- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2000

Brainy Bahraini

Bahrain Ambassador Muhammad Abdul Ghaffar is rewriting Adam Smith.

The 18th-century economist and father of modern capitalism believed the wealth of a nation could be counted in its stocks and goods, Mr. Ghaffar noted at a recent Bahrain Embassy reception.

"In today's world, the true wealth of a country is determined by knowledge and human capital," he said.

The ambassador quoted an old Arab saying: "The acquisition of knowledge is compulsory, a duty that each human being must fulfill, from the cradle to the grave."

Mr. Ghaffar promoted the concept of lifetime learning at a reception for 28 business executives from his Persian Gulf country who had completed a monthlong training course designed by the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance and the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business.

"The goal of this annual course is to produce visionary leaders by developing cutting-edge management and leadership skills," he said.

Mr. Ghaffar said the successful person never stops acquiring knowledge. He praised the United States as a leader in the concept of continued learning.

"Education and learning will lead nations to greater riches and productivity," Mr. Ghaffar said. "We must take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves to us in order to better ourselves and improve our ability to successfully compete and grow."

Molly Williamson, principal deputy assistant secretary at the Commerce Department, discussed business opportunities in the Gulf region. She urged investment in energy, the environment, infrastructure, health, high technology and tourism.

"Many American businesses do not realize the huge potential of establishing themselves in this region," she said.

OAS mourns Coverdell

The death last week of Sen. Paul Coverdell was widely mourned as a loss for the U.S. Senate, where he was praised as a wise, hard-working lawmaker who could pull both parties together.

But to the Organization of American States, the death of the Georgia Republican was a loss for the entire Western Hemisphere.

OAS Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria said the organization had a friend in Mr. Coverdell, who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Western Hemisphere issues.

"During his seven years in the U.S. Senate, the senator built an effective working partnership with the OAS in the effort for a more peaceful and democratic hemisphere. He was a strong, effective friend and supporter of the organization," Mr. Gaviria said in a statement.

"Sen. Coverdell realized that, as the regional international organization for the Western Hemisphere, the OAS was best qualified to assist in the consolidation of democracy, the settlement of disputes and the control of illegal drugs."

Mr. Gaviria, a former president of Colombia, took office at OAS headquarters here about the same time Mr. Coverdell won his election to the Senate in 1992.

"This allowed us to get to know each other and to work on a number of important hemispheric issues," Mr. Gaviria said.

"Sen. Coverdell's experience and knowledge of hemispheric affairs will be difficult to replace."

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Tomorrow

• Brajesh Mishra, India's national security adviser and principal aide to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He holds a news conference at 4:30 p.m. at the Indian Embassy.

• Slovak Defense Minister Pavol Kanis, who meets Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

• Rimantas Dagys, deputy speaker of the Lithuanian parliament, and Emanuelis Zingeris, chairman of the parliament's human rights committee.

Wednesday

• Philippine President Joseph Estrada, who meets President Clinton. He is on a 10-day visit to the United States.

Thursday

• Jan A. Kregel of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development. He will release a report on "Capital Flows and Growth in Africa" at a 9 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club.

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