- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 16, 1999

India’s bureaucracy

Indian government meddling has killed a major U.S. energy project and sent “damaging signals” to potential American investors, U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Celeste said yesterday.
Mr. Celeste took the unusually blunt step of issuing his criticism in a newspaper interview.
He warned India that it is risking a backlash from foreign investors unless it corrects the bureaucratic interference that led to the U.S. firm, Cogentrix Energy Inc., to pull out of a major power plant project.
“Cogentrix and its partners have spent millions of dollars for more than six years and even today the best they can have are promises,” Mr. Celeste told the Times of India.
“Cogentrix has become a high visibility case among American businesses, and the message is not about the power sector but the difficulty of doing business in telecom, construction and other major infrastructure areas,” he said
“The decision of the board of the company to withdraw from India was a very damaging signal. We reinforce the hesitation that many potential investors feel.”
Cogentrix and its Hong Kong partner, China Light and Power International Ltd., decided last week to withdraw from a 1,000-megawatt power station in the southern city of Mangalore because of governmental red tape.
Mr. Celeste also warned India that American investors are worried about the potential of further government interference in business with the creation of the Ministry of Information Technology.
“I have heard Americans who are enthusiastic about India say that they were worried that this meant that the government will now intervene … in the way of growth,” he said.

Praising Switzerland

The new U.S. ambassador to Switzerland is praising the country for facing the “painful process” of confronting its wartime dealings with Nazi Germany.
“I commend Switzerland for its commitment to openness and thoroughness in this difficult and sometimes painful process. In all this work, Switzerland has been the world’s pathfinder,” Ambassador J. Richard Fredericks said Tuesday in his first speech since taking his post two weeks ago.
Mr. Fredericks noted two recent reports that criticized Switzerland for doing too little to save Jews from the Holocaust and for acting as the bankers for Nazis who looted Jewish wealth.

Presenting credentials

Joseph Prueher went from gunboat diplomacy to striped-suit diplomacy yesterday, when the retired admiral presented his credentials as the new U.S. ambassador to China.
He handed his formal diplomatic documents to Chinese President Jiang Zemin during a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People.
Mr. Prueher is the former commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, who ordered U.S. warships to the Taiwan Strait in 1996 when China tried to intimidate Taiwan with war games and missile tests.
Now he must try to help mend U.S.-Chinese relations, following U.S. charges of the Chinese theft of nuclear secrets and the U.S. bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia during the war over Kosovo.
Elsewhere yesterday, Carol Moseley-Braun watched bare-chested Maori tribesmen put on a traditional war dance and then presented her diplomatic credentials as the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand.
She was welcomed by Governor General Sir Michael Hardie-Boys, representing the head of state, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
Mrs. Moseley-Braun said, “I am delighted to be here and look forward to the opportunity to play a role in strengthening the strong and friendly relations between us.”

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