"Speak Up, Speak Out" for Human Rights: that’s the theme of this year’s upcoming World Summit of Nobel Laureates. Chicago will host the Summit, featuring inspiring human rights defenders from around the world April 23 to 25, 2012.
We, the Leaders of North America, met today in Washington, DC to advance the economic well-being, safety, and security of the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Rooted in deep economic, historical, cultural, environmental, and societal ties, North American cooperation enhances our ability to face global challenges, compete in the international economy, and achieve greater prosperity. We reaffirm our commitment to further develop our thriving political and economic partnership with a consistent and strategic long-term vision, as progress on our common agenda directly benefits the peoples of our region.
Broad-based, sustainable economic growth and job creation remains our top priority. For the first time, in 2011 our total trilateral merchandise trade surpassed USD 1 trillion. Our integration helps maximize our capabilities and makes our economies more innovative and competitive globally. Working together, we strive to ensure that North American economic cooperation fosters gains in productivity for all of our citizens, enhancing our respective national and bilateral efforts to achieve that goal.
To that end, we pledge to introduce timely and tangible regulatory measures to enable innovation and growth while ensuring high standards of public health, safety, and environmental protection. We will continue to reduce transaction costs and improve the existing business environment. We have launched the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Council and the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council during the past two years, pursuing a shared objective that we commit to complement trilaterally in four sectors: certain vehicle emission standards, railroad safety, the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Workplace Chemicals, and aligning principles of our regulatory approaches to nanomaterials. This is particularly important to small- and medium-sized businesses, which are the engines of growth. By eliminating unnecessary regulatory differences, smaller businesses are better equipped to participate in an integrated North American economy. Success in these efforts opens the way to additional North American regulatory cooperation. MORE
Statement by the Press Secretary on the Elections in Burma
We congratulate the people of Burma on their participation in the electoral process, and Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy on their strong showing in the polls. This election is an important step in Burma’s democratic transformation, and we hope it is an indication that the Government of Burma intends to continue along the path of greater openness, transparency, and reform.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Istanbul, Turkey March 31-April 1 to attend the second meeting of the “Friends of the Syrian People.” This meeting built upon steps that our friends, allies, and the Syrian opposition continue to take in an attempt to halt the slaughter of the Syrian people and pursue a transition to democracy in Syria. During a press availability in Istanbul, Secretary Clinton said, “Today, the international community sent a clear and unified message that we will increase pressure on the Assad regime in Syria and assistance… more »
The United States is pursuing every avenue to get humanitarian relief into Syria and is engaged in focused diplomatic efforts to secure full and unfettered access for humanitarian organizations to reach those in need. The United States is providing an additional $12.2 million in humanitarian assistance to support the people of Syria, bringing the total amount of U.S. emergency aid to nearly $25 million. This assistance is supporting international and non-governmental humanitarian partners, including:
$10.5 million to the World Food Program (WFP);
$8.5 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR);
$3 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); and
$2.8 million to non-governmental organizations (NGO).
U.S. assistance includes medical supplies and other humanitarian relief for displaced and vulnerable and besieged Syrian communities. As part of a growing international effort to quickly and effectively deliver aid into Syria as access and conditions allow, we are also bolstering existing regional food and relief supply stockpiles and the logistical capacity needed to deliver these humanitarian supplies.
UNHCR is delivering critical medical services and supplies, food, water, blankets, hygiene kits, and heaters to the Syrian people. This funding will provide additional support for displaced Syrians residing in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq, as well as support for host families who are sheltering displaced Syrians due to the ongoing violence.
On March 14, 2012, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued a special alert voicing serious concern over the state of food security, especially for vulnerable groups. WFP estimates that 1.4 million people have become food insecure as a result of the violence.
