- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 19, 2006

Faces of Americans

Indonesia’s new ambassador to the United States says America needs to display the generous side of its nature in foreign affairs, recalling that it won many friends with its quick relief effort after the December 2004 tsunami.

Ambassador Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat told editors and reporters at The Washington Times on Friday that before the massive tidal wave flattened communities and killed tens of thousands of Indonesians, most of his countrymen had formed their opinions of the United States through press reports, especially on the war in Iraq.

“In the past, there was a kind of animosity over the Iraq war,” he told our correspondent Sharon Behn. “But when it came to the tsunami, people said: ‘OK, this is the other face of the United States.’”

The U.S. military was the first group to arrive with desperately needed food and medical supplies in the isolated areas of Aceh, saving many people.

“This is for you to see which face you are going to promote,” the ambassador said, recalling childhood memories of trucks delivering supplies from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“I remember when I was a kid, I lived in a village where constantly a green pickup carried skim milk and distributed it to the children. For me, growing up through that experience, that touched my heart.

“Come with more and more good faces, and our people will choose.”

The ambassador arrived in Washington on Jan. 12 with his wife and two sons. Their eldest daughter, 28, who is married and has one son, did not travel with them. Both the young men are attending U.S. universities.

Swazi democracy?

The ambassador of Swaziland heralded the adoption of a new constitution as proof that the tiny African kingdom ruled by an absolute monarch is finally adopting democratic principles.

Ambassador Ephraim M. Hlophe praised King Mswati III for authorizing the document that establishes separate executive, legislative and judicial systems and proclaims political liberties for the nation’s 1.2 million people.

“Swaziland has been the subject of criticism over the past three decades for failing to have a democratic constitution,” the ambassador said. “I join all my countrymen who celebrate the beginning of a long history of constitutional monarchy based upon universal principles of human rights and democratic governance.”

The king has long been accused of routine violations of human rights and was listed among the world’s worst dictators by Parade magazine last year.

The new constitution, which King Mswati proclaimed on Feb. 8, places the executive powers in the hands of the monarch as head of state. He is to appoint a prime minister and Cabinet, while voters will elect a legislature and decide in a referendum when to introduce political parties into the system. The constitution also guarantees an independent judiciary.

“The constitution anticipates that Swaziland will eventually be a multiparty democracy,” the ambassador said.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Wednesday

• Martin Redrado, governor of the Central Bank of Argentina, who addresses the Inter-American Dialogue.

Friday

• President Antonio Saca of El Salvador, who meets President Bush to discuss the war on terrorism, the spread of democracy, and trade and economic issues.

• Serbian filmmaker Ninoslav Radjenovic, who holds a 12:30 p.m. press conference at the National Press Club to discuss the DVD release of his film “Diplomacy of the Heart,” which focuses on the situation in Kosovo. He will be accompanied by Ambassador Ivan Vujacic of Serbia-Montenegro.

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

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