Today, President Barack Obama is in Brazil, the first of three countries he is visiting this week in Latin America. The trip coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy's launch of the Alliance for Progress -- a pledge that the United States would join with Latin American leaders to address poverty and inequality.
President Obama said, "As one of the world's fastest-growing economies, Brazil has lifted tens of millions from poverty into a growing middle class. Today, the United States and Brazil are the hemisphere's two largest democracies and the two largest economies. Brazil is a regional leader promoting greater cooperation across the Americas and, increasingly, Brazil is a global leader, a world leader, going from a recipient of foreign aid to a donor nation, pointing the way to a world without nuclear weapons and being in the forefront of global efforts to confront climate change. As President, I've pursued engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. And a key part of this engagement is forging deeper cooperation with 21st century centers of influence, including Brazil."
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton previewed the President's trip and outlined opportunities for engagement in the region, before departing herself for Paris, where she met with European allies and Arab partners about the enforcement of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 on Libya.
President Obama said, "...In response to a call for action by the Libyan people and the Arab League, the UN Security Council passed a strong resolution that demands an end to the violence against citizens. It authorizes the use of force with an explicit commitment to pursue all necessary measures to stop the killing, to include the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya. It also strengthens our sanctions and the enforcement of an arms embargo against the Qaddafi regime."
The President continued, "Now, once more, Moammar Qaddafi has a choice. The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Arab states agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop. Qaddafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya, and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya. Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable."
From the Tunisian border, Assistant Secretary Eric Schwartz provided his observations on the humanitarian challenges faced by those in the region due to the conflict in Libya. During a visit to Tunisia last week, Secretary Clinton went to a Red Crescent Training Center in Tunis and addressed Tunisia's humanitarian response to the crisis on its border with Libya.
Earlier in the week, Secretary Clinton traveled to France for G-8 meetings and to Egypt, where she visited Tahrir Square and met with Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and Foreign Minister Nabil Al-Araby. While in France, she met with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed and Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto, with whom she discussed the ongoing response to the earthquake and tsunamis.
President Obama visited the Japanese Embassy in Washington to offer his condolences and delivered remarks on the situation in Japan. President Obama said, "...We will stand with the people of Japan as they contain this crisis, recover from this hardship, and rebuild their great nation."
Throughout the week, U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos provided updates on the circumstances surrounding the earthquake and described U.S. humanitarian relief efforts in Japan. Conveying the sentiment of the American people, Ambassador Roos said, "Today our hearts remain with our Japanese friends." Laura Rodriguez of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) shared information on how all of us can help the Japanese people.
USAID marks its fiftieth anniversary this year, as does the Peace Corps. U.S. diplomat Christopher Lambert told us about his journey from Peace Corps volunteer to Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In nearby Haiti, Haitians went to the polls on March 20 for the second round of presidential and legislative elections.
In other news, Joanne Levine described efforts to hold Iran accountable for its human rights record. Special Envoy Hannah Rosenthal told us how young people of different backgrounds are finding mutual understanding through the 2011 Hours Against Hate Campaign.
Secretary Clinton received an update on progress in Northern Ireland from the Right Honorable Mr. Peter Robinson, M.L.A., First Minister of Northern Ireland and Mr. Martin McGuinness, M.P., M.L.A., Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. The Secretary also met with Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore, and wished everyone a Happy St. Patrick's Day.
In Africa, the Troika -- Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States -- urged the National Congress Party and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement to resume talks in Sudan. Assistant Secretary Jose Fernandez addressed how the United States is countering piracy off the Horn of Africa by disrupting pirates' financial networks. Ambassador Eric Goosby described how U.S. PEPFAR programs support African efforts to fight global AIDS, and reflected on the progress made in advancing the health of women and girls around the world.
In the South and Central Asian region, U.S. Embassy Kabul announced a contribution to the National Museum of Afghanistan and the launch of a communications infrastructure program. In the Kyrgyz Republic, the Civilian Response Corps is supporting U.S. assistance efforts in the country's southern region, and U.S. Embassy Ashgabat is helping expand access to the Internet for women in Turkmenistan.
Under Secretary Robert Hormats underscored the importance of innovation worldwide and recognized young American scientists. Paul Cunningham described how the Arctic Council Meetings are enhancing international environmental cooperation. Under Secretary Maria Otero will be participating in an online discussion about global water issues on Monday, March 21. You can submit questions to her in advance of the conversation here. We hope you join us for this dialogue.
On a final note, State Department colleagues and counterparts around the world paused to remember former Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Secretary Clinton said, "I was deeply saddened by the passing of my friend and predecessor Warren Christopher. The longer I spend in this job, the deeper my appreciation grows for the giants who came before. Warren was a diplomat's diplomat -- talented, dedicated and exceptionally wise."
Secretary Clinton continued, "As well as anyone in his generation, he understood the subtle interplay of national interests, fundamental values and personal dynamics that drive diplomacy. Along with the late Richard Holbrooke, Warren led the effort to bring peace to the Balkans in the 1990s. Over his long career in public service, he also helped establish diplomatic relations with China, oversaw the expansion of NATO, worked tirelessly for peace in the Middle East, and championed human rights around the world. America is safer and the world is more peaceful because of his service."