US Embassy quashes report of Harriman quitting Paris

The United States embassy in Paris has "categorically denied" that the ambassador, the British-born aristocrat, Pamela Harriman, is resigning her post or leaving France. The denial follows a series of reports that Ms Harriman, whose arrival in Paris as an appointee of President Clinton raised eyebrows in diplomatic circles, was standing down or had already left France.

To support its denial, the US Embassy took the unusual step of disseminating an internal memo, sent to all embassy staff when the first reports of her supposed resignation appeared. It says, in capital letters: "The Embassy of the United States in France would like to clarify that Ambassador Harriman is still in Paris and will remain at her post indefinitely. The duration of the mission for all American ambassadors is at the pleasure of the president of the United States."

While there can be no doubt that Ms Harriman is in Paris, has not resigned, and apparently has no intention of leaving before the end of Mr Clinton's first term as president, the wide currency given to reports of her resignation raise questions about the degree of support the 76-year-old ambassador enjoys in Washington, and specifically at the State Department. When it was pointed out that the initial reports of her departure came from Washington, a US embassy source in Paris said: "Washington is a hive of speculation and rumour and Ambassador Harriman has enemies like everyone else."

One of the first Paris reports of Ms Harriman's departure appeared in last week's Paris Match magazine, which showed a picture of Ms Harriman receiving an award from the French culture minister under the heading, "Au revoir Madame l'ambassadeur". The caption said that Ms Harriman had left Paris on 17 April and had received the award "to remind her of the city she so loves".

This week's edition carries a grovelling apology, headed: "Pardon, Madame l'ambassadeur." It says: "The ambassador wishes to clarify that she is still at her post in Paris and does not envisage leaving before the end of Bill Clinton's presidency next January. We present our apologies for the erroneous report".

The Washington Post article which fuelled US reports of her imminent departure, quoted Ms Harriman as saying that she would be "ready to go home" after the autumn presidential elections.

She said her time in Paris had been "fascinating, but I've had enough", and she referred to long working days, the "limit to how long you can live a public life" and the difficulties of being single, and a woman in an ambassadorial post: "Many things I do would never be asked of a male ambassador".

The general tone of her remarks, and the fact that she was quoted as referring to the elections, rather than to the end of Mr Clinton's term, or to his possible re-election, permitted her remarks to be interpreted as meaning that she was leaving sooner rather than later.

Whatever the origin of the story, the Paris embassy's determination to scotch the story indicates it has been embarrassed and that Ms Harriman's position as ambassador has been undermined.

The affair comes at a time when the US particularly needs a strong presence in Paris. Relations are going through an awkward phase, with differences in emphasis, if not outright rivalry, on Middle East policy, a year-old dispute about alleged CIA activities in France rumbling on, and a report in the French media yesterday, alleging that a US spy plane had overflown sensitive military installations earlier this year.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

Teaching Assistant to work with Autistic students

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education Leicester ...

KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: KS2 Teacher needed in Peterborough a...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain