- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2000

No endorsement

Tired of reading about the election dispute in Florida? How about one in Romania?

U.S. Ambassador Jim Rosapepe is angered over a film clip in a television commercial that he believes gives the impression he is supporting one of the candidates in Romania's Nov. 26 presidential election.

"The clip is made in such a way as to leave viewers with the impression that the ambassador is supporting the candidacy of Mr. Isarescu," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement, referring to Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu.

"We wish to make clear that the United States does not involve itself in the internal political affairs of Romania."

The embassy insisted that Mr. Isarescu stop using the clip showing the prime minister with the ambassador at the opening of a U.S. investment project in a town north of the capital, Bucharest, last week.

Saatchi and Saatchi, the London-based advertising agency handling Mr. Isarescu's campaign, said the embassy is overreacting.

"We didn't use the image of the U.S. ambassador for electoral purposes," Radu Florescu, Saatchi and Saatchi manager for Romania, told the Reuters news agency. "Both men were in the picture, and it's difficult to clip one out."

Helmets for Vietnam

U.S. Ambassador Douglas "Pete" Peterson is worried about the children of Vietnam riding around on bicycles and motorbikes without crash helmets

An average of 16 children die every day in accidents related to those vehicles. Mr. Peterson is determined to do something to reduce that death rate this week during the three-day visit of President Clinton, who has eagerly endorsed a project sponsored by the United Nations to put helmets on those young heads.

"We are very, very worried about you getting hurt riding your bicycles or riding with your parents on your family motorbike," Mr. Peterson told children at a Hanoi primary school where the program started yesterday.

"Today, right now, somewhere in Vietnam, a child your age is going to die because they did not wear a helmet," he said.

The helmet campaign of the U.N. Children's Fund will be opened in other schools this year. It also seeks to promote the local production of inexpensive helmets.

The United States is providing "several million dollars" to support the project, Mr. Peterson said.

"Our objective is to put a helmet on every single child's head," he told reporters.

Costa Rican Christmas

Costa Rican Ambassador Jaime Daremblum has opened his annual Christmas campaign for the poor children of his Central American nation.

The Costa Rican Embassy is soliciting toys, clothing and other presents as part of program begun by Costa Rican first lady Lorena Clare de Rodriguez.

"The campaign also serves to support rehabilitation and educational programs aimed at reinserting children and young people with disabilities into the mainstream of society," the embassy said in announcing its collection drive.

The embassy is also sponsoring a Christmas concert, featuring the Washington-based World Children's Choir. It will perform Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. in the Andres Bello Auditorium of the Inter-American Development Bank.

The performance is free and open to the public, but the embassy is asking for a donation to the Christmas campaign.

For more information on collection centers in the Washington area, call Rocio Echeverri, the embassy coordinator, at 202/238-2287.

Finnish honor

Martti Ahtisaari, former president of Finland, is the winner of this year's J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding.

Mr. Ahtisaari, a diplomat for 30 years, was selected for his "tremendous contributions to international peace and understanding," said former Rep. Lee. H. Hamilton, chairman of the Fulbright Association's award committee.

"He has played a central role in bringing independence and peace to Namibia, helping to resolve the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, and, most recently, mediating the difficult conflict in Northern Ireland," said Mr. Hamilton, an Indiana Democrat.

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