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Embassy Row: Caroline Kennedy, again

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 16, 2013

President Obama is definitely, positively, unquestionably going to nominate Caroline Kennedy as U.S. ambassador to Japan — soon.

That's the rumor sweeping Washington and Tokyo again, after Japanese reporters last week quoted "sources from both countries" who assured them that the daughter of John F. Kennedy will get the White House nod.

However, talk of an ambassadorship for Ms. Kennedy has sparked conversation at diplomatic receptions since February, when Mr. Obama was definitely, positively, unquestionably going to nominate her as U.S. envoy to — Canada.

The National Post newspaper in Toronto was first to report that Ms. Kennedy was among the candidates to replace Ambassador David Jacobson, who retired as the top U.S. diplomat in Ottawa on July 11 after nearly three years in the Canadian capital.

By the end of February, the narrative had changed. Gone was speculation about Canada. Ms. Kennedy was going to Tokyo, the Bloomberg News service reported, quoting "two people familiar" with Mr. Obama's intentions.

Comedian David Letterman saw the humor in the situation. After commenting on the Kennedy rumors, he said he would like to be ambassador to Canada. Some observers joked that he would be as qualified as the socialite daughter of the assassinated president.

Soon, however, talk of Tokyo faded, and Ms. Kennedy continued her duties as president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

Then on Friday, the Kyodo News Service posted an "urgent" dispatch: "Caroline Kennedy to become U.S. ambassador to Japan: sources."

TURKISH QUESTION

The U.S. ambassador to Cyprus says Turkey is undermining its own interests by failing to help reunify the Mediterranean island, still divided between Greeks and Turks after nearly 40 years.

Ambassador John Koenig told Cypriot reporters Turkey is hurting its efforts to join the European Union by supporting the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognized only by the government in Ankara. The dispute remains on the U.N. Security Council agenda.

"This is not a good thing," he said in an interview with the Cyprus News Agency.

Mr. Koening's comments come as Turks — under increasingly authoritarian Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan — are growing more anti-Semitic as strains continue to develop between Turkey and Israel.

Mr. Erdogan recently uttered racist remarks against a political opponent, causing some to comment that he wasn't satisfied just denouncing Jews.

In his interview with the Cyprus News Agency, Mr. Koenig insisted the U.S. has adopted a restrained approach toward Mr. Ergodan, who assumed office 10 years ago. He said the U.S. takes a "long view with regard to Turkey."

A recent poll found that anti-Semitism has increased in Turkey, a Muslim nation with historically good diplomatic relations with Israel.

Efrat Aviv, a professor at Israel's Bar-Ilan University who conducted the survey, faulted Mr. Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party for stoking hatred against Jews.

A U.S. Embassy cable released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks in 2010 described an Israeli diplomat's view of Mr. Erdogan. Gabby Levy, Israel's ambassador to Turkey at the time, told U.S. officials of Mr. Erdogan's hostility toward the Jewish state.

"'He's a [Muslim] fundamentalist. He hates us religiously, and his hatred is spreading,'" Mr. Levy said.

Most recently, Mr. Erdogan turned his fury against a political rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the secular Republican People's Party.

"Kilicdaroglu is striving every bit he can to raise himself from the level of a black person to the level of a white man," he said, according to a report in Commentary Magazine, which spotted the comment in a Turkish publication.

Mr. Kilicdaroglu has a mysterious ethnic background. Some say he is Kurdish, and he has traced his heritage to a Turkmen tribe. But he has no African heritage.

Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at jmorrison@washingtontimes.com or @EmbassyRow.

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