Canton Repository

Aug. 6, 2005

W.R. Timken Jr. preparing for post as ambassador

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON — W.R. “Tim” Timken Jr., the recently confirmed ambassador to Germany, has been preparing for his upcoming assignment through intensive briefings designed to equip him for one of the nation’s most important diplomatic posts.

“He’s (been) meeting with people in the government that work on German issues, and so that involves the whole gamut of things from the Commerce Department to intelligence agencies,” said a Bush Administration official who spoke on condition he not be identified.

“There are a lot of very senior people that want to see him and talk to him because of the important responsibilities that he’s assuming,” the official said.

Timken, who resigned as chairman of the Timken Co. effective Aug. 14, is expected to relocate to the American embassy in Berlin later this month.

Once there, he must go through a required procedure involving the formal presentation of his credentials to German President Horst Kohler before he can take up his duties as ambassador.

Officials said there is little doubt that his credentials would be accepted, since the German government approved his appointment as ambassador even before President Bush nominated him for the post July 19.

Timken has been instructed not to give any interviews until his credentials have been accepted.

As the largest economy in Europe, Germany is a key to the United States’ critical transatlantic alliance.

The former chief executive officer and president of the Timken Co. told senators during his confirmation hearing that his priorities include improving the tattered diplomatic relationship with Germany, the safety of Americans in Germany and promoting increased trade between the two nations.

Timken, 66, whose great grandfather Henry Timken immigrated to the United States from Germany, does not speak German. But he has expressed great interest in learning the language, according to those familiar with his preparations.

“He’s gone and talked to the people at the language school” in Washington, the official said. “He’s gotten a series of books (on German). But we’ve been setting up a whole series of meetings for him here in the government, and it’s just hard to find any spare time.”

Timken also must resign as chairman of the Securities Investor Protection Corp., a federal agency charged with maintaining investor confidence. Bush appointed him to head the organization, his first position in the federal government, two years ago.

Shuttling back and forth between Washington and his hometown of Canton, Timken has been working hard to get up to speed on Germany, the official said.

“He’s learning a lot; he’s a fast learner. He’s reading a lot, a mountain of materials,” he added.

Timken has been a key supporter of Bush and other Republicans in government. He qualified for elite “Ranger” status for raising more than $200,000 for the president in the 2004 campaign.