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Embassy Row

- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 20, 2011

U.N. DENOUNCES PLOT

The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly condemned the reported Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States and called on Iran to cooperate with an investigation that already has linked the Islamist regime to the assassination attempt.

The 193-member assembly voted 106-9, with 40 abstentions, Friday to approve a resolution sponsored by Saudi Arabia, the United States and 58 other nations. The resolution denounced terrorism against diplomats but did not specifically accuse Iran of conspiring to kill Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir at a Washington restaurant.

The resolution, however, demanded that Iran "comply with all of its obligations under international law" and "cooperate with states seeking to bring to justice all those who participated in the planning, sponsoring, organization and attempted execution of the plot to assassinate the ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

Abdullah al-Mouallimi, the Saudi ambassador to the United Nations, called on Iran "to prove its innocence, if it is not involved in this plot."

Iran has strongly denied any role in trying to kill Mr. Jubeir. Its U.N. ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, called the resolution "mind-boggling" because no one has been convicted.

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, noted that the few nations that opposed the resolution shows "Iran is increasingly isolated." She also mentioned that Iran was the only Muslim nation to oppose the measure.

Iran won support from Armenia, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Zambia.

The United States accused Iran of planning to assassinate Mr. Jubeir after arresting a U.S. citizen who holds an Iranian passport. Prosecutors say that Manssor Arbabsiar admitted that Iran was involved in the plot, which included Gholam Shakuri, a member of the elite Iranian Quds Force. He is still at large and believed to be in Iran.

CHINA SHRUGS

The Chinese ambassador to the United States dismissed Washington's complaints over trade and currency issues as he addressed U.S.-Chinese business executives in New York.

Ambassador Zhang Yesui, speaking Friday as President Obama was criticizing China on his trip to Asia, said Beijing's currency exchange rate has nothing to do with the trade imbalance between the two countries.

"The trade imbalance is caused by a combination of factors, including the structural trade and investment differences, divergent patterns of saving and consumption, and the international division of labor, rather than an issue of the [yuan] exchange rate," the ambassador said at the annual meeting of the China General Chamber of Commerce-U.S.A.

The United States repeatedly has accused China of keeping the yuan at an artificially low rate to benefit its export trade. However, Mr. Zhang said the yuan has appreciated by 30 percent since 2005, while the U.S. unemployment rate has grown to 9 percent, from 5.

"This proves that appreciation, alone, will not help reduce the unemployment rate in the U.S.," he was quoted as saying by China's Xinhau news service.

HIP-HOP DIPLOMAT

Ambassador Karen B. Stewart graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor's degree in astronomy and economics from Wellesley College. She has a degree in national security strategy from the National War College.

She has represented the United States in some of the toughest overseas postings any diplomat could endure.

So why not turn a baseball cap backward, jump on stage with a touring New York hip-hop group and rap in Laotian?

Miss Stewart, the U.S. ambassador in Laos, delivered a greeting to about 500 Laotian young people last month at a annual hip-hop festival on the Mekong River. By the cheers of the crowd, she apparently did well.

On her blog, she explained that she was asked to give opening remarks at the festival and joked that she should do it in a rap.

"What was I thinking?" she said.

Her performance is memorialized on youtube.com.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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