Tuesday, March 21, 2006

German renewal

The new German ambassador arrived in Washington representing a new conservative-led government determined to repair relations with the Bush administration that were damaged by the anti-Americanism of the previous socialist chancellor.

“I look forward with joy and optimism to the task of fostering relations between our two nations,” Ambassador Klaus Scharioth told President Bush at a White House ceremony last week.

Mr. Scharioth’s predecessor, Wolfgang Ischinger, found himself defending the rhetoric of former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who made opposition to the Iraq war the hallmark of his re-election campaign.

Germany finds itself in the same position as Canada, which is trying to repair relations also under a new conservative government. Canada sent a political appointee, former Finance Minister Michael Wilson, as ambassador to repair the damage caused by the former Liberal government.

The new German ambassador represents a government headed by Christian Democrat Chancellor Angela Merkel, a conservative like Mr. Bush.

Presenting his diplomatic credentials in the Oval Office, Mr. Scharioth promoted the “special bond” between Germany and the United States, pledged his government’s support in the war on terrorism and heralded the trans-Atlantic relation.

“We Germans feel a special bond with the United States, particularly through the friendship between our two nations but also through our partnership in the North Atlantic alliance. We share common values and interests,” he said.

“Today, the United States and the Europeans are together engaged in promoting human rights, the rule of law and democracy in other parts of the world. The hunger for freedom and justice is universal, but the roads leading there and the shape of freedom and right can differ greatly.”

Mr. Scharioth noted that “European integration and the trans-Atlantic partnership are the pillars” of German foreign policy.

“Together we face new global challenges, be it in preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, fighting diseases or protecting the climate,” he said.

“The scourge of organized crime and the modern plague of human-trafficking also are problems that no one can solve alone. Germany will do its part to help solve these problems.”

Mr. Scharioth, a career diplomat, most recently served as state secretary in the German Foreign Office, one of the highest-ranking foreign service positions. He studied in the United States at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Harvard Law School and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Taiwan’s pledge

The Republic of China (Taiwan) yesterday assured the U.S. envoy that the island nation claimed by China will avoid any action that might be interpreted as a declaration of independence.

President Chen Shui-bian of the Republic of China delivered his promise to Stephen M. Young, the new director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).

“I would like to say again that my previous pledge to the U.S. government and President Bush has not changed,” he told Mr. Young, referring to his promise not to seek independence.

“The Taiwan government, its people and myself will continue to serve as a responsible contributor to the maintenance of peace in the Taiwan Strait.”

He added that “there will not be any so-called surprise” before the next presidential election in 2008.

The Bush administration was angered when Mr. Chen scrapped the National Unification Council, a commission established to prepare for the eventual reunion with mainland China, whose communist government also angrily objected to the move.

Mr. Young, who serves as the de facto American ambassador on Taiwan, said of the council, “I think it’s been put into abeyance.”

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

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