Thursday, April 8, 2004

Negroponte to Iraq?

John D. Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is a leading candidate to serve as the American ambassador to Iraq.

United Press International, citing unnamed sources, reported yesterday that Mr. Negroponte, a longtime diplomatic troubleshooter, could be appointed after the United States hands over political sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government on June 30. The new embassy in Baghdad is expected to be the largest U.S. diplomatic mission, with more than 3,000 employees.

“There was a sliding scale of names for a while, but Negroponte is now at the top of a very short list,” one source said.

Mr. Negroponte has served as ambassador in Argentina and Mexico. He also was ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s, when anticommunist Nicaraguan rebels supported by the United States had based camps along the Honduras-Nicaraguan border.

U.S.-Pakistani patrol

The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and the interior minister of Pakistan held talks this week about forming a U.S.-Pakistani patrol to control terrorism and drug smuggling along the border with Afghanistan, according to a television report yesterday.

Pakistan’s GEO TV said Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat talked just days after the ambassador warned Pakistan to crush terrorists, including Osama bin Laden, suspected of hiding out in the remote and lawless border area.

Mr. Khalilzad, in a speech on a visit to Washington on Monday, angered Pakistan when he said, “We have told the Pakistani leadership that either they must solve this problem, or we will have to do it ourselves.”

U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been frustrated by Pakistan’s refusal to allow them to cross the border to pursue al Qaeda terrorists and remnants of the hard-line Taliban regime.

Gunboats to Yemen

Yemen, the scene of the suicide attack on an American warship in 2000, will get eight more U.S. gunboats to help patrol its long coastline on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

U.S. Ambassador Edmund Hull announced the $7.5 million gift to help prevent a repeat of the terrorist attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 sailors and injured 39.

Yemen recently received 15 gunboats, but says it needs 150 to patrol its 1,500-mile-long coast.

Politically incorrect

Scotland’s top politician laughed with the rest of the guests when the British ambassador told a joke about the relationship between the English and the Scots at a British Embassy’s Tartan Day reception this week.

Jack McConnell, the first minister of the Scottish Parliament, however, said his staff forbid him from repeating the joke after he told it in a recent speech. Political correctness has struck Scotland.

The other Scottish politicians who traveled to Washington to celebrate Tartan Day with Scottish-Americans laughed heartily at the punch line. The joke is based on the centuries of conflict between Scotland and England.

English kings made repeated attempts to conquer Scotland, the smaller of the two neighbors, until a Scottish monarch inherited the English crown in 1603 and the two nations formed a political union in 1707.

At the reception Wednesday night, Ambassador David Manning, who is English, recalled the story about how God created Scotland. One day, He told the archangel Gabriel of plans to create a handsome people blessed with intelligence and a land with rivers rich with salmon and forests filled with deer.

“Aren’t you bestowing too many blessings on one people?” Gabriel asked.

“Ah,” God replied. “Wait until you see the neighbors I’m giving them.”

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail

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