- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

Reagan remembered

Diplomats from countries once threatened or occupied by communism lost a friend when former President Ronald Reagan died Saturday. They called him a hero who ended the Cold War and liberated their nations from tyranny.

“President Reagan was a very good friend of Afghanistan,” Afghan Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad said yesterday, recalling the military aid Mr. Reagan authorized to help Afghan fighters in their resistance to the Soviet occupation in the 1980s.

All along Embassy Row yesterday, diplomats praised Mr. Reagan, and many rearranged schedules to attend Friday’s state funeral.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador here since 1983, is the only diplomat still serving in Washington who presented his credentials to Mr. Reagan.

“President Ronald Reagan will be remembered by people around the world as a great leader. It is my personal privilege to remember him also as a great friend,” Prince Bandar said, as he offered condolences to Mr. Reagan’s family “on behalf of myself and the people of Saudi Arabia.”

He added that he has witnessed “firsthand the full extent and impact of his legacy.”

“The strength of his vision and character changed the world for the better, and the memory of his life will inspire other great leaders of the future,” he said.

Russian Ambassador Yury Ushakov canceled a Friday reception “in observance of the national mourning” for Mr. Reagan, the Russian Embassy said.

Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah canceled an appearance at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies to join Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Group of Eight summit today in Sea Island, Ga.

The two Afghans plan to return to Washington for the funeral, fly to California later Friday for a scheduled meeting with Afghan Americans and then rush back to Washington on Monday for Mr. Karzai’s scheduled visit.

An event Thursday night at the Romanian Embassy suddenly became more timely. Ambassador Sorin Ducaru is sponsoring a reception for the authors of “The Curtain Rises: Oral Histories of the Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.”

“It’s taken on a new significance,” said Ron Shapiro, who along with his wife, Susan, wrote the book based on interviews with grass-roots leaders who described their everyday struggles against communism.

“Reagan was instrumental in his stubborn” opposition to communism, and the result was freedom for half of Europe, Mr. Shapiro said.

Ambassadors Martin Palous of the Czech Republic, Andras Simonyi of Hungary, Vygaudas Usackas of Lithuania and Nikola Dimitrov of Macedonia are hosts of the reception.

Joseph Edsel Edmunds, the former ambassador from Saint Lucia, said Mr. Reagan’s liberation of Grenada “saved the eastern Caribbean from a takeover” by Soviet-backed agents.

He remembers Mr. Reagan as a “very warm person” who greeted him, his wife, Lucy Mohammed-Edmunds and their two children, Anton and Sebastian, when he presented his diplomatic credentials at the White House in 1984.

“He made us feel very, very much at home,” he said, recalling how Mr. Reagan embraced his two sons. Mr. Edmunds cherishes the photo of them with Mr. Reagan’s arms around their shoulders.

Mr. Edmunds, who retired in 1998 as the deputy dean of the diplomatic corps and is now an international consultant living in suburban Maryland, credited Mr. Reagan’s intervention in Grenada with thwarting Soviet-backed plans for an island-hopping takeover of the Caribbean.

His own country foiled a coup when authorities discovered a secret arms cache that had been stored for use by an invasion force.

“This intervention saved the democracies in the Caribbean,” Mr. Edmunds said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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