- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2001

Rupel returns

Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel will be carrying firsthand information about the crisis in Macedonia when he visits Washington next week.

Mr. Rupel, a former Slovenian ambassador to the United States, stopped in Macedonia this week to get reports on the conflict begun by ethnic Albanian rebels that is threatening the stability of the Balkan country that was already weakened by a refugee crisis from the war in Kosovo.

Slovenia, like Macedonia, is a former republic in the old Yugoslavia and is concerned by the renewed upheaval in the region, a Slovenian Embassy spokesman said.

"Slovenia has been actively engaged in efforts to stabilize the region of southeastern Europe for many years," said spokesman Jurij Rifelj. "Its engagement goes beyond the military and humanitarian dimension because Slovenia is the largest foreign investor in Bosnia and the third largest in Macedonia."

Mr. Rupel, ambassador here from 1997 to 2000, has a crowded schedule that begins Wednesday with meetings with Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Lisa Bronson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy.

He meets James Dobbins, assistant secretary of state for European affairs, and holds a 9 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club on March 30.

Mr. Rupel also plans to brief members of Congress, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, on his visit to Macedonia.

He will also be promoting Slovenia's bid to join NATO in the next planned round of expansion.

Mr. Rupel will begin his U.S. visit with a stop at Harvard University to address a conference on European security.

His visit to the United States will be his first since being appointed foreign minister in November. Mr. Rupel is also a member of the Slovenian parliament from the centrist Liberal Democratic Party of Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek.

Reich nominated

President Bush yesterday may have set up a confrontation with Senate liberals by nominating a diplomatic hawk on Cuba as his assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

Several Democrats expressed their displeasure last week when Otto Reich's name surfaced as Mr. Bush's likely choice.

Mr. Reich, a strong supporter of the embargo on Fidel Castro's communist government, served as ambassador to Venezuela from 1986 to 1989. He was director of the State Department's old Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean from 1983 to 1986.

The Cuban-born diplomat is also a former chairman of the Cuban-American Business Council.

Mr. Bush also yesterday said he has selected Margaret Tutweiler to be ambassador to Morocco. She served in his father's administration as State Department spokeswoman.

The White House yesterday announced another visit by a foreign leader. President Ricardo Lagos of Chile will meet Mr. Bush on April 16 to discuss issues related to the Summit of the Americas in Canada April 20-22.

U.S. cash for OAS team

The United States has contributed $65,000 to help cover the costs of sending election observers to the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Organization of American States said yesterday.

The 15-member OAS team will monitor the March 28 general elections. This is the first time the country has requested election observers.

Steve Griner of the OAS Unit for the Promotion of Democracy will lead the delegation.

Chastelain still working

John de Chastelain, a former Canadian ambassador to the United States, remains hard at work in his latest endeavor trying to get the paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland to disarm.

Mr. de Chastelain said yesterday he has renewed contact with the Irish Republican Army, which was supposed to have warehoused weapons a year ago under the 1998 Good Friday peace accords.

He said he sees the meeting as a sign of "good faith."

Mr. de Chastelain, ambassador here from 1993 to 1994, has also met recently with Protestant paramilitary groups.

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