- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 15, 2005

Pre-emptive action’

As a young diplomat, German Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger learned something that every American Boy Scout is taught: Be prepared.

On the eve of an important NATO meeting 30 years ago, the German foreign minister realized he could not attend and sent Mr. Ischinger in his place.

“You can imagine how excited I was,” Mr. Ischinger told guests at a Washington celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of Germany’s entry into the Western alliance.

He took a night train from Bonn to Brussels and checked into a Holiday Inn near NATO headquarters.

“The next morning, I was so nervous that I got up at 5:30 a.m. for a meeting at 9:30,” he said.

Mr. Ischinger jumped into the shower and was covered with shampoo when the hotel water main broke. He had to rinse with bottled water from the mini bar, but that was not enough to remove all the shampoo.

“Instead of a well-dressed, neat-looking young German diplomat, somebody who did not look very attractive at all appeared at NATO headquarters that morning, and it took me quite a while to convince the guards at the entrance that I was actually a diplomat,” he said.

Since then, every time he checks into a hotel, he immediately fills up the bathtub just “to be on the safe side,” he said.

“Today,” he added, “that’s what we in the security community call pre-emptive action.”

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, who discusses U.S. aid to Africa in a briefing sponsored by the Brookings Institution.

Tomorrow

• Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Mohamed Nazif, who meets Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley. On Wednesday, he meets President Bush and addresses the Council on Foreign Relations.

• Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s minister for petroleum and mineral resources, and Abdallah Jum’ah, president and chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco. They discuss U.S.-Saudi energy issues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

• Victor Bulmer-Thomas, director of Britain’s Royal Institute of International Affairs, Jairo Acuna-Alfaro of Oxford University in England and Alexander Segovia, a Guatemalan economist with the Central American Economies and Societies at the Start of the 21st Century Project. They discuss the Central America Free Trade Agreement in a forum sponsored by the Inter-American Dialogue.

Wednesday

• Natan Sharansky, former Soviet dissident and former Israeli deputy prime minister, who is promoting his new book, “The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.”

• Two human rights advocates from Belarus — Siarhei Salash, chairman of “Skryzhavanne,” (Crossroads) and Olga Stuzhinskaya, coordinator of the “We Remember” civic initiative. They hold a briefing at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on their efforts to promote democracy.

Thursday

• Bernardo Vega, the Dominican Republic’s former ambassador to the United States, and Elena Viyella de Paliza, a leading Dominican Republic businesswoman. They address the Inter-American Dialogue.

• Barham Salih, Iraq’s minister of planning and development, and Meir Shitrit, Israel’s minister of transportation. They attend the Washington Institute’s 20th annual dinner.

Friday

• Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, who meets President Bush. He is accompanied by Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis and Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos.

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

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