A Perspective From the Press Filing Center in Egypt

Posted by Kyle Richardson
March 2, 2009
Secretary Clinton Meets Egyptian President Mubarak

Interactive Travel Map | Text the SecretaryAbout the Author: Kyle Richardson serves as the Assistant Information Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

At the International Gaza Reconstruction Conference taking place at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, representatives from over 70 countries and international organizations have packed the main conference hall this morning. Each country’s flag waves brightly in the stiff breeze outside the main door. In addition to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the participants at today’s conference include French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and the host, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who opened the first plenary session. Even as various staff aides race around the center making sure that their president or foreign minister has everything that they need, different layers of security provide a semblance of order.

The Press Filing Center is jam packed with journalists from all over the world who are huddled around television screens in three different rooms each with its own dedicated language feed piping in English, French and Arabic translations. Television cameras roam the halls capturing the controlled chaos as the print journalists listen to the opening speeches from the various heads of state hoping to get just the right quote for their stories. As one of the press officers from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, my first task this morning was to ensure that the journalists who came with the Secretary were able to get into the convention center. I am pleasantly surprised to see so many familiar faces from the Egyptian press corps and international correspondents based in Cairo in the filing center. An early crisis ensues as we realize that we have inadvertently taken space in the Arabic language room. A quick chat with the filing center deputy director and additional tables and chairs are provided to enlarge the space in the English language room ensuring that the traveling press will be able to follow the speeches.

After the opening speeches Secretary Clinton will begin a series of bilateral meetings in rooms with names like Suez and Sphinx in which she will meet with her counterparts from the Middle East and Europe to discuss the issues at hand in a more intimate setting. Cameras must be escorted to these meetings in order to take the pictures that will appear on television stations and the front pages of newspapers back in the United States. Later in the afternoon, after all of the bilateral meetings and working sessions have been completed, the Secretary will host a press conference in front of a gaggle of journalists that will number over a hundred. This will be the first opportunity for many in the Egyptian and international press to ask the Secretary a question, and as such a standing room only crowd is expected. Making sure the room is arranged just so will be the afternoon’s challenge!



California, USA
March 2, 2009

Patricia in California writes:

Thank you for your excellent post. It gives a sense of the time and effort it takes to ensure that the meetings go smoothly and that the positions discussed are communicated to the largest possible audience. Your post has a wonderful breathless quality to it that allows one to sense the excitement at the meeting.

Syrian P.
March 2, 2009

SNP in Syria writes:

Someone said that Egypt is a democracy. But the guy on the right side was ruling the country since I was in High School, decades ago. Are you sure it is not a monarchy ruled by Pharos, except the ancient one subjects may had better living standard and much more freedom. When will this Ammonite age ends, it really makes no difference at this point how bad things will ends up, as long as his end comes as well. Let praises upon Akhenaton and Tutankhaten for they had known the truth about the evil work of Daniel beast Amen, Ammon, Mammon.

Robert P.
California, USA
March 2, 2009

Robert P. in California writes:

I am very concerned that through this Gaza Reconstruction effort, U.S. tax dollars will end up in the hands of the terrorist organization Hamas. Therefore, I am not in favor of funding this project.

Florida, USA
March 2, 2009

Sharon in Florida writes:

I am very interested in the secretary's visit to the middle east. She is a remarkable woman and I greatly admire her.

Connecticut, USA
March 2, 2009

Terry in Connecticut writes:

Thanks for keeping us posted w/pics and Secretary Hillary Clinton's travels! Keep it coming.

California, USA
March 3, 2009

Nancy in California writes:

What assurances will the U.S. get from the Palestinians that our aid won't be used for weapons? Does the U.S. ever demand that Israel agree to the 2-state solution if they want to continue receiving funds from the U.S.?

Brad B.
March 3, 2009

Brad B. writes:

Large amounts of money are to be made available for Gaza even though Hamas is still the government and even though rockets continue to fall on Israel.

Donor countries will obviously protest any future actions against Gaza that cause destruction.

The message is thus clear that Israel may be attacked at will and Israel may not respond.

Betrayal, bit by bit.

United States
March 7, 2009

Eva in U.S.A. writes:

Surely Clinton knows this meeting is just a staged show. There is no true democracy nor freedom of press in Egypt.

Ohio, USA
April 16, 2009

Thomas in Ohio writes:

Hi This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone


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