- The Washington Times - Friday, September 13, 2002

Bulgarian diplomacy

Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov is treading delicately between the United States and the European Union as he tries to meet a U.S. request for Bulgaria to support exempting American troops from the authority of the International Criminal Court.

Mr. Parvanov, on a Washington visit this week, insisted the United States was applying no pressure on him and was not linking Bulgaria's desire to join NATO to its position on the court.

Bulgaria also wants to join the EU, which has warned prospective members not to make individual concessions on the court's authority but has not taken an official position on the U.S. request.

"I believe we can find a solution that will please the U.S. and not upset the EU," he told reporters at a breakfast meeting.

Mr. Parvanov also said the EU is not pressuring Bulgaria over the issue.

"I wouldn't call it pressure, but it is an issue that is raised in talks with officials of the U.S. and EU," he said. "It would make life easier if the EU would come up with a common position."

Mr. Parvanov added, "The U.S. position is understandable."

He said he had a "very good" meeting with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who "expressed U.S. confidence and trust in the Bulgarian government."

Embassies still closed

U.S. embassies in Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia remained shut yesterday after a high-level security alert closed the doors of American diplomatic missions throughout Southeast Asia on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Armed troops were posted outside the embassy in Indonesia as U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce tried to deal with angry Indonesian officials, who claimed he had failed to notify them of the Wednesday alert.

After meeting with Vice President Hamzah Haz, Mr. Boyce told reporters that he had notified officials in Jakarta even before officials in Washington that he was closing the embassy.

"There was not much time. It was a fast-breaking event," he said. "We notified our counterparts in Jakarta before we even notified Washington."

In the Philippines, the government released a letter from James A. Kelly, U.S. assistant secretary of state for South Asia, warning of "imminent threats to U.S. embassies" from al Qaeda terrorists planning truck-bomb attacks.

Roilo Golez, national security adviser to Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, said the U.S. Embassy in Manila remained open under tight Philippine guard.

"I just spoke with [U.S. Ambassador Francis] Ricciardone, and he said he feels very comfortable with the kind of security the government provided," Mr. Golez told reporters.

U.S. officials in Italy were waiting for the results of tests on suspicious white powder found in an item of mail delivered Wednesday to the U.S. Embassy in Rome.

Suspicious substances in letters sent to five U.S. consulates in Germany turned out to be sugar.

Australians complacent

The U.S. ambassador to Australia fears Australians are not taking the terrorist threat seriously enough.

"Americans realize that it does happen in America, and I'm not sure that Australians have fully come to grips with the fact that it could happen here," Ambassador Tom Schieffer said in a speech on Monday.

"We don't know when a terrorist acts, where they will act, and I think we have to recognize that they can act anywhere."

Australia, however, has not had a recorded terrorist act since 1978, when a bomb was discovered outside a hotel during a summit of British Commonwealth nations in Sydney.

Chinese visitors

The new deputy chief of mission of the Chinese Embassy dropped by for an off-the-record lunch yesterday with editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

Lan Lijun, who arrived this summer, was accompanied by embassy spokesman Xie Feng and First Secretary Sun Weide.

While this column cannot report on the details of the conversation, it can reveal one thing. They brought by coffee-table books chronicling 30 years of U.S.-Chinese relations.

The cover photo shows President Bush and Chinese President Jiang Zemin in brightly colored Chinese jackets, which, the guests said, are becoming a popular fashion item.

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