- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 17, 2011

TWITTER DIPLOMACY

“Good morning, tweethearts!”

That is the diplomatically disarming greeting U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney in Bangkok sends to 20,000 people each day who follow her on Twitter.

She tells them when she has a sore throat or how much she is anticipating her morning coffee.

“For me, it’s a connection … , and it allows people to feel that they can reach out to the ambassador, who is not just a figure hidden in a big building,” she told reporters in the Thai capital.

Ms. Kenney, ambassador to Thailand since January, also tweeted her instant review of the new “Harry Potter” movie, calling it “very good” but also “too dark and violent.” Her embassy blog page with the headline “It’s Me, Kristie” featured a photograph of her in front the theater that debuted the film in Bangkok.

She made the evening news when she took a tandem parachute jump in May. She called the jump a “terrifying” and “not-to-be-repeated adventure.”

The 56-year-old career diplomat, who previously served as ambassador to the Philippines, has embraced social media as a new tool for diplomacy, but some prickly bureaucrats appear to disapprove of her informal ways.

“It’s ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Frankly, after the parachute, one had to wonder what she would do next,” an unidentified “foreign diplomat” told Agence France-Presse.

The London Telegraph also tut-tutted the diplomat.

“The business of high-level diplomacy is a serious one, practiced with great gravitas in hushed tones … and kept behind firmly closed doors,” reporter Ian MacKinnon wrote.

“Not, however, if you are the U.S. ambassador to the kingdom of Thailand.”

RAO RETURNING TO D.C.

India’s foreign secretary, Nirupama Rao, will replace Meera Shankar as New Delhi’s next ambassador to the United States.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash announced the appointment over Twitter on Saturday.

Mrs. Rao is a former Indian ambassador to China and Sri Lanka. She previously served in Washington in the mid-1990s as press minister at the Indian Embassy under Ambassador Siddhartha Shanker Ray.

She is expected to take up her post later this summer. Mrs. Shankar is retiring from the foreign service after her term ends July 31.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Monday

• Dennis Taenzler of Germany’s Adelphi Research and Christian Webersik of Norway’s University of Agder. They discuss climate issues in a forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Tuesday

• Pedro Nikken, a Venezuelan lawyer and president of the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists. He addresses the Inter-American Dialogue about the implications of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s cancer surgery and the outlook for the 2012 presidential election.

Wednesday

• Jurgen Creutzmann, a German member of the European Parliament, who discusses the euro crisis in a briefing at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.

Friday

c Jean Maher,president of the French office of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization, who testifies about the plight of Coptic Christians in Egypt before a hearing of the congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe at 9:30 a.m. in Room 210 of the Cannon House Office Building.

• Sapana Malla, a member of the parliament of Nepal and an adviser to Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal, and Dr. Aruna Uprety, founder of Nepal’s Rural Health and Education Foundation Service. They discuss the role of women in Nepal in a forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email [email protected] The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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