GOOD BASKET CASE
Fourteen years after militias butchered up to 1 million civilians in Rwanda, the name of the East African nation is still associated with the worst genocide since World War II. However, villagers making traditional baskets and other handicrafts are trying to change the image of their nation.
Rwandan Ambassador James Kimonyo marveled at the sight of baskets woven by women in his nation being sold in Washington.
"You're making the baskets in a small house or a small hut and now the basket is in D.C., next to the Capitol. It's incredible," he said last week at a reception for Indego Africa, a U.S.-based charity that is importing crafts from Rwanda for the world market and paying the artisans 100 percent of the profits on their sales.
Mr. Kimonyo said the democratically elected government that replaced the ethnic Hutu regime that incited the massacre of the Tutu minority is working on a long-range plan to "make this nation that suffered a lot into a middle-income country by 2020."
"This country has gone through the most horrible events of recent history," he said.
"We lost one million people, killed because the government decided they had to die. They were not killed because they did anything wrong, other than how God created them."
Mr. Kimonyo noted that the "whole world was watching" in 1994 when the killings raged on for 100 days until Tutsi rebels of the Rwanda Patriotic Front overthrew the Hutu government and stopped the slaughter.
"I want to assure friends and people who are committed to supporting the exciting process of rebuilding a new Rwanda that the government is committed to doing the right things," he said.
"And it's so basic. Just create the government for people, create peace and stability, create opportunities to go to schools, to go to hospitals, to get employment and to develop like other nations."
International foreign-policy experts, including former U.S. Cabinet officials, are bringing a new campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons to Washington this week for meetings with the Bush administration and advisers to President-elect Barack Obama.
"The aim is to get to zero," Richard Burt, an arms-control negotiator for the first President Bush, told the Associated Press.
"If there is growing support by nuclear powers and public opinion worldwide, I think it becomes harder for any government, including Iran, to cross that barrier."
Leaders of the group, called Global Zero, began their campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons within 25 years with a news conference in Paris on Monday.
They will announced their plans in Washington on Thursday at a 1 p.m. news conference at the National Press Club.
In addition to Mr. Burt, the leaders of the anti-nuclear crusade include former President Jimmy Carter, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, former Pakistani Foreign Minister Shaharyar Khan, retired Indian Air Chief Shashindra Pal Tyagi, former British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, British billionaire Richard Branson and Queen Noor of Jordan.
An estimated 20,000 nuclear weapons are held by the Britain, China, France, India, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States. Israel is also thought to have nuclear weapons. As a first step, Global Zero hopes to build support for new negotiations between Russia and the United States to cut 1,000 weapons from their nuclear arsenals of about 5,000 each.
• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail James Morrison.