Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Paris, France to participate in a senior-level meeting of the Contact Group on Libya. Following the meeting, Secretary Clinton said:
"...Today, the international community must maintain the same sense of resolve and shared responsibility. We know from experience that winning a war is no guarantee of winning the peace that follows. That is why even as we sought to protect civilians and pressured Qadhafi to step down, we have supported the Libyans as they laid the groundwork for a transition to democracy that is just, inclusive, and sustainable. What happens in the coming days will be critical, and the international community has to help the Libyan people get it right."
As part of a commitment to the people of Libya, the United States is working with allies and partners to release frozen Libyan assets to the Transitional National Council (TNC). The United States is also supporting Libya in meeting its international commitments to non-proliferation agreements and stands ready to assist Libya in securing or safely eliminating materials and arms that pose proliferation risks.
In other news, both the United States and the African Union announced increases in humanitarian assistance to East Africa. In total, the United States is now providing more than $600 million in aid that is helping more than 4.6 million people suffering from drought and famine in the Horn of Africa.
Meanwhile, as violence escalated in the Blue Nile State of Sudan, the United States called on the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the forces of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/ Army-North (SPLM/A-M) to cease hostilities and for the SAF to end aerial bombings.
In Zimbabwe, Ambassador Charles Ray held a webchat with young people making a difference in their communities, while Counselor Cheryl Mills and Special Advisor for Global Youth Issues Ronan Farrow met with the first-ever delegation of Youth Ambassadors from Haiti at the Department of State in Washington, D.C.
Also in Washington last week, India's Deputy Inspector General Seema Dhundia -- commander of the first-ever, all-female formed police unit (FPU) to a UN mission -- visited the Department of State, where she discussed the participation of women in international peacekeeping missions. India deployed the all-female FPU to the UN Mission in Liberia in 2007 and continues to send the all-female units to support the local Liberia National Police.
Reflecting on 25 years as a U.S. diplomat, Senior Foreign Service Officer Terrence Williamson described helping to coordinate an evacuation of U.S. citizens from Liberia during the 1990s. Mr. Williamson wrote, "Looking back, I have had a rewarding career. I knew that when U.S. citizens needed their government in a crisis, my colleagues and I could help. ...But without an adequately funded State Department budget, our embassies and missions could struggle to perform the central and elementary tasks: protecting Americans, implementing programs that eradicate illness, hunger, and economic deprivation, and opening new markets to American businesses."
In remarks at the Center for American Progress, Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides addressed the State Department's budget. The Deputy Secretary said:
"...The State Department and USAID make up about one percent of the federal budget. Deep and disproportionate cuts in the State and USAID won't do anything or make any sense, if our goal is to enhance our national security.
"We know that resources are necessary to advance our national security interests and prosperity around the world, and we are at risk of not getting them. This is no time to retreat from the world, because as everyone knows, it is a critical moment in our foreign policy. We have a chance to capitalize on opportunities in the Middle East and to be part of an historic pivot point in the Arab world. We have the chance to invest in programs to curb and even prevent humanitarian crises. We need the resources to sustain our diplomatic presence and effectiveness..."
The United States also has a significant "stake in the prosperity and stability of Asia and the Pacific," as underscored by Vice President Joseph Biden's travel to China, Mongolia, and Japan. Vice President Biden said, "...America's focus on this critical region will only grow in the years to come as Asia plays an even greater role in the global economy and international affairs."
Earlier in the week, on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama sent greetings to Muslim communities in the United States and around the world. President Obama said:
"...Ramadan has been a time for families and communities to share the happiness of coming together in intense devotion, reflection, and service. Millions all over the world have been inspired to honor their faith by reaching out to those less fortunate. This year, many have observed the month while courageously persevering in their efforts to secure basic necessities and fundamental freedoms. The United States will continue to stand with them and for the dignity and rights of all people, whether a hungry child in the Horn of Africa or a young person demanding freedom in the Middle East and North Africa."
On behalf of everyone here at DipNote, I thank our readers for their comments and feedback, and wish all who are celebrating Labor Day a safe and restful holiday.