- The Washington Times - Monday, May 19, 2003

Foggy Bottom ‘foggy’

The son of the Rev. Pat Robertson has joined the television preacher in a mission to rid the State Department of what he called a “pro-Arab” and “anti-Israel” bias.

Gordon Robertson, a vice president of his father’s Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), repeated the latter’s call for viewers to register their complaints with the State Department and the White House about remarks made earlier this month by top Middle East diplomat William Burns.

Mr. Robertson yesterday denounced Mr. Burns, assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs, for reported criticism of Christian and conservative objections to President Bush’s Middle East peace plan.

The Washington Times, the Jerusalem Post and CBN reported last week that Mr. Burns, on a visit to Jerusalem, told Israeli and Palestinian peace activists that “common sense” will prevail over the opponents.

Mr. Robertson said yesterday, “I am insulted by what this careerist at the State Department has said. … His name is Burns. I want you to go to the phone and call the State Department … and the White House.”

He said the career diplomats “think they are somehow above the political process in America, and they can insult more than 60 million Americans.”

Mr. Robertson said the State Department has a “pro-Arab” bias and thinks the “Christian viewpoint on Israel lacks common sense.” He added that Mr. Bush’s “road map” for Middle East peace is “dead in the water from the Israeli point of view.” Israel has been rocked by five Palestinian suicide bombings during the past three days.

“I think we need to have some significant changes within our State Department. Foggy Bottom is really foggy on this issue,” he said, referring to the nickname for the State Department.

The State Department yesterday declined to comment on Mr. Robertson’s remarks. Last week, spokesman Philip Reeker called the news reports of Mr. Burns’ comments inaccurate and said the diplomat had not insulted anyone on his May 4 visit to Israel.

Agence France-Presse said a “senior State Department official” dismissed the reports as part of a conservative campaign against U.S. diplomats.

The Times reported last week that Mr. Burns called “conservative and Christian viewpoints” the main obstacle to peace.

“The common sense of all peoples will override the conservative and Christian viewpoints once they see the road map’s potential,” he said.

The elder Mr. Robertson said during a May 13 broadcast, “I don’t know about you, ladies and gentlemen, but I am outraged that William Burns … would go into a private meeting … and complain about, get this, Christians, American conservatives and [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee] … , saying that these three groups lacked common sense because they don’t go slavishly along with the road map.”

He called for Mr. Burns to be removed from his position.

“We appreciate our president,” the elder Mr. Robertson added. “But there’s some people in the State Department that I don’t think are his friends necessarily.”

Musharraf to visit Bush

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will hold talks with President Bush on June 24 in Washington, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Gen. Musharraf will discuss recent improvements in relations between Pakistan and nuclear rival India, spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan said at a news conference in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

Gen. Musharraf, a key U.S. ally in the war on terror, also will address a “broad range of issues” in the talks, the spokesman said.

U.S.-French thaw?

The U.S. ambassador to France said yesterday that he expects no long-term boycott of French goods, as long as France avoids another confrontation with the Bush administration at the United Nations.

Ambassador Howard Leach, in an interview with the newspaper Le Figaro, said he hopes France will back a U.S. resolution seeking an end to U.N. sanctions against Iraq.

“I told the French business leaders I have met that contracts would be honored, that they should not worry about economic repercussions [and] that the climate would improve, providing there is no new clash at the United Nations,” he said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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