- The Washington Times - Monday, May 29, 2006

Go fly a kite

The kite was a symbol of defiance in Afghanistan among many who hated the brutal Taliban regime, which declared the hobby a violation of Islam and severely punished those caught flying one.

In Washington, dedicated supporters of a free Afghanistan see the kite as a symbol of hope, especially for thousands of Afghan street children.

French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte hosted the annual kite gala at the French Embassy earlier this year to raise money for the Aschiana Foundation, which supports the homeless children.

“The cause of all children is sacred throughout the world, but Afghanistan is a special case,” he said. “The country was destroyed by the Soviet military occupation and then by the rule of the Taliban.”

Our correspondent Gail Scott reported that the ambassador also expressed pride in the French troops in Afghanistan, who are part of the NATO peacekeeping force. However, he added that all efforts will be futile unless Afghanistan can feed, shelter and educate the street children.

“Nothing will last unless we give the next generation, boys and girls, an education, and, first of all, hope,” he said.

Afghan Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad praised the guests for their help.

“We truly appreciate this support for education and for Afghan children,” he said. “You are investing in education and our children, and this is the most important and valuable investment that Afghanistan and the international community can make in order to build a new Afghanistan and to strengthen a civil society there.”

Marie Kux, who founded the U.S. wing of the foundation, said the foundation has helped up to 7,000 children in the past 10 years. Aschiana, which means “the nest” in Afghan, funds training centers and outreach programs in the capital, Kabul, and other cities.

“In aiding Aschiana, we, as individuals, are showing the power of compassion and awareness of our social responsibility, realizing we are all at risk if we do not help one another,” she said.

First lady Laura Bush sent a message of support.

“The Aschiana Foundation has already brought help and hope to thousands of the working street children of Afghanistan, and I applaud their many successes,” she said.

Sister republics’

The new Swiss ambassador emphasized the shared heritage of his country and the United States, which he said are often called “sister republics,” when he presented his diplomatic credentials to President Bush.

“Our two countries share a long-standing history of friendship and good relations that arises as much from similarities in their approach toward the world as from differences in their respective size and background,” Ambassador Urs Ziswiler said in the White House ceremony earlier this month.

“If Switzerland and the United States of America are sometimes referred to as ‘sister republics,’ it is because the exchanges connected with the political organization and structure of our countries are unusually deep.”

Mr. Ziswiler noted that Switzerland modeled its federal institutions after the United States and that Americans were inspired by the Swiss tradition of direct democracy when the founders drafted the Constitution.

The ambassador also said Switzerland shares many of the United States’ foreign policy goals.

“My country, too, has to confront the challenge of issues related to combating terrorism, weapons proliferation and other threats,” Mr. Ziswiler said.

The ambassador previously was the second-highest official in the Swiss foreign service as head of the political directorate in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

He served as joint ambassador to Canada and the Bahamas from 1999 to 2004 and has held posts in the former Yugoslavia, Argentina, Israel, Congo, Nigeria and Norway.

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


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