- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Summer vacation

Some went on vacation, but most ambassadors spent their summers traveling throughout the United States to promote their countries or to learn about this one.

The summer also saw some dramatic changes on Embassy Row.

Washington’s most senior foreign ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia, resigned in July after more than 20 years, sparking speculation that he will return to assume a top position in the Saudi government. He insisted he quit for personal reasons.

One of Washington’s newest ambassadors, Hong Seok-hyun of South Korea, also resigned in July after five months in Washington. He was brought down by a domestic political scandal.

Some other ambassadors, including Indonesia’s Soemadi Djoko Moerdjono Brotodiningrat, ended their tours in the United States. One ambassador traveled to Poland and visited the former Nazi concentration camps, while others went to Iowa.

Diplomats from more than 70 countries accepted an invitation from Iowa Republican Charles E. Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, to enjoy some Midwest hospitality.

One Iowa reporter noted that the visitors included diplomats from Armenia to Yemen. Their tour included stops from Amana to Waverly, with Des Moines and Dubuque in between. They also visited the Iowa State Fair and had lunch hosted by the Iowa Turkey Federation.

Ambassador Andras Simonyi of Hungary said he enjoyed visiting the John Deere factory in Waterloo and the appliance manufacturer in Amana.

The tour was the 10th one organized by Mr. Grassley, who first brought diplomats to Iowa during the farm crisis in the 1980s.

“They see firsthand Iowa’s beautiful and rich land and learn about the top-notch businesses that we have in our state,” Mr. Grassley said. “These visits allow the diplomats to be immersed in Iowa values and friendships, which they often report to me is the highlight of their trip.”

Romanian Ambassador Sorin Ducaru traveled to Vermont in July to attend the biennial National Reunion of Adopted Romanian Children, many of whom were rescued from dingy orphanages after the fall of the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Mr. Ducaru proposed that the next reunion be held in Romania.

John Bruton, ambassador of the European Union, took his son to Poland, where they visited the concentration camp sites at Auschwitz and Birkenau and the museum in Krakow that used to house the headquarters of the Gestapo secret police.

“We saw the cells in which the Polish resistance [fighters] were tortured to death,” he said in his message this month on the eurunion.org Web site.

“Polish resistance to the Nazis was unequaled anywhere else in Europe. No Poles could be found to staff a collaborationist regime, and the Polish resistance was active from the very beginning of the Nazi occupation, when the Axis [forces] seemed totally invincible.”

Now ambassadors are preparing for a busy season that will begin next week with the visits to Washington by Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Bombing condemned

The Free Muslims Coalition called on other American Islamic groups to stop excusing Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians, as it condemned the weekend suicide bombing in Israel.

“Carving out an exception for Palestinian terrorism because the Palestinians have a just cause is morally wrong and dangerous,” said Kamal Nawash, president of the coalition.

“It is dangerous because every group thinks its cause is just, and if we make an exception for terrorism against Israelis and Jews, then everyone will want an exception for his case.”

Mr. Nawash said Muslims who kill Jews and Christians “can just as easily murder other Muslims.”

“In fact, Islamist terrorists have begun terrorizing other Muslims all over the world,” he said.

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

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