Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is traveling to the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar from January 8-13. At each stop, Secretary Clinton will consult with government officials on a full range of regional and bilateral issues, and emphasize the importance of government-civil society engagement. In addition to these meetings, the Secretary will engage with civil society and community leaders in each country working to help citizens realize shared aspirations for progress. This engagement underscores the U.S. commitment to support civil society and promote partnerships that lead to prosperity for the people of the region.
In Qatar, the Secretary will participate in the Seventh Forum for the Future, a joint initiative of the countries of the Broader Middle East and North Africa region (BMENA) and the industrialized countries of the Group of Eight (G-8). The ministerial event brings together civil society representatives and government officials to discuss and exchange ideas on how to best work together to foster progress and expand opportunities for the people of the region.
While en route to Abu Dhabi, Secretary Clinton briefed the traveling press today. The Secretary said, "...This trip is, in many ways, an important follow-up to one directly related trip and another that is equally significant but less direct. The first, of course, was a trip to Bahrain and the speech that I gave at Manama outlining our security agenda, and the countries I am visiting are all very strong partners in our security efforts, on counterterrorism, on the ongoing challenges posed by Iran, on dealing with the difficulties that we are working through as Iraq emerges into a sovereign, independent country, and so much else.
"At the same time, I gave a speech in Krakow last summer in which I talked about the importance of countries including civil societies, respecting human rights, involving women, empowering their citizens, and we have been very focused on building a system following up on that speech and making clear that civil society in every country needs to be part of our engagement as well as more involved by their governments.
"So in countries that I'm visiting I will be obviously meeting with leaders to continue the security dialogues that we are engaged in to talk through some of the challenges we face, but also reaching out very publicly to civil society and a lot of the activists and the NGOs that have been on the front lines working for change and a particular emphasis -- it will not surprise you -- on women and girls. So we'll be working in every one of the countries on that kind of dual track."
You can read the transcript of the Secretary's briefing here.