- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 30, 2002

New Jordanian envoy

A young, high-tech businessman is likely to be appointed as the next Jordanian ambassador to the United States.

Karim Kawar, the 38-year-old president of the Information Technology Association of Jordan, has been selected by King Abdullah II, according to Agence France-Presse.

The Jordanian Embassy said no official announcement has been made.

Mr. Kawar has no political or diplomatic experience but is a friend of King Abdullah and Queen Rania, who worked for Mr. Kawar before she married the king in 1997, AFP said. Mr. Kawar served briefly on the king's economic advisory council.

"The appointment of Kawar to Jordan's most important diplomatic posting reflects the unconventional style of the monarch, who has a preference for the younger and more dynamic generation," AFP said.

Mr. Kawar would replace Marwan Muasher, ambassador here from September 1997 until January of this year. Mr. Muasher is Jordan's foreign minister.

Embassy in Berlin

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Daniel R. Coats is expected to sign an agreement Thursday with the Berlin government that will allow the construction of a new U.S. Embassy.

The Berlin government yesterday said Mayor Klaus Wowereit will sign on behalf of the city after the United States agreed to waive a security perimeter that Berlin feared would disrupt traffic near the historic Brandenburg Gate, according to news reports from the German capital.

The United States had originally insisted that the embassy be built 100 feet from the nearest street to prevent the possibility of car-bomb attacks. That security perimeter was required after the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Algeria on the line

Algerian Ambassador Idriss Jazairy readily admits that his country is an infant in the information age, but he vigorously promotes the promising steps it has taken.

Mr. Jazairy told the Northern Virginia Technology Council in a recent speech that in a country of 31 million people, only about six people per 1,000 have telephones or personal computers, and fewer than 100,000 have cell phones.

Long waiting times have suppressed demand for telephones, and only corporations or a "limited elite of individuals" can afford computers.

"There were only 20,000 Internet subscribers at the end of last year," he said. "This may, however, underestimate the social revolution brought about among the youth by the multiplication of cyber-cafes all over the country."

Algeria, he said, has awakened to the need to bring its population online and boost its low "teledensity" ratio of telecommunications per capita.

"We want to reach a teledensity of 20 percent, 1,000 for fixed [telephone] lines, attain the more ambitious target of one mobile phone for every other person and to transform Internet access from being the privilege of the few to the entitlement of the many," he said.

The Algerian government intends to wage this communications revolution by promoting competition and encouraging foreign investment, he said.

Algeria already has exempted property taxes, reduced its value-added tax, passed laws to protect copyrights and cut customs for required imports to encourage investment, he said.

Algeria is committed to democracy and domestic security, Mr. Jazairy added.

"Democracy is taking root, and with it, the rule of law, transparency and the eradication of corruption," he said. "As President [Abdelaziz] Bouteflika told President Bush when they met in November, his ambition is to make Algeria a model for democracy in the region."

Mr. Jazairy appealed to his high-tech audience to invest in his country.

"An information revolution cannot be imported. It requires cross-fertilization between foreign and local corporations," he said.

"In Algeria, there is a nexus of information technology and electronic firms, both public and private. They can provide that demand-driven pressure that is so important to promote the flow of foreign investments into Algeria."

The ambassador predicted that Algeria's "ambitious objectives" will place his North African nation at the "forefront of countries of our region in information technology."

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