- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2001


Scandal of the shawl
The term of U.S. ambassador to India is coming to an end this week with no solution in sight to an embarrassing episode involving a contraband shahtoosh shawl.
Two weeks after The Washington Times reported that Jacqueline Lundquist, the wife of Ambassador Richard Celeste, had inadvertently acquired the banned product, the couple still has been unable to dispose of it.
The shawls are illegal in India because they are made from the soft undercoat of an endangered Tibetan antelope species slaughtered by the thousands in China.
"Having a shahtoosh shawl is now the equivalent in India of killing and eating a tiger. Very bad," an Indian newspaper said.
The problem for the hapless diplomatic couple is that they are trying to give the shawl to Indian authorities, but no one will accept it.
"The shawl was taken to the Foreign Ministry, but they did not want it," the source told the Reuters news agency in the Indian capital, New Delhi.
"It has now been kept in a safe in the embassy and will be handed over to Indian authorities once some department is willing to take it."
Mrs. Lundquist first tried to turn in the shawl after Indian newspapers reported she had been wearing it for social occasions. She purchased it a year ago at a bazaar held in the ambassadors residence.
Aside from the attempt to get rid of the shawl, Mr. Celeste is leaving India as U.S.-Indian relations are soaring.
In a farewell speech last week, Mr. Celeste predicted that the United States will soon lift the economic sanctions imposed after India conducted nuclear tests in 1998.
"I wouldnt be surprised if it happens in the next three to six months," he told the India International Center.
"The president has made it clear that, in India, he intends to build on the framework constructed by President Clinton," Mr. Celeste said.
Mr. Bush plans to appoint Robert Blackwill, a senior State Department strategist on Chinese and nuclear issues, to replace Mr. Celeste.

Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today
* President Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia. She will meet Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, and other members of Congress.
* Vladimir Shkolnik, a deputy prime minister of Kazakhstan who also serves as minister of energy and mineral resources. He meets Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.
* Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Tomorrow
* Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who meets President Bush.
* Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, who discusses the situation in the Balkans at the American Enterprise Institute.
* Mikhail Stoliarov, first deputy representative of the Russian republic of Tatarstan.
* Alush Gashi, senior adviser to Kosovo's moderate leader Ibrahim Rugova. He holds a 2 p.m. news conference at the National Press Club to discuss human rights in Kosovo.
* Gilles Andreani of the French Foreign Ministry, who participates in a panel discussion on the European defense initiative with invited guests at the American Enterprise Institute.

Wednesday
* A delegation from the Slovak parliament that includes Ivan Miklos, deputy prime minister for economic affairs, Frantisek Sebej, chairman of the European Integration Committee, Peter Weiss, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Vladimir Palko, chairman of the Defense and Security Committee.
* Angela Merkel, chairwoman of the German Christian Democratic Union, who addresses dinner guests of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
* Gen. Gustav Hagglund, chief of the Finnish defense forces.

Friday
* Oraz Zhandosov, a deputy prime minister of Kazakhstan, and Grigorii Marchenko, chairman of the Kazakhstan National Bank.
* Kurt Biedenkopf, governor of Saxony, Germany, who participates in a panel discussion on aging in Europe with invited guests at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
* Pakistani Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz


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