- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 15, 2001

Friend of the queen's

A wealthy Texan who is a friend of the Bush family as well as Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is the leading candidate to become the next U.S. ambassador in London.

William S. Farish III, who has a horse farm in Kentucky and a ranch in Texas, has known the queen since 1984, and she has stayed frequently at his Lane's End Farm near Lexington, Ky. Mr. Farish, also chairman of Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby is run, shares an interest in racehorses with Queen Elizabeth.

He will "need no introduction when arriving at Buckingham Palace to present his credentials," London's Daily Telegraph said yesterday.

Mr. Farish, whose family made a fortune in the Texas oil business, has been a friend of President Bush's father for nearly 50 years. An investment banker, he managed the former president's blind trust during his White House years. He has also donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Republican Party.

The Telegraph and Reuters news agency yesterday quoted White House sources as saying that the president has decided to nominate Mr. Farish, 62, although no announcement was expected immediately.

Mr. Farish declined to confirm his likely appointment.

He acknowledged he has "had conversations with the White House relative to a position with the administration. Nothing is confirmed and nothing is definite."

Mexico's new envoy

Mexican Ambassador Juan Jose Bremer told President Bush yesterday that Mexico and the United States have an "exceptional opportunity" to build new relations between the two neighbors, each with a new leader.

Mr. Bremer extended "warm and friendly" greetings from President Vicente Fox as he presented his diplomatic credentials to Mr. Bush, who is to travel to Mexico tomorrow to hold talks with Mr. Fox on his first foreign visit as president.

The ambassador noted that this is the first time in 12 years that Mexico and the United States have a new president at the same time.

"Due to this fact, this is an exceptional opportunity for President Fox's and your excellency's governments to review the most relevant issues on our bilateral agenda in order to seek a greater degree of cooperation," he told Mr. Bush.

"As neighbors and friends, we are compelled to foster a greater knowledge of each other."

Mr. Bremer said both countries have "mutual challenges and opportunities as we enter the 21st century."

"The bilateral relationship between Mexico and the United States is one of the most intense, complex and multifaceted in the world," he said.

"For Mexico, it is a priority, based on its highest national interests, to have a respectful and constructive relationship with the United States of America."

Mr. Bremer added that his goal will be to "contribute to a greater rapprochement between our peoples and governments."

Bush to meet Pastrana

Colombian President Andres Pastrana will visit President Bush on Feb. 27 to discuss his efforts to fight drug trafficking and negotiate with rebels who benefit from the illegal narcotics trade.

"The visit is an opportunity for the president and President Pastrana to discuss the situation in Colombia and progress in implementing Plan Colombia," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said in a statement.

"The meeting reflects President Bush's interest in the Western Hemisphere and, in particular, gives him an opportunity to express support for President Pastrana's efforts in Colombia."

The United States has agreed to pay $1.3 billion toward Mr. Pastrana's plan to encourage peace with the Marxist rebels, strengthen democratic institutions and promote economic growth. Plan Colombia, which also involves military moves to shut drug plantations protected by the rebels, is expected to cost $7.5 billion.

Colombian Foreign Minister Guillermo Fernandez de Soto was in Washington this week to meet Secretary of State Colin Powell.

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