- The Washington Times - Monday, January 22, 2001

Chilled but cheerful

Saturday's chill weather and drizzle did nothing to dampen the spirits of the diplomatic corps, who turned out en masse to witness President Bush's inaugural.

"The Americans are in a festive mood, and we join them," Djibouti Ambassador Roble Olhaye, the dean of African diplomats in Washington, told the Associated Press during the ceremony. "It's part and parcel of our work, but more than anything it is fun."

The ambassadors and their wives began the day with breakfast at the State Department. Later they were transported in buses to the Capitol for the swearing-in. They also were invited to a luncheon near the White House, and the bravest took advantage of special seating for the inaugural parade.

Not everyone stayed in the cold, however. Canada's new envoy, Michael Kergin, retired in a rain-slickened plastic poncho to his Pennsylvania Avenue embassy, where 500 invited guests including Newt Gingrich, Pat Schroeder and several Texan VIPs had been invited for lunch and a warm, dry view of the parade.

Pierre Guignard, chief of staff at the French Embassy, took the opposite approach.

"Eight years ago I saw the parade from a law office on Pennsylvania Avenue," he told the Associated Press. "But there is as much fun being in the street as being in a cozy office four or five stories above."

As for the large number of protesters along this year's parade route, that too "is also part" of the American show, Mr. Guignard said.

The newest ambassador to attend the event was Juan Jose Bremer of Mexico, who presented his credentials to the State Department last week, rather than wait to present them to President Bush, who already enjoys warm relations with Mexican President Vicente Fox.

The ambassador on Friday passed along a message to outgoing President Clinton from Mr. Fox conveying the Mexican leader's "best wishes for [Mr. Clinton's] success in his future activities."

Philippine diplomacy

The leadership at the Philippines Embassy already has changed hands in response to the resignation of Joseph Estrada, the scandal-plagued president who stepped down over the weekend as the military and his own Cabinet deserted him.

Ambassador Ernesto Maceda has been replaced by Ariel Abadilla, the deputy chief of mission who represented the Philippines at the inaugural ceremonies on Saturday.

Mr. Maceda is on "terminal leave," according to a statement issued by the embassy staff.

The statement did not explain what that meant, but apparently the ambassador has resigned.

A government spokesman in Manila had announced last week even before Mr. Estrada's resignation that Mr. Abadilla had been named charge d'affaires.

"The staff of the Philippines Embassy in Washington believes the will of the Filipino people is manifest," said a statement read by Jose Ebro, a former press spokesman at the embassy… .

"Given his inability to effectively govern, we now recognize the constitution succession of Vice President Gloria Arroyo.

"We stand in solidarity with the Filipino people's desire to uphold the principle of good governance and the values of democracy."

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Vincent Siew, former premier of Taiwan and current vice chairman of the Nationalist Party, who speaks on trade and investment and the relationship between Taiwan and China to invited guests at the American Enterprise Institute.

• Ki-ho Lee, senior economic adviser to South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who discusses Korean economic reforms with invited guests at the American Enterprise Institute.

Tomorrow

• Ivan Bilas and Mykhailo Ratushnyi, members of the Ukrainian parliament, who discuss legislative reform issues with invited guests at the International Republican Institute.

Thursday

• Canadian Foreign Minister John Manley, who meets Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Friday

• Ethiopian Trade Minister Kassahum Ayele, who discusses his trade mission to the United States at a 9 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club.


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