- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 26, 2012

Even though prostitution is legal in Colombia, the ambassador from the South American nation still thinks sex-starved U.S. Secret Service agents damaged the reputation of a major resort city by cavorting with hookers during a high-level regional summit this month.

Colombian Ambassador Gabriel Silva also is calling for a stronger apology from the White House, but reporters covering President Obama cannot think of any apology he has issued.

“The U.S. should apologize further,” Mr. Silva said in an interview published Thursday in Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper. “It is necessary, and I want to hear it from the White House. A more clear expression of remorse is required to protect the reputation of Cartagena.”

Twelve Secret Service members were implicated in the scandal involving frolicking with prostitutes on the night of April 11, just before Mr. Obama arrived for the Summit of the Americas.

PHILIPPINES OUTRAGE

The Philippines ambassador this week denounced D.C. Council member Marion Barry for “deplorable,” “intolerant” and “narrow-minded” comments about Filipino nurses working in the U.S. capital.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr., in a statement posted on the Philippines Embassy website, also accused Mr. Barry, who is black, of promoting racism against Asians.

“Councilmember Barry’s penchant for blaming Asians, who only want to work for their American dream, fuels racism, discrimination, and violence,” the ambassador said.

“Such rhetoric does nothing but harm relations among community members, when the times call for developing relationships and finding solutions to common challenges. He owes Filipino nurses an apology for his recent tirade.”

At a city council hearing Monday, Mr. Barry accused D.C. hospitals of “scrounging around” for Filipino nurses, and called on officials from the University of the District of Columbia to recruit more local students to the university’s nursing school.

The ambassador noted that Mr. Barry three weeks ago complained about “dirty” Asian-owned shops in black D.C. neighborhoods.

Mr. Cuisia called on Mr. Barry to apologize to Filipino nurses, but the council member has refused.

RUSSIA ROARS

The Russian ambassador this week denounced a bill linking U.S. trade to human rights in Russia as a relic of the Cold War, and warned of a strong reaction in Moscow if the measure becomes law.

“For us, the Cold War is over,” Ambassador Sergey Kislyak told reporters over lunch at his residence on 16th Street NW.

He warned the White House that the bill sponsored by Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, Maryland Democrat, is seen in Moscow as an attempt to interfere with Russia’s domestic affairs.

“If anything of the type is adopted, there will be significant reaction,” he told reporters.

Mr. Cardin’s bill, which has bipartisan support, is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year-old whistleblower who died in a Russian prison in 2009 after accusing officials of tax fraud.

Magnitsky’s supporters claim prison authorities tortured him and denied him medical treatment.

Mr. Cardin’s bill would ban Russians accused of human right abuses from traveling to the United States.

Passage of his bill is being linked to repeal of a Cold War law called the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which imposed trade restrictions on the Soviet Union because it refused to allow Jewish citizens to leave the country.

The White House is desperate to repeal Jackson-Vanik and create normal trading relations with Russia, but the administration is also reluctant to support the Cardin bill out of fear of angering the Kremlin.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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