Over the weekend, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton concluded their travel to the Asia Pacific region to improve economic cooperation and renew relationships with a final stop in Indonesia. There, President Obama -- the first American president to attend the East Asia Summit -- worked with other leaders to expand trade opportunities. In addition, President Obama announced that Secretary Clinton will visit Burma to discuss that country's efforts to institute important democratic reforms.
Also in Indonesia, Secretary Clinton attended the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting. She said, "[B]y strengthening the diplomacy and presence abroad, we can strengthen our economies back home, and actually, vice versa. And the United States recognizes that, so we are making a pivot, a pivot toward the Asia Pacific region, where we intend to be a diplomatic, economic, and strategic force for the 21st century.”
Before traveling to Indonesia, President Obama visited Australia to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-Australia alliance. During his visit, the President addressed the Australian Parliament and spoke to Australian troops and U.S. Marines. In addition, President Obama and his counterpart, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, announced plans to expand military ties in Australia.
Meanwhile, Secretary Clinton visited the Philippines and Thailand to underscore the Administration's ongoing broader efforts to reaffirm and broaden our alliances, as well as demonstrate and U.S. support for Thailand's recovery efforts following severe flooding.
Also in the region, Director of the Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers Vangala Ram discussed participating in the Security and Defense Cooperation Forum (SDCF), a trilateral discussion among the United States, Australia, and Japan that provides an opportunity to discuss the evolving security environment and the prospects for trilateral cooperation.
Addressing multilateral cooperation in the South and Central Asia region, Assistant Secretary Robert Blake provided a readout of his visit to the Maldives, where he observed the 17th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit, a yearly gathering of the Heads of State from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. In Ankara, Economic Counselor Laird Treiber described the international response -- including assistance from the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Georgia, Sweden, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and the Ukraine, among others -- following the 7.3 earthquake struck Van and several towns in eastern Turkey.
In other news, November 14-20 marked Global Entrepreneurship Week, a worldwide celebration of entrepreneurial innovators and risk-takers who drive job creation and economic growth and inspire others to follow their lead. In Pakistan, Ambassador Cameron Munter noted how the textile industry offers an opportunity for the next generation of budding Pakistani entrepreneurs to acquire training and expertise to start their own companies, while in the Maghreb region, Special Representative Lorraine Hariton promoted global entrepreneurship through the U.S.-North Africa Partnership for Economic Opportunity (NAPEO).
In the United States, the LAUNCH: Energy Forum finalists -- demonstrating the entrepreneurial spirit -- presented their ideas for the provision of more sustainable energy sources and improved access to energy for both developed and developing world populations. Special Representative Reta Jo Lewis consulted with Silicon Valley technology experts to search for low-cost, innovative solutions that can improve growing global networks between elected state and local officials in the United States and their foreign counterparts, while Senior Outreach Coordinator for Commercial and Business Affairs Nancy Smith-Nissley participated in the 2011 Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) Conference, where public and private sector international executives met to exchange information, ideas, and best practices.
At Unleashing IdEA, Secretary Clinton announced via video message an initiative with the IDB, Univision Networks, m-Via, and others to engage entrepreneurs from Central America and Mexico to support the development of diaspora-centered partnerships that promote trade, investment, and innovation in the region.
Several other important partnerships and initiatives launched this week. The Department of State hosted the first ever Tunisia Partnerships Forum, an effort to engage the Tunisian diaspora and promote opportunities for Tunisian and American businesses looking to invest in Tunisia. Under Secretary Robert Hormats highlighted the announcement of a public-private partnership to create the world's first Global Food Safety Fund, and he joined Under Secretary Mario Otero in launching the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Mineral Trade, which seeks to help break the links between conflict and minerals, including gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum. Furthermore, the Bureau of Energy Resources began operations with the mission of promoting U.S. international energy engagement, influence how nations move to a cleaner energy future, and protect our energy infrastructure and transit routes.
This past week also marked International Education Week, during which the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) announced the grand prize winners of this year's Dance With Us: Motion Across Cultures photo contest. During the week, we also saw how filmmaking and sports translate across cultures and help unite us. Earlier in the month, ECA launched the Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship, which will allow fellows to serve in professional placements in foreign government ministries or institutions to gain hands-on public sector experience while carrying out academic research or a study project in participating foreign countries.
We hope you will join us in the week ahead as we mark the beginning of the Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, a campaign which starts on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25 and runs through International Human Rights Day on December 10.
In the meantime, I'd like to thank all of you for your feedback and comments this past week, and we look forward to hearing from you in the week ahead.