- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 1, 2004

Risky business

When the Pakistani ambassador traveled to New York two weeks ago to discuss his new post representing the United Nations in Iraq, a reporter thought he must be crazy to accept such a dangerous assignment.

Ambassador Ashraf Jehnagir Qazi said a reporter from the Associated Press approached him as he entered the U.N. headquarters.

“The first question asked of me … was, ‘What’s so wrong with Washington that you have to go to Baghdad for your next job?’” Mr. Qazi said at a press conference here last week.

Mr. Qazi is one of Pakistan’s most senior diplomats, but none of his previous assignments were dangerous as his new one. He will replace Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N. representative in Iraq who was killed in a suicide bombing a year ago. The attack killed 22 other persons and prompted the United Nations to withdraw from Baghdad.

Mr. Qazi is scheduled to replant the U.N. flag in the Iraqi capital, but a date for the return has not been set.

“It’s a great honor to have had the privilege of being in Washington for almost two years,” he said, “but this assignment is not only more challenging and risky, it also carries with it the possibility of being of some assistance to people who have suffered so long.”

Mr. Qazi also said the “gratification and the sense of reward that one would get from being part of such an exercise is something of a very different order” from his past diplomatic career.

In addition to the United States, he was ambassador to China, the former East Germany, India, Russia and Syria. He also served in Britain, Denmark, Egypt, Japan and Libya.

Mr. Qazi said the U.N. mission will work with the Iraqi government to prepare for elections and help in the reconstruction of the country.

“I guess one has to not always be guided by reason and caution when asked to also carry one’s aspirations — and maybe a bit of dreams … ,” he said.

Mr. Qazi called his new assignment “a noble mission.”

Mission to Libya

Mark Parris, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, was in Libya over the weekend as the head of a delegation of corporate executives looking to do business with Moammar Gadhafi.

“We are not sure what will result from this trip,” Mr. Parris said before leaving on Friday. He is scheduled to return today.

“The Libyans really haven’t received such a diverse body of U.S. companies as represented by this delegation,” he added. “We want to assess whether the country is open and ready for business with U.S. companies beyond the oil sector.”

The trip, sponsored by the nonprofit Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), is another outgrowth of Col. Gadhafi’s decision to abandon his nuclear-weapons program. The United States has lifted some sanctions on Libya and resumed diplomatic relations, although it still lists Libya as a state that sponsors terrorism.

Stephen Hayes, president of the CCA, said, “The embargo was an important tool for change. … The past should never be forgotten, nor should we miss the opportunity now to build a better future.”

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors due in Washington this week include:


• Luis Ugalde, rector of the Catholic University in Caracas, Venezuela, and one of the country’s top political analysts. He addresses the Inter-American Dialogue.

• Tal Becker of Israel’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, who participates in a panel hosted by the American Enterprise Institute.


• Ronald Sandee, a senior counterterrorism analyst at the Defense Ministry of the Netherlands. He joins a panel discussion on Sudan at the American Enterprise Institute.

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

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