- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Hello, goodbye

Foreign diplomats in Washington yesterday welcomed the choice of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state and bid farewell to Colin L. Powell, a man they admired as America’s top diplomat for the past four years.

“We know her and respect her,” said Turkish Ambassador Osman Faruk Logoglu. “She is a good listener.”

He said Mr. Powell was well liked in Turkey for his “balance, sense of justice and fairness.”

Mr. Powell “will be remembered for a long time,” Mr. Logoglu added.

Hungarian Ambassador Andras Simonyi called Mr. Powell a “friend of Central Europe and a friend of Hungary.”

He recalled Mr. Powell’s visit to Budapest in July.

“People were hanging out windows to get a glimpse of him,” the ambassador said.

Mr. Simonyi said he expected no change in U.S.-Hungarian relations under a new secretary of state.

Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmy remembered meeting with Mr. Powell to brief him on a visit to the Middle East.

“I asked him if he wanted me to explain what he could expect, and he listened thoroughly. Afterwards he said, ‘Let’s keep this dialogue going,’” Mr. Fahmy said.

“I felt if I needed to convey a message, I would be received and I would be heard at that level,” the ambassador added.

“The past four years have been challenging and difficult ones for U.S.-Middle East relations. Nevertheless Secretary Powell has been an interlocutor who has always been ready to listen.”

Another Arab diplomat, who asked not to be identified, noted that Miss Rice as a woman should have no disadvantage in the Middle East because Madeleine K. Albright, secretary of state under President Clinton, broke the sex barrier as the first woman to hold that position. Miss Rice, who will be the second black secretary of state, will have an advantage because of her race, he said.

“That is a plus because much of the Middle East is in Arab-speaking Africa,” he said. “People in the Middle East can relate to her, and she can relate to them.”

Shutterbug diplomat

The U.S. ambassador to Japan has an eye for detail and a camera always ready to capture the moments that define his life.

Ambassador Howard Baker displayed his photographic talents in an exhibit that opened yesterday at Japan’s Kyodo News Service headquarters in Tokyo.

Kyodo said his photos included “red-crowned cranes in the snow of Hokkaido and monkeys bathing in hot springs.”

Mr. Baker, who has been photographing Japan since arriving there as ambassador in June 2001, said he took up his hobby as a Boy Scout.

He called his photographs “the equivalent of my personal diary because it records my live experiences.”

Speaking at the opening of the exhibit, he said, “I have no illusions that these photographs are works of art, and they are presented only as an example of how I see the world.”

Mr. Baker said he prefers to photograph the countryside.

“Tokyo changes every day before your eyes,” he said, “but the countryside still maintains its Japanese character, its rural character.”

Iraqi in Australia

Iraq’s new ambassador to Australia is a former diplomat who worked in Washington for Saddam Hussein before turning against the dictator.

Ghanim Taha Ahmad al Shibli served in the Iraqi Embassy here during the 1980s and was later was granted political asylum in the United States.

He returned to Baghdad to join the interim government after the U.S. invasion last year.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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