Last week, protestors gathered in Egypt's Tahrir Square. The White House Press Secretary condemned the excessive use of force against them and called for restraint on all sides. In a statement, the Press Secretary said:
"[We] urge the Egyptian authorities to implement an independent investigation into the circumstances of those deaths. But the situation Egypt faces requires a more fundamental solution, devised by Egyptians, which is consistent with universal principles.
"The United States strongly believes that the new Egyptian government must be empowered with real authority immediately. We believe that Egypt's transition to democracy must continue, with elections proceeding expeditiously, and all necessary measures taken to ensure security and prevent intimidation. Most importantly, we believe that the full transfer of power to a civilian government must take place in a just and inclusive manner that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, as soon as possible"
In other regional news, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced new sanctions on Iran. Secretary Clinton outlined these measures to increase pressure on Iran to comply with its full range of international nuclear obligations and to engage in constructive negotiations on the future of its nuclear program. Iran was also condemned in votes at the United Nations in New York and at the IAEA in Vienna. Secretary Clinton said, "The message is clear: If Iran's intransigence continues, it will face increasing pressure and isolation."
Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides addressed a new chapter in Iraq and acknowledged the enormous sacrifices from the Iraqi people and American troops and civilians. The Deputy Secretary also outlined ways the State Department is working to support job creation and economic growth here in the United States.
In other Department news, a new consulate compound opened in Mumbai, India on November 21, and the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations launched on November 22. Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh began preparations for Pacific Partnership 2012, a humanitarian mission scheduled to visit Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia next year.
Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Mike Hammer highlighted how the State Department is using social media, efforts that can be seen in places such as the Eastern Caribbean and the Philippines. Ambassador Luis Cdebaca described"Slavery Footprint," a web- and mobile-based application that allows users to understand how their lives intersect with modern slavery. Since its launch two months ago, the "Slavery Footprint" survey has been completed by more than one million people around the world.
On November 25, Ambassador Melanne Verveer joined individuals around the world to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and helped kick-off the global campaign "16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence" -- the days between November 25 and International Human Rights Day on December 10.
On Monday, November 28, President Barack Obama will welcome the leaders of the European Union to the White House for the U.S.-EU Summit. Ambassador William Kennard previewed the summit, and you can follow @USAmbEU and @US2EU on Twitter for updates during the meetings.
In the meantime, I hope all of our readers celebrating Thanksgiving last week had a wonderful holiday. Our colleagues in Afghanistan, Canada, and Libya shared with us some of the things for which they are grateful, and Ambassador Ertharin Cousin reminded us of ongoing efforts to combat hunger in the Horn of Africa.
In his Thanksgiving statement, President Obama said, “When we gather around our tables tomorrow to share the fruits of our blessings, let's remember what that means. Let's be grateful for what we have. Let's be mindful of those who have less. Let's appreciate those who hold a special place in our lives, and make sure that they know it. And let's think about those who can't spend the holiday with their loved ones -- especially the members of our military serving overseas. I'd like to thank all our men and women in uniform and their families for their incredible service and devotion.
"And that's what being an American is all about. Even when times are tough, we look out for each other. We lift each other up. And we remind ourselves just how lucky we are here, together, in the greatest country on Earth."