- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2008

Diplomatic primary

Foreign diplomats will get an up-close and personal look at American politics when they travel to New Hampshire tomorrow for three days of briefings, polling updates, campaign rallies and voter forums before the Granite State holds the nation’s first presidential primary on Tuesday.

“Our diplomats are very excited. We’ve gotten them into places other people could only envy,” George Bruno, a former U.S. ambassador to Belize and an organizer of the trip, told Embassy Row yesterday.

Along with a dizzying schedule of events open to all New Hampshire voters, the 11 diplomats from nine nations will attend a VIP reception and dinner with the Democratic presidential candidates tomorrow and a brunch with the Republican candidates on Sunday.

They also will get briefings from Carl Cameron, the Fox news political correspondent; Bill Schneider, CNN’s senior political analyst; and top New Hampshire pollster Andy Smith.

Mr. Bruno, a Democrat who served during the Clinton administration, said the New Hampshire primaries “are nothing less than the pre-eminent showcase of grass-roots American democracy.”

“This is the main event,” Mr. Bruno added, noting that another group of diplomats attended a CNN candidates debate in June.

Mr. Bruno and his colleagues, Dick Swett, a former ambassador to Denmark under President Clinton, and Betty Tamposi, a former assistant secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush, organized the visit as part of their Diplomatic Observer Program to help explain the complex U.S. electoral system to foreign officials.

“We are going all out to provide as full and unvarnished a view of American retail politics as possible,” said Mr. Swett, who also served two terms as a Democratic congressman from New Hampshire.

“Every four years, world attention focuses on New Hampshire’s primary, as it kicks off the U.S. presidential election. The stakes are high, and America’s leadership is on display, both at home and abroad.”

The diplomats traveling to New Hampshire are: Ambassadors Audrius Bruzga of Lithuania, Pekka Lintu of Finland and Friis Arne Petersen of Denmark; Fahad Kafoud, charge d’affaires at the Embassy of Qatar; deputy chiefs of mission Orla O’Hanrahan of Ireland, Angela Shim of Brunei and Askar Tazhiyev of Kazakhstan; political counselors Peter Potman of the Netherlands and Xinxia Wang of China; and second secretaries Saija Nurminen of Finland and Salmaya Rahayu Salleh of Brunei.

Death in Yemen

The Embassy of Yemen today opens a book of condolences for those who wish to pay respects to a man considered one of the greatest revolutionaries in the Arabian Peninsula.

Sheik Abdullah al-Ahmar was speaker of the parliament at the time of his death Saturday at age 74, the embassy said yesterday. Chief of the largest tribal confederation in Yemen, he was also leader of the main opposition party, the Yemeni Alliance for Reform.

The Yemeni Observer newspaper remembered Sheik al-Ahmar as the “greatest revolutionary” in the uprising against the former monarchy in the 1960s that established a republic in the former North Yemen. He was also instrumental in unification talks in the 1990s with southern Yemen, which gained independence from Britain in 1967.

Hundreds of thousands of mourners marched in his funeral procession Monday in the capital, San’a.

The book of condolences will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and tomorrow at the embassy, 2319 Wyoming Ave. NW.

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

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