- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2001

New envoy to Ireland

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day and the annual arrival of visiting Irish politicians, President Bush has nominated a new ambassador to Ireland who is well-known there as a promoter of foreign investment in the Emerald Isle.

Richard J. Egan, a Massachusetts entrepreneur, was a major fund-raiser for President Bush's campaign. His selection continues a long tradition of filling the Dublin position with a political supporter instead of a professional diplomat.

"I am pleased to announce my intention to nominate Dick Egan as ambassador to Ireland, as I prepare to meet with [Irish] Prime Minister [Bertie] Ahern and celebrate St. Patrick's Day and the rich heritage of the Irish people," Mr. Bush said in a statement Wednesday evening.

"Dick Egan has experienced extraordinary success in the private sector and has a broad-based background. He is an ideal person to serve as ambassador to Ireland as we look forward to working even more closely with our Irish friends."

Mr. Egan is head of EMC Corp., a computer data-storage company, in Hopkinton, Mass., and has a manufacturing plant with hundreds of employees in County Cork, Ireland.

Mr. Egan's appointment must be approved by the Senate. Embassy Row last week reported that Mr. Egan was the leading candidate for the position.

Mr. Bush greeted Mr. Ahern at a St. Patrick's Day lunch on Capitol Hill yesterday and is due to hold talks with him at the White House today.

A delegation from Northern Ireland is also visiting Washington. It includes David Trimble, first minister of the Northern Irish Assembly; John Hume, leader of the main Catholic party; his deputy, Seamus Mallon; Gerry Adams, head of Sinn Fein, the political ally of the Irish Republican Army; and John Reid, Britain's Northern Ireland secretary.

Key West summit

Secretary of State Colin Powell has invited the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to Key West, Fla., next month to try to resolve their dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The fight for control of the ethnic-Armenian area inside Azerbaijan has cost 35,000 lives. The two sides have mostly honored a cease-fire since 1994, with ethnic Armenian forces occupying a large area of Azerbaijan.

The State Department declared settling the conflict a "major U.S. priority."

The April 3 meeting would be sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and mediated by U.S., French and Russian experts.

Armenian President Robert Kocharyan and Azerbaijani President Haydar Aliyev have met several times but have had no success in reaching a peace deal.

Perhaps all they really need is the right setting, and few places could be better than the tropical island at the end of the Florida Keys.

If they do not agree on a peace treaty, they could at least soak up some sun and enjoy the night life.

Key West, a place of booze and bougainvillea, is the southernmost point in the mainland United States and styles itself the "Conch Republic" after a tasty, local seafood.

Key West was home to Ernest Hemingway and singer Jimmy Buffet, who made it famous as "Margaritaville."

Sudan reopening

The Sudanese Embassy could reopen soon, more than two years after it was closed to protest the U.S. bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail this week said his country is planning to staff it at the level of charge d'affaires until an ambassador is appointed.

"A diplomatic mission in Washington, similar to that of the U.S. in Khartoum, will be opened soon," Mr. Ismail said during an official engagement in Khartoum.

"The period ahead will see a reactivating of diplomatic activities between Khartoum and Washington," he added.

The United States reopened its embassy in Sudan in April 2000 after evacuating diplomats four years ago for security reasons.

Sudan closed its embassy at 2210 Massachusetts Ave. NW after the Clinton administration bombed the pharmaceutical plant in 1998, claiming it was linked to Osama bin Laden, the Saudi suspected of planning the earlier bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

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