- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2000

Toasting 'Sir' Wesley

British Ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer was having none of that American nonsense over titles when he proposed a toast to retired Gen. Wesley Clark, recently knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

"I'm told never refer to you as 'sir' because your knighthood is honorary," Mr. Meyer said at a dinner last week at his diplomatic residence.

"But this is our house. I'm the ambassador and, just for tonight, I ask you to drink to General Sir Wesley Clark."

The dinner guests, who included Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger, complied.

Gen. Clark is one of a few foreign military leaders to be declared an honorary knight commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Other Americans who have received the honor include Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired Adm. Leighton W. Smith and retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf.

Mr. Meyer said Gen. Clark's knighthood was bestowed in recognition for his service as supreme allied commander of NATO and his leadership in the Kosovo bombing campaign.

"This was a campaign you won and won decisively," Mr. Meyer said.

The ambassador noted that as they dined last week, Yugoslav voters were prepared to vote President Slobodan Milosevic out of office.

"Tonight as we gather here, we know that a majority of the Serbian people have voted to remove Milosevic and his regime," Mr. Meyer said. "Serbia stands at a crossroads."

Mr. Meyer also noted that Gen. Clark is a former Rhodes scholar. A day earlier, the ambassador held a dinner for 70 Americans heading to Britain on Rhodes or Marshall scholarships.

He said he wished he could have combined the two dinners "to show young Americans through your example that two years at a British university can be a stepping stone to real greatness."

Fedora for Africa

Pop singer Michael Jackson is tipping his hat to help raise money to fight childhood AIDS in Africa.

The legendary showman has donated one of his fedoras, which he autographed, and a limited-edition poster for an auction tomorrow night at the annual gala of the African Ambassadors' Spouses Association (AASA).

Actor Danny Glover and singer Mary Wilson of the Supremes are expected to join the spouses of ambassadors from 51 nations at Washington's J.W. Marriott Hotel.

President Clinton will be honored for his efforts to help Africa, although it was uncertain last week whether he would attend the event.

Fatou Ba-Diarrah, wife of Mali Ambassador Cheick Oumar Diarrah and president of the spouses association, said Mr. Clinton would be honored "for his role in bringing Africa to the forefront of political discourse, for being the first sitting U.S. president to conduct official state visits to several African countries and for his work toward the successful passage of the Africa Trade and Development Act."

The association also will honor AIDS activist Precious Thomas and Alphadi, a noted fashion designer from Mali.

"Africa has many scourges," the association said in a statement. "Disease, war, poverty and starvation are overtaking our countries. AASA members … have put aside cultural and political differences to unite behind a common cause the betterment of the African continent."

Tickets for the gala, which includes a silent auction, a fashion show and dinner, begin at $200. Reservations can be made by calling 202/388-4470.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Tahsin Ertugruloglu, foreign minister of the self-styled Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, who meets Washington policy analysts to discuss the status of the U.N. talks on Cyprus.

Tomorrow

• Oleg Dyomin, governor of Kharkiv Oblast of Ukraine, who addresses invited guests at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

• A parliamentary delegation from Kazakhstan, which includes Sen. Gul'zhana Dzanpeisovna, chairman of the economy, finance and budget committee.

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