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July’s Calm Disrupted by Stormy Events

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2006 at 6:49 pm

July’s Calm Disrupted by Stormy Events
July’s Calm Disrupted by Stormy Events

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/13/AR2006071301
658.html

Past Columns by Nora Boustany | RSS Feed | World Headlines
July’s Calm Disrupted by Stormy Events
By Nora Boustany
Friday, July 14, 2006; Page A18
In mid-July, Embassy Row usually quiets down as occupants retreat to their
home capitals to sip lemonade in the shade or escape to a favored vacation
spot. But Washington’s diplomatic world was in the grip of high drama this
week with the resignation of Colombian ambassador Andrés Pastrana and the
Lebanese government’s decision to recall its ambassador, Farid Abboud .
Abboud was recalled after provoking anger in Beirut with remarks on CNN
about the seizure Wednesday of two Israeli soldiers by the Lebanese Shiite
militia Hezbollah and its demands for a prisoner swap. The kidnapping south
of the Lebanese border triggered a massive retaliation in which Israel
bombed main runways at Lebanon’s international airport, shelled fuel tanks
and imposed a sea blockade. Dozens of people were killed.

When asked by CNN international anchor Michael Holmes why Lebanon would not
return the soldiers to Israel to halt the military escalation, Abboud
replied: “Because we have Lebanese prisoners detained by Israel.”
“We have our prisoners, they have prisoners. An exchange would be
appropriate, and I think it will resolve the problem,” Abboud said,
according to a transcript of his comments. He insisted, however, that his
call for negotiations rather than war to resolve the issue represented the
government’s position.
Information Minister Ghazi al-Aridi said in a statement: “The Council of
Ministers decided to ask its Foreign Minister to recall Lebanon’s ambassador
in Washington (Farid Abboud) immediately, due to irresponsible declarations
conflicting with the government and its policies.” The cabinet communique,
issued after an emergency session Wednesday, disavowed any link to the
Hezbollah operation and said it “had no knowledge of, and would not claim
any responsibility or adopt what has happened and what is happening along
the international border.”
Reached by telephone yesterday, Abboud said he had not been officially
notified by his foreign minister, who is traveling, but that he would leave
if asked. He also said he had sent a transcript of his comments to the
Foreign Ministry for closer review and argued that he was representing the
views of some Lebanese who are supportive of Hezbollah’s role in southern
Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Pastrana flew to Bogota, Colombia, early Monday to protest
President Á lvarez Uribe ‘s appointment of former president Ernesto Samper
as ambassador to Paris. After two rounds of discussions with Uribe, one
lasting 2 1/2 hours, Pastrana resigned, according to a spokesman at the
Colombian Embassy.
Pastrana, also a former president, told journalists outside the presidential
palace late Tuesday that it was “morally impossible to accept and defend”
Samper’s nomination if officials in Washington sought his opinion on the
matter, but that it was up to the president to “weigh the consequences” of
his decision.
Samper was banned from traveling to the United States after a judicial
commission conducted an inconclusive inquiry into intercepted conversations
about an alleged $5 million contribution from drug cartels to his 1994
campaign. Samper and Pastrana are bitter political rivals.
Uribe accepted Pastrana’s resignation and minutes later announced that his
foreign minister, Carolina Barco , would assume the diplomatic post in
Washington. Uribe said in a statement that Samper had declined the Paris
appointment to protect Colombian interests. Instead, Maria Angela Holguin ,
Colombia’s ambassador to the United Nations, will go to Paris.
Samper turned down the job in a letter in which he said he had considered
accepting it and attacked Pastrana for creating a “crisis with clear
international implications.” Some Colombian commentators criticized Uribe’s
move to rehabilitate Samper, an old friend from the Liberal Party, and
explained that the president was seeking to cater to the Liberal Party’s 30
percent share of seats in the legislative assembly.
Barco, the daughter of Virgilio Barco , who was president from 1986 to 1990,
has an American mother and is already on cordial terms with Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice and President Bush .
Hong Kong Envoy Also Departing

Also leaving, albeit somewhat more gracefully, is Jacqueline Willis , Hong
Kong’s commissioner for economic and trade affairs to the United States. She
will depart next week after 7 1/2 years as her government’s senior
representative in North America.

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