- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2001

Indian anticipation

Indian Ambassador Lalit Mansingh is delighted with the reception he got when he met Secretary of State Colin Powell to present a copy of his diplomatic credentials.

He is also pleased to have good news to tell his foreign minister, Jaswant Singh, who visits Washington next week. Mr. Powell has sent strong signals that the Bush administration may be preparing to lift the remaining sanctions imposed on India after it conducted nuclear tests in 1998.

The half-hour meeting last week focused on the improvement in U.S.-Indian relations, Mr. Mansingh told Indian reporters.

He told Mr. Powell that U.S.-Indian relations "are the best they have ever been." Mr. Powell described India as a "highly impressive democracy."

"The secretary of state clearly reiterated the policy of President Bush to build on the good work done in the past and expand relations with India. Mr. Powell said he himself was committed to this process," Mr. Mansingh said.

"It was an extremely cordial meeting, and Secretary Powell was gracious and expansive. He later saw me off to the car."

Mr. Powell said that the "entire issue of sanctions … was being reviewed," Mr. Mansingh added.

The ambassador said India wants to "build on the solid foundation laid" during President Clinton's visit to India and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit here last year.

Mr. Powell said he looked forward to a "full discussion on a range of issues" when he meets the foreign minister next Friday, the ambassador said.

On his April 5-7 visit, Mr. Singh, who also serves as defense minister, is scheduled to meet Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

'The right direction'

With Japan's economy in crisis and its political leadership deeply unpopular, Thomas Foley offered the nation a little pep talk as he prepared to end his 3 and 1/2 years as U.S. ambassador in Tokyo.

Mr. Foley, in newspaper interviews printed yesterday, offered bromides such as Japan is "on the path to reform" and the country is "moving in the right direction."

Mr. Foley is certainly on the right path, rejoining his old law firm Akin Gump as a partner.

The ambassador's advice to Japan came as new economic figures brought more bad news. Industrial output rose only 0.4 percent last month, well below expectations.

The economic strain is coupled with political disputes within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which is preparing to replace Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori as party leader. Mr. Mori is Japan's 10th prime minister in 13 years.

Mr. Foley told Japan to continue economic reforms.

"More efforts are needed on deregulation and market opening, but Japan is already on the path to reform," he told the Nihon Keizai Shimbun business daily.

"The economy is big, so it takes time. But it's moving in the right direction."

He also expressed his surprise at public opinion polls that show most Japanese believe China will soon replace Japan as the world's second-biggest economic power after the United States.

"Japan will still be a major economic power in 20 years," Mr. Foley said.

President Bush has selected Howard Baker, a former Senate majority leader and chief of staff to President Reagan, as the next ambassador to Japan.

Meanwhile in Washington, Akin Gump announced Mr. Foley will return to the international law firm.

"We could not be more pleased that Ambassador Foley has chosen to return to Akin Gump after his diplomatic service in Japan," said Robert S. Strauss, Akin Gump's founding partner and a former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union.

"In his more than 35 years of public service, Ambassador Foley has earned the respect of business and political leaders the world over.

"His exemplary performance in Japan, coupled with his previous outstanding career in the U.S. Congress, will enable him to apply his skills to solving a variety of client issues on a global scale."

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