FOREIGN RELATIONS: Meeting in Room 5106

Something about Washington divests diplomats of their aura of glamor. The sense of international drama that runs through secret meetings in ancient buildings in London's Whitehall, or on Paris' Quai d'Orsay, is lost in the State Department's Room 5106 ("the largest conference room") in Foggy Bottom. Bereft of the vintage attention of exquisitely correct French huissiers, the men of diplomacy get a meat-and-potatoes feeling when they are shown around Washington by polite young men in business suits wearing blue lapel ribbons imprinted USHER.

But if Washington did little for ceremony as the West's Big Four foreign ministers gathered last week in...

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