- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2001

Diplomatic courtesy

The new Chinese ambassador may have gotten a lecture about Iraq when he visited the State Department last week, but most new envoys are getting a warm welcome at the White House, where President Bush appears to enjoy meeting the diplomats.

Some have noted that Mr. Bush is spending even more time talking to the new ambassadors than President Clinton did.

Seven ambassadors presented credentials to Mr. Bush on Feb. 14, while China's Yang Jiechi handed a copy of his credentials to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Mr. Yang, a personal friend of the Bush family's, will present his credentials to the president at a later date.

Mr. Powell took the occasion to express his concern to Mr. Yang about reports that China had sent workers to Iraq in violation of U.N. sanctions and was helping build a fiber-optics network to improve Iraq's anti-aircraft systems.

The ambassadors at the White House on Valentine's Day had a warmer reception, even the new envoy from Kazakhstan, which the United States has criticized for human rights abuses.

Ambassador Kanat Saudabayev stressed the importance Kazakhstan places on relations with the United States.

Mr. Bush, in reply, said, "The United States recognizes the important role that Kazakhstan plays as a leader in Central Asia on several fronts security, trade, environment and social issues."

He told Croatian Ambassador Ivan Grdesic, "The United States and Croatia have developed a solid friendship. It is a friendship that I hope you and I, both as new arrivals in Washington, will be able to strengthen in the coming years."

Mr. Grdesic replied that his country "is dedicated to the ideal of peace, tolerance, prosperity and friendly relations among nations."

He also sought support for Croatia's goal of joining NATO.

The other ambassadors who presented credentials to Mr. Bush were Carlos Alzamora Traverso of Peru, Emmanuel Touaboy of the Central African Republic, Milan St. Protic of Yugoslavia, Meret Orazov of Turkmenistan and Juan Jose Bremer of Mexico, who had presented a copy of the credentials to the Clinton administration before Mr. Bush's inaugural.

Money for Serbia

The U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia called for an end to the "cycle of violence" in that country as he signed an accord to help finance the construction of schools and roads in a part of Serbia that is facing renewed ethnic tension.

"The citizens of this region are at a historic crossroads. They can choose the past and continue the cycle of violence and heartache that history has shown will be visited equally on all sides," Ambassador William Montgomery said last week.

"Or they can choose the future as part of a Europe a Euro-Atlantic community where battles for land or ethnic purity are a distant memory."

The accord will provide $205,000 to build roads, a water pipe network and two primary schools in the Presevo valley.

Ethnic Albanian rebels want the area linked to Kosovo, which is under the control of the United Nations. The region is home to about 70,000 ethnic Albanians and 30,000 Serbs, who have been the target of recent attacks.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Colombian President Andres Pastrana, who meets President Bush tomorrow.

Tomorrow

• Oleksandr Moroz, chairman of the Ukrainian Socialist Party, discusses Ukraine's political situation with invited guests at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Wednesday

• Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen, who meets Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Congressional leaders.

• Chilean Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear holds a 9 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club.

Thursday

• El Salvador President Francisco Flores holds a 9 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club to discuss earthquake reconstruction efforts.

Friday

• Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Heinz Moeller holds a 9 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club.

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