WFP is providing food assistance to 100,000 people affected by the civil conflict in 11 governorates in Syria. The WFP operation provides rations to displaced Syrians and host families, households that have lost breadwinners or livelihoods, female-headed households, and unaccompanied minors. Over 94 percent of targeted beneficiaries – some 85,000 people – received food assistance in the latest cycle of WFP distributions, and the remaining distributions were delayed due to insecurity. As of March 29, approximately 30,400 beneficiaries in nine governorates have been reached in the current distribution cycle that began on March 15. Several of the worst-affected areas within the governorates remain inaccessible due to insecurity, but distributions will resume as security permits.
Information for U.S. Citizens Affected by the Azamara Cruise Ship Incident
Udpate: The Azamara Quest cruise ship has docked at Sandakan, Malaysia. U.S. Consular Officers are on hand to assist U.S. citizens. You can follow @USEmbassyKL on Twitter for additional updates.
We are aware of reports that a fire broke out and was subsequently put out on board the Azamara Quest cruise ship in the Sulu Sea en route to Sandakan, Malaysia. The cruise line has stated that five crew members were injured, including one seriously. There have been no reports of any injuries among the passengers. The cruise line reported that propulsion has been restored and the ship will sail to Sandakan, Malaysia and all passengers will disembark.
The U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia has responsibility for providing consular services for U.S. citizens in Sandakan, on the Island of Borneo, and has sent a consular service team to Sandakan to provide assistance to American citizen passengers on board the Azamara Quest.
We understand there are US citizens on board and are prepared to offer all appropriate consular assistance, if requested. We are not aware of any injuries to US citizens. Due to privacy considerations, we are unable to provide any further information about these passengers without their permission. Inquiries may be addressed to the U.S. Department of State at telephone 1-888-407-4747.
Embassy officials are in contact with the Malaysian authorities and cruise line representatives. We appreciate the assistance of Malaysian authorities throughout this incident.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 30-31, 2012. While in Riyadh, she met with King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. During their meeting, King Abdullah and Secretary Clinton discussed the situation in Iran and upcoming plans for the P-5+1 meetings with the Iranians. They talked about Syria in advance of the second meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People, which is scheduled to take place in Istanbul, Turkey on April 1, 2012. They also discussed Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, global oil supplies, and… more »
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE PUBLIC SCHEDULE SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2012
SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Istanbul, Turkey through April 1. The Secretary is accompanied by Assistant Secretary Feltman, Assistant Secretary Shapiro, Director Sullivan, VADM Harry B. Harris, Jr., CJCS, Puneet Talwar, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director, NSS. Please click here for more information.
9:20 a.m.LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Embassy Riyadh staff and their families, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)
10:00 a.m.LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (POOLED CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING MEETING)
12:30 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton attends the Gulf Cooperation Council-U.S. Strategic Cooperation Forum Ministerial, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (OPEN PRESS COVERAGE FOR REMARKS)
2:40 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton attends the Gulf Cooperation Council-U.S. Strategic Cooperation Forum Luncheon, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)
3:50 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a joint press availability with GCC Chairman and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)
On March 23, President Obama announced that Americans would celebrate March 31, 2012, in recognition of Cesar Chavez. Cesar Chavez, who made it his mission to “ensure respect, dignity, and fair treatment for farm workers,” was a strong advocate for human rights and social justice — for migrants, for workers, and for communities. His philosophy of nonviolence and his commitment to fighting discrimination and improving working conditions for migrant workers are key parts of the history of the civil rights and labor movements in the United States. They also serve as inspiration to activists and community leaders, here in the United States and around the world, who continue his work.
Today, I encourage everyone to take a moment to read the text of President Obama’s proclamation, and to honor Cesar Chavez and all those who organize, who advocate, and who dream of and achieve better livelihoods for their families and communities.
Moving Food Faster to Those Who Need it Most in the Sahel
About the Author: Dina Esposito serves as the Director of the Office of Food for Peace at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
This week, urgently needed food — 33,700 tons of sorghum from American farmers — will depart the United States for West Africa, as a part of the U.S. government’s response to the drought in the Sahel.
