- The Washington Times - Monday, August 13, 2001

Just moving on
Czech Ambassador Alexandr Vondra bid farewell to the United States, a country he came to love almost as much as his homeland during his four years as Prague's envoy in Washington.
He and his wife, Martina, their son and two daughters will miss the life they created here, with friends, school, Little League and jazz lessons, Mr. Vondra said.
"We will all miss America, a great, beautiful and friendly country," he wrote in his last column in the Czech Embassy newsletter.
Quoting Baltimore baseball great Cal Ripkin, Mr. Vondra said, "I'm not leaving. I'm just moving on."
At the end of the month, the ambassador will take up a position in the foreign ministry as the commissioner for the preparation for next year's NATO summit in the Czech capital.
"It is time to go home," he said. "Despite all of our sentiments, I will go back to Prague with joy and satisfaction. We can be proud of what we have achieved in Czech-American relations over the past decade.
"We are allies in NATO. Business in booming. Czechs in America and at home have found a common language, and, finally, I have found the opportunity to regain and refresh my sense of idealism."
Mr. Vondra is an outspoken defender of the United States. "In the current world, America is often criticized as a hyperpower who does not listen to others. With all due respect to those critics, my experience has been different."
Mr. Vondra expressed his thanks to congressional supporters, "my American friends from both sides of the aisle."
"Without their support, we would not be here," he said.
Mr. Vondra also thanked Czech-Americans for their "heroism, good will and continuing support," Czech President Vaclav Havel for appointing him and his embassy staff for their hard work.

Nigeria's drug war
The U.S. ambassador to Nigeria praised that African nation's efforts to combat drug smuggling and released a $150,000 aid package to help train Nigerian police.
Ambassador Howard Jeter spoke last week at the dedication of the country's National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Academy.
He noted that Nigeria has been plagued with drug smugglers and organized crime, even though it is not a major drug-producing country.
"The drug war needs specialized training," he said.
Mr. Jeter said the United States is "committed to the global fight against drugs." He called for a "collective effort to end the destructive trade."
The aid package from the State Department's bureau of international narcotics and law enforcement includes computers, fax machines, fireproof safes, generators, radios and vehicles.
It also includes training in combating financial and economic crimes and international fraud.
The State Department has recognized efforts by President Olusegun Obasanjo to combat drug crime and change Nigeria's image as a worldwide hub for drug smuggling and money laundering.
"Before this government came in, Nigeria had been criminalized, humiliated and degraded in the community of nations because of the involvement of a few greedy Nigerians," Vice President Atiku Abubakar said at the academy opening. "It was almost a crime to be a Nigerian abroad because we all became suspects.
"The commissioning of this academy today is a testimony to the fact that we want to distance ourselves very far from the ugly past," he added.

Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Spanish tennis star Alex Corretja, who holds an 11 a.m. news conference at the Spanish Embassy, 2375 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, to discuss the 2001 Legg Mason Tennis Classic, which begins Saturday.
Zhaksybek Kulekeev, minister of economy and trade of Kazakhstan, who will meet officials at the State and Commerce departments and other agencies to discuss accession to the World Trade Organization and other issues.
Inam-ul Haque, foreign secretary of Pakistan, who discusses Pakistani foreign policy with guests of the Woodrow Wilson Center.

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