- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Diplomat disgruntled

Diplomats who refuse to serve in Iraq because they oppose U.S. policy or fear the duty is too dangerous can always resign from the Foreign Service, a State Department spokesman said yesterday in response to a new survey of U.S. diplomats.

“When we signed up for these jobs, we signed up to support the policies of the American government,” said spokesman Sean McCormack. “If people have a problem with that, they know what they can do.”

Forty-eight percent of 4,300 diplomats who responded to the survey by the American Foreign Service Association cited their opposition to U.S. policy in Iraq as a reason for refusing to serve in the country. The diplomats could list more than one reason for rejecting an assignment to Iraq. Sixty-one percent cited security concerns, while 64 percent listed “separation from family.”

Sixty-eight percent of those who responded also opposed or strongly opposed being ordered to serve in Iraq. Only 32 percent favored or strongly favored the so-called “directed” assignments to Iraq.

Earlier this year, the State Department feared it might have to draft diplomats to fill the jobs at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad but found enough volunteers to staff the mission.

Bush visit

The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates created a special Web site to publicize President Bush’s visit to the Persian Gulf nation, where he is scheduled to deliver a major policy speech.

The Web site (www.uae-us.org/bushvisitsuae) and the main embassy site (www.uae-us.org) provide “extensive background” on the confederation of seven independent city-states and on the U.S.-UAE relationship, the embassy said.

“The UAE is a source of stability, tolerance, innovation and growth in the Arabian Gulf and around the globe,” the embassy said.

Mr. Bush will visit the emirates Monday. His trip also includes visits to Israel, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Congressional diplomacy

Members of Congress are conducting globe-trotting diplomacy from North Africa to southern Europe on their winter break from legislative business.

A Republican senatorial delegation led by Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida held top level talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, on the eve of the Washington visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gul, who met yesterday with President Bush.

“It was a very cordial and friendly meeting and one, I think, will enhance the friendship that continues to deepen between our two countries,” Mr. Martinez told reporters in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

Mr. Martinez is the senior Republican on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs security and international trade subcommittee. The delegation includes Sen. Larry E. Craig of Idaho, a member of the Appropriations Committee; Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, a member of the Finance Committee; and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the Armed Services Committee. Their trip also includes visits to Morocco and the Czech Republic.

In Helsinki, Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Florida Democrat, met with Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva to review the results of the controversial presidential election in the Republic of Georgia, where the defeated opposition candidate is organizing massive protests against the result of the Saturday vote that observers declared mostly free and fair.

On Sunday, Rep. Steve

Israel, New York Democrat, met for more than two hours with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on another congressional visit.

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

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