Due to poor harvests, high food prices, and a number of conflicts in the region, a dire humanitarian situation is looming for chronically vulnerable populations across the Sahel region of western Africa.
The food we are shipping this week should arrive by late April, just four to five weeks from now. USAID’s speedy contribution complements efforts of the UN World Food Program and other agencies to procure food for the hungry regionally. Because markets in the Sahel are currently stretched to meet the demand for food, internationally sourced assistance is vital to ensure that food prices don’t rise even higher. With 7 to 12 million people in need of assistance,… more »
Photo of the Week: President Obama Attends 2012 Nuclear Security Summit
About the Author: Hannah Johnson serves as DipNote’s Assistant Editor.
Our “Photo of the Week” comes to us from President Barack Obama’s recent trip to Seoul, South Korea for the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit. The Summit, attended by more than 50 world leaders, addressed securing the world’s nuclear weapons and preventing nuclear terrorism. This photograph, taken by White House photographer Pete Souza, shows President Obama talking with U.S. Ambassador to Republic of Korea Sung Kim aboard Marine One during an early morning flight from Osan Air Base to the landing zone at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, Republic of Korea, March 25,… more »
Press Statement Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State Washington, DC March 29, 2012
The United States is deeply concerned about the humanitarian emergency in the Sahel region of Africa. Around 10 million people are in need of emergency assistance due to erratic rainfall, failed harvests, high food prices and conflict across the region that includes Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. In response to current needs, including protection and assistance for refugees, and to prevent a potentially much more serious situation, I am pleased to announce that the United States is providing an additional $120 million in emergency assistance. With these funds, the U.S. Government is providing nearly $200 million this fiscal year in humanitarian assistance to the Sahel region.
We are currently providing targeted humanitarian assistance that addresses acute malnutrition and hunger and builds resilience, and we are also focused on long-term approaches to establish lasting food security. We are making highly nutritious therapeutic food available for malnourished children. In addition to providing life-saving food, we are working to help vulnerable families and communities buy locally-available food and services, while developing small-scale projects and infrastructure that can help build the resilience necessary to withstand future drought.
In partnership with other donors, we have taken early action in response to early warnings. We are targeting specific pockets of great need while working toward sustainable, longer term development. Together, we are saving lives, mitigating impact, and building resilience.
On March 24, the United States commemorated the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Open Skies, and the role it has played in providing peace and stability for Euro-Atlantic relations. On March 27, Acting Under Secretary Rose Gottemoeller spoke at a special reception in Vienna, Austria, hosted by the governments of Canada and Hungary, to mark this occasion. In her remarks, Gottemoeller emphasized, “While much has been accomplished under the Treaty, its potential, in our view, has not yet been fully tapped. Parties need to upgrade to digital sensors as soon as possible, and application of the results should be used to address a wider range of transnational threats and verification challenges.”
In a nutshell, the Treaty gives each State Party the opportunity to conduct unarmed aerial observation… more »
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton travels to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from March 30-31, 2012. While in Riyadh, she will meet King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. She will also attend the First Ministerial Meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council-U.S. Strategic Cooperation Forum. In her conversations, she will discuss the full range of bilateral and regional issues, including ongoing security cooperation in the region, as well as the international community(tm)s continuing efforts to stop the bloodshed in Syria.
Secretary Clinton will then travel to Istanbul, Turkey from March 31-April 1 to attend the second meeting of the “Friends… more »
Fact Sheet: Key U.S. Outcomes at the UN Human Rights Council 19th Session
The 19th Session of the Human Rights Council underscored the importance of robust engagement at the Council, where the United States continues to work with a diverse range of countries from all regions of the world to address urgent human rights concerns.
U.S. leadership kept the Council at the forefront of the international effort to promote and protect human rights in the Middle East as the Arab Spring continues to transform the region. U.S. engagement has resulted in significant improvements to the Human Rights Council (HRC) over the past two and a half years, making it a more effective and credible multilateral forum for promoting and protecting human rights.
