- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 29, 2002

New envoy to Pakistan

President Bush is preparing to send a career diplomat with strong South Asian experience to Pakistan to replace the departing ambassador, Wendy J. Chamberlin.

Although no official announcement has been made, reports in India and Pakistan say Nancy Powell, ambassador to the West African nation of Ghana, will replace Mrs. Chamberlin. She is resigning to spend more time with her teen-age daughters, who have been evacuated from the country for security reasons.

A Pakistan diplomat confirmed yesterday that his government has been notified that Ms. Powell will be nominated but has not received an official request to accept her as the U.S. ambassador. Ms. Powell is not related to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

Ms. Powell was deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Bangladesh from 1995 to 1997. She served in Calcutta, India, as consul-general in 1992 and as political officer at the embassy in New Delhi from 1993 to 1995. She also served at the embassy in Pakistan.

Ms. Powell, born in Cedar Falls, Iowa, was ambassador to Uganda from 1997 to July 1999, when she was appointed acting assistant secretary of state for African affairs. She has been ambassador to Ghana since Sept. 14, 2001.

The Daily Times of Pakistan and the Indian Express have both reported the expected appointment of Ms. Powell.

"She seems most definitely to have cut her diplomatic teeth serving in this vastly complex and complicated region," the Express said.

Mrs. Chamberlin decided to step down as ambassador to Pakistan after her daughters left the country with other diplomatic dependents.

"She was seen as somebody who is fair," said Pakistan Embassy spokesman Asad Hayauddin. "As a parent, myself, I have much regard for her decision. Family values make a difference."

Chinese diplomat sued

China's former counsul-general in Los Angeles has been served with a lawsuit, accusing him of harassment and slander against the Falun Gong, a group banned in China.

The group, which operates in dozens of other countries, accuses Lan Lijun of conducting a campaign to discredit them in the United States. Falun Gong describes itself as a spiritual meditation and exercise group.

Mr. Lan, assigned to the Chinese Embassy in Washington, was served the legal papers at a local restaurant, Falun Gong said yesterday in a statement.

Last month more than 50 members of the group filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, charging the embassy and its consulates with "engaging in a pattern of criminal acts and interfering with their right to practice their spiritual beliefs," said Terri Wu, a Falun Gong member in Washington.

The embassy did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Mr. Lan, when he was consul-general, sent letters to California officials, urging them to ignore local chapters of the Falun Gong.

"It is our hope that your city, by taking your citizens' interest into consideration, will earnestly consider the request from the Chinese side that no recognition and support in any form should be given to the Falun Gong," he said, in a letter to Mayor Randy Voepel of Santee, Calif.

'Unfortunate signal'

Jamaica's former ambassador to the United States says Caribbean officials fear that the new U.S. farm bill will harm the economies of the islands.

Richard Bernal complained that the United States is subsidizing American farmers while urging smaller countries to reduce trade barriers.

"It is an unfortunate signal," Mr. Bernal said at a meeting of 15 trade ministers of the Caribbean Community this week.

"It is going in the opposite direction to the one which we are all moving."

The trade ministers said they will consider challenging the bill at the World Trade Organization.

At a two-day meeting in Guyana, they also complained that the bill could especially damage rice and sugar producers.

The bill, which has also been criticized by free-trade advocates in the United States, will provide $180 billion in crop subsidies over 10 years.

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