Diplomatic Tags

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 29, 2007 | Go to article overview

Diplomatic Tags


Byline: James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Diplomatic tags

Washington is losing one of its familiar sights - those red-white-and-blue diplomatic license plates that have been on the road for more than two decades.

By the end of next year, the State Department will have issued new plates for more than 6,000 diplomatic vehicles in the Washington area. Altogether, more than 11,600 vehicles will be tagged nationwide, which includes cars of ambassadors to both the United States and the United Nations, consular officers, their staffs and families.

The new plates have a light blue background with a red border at the top, the seal of the secretary of state on the left and the initials OFM (for Office of Foreign Missions) on the right. One reason for the change was that the old plates were sometimes mistaken for some of those issued by U.S. state governments.

"For those of you who, like me, have driven down I-95 and been confused by the ones of other states, including Ohio, with the current ones, you will now have an easy way to distinguish diplomats from others," State Department spokesman Tom Casey said yesterday in announcing the beginning of the program to replace the old plates.

"This is, by the way, the first time that we've changed the format for the license plates in 23 years."

The State Department issued the first plates yesterday and will continue to replace them until Dec. 31, 2008. The department has already notified local police to be aware that both the old and new ones will be valid until that New Year's Eve deadline next year.

Ambassador Richard J. Griffin, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and director of the Office of Foreign Missions, presented a commemorative version of the plate yesterday to the most senior diplomat in the United States, Ambassador Roble Olhaye of Djibouti, the dean of the diplomatic corps. …

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