- The Washington Times - Friday, December 11, 2009

AMBASSADOR QUITS

The Turkish ambassador to the United States quit this week, only a day after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met President Obama in Washington on Monday.

The abrupt resignation of Nabi Sensoy sparked speculation in Turkey of a dispute between the ambassador and the prime minister, who reportedly was dissatisfied with the White House meeting.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed his resignation on Wednesday, saying Mr. Sensoy, 64, was due to retire next year after a 37-year career in the diplomatic service.

“Sensoy’s tenure in Washington, D.C., was to end in the first half of 2010 due to age limit,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin told reporters in Ankara.

“Sensoy’s request to return to Ankara was approved, and a new appointment will be made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Washington, D.C., in the next several days.”

The Turkish newspaper, Today’s Zaman, and other media outlets reported rumors of a dispute between Mr. Sensoy and Mr. Erdogan as the cause of the ambassador’s resignation.

“There was speculation that there was a brief quarrel between [Mr. Sensoy] and [Mr. Erdogan] over the format of a meeting between the prime minister and [Mr. Obama], leading the ambassador to resign,” Today’s Zaman said.

Mr. Sensoy was one of Turkey’s most senior diplomats. He served as ambassador to Spain from 1990 to 1995 and to Russia from 1998 to 2005. He was ambassador in Washington from January 2006.

MEXICO RECOVERING

Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan says his country is rebounding from the global economic crisis and is expecting a 3 percent economic growth rate next year, even though a major New York credit firm reduced Mexico’s credit rating to two points above junk bonds.

“As the end of the year draws near, there are clear indications that the worst of the slowdown is over and that the Mexican economy is recovering,” he wrote in the Mexican Embassy’s latest newsletter.

“All key variables point in the right direction, even though they are of a smaller magnitude than we would like.”

Mr. Sarukhan said unemployment has returned to below 6 percent and commercial banks are “well-capitalized and regulated.” He noted that they avoided trading in “so-called ‘toxic assets.’ ”

The ambassador tried to put the best light on the decision by two New York firms to downgrade Mexico’s creditworthiness. Fitch Ratings reduced Mexico one notch to BBB status, two points above the high-risk junk bonds. Moody’s rating is Baa, which is similar to Fitch’s.

“Although the challenges are, of course, not over, a path to recovery seems to be opening ahead of us,” he said.

Meanwhile, a professor of political science at Mexico’s Independent Technological Institute said the country’s economy continues to be crippled by crony capitalism and an overreliance on oil exports.

“Saddled with an economic contraction of 8 percent of gross domestic product - higher than any other Latin American country - Mexico is also slipping in the global competitiveness index, lags behind in key social indicators, is being downgraded by investment ratings agencies and faces the prospect of declining oil revenues,” Denise Dresser wrote Wednesday in the Houston Chronicle.

“The global financial crisis thus revealed the Mexican economy’s inability to innovate, promote investment, create jobs or provide conditions for social mobility.”

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

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