Deputy Secretary John Sullivan Visits Thimphu, Bhutan

 

The State Department issued a statement on Deputy Secretary Sullivan’s visit to Bhutan. We have only been able to find photos of D/S Sullivan’s meetings with the Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji, Minister of Economic Affairs Loknath Sharma, and other officials, but none of the meeting with the Dragon King.

Via state.gov: Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan traveled to Thimphu, Bhutan, from August 12-13.  In meetings with His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Prime Minister Tshering, Foreign Minister Dorji, and Minister of Economic Affairs Sharma, Deputy Secretary Sullivan discussed a range of issues, including the importance of protecting and enhancing a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.  He also discussed the importance of expanding our two nations’ people-to-people ties and enhancing joint efforts to combat trafficking in persons.  In a meeting with the Loden Foundation, the Deputy Secretary learned about efforts to promote entrepreneurship and cultural preservation in Bhutan.  The Deputy Secretary affirmed the United States’ support for science, technology, engineering, and math activities that aim to benefit Bhutanese students, teachers, engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs.

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan meets with Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bhutan, on August 12, 2019. [State Department photo by Nicole Thiher/ Public Domain]

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan visits an Archery Exhibition in Thimphu, Bhutan, on August 13, 2019. [State Department photo by Nicole Thiher/ Public Domain]

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan poses for a photo with staff members of the Taj Tashi Hotel in Thimphu, Bhutan, on August 13, 2019. [State Department photo by Nicole Thiher/ Public Domain]

This trip reminds us of a memorable photo of the Fourth King of Bhutan and his three wives with the then South Central Asian Affairs Assistant Secretary Robert Blake. We posted the 2010 photo below in 2013 following Ambassador Blake’s confirmation as Ambassador to Indonesia.

Assistant Secretary Blake, the Fourth King of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuk, and Three of His Wives in Thimphu, Bhutan Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake, the Fourth King of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuk, and three of his wives pose for a photo in front of Dechencholing Palace, in Thimphu, Bhutan, on April 29, 2010. [State Department Photo/Public Domain]

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Ambassador Robert Blake Visits North Maluku and Papua (Photos)

Posted: 12:42 am EDT
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The U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Robert O. Blake visited Papua and the North Maluku early this year with stops in Ternate, Manokwari, Nabire and Jayapura.

We saw the photos and we recognize that this is Indonesia but have to idea where exactly these places are located. According to Wikipedia:  The Maluku Islands formed a single province since Indonesian independence until 1999, when it was split into two provinces. A new province, North Maluku, incorporates the area between Morotai and Sula, with the arc of islands from Buru and Seram to Wetar remaining within the existing Maluku Province. North Maluku is predominantly Muslim and its capital is Sofifi on Halmahera island. Maluku province has a larger Christian population and its capital is Ambon.  Between 1999 and 2002, conflict between Muslims and Christians killed thousands and displaced half a million people.

On the first leg of his trip Ambassador Blake visited with local officials on the island of Ternate where he toured the city’s port and visited a local tuna processing plant. Hey, that tuna is almost as big as the guy holding it!  All photos via US Embassy Jakarta/Flickr:

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Here are some more photos from the rest of that trip.

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US Embassies Move Fourth of July For Heat, Monsoon Weather, and Now For Ramadan — Read Before Getting Mad

–Posted: 12:12 pm EDT
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American embassies hold Fourth of July festivities every year. This blog has followed those official celebrations through the last several years.  There is brewing controversy over the news that the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta had moved its Fourth of July celebration to June 4th this year to “avoid any conflict with the month-long Ramadan celebration.” Makes perfect sense to us. Before you get all mad, read on.

The Celebration of the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta’s 239th Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America  Photo credit: State Dept./Erik A. Kurniawan

The Celebration of the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta’s 239th Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America with Ambassador Blake and guests
Photo credit: State Dept./Erik A. Kurniawan

This is certainly not the first time that an embassy had moved its Fourth of July celebration to a different date.  In 2012, the US Embassy in Oman celebrated our 236th year of independence in February that year. We were once told that heat is the reason for these early 4th of July  celebrations at various overseas posts. At one EUR  post, we heard that it was the heat and the fact that most government officials leave the capital city in July. In 2013 and again in 2014, the US Embassy in Nepal celebrated July 4th three months earlier, in March “in the hopes of escaping monsoon weather.”

So yes, our diplomatic posts overseas have moved these independence day celebrations due to heat, monsoon weather, and now, Ramadan. And this is probably not the first time an embassy has done this, and it will not be the last.

Ramadan this year begins the evening of June 17 and ends the evening of July 17.  During this time, many Muslims will observe a pre-fast meal before dawn. At sunset, they  will have their fast-breaking meal.  On July 4th, in Muslim host countries like Indonesia, the red, white and blue cake will not be first on their minds when they break their fast for their first meal of the day since dawn.

Here’s where we pause for a reminder that these Fourth of July celebrations are official functions typically hosted by our embassies for host country nationals and contacts. There is every need to accommodate local sensitivities and realities.

Or there will be no one in attendance.

