“None of this would have been possible without the kind of training we received from the United States and ‘Plan Colombia.’ It absolutely made the difference and our defense minister wanted to thank America and the Congress on behalf of all Colombians,” Mrs. Barco explained, noting that she also hopes to soon achieve freedom for several hundred remaining hostages.
“Colombia is very, very lucky,” says this seasoned envoy, who is working against a recalcitrant Congress to win a Free Trade Agreement for her country. “His father and my father were presidents at the same time, so when this President Bush sees me, he always says, ‘Hola, Amiga!’ This president is a very warm man with such marvelous energy.”
“Back in 1821, the US was one of the first nations to recognize our independence and we have a longstanding friendship between our two countries that is very special.”
Welcome to Kalorama
Jordan’s Prince Zeid Al-Hussein and his family have moved into Kalorama from McLean where Jordan’s former suburban cul-de-sac residence had gone through endless rehab. “We love it here,” the polished diplomat said of posh Kalorama, “Everything is so close.” Strolling along one night with his wife, Princess Sarah, to attend farewell parties for Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmy and his wife Nermin on Sheridan Circle and Slovenian Ambassador Samuel Zbogar over on California Street, the handsome couple kept running into other envoys who rolled down their windows and offered them rides. “Oh, we’d much rather walk,” the Prince replied. “This is all new to us.”
C’est la vie!
To celebrate Bastille Day on July 14th, huge gold stars hung from La Maison Française’s high ceilings to celebrate the EU Presidency rotating to France. French Ambassador Pierre Vimont invited his close friend, Parisian banker Collette Cove, to join him in the receiving line where they personally shook hands with each of the 2,400 guests. Madame Vimont was nowhere in sight. The still-married Vimonts have not been together for over two decades. C’est la vie en France!
Newly-arrived Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki and his wife Yoriko (who went to kindergarten here) feel at home already with their black lab, Skipper. All three greeted guests at Japan’s Annual Summer Barbecue in July, where luncheon guests included Congressional staffers, members of the press, and next-door neighbor Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafström, who arrived bearing a bouquet. Sitting down to enjoy sushi, baby lamb chops and watermelon, the handsome, trim blond Swede was bombarded by other neighbors vying to be his tennis partner on his deliciously discrete backyard court.
Pretty and Powerful Female Ambassadors
Croatia’s knock-out blonde Ambassador Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has already moved into her office and Renée Jones-Bos will be representing the Netherlands while Glenda Morean-Phillip is the new envoy from Trinidad and Tobago. As we mentioned in the last column, the most unusual new ambassador is Huda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo, who will represent the Persian Gulf island nation of Bahrain. According to the BBC, she will be the only Arab ambassador in the world who is Jewish.
Swiss Influence at the Phillips
Swiss Ambassador Urs Johann Ziswiler threw a party to welcome the new director of the Phillips Collection, Dorothy Kosinski. No, she’s not Swiss but spent 12 years in that idyllic country as a curator, scholar and university instructor; her husband is Swiss-born architect Thomas Krahenbuhl. “I adored living in Switzerland, and it’s definitely still ‘home’ for us, with my husband’s family in or around Bern and all of our friends –including our daughters — in Basel. We’re back at least once a year especially during the Art Basel Fair.”
Undiplomatic in Any Language
Diplomacy isn’t always so diplomatic. One popular ambassador recently discovered he was being replaced by reading about it in his hometown newspaper while he was accompanying President Bush on a visit to his homeland. Bad form!
Do you know Embassy Row?
– Which ambassador has an original Andy Warhol hanging over his living room fireplace?
– Which Embassy has the smallest but most stunning powder room?
– Which Embassy has the newest showcase kitchen, loaded with this country’s cutting-edge appliances and cookery?
Answers in the October Diplomatic issue of Washington Life.