- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 14, 2012

Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki has been in Washington for more than four years and has no plans to return to Tokyo until after the U.S. presidential elections.

He can’t wait to see whether President Obama will get four more years or whether Republican nominee Mitt Romney sends him packing from the White House after the Nov. 6 vote.

Mr. Fujisaki told the Brookings Institution last week that he frequently is asked about Japan’s preference in the election.

“I’m always encountered with a question: ‘Which candidate does your country like?’” he said.

Like any good diplomat, he evades the question and says he supports the one who wins.

“It’s like a Christmas gift,” he said. “You don’t say anything until the day you open the box, and then say, ‘This just what I wanted.’

“The only difference is that you can’t get the receipt and go and exchange it.”

Out of retirement

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton coaxed a retired diplomat to take on the dangerous duty of serving as the U.S. envoy in Libya to replace Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed in a terrorist attack on the 9/11 anniversary last month.

Laurence Everett Pope II, who left the State Department in 2000 after 31 years in the Foreign Service, arrived in Tripoli last week to take up his position as charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in the Libyan capital. It is not clear how long he will serve or whether President Obama will nominate him to serve as ambassador.

His appointment “emphasizes the commitment of the United States to the relationship between our two countries and to the people of Libya as they move forward in their transition to a democratic government,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

“We will continue to assist as Libya builds democratic institutions and broad respect for the rule of law — the goals that Ambassador Stevens worked hard to achieve.”

Mr. Pope, who speaks Arabic and French, served as ambassador to the Central African nation of Chad from 1993 to 1996, and was a political adviser to Marine Gen. Charles Zinni, from 1997 until 2000, when Gen. Zinni was chief of the U.S. Central Command.

Mr. Pope is the son of the late Marine Maj. Everett P. Pope, who received the Medal of Honor for service in the South Pacific in World War II.

Terrorists believed to be associated with al Qaeda killed Mr. Stevens and three other Americans in a coordinated attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city and the flashpoint of the revolution last year that overthrew dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

In another diplomatic development, the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq arrived in Baghdad last week.

Ambassador Stephen Beecroft presented his diplomatic credentials to President Jalal Talabani and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Thursday.

Mr. Beecroft was President Obama’s second choice to fill the position, after his initial nominee, Brett McGurk, withdrew his name after the revelation of racy emails he sent to former Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon when both were serving in Iraq on earlier assignments. They now are married.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:


• Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi of Hungary, who delivers the keynote speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace on the 56th anniversary of the pro-democracy uprising in Hungary in 1956. On Friday, he addresses the Council on Foreign Relations.

• Efraim Halevy, former director of the Israeli secret service Mossad, and of the Israeli National Security Council. He addresses the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email [email protected] The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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