At the same time, the Council’s biased and disproportionate focus on Israel continues to be a major challenge, as exemplified by the annual Item 7 resolutions. Through engagement at the Council, the U.S. continues to vigorously oppose this biased treatment. MORE
Press Statement Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State Washington, DC March 29, 2012
I am pleased to announce today that pending Congressional notification and review, the United States will provide a $100 million cash transfer to the Government of Tunisia for short-term fiscal relief. This will go directly to debt that Tunisia owes the World Bank and African Development Bank, allowing the Government of Tunisia to instead use this money for its priority programs, accelerating economic growth and job creation.
This support would be in addition to the sovereign loan guarantee agreement currently being negotiated between the United States and the Government of Tunisia, which will use $30 million from the United States to open up access to several hundred million dollars in new financing from international capital markets for the Tunisian government.
As Tunisia progresses into the next phase of its historic democratic transition, the United States is working to help accelerate economic growth that benefits all, ensure that democracy delivers for the Tunisian people, and to help Tunisian businesses — large and small — become engines of job creation. We call on other partners in the international community to join us in supporting Tunisia and ensuring economic opportunities for more Tunisian people.
One hundred years have passed since the first two cherry blossom trees were planted around Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin as a token of friendship between United States and the Japan. Despite the cold weather yesterday, I watched a historic event unfold as First Lady Michelle Obama participated in a commemorative tree planting to mark this centennial milestone.
A century ago, First Lady Helen Taft and the wife of Japan’s Ambassador, Viscountess Chinda, planted the first two trees in Washington — a gift of Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo — and the beautiful blooms still honor all that they stand for. For so many years, these trees have stood as a symbol of… more »
I am living proof of how study abroad can change your life. I came from Mexico to the United States as a Fulbright graduate student. That led to — in addition to a master’s degree — falling in love, getting married, becoming a U.S. citizen, campaigning in the 2008 presidential election, and ultimately being chosen to lead public diplomacy for the Western Hemisphere at the U.S. Department of State.
Although most people realize that study abroad can change an individual’s life, they often don’t recognize how important international exchanges can be as a contribution to relations between our countries. Study abroad enhances our understanding of other cultures, provides an enlightening perspective on our home country, and builds partnerships that foster progress toward greater prosperity, economic equality, and sustainability. Recognizing the importance of international… more »
Today, the Republic of Korea hosted more than 50 world leaders for the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul. During the opening plenary session, President Barack Obamasaid:
"…This gathering is a tribute to the nations that contribute to security and peace that’s playing a leading role around the globe and that’s taking its rightful place on the world stage. When I hosted the first Nuclear Security Summit two years ago in Washington, there were those who questioned whether our nations could summon the will to confront one of the gravest dangers of our time. In part because it involves a lot of technical… more »
United States-Japan Nuclear Security Working Group Fact Sheet
Since the announcement of establishing the U.S.-Japan Nuclear Security Working Group at the U.S.-Japan Summit meeting in November 2010, this Group has successfully fulfilled its responsibility to identify and coordinate tangible outcomes for the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, including the promotion of robust security for nuclear materials at civilian nuclear facilities and during transport, by making achievements in the following 9 areas…
The governments of the United States, United Kingdom, and French Republic each understand the threat of nuclear terrorism and share the collective responsibility to inform and strengthen international measures designed to secure sensitive information, technology or nuclear material from access by terrorists, and to develop emergency response measures. In recognition of these shared principles, consistent with our rights and obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, our three governments are taking the following initial steps:
INFCIRC/225/Rev. 5 recognizes that nuclear security protection levels are critically dependent upon the attractiveness of nuclear materials to potential terrorist adversaries with intent to assemble a nuclear explosive device. We will actively engage in international workshops to address graded approaches for the characterization of nuclear material attractiveness to further enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of physical protection measures.
