- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thousands of protesters in the troubled country of Yemen over the weekend demanded the expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein, accusing him of interfering in the domestic affairs of a nation convulsed by a year-old uprising.

Reports from the capital, Sanaa, said the activists pledged to continue protests until “all their demands are met.” They are angered over the makeup of a transitional government that took power last month with strong U.S. support.

President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, the former vice president, was the only candidate on the ballot in the Feb. 21 election. He took over from Ali Abdullah Saleh, the ailing autocrat who had ruled Yemen for more than 30 years.

Mr. Saleh stepped down last month and flew to the United States for medical treatment. He was severely injured last year in an attempted assassination.

Mr. Feierstein, who has released no comments about the latest unrest in the capital, met last week with Mr. Hadi to urge a national dialogue between the new government, which includes many of Mr. Saleh’s cohorts, and the opposition.

They also discussed the continuing threat from al Qaeda terrorists who have taken over parts of the south of the strategic country bordered by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, according to news reports.

U.S. airstrikes Friday evening killed at least 18 suspected terrorists of the group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemeni officials said.

Mr. Feierstein, a career diplomat, issued a travel warning last month to Americans in Yemen, alerting them to an increased threat of kidnapping.

U.S. citizens should maintain a “high level of vigilance,” keep a low profile and avoid crowds and demonstrations, the warning said.

CRYPTIC IN KOREA

The new South Korean ambassador to the United States teased reporters at his first news conference when he hinted about a “readjustment” in U.S.-Korean relations.

“As the Korean ambassador to the U.S., I will prioritize readjusting the South Korean-U.S. alliance,” Choi Young-jin told reporters in Seoul last week.

“An adjustment of the alliance is always needed as the status [and the] national and economic power of the two nations have continued to change.”

He declined to “elaborate further, including what sorts of adjustments are needed,” South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

Mr. Choi, a former deputy foreign minister and ambassador to the United Nations, is expected in Washington soon to replace Ambassador Han Duck-soo, who resigned last month in a surprise announcement.

Mr. Han, who served as prime minister from 2007 to 2008, had been expected to stay in Washington through the December presidential election.

However, he told friends privately that he intended to step down after Congress and the South Korean legislature approved a U.S.-South Korean free-trade deal last year.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Monday

• Alexander Stubb, Finland’s minister for European affairs and foreign trade, who addresses the Brookings Institution.

Tuesday

• Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, who meets with President Obama.

Wednesday

• Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, who addresses the Women’s Foreign Policy Group.

• Alberto Aleman Zubieta, administrator of the Panama Canal Authority, who addresses the Inter-American Dialogue.

• Janos Horvath, the most senior member of the Hungarian parliament, who addresses guests of the Hungarian Embassy about legislative reform in his country.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.