- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 4, 2009


British reporters covering the visit of Prime Minister Gordon Brown continue to fret over whether President Obama really cherishes the “special relationship” between the United States and Britain.

“Mr. Brown might lament that … Britain is now getting the same treatment as the president of Uruguay,” Tony Harden of the London Telegraph wrote Monday, after a promised press conference between Mr. Obama and Mr. Brown was cancelled because of snow.

He noted there are “132 rooms in the White House, at least some of which, presumably, are currently free of snow.”

Mr. Brown got his Oval Office meeting with Mr. Obama on Tuesday. The Associated Press reported in a brief dispatch that the president really cherishes the relationship between the two countries and said any claims to the contrary are “misguided.”

Before the visit, some British reporters were worried that Britain was losing its clout because Mr. Obama returned a bust of Winston Churchill to the British Embassy. Britain loaned the bust to the White House after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

They also feel Britain is slighted by Mr. Obama’s reported plans to nominate an elderly political fundraiser to serve as U.S. ambassador to Britain.


Alexander Vershbow could not sit through a performance by Russian and U.S. jazz musicians without playing a set on the drums.

The former U.S. ambassador to Russia, known as “Sandy” to his friends, was back in town last week, as he tapped out the rhythm with Russian saxophonist Igor Butman at the Russian Embassy in Washington.

Mr. Vershbow, a retired career diplomat who most recently finished three years as ambassador to South Korea, was a regular drummer with former Hungarian Ambassador Andras Simonyi, who formed a diplomatic rock ‘n’ roll band called the Coalition of the Willing.

The performance at the Russian Embassy included U.S. and Russian musicians playing what they called fusion music, which combined jazz and classical styles.

The guests included William Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia and now undersecretary of state for political affairs, and our correspondent, Barbara Slavin, assistant managing editor for world and national security news at The Washington Times.

After the music, as guests nibbled on smoked salmon and creamed mushrooms, the conversation turned to foreign policy. Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak noted that U.S.-Russian relations are in a post-Bush thaw, but he expected improvements when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week in Geneva.


President Obama will reconnect with his Irish roots when he meets Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen at the White House on St. Patrick’s Day.

Mr. Cowen is expected to present Mr. Obama with a bowl of shamrocks, the traditional gift from an Irish leader to an American president every March 17.

“The celebration of our national day in the White House is a great tradition which reflects the enduring friendship between Ireland and the United States,” Mr. Cowen said in Dublin, announcing his visit to Washington.

In addition to Kenya, which claims an Obama connection through his father, Ireland found that his great, great, great grandfather on his mother’s side was one Fulmouth Kearney from the Irish town of Moneygall.

Scotland also claims a bit of Obama heritage through a 17th-century Scot, Edward Fitzrandolph, who immigrated to America, and through an ancient connection to a 12th-century king, William the Lion.

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

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