We have the specialized knowledge and capability to diagnose, render safe, characterize and dispose of a nuclear threat device. We have a focused effort to continually enhance the technical capabilities of our emergency detection and response assets to any such threat. As such we will seek, wherever possible, to engage with the international community to further strengthen worldwide preparedness to contend with the threat of nuclear terrorism.
It’s not often we get to witness barriers being broken first-hand — there is a special kind of energy in the air when you do. The sort of vibe that says, this feels like a game-changing event. That was the atmosphere at Harare’s Quill Club (press club) on Thursday, March 15, during its first-ever Ladies Night. Not only did the evening bring in more women at one time than the male-dominated institution has probably ever seen (over half of the 60 guests), but it also featured an intense, on-the-record panel discussion of gender equity, or the lack thereof, in Zimbabwean media.
The first panelist gave a brief history of the Quill Club and set the stage for how urgent it is to break down the anti-women discriminatory practices now in place in Zimbabwe’s media.… more »
Joint Statement of the Presidents of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and the United States of America Regarding the Trilateral Cooperation at the Former Semipalatinsk Test Site
The Presidents of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and the United States of America have committed to combat the threat of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.
Since 2004 our three countries have been collaborating to implement a number of projects aimed at elimination of the remnants of the past nuclear testing activities within the territory of the former Semipalatinsk Test Site to bring it to a safe and secure state. The Presidents of Kazakhstan, Russia and the United States of America have personally supervised the realization of these goals.
A significant volume of work has been accomplished by now. As a result of application of modern physical and technical means the level of security at the former site has been substantially enhanced.
This work is nearly complete and we consider it a highly successful example of the trilateral cooperation representing our shared commitment to nuclear security and non-proliferation.
2012 Nuclear Security Summit Deliverable: Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction
We, the Partners of the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, support the Summit’s goal of securing vulnerable nuclear material and radioactive sources around the world. The Global Partnership is a multilateral initiative to reduce the risk of WMD terrorism through cooperative capacity building on specific projects. The Global Partnership countries have contributed more than $55 million to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Nuclear Security Fund (NSF) since 2010. The IAEA created the NSF in 2002 to support IAEA’s activities, including those to prevent, detect, and respond to nuclear terrorism. We welcome the continuation of this crucial support as the IAEA principally relies on voluntary NSF contributions to carry out this vital mission.
The 24 Partners in the Global Partnership are Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Ronan Farrow, Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues, will hold a conversation with Nancy Lublin, CEO, DoSomething.org, on Global Youth Issues. The discussion will be moderated by Cheryl Benton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, and will be available for on demand viewing soon on DipNote, the U.S. Department of State’s official blog.
You are invited to participate by submitting questions, some of which will be selected for response during the broadcast. Submit your questions on DipNote, and join the ongoing discussion via Twitter using the hashtag #GlobalYouth. Please submit questions via DipNote and Twitter today for consideration.
Through Conversations with America, leaders of national nongovernmental organizations have the opportunity to discuss foreign policy and global issues with senior State Department officials. These conversations aim to provide candid views of the ways in which leaders from the foreign affairs community are engaging the Department on pressing foreign policy issues.
View other Conversations with America here and by accessing the Conversations with America video podcasts on iTunes.
About the Author: Lewis Lukens serves as U.S. Ambassador to Senegal.
When I arrived in Senegal last August, I knew that it would be an exciting year for this nation’s democracy, but I don’t think anybody could have predicted the path that Senegalese took to get to where they are today. Much of the population rose up in protest to attempted changes to the constitution last year on June 23 (a date now immortalized by a civil society movement called Movement 23, or M23).
Since last June, Senegal’s democracy has seemed more fragile than ever before during its 52-year history. Yet today, Senegal has a new President-elect, Macky Sall, after current President Abdoulaye Wade graciously conceded defeat last night. Senegal’s strong tradition of democracy and vibrant civil society shone through again.
