Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Mourning in Karachi

The acting U.S. ambassador to Pakistan went to Karachi yesterday with a “heavy heart” to mourn with the families of the victims of last week’s terrorist bombing at the American Consulate.

Nancy J. Powell, the charge d’affaires, also praised the cooperation between the FBI and Pakistani police investigating the explosion that killed 12 Pakistanis and injured 51 others, including a U.S. Marine guard.

“It is with heavy heart that I’ve come to Karachi today,” Miss Powell said, as she reopened the consulate that was closed after Friday’s explosion. “We mourn with their families. We grieve at the loss that each of these families is experiencing right now.

“These people had a very typical day in front of them, and they have been unfortunately struck down by terror.”

Miss Powell said the memorial service was her first official duty since taking over the embassy from Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin.

“I’ve also come today to assist in the reopening of the building and our activities here in Karachi,” she said. “This has taken a tremendous effort by the employees of the consulate general, and we’re very pleased to be back in the building and to be operating with our normal functions.”

Police say they believe the explosion, which knocked a hole in the consulate’s perimeter wall, was caused by a bomb planted in a driving instructor’s car and detonated by remote control. They suspect Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist network was behind the bombing, although a previously unknown group called al Qanoon claimed responsibility.

Miss Powell said she is “very, very pleased” by the cooperation between U.S. and Pakistani authorities.

“This has been yet one other example of our joint fight against terrorism, and the cooperation that has been enjoyed throughout that fight is being seen here in Karachi as well,” she said.

“We hope that those responsible for this incident will be taken into custody as quickly as possible, and that we will not have a repeat of this anywhere in the world, but especially here in Pakistan.”

Obasanjo in town

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo arrives in Washington tomorrow for a two-day visit.

He will speak at the Leon H. Sullivan Summit Dinner and receive the Sullivan Special Service Award. The late Rev. Sullivan established the “Sullivan Principles,” a code of conduct for foreign companies in South Africa during apartheid that helped promote civil rights for blacks.

Tomorrow, Mr. Obasanjo meets Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

On to Austria

Ernest Petric helped put Slovenia on the map, as he served as the country’s first ambassador in Washington and later as its representative to the United Nations.

Now he is moving on to Austria to take up his third ambassadorial post since Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

“After eight years that I spent in America, six in Washington and two in New York, it maybe is really the time to conclude my diplomatic career in Europe,” he wrote in a farewell letter to friends.

“I am looking forward to contributing to good relations with Austria, which is probably our most important neighbor.”

Mr. Petric said his time in New York “was full of excitement but tensions as well.”

“We witnessed the 11th of September, and I really had a unique opportunity to follow all the tragedy from the window of my office,” he wrote. “This was a tragic day that will forever remain in our memory.”

Death of a diplomat

His friends at the Belarussian Embassy are mourning the death of Igor Shmygov, who was buried Monday in Belarus’ capital, Minsk.

“He was one of the first Belarussian diplomats in the United States,” said embassy spokesman Valery Kavaleuski. “This is a sad and sorrowful occasion.”

Mr. Shmygov died June 13 in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he was serving at the Belarussian Embassy. He was 52.

Mr. Shmygov was in Washington from 1994 to 1997. His rank was minister-counselor. He was serving as charge d’affaires when Ambassador Valery Tsepkalo arrived in 1997.

He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

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