But what about American citizens, you say; can’t they just party among themselves? They can for private celebrations, of course. But the diplomatic Fourth of July celebration has an official function and purpose, which is (like all representational functions), to provide for the proper representation of the United States, and further foreign policy objectives.

The Department of State Standardized Regulations also dictates that embassy representational allowance may not be used for “expenses of recreation and entertainment solely for employees of the Executive Branch of the United States Government and their families” (5 U.S.C. 5536).  That’s right. Uncle Sam will throw a thunderbolt at an embassy that hosts representational events/functions for its American employees or American citizens alone.  Regulations require that “U.S. presence, official and private, must be less than half the total guest list.”

In fact, 3 FAM 3246.3 spells this quite clearly: “Since representation relationships are established and maintained primarily with host-country officials and private citizens, guest lists for representation events must reflect minimum guest-ratio guidelines set by the chief of mission for each type of representation function (rarely more than 50 percent U. S. Government executive branch employees) to ensure that representative cross sections are invited.”

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Related posts:

Dancing With The Stars: The Foreign Service Edition

U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul and his wife, Donna Norton made news last week when they tore up the floor of Spaso House in Moscow with their polka steps.

Ambassador and Mrs. McFaul at Spaso House
Photo from US Embassy Moscow/FB

But before Ambassador McFaul, we had our original dancing ambassador in the Philippines, Kristie Kenney.  Not to be confused with Raymond Bonner’s “Waltzing With a Dictator: The Marcoses and the Making of American Policy” because KK’s tenure in the Philippines occurred during the post-Marcos Era.

Here is Ambassador Kenney, then US Ambassador to the Philippines in the Shall We Dance Christmas Episode from December 2009:

Of course, the Philippines with its fondness for TV variety shows was ga-ga over Ambassador Kenney. One show even had a Double K (Kristie Kenney) dance step. And here she is doing the papaya dance with Edu Manzano, Filipino-American actor and politician. A hard act to follow.  It would not be a surprising if her successor at the US Embassy in Manila is forced to issue a secret plea not to put on his dancing shoes.

From the US Embassy in Laos, we have Ambassador Karen Stewart who danced the traditional “Lam Vong” at the Lao-American Heritage Foundation performance at the Lao National Cultural Hall.

On Saturday, July 16, 2011, I went to the Lao-American Heritage Foundation performance at the Lao National Cultural Hall. It was a wonderful evening, and all of the performers were very talented. I even had the chance to take the stage and lead a traditional “Lam Vong” dance. It was quite an honor!
(Photo from Ambassador Stewart's blog)

From the US Embassy in Bangladesh, we have these two gentlemen. What are you doing in the back, ahhh, SCA/AS Robert Blake … you should be dancing yeah, Ambassador Dan Mozena!

On February 16, 2012, Assistant Secretary of State for South & Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake visited Grameen borrowers’ group meeting, borrower’s homes and businesses, and attended a cultural program arranged by the villagers at Narayanganj, along with Ambassador Dan Mozena.
(Photo from US Embassy Bangladesh/FB)

From the US Embassy in Uzbekistan, we have Ambassador Krol in a shake your groove thing — with the dictator, but please don’t blame the guy.

Via RFERL:
March 22 marked Uzbekistan’s observance of Norouz, the Persian New Year, a holiday kept not just in Iran but all over Central Asia. For the occasion, Uzbek President Islam Karimov threw a big party in a Tashkent arena, replete with choreographed performances, giant balloons, and spontaneous dancing from officials who normally keep a tight lid on their public personas.

A festive spirit also took hold of the U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan, George Krol, who could be seen dancing at various points during the celebration. Krol has been on the job in Tashkent since June 2011, and previously served as America’s ambassador to Belarus.

Ambassador George Krol during a dance off in Uzbekistan
(click on the image to view the video)

The blog, Different Stans is asking“Should you dance with the dictator — literally? That was the question some people had in mind when they saw the video clip discovered by Radio Ozodlik, the Uzbek language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, showing our own American envoy to Tashkent, Ambassador George Krol, dancing in the stadium audience at the official Novrouz celebration.”

The writer points out that Karimov has been president since 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, and head of state since 1989 and that kind of important point that we “really badly need Uzbekistan as a transit route for NATO troops and equipment because the route through Pakistan is blocked.”

Should you dance with the dictator? But what a silly question. Haven’t we seen Nancy danced with Ferdie and Ronnie danced with Meldy, she of a thousand shoes? Or Meldy with Lyndon? How easily we forget. Then it was about our bases and those commies in Asia. Now, it’s about our logistic route and those terrorists nearby; we have seen this genre before.

Since Raymond Bonner had just released his book, Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong, last February, perhaps he can be persuaded to write “Waltzing With a Dictator: The Karimov Edition.” Oops, we don’t like calling him a dictator?  Fine …. as long as we don’t say silly things like, “*We love your adherence to democratic principles and to the democratic process, and we will not leave you in isolation.

Meanwhile, our original dancing ambassador is kept busy in Thailand but has made time for parachute jumping (see Ambassador Kinney here during a jump in Lopburi). We look forward to doing a round up of chief of mission parachute jumping in a year or two.

Domani Spero

*U.S. Vice-President George H. W. Bush during Ferdinand Marcos inauguration, June 1981.