- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 3, 2003

Flag-waving in Taiwan

In Taiwan yesterday, a Fourth of July celebration came a day early — and 24 years late.

U.S. envoy Douglas Paal hosted the Independence Day reception complete with an American flag projected on a large screen in a break with diplomatic protocol established in 1979 when the United States recognized communist China and cut formal relations with Taiwan.

“It’s just a very natural thing for Americans to get together,” he told the Associated Press in the capital, Taipei. “Our mutual democratic values and desire to achieve peace and prosperity make cooperation between us as natural as the waters flowing from Taiwan’s beautiful mountains.”

The American Institute in Taiwan, often called the unofficial U.S. Embassy, has not publicly celebrated U.S. holidays or flown the flag in more than two decades. The policy was designed to placate China, which claims Taiwan as a province and strongly opposes any diplomatic recognition of the island.

Taiwan Prime Minister Yu Shyi-kun, who represented the government at the reception, said the celebration is a sign of improving relations under the Bush administration.

“This is conducive to enhancing bilateral exchanges and friendship,” he told AP.

The Polish view

The Polish ambassador is confident that the United States and European nations that opposed the war in Iraq will soon get over the diplomatic dispute because Europe and America share the same history and destiny.

“We think very strongly that America is a European power,” said Ambassador Przemyslaw Grudzinski. “America is part of our European experience and a part of our past and a part of our present and part of our future. We need America as much as America needs Europe.”

Poland was among many European nations that supported the United States, while France and Germany were among the few, but vocal, opponents.

“I think that the fundamentals of this relationship have not changed, and in time it will be possible to reconcile the difference, heal some wounds and to move forward,” he told the Voice of America’s “On the Line” television show last month. A transcript of the interview was released in the current Polish Embassy newsletter.

Mr. Grudzinski said Europe owes a debt to the United States as it embarks on a major task of adopting a constitution for the 15-nation European Union, which is expected to expand soon by 10 new members.

“Europe is becoming more of a whole, united more than ever in history,” he said. “And this is, in part, a creation of the United States. Without the United States, Europe would not have come to this point in its history.

“It’s a very positive experiment … perhaps one of the most significant … ever conducted on European soil and perhaps on a global scale. Europe now is a vast area of peace, affluence and solidarity and cooperation.”

Steinberg to Nigeria

Only days before his trip to Africa, President Bush selected a career diplomat to serve as ambassador to Nigeria.

Donald K. Steinberg, now the State Department’s deputy director of policy planning, is a former ambassador to Angola. He has also served as a senior adviser on Africa at the National Security Council.

Nigeria is one of Mr. Bush’s stops on his five-day tour next week.

No fax from allafrica

Embassy Row last week incorrectly reported that the Internet site, https://allafrica.com, faxed a news story to The Washington Times about the recall of Gambian Ambassador Essa Bokarr Sey.

The Web site, which includes staff reports and news from other African media, posted an article from Gambia’s Herald newspaper about Mr. Sey but did not distribute it to Washington news outlets, according to Akwe Amosu, executive editor and publisher of allafrica.com. He said someone must have made a printout of the article from the Web site and faxed it to The Times.

“We post more than 800 stories a day from more than 100 African news organizations, making allafrica.com the source of record for what African media across the continent are saying,” he said in an e-mail message to this column.

The embassy says Mr. Sey is back in Gambia preparing for his next assignment.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected].

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