- The Washington Times - Monday, November 1, 2004

Diplomatic forecast

The U.S. presidential election is dominating diplomatic news around the world, from Europe to the Middle East to Latin America.

In Berlin, the U.S. ambassador to Germany noted that German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder would be in a difficult position if Democrat Sen. John Kerry is elected.

Ambassador Daniel Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana, yesterday predicted that Mr. Kerry would keep his campaign promise to ask more European allies to provide troops in Iraq, a move opposed by Mr. Schroeder and a majority of German citizens.

President Bush has accepted the chancellor’s position about no troops. We’re not asking for that,” Mr. Coats told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.

“Senator Kerry has indicated he would ask [for troops], so that’s going to produce some difficult questions and some tensions here between the U.S. and Germany, if that happens.”

Mr. Coats, in a separate interview with German public radio, said he would give “very serious consideration” to replacing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld if he steps down in a second Bush administration.

Mr. Coats, mentioned earlier this year as a possible candidate for the Pentagon post, said, “I have had a long interest in security issues, foreign-policy issues and defense issues and some experience in that. And so, if there were the possibility of making a significant contribution and the president wanted me to do so, I would have to give that very serious consideration.”

A possible Kerry presidency also concerned Mexican diplomats, said Jesus Reyes Heroles, Mexico’s former ambassador to the United States.

Speaking in a recent political forum in Mexico City, Mr. Reyes said that Mr. Kerry and Mexican President Vicente Fox share the same positions on many issues, except free trade.

“Kerry’s positions are much closer to the position of Mexico, but on economic issues, it is more complicated,” Mr. Reyes said. “He has been inconsistent on some proposals and sometimes frankly an opponent to free trade that to us is something desirable.

“John Kerry has a limited knowledge of Mexico, and that is his clear disadvantage to President Bush.”

Daniel Ayalon, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, said he expects little change in U.S. policy toward the Jewish state regardless who wins the election.

“The relations between our two countries are not dependent on the outcome of the ballot, because we’re united by the same values and strategic interests,” he told Israeli public radio yesterday.

Diplomatic observers

More than 100 ambassadors are expected at a breakfast today for a last-minute briefing on the U.S. presidential election before visiting some polling places to talk with American voters.

The International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), which is hosting its fourth presidential election briefing, will feature Charles Black, a Republican strategist; Frank Keating, former Republican governor of Oklahoma; Charles Manatt, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee; Georgie Anne Geyer, a nationally syndicate columnist; and Mary Banotti, a former member of the European Parliament.

IFES spokesman Keenan Howell said the briefing and visits to precincts in Washington and Alexandria will help ambassadors who are expected to report back to their governments on the election.

Romanian Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, who attended both presidential conventions this year, said he will attend the forum to gain additional insight into the American electorate.

“As a representative of a country with close strategic relations with the United States, I would like to get as much information as possible about the [electoral] process,” he said.

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

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