- The Washington Times - Monday, January 1, 2007

Year of Germany

The German ambassador will hardly have time to recover from the holidays, as he prepares for a visit this week by Chancellor Angela Merkel, who meets President Bush on Thursday.

Ambassador Klaus Scharioth will also take on a leading diplomatic role in Washington because Germany assumes the 2007 presidency of both the European Union and the Group of Eight.

Germany’s unusual position as head of both major international groups gives it a special chance to work with the United States to “turn common challenges into common successes,” Mr. Scharioth said in a Christmas greeting on the German Embassy’s Web site (www.germany.info).

“Just as we do bilaterally, during our double presidency, we intend to work very closely with our American allies and friends,” he said. “Joint action between Europe and the United States is key if we want to find solutions to the challenges of today’s increasingly interdependent world.”

The ambassador added: “In parts of the world, old conflicts have re-emerged, people still endure violence, inequality, injustice and poverty. This season reminds us that the fate of those who suffer cannot leave us unaffected.”

For Mr. Scharioth personally, the past year marked the height of his diplomatic career. He assumed the ambassadorship in March.

“When I first came to the United States 40 years ago to study at a small college in Caldwell, Idaho, I would never have guessed that I would someday represent my country here as ambassador,” he said.

“Now looking back on my first nine months of duty, I can only restate what I said when I started: It’s a wonderful job, probably the most exciting job that German diplomacy has to offer.”

During her meeting with Mr. Bush, Mrs. Merkel will focus on “the further stabilization of Afghanistan, the revival of the peace process in the Middle East, the situation in Iraq and the Iranian nuclear program,” the German Embassy said.

‘Bridge’ to Muslims

Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin will serve as a “bridge” between the West and the Islamic world when she assumes the presidency of the Middle East Institute, according to the chairman of the Washington-based think tank.

Currently deputy high commissioner for refugees at the United Nations, Mrs. Chamberlin capped a career in the U.S. Foreign Service with her appointment as ambassador to Pakistan, a position she took up two days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States. Her first mission was to persuade President Pervez Musharraf to support the U.S.-led war against terrorism in exchange for $1 billion in U.S. aid and a lifting of U.S. sanctions imposed over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program.

“Wendy Chamberlin has a deep respect for the Arab and Muslim world and a commitment to bridge the gap of misunderstandings between our societies,” said Wyche Fowler Jr., chairman of the institute’s board of governors and a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Mrs. Chamberlin will assume the presidency of the institute in March, replacing the retiring Ambassador Edward S. Walker Jr.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Gunilla Carlsson, minister of international development cooperation of Sweden; Miklos Persanyi, minister of environmental and water affairs of Hungary; Max van der Stoel, minister of state of the Netherlands; Nobutaka Machimura, former foreign minister of Japan; and Thorvald Stoltenberg, former foreign minister of Norway. They attend the funeral services of former President Gerald R. Ford.

Thursday

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who meets President Bush.

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

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