- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Where is Reich?
Otto Reich, a rich target of left-wing critics for his anti-communist views, not only lost his temporary post as assistant secretary of state for Latin American affairs but also was conspicuously absent yesterday from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's trip to Colombia.
The State Department appeared at a loss to explain the absence of Mr. Reich, even though Mr. Powell has appointed him a "special envoy" for the Western Hemisphere.
The 24-hour visit to Colombia has special symbolism because the new president, Alvaro Uribe, is hoping for increased U.S. aid in his war against Marxist guerrillas. The United States has limited most of its aid to Colombia's fight against drug smuggling.
Conservatives were disappointed that President Bush allowed Mr. Reich's temporary appointment to expire with the adjournment of the last Congress. The Cuban-born Mr. Reich was named to the post in January in a recess appointment after Senate Democrats blocked his nomination.
The left-wing Council on Hemispheric Affairs yesterday said his absence from the trip shows his new position is only ceremonial.

Mutual assured tension
British Ambassador Christopher Meyer yesterday summed up U.S.-European relations as a case of mutual suspicion among friends.
"Two issues that dominate U.S.-European relations are one of mutual assured schizophrenia and one of mutual assured paranoia," he told a forum sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Mr. Meyer said the United States wants Europe to be less reliant on its trans-Atlantic partner but not to do anything without consulting Washington.
Europe complains if the United States fails to take a leadership role in international affairs and then grouses about U.S. unilateralism when it does, he said.
Earlier in the panel discussion, Richard Haass, the State Department's director of policy planning, appeared to prove his point.
Mr. Haass urged Europe to "spend more and more smartly on defense" but warned that Europe must avoid a "parochial" attitude and not "neglect the larger world."
Meanwhile, Bulgarian Ambassador Elena Poptodorova expressed "a more emotional, optimistic view of the newcomers," the former communist nations now preparing to join NATO and the European Union.
The diplomats agreed that U.S.-European relations are evolving into a partnership in international affairs, despite some public rows, especially over Iraq.
"Despite the occasional scream, there is no crisis in U.S.-European relations, nor need there be," Mr. Haass said.
He said the United States no longer needs to concentrate its policy toward Europe solely on security issues, as it did during the Cold War.
"War among the major actors in Europe is unthinkable. Europe is the most mature part of the globe," he said.
The NATO partners can now focus on international threats such as terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, drug smuggling, climate change, organized crime and AIDS, he said.
Mrs. Poptodorova said the NATO decision last month to invite Bulgaria and six other Eastern European nations to join the alliance will help heal the postwar division of the continent.
"This is a unique moment for our people and for our countries," she said.

Ramadan snub
Dozens of Lebanese politicians and a leading Islamic cleric protested U.S. support for Israel by boycotting Ramadan dinners hosted by U.S. Ambassador Vincent Battle.
Mr. Battle invited 55 mayors from Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, but only three attended the dinner Monday evening in the town of Shtaura, according to Agence France-Presse.
Last week Lebanon's Grand Mufti, Mohammed Rashid Qabbani, refused to attend a dinner the ambassador hosted in Beirut.

Senegal's ambassador
Embassy Row yesterday incorrectly reported that Ambassador Mamadou Mansour Sek of Senegal attended a forum on AIDS in Africa. Mr. Sek is the former ambassador. The new ambassador, Amadou Lamene Ba, who has been here since August, attended the forum.

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