- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2001

No 'peace process'

Secretary of State Colin Powell has nixed the use of the words "peace process" to describe efforts to end hostilities between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

State Department officials yesterday said the tired, old phrase is no longer suitable to refer to the conflict in the Middle East, where Israel and the Palestinians are locked in violent clashes almost daily.

One official told the Agence France-Presse news service that Mr. Powell has instructed diplomats to refer to "peace negotiations" or "movements toward peace."

"Peace process" no longer reflects "the facts on the ground," said the official.

"It's only appropriate to talk about a 'peace process' when you have a process under way," another official said. "At this moment, it's time to focus on peace and look at how in the coming months we are going to have peace."

He called it "disingenuous" to continue talking about a "process" that has broken down.

"We're trying to capture a better flavor of where we are now because for all intents and purposes there is not a process right now," a third official told AFP.

"The parties aren't talking. There is not any active mediation."

Problems with Haiti

The new U.S. ambassador to Haiti will show Washington's displeasure with suspected political fraud by being the only representative of the United States at today's presidential inauguration of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Ambassador Brian Dean Curran, who arrived last month, told reporters this week that the United States would not send an official delegation to the ceremony.

Washington cannot maintain normal relations with Haiti until Mr. Aristide clears up allegations of corruption that allowed his Lavalas Family Party to sweep nearly all seats in the May parliamentary elections, Mr. Curran said.

"We can't have a normal relationship with the government until problems with the May elections are resolved," he said.

Foreign officials including some members of the U.S. Congress and the European Union are also questioning Mr. Aristide's Nov. 26 election, which his political opposition boycotted.

Meanwhile the State Department yesterday issued a strong warning for Americans to avoid traveling to Haiti because of the "unstable security situation throughout the country."

"The presidential inauguration … has the potential to spark violent demonstrations and individual acts of violence," the department said.

"The Haitian government has failed to contain certain violent and dangerous incidents, including bombings in public areas, politically motivated killings, indiscriminate gunfire directed at pedestrians in Port-au-Prince [the capital] and incidents directed at diplomatic facilities and vehicles."

The State Department in November approved the evacuation of dependents of diplomats and other government personnel in Haiti and urged Americans remaining there to stay in touch with the U.S. Embassy.

Picking the team

Secretary of State Colin Powell continues to fill out his roster, tapping an insider and two outsiders for three of the department's top posts.

The White House announced yesterday that veteran diplomat Marc Grossman, a foreign service officer since 1976, has been named undersecretary of state for political affairs, the department's third most powerful slot. A former ambassador to Turkey and assistant secretary for European affairs under Madeleine K. Albright, Mr. Grossman has been serving as director general of the foreign service since last spring.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer also announced that President Bush will nominate Middle East specialist Richard Haass, another Powell favorite, to the key post of director of policy planning.

Mr. Haass, who served in the first Bush administration as a foreign policy aide, has been director of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution. He will have the rank of ambassador in his new post.

Mr. Fleischer also said Mr. Bush will name Grant Green, who served with Vice President Richard B. Cheney in the Pentagon in the first Bush administration, as undersecretary of state for management. With Mr. Powell promising a shake-up of the department bureaucracy, Mr. Green may wind up with the most sensitive job of all.

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