On February 26, I had the honor and privilege of accompanying Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, as… more »
Trilateral Announcement Between Mexico, the United States, and Canada on Nuclear Security
At the March 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, the Governments of Mexico, the United States, and Canada announced the completion of an important joint nuclear security project to convert the fuel in Mexico’s research reactor from highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU). The project was initiated at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. in April 2010, and was carried out by the three countries, working closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The full conversion of the reactor from the use of HEU to LEU fuel supports the goal of minimizing the use of HEU for civilian purposes. By converting its research nuclear reactor, Mexico contributes to non-proliferation.
President Calderón stated, “With this decision, Mexico reaffirms its commitment to building a world free of the nuclear threat. Each country must do its share to reach a safer North America and a safer planet. This is a clear example of the significant work we can do together in the North American region.”
This effort, which was conducted and completed under the auspices of the IAEA, benefited from the hard work and dedication of hundreds of individuals from all three countries and the IAEA, and it further strengthens nuclear security in North America.
President Obama stated, “I would like to thank Mexico, Canada and the IAEA for their support of our joint nuclear security efforts. Our strong trilateral partnership, supported by the IAEA, has made our people safer and advanced our international nuclear security effort leading into the Seoul Summit.”
Prime Minister Harper added that “The successful completion of this project demonstrates the concrete steps countries can collectively take in the context of the Nuclear Security Summit. We will continue to work with the United States and Mexico to enhance nuclear security in our region and worldwide.”
The conversion will not only extend the length of time the Mexican reactor can operate with LEU fuel, it also makes the reactor eligible for further program engagement under the IAEA. With the provided fuel, Mexico’s National Institute for Nuclear Research (ININ) also has the potential to increase the reactor power output, which would greatly improve its capabilities for medical and industrial isotope production, silicon doping, neutron radiography, and nuclear physics research such as neutron activation analysis.
About the Author: Katie Dowd serves in the Office of the Secretary of State.
Home to a thriving technology community, Bangkok was the site of our seventh TechCamp, an interactive program that supports Secretary Clinton’s Civil Society 2.0 initiative. This TechCamp focused on capacity building for more than 50 civil society organizations working in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Hosted by Assumption University March 20-21, TechCamp Bangkok provided training that helped equip the civil society groups with new knowledge about how to leverage free and low-cost digital tools to strengthen their organization’s missions. The missions of these civil society organizations ranged from combating human trafficking, to election monitoring, to helping support refugees, to environmental protection.
Local technology experts partnered with technologists from around… more »
Remarks by President Obama and President Hu Jintao of the People's Republic of China Before Bilateral Meeting
President Barack Obama: “I think this is also an opportunity to build on the excellent cooperation and dialogue across all the dimensions of our relationship that we’ve been able to establish over the last three years. So I’m looking forward to discussing economic and commercial issues, how we can continue to expand trade and make sure that there is strong mutual understanding about the potential benefits of commerce between our two nations, in accordance with the international rules and norms.”
My recent trip to Afghanistan was a great chance to reconnect with many Afghan counterparts from the year I spent there in 2008-2009 working with the Afghan Air Force to rebuild and modernize their force. At the top of my agenda was to meet with the commander of the Afghan Air Force, Major General Abdul Wahab Wardak to hear his perspective on the progress of the recently rebuilt and revitalized Afghan National Army Air Force. I was impressed to see a growing fleet of aircraft that are being operated by a dedicated and capable force of Afghan airmen assisted by a team of U.S. mentors and advisors.
The Afghan Air Force dates back to 1924 under the rule of King Amanullah Khan and went through several evolutions in subsequent decades before being reduced to near obscurity during the civil war and Taliban rule of the 1990s. As we began to rebuild Afghan National Security… more »
Remarks by President Obama and President Nursultan Nazarbayev of the Republic of Kazakhstan Before Bilateral Meeting
President Barack Obama: “Twenty years ago, Kazakhstan made a decision not to have nuclear weapons. And not only has that led to growth and prosperity in his own country, but he has been a model in efforts around the world to eliminate nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands.”
