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After belittling former Philippines President Corazon Aquino, the former U.S. ambassador in Manila described her son, the country’s current president, as bashful and timid.

Ambassador Kristie Kenney, who often put a smiley face on her public diplomacy, proved to be a shrewd analyst of the Filipino power structure in private cables sent to the State Department, according to several classified diplomatic dispatches released over the weekend by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Ms. Kenney, now ambassador to Thailand, described Benigno Aquino III in unflattering terms in a January 2010 cable when Mr. Aquino, then a Philippines senator, met with the U.S. envoy during the last presidential election campaign.

“Previous contacts with Senator Aquino, often accompanying his mother, left the impression of a diffident, unassertive man continuing a political tradition handed on by his parents but not craving his own legacy,” Ms. Kenney wrote.

She said he was “vague on specific policies [that] he would pursue if he won office.”

Ms. Kenney credited Mr. Aquino with having a “relatively clean [political] record with no baggage of scandals.”

In another cable, she noted that Mr. Aquino sounded “confident, energetic” when he announced his campaign for president in September 2009.

However, she added: “It remains unclear whether Aquino can turn his shy, reserved qualities into strengths.”

Ms. Kenney outraged Philippines officials last week when WikiLeaks released a cable in which she criticized Mrs. Aquino, whom many Filipinos revere as an icon of democracy because of her leadership of protests that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the 1980s.

Kristie Kenney’s criticism of our champion of democracy was most unfortunate,” said Foreign Minister Alberto del Rosario, adding that the ambassador was a “dismal failure” during her tenure in Manlia from 2006 to 2010.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Tuesday

• Hannes Androsch, chairman of the Austrian Council for Research and Technology, who holds an 8:30 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club to discuss Europe’s financial crisis.

Wednesday

• Baktybek Beshimov, a former member of parliament in Kyrgyzstan, who addresses the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University on progress and unrest in the Ferghana Valley in Central Asia.

• Maria Damanaki, the European Union’s commissioner for fisheries and maritime affairs, who holds a 9 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club to discuss a U.S.-EU agreement on combating illegal fishing on the high seas.

• Osvaldo Hurtado, former president of Ecuador, who discusses democracy and the rule of law in Ecuador at a briefing at the Inter-American Dialogue.

• Enrique Garcia, president and chief executive officer of the Development Bank of Latin America; Marisa Glave, a member of the Lima, Peru, city council; Paula Moreno, former minister of culture of Colombia; former foreign ministers Gustavo Fernandez Saavedra of Bolivia, Guillermo Fernandez de Soto of Colombia and Juan Gabriel Valdes of Chile; and Matias Walker, a member of Chile’s national legislature. They address the 15th annual Development Bank conference.

Thursday

• Finance Minister Fernando Lorenzo of Uruguay; Vice President Rafael Alburquerque of the Dominican Republic; Maria Emma Mejia, secretary-general of the Union of South American Nations; and Didier Mercier of the French Development Agency. They address the second day of the conference of the Development Bank of Latin America.

• Hernan Lorrain of the Independent Democratic Union and Juan Pablo Letelier of the Socialist Party of Chile, who address the Inter-American Dialogue on recent unrest in Chile.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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