About the Author: Luke Forgerson serves as DipNote's Managing Editor.
This week, President Barack Obama embarked on a ten-day trip to Asia. The trip began in India, where the President promoted the U.S.-India Partnership on Open Government and addressed a joint session of the Indian Parliament. The President also addressed university students in Indonesia, participated in the G-20 Summit in South Korea and gathered with other leaders for the APEC Summit in Japan.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton concluded her travel to Asia and the Pacific with a visit to Australia, where she met with Foreign Minister Rudd, underscored the importance of U.S. trade, and held a townterview with Australian youth.
The President and Secretary joined Americans around the world in honoring our veterans. President Obama spoke to U.S. troops and veterans at the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in South Korea, and we at the State Department saluted the Marine Security Guards who serve at U.S. diplomatic missions around the world.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul observed Veteran's Day with U.S. Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham and Kirsten Gillibrand in a ceremony hosted by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry. Embassy Kabul also released photographs of Ambassador Eikenberry's visit to Nimroz. With this visit, Ambassador Eikenberry has now been to all 34 provinces of Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan's Helmand province, we saw a multinational effort advancing education, governance and development. The United States also awarded Ball State University a grant to assist Kandahar University, and a partnership between the Afghan and U.S. governments will use renewable energy to bring light to Kabul's street lamps.
In Washington, Secretary Clinton announced budget assistance for the Palestinian Authority, and she met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in New York. The Secretary also commented on the Iraqi government coalition agreement, which she called “a milestone in the emergence of the new Iraq and…a testament to the determination of the Iraqi people to build their own democracy.”
Young Legislative Fellows from 17 countries spent the week learning about government and the democratic process in Washington, D.C., and the State Department's historians offered concluding thoughts on the U.S. experience in Southeast Asia, 1946-1975. Elsewhere, American diplomats helped advance development in Paraguay's Northern Zone, highlighted American photography in New Delhi, and joined other governments' officials and NGO leaders in Bangkok to underscore a shared commitment to countering corruption, a message made clear at the G-20 Summit in Seoul. U.S. diplomats also met with their counterparts from other governments to address combating piracy off the Horn of Africa.
Secretary Clinton addressed another centuries old scourge: slavery. In an op-ed published in newspapers around the world, Secretary Clinton renewed her call for an end to human trafficking. She called trafficking -- modern slavery -- "an affront to basic human dignity in the United States and around the world."
Assistant Secretary Eric Schwartz called for migrants to be treated with human dignity and respect as the international community addresses migration policies in the 21st century. Under Secretary Maria Otero, after meeting with NGO leaders and activists who are addressing persecution of people based on sexual orientation, reminded us that "human rights are gay rights, and gay rights are human rights." The State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom addresses human dignity and respect in the context of how U.S. foreign policy can promote religious freedom. The Office carries out its mission through a variety of means, including the publication of an annual report.
The State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) seeks to help protect the lives and interests of U.S. citizens abroad. We saw this firsthand as U.S. diplomats made a consular call in Bhutan, where they took citizen services into the Himalayas. U.S. citizens can sign up for the CA Bureau's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to stay connected and informed while they are traveling or living abroad.
As the week concluded, people around the world celebrated the release of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Earlier in the week, the White House and the State Department issued statements on Burma's November 7 elections and joined others in calling for Aung San Suu Kyi's release. Upon her release, Secretary Clinton said:
"…Aung San Suu Kyi has endured enormous personal sacrifice in her peaceful struggle to bring democracy and human rights to Burma, including unjustified detention for most of the past twenty years. …We urge Burma's leaders to break with their repressive policies and begin an inclusive dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratic and ethnic leaders towards national reconciliation and a more peaceful, prosperous, and democratic future."