- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NIGERIAN WITHDRAWS

The man named to serve as Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States withdrew from the position over the weekend after reports in Nigeria that the State Department declined to accredit him because his son is facing rape charges in Baltimore.

Tunde Adeniran, a respected university professor with a diplomatic career spanning more than 20 years, said he was stepping down for “personal and family reasons.”

His decision came after reports in the Nigerian media and in Embassy Row earlier this month that his 19-year-old son, Adedamola, was arrested in August and charged in connection with the gang rape of three women in Baltimore. He was charged with two other Nigerian men, who all lived in Baltimore. The suspects are being held without bail.

In Nigeria, the Foreign Ministry told reporters on Sunday that Mr. Adeniran submitted a letter of resignation to President Umaru Yar’Adua through Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe.

“Professor Adeniran attributed his action to personal and family reasons,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Joe Keshi.

On Saturday, AfricaNews.com reported that the United States rejected Mr. Adeniran because of his son’s legal troubles but that Nigerian authorities were “making frantic efforts” to persuade the State Department to reverse its decision.

Several members of the Nigerian Senate Foreign Affairs Committee told the Vanguard newspaper that they were embarrassed by the controversy and would not have confirmed Mr. Adeniran if they had known about his son’s arrest.

“It is actually a very, very embarrassing situation to the professor, himself, as well as to the country,” said Sen. Abubakar Sodangi.

AXIS OF PERIL

A former Latin American ambassador is trying to alert U.S. opinion leaders to the dangers of the growing relationship between Iran and Venezuela, accusing the two countries of supporting terrorism and raising questions about Venezuela’s suspected aid to Iran’s nuclear weapons’ program.

“I find it remarkable that Venezuela’s growing alliance with [Iran] has not garnered more attention in the U.S. media or among U.S. officials in Washington,” Ambassador Jaime Daremblum wrote in a new analysis of what he called the “chief threat to stability in the Western Hemisphere.”

“Think about it,” he added. “The government of an oil-rich strategically significant country in the heart of Latin America [Venezuela] has embraced the world’s leading terror sponsor [Iran], as it works to build nuclear weapons, and members of that same government have directly aided terrorist organizations. … We ignore that relationship at our peril.”

Mr. Daremblum noted that Iran and Venezuela have frequent flights between the countries’ capitals and have growing banking interests. Venezuela, with about 50,000 tons of uranium reserves, has allowed Iran to “operate suspicious factories in rural, sparsely populated” areas, he said.

“The mere prospect that the Iranians could be conducting illicit nuclear activities in Latin America is highly alarming,” Mr. Daremblum said.

Both countries are known to support the Arab terrorist group, Hezbollah, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, he added.

Mr. Daremblum, Costa Rica’s ambassador in Washington from 1998 to 2004, is now director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Hudson Institute.

DIPLOMATIC DEFINITION

“A diplomat these days is nothing but a head waiter who is allowed to sit down occasionally.” - Peter Ustinov (British actor)

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

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