About the Author: Aaron Bruce serves as DipNote's Editorial Assistant.
Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday, a day U.S. citizens observe as a national day of service in honor of Dr. King -- an advocate for tolerance and equality among people of all backgrounds. In India, Ambassador Timothy Roemer remembered Dr. King by paying a visit to the Dalit community in New Delhi and honoring all those who fight for universal values. U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray reflected on how Dr. King's vision is still relevant today. Ambassador Ray wrote, "I too have a dream. I have a dream that the peoples of Africa -- in fact, the peoples of all the developing world -- will someday enjoy the fruits of democracy and open government."
The U.S. Embassy in Bogota posted questions through their Facebook and Twitter accounts to encourage Colombian audiences to learn more about the meaning of MLK Day, and the U.S. Consul in Bordeaux, France taught high school students about Dr. King's legacy and the Civil Rights Movement. At U.S. diplomatic posts in Brazil, two poster exhibitions celebrated the work of Dr. King. These exhibits also sought to recognize the International Year of People of African Descent -- declared by the United Nations and the Organization of American States for 2011.
As the middle of the week approached, President Barack Obama welcomed President Hu Jintao of China to Washington, DC for the third State Visit of the Obama Administration. During an interview with CCTV, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, "...We are now poised at the beginning of this new century to determine how the United States and China working together can keep the peace not just in Asia, but around the world; can help to grow the economy so that more people have a chance to live very satisfying, comfortable lives; that we tackle problems from health issues to piracy together."
Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton co-hosted a luncheon for President Hu at the State Department, and later Secretary Clinton signed a memorandum of understanding with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi signed to establish the U.S.-China Governors Forum, which will strengthen U.S.-China relations at the sub-national level. Addressing other efforts to advance our people-to-people relations, First Lady Michelle Obama and Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock discussed the "100,000 Strong" Initiative on the campus of Howard University. This initiative seeks to increase the number of U.S. students studying abroad in China.
At the White House, President Obama and President Hu held a joint press conference to discuss the visit. President Obama highlighted the successful meeting, in which the two discussed cooperation in commerce, science and technology, regional stability and security in East Asia, and moving forward with a formal dialogue on human rights. President Obama said, "Cooperation between our countries is...good for the world. Along with our G20 partners, we've moved from the brink of catastrophe to the beginning of global economic recovery. With our Security Council partners, we passed and are enforcing the strongest sanctions to date against Iran over its nuclear program. We've worked together to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula. And most recently, we welcomed China's support for the historic referendum in Southern Sudan."
The Southern Sudan referendum polling process successfully concluded, and Secretary Clinton said, “"The completion of a peaceful, orderly Southern Sudan referendum marks a significant achievement for the Sudanese people and a historic step toward full implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The United States commends the millions of Southern Sudanese people who participated in this historic process, and applauds both northern and southern leaders for creating conditions that allowed voters to cast their ballots freely and without fear, intimidation, or coercion."
In other news, Secretary Clinton called Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi to express continued support for the people of Tunisia in their path to a more democratic society. Alberto Rodriguez of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad told us that the United States is helping to vaccinate seven million Pakistani children against measles and polio, and Great Lakes Regional Refugee Coordinator Greg Shaw described his journey to evaluate U.S. assistance for refugees in the Republic of Congo.
In international economic news, Assistant Secretary Jose Fernandez informed us $60 billion in remittances flow from the United States to Latin American countries every year and described a new initiative aimed to make use of remittances for infrastructure projects, such as building roads and supporting entrepreneurship.
Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs Robert D. Hormats will be attending the Davos World Economic Forum. Under Secretary Hormats expects -- based on recent conversations he held with business leaders and government officials in the United States and abroad -- that the role of State Owned Enterprises (SOE's) in the global economy will be an important focus of conversation at Davos.
Secretary Clinton will travel to Mexico at the invitation of Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa on Monday, January 24, 2011. Stay tuned to DipNote for more information on the Secretary's trip, as well as for discussion on other foreign policy topics.