US to keep its man in London

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The Independent Online
WASHINGTON - After weeks of more or less discreet lobbying from Britain itself, Bill Clinton has agreed to retain Raymond Seitz as US ambassador to London for another year at least, even though he was first given the post by George Bush, writes David Usborne.

Though not formally announced, the decision to leave Mr Seitz, 52, where he is for the time being was confirmed last night by both US and British officials. A career diplomat from the State Department, he is regarded in London as someone with a serious understanding of British and European affairs.

'We have been led to understand that he will stay for a year anyway,' a British source said. 'It is no secret that he is admired by all the diplomatic community in London and we had been hoping he would be allowed to stay.'

Mr Clinton has acquiesced in retaining Mr Seitz while continuing to replace Bush appointees in other foreign cities. Two days ago, the White House confirmed that Pamela Harriman, the grande dame of the Democrat scene in Washington, is to become ambassador to France.

For Mrs Harriman, 73, the widow of Averell Harriman, a diplomat who was once ambassador to the Court of St James, the Paris job is a barely disguised thankyou from the President for her support for his campaign last year. Once married to Randolph Churchill, she raised dollars 12m ( pounds 8m) for Democratic campaigns from 1980 until last year.

Mr Seitz, who is said to have carefully built his bridges with the new administration, was the first career diplomat ever sent to the London embassy. Immediately prior to being appointed by Mr Bush, he was assistant secretary of state for European affairs.

A tall, silver-haired figure, Mr Seitz reportedly became somewhat embarrassed by the intensity of the lobbying efforts by the Foreign Office and the British embassy on his behalf in Washington and advised that they be toned down.

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