- The Washington Times - Monday, November 27, 2000

Cultural diplomacy

President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright want to put a little culture back in U.S. diplomacy.

They have invited more than 180 cultural and artistic leaders to the White House tomorrow for a daylong conference on how to use cultural issues to advance U.S. foreign policy.

Their guests include Rita Dove, a former poet laureate of the United States, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Wole Soyinka, a Nobel Prize-winning novelist from Nigeria.

"There has been a 15-year decline in support for State Department cultural programs. American ambassadors have called for strengthening cultural exchange programs to help create a stronger base for advancing U.S. interests overseas," the department said in announcing the conference.

"Culture and cultural differences have an impact on many of the international issues we face whether trade, the treatment of women, biotechnology or ethnic conflict and should be considered early on and not in the aftermath of policy development."

The invited participants in the cultural conference will address many "tough" issues including the threat of globalization to cultural diversity, the promotion of remote cultures, the removal of obstacles to artistic exchanges with other nations, and the advancement of culture as a primary diplomatic tool.

Committed to Africa

Susan Rice, as assistant secretary of state for African affairs, considers herself committed to the continent. As a Democrat, she is worried that U.S. policy toward Africa will suffer if George W. Bush becomes president.

On a visit to Africa last week, the political appointee said she hopes the next president will build on the initiatives of President Clinton, who she says was more dedicated to Africa than any previous U.S. leader.

"The next administration should sustain both the increased attention that has been brought to Africa and carry on the two principal goals of our policy integrating Africa into the global economy and combating transnational security threats," she said. "Trade and investment alone will not suffice to help Africa achieve the rate of growth it needs to tackle grinding poverty."

Mrs. Rice believes the future of Africa policy is not fundamentally a conflict between Republicans and Democrats.

"Fortunately, there are enlightened people in both major parties in the United States who understand and are willing to act to advance U.S. interests in Africa," she said.

"The battle we face is not of Republican versus Democrat, but of the indifferent versus the committed."

Dollar for Salvador

The International Monetary Fund is pleased that El Salvador has joined Panama and Ecuador in adopting the U.S. dollar as its legal currency.

The move is part of El Salvador's plan to strengthen its economy, President Francisco Flores said last week when he announced the move.

IMF Managing Director Horst Kohlet said the plan, "if accompanied by the proposed fiscal measures, would build on El Salvador's solid track record of economic reforms and promote rapid economic growth."

Manson on Web site

Diplomats and foreign policy analysts were puzzled when they logged onto the Internet site for the Association on Third World Affairs and found a Web page for 1960s cult figure and convicted murderer Charles Manson.

"We were mortified to discover that a mischievous hacker had inserted a massive Charles Manson Web site into our domain," association Director Lorna Hahn told Embassy Row.

"But now the villain is gone, and you may once again log onto www.atwa.org and reach upstanding people doing outstanding things."

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Bernardo Pericas Neto, Brazil's assistant secretary-general of foreign affairs, who attends a meeting on proposals from the Summit of the Americas.

Friday

• Tadashi Nakamae of Japan's Nakamae International Research, who attends a seminar on U.S. policy toward Japan at the American Enterprise Institute.

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