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Germany welcomes Timken industrialist



Published: Thu, July 21, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The former manager of Timken Co. awaits Senate confirmation.

BERLIN (AP) -- The German government has expressed no concern that the Ohio industrialist nominated as U.S. ambassador to Berlin lacks diplomatic experience and is a big Republican donor.

President Bush has nominated William Robert "Tim" Timken Jr. for the prized diplomatic post. Timken served as Ohio finance co-chairman for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004 and was one of the elite class of "Rangers" who raised more than $200,000. Ohio proved to be the key state in winning Bush's re-election.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jens Ploetner said the German government looks forward to working with Timken and was not concerned about his lack of experience or ties to the Republican Party.

"That is a decision of the president of the United States to be confirmed by the Senate and which we respect," Ploetner said.

Timken, 66, serves as executive chairman of the board of the Canton, Ohio-based Timken Co., an alloy steel and bearings manufacturer that employs 26,000 worldwide and had sales of $4.5 billion last year. He became chairman after retiring from day-to-day management of the company at the end of 2003.

Timken does not speak German, company spokeswoman Denise Bowler said. Neither did Daniel Coats, the previous ambassador to Germany whose term ended earlier this year.

Timken's great-grandfather, company founder Henry Timken, was born in Bremen, Germany, in 1831, and the family immigrated to the United States in 1838.

Commendations

Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett has known Timken for more than 30 years and said he is highly deserving of the ambassador post. Bennett disagreed with the assessment that Timken lacked diplomatic experience.

Timken would be taking over as ambassador at a sensitive time in U.S.-German relations. Ties between Berlin and Washington were strained by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. The two governments have since moved to repair relations.

The nomination, announced Tuesday, must be confirmed by the Senate. If confirmed, Timken will be required to resign from the Timken board, the company said in a news release.

Timken, a graduate of Stanford University and the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, will not give interviews until after the Senate makes a decision, Bowler said.

Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thinks Timken will do an outstanding job, said the senator's spokeswoman, Marcie Ridgway. Voinovich likes Timken's familiarity with the international business scene and his interpersonal skills, Ridgway said.




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