- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 8, 2001

Irish sweepstakes

Massachusetts appears to have scored another round in the diplomatic sweepstakes, as the Bush administration considers a prominent state Republican as the next U.S. ambassador to Ireland.

Richard J. Egan, a high-tech entrepreneur with close ties in Ireland, is the leading choice for the envoy to Dublin, the Boston Herald reported yesterday.

He prevailed over other top contenders, which included Jim Nicholson, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. He is expected to be nominated as ambassador to the Vatican.

Peggy Noonan, a speech writer for President Reagan, and Michael Finnegan, a former aide to New York Gov. George E. Pataki, were also mentioned as likely nominees for the Irish post.

President Bush first looked to Massachusetts for diplomats when he selected Gov. Paul Cellucci as ambassador to Canada.

Mr. Egan also has close political ties to Mr. Cellucci and is expected to receive the endorsement of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat. Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Egan are active in Irish-American organizations such as the Ireland Fund. Mr. Kennedy's sister, Jean Kennedy Smith, served as ambassador to Ireland under President Clinton.

Mr. Egan, a wealth businessman and major fund-raiser for Mr. Bush, is the founder of EMC Corp., a computer company that is considered one of America's high-tech success stories. He also has a branch of his company in County Cork, Ireland, and has promoted U.S. business investment there.

A Bush administration source told the Herald that Mr. Egan's nomination could be announced any day.

"Everything is in place for Egan now. It's just a matter of the final checks," the source said.

Sharon to meet Bush

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will meet President Bush later this month, the White House said yesterday.

Mr. Sharon will visit Mr. Bush on March 20, a day after the new Israeli leader addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Mr. Sharon is also expected to use his first official visit as prime minister to meet with other U.S. leaders.

Secretary of State Colin Powell met Mr. Sharon in Jerusalem on Feb. 25 during Mr. Powell's Middle East tour.

Message to the Tigers

The U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka yesterday urged Tamil rebels to give up their armed struggle that has left a "staggering" toll in human suffering and work peacefully for civil rights for their ethnic minority.

Ambassador Ashley Wills, on his second day of a visit to Tamil territory, sent a message to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who have been fighting for a separate homeland since 1983.

He asked his audience at a public library in Jaffna to tell the Tigers that their "goal cannot be achieved."

"If the LTTE really cares about the Tamil people and about assuring their rights, giving up violence and negotiating are the way to go," he said.

"We reject the idea that there is a military solution to this conflict and favor a negotiated outcome," he added.

"The cost of the war in economic terms, and the human costs in deaths, injury, displaced persons and dysfunctional families are staggering and no longer tolerable."

More than 64,000 people have been killed in the ethnic conflict.

No Cyprus role

Europe will not act as a mediator between Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots, even though the current U.N.-sponsored talks are stalled, Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh said this week.

Miss Lindh, on a visit to Washington, said, "It's dangerous if the European Union tried to act as a mediator as well. So we have to look forward to a successful outcome even if it looks very difficult of the U.N. talks."

Miss Lindh, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said she and Secretary of State Colin Powell briefly discussed Cyprus in their talks on Tuesday.

She said the European Union decided last year to admit Cyprus, even if there is no political settlement. The Greek-Cypriot authority is recognized as the legitimate government, while the Turkish-Cypriot administration is recognized only by Turkey.

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