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Embassy Row: Vatican in play

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The resignation of the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican presents President Obama with the same dilemma he faced three years ago in trying to find a pro-life Democrat to fill the diplomatic post in the Holy See, which is angered by Mr. Obama's push to force Catholic institutions to provide health insurance coverage for abortion and birth control.

Ambassador Miguel H. Diaz, a Roman Catholic theologian, announced last week that he is leaving Rome to become professor of faith and culture at the University of Dayton in Ohio.

The Cuban-born ambassador spent much of his term at the Vatican trying to deal with tension over the Obama administration's pro-abortion policies. Most recently, U.S. Catholic bishops publicly denounced Mr. Obama for issuing regulations from the Health and Human Services Department that will require Catholic universities and charities to cover abortion and birth control in health insurance policies in violation of the church's pro-life teachings.

Mr. Diaz bid farewell to Pope Benedict XVI last week.

The ambassador, a pro-life Democrat, was Mr. Obama's third choice for the diplomatic post.

The Vatican rejected Caroline Kennedy because of her support for abortion and Douglas Kmiec, a constitutional law professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. Although Mr. Kmiec also is a pro-life Democrat, he had publicly urged Catholics to support Mr. Obama in the 2008 presidential election.

Mr. Kmiec was later appointed as ambassador to Malta.

MORSI PLANNING VISIT

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who is linked to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, is planning to visit Washington and ask President Obama for more economic aid, according to Egypt's ambassador in Washington.

Ambassador Mohamed Tawfik told the Arabic news website Ahram Online that he is making arrangements for Mr. Morsi's first official trip to the United States, although no date has been set yet.

Mr. Tawfik, who took up his post in September, said the Egyptian president will seek $450 million in the first installment of a $1 billion aid package the Obama administration promised earlier this year. That money would come on top of the annual $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid to Egypt.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Wednesday

• Vedran Dzihic, an assistant professor of international politics at Austria's University of Vienna. He addresses the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on the challenges facing democracy in the western Balkans.

• Lanxin Xiang, a professor of international politics at the Graduate Institute of International Development Studies in Geneva. He addresses the International Institute for Strategic Studies on U.S.-China relations.

Friday

• Olha Ajvazovska, chairwoman of Ukraine's OPORA citizen network. She testifies on the outcome of the disputed Ukrainian parliamentary elections at a 10 a.m. hearing of the congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe at Room B-318 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

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

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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