Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes Blogging From UNGA
As is the case at a lot of world events these days, it seems there are more journalists here at the United Nations than there are dignitaries -- and the halls and hotels are crowded with Ambassadors, Foreign Ministers, Prime Ministers and Presidents. A lot of them were in one room at the same time when President Bush hosted a reception last night. I had the rare opportunity to talk with people from Jamaica to Afghanistan to Africa to Panama all in one evening. When I travel or speak in America these days, people often tell me they don’t see me on television much anymore -- that’s because a big part of my job now is traveling abroad and communicating with international audiences through foreign media.
This morning I spoke live with hundreds of thousands of people in the Arab world by appearing on Al Arabiya, one of the leading television networks in the Middle East. Whenever I visit a country, and I’ve been to about 40 during the last two years, I usually do television and radio interviews (I've even appeared on what was described as the Indonesian version of "Oprah"). And whenever I do international interviews, the questions are quite literally a tour of the world. Today I was asked by BBC about the situation in Burma and how Americans view the UN general assembly (I explained that New Yorkers probably hate the traffic, but most of us recognize it’s good for world leaders to come together to talk about common problems). Al Arabiya asked about America’s reaction to Iranian President Ahmadinejad. I pointed out the hypocrisy of his using our free speech and free media to criticize our country, yet if someone spoke out against his government in a similar way in Iran they would be arrested. I also explained that America wants to engage with the Iranian people, who are enormously talented and creative -- the concern of the international community is with Iran’s government and its policies, not with its people.
Tomorrow, I will meet with journalists from a number of different countries in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. With the explosion of media in the world, we’re trying to do a better job of getting American voices into that media. We have only one Secretary of State, but we have more than two hundred Ambassadors and Chiefs of Mission who represent us in countries around the world. Part of my job is to get them out there speaking up on behalf of our country.