Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton discussed new efforts across the U.S. government to support women's participation in peace and security, including plans to better protect women from conflict-related violence and promote women's leadership and perspectives in all aspects of conflict prevention, resolution, relief, and recovery.
Secretary Clinton also spoke with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula following the death of Kim Jong Il. She said, “We both share a common interest in a peaceful and stable transition in North Korea, as well as in ensuring regional peace and stability.”
State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland discussed the situation in Egypt. She said, "The United States is deeply concerned that Egyptian judicial and police officials raided the offices of a number of nongovernmental organizations today, including the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute…We call on the Egyptian Government to immediately end the harassment of NGOs, NGO staff, return all property, and resolve this issue immediately."
Spokesperson Nuland congratulated the people of Tunisia for achieving another critical step in their transition -- selecting three key leadership positions: Speaker of the Constituent Assembly, President of the Republic, and Prime Minister of Tunisia.
In other regional news, Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner condemned the regime violence in Syria, and the White House Press Secretary issued a statement on Iraq. He said, "Attempts such as this to derail Iraq's continued progress will fail. Iraq has suffered heinous attacks like this in the past, and its security forces have shown they are up to the task of responding and maintaining stability."
Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller highlighted the progress of the New START Treaty one year after Senators gave their advice and consent to the Treaty. Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller said the New START Treaty is enhancing our national security by building predictability and stability between the United States and Russia, still the world's two largest nuclear powers. The Assistant Secretary also traveled to Europe, where she worked with counterparts in Brussels, London, Sofia, Bucharest, and Chisinau to revitalize arms control.
The United States continue to be the world's leading donor to conventional weapons destruction, including humanitarian mine action. On December 19, Secretary Clinton and Assistant Secretary Shapiro released the tenth edition of To Walk the Earth in Safety, the Political Military Affairs Bureau's annual report on the United States' Conventional Weapons Destruction Program.
Special Envoy Todd Stern highlighted progress made in combating global climate change following the conclusion of the 17th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa.
In international law enforcement news, the U.S. Department of State's Rewards for Justice Program (RFJ) issued a reward offer of up to $10 million for information leading to the location of al-Qaida financier and operative Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, better known as Yasin al-Suri. This announcement marks the first time that the RFJ program had offered a reward for information leading to a terrorist financier. Meanwhile, Foreign Service Officer Alyce Ahn underscored the success of a week-long workshop held in Sierra Leone to increase the capacity of law enforcement officials in West Africa.
In educational and cultural affairs, Assistant Information Officer Aimee Dowl described how the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia is preparing Brazilian students to study in the United States, and in cultural news, Cultural Affairs Officer Emily Ronek discussed Ping Pong Diplomacy's 40th Anniversary celebration, in which members from the original 1971 U.S. Table Tennis Association, current players on the U.S. national team, and officials from the U.S. Olympic Committee spent a week in China earlier this month. Also, the Afghan Olympic Committee celebrated the re-opening of the newly renovated Ghazi Stadium in Kabul on December 15.
On a commemorative note, Ambassador Pamela Spratlen and the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek celebrated 20 years of friendship and cooperation between the Kyrgyz Republic and the United States.
If you have a chance, be sure to read about Rudi Sarna and Lacy Cope's experiences interning in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the Department of State.
We hope you are having a happy holiday season, whether you are lighting the menorah, decorating the tree, or traveling to visit loved ones. We look forward to hearing more from you -- our dedicated DipNote readers -- in 2012. Happy New Year!