Tuesday, January 31, 2006

McKenna not running

Canadian Ambassador Frank McKenna, who submitted his resignation after the Liberal Party defeat last week, apparently has chosen to retire from politics as well, instead of running for the leadership of a party damaged by scandal.

Mr. McKenna, a political appointee and former Liberal premier of New Brunswick, was considered the front-runner to replace Paul Martin, who announced his resignation from the Liberal leadership post after losing his position as prime minister.

The 58-year-old ambassador said on Monday that he could not commit to the time he thought would be required to rebuild the party and put himself in a position to run for prime minister.

“It was clear that any aspirant for this office must look for a time commitment of eight to 10 years,” he said in remarks from Washington that were broadcast in Canada.

“Being prime minister of Canada has not been a burning ambition for me,” he said.

He noted that he served nearly 16 years in public office, including 10 as premier of the Atlantic province from 1987 to 1997.

“I love my country and would do anything for it, but I’m not vain enough to believe that I alone can provide the leadership that our great country and my party need at this time,” he said.

“I’ve dedicated almost 16 years to public service, and I was proud and humbled to do so. I’ve done my share.”

Mr. Martin appointed him ambassador nearly 11 months ago in hopes that Mr. McKenna’s political skills would help repair relations with the United States that were strained under the previous prime minister, Jean Chretien.

The Liberal Party lost the election to the Conservative Party after nearly 13 years in power. The Liberal Party was damaged by a kickback scandal under Mr. Chretien.

Remembering Rau

The German Embassy yesterday opened a condolence book to honor former President Johannes Rau, who died last week at 75.

The book will remain open from 10 a.m. to noon and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. today and tomorrow at the embassy at 4645 Reservoir Road NW.

Mr. Rau, a member of the Social Democratic Party, served as president from 1999 to 2004 and is remembered for his efforts to develop good relations between German citizens and foreign residents and to promote Germany’s Jewish community. In 2000, he was the first German leader to address the Israeli parliament.

Ehud Olmert, Israel’s acting prime minister, called Mr. Rau “a great friend of Israel’s and also a great friend of Jerusalem’s.”

German President Horst Kohler said, “We have lost one of the most significant politicians of the postwar period.”

Nothing new?

The Greek ambassador joined the Cypriot ambassador in dismissing the latest Turkish proposals on Cyprus.

Ambassador Alexandros Mallias last week held talks with senior officials from the State and Defense departments and the National Security Council to express the Greek government’s position, the Greek Embassy said yesterday.

Cypriot Ambassador Euripides L. Evriviades also called the proposals a warmed-over offer that already had been rejected.

Mr. Mallias told officials, “These proposals are not new. They were also made last May and led nowhere.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul offered to open Turkish ports and airspace to Greek-Cypriot ships and planes if the international community lifts restrictions on the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which only Turkey recognizes.

The Turkish Embassy called the proposals “a bold and new policy initiative.”

Mr. Mallias and Mr. Evriviades, however, said Turkey would have to open its ports and airspace anyway if it wants to join the European Union, which admitted the Greek-Cypriot government as a member. Greece supports Turkey’s efforts to join the European bloc.

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

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