Is Albright Launching Her Listening Tour?

Feb 28 (TIME)

TIME Notebook: In the Czech Republic, the Secretary State may be preparing for life after the Clinton Administration

It�s getting a little quiet at the White House. Hillary Clinton has moved away to New York and is running for the Senate there. Al Gore moved his campaign to Nashville, Tenn., and has been on the road seeking the presidency. And junior White House aides seem to depart daily for vaunted posts in private business.

Now another top Administration figure is thinking about a new job, but this one is a bit unusual. It is in a faraway land and comes with a beautiful castle with uniformed guards at the gate. The candidate is, if anything, even more surprising: Sources tell Time that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has begun to consider the possibility of running for the presidency of the Czech Republic once the second Clinton term is over. Like a woman who doesn�t want to be seen dating until she is legally separated, she has let it be known to intermediaries that she is interested, but she will not discuss a possible engagement in another country until her current one runs out. �I love my job representing the U.S.,� Albright tells TIME.

Albright�s lips may not move, but her feet are about to do a lot of talking. Next week she will spend three days in the Czech Republic. The official reason is to commemorate the 150th birthday of Tomas Masaryk, the first President of Czechoslovakia, known as the father of Czech democracy. Her schedule could be torn from a page in a presidential campaign. Next Monday she will fly to southern Moravia to receive a gold medal at Masaryk University in Brno; then it�s off to Hodonin to visit Masaryk�s birthplace. Albright is either testing the waters, or Czech-American relations are in need of a lot of TLC. On Day Two of her Exploratory Tour, she lays a wreath at Masaryk�s tomb in Lany, then it�s on to Prague to unveil a statue of the first President in the castle square. Given all the ceremony, Albright is sure to be asked if she would like to follow in Masaryk�s footsteps. �It is not impossible that they will talk about this,� says Pavel Fischer, chief policy adviser to President Vaclav Havel.

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