- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2003

Australian dispute
The U.S. ambassador to Australia is fighting a public relations war Down Under, as Australian Prime Minister John Howard tries to support President Bush about Iraq while opposition politicians attack the president as "incompetent" and "dangerous."
U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer complained last week about the comments from the Labor Party, which created a domestic political storm for Mr. Howard on the eve of his meeting today with Mr. Bush at the White House.
"I think there is some concern on some of the rhetoric that has been used over the last few days," Mr. Schieffer said on national television last week.
"It's not the sort of thing you could read without having some concern about the [U.S.-Australian] relationship. Some of this rhetoric that has come out of this debate … is very emotional, very personal."
The ambassador insisted the United States is not trying to pressure Australia.
"We're not in the business of telling the Australian Labor Party what its position ought to be," he said. "We're in the business of trying to express what American foreign policy is."
Labor Party leader Simon Crean was quoted saying Mr. Schieffer was naive if he did not expect a bare-knuckled debate over Australian support for war in Iraq.
Mr. Crean told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that his party's quarrel is with Mr. Howard, not Mr. Bush.
Labor refuses to back any military action against Iraq without U.N. authorization, while Mr. Howard is dispatching troops and warships to join U.S. forces in the Gulf. The prime minister has made no formal commitment to take military action but has insisted Iraq's Saddam Hussein must be disarmed.
Responding to Mr. Schieffer's comments, Mr. Crean said, "If he doesn't think that debate is going to get emotional, if he doesn't think that passions aren't going to rise, I think he's pretty naive."
Earlier last week, senior Labor Party member Mark Latham called Mr. Bush "the most incompetent and dangerous president in living memory."
Mr. Latham also attacked Mr. Howard's Liberal Party as a "conga line" of yes men dancing behind Mr. Bush.
Last week Australia dispatched 450 troops to the Persian Gulf to join the 450 who left in January. Mr. Howard has promised to send about 2,000 troops, two navy ships, three transport planes and 14 fighter jets.
New nominees
President Bush has nominated two career diplomats to serve as ambassadors to Argentina and Sri Lanka.
He chose Lino Gutierrez for Argentina. Mr. Gutierrez served as principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and as ambassador to Nicaragua.
Mr. Bush picked Jeffrey Lunstead to serve in Sri Lanka. Mr. Lunstead is director of the State Department's Office of Environmental Policy and has worked on South Asian issues.
Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who meets President Bush.
President Lucio Gutierrez of Ecuador, who addresses the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He meets President Bush tomorrow. On Wednesday, he holds a 9:30 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club.
Jose Octavio Bordon, governor of Argentina's state of Mendoza. He discusses plans for an April 27 election with invited guests at the Inter-American Dialogue.
Former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who delivers the annual Kissinger Lecture at the Library of Congress. His address on the European constitution is open to the public. It begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Jefferson Building, 10 First St. SE.
Mario Arana Sevilla, Nicaragua's minister of development, industry and commerce. He addresses a conference on U.S.-Central American free trade in a forum sponsored by the Washington International Trade Association. On Wednesday, he addresses the Inter-American Dialogue.
A delegation from Kazakhstan, including Zauresh Battalova, a member of parliament; Karligash Zhakianova, a recent candidate for parliament; and Irina Petrushova, editor in chief of the Assandi Times. They address the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

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