can rest assured that he will be considered … a true friend of Malta, its people and, perhaps to a greater extent, a much-esteemed contributor to the development of young people,” said an open letter signed by representatives of 17 student groups.

The “epitome of Maltese society” is “our fondness of family values and our unwavering faith,” they said in the letter published Sunday in Malta’s Independent newspaper.

Mr. Kmiec, a former law professor at Pepperdine University in California, was a key liaison to the American Catholic community for President Obama during the 2008 election campaign.

In his resignation letter to Mr. Obama last month, Mr. Kmiec rejected criticism from the State Department Inspector General’s Office, which complained that he spent “considerable time” writing and speaking about religion.

“I doubt very much whether one could ever spend too much time on this subject,” Mr. Kmiec said.

RECALL ENVOY FROM SYRIA

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is the latest Republican to urge President Obama to recall the U.S. ambassador from Syria to protest the regime’s bloody assault on peaceful demonstrators.

“As ill-advised as it was to restore diplomatic relations with Syria by sending an American ambassador to Damascus, we should now sever ties and recall the ambassador at once,” he said last week.

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a possible Republican presidential candidate, also have demanded the recall of Ambassador Robert Ford.

Mr. Obama sent the career diplomat to Damascus in a recess appointment in December. Mr. Ford arrived in Syria in January.

Former President George W. Bush withdrew Ambassador Margaret Scobey in 2005 to protest suspected Syrian links to the assassination of Rafik Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister.

Syrian forces have killed an estimated 545 protesters over the past six weeks. On Sunday, Syrian tanks fired on the ancient Roman quarter of the southern city of Daraa, where the uprising against President Bashar Assad began.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

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