Dismay in Israel as US envoy goes home

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The Independent Online
ONE OF America's top diplomats is leaving his job as ambassador to Israel after only six months to help run James Baker's campaign to become the next president of the United States, writes Annika Savill.

Edward Djerejian, a key player in the US Middle East team, has been named director of the Baker Institute at Rice University, Texas, a think-tank closely linked to the former secretary of state.

Though he has yet to declare his presidential intention, Mr Baker is certain to be the leading Republican contender for the 1996 presidency. Mr Djerejian, with whom Mr Baker worked closely under the Bush administration, will be his campaign policy adviser. Insiders expect that, if elected, Mr Baker will make Mr Djerejian his secretary of state.

Mr Djerejian's sudden resignation, which will take effect on 1 August, dismayed the Israeli government. It comes at a crucial time for the Syrian-Israeli track of the peace process.

'I was surprised,' said the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Yossi Beilin. 'It is problematic for us, both in the short term and with regard to Mr Djerejian's important role in the diplomatic process.'

Mr Baker called Mr Djerejian 'one of the finest diplomats I know', adding: 'Ed is capable of anything he sets his mind to.'