- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 2, 2005

Embassies grateful

Ambassadors from countries hardest hit by last week’s killer earthquake expressed their appreciation to Americans for their generous donations of cash and goods.

Condolence books at the embassies of Indonesia and Sri Lanka, the two nations that suffered the greatest loss of life, will remain open this week.

Sri Lankan Ambassador Devinda Subasinghe held an interfaith service at the embassy last week that included Buddhist monks, a Muslim imam and representatives of the local Christian and Hindu communities.

“Help was forthcoming from the U.S. government and the general public around the country. This tragic event will also provide us with the opportunity to work together past ethnic and religious lines,” the ambassador said.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who visited the embassies last week, said he has never seen a disaster “as serious as this one.”

After signing the condolence book at the Sri Lankan Embassy, he said the United States is committed to the long-term reconstruction of the island nation.

“This has been a very serious blow to Sri Lanka, and the need is great,” he said. “So we will be standing along with our Sri Lankan friends for the long haul in order to deal with this tragedy. … I have been through many similar situations in my career but none as serious as this one.”

The ambassador said the condolence book will remain open today through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon and from 2 to 4 p.m. at the embassy at 2148 Wyoming Ave. NW.

He added that cash donations can be made to the Sri Lanka Disaster Relief Fund at the Wachovia Bank, 1300 I St. NW, 20005. As of Friday, the fund had collected more than $31,000.

Indonesian Ambassador Soemadi Brotodiningrat decided to reopen his embassy’s condolence book, which was closed on Friday. The book will remain open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Indonesian Embassy, 2020 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

“The embassy extends its highest appreciation and welcomes the initiatives of the American people, as well as the Indonesian community in the United States,” he said.

Cash contributions can be made to the embassy’s bank account at the Bank of America, 730 15th St. NW, 20005. The account is 0020-874-82-642.

At the Thai Embassy, Mr. Powell expressed his “sympathy and sincerest condolences” to King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whose grandson, Khun Poom Jensen, was among the victims of the tsunami.

Although the condolence book is closed, cash contributions still can be made to the “Donation Fund” at the Royal Thai Embassy, 1024 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 20007.

Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen said, “The Embassy of India … appreciates your sympathy and support for the people affected by the devastating earthquake and the resulting tsunamis.”

He asked that contributions be made to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund and sent to the head of chancery at the Indian Embassy, 2107 Massachusetts Ave. NW, 20008.

Focus on Darfur

The U.S. ambassador to Kenya is urging the Sudanese government and rebels, who agreed last week to end hostilities, to concentrate on the humanitarian disaster in Sudan’s western Darfur region.

“There won’t be much to celebrate. We will have to go and work on Darfur,” Ambassador William Bellamy told Agence France-Presse.

Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha and John Garang, leader of a rebel force in southern Sudan, worked out their differences in a meeting last week in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. They plan to sign a formal peace accord on Sunday.

The agreement does not cover the separate conflict in Darfur, where government-backed Arab militias have been attacking black African farmers since February 2003.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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