- The Washington Times - Monday, January 9, 2006

Tending the garden

Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato thinks of his country’s relations with the United States as a garden that needs careful planting and weeding.

Mr. Kato, in his New Year’s message, noted that the ties between the two countries are among the strongest of any nations in the world, but he refused to settle for the status quo.

“I often use the metaphor of gardening to describe our bilateral relations,” he said. “In order for these bilateral ties to bind us together into the future, it is of great importance both parties continue to water plants, prevent fertile soil from turning arid, trim branches and tend to the garden patiently.”

Mr. Kato said his New Year’s resolution is to promote greater growth of U.S.-Japanese ties, “refusing simply to be satisfied with the current good relations.”

He recalled that 2005 marked the 150th anniversary of a treaty that established U.S.-Japanese diplomatic relations and the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II that brought the destruction and rebirth of his nation.

“These anniversaries have provided me with a number of occasions to reflect on Japan-U.S. relations, and such reflection has brought me to one conclusion. It is vital not only for our national interest but also for the peace and prosperity of the world that Japan and the United States, which share the values of freedom and democracy, take a lead role as the most important and equal partners in addressing issues confronting the international community,” he said.

On economic issues alone, the United States and Japan account for about 40 percent of the total world output of goods and services, he said.

“The continued healthy growth by two major economic powers … significantly benefits the global economy,” Mr. Kato said.

Czech outreach

The new ambassador from the Czech Republic inherited a fortunate legacy from his predecessor who built strong contacts in Washington over the past four years.

Ambassador Petr Kolar, who arrived here last month, praised the former envoy, Martin Palous, in the recent edition of the Czech Embassy newsletter.

Mr. Palous “became quite famous in Washington for his personal charm and his passion in advocating issues of importance, such as democracy and human rights,” Mr. Kolar said.

Mr. Palous helped build Czech-U.S. relations to heights that rival most other East European nations’ ties with Washington. However, Mr. Kolar noted one mission that remains incomplete.

The new ambassador plans to create a vigorous “people-to-people” exchange between Americans and Czechs.

“This is the best way, in my view, to get to know each other and make the relationship really personal,” he said. “I find this task rather challenging.”

The strength of the relationship was best expressed by President Bush when he received Mr. Kolar’s diplomatic credentials on Dec. 2.

Mr. Bush recalled that the Czech Republic has built a strong democracy and free-market economy over the past 16 years since the rejection of communism.

The Czech Republic “stands as an example to the world,” he said.

Mr. Bush also noted the Czech government’s strong support for democracy in Cuba, which included meetings between Czech prime ministers and former Cuban dissidents, and the Czech government’s push for the European Union’s sanctions against Cuba.

“The Czech Republic has demonstrated courage and resolve in its noteworthy efforts to support the Cuban people’s dream of living one day in a free and prosperous Cuba,” he said.

Kuwaiti alliance

The U.S. ambassador to Kuwait during the 1991 occupation by Iraq is the new executive vice chairman of the American-Kuwaiti Alliance, the group announced yesterday.

Ambassador Edward Gnehm “brings to the alliance significant experience in international affairs and diplomacy through the Middle East,” the alliance said. He is also a former ambassador to Jordan and Australia.

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

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