Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton participated in an interview with Sharif Amer of Al-Hayat TV, which was broadcast on October 1 in Cairo, Egypt. Secretary Clinton and Mr. Amer discussed Egypt's democratic transition and recent events in the region. She said, "...We are very impressed and encouraged by what we see happening in Egypt. We know this is a difficult transition period and, in the great span of Egyptian history, one of the most important moments of your history. And I think it's essential that all of us look at how much has been accomplished in the last eight months and the fact that elections are scheduled, that there is a path forward for this very vibrant, new democratic change is very encouraging and we think it's on the right track."
Secretary Clinton held bilateral meetings last week with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr, Nigerian Foreign Minister Ashiru, and Portuguese Foreign Minister Portas. In each meeting, Secretary Clinton and her counterparts discussed a wide variety of bilateral and global issues. During her joint press conference with Nigerian Foreign Minister Ashiru, Secretary Clinton addressed the assault on U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and the Embassy staff in Syria on September 29. She said, "…We condemn this unwarranted attack in the strongest possible terms. Ambassador Ford and his aides were conducting normal Embassy business, and this attempt to intimidate our diplomats through violence is wholly unjustified."
On September 30, Secretary Clinton released a statement on Iran's continuing human rights violations. She said, "The United States is deeply concerned by reports of the Iranian government's continued repression of its people. Despite statements from Iran's Supreme Leader and President claiming support for the rights and freedoms of Iranian citizens and people in the region, the government continues its crackdown on all forms of dissent, belief, and assembly. We are particularly concerned by reports that Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is facing execution on charges of apostasy for refusing to recant his faith. This comes amid a harsh onslaught against followers of diverse faiths, including Zoroastrians, Sufis, and Baha'is."
Secretary Clinton also traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas, where she discussed renewing America's global leadership for the Frank and Kula Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series. In her remarks, Secretary Clinton spoke of the death of Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. She said, "…Today we are all safer, but we recognize that the threat remains, that al-Qaida does maintain the ability to plan and carry out attacks, and that our vigilance is required. So we will, along with our partners and allies, continue to ratchet up the pressure, continue pursuing a comprehensive strategic approach to counterterrorism, and work to deny al-Qaida and its affiliates safe haven anywhere in the world."
Preventing proliferation and securing vulnerable nuclear materials remains a priority of the United States. Secretary Clinton signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Ukraine on Nuclear Security Cooperation on September 26. Meanwhile, Andreea Paulopol, a Physical Scientist in the Office of Verification and Transparency Technologies, shared her experiences as a UN Disarmament Fellow, where she is learning how the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) are integrating new measures and improved verification and compliance capabilities.
Ambassador Kurt Tong shared his experiences from the Third Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Senior Officials Meeting and Related Meetings (SOM 3) in San Francisco, where officials have been making progress on three themes of the host year: strengthening regional economic integration and expanding trade, encouraging environmentally sustainable growth, and promoting regulatory cooperation and convergence throughout the region. In other economic news, Ambassador David Adelman traveled to the United States for the "Five-Cities-Five-Days" National Export Initiative (NEI) Outreach tour, where he met with U.S. companies in America's heartland to talk about exporting to Singapore and Asia. Similarly, U.S. Chiefs of Mission to Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Panama, and Peru visited seven U.S. cities in two groups as part of a five-day tour to promote U.S. exports to Latin America.
In other news, Assistant Secretary Eric Schwartz discussed the challenges ahead in addressing humanitarian crises around the world at the U.S. Institute of Peace, while anticorruption experts from G-20 member countries met in Paris to assess progress on the fight against global corruption.
On a somber note, Secretary Clinton released a statement on the passing of Dr. Wangari Maathai. She said, "…From early on, Dr. Maathai was a tireless advocate for the environment, for women and for all those in the developing world who are unable to realize their potential."
The State Department is committed to advancing the rights of women and girls as a central focus of U.S. diplomacy and development. In Islamabad, the U.S. Embassy is promoting IT skills for Pakistani women. In Kabul, 17 Afghan women became the thirteenth class of policewomen to graduate an international narcotics and law enforcement program. With each graduating class, the number of trained, skilled policewomen grows, setting an example for the next generation of Afghan women. Furthermore, U.S. Embassy New Delhi hosted its third annual "Women in Science" workshop as part of its efforts to encourage women and girls to pursue careers in science and technical fields.
Last week marked the 11th anniversary of World Heart Day, created to educate people around the globe about the dangers of cardiovascular disease. Krysten Carrera highlighted how the United States is committed to the fight against cardiovascular disease through global and domestic initiatives. Also noteworthy, participants in the International Visitor Leadership Program joined Peace Corps alumnae to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps.
As the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series marks its 150th anniversary, the Office of the Historian launched an Oral History Program that will document the history of U.S. foreign relations and bring a historical perspective to current policy making.
In the week ahead, Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson will hold a conversation with Sam Worthington, President and CEO of InterAction, on the crisis in the Horn of Africa on Tuesday, October 4. Be sure to join the discussion by submitting your questions on DipNote. You can also follow the White House Tweetup for the arrival ceremony of the Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-bak October 13 on Twitter with the hashtag #WHTweetup.
To all members of the Jewish community who celebrated Rosh Hashanah this week, I would like to echo President Obama's message and wish you "a sweet year full of health, happiness, and peace."