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Embassy Row

- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 23, 2011

MAN MEETS MAN

The new U.S. ambassador to Turkey greeted reporters upon his arrival in the capital, Ankara, with an old Turkish saying about reacquainting oneself with old friends.

"Mountain does not meet mountain, but man does meet man," Ambassador Francis Ricciardone said in Turkish at the capital airport last week.

Mr. Ricciardone, a career diplomat with two previous tours in Turkey, added that he and his wife, Marie, herself a former foreign service officer, have "great memories and good friends" in Turkey.

"We look forward to seeing our old friends and making new ones," he said.

Mr. Ricciardone said he intends to make his personal diplomacy the key to his ambassadorship in Turkey, a key NATO ally.

"For both the region and for the United States, Turkey is a very important country. With each passing day, Turkey becomes more influential," he said.

The ambassador most recently served in Turkey from 1995 to 1999 as deputy chief of mission and later as charge d'affaires. He is a former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and to the Philippines and a former director of the State Department's Task Force on the Coalition Against Terrorism.

VATICAN REPAIR

The U.S. ambassador to the Vatican is trying to downplay embarrassing leaks of American diplomatic cables that criticized some top Roman Catholic officials, as he emphasizes President Obama's commitment to good relations with the Holy See.

"What brings us together is far, far, far more than what sets us apart, and I want to focus on that," Ambassador Miguel H. Diaz said in an interview in Rome with the Catholic News Agency.

During his 16 months at the Vatican, Mr. Diaz said, he has seen "significant signs that show the ongoing commitment of this president, the White House and our government in general to fostering and deepening this relationship."

He insisted that the release of U.S. diplomatic cables by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks has not damaged the relations.

One cable mocked Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone as a "yes man," and another criticized the "poor communications culture" at the Vatican.

Mr. Diaz, a Cuban-American and former professor of theology, faced a scolding from Pope Benedict XVI when he presented his diplomatic credentials. The pope expressed his disapproval of Mr. Obama's support for abortion and insisted that health care workers be protected against retaliation if they refuse to assist in abortions.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Monday

• Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh of Jordan, who addresses the Brookings Institution.

Tuesday

Attila Mesterhazy, chairman of the Hungarian Socialist Party, who discusses political issues in Hungary during a briefing at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Wednesday

• Vice President Angelino Garzon of Colombia, who addresses a forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The forum also is sponsored by the Brookings Institution, the Inter-American Dialogue and the U.S. Institute of Peace.

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

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