- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 17, 2005

‘Shadow’ on Iraq

A senior U.S. diplomat this week scolded European nations for failing to support the Iraqi government, which he called the “most democratic” regime in the region.

On a visit to Germany, Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, complained of “a shadow on the Iraqi government” imposed by European leaders who question the legitimacy of the interim administration in Baghdad, our correspondent Tom Goeller reported from Berlin.

“This attitude needs to be removed in Europe,” Mr. Fried told reporters, after meetings with German leaders preparing to form a coalition government under conservative Angela Merkel.

He said he hopes Germany will develop a “more outward looking” foreign policy under Mrs. Merkel, leader of the Christian Democratic Party. Outgoing socialist chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, frequently criticized U.S. policies toward Iraq.

“We hope Germany can do more to support the emerging democratic institutions in Iraq,” Mr. Fried said, calling the current government “one of the most democratic governments in the region.”

Mr. Fried also called on Europe to show “solidarity” against the new government of Iran, where President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently called for the destruction of Israel.

“It is important that Iran be met with the solidarity of the democratic world. The call for Israel’s destruction should frighten everyone,” Mr. Fried said.

Mr. Fried appealed to European governments to support U.S. efforts to promote democratic reform in the Middle East.

“In the world at large and the broader Middle East in particular, reform is needed,” he said. “The U.S. and the European Union have a common responsibility for the settlement of the problems in that region and … should consult intensively on every problem of the world and how we can address it together.”

Mr. Fried cited French diplomatic pressure on Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon as an example of the type of cooperation he has in mind.

Korean credentials

South Korea’s new ambassador presented his diplomatic credentials to President Bush just in time for today’s Asia-Pacific summit, where the new envoy from Seoul is dealing with his U.S. counterparts on issues from North Korea’s nuclear threat to free trade with the United States.

Before leaving Washington, Ambassador Lee Tae-sik last week told Mr. Bush that he “would work hard to develop a comprehensive and dynamic partnership between the United States and South Korea.”

The ambassador said he wants to expand the bilateral ties “not only to strengthen the security alliance but also to develop sustainable economic ties such as a U.S.-Korea free trade agreement.”

Mr. Bush said South Korea is one of the “most dynamic economies in the world that achieved successful democratization through a strong alliance partnership between our two nations.”

He said that the alliance “has also been pivotal in maintaining peace and stability in east Asia.”

After trading diplomatic formalities, the ambassador said that, like the president, he is a devout Christian. The two spent time discussing their shared religious belief.

Mr. Lee arrived in Washington in October to replace predecessor, Hong Seok-hyun, who resigned in July after he was accused of violating South Korean election laws in the 1997 presidential campaign.

In South Korea this week, U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow revealed that the United States is willing to open an office in North Korea if the Communist government proves it is dismantling its nuclear weapons program.

Mr. Vershbow, speaking in a close-door meeting on Wednesday in Seoul with South Korean legislators, said opening an office would show that the Bush administration has no intention of attacking the North, the Kyodo news agency reported.

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

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