- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2002

New Afghan diplomat

Haron Amin, the Washington spokesman for Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, has been appointed the U.S. diplomatic representative for the new Afghan government.

Mr. Amin will serve as charge d'affaires and is expected to be appointed as ambassador. Embassy Row reported Jan. 3 that his appointment was imminent.

Mr. Amin, 32, said his top priorities will be to help rebuild Afghanistan, which has suffered from more than 20 years of war. The government he represents took power after the Northern Alliance, backed by U.S. air power, ousted the Taliban government and its terrorist ally, Osama bin Laden.

"The priorities are to facilitate humanitarian and relief efforts on behalf of millions of Afghans displaced by two decades of war and to act as a conduit for government and private-sector interests seeking to participate in the considerable task of rebuilding Afghanistan's decimated economy," Mr. Amin said in a statement yesterday.

He will also be preparing for a visit to Washington by interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai. The visit is expected next month, but no date has been set.

Mr. Amin is working out of temporary offices at 2000 L St. NW, suite 200, until the Afghan Embassy is repaired. The embassy, at 24th Street and Wyoming Avenue NW, was closed in 1997. The State Department estimates repairs, which include structural work, will take about four months.

Mr. Amin was born in the Afghan capital, Kabul, in 1969, but came to the United States when his family fled the Soviet invasion in 1980. He returned to Afghanistan in 1988 to join the armed struggle against the Soviet Union. Mr. Amin fought under Afghanistan's legendary commander, Gen. Ahmed Shah Masood, who was assassinated Sept. 9.

Mr. Amin also represented the deposed Afghan government at the United Nations, which never recognized the Taliban regime.

Jordan promotes envoy

Jordan's King Abdullah II yesterday promoted his ambassador to the United States to foreign minister in a government shake-up designed to prepare for parliamentary elections later this year.

Ambassador Marwan Muashaer, who has been in Washington since 1997, will replace Abdel llah Khatib. Mr. Muasher, described as a pro-Western diplomat, was Jordan's first ambassador to Israel after Jordan signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state in 1994.

King Abdullah also replaced Interior Minister Awad Khleifat with Qaftan Majali, who will be in charge of preparing for the parliamentary elections, expected later this year. Prime Minister Ali Abul-Ragheb will remain in his post.

King Abdullah, in announcing his Cabinet changes, said the elections will be a "model of integrity and freedom." The king dissolved parliament in June and had earlier planned to schedule elections in November.

Russia slams diplomats

The Russian Foreign Ministry has complained about the behavior of two U.S. diplomats who last week attended a protest to demand the release of a Russian journalist convicted of treason.

The U.S. Embassy insisted the two diplomats at the consulate in Vladivostok went only to observe the demonstration, calling their action a "normal diplomatic practice," the Echo Moscow radio station reported.

A Foreign Ministry official told the Interfax News Agency that the diplomats committed a "breach of generally recognized international norms." Interfax reported that the Foreign Ministry sent the embassy a note to complain that the diplomats made "inappropriate public statements" about the Russian judicial system.

The protesters demanded the release of Grigory Pasko, a former military journalist who leaked information to the Japanese media in 1997 about the Russian Navy dumping toxic waste in the East Sea/Japan Sea. A military court in December sentenced him to four years in prison.

Threat in Yemen

Yemen has dispatched extra police guards around the U.S. Embassy after a telephone threat against American diplomats and civilians living there.

Reuters news agency yesterday said police also blocked off several streets near the embassy in response to a threat from an unidentified caller on Sunday.

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