- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Fast-paced capital

David Lee, Taiwan’s new representative in Washington, says he was spoiled in his previous post in Brussels, where long lunches and long vacations made diplomatic life as sweet as Belgian chocolates.

In Washington, however, the pace is fast, the stakes are high and the satisfaction is even higher, he told editors and reporters from The Washington Times in his first press lunch at Taiwan’s elegant Twin Oaks mansion.

“It is very challenging, very gratifying. You do a lot of good things. In Europe, the pace was slow,” he said.

Lunches in Brussels typically took two to three hours. Here he is lucky to get an hour, and it is usually a working lunch.

Belgians take a month and a half of vacation in the summer, so diplomatic duties also take a holiday.

Washington is different, even in the humid summertime.

“I arrived in July, and the Americans are running,” he said.

Mr. Lee is no stranger to Washington. He served as congressional liaison at the Taiwanese office from 1982 to 1988 and then spent three years in Boston as consul-general from 1993 to 1996. He went to Brussels in 2001.

Mr. Lee is watching the American presidential campaign closely for any signs of a policy change toward his country.

“Our relationship with the United States is our most important one,” he said.

The Taiwan Relations Act governs the unofficial diplomatic relations between the United States and Taiwan, formally known as the Republic of China. Washington established diplomatic relations with communist China in 1979 and cut ties with Taiwan.

President Bush is a strong advocate for Taiwan. Mr. Lee yesterday afternoon met advisers to Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

He said he has “established a beachhead with the Kerry campaign.”

Mr. Lee replaced C.J. Chen, who spent 20 years in Washington over three tours of duty. Before Mr. Chen left, he planned to retire to Taiwan and write his memoirs.

However, he, too, was lured to Brussels, where he is now in Mr. Lee’s old job.

Iraqi elections

John D. Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, insists that elections will take place there next year, whether the United Nations is ready or not with election observers.

Mr. Negroponte told the Associated Press this week that Iraq also will be able to handle security.

“I’m hopeful that by the time the elections take place, the Iraqi government should have sufficient forces,” he said in an interview at the United Nations.

“It’s important that the U.N. send as many people as possible. [However,] the government is going to carry out the elections anyway.”

Mr. Negroponte on Monday met with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to discuss arrangements being made for the elections. The United Nations withdrew its staff from Baghdad last year, after deadly bomb attacks on its people in the Iraqi capital. It recently authorized a staff of 35 to return.

Remains returned

U.S. Ambassador to Laos Patricia M. Haslach has received the remains of two American soldiers killed in Laos during the Vietnam War.

She attended a formal repatriation ceremony on Monday with Laotian Vice Foreign Minister Phongsavath Boupha, the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Vientiane, said yesterday.

The decomposed bodies were discovered in the province of Savannakhet by members of the U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and Laotian authorities, the embassy said.

More than 370 Americans are listed as missing in action in Laos, and 192 sets of remains have been returned since 1992.

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

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