Top US Official: 'Gingrich an Idiot'

Friday, 25 April 2003 03:18 by: Anonymous

Top US State Department Official Calls Gingrich an "Idiot"
Agence France Presse

Friday 25 April 2003

LISBON - A top US State Department official called former congressman and current Pentagon adviser Newt Gingrich an "idiot" in an interview published here.

US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Elizabeth Jones was asked to comment on Gingrich's recent harsh criticism of her department's Middle East diplomacy.

"Newt Gingrich does not speak in the name of the Pentagon and what he said is garbage," US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Elizabeth Jones told the Publico daily.

"What Gingrich says does not interest me. He is an idiot and you can publish that," she added.

Gingrich called on Tuesday for dramatic change at the State Department, which he accused of backing Middle East dictators and undermining the policies of President George W. Bush.

The former House of Representatives speaker also blasted Secretary of State Colin Powell's plan to visit to Syria, which Washington has accused of harbouring fleeing Iraqi leaders and developing chemical weapons.

He said it was "ludicrous" to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad, who Gingrich called a terrorist-supporting, secret police-wielding dictator.

Powell is expected to visit Syria during the first week of May as part of a Middle East tour.

"He is going to Syria because the president wants him to have a frank talk with President Assad about all the issues that worry us, be they terrorist training camps or the need to close the borders to Saddam Hussein's collaborators or the question of weapons of mass destruction," Jones said.

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