This week, President Barack Obama saluted the service of the armed forces who fought in Iraq and helped bring the war to an end at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. President Obama said, “…One of the most extraordinary chapters in the history of the American military will come to an end. Iraq's future will be in the hands of its people. America's war in Iraq will be over."
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted the U.S.-Iraq Joint Coordination Committee with Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari to define our new partnership with a free and democratic Iraq at the Department of State. She said, “…[O]ur new beginning is founded in mutual understanding, shared interests, and mutual respect for each other as sovereign equals. We share the same goal, building a self-reliant Iraq with a government that is able to serve the needs of the Iraqi people.
On December 14, Secretary Clinton delivered the keynote address at the International Engagement Conference for South Sudan, focusing on how the United States and international community can partner with South Sudan to help create the conditions that make successful development possible.
The Secretary Clinton also joined PBS NewsHour's Jim Lehrer for “Innovation and the Global Marketplace: A Discussion on American Innovation, Trade, and the Next 10 Million Jobs.” Secretary Clinton said, “…[W]hat we've tried to do in the State Department is to demonstrate clearly that economic statecraft is an essential part of American diplomacy, and we want to use all of the tools and the forces of the global economy, harnessed with our diplomacy, on behalf of America's interest and values and on behalf of the job creation that we need here at home.”
The advancement of women is always a fundamental priority of U.S. foreign policy. On December 15, Secretary Clinton hosted “The Women in Public Service Project,” which will identify and educate a new generation of women committed to public service, create an infrastructure of support and mentoring, and help enable more women to enter public service and political leadership.
Secretary Clinton also held bilateral meetings with UK Foreign Secretary Hague, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, President of Bosnia and Herzegovina Komsi, President of Kosovo Jahjaga, Australian Foreign Minister Rudd, and Danish Foreign Minister Sovndal. In each meeting, Secretary Clinton and her counterparts discussed a wide variety of bilateral, regional, and global issues.
Upon learning of the death of Vaclav Havel, Secretary Clinton said, "...His death is a loss for the Czech Republic and for human rights defenders around the world. He was an inspiration to me and I was proud to call him a friend."
In other news, Under Secretary Robert Hormats participated in the U.S.-EU Transatlantic Economic Council, or TEC, which helps strengthen U.S.-EU economic ties by promoting innovation, streamlining regulations, and eliminating barriers to trade and investment. He also delivered the keynote address at the 5th U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum, which he called a key opportunity to engage Chinese counterparts on important Internet-related issues -- such as international standards, intellectual property protection, cyber security, and Internet freedom.
While December 10, International Human Rights Day, marked the end of the annual “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Acting Assistant Secretary David Robinson discussed how the Department of State continues to work with partners inside and outside the U.S. government on a daily basis to prevent and respond to gender-based violence among some of the world's most vulnerable people.
To help put a face on the global fight against hunger, Ambassador Ertharin Cousin traveled to Guatemala on her third Media Tour as Ambassador to the UN Agencies in Rome in an effort to show international journalists the diverse work the United States and UN agencies are doing on the ground around the world.
In educational and cultural news, Senior Advisor Suzanne Hall discussed the launch of the Department of State's first mobile-based English learning program in Tunisia, and Vice Consul Andrew Zvirdin described how the U.S. Embassy in Majuro supports education in the Marshall Islands. The Office of Art in Embassies (AIE) is collaborating with the Department of Defense on a historic exhibition of inspired photographs from overseas service, "Serving Abroad...Through Their Eyes." If you are a current or former military, civil, and Foreign Service officer, you can submit a photo for this special exhibit.
In Africa, Public Affairs Officer Omar Cardentey highlighted the inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy compound in Djibouti, which plays a vital role in promoting stability in the Horn of Africa. Meanwhile, Foreign Service Officer Tom Weinz discussed the importance of local counterparts to both the site surveys and the Pacific Partnership mission itself as the Pre-Departure Site Survey team finished its work in Indonesia.
In Afghanistan, Assistant Program Manager Kate McFarland highlighted a U.S.-funded program that offers new hope for Afghanistan's landmine survivors. Secretary Clinton will deliver remarks at the release of the To Walk the Earth in Safety Report on December 19 at 10:30 a.m. (EST), and will later that day deliver remarks on "Women, Peace and Security" at 2:30 p.m. (EST). You can watch a live webcast of her remarks on www.state.gov or here on DipNote.
In the mean time, be sure to check out the tips to help prevent becoming a scam victim from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services aims to protect U.S. citizens overseas, but also provides protection to U.S. citizens who are at home, being victimized from abroad.
I'd like to thank all of you for your feedback and comments this past week, and I'd like to wish you a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.