The ambassador for the Dominican Republic, Hugo Guiliani Cury, says one of his great challenges in representing a small country at peace has been attracting the attention of officials and policymakers in Washington. Cury, who has been ambassador here since 2002, is an economist and former minister of trade and industry. He is preparing to return home to Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital.
"Being a small country, playing a role is not an easy thing," Cury said in an interview Monday at his Georgian-style residence facing Rock Creek Park. He said he has been focusing on trade negotiations, in particular talks to include the Dominican Republic in the Central American Free Trade Agreement.
He said he had lobbied about 70 lawmakers in Washington about the agreement. Talks are snagged over tariffs on high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener, he said. The Dominican Republic is being asked to eliminate all tariffs on the sweetener, while the United States would maintain high tariffs for sugar, he said.
Cury also discussed issues involving his country's economic relations in Asia. China has "started to be very active in Latin America. It is a market for them, and they want to establish their presence," Cury said. "The Chinese are offering investments in areas of production in which our products will enter U.S. markets with no tariffs with new free trade agreements."
But he said the Dominican Republic is one of 26 countries that have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, and the question is whether trade can be developed with China. "We have very good ties with Taiwan . . . so this is a very difficult one. It would be a political decision," he said.
He said Argentina, Brazil and Mexico have established ties with China, and he anticipates that smaller countries will follow in the next five years. "We have to diversify, because we have been too concentrated on the United States," he added.
Cury visited China last month, invited by a group of Chinese American businessmen, the Baltimore-based Mid-Atlantic Asian Products Distribution Outlet Center. "This group is interested in increasing trade between the United States and China, and they also envision this as a triangle in which Latin American can be included," he said.
One other issue facing his country, he said, is the presence of 1 million refugees from Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. That, along with expected losses in revenue from Andean markets in the coming year, is causing worry. "We are a poor country, and our budget cannot sustain such expenditures," he said. "We are apprehensive."
An Adventurous Envoy
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell shared an undiplomatic secret about the colorful career of Ryan C. Crocker at his swearing-in as the next U.S. ambassador to Pakistan. Crocker has served in some of the world's most difficult postings: Beirut, Kuwait, Damascus, Cairo, Baghdad and Kabul, among others.
Powell revealed Crocker as a motorcycle aficionado who once rode a bike in his own motorcade. "Security was not amused," Powell said at the ceremony last Wednesday. Among the guests were Richard L. Armitage, deputy secretary of state; L. Paul Bremer, who headed the U.S.-led occupation authority in Iraq; Robert Oakley, a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan; and David Satterfield, newly named ambassador to Jordan.
Crocker spoke at the event, urging younger Foreign Service members to step up and participate in tough challenges such as postings in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The motorbike adventure took place in Cairo, the teeming Egyptian capital, the veteran ambassador said later, laughing. A former State Department colleague disclosed that Crocker's pursuits also led him to sand-ski the desert dunes of Qatar with regular skis, while holding on to a rope attached to the back of a jeep.
Sticking to the Recipe
David Manning, the British ambassador to the United States, usually refers only to brief notes when he speaks at foreign policy forums dissecting transatlantic ties and strategies in the Middle East. But when it comes to sharing recipes, it is a different kettle of fish.
Manning read from a prepared text and cited recipes when he introduced Nigella Lawson, a celebrated British food writer and television chef, at a book event Monday.
"Take 5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, 3 ounces of white chocolate, 6 eggs, 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream . . . I could go on," he said, listing the ingredients of one cake according to Lawson's school of guilt-free culinary abandon. Lawson, known for her sensuous approach to cooking, is an Oxford graduate and the daughter of Nigel Lawson, former chancellor of the exchequer.
Lawson was in Washington to launch her book, "Feast: Food That Celebrates Life."
"Food is life itself," said Lawson, who wore a fitted black dress and hot pink spike heels for the event.
"Just reading the recipes makes you feel good," said Manning, reading one. " 'Chestnut Cheesecake; Love Buns; Quivering with Passion Jellies.' I don't even dare tell you what's in the chapter entitled 'Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame,' in case we are all rounded up by the food police," he joked.