- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pioneering diplomat

The new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican has a long-standing relationship with the Holy See, which she represented as head of the pope’s delegation to a controversial U.N. conference in 1995 and as the first female president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, most recently a professor at Harvard Law School, began her first full work week as U.S. envoy yesterday. She took her oath of office on Valentine’s Day at the law school in Cambridge, Mass., and arrived in Rome on Friday. Mrs. Glendon is expected to present her diplomatic credentials to Pope Benedict XVI by the end of the month.

One of her top priorities will be to help prepare for the pope’s visit to the United States. Benedict is scheduled to meet with President Bush on April 16 and address the United Nations two days later.

Mrs. Glendon told reporters at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport that the United States and the Vatican share a “common commitment to the human dignity of every man, woman and child.”

“Both the United States and the Holy See have a long history in which faith and reason are inseparably united in that quest,” she added.

Mrs. Glendon called Rome her “second home,” noting that her oldest daughter and three grandchildren live in the Italian capital.

The ambassador made international news as the leader of the Vatican’s delegation to the 1995 international conference on women in Beijing. She strongly defended the Roman Catholic Church’s uncompromising pro-life views against an agenda from the European Union and others that promoted abortion as part of family planning and homosexuality as an accepted optional life style.

Pope John Paul II named Mrs. Glendon as the first woman to serve in a top advisory position to the Vatican when he appointed her to the social sciences academy in 2004.

Jobs in jeopardy

Leading members of Congress are pressing for a longer extension of a South American trade deal to prevent a loss of jobs and investment from U.S. businesses.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, said the 10-month extension approved last week by the House Ways and Means Committee will do too little to prevent a drop of business confidence in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, the four nations covered by the Andean Trade Preference Act. The New York Democrat argued that the act needs at least a two-year extension. The full House is expected to vote on the extension before the act expires on Feb. 28.

“Help us help both the U.S. industry and the Andean countries by ensuring that the ATPA program is renewed for a long enough period to ensure predictability and smoother business planning,” he said in letter signed by 27 other members to Rep. Charlie B. Rangel, New York Democrat and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Another copy was sent to Rep. Jim McCrery of Louisiana, the senior Republican on the committee.

“While a 10-month extension is certainly good news, I hope we can ultimately come up with an extension of at least two years,” Mr. Engel said.

“I believe that a long-term extension of the Andean trade preferences is crucial in promoting development in the economically and politically fragile Andean region, while also supporting essential U.S. geopolitical goals.

“Positive engagement with the Andean region can both improve our image abroad and help us to more effectively engage our neighbors.”

The act lowers tariffs on goods from those nations imported into the United States.

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

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