Former secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger, the new chairman of a 12-person bipartisan presidential commission on Central America, has named U.S. Ambassador to Argentina Harry Shlaudeman as the panel's executive secretary, an embassy spokesman said here today.
Shlaudeman, a seasoned Latin American diplomat and an ex-Marine, left this afternoon for Washington from Ezeiza International Airport, the embassy said. There was no immediate word about who would replace him.
In a statement released to the press, the 57-year-old envoy, who previously worked with Kissinger as assistant secretary of state for Latin American affairs during the Ford administration, said he was "very honored" by the appointment, adding he was "highly delighted" to work with his former boss again.
Shlaudeman expressed his "regret" for having to leave Argentina, "especially at this moment when the country is returning to democracy."
Before coming to Argentina in 1980, Shlaudeman served as ambassador to Peru and Venezuela, and has held diplomatic posts in the Dominican Republic and, from 1969 to 1973, in Chile. He has also served as the head of the State Department's Central American and Caribbean section.
Since his arrival here in November 1980, the soft-spoken, low-profile Shlaudeman has received mixed reviews from Argentine officials, human rights activists and others.
When the envoy arrived in Argentina, United States foreign policy under President Reagan was beginning to tilt away from the activist approach to human rights issues that characterized the Carter administration. At the same time, responding to Reagan administration overtures, the Argentine military was reported to be willing to send troops to El Salvador and weapons to the rest of the "front-line" nations of Central America.
Shlaudeman, who was a key player in the shuttle diplomacy of former secretary of state Alexander M. Haig Jr. during the Falklands war, became in the process a target of Argentine criticism for the United States' support of Britain in that conflict.
Press reports published here today before the announcement of Shlaudeman's new post said that the envoy would be considered persona non grata by any incoming constitutional government, in part for his role in the Falklands conflict.
Shlaudeman has been criticized by human rights activists for what is perceived to be a weakening of U.S. commitment to Argentine rights issues. Rights activists complain that under Shlaudeman interest in rights issues seemed to wane and that direct contacts with the ambassador were very few.