Clinton's man for London post

With the British general election over and the Clinton administration slowly assembling its second-term appointments, a close associate of the president has been mooted as the next US ambassador to London, to succeed William Crowe. The name in the frame is that of Philip Lader, currently head of the Small Business Administration that dispenses millions of dollars worth of government money and advice to American entrepreneurs.

Mr Lader, at 51, is a Clinton contemporary, a fellow southerner, and something of a political soulmate - he and his wife, Linda LeSourd Lader, started "Renaissance Weekends", the New Year policy discussions attended regularly by the Clintons. In Bill Clinton's first term, Mr Lader was deputy chief of staff at the White House.

Like Mr Clinton, Mr Lader is a graduate of Harvard law school and also spent two years at Oxford (Pembroke College, where he is an honorary fellow). Before taking up his first White House appointment, as deputy director for management, he was briefly president of Australia's first private university.

Mr Lader's age, his successful business career - mainly developing leisure complexes - and his policy interests seem to equip him well to represent the US in New Labour Britain.

The one question mark over his political loyalties might be his seven- year sting as executive vice-president of Sir James Goldsmith's US holding company, GOSL Land and Assets Management. His single attempt to enter politics, when he stood for the governership of his native South Carolina, came to nothing.

The White House would not confirm or deny Mr Lader's likely nomination yesterday, but a colleague of his at the Small Business Administration confirmed that he had been approached about an ambassadorial appointment, but did not know which. British diplomatic sources in Washington could not confirm his nomination either, but they noted he had been to dinner with the ambassador in recent weeks and described him approvingly as having "strong links with Britain".

t Reuters (Washington) - State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns is expected to be named US Ambassador to Greece, administration officials said yesterday.

Mr Burns, 41, was being considered as ambassador to the Czech Republic but that posting was not going to be available until 1998, while the Greece posting is available later this summer, officials said.

One source said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had pushed hard for Mr Burns' appointment to Athens. She has said that the dispute between Greece and Turkey about Cyprus is among the regional problems on which she wants to focus.

Mr Burns has been State Department spokesman since January 1995. He was appointed by the then Secretary of State Warren Christopher and has been serving Ms Albright temporarily until she names a permanent spokesman, expected to be James Rubin, one of her closest aides. Before his appointment as spokesman, Mr Burns, a career diplomat, was senior adviser at the National Security Council on Russia and other former Soviet states.

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