- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 25, 2004

Shipping safety

The United States made it more difficult for terrorists to sneak a nuclear bomb aboard a commercial vessel by installing special detection equipment in one of Europe’s busiest seaports this week, the U.S. ambassador in Belgium said.

Ambassador Thomas Korogolos and Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders signed an agreement to protect the port of Antwerp with radiation detection devices that will allow officials to discover nuclear material hidden in shipping containers.

The agreement is part of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) “Megaports’ Initiative.”

“The implementation of the initiative in Belgium will not only strengthen security at one of the largest seaports in the world, but it will also help to put a stop to terrorist attempts to use the global maritime industry for malicious purposes,” Mr. Korogolos said at the signing ceremony in Brussels.

NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks added, “The United States and Belgium both recognize the threat posed by the illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials through the global maritime shipping network.”

The agency, part of the Department of Energy, installed a similar system earlier this year in the Dutch port of Rotterdam.

Swede to U.N.

Swedish Ambassador Jan Eliasson is scheduled for a major change of duty when he is elevated to the presidency of the U.N. General Assembly next year.

Mr. Eliasson was unanimously endorsed by the U.N. regional group of European nations, which is scheduled to take over the rotating presidency when the General Assembly convenes in September. The General Assembly routinely approves the choice of the regional group that will assume the presidency.

Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds said her country is honored to be chosen to preside over the 60th session of the assembly, calling it a “complicated and challenging assignment.” She said Mr. Eliasson will be the first Swede to serve as president.

Mr. Eliasson also will chair the annual summit of world leaders who attend the opening of the General Assembly.

Mr. Eliasson, ambassador here since September 2000, previously served at the United Nations as undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs. He is also a former Swedish state secretary for foreign affairs.

Heavy baby

The spokesman for the Austrian Embassy had something special for which to be thankful yesterday.

Christoph Meran and his wife, Marie-Charlotte, are the proud, if exhausted, parents of a baby boy, who weighed in at 9 pounds, 6 ounces when he was born Sept. 29.

“I am the proud father of a heavy, heavy boy,” Mr. Meran said of his son Johannes Maximilian.

He has also noticed that the demands of parenthood overshadow those of a diplomat.

“The nights are shorter,” he said, alluding to early morning wake-up calls from a hungry baby. “This is my first baby, and I’ve learned that when they cry, they are either hungry or bored or something is in their Pampers.”

Arabian weekend

The wives of Washington’s Arab ambassadors will host a charity bazaar Sunday in Georgetown.

The 8th annual Arabian Bazaar will feature jewelry, hand-embroidered linens, ornate throw pillows, traditional Middle East clothes and Arab sweets.

The bazaar, which has a $5 admission, will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

More information is at their Web site (www.mosaicfound.org).

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

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