- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 4, 2010

‘Yo-yo’ diplomacy

The Pakistani ambassador hopes recent political and military cooperation between his country and the United States signals an end to the “yo-yo” diplomacy that has long marred the bilateral relations.

“The United States and Pakistan have not had an easy relationship, but a strategic one,” Ambassador Husain Haqqani told guests at a dinner reception this week at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington.

“We are the most allied of allies one day and the most sanctioned of allies another. We want to see this yo-yo relationship come to an end.”

Pakistan was the key to opening U.S. relations with communist China during the Nixon administration, when Henry Kissinger, then national security adviser, made a secret trip to Beijing through Islamabad in 1971, and then sank to renegade status in 1985, when Congress approved the Pressler amendment, which cut off aid to Pakistan because of its developing nuclear weapons program. Today, Washington once again considers Pakistan a strategic partner, this time in the war against terrorism.

As the Pakistani army sweeps through its lawless border area with Afghanistan to crush Taliban terrorists, the United States is awarding its South Asian ally with laser-guided bombs and F-16 fighter jets.

“Pakistan and the United States are putting extremist leaders from Afghanistan out of business,” Mr. Haqqani said.

The United States also has approved a bill sponsored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, and Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, to spend $7.5 billion on civilian development projects in Pakistan.

The United States is also promoting better relations between Pakistan and India, two nuclear-armed rivals that have fought three wars against each other. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is due in Washington on April 12 for a nuclear security summit. The Times of India reports that President Obama plans to host talks between Mr. Singh and the leader of the Pakistani delegation, expected to be either President Asif Ali Zardari or Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The United States and Pakistan, “despite the difficulties of the past, will be able to build a better future, … overcoming our doubts and suspicions of each other,” Mr. Haqqani said at his reception for a visiting group of members of Pakistan’s Parliament.

He praised the latest cooperation between “the Muslim world’s newest democracy and the world’s oldest democracy.”

Libya irked

Libya is outraged by something someone said at the State Department about the mercurial Libyan strongman, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, but is not identifying the offending comments or the offending official.

Nevertheless, the Libyan Foreign Ministry on Wednesday demanded that an undefined “measure” be taken over whatever was said and against whoever said it or else Washington would suffer from a “negative impact” from Tripoli.

“If no measure is taken, that would have a negative impact on political and economic relations between the two countries,” the state-owned Jamahiriya News Agency (JANA) reported.

The JANA dispatch left the Reuters news agency reporter in Tripoli searching for a cause for Libya’s distress. The JANA story said the scornful remark followed a fiery speech Col. Gadhafi made last week when he called for a “jihad” against Switzerland, which arrested one of his sons on assault charges two years ago and then dropped the case.

The best Reuters reporter Salah Sarrar could figure was that the Foreign Ministry was referring to a reaction to the speech from State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who compared Col. Gadhafi’s remarks to his rambling speech last year at the United Nations.

“It just brought me back to a day in September, one of the more memorable sessions of the U.N. General Assembly that I can recall. Lots of words and lots of papers flying all over the place, not necessarily a lot of sense,” Mr. Crowley said Friday.

Hong Kong Young

Stephen M. Young, a native Washingtonian and former head of the U.S. mission in Taiwan, will take over as the U.S. consul general in Hong Kong later this month.

Mr. Young, a career diplomat since 1980, served as director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) from 2006 to 2009 and as ambassador to Kyrgyzstan from 2003 to 2005. His most recent position was as a faculty member of the National Defense University’s Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington.

Congress established the AIT as part of the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979 to continue informal diplomatic contacts with Taiwan after the United States recognized communist China.

King in Geneva

After 13 months without an ambassador to key U.N. organizations based in Switzerland, the United States filled the position when Betty E. King presented her diplomatic credentials in Geneva.

Ms. King, who has a management background in philanthropic organizations, has had experience with U.N. agencies under President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush. She served as U.S. representative to the U.N. Economic and Social Council under both administrations.

She replaces Warren W. Tichenor, a political appointee of Mr. Bush’s who resigned as ambassador after President Obama’s inauguration.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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