People: Shevardnadze paper chase

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SO EXCITED was Eduard Shevardnadze by his first visit to Nato in 1989 that he left secret documents behind in the negotiating room, the former Soviet foreign minister disclosed on a return visit to the Atlantic alliance's Brussels headquarters this week. 'My excitement was so overwhelming I did something utterly unforgivable and left behind all my working papers in the negotiating room,' the Georgian leader told his allies. Among the papers, which were later returned, was a document headed 'Co-operation between Nato and Warsaw Pact,' with a large question mark next to the title. 'This time,' Mr Shevardnadze said, 'I am ready to leave in Nato all of my working papers, without any fear.'

His landmark visit in December 1989 - a month after the Berlin Wall fell - was seen as a clear signal the Cold War was really over.

THE TOP UN official who has been testifying in favour of German participation in international peace-keeping missions, Vladimir Petrovsky, also hails from the era of glasnost and perestroika. Regarded as the force behind Mikhail Gorbachev's embrace of the UN system, he is widely believed to have written the draft of the 1987 speech to the General Assembly in which Mr Gorbachev pledged to co-operate with the West under the UN umbrella, a move that ended 40 years of head-butting in the Security Council. Mr Petrovsky is an under-secretary-general, running the UN Geneva offices.

THE NEW US ambassador to France, Pamela Harriman, will be presenting her credentials to President Francois Mitterrand next Wednesday. Mother of the Conservative MP Winston Churchill, former daughter-in-law of the war-time leader and widow of Averill Harriman, she was posted to Paris in recognition of her services to the Democratic Party.

At a reception in the ambassador's residence this week, Mrs Harriman said she had caused some consternation with the State Department's art works department by deciding to decorate her new home with her own (foreign) pictures, among them a Van Gogh, a Cezanne, a Matisse, a Picasso and a Renoir.

The posting brings Mrs Harriman back to the city where she lived in the 1950s after her divorce from Randolph Churchill.

THE LAST word goes to Mangosuthu Buthelezi, whose own last word on 29 March got him into the Guinness Book of Records. The South African Zulu leader won the distinction as the orator of the longest known speech in history. His marathon address to the legislature of the so-called KwaZulu tribal homeland stretched, in chunks, over 11 days.

(Photograph omitted)

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