On May 9-10, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Vice President Joseph Biden, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner were joined by Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo for the third joint meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) in Washington, DC. Secretary Clinton described the U.S.-China S&ED as the premier forum in our bilateral relationship.
The U.S.-China S&ED addressed a range of issues, including climate change and energy security, education, and the advancement of women. Secretary Clinton said, "The Strategic and Economic Dialogue continues to grow broader and deeper. It reflects the complexity and the importance of our bilateral relationship."
Secretary Clinton highlighted the EcoPartnership program, which brings together U.S. and Chinese organizations to address some of our most profound environmental challenges. The Secretary also spotlighted the 100,000 Strong Initiative, a national effort designed to increase dramatically the number of American students studying in China. Likewise, Ambassador Verveer highlighted how the U.S.-China Women's Leadership Exchange and Dialogue (Women-LEAD) program will provide women with a platform to build partnerships across multiple sectors, from agriculture programs in rural China to the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley.
In other regional news, Special Representative Lorraine Hariton announced the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Women and the Economy Summit (WES), which will be held in San Francisco during September. The United States is hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in 2011, bringing together the 21 APEC member economies to discuss how to expand economic cooperation in the Asia Pacific region, and WES will involve more than 500 representatives from the APEC economies. Our dedicated Foreign Service Liaison Officer Tom Weinz shared how Pacific Partnership 2011 celebrated the United States' longstanding relationship with Vanuatu.
On May 11, Secretary Clinton highlighted U.S. partnerships throughout the Western Hemisphere at the 41st Washington Conference on the Americas. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela said the conference was "a great example of how decisively the countries of the Americas have turned the page on old ideologies and divisions and, almost without exception, are working together in myriad pragmatic ways to address common problems and create opportunity for our peoples." Secretary Clinton said, "…Changes like what we have seen in terms of economic opportunity and democratic reform do not happen by accident, they're not a part of natural evolution. They happen when people decide that they want those opportunities and changes for themselves, and leaders are prepared to lead."
Secretary Clinton congratulated Paraguay on 200 years of independence in a video message, and Assistant Secretary Arturo Valenzuela will represent the United States at the Paraguayan bicentennial celebrations. Also this week, Under Secretary William Burns joined Colombian Foreign Minister Angela Holguin in signing the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez said, "this agreement not only demonstrates the excellent state of our bilateral relations, but also holds the promise of an even closer partnership between our two countries."
During the week, Secretary Clinton became the first U.S. Secretary of State to lead a U.S. delegation to an Arctic Council meeting, during which she joined representatives from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden in signing a landmark Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement.
Meanwhile, Under Secretary of State Judith McHale traveled to South Africa and Senegal, where she highlighted the role young people are playing in shaping the future of Africa and the world and spotlighted ways to work with governments and citizens to partner with this generation to create positive change.
Engaging youth is a U.S. priority, and Anne Lee Seshadri described how the American Center in New Delhi works tirelessly to find creative ways to engage Indian students. Our photo of the week illustrated how the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek, Kygyrzstan, is supporting the rehabilitation of the Krasnaya Recka orphanage.
As a friendly reminder for U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 and 24, today is your final day to apply to represent the United States at the UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris during October 2011.
I'd like to thank all of our readers for their feedback and comments from this last week, and we look forward to hearing from you in the week ahead.