- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Gandhi and King

Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen called Martin Luther King “an apostle of peace and human dignity,” as he compared the American civil rights leader to Mohandas K. Gandhi, India’s legendary advocate of peaceful civil disobedience.

Mr. Sen noted that King was inspired by Gandhi, who protested British colonial rule, as the ambassador hosted the Indian Embassy’s first King birthday reception over the weekend.

“Dr. King’s legacy was close to the hearts of the people of India,” Mr. Sen said, as he recalled the 1959 visit to India by King and his wife, who were guests of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister.

“Indians gathered in multitudes to greet Dr. King wherever he went and were inspired and entranced by his message of universal brotherhood,” Mr. Sen added, calling King an “apostle of peace and human dignity.”

The ambassador said King’s famous “I have a dream” speech in 1963 “would resonate in the ears of generations to come.”

Mr. Sen announced that the Indian Council for Cultural Relations will sponsor an annual lecture to honor both King and Gandhi.

Also at the reception, James Speight, president of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Day Committee, called on his fellow black Americans to honor King by working to rid their neighborhoods of violence.

Ohio Civil Rights Commissioner Nirmal Sinha read a message from Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, who praised Mr. Sen for hosting the reception.

“Our nation grows stronger each year thanks in part to events such as this,” Mr. Taft said. “Those in attendance here today are a living testament that Dr. King’s dream is still alive.”

Leaving Taiwan

Douglas H. Paal, the unofficial American ambassador to Taiwan, will resign later this month after 3 years, the U.S. mission there announced yesterday.

“Paal will return to the private sector,” an American diplomat told Agence France-Presse in the capital, Taipei.

Mr. Paal will step down next Wednesday from his position as director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which maintains informal diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the United States.

A Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said, “We thank him for his contributions to the promotion of bilateral ties.”

The AIT was established in 1979, after President Carter broke diplomatic ties with the island and established relations with the communist government on the Chinese mainland.

China considers Taiwan a renegade province and has threatened to use military force to prevent Taiwan from formally declaring independence. Taiwan effectively has operated as a sovereign nation since 1949 when Chinese nationalists fled there after losing a civil war to the communists.

Embassy dedicated

The United States yesterday dedicated a new, $60 million embassy in Cambodia in the heart of the capital, Phnom Penh.

The diplomatic compound “symbolizes the very best of the Cambodian-American cooperative spirit,” the embassy said.

Ambassador Joseph A. Mussomeli praised the Phnom Penh government for its cooperation in helping finish the project ahead of schedule in December.

“Phnom Penh is one of the most beautiful cities in Asia, and we are grateful that the Cambodian government has made available such a prestigious site for our new embassy,” he said.

“From start to finish, the cooperation with the Phnom Penh municipality and Governor Kep Chutema has been fantastic.”

The embassy — at 1 Street 96, Sangkat Wat Phnom — sits on 6.2 acres of land. Its design meets security requirements imposed after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, but also reflects an appealing architectural design, unlike the bunker look of many U.S. embassies.

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

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