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.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn