- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2002

'Groundless' charges
The ambassador of Moldova is defending himself against accusations of corruption involving a steel plant in a separatist region that led to his dismissal last week.
Ceslav Ciobanu told Embassy Row that the complaints against him are "totally wrong and groundless." In fact, he tried to do the opposite of what he was accused of doing by a communist government that took power last year, he said.
The Moldovan government accused him of lobbying on behalf of the Moldovan Steel Works (MSW), in the breakaway Trans-Dniester region, to avoid U.S. tariffs of more than 230 percent. The tariffs were imposed as anti-dumping measures against cheap foreign steel.
Mr. Ciobanu, who has been here since 1999, said he has worked to impose the tariffs, not lift them. The plant exported more than $108 million in steel products last year. That was about half of Trans-Dniester's total budget.
"The accusations of me attempting to help the MSW to eliminate the anti-dumping [tariffs] are totally wrong and groundless," Mr. Ciobanu said.
"In fact, I was the one who back in January 1999 suggested that the government of Moldova work with the U.S. Department of Commerce on introducing anti-dumping sanctions against steel imports from the secessionist region."
Mr. Ciobanu said he suspects the actions taken against him were politically motivated to "make short work of an undesired ambassador whose background as a pro-democratic, pro-American reformer are well known."

Militants block envoy
Militant communists attacked the bodyguards of U.S. Ambassador to Greece Thomas Miller and prevented him from attending an event at a school in Athens.
Police intervened to break up the demonstrators, who were "youths" but not students at the school in the suburb of Aigaleo, according to news reports of the clash last week.
"We regret and denounce the fact that 20 youths provoked incidents in front of the Aigaleo school, forcing the ambassador to leave the premises," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement on Friday.
"This type of incident obstructs communication and the free exchange of information."

Pardew to Bulgaria
President Bush has selected a veteran soldier-diplomat to serve as ambassador to Bulgaria.
James W. Pardew is now a special State Department adviser on Southeast Europe. Mr. Pardew, a 28-year Army veteran, also served as a presidential adviser during the Kosovo conflict and was part of the team of negotiators who crafted the Bosnia peace agreement.

Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Today
Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo, who addresses the Inter-American Dialogue on the implementation of Guatemala's peace accords.
John Reid, Britain's secretary of state for Northern Ireland, who meets Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and members of Congress. He addresses the American Enterprise Institute tomorrow.
Tomorrow
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who addresses the Woodrow Wilson Center. He meets President Bush on Wednesday and addresses a National Press Club luncheon Thursday.
Foreign ministers Gustavo Fernandez of Bolivia, Guillermo Fernandez de Soto of Colombia, Heinz Moeller of Ecuador and Diego Garcia Sayan of Peru. They hold an 8:30 a.m. news conference at the Ecuadorean Embassy to discuss the Andean Trade Preferences Act.
Peter Malkin, the Israeli agent who captured Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, and Gabriel Bach, who prosecuted Eichmann. They discuss Eichmann's trial with guests at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Thursday
Hungarian Education Minister Jozsef Palinkas, who meets Education Secretary Rod Paige.
Topchubek Turgunaliev, leader of the opposition Erkindik Party of Kyrgyzstan, who addresses Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Friday
President Jorge Batlle of Uruguay who meets President Bush on Friday.


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