- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 11, 2005

Embassy aid

Ambassadors found unique ways to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina — as the Hungarian envoy announced plans for a concert co-sponsored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Canadian ambassador played host to an outdoor benefit breakfast at the Canadian Embassy.

Hungarian Ambassador Andras Simonyi, who plays electric guitar, is organizing a Sept. 28 benefit at the House of Blues in Cleveland, home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The concert will feature Mr. Simonyi’s band, “The Coalition of the Willing,” which includes Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, a former member of the rock bands Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers who is a missile-defense adviser to the Pentagon; Alexander Vershbow, the new U.S. ambassador to South Korea, on drums; Lincoln Bloomfield, a former assistant secretary of state, on bass guitar; Daniel Poneman, a former National Security Council official; and Jim Ehinger, a professional keyboard player from New York. Mr. Simonyi, who has lectured about the liberating influence of rock music behind the Iron Curtain, said Hungarians and his colleagues in the diplomatic corps “have been deeply shocked by the devastation” in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

“This concert … is a reminder that Americans have friends who will stand by them in moments of hardship,” he said.

Tickets at $25 for general admission and $50 for VIP admission are available on the House of Blues Web site (www.hob.com/cleveland) or through Ticketmaster. The higher-price tickets provide better seats and a reception with the band. All proceeds will go to the American Red Cross.

Canadian Ambassador Frank McKenna raised money for the Red Cross with a breakfast on the plaza of the Canadian Embassy last week.

“You are our friends, and together we are family. You do not suffer alone,” he said, recalling how Canadians assisted Americans stranded by the cancellation of flights after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and how Americans aided Canadians during the severe ice storms of 1998.

“In forest fires, floods and natural disasters, Canadian and Americans help each other,” he said.

The Red Cross received additional diplomatic generosity last week when Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen presented a check from his government for $5 million to Red Cross President Marsha Evans,and Sri Lankan Ambassador Bernard A. B. Goonetilleke donated $25,000 from his government to Red Cross Senior Vice President David Meltzer.

Mr. Sen called the donation a “token of sympathy, support and solidarity” from the people of India, and Mr. Goonetilleke said his government made the donation to thank the United States for its help during the Dec. 26 tsunami.

Pakistani Ambassador Jehangir Karamat announced last week that his government will donate $1 million in cash and $500,000 in goods to the hurricane victims. He also established a Katrina Response Task Force to raise money for the estimated 2,700 Pakistanis who lived along the Gulf Coast. The fund can be reached on the embassy Web site ([email protected]).

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic, who addresses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the new free-trade agreement with the United States.

• Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari of Iraq, who holds a 4 p.m. press conference at the National Press Club.

• Antonio Maria Costa, director-general of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, who discusses terrorism, drug smuggling, human trafficking and money laundering at a 10 a.m. press conference at the National Press Club.

Thursday

• Mariann Fischer Boel, European Union commissioner for agriculture and rural development, who addresses the European Institute.

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

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