Earlier this week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton returned from her trip to Africa. In Ethiopia, Secretary Clinton became the first United States Secretary of State to address the African Union. She discussed democracy, economic growth, and peace and security. Secretary Clinton said, “All three are critical for a thriving region. All three must be the work both of individual nations and communities of nations. And all three present challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities we must address together."
On her stops in Zambia and Tanzania, Secretary Clinton visited sites supported by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), where she reaffirmed America's commitment to fighting AIDS and advancing global health. With Tanzanian Prime Minister Pinda, Secretary Clinton launched Feed the Future and highlighted the connections between agriculture and nutrition, with special attention to the critical 1,000-day window between pregnancy and a child's second birthday. USAID's Paul Weisenfeld addressed U.S. efforts during this critical time period for mothers and children.
NBA Star Samuel Dalembert and WNBA All-Star Nykesha Sales highlighted the importance of children's nutrition during UNICEF's annual Haitian Children's Week. Serving as Sports Envoys, the two visited the University Hospital of Haiti, where they toured the rebuilt nutrition center and visited with children and premature infants.
In other global health news, USAID's Chris Thomas and Ryan Cherlin described how the United States, which has long recognized the moral imperative and the inherent economic value of vaccines and immunization, played a lead role in founding and supporting the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). Similarly, Deputy Assistant Secretary Cook recently spoke at a conference of the Global Health Council emphasizing the importance of collaborative engagement among and between the United Nations, member states, and other stakeholders to tackle the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes) around the world.
Special Representative Lewis shared how the United States is gearing up for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, while the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO) is preparing for the UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris. Our colleagues in the IO Bureau wanted to share some of the impressive video submissions that young Americans sent as part of application process to represent the United States at the Youth Forum.
In Pakistan, Deputy Secretary Nides met with young alumni of U.S.-sponsored academic exchange programs. Meanwhile, the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board held its 251st quarterly meeting, and Board Chair Anita McBride described how the Fulbright Program is uniquely positioned to address the major challenges of this century, including in the areas of research and science.
Last week, the Department of State hosted over 100 representatives of the private sector, science organizations, governments, educators, and academia to ponder how to encourage women and girls to engage in science, technology, engineering, and math careers (STEM), and how to keep them in those careers.
The State Department also hosted some of the world's most influential bloggers, including the Middle East and Africa. One blogger from the Middle East said, "Our blogs are our voice, and our voices are finally being heard.” In an op-ed on Friday, Secretary Clinton condemned the violent crackdown in Syria and called for a transition to democracy.
In other news, Assistant Secretary Blake highlighted progress on the U.S.-Kyrgyzstan relationship following the inaugural session of U.S.-Kyrgyz Annual Bilateral Consultations (ABC). And our dedicated Foreign Service Liaison Officer for Pacific Partnership Tom Weinz shared with us Lieutenant Commander Casey Mahon's perspective on this annual humanitarian mission.
In the week ahead, Secretary Clinton will travel to Guatemala and Jamaica to participate in the International Conference of Support for the Central American Security Strategy and to meet with her Caribbean counterparts following her recent meeting with Jamaican Prime Minister Golding and last year's Caribbean Ministerial Meeting in Barbados. Fittingly, Secretary Clinton's travel to the region coincides with National Caribbean-American Heritage Month.
In anticipation of World Refugee Day on June 20, Assistant Secretary Schwartz held a conversation with George Rupp, President and CEO of the International Refugee Committee, on helping the world's refugees. For the past two weeks, we have featured stories of State Department employees who were once refugee themselves, including Anya Yakhedts Brunson, Azadeh Mansouri, Konstantin Dubrovsky, Shamim Kazemi, Stacey Somsichack, and Andy Pham. I sincerely hope you will take the time to read these inspirational stories.
And in case you missed it, check out the State Department's new iPhone app for travelers that provides easy access to frequently updated official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, U.S. embassy locations, and more.
I'd like to thank all of our readers for their feedback and comments from this past week. We look forward to hearing from you in the week ahead.