Photo of the Week: Water Issues Are Integral to U.S. Foreign Policy Goals
About the Author: Luke Forgerson serves as DipNote’s Managing Editor.
Our “Photo of the Week” comes to us from Elizabeth Petrovski at the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome, Italy. Elizabeth recently had the opportunity to visit Kenya, where she observed projects run by the World Food Program (WFP) and its cooperating partner, the Kenya Child Fund, in the northeastern district of Turkana. In the photograph, Turkana women sing and dance as they build a trapezoidal bund, an instrument along with water pans that Kenyan herders and farmers use to collect and preserve rainwater for human and livestock consumption and crop irrigation in areas regularly impacted by droughts.
Water issues are integral to many U.S. foreign policy goals, from advancing food security to empowering women and… more »
Just midnight on Saturday morning, President Obama boarded Air Force One and departed for a trip to South Korea. After crossing the International Date Line, he arrived in Seoul for a nuclear security summit.
As part of the trip, the President today got a first hand view of North Korea as he toured to the DMZ and met with U.S. troops stationed on the border. He told the servicemen and women, “Everybody back home could not be prouder of what you guys do each and every day — the dedication, the professionalism that you show.”
President Barack Obama is briefed by Lt. Col. Ed Taylor as he views the DMZ from Observation Post Ouellette at Camp Bonifas, Republic of Korea, March 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Victoria Nuland Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
March 23, 2012
Today, Secretary Clinton has certified to Congress that Egypt is meeting its obligations under its Peace Treaty with Israel. The Secretary has also waived legislative conditions related to Egypt’s democratic transition, on the basis of America’s national security interests, allowing for the continued flow of Foreign Military Financing to Egypt. These decisions reflect America’s over-arching goal: to maintain our strategic partnership with an Egypt made stronger and more stable by a successful transition to democracy.
Egypt has made significant progress toward democracy in the last 15 months, including: free and fair parliamentary elections and the transfer of legislative authority to the new People’s Assembly, and a date announced for complete transition to civilian leadership. However, Egypt’s transition to democracy is not yet complete, and more work remains to protect universal rights and freedoms. The Egyptian people themselves have made this clear to their own leaders.
The Secretary’s decision to waive is also designed to demonstrate our strong support for Egypt’s enduring role as a security partner and leader in promoting regional stability and peace. Egypt has maintained thirty-plus years of peace with Israel. It contributes to efforts to stop proliferation and arms smuggling and facilitates missions from Afghanistan to counterterrorism in the Horn of Africa.
We are committed to supporting the Egyptian people as they strive for the dignity, opportunity, rights and freedoms for which they have already sacrificed so much. That includes protection for civil society and NGOs, which have a critical role to play in building Egypt’s democracy. We remain deeply concerned regarding the trials of civil society activists—non-Egyptians and Egyptians alike—and have raised these concerns at the highest levels, urging an end to harassment.
The political transition underway is bringing about a new, more democratic Egypt. As this process continues, we look forward to engaging with Egyptians on how we can best support and advance the interests we share. We will, of course, consult closely with the Congress about these issues.
Egyptians are living through one of the most remarkable periods of their thousands of years of history. Today we reaffirm our support for Egypt, for its historic accomplishments to date, for the democratic journey it is on and for our enduring partnership.
U.S.-Japan Policy Cooperation Dialogue on the Internet Economy Third Director General-Level Meeting
On March 22 and 23, 2012, the third Director General-level meeting of the U.S.-Japan Policy Cooperation Dialogue on the Internet Economy was held in Tokyo. Hajime Tonegawa, Director General of the Global ICT Strategy Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), and officials representing MIC, the IT Policy Office, the National Information Security Center, the Consumer Affairs Agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry participated in the dialogue from Japan. Ambassador Philip Verveer and officials representing the U.S. Department of State, the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security participated in the dialogue from the United States. In addition, representatives from both U.S. and Japanese industry participated in some of the discussions. MORE