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Ambassador to resign? Not me, says Strauss

Ambassador Robert Strauss of the United States telephoned The Moscow Times on Monday to deny a Russian television report that he had asked to resign and return to Washington.


Yuri Rostov, the anchorman of Vesti, the main evening television news, had reported on Sunday evening that President George Bush was looking for a replacement for Strauss. Quoting "unofficial sources in Washington", he said that Strauss allegedly wanted to leave the embassy in Moscow "in order to move to a more prestigious post".


"That's a totally inaccurate statement", said Ambassador Strauss, replying Monday morning to questions from the Times about the broadcast. "There's no basis for it that I know of".


Laughing about the incident, the ambassador confided in his West Texas drawl that he did intend to leave town this summer -- "to go to the beach" -- but added, "I'll be back here at the end of August".


Strauss, 73, has impressed Russians with his businesslike approach to their problems as they seek to wrench their country into a new era. He arrived in Moscow on the second day of the coup last August, flying in ahead of schedule to tackle his daunting new job.


The ambassador said Monday that he might head back to Washington in July to lobby Congress on providing foreign aid to Russia if the legislation had not yet been passed. After that, he said, he would go to California on vacation with his wife, Helen.


But he made it more than clear that he intended to stay firmly in his ambassadorial post in Moscow for the foreseeable future.


"I have no plans to leave, and the president has no plans to move me to the best of my knowledge", Strauss said. "I've had no discussions about when I will leave and I have no other plans".

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