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Embassy Row: Fruit of the Vine
By James Morrison
The Washington Times

The planting of a grapevine from Afghan stock in the California wine country, took on a symbolic quality, as Afghan Ambassador Said T. Jawad drew attention to the struggle for peace in his South Asian nation.

"I am part of the historic partnership between California and Afghanistan and the tremendous good will that exists in Napa Valley for the fertile plains of Afghanistan," Mr. Jawad said at the planting ceremony earlier this month.

He planted a grapevine genetically descended from a collection of Afghan grapevine root stalk originally collected in 1948 by the late viticulturist, Harold Olmo, who taught at the University of California at Davis.

The ceremony was co-sponsored by the Roots of Peace, an organization that removes land mines from countries recovering from war, and Copia, the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa Valley.

"For over 50 years, farmers and specialists from the breadbasket of the United States have traveled halfway across the world to Afghanistan," Mr. Jawad said. "I hope to communicate our gratitude today, as I plant this symbol of our continued partnership, the Sahebi grapevine, one of the best grapes in the world, from my hometown of Kandahar."

Mr. Jawad praised Roots of Peace for removing more than 100,000 land mines from Afghanistan and training 10,000 farmers to grow grapes, instead of heroin poppies. About 10 million land mines still "lurk beneath Afghanistan's often-stunning terrain," he said.

Heidi Kuhn, founder and chief executive officer of Roots of Peace, added, "This grapevine is a wonderful symbol of the shared heritage between farmers from our two countries. It will serve as a permanent reminder for all visitors to Copia of the seeds we have in common and the hope that peace may be planted from Napa Valley to Afghanistan."

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