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Diplomatic Spotlight

Diplomatic Spotlight
Saudi Ambassador Princess Reema bint Bandar al Saud with Omani Ambassador Moosa Hamdan Al Tal and his wife, Amal Al Haddab, at a reception at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, on Nov. 20, 2023, to mark Oman's National Day. (All photos by Ali Salah)

Oman marks National Day with call for peace in Gaza

The Ambassador of Oman to the United States, Moosa Hamdan Al Tai, marked the sultanate’s National Day at a reception last month with a pledge of “unwavering support” for the Palestinian people and a call for the violence in Gaza to stop.

“This aggression has surpassed all justification. It flagrantly violates all agreements,” Al Tai told scores of guests at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, on Nov. 20, including Saudi Arabian Ambassador Princess Reema bint Bandar al Saud, Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov,  US Ambassador to Oman Ana Escrogima, and US Special Envoy for Yemen Timothy A. Lenderking,

The military response by Israel to Hamas’ attacks of Oct. 7, in which 1,200 people were killed and hundreds taken hostage, has killed thousands of people in Gaza, destroyed civilian infrastructure and homes and displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, he said.

“History has proven there is no possibility of a military solution for the Palestinians,” the ambassador said, calling for an immediate end to “this senseless war.”

The way to bring peace to the Middle East, he said, was to establish an independent Palestinian state with the borders that existed prior to the Six Day War in June 1967, and with East Jerusalem as the capital.

Oman’s National Day, on November 18, commemorates the liberation from the Portuguese in 1650, ending nearly 150 years of colonization. Oman is the oldest independent state in the Arab world.

Despite disagreements with the United States over how to resolve the war in Gaza, Al Tai described relations between the two countries as “a model of cooperation and friendship.”

He also outlined Oman’s strategy for transitioning away from hydrocarbons, becoming a global leader in the green hydrogen industry, and reaching net zero human-caused greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.


DC’s new US-ASEAN Center will be a ‘hub for engagement’

Arizona State University’s Christopher B. Howard, Ida Bagus Made Bimantara of the Indonesian Embassy, and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Liz Allen.(Mackenzie Hale/State Dept)

The Chargé d’Affaires at the Indonesian Embassy, Ida Bagus Made Bimantara, joined US Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Liz Allen and Arizona State University chief operating officer Christopher Howard at the ribbon cutting in DC of the new US-ASEAN Center on Dec. 14.

A partnership between ASU and the State Department, the center’s goal will be to bolster support for US economic and cultural engagement with Southeast Asia and help connect private sector organizations, academic institutions and civil society.

It is envisaged as “an inclusive and accessible space for scholars to dig into important issues and research,” Allen said at the ribbon-cutting.

“It will be a convening platform for the diplomatic community and US officials as well as think tankers, civil society, and private sector representatives. It will be a venue for business roundtables that strengthen networks and feed into the already impressive trade relationship between the United States and ASEAN. It will be a forum for conferences that engages leading minds and diverse young people on the pressing issues facing all of us. It will be a unique site for high-level dialogues.”

It’s hoped it will also spur a conversation with and among Americans about international relations and why they matter, and show them how to get involved, she said.

ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has 10 member states: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Vice President Kamala Harris announced the creation of the center at the ASEAN summit in September, saying it would “facilitate official ASEAN engagements and support further exchange between our people, businesses, and academic institutions.”

The center is located at 1800 I St., NW, at Arizona State University’s Washington DC campus.


Over 20 nations represented at first DC Diplomatic Day of Kindness

Washington diplomats and embassy staff attend the inaugural D.C. Diplomatic Day of Kindness on Nov 8, 2023.

Diplomats and staff from embassies around Washington showed generosity and warm-heartedness to some of Washington’s neediest residents on November 8, the inaugural DC Diplomatic Day of Kindness.

Joan Brammer, the public affairs attaché at the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago, and Fatima Aboulfaraj from the Moroccan Embassy asked colleagues from other embassies in DC to mark the day by pledging volunteer service hours to Covenant House International, a national nonprofit supporting homeless youth with housing and resources.

Embassies also donated money to Covenant House, which pledged to use the funds to expand programs for career training, mental health support, food banks and educational assistance.

More than 20 nationalities were represented at the event, said Kimberly A. Bassett, the secretary of state for DC. The event shone a light on embassies’ involvement in their local communities

Sponsored by the Washington Educational and Cultural Attaché Association, the event featured an international potluck meal that allowed participants to taste dishes from around the world. Musician Andrew Kutt performed “Peace by Peace,” a song with lyrics that highlight the intent of the DC Diplomatic Day of Kindness: “Piece by piece, heart by heart, we’re going to make this planet whole.” – Gabriella Bartlett

Washington Diplomat