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News Briefs II

U.S. Involvement Unwelcome In Greek-Turkish Dispute Over Cyprus

The Washington Post

One of the Clinton administration's most ambitious foreign policy goals -- settlement of the decades-old dispute over Cyprus -- has run aground on a barren rock in the Aegean Sea.

When Greek and Turkish warships faced off last week to enforce rival claims to sovereignty over a 10-acre islet inhabited only by feral goats, administration officials shelved plans to begin this month what they had billed as a major initiative to resolve one of Europe's thorniest problems.

Assistant Secretary of State Richard C. Holbrooke had planned to go to the region next week, his last full week in office, to begin an all-out U.S. diplomatic effort to solve the Cyprus issue, which Holbrooke regards as a threat to the stability of all southern Europe.

But after the territorial dispute over the islet blew up into near-war last week, Holbrooke revised his mission into a tension-defusing effort that would keep the way open for a Cyprus initiative later this year. Then Monday, he scrapped the trip altogether when Greece told him he would not be welcome, apparently because Athens thinks Washington sided with Ankara last week.

The Greek decision was a setback for Holbrooke and other Clinton administration officials, who had promised a major effort to unravel the Cyprus problem in 1996.

"We are committed to a major effort on Cyprus this year," Holbrooke said last week.

O'Leary Follows Energy Department Tradition as High-spending Official

Los Angeles Times

Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary, who has been under fire for her expensive domestic and foreign travel, appears to have followed in a well-established Energy Department tradition, newly obtained documents and interviews show.

O'Leary's two immediate Republican predecessors also took lengthy domestic and international jaunts at taxpayer expense to travel first class. A third former Republican secretary said that, at least during part of his tenure, he, too, flew first class.

To be sure, none of the previous energy chiefs ventured overseas as frequently or for nearly as many days as the globe-trotting O'Leary; nor did they do so with the same high profile. And none undertook the kind of big-ticket trade missions to such destinations as India and South Africa that have earned O'Leary so much scrutiny.

But both Admiral James D. Watkins and John S. Herrington traveled for weeks at a time to such places as Australia, Japan, the Middle East, and Hawaii. Former Secretary Donald P. Hodel used military planes on two overseas trips, and said he flew first class on many domestic flights.

In addition Watkins, who served as President Bush's energy chief from 1989 through 1992, set aside $60,000 under an unusual blanket authorization to travel first class domestically as well as internationally -- and did so on at least 28 occasions. O'Leary has been criticized for nine upgrades to business and first class at public expense; she has repaid the government for seven disallowed upgrades.