This week, Secretary Clinton participated in the second-ever U.S.-Colombian High-Level Partnership Dialogue at the Department of State. Secretary Clinton said, “…[T]his is a relationship that is on a solid foundation but has the opportunity to become so much more for the benefit not only of the people of Colombia, but I would say for our own people in the United States the kind of positive, open relationship that we hope to see even stronger in the future."
Secretary Clinton held bilateral meetings with Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov. In each meeting, Secretary Clinton and her counterparts discussed a wide variety of bilateral and global issues.
As we reflected on the 30th anniversary of the first reported cases of HIV/AIDS in the United States, Secretary Clinton announced a new public-private partnership with the M•A•C AIDS Fund to expand critical medical and emergency support services for survivors of rape and sexual assault in South Africa. The Secretary said, “…[T]he United States is taking a multi-pronged approach that addresses not only rape and sexual assault, but also human trafficking, child marriage, and related issues. We're working to expand economic opportunity and legal protections for women and to improve their access to health care.”
As the Secretary Clinton prepares to travel to Africa in the week ahead, Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson previewed the 2011 U.S. Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, in Lusaka, Zambia, on June 9-10. He said, "...AGOA is an important part of the overall engagement of the United States with Africa. We seek to help the nations of Sub-Saharan Africa become important partners in the global economy, and the trade opportunities offered under AGOA provide the means to help that happen.”
In news related to the Near East and North Africa, Secretary Clinton participated in the Business Forum Promoting Commercial Opportunities in Iraq, where she highlighted the United States' civilian commitment to Iraq's future. The Secretary also addressed the shutdown of the Internet in Syria and renewed her call for the government of Syria to respect universal human rights. She said, “We condemn any effort to suppress the Syrian people's exercise of their rights to free expression, assembly, and association.”
Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman addressed recent events in Libya in an Op-Ed for Politico, and Program Officer Bryan Schaaf discussed U.S. government efforts to assist migrants fleeing Libya and provide help to refugees in Tunisia, Egypt, and other neighboring countries. This year, the world commemorates the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. In the coming weeks, former refugees will be sharing their stories in a series of DipNote blog entries.
In other news, J. Alexander Their discussed USAID's approach to Pakistan, which focuses on the need to promote sustainable economic growth by addressing the country's energy crisis and raising incomes in the agricultural sector, the mainstay of Pakistan's economy. Our dedicated Foreign Service Liaison Officer described Pacific Partnership 2011's “homecoming” to Papua New Guinea, making it Pacific Partnership's most-visited country. While in PNG, PP2011 volunteers and service members paid tribute to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their countries by attending a Memorial Day ceremony on May 30. Meanwhile, Press Officer Nicole Nucelli shared her Memorial Day experience in Kabul. She said, “…[W]e acknowledge the memory of service members and diplomats no longer with us by carrying on their important work."
Assistant Secretary Ann Stock highlighted the launch of the new J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program website, which will make it easier for visitors, program sponsors and host families to find the information they need. Ambassador Nicole Avant highlighted a cultural exchange program that brought the “105 Voices of History” choir, comprised of students representing Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to The Bahamas.
Tomorrow, international youth soccer players and their American counterparts will join Secretary Clinton and members of the U.S. Women's National Team at the launch of the Women's World Cup Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports. The event will be streamed live on DipNote and state.gov at 9:30 a.m. (EDT).
As this week concludes, our thoughts are with the family, friends, and colleagues of former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who passed away on June 4, 2011. Secretary Clinton said Eagleburger, the first career Foreign Service Officer to be named Secretary of State, was “…a strong voice and stalwart champion for America's values. His passing is America's loss.”