Although it is commendable that Mary McGrory brought attention to the drought in Ethiopia [op-ed, Jan. 16], I was appalled by her characterization of Ethiopia as "one of those loser countries."

Ethiopia has an ancient culture, with its roots in pre-Western civilization. It is one of the oldest countries in the world with continued independence (it was only briefly occupied by Benito Mussolini's forces during World War II and was never colonized), and it has preserved its culture for nearly 3,000 years. For all these reasons and despite our current difficulties, we are proud to be Ethiopian.

Chronic food shortages are common in our troubled region, and they are being exacerbated by climate change. The Ethiopian government that fell in 1991 did nothing to address these shortages; instead it labored to hide the 1984-85 famine from the world. Visible results have been achieved in the 12 years since the current government took power. Unfortunately, the government's development efforts were disrupted by the Ethiopian-Eritrean conflict (which was not of Ethiopia's making).

Without quick action by the international community, the drought crisis will endanger millions of our citizens. Americans can assist Ethiopia's development efforts by visiting its ancient sites and parks and by investing in its emerging market economy.

KASSAHUN AYELE

Ambassador

Embassy of Ethiopia

Washington