10.02.2005

State's Hughes Visits Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey

Under secretary opens new dialogue to address "generational struggle of ideas"

Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes is visiting Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to begin what she calls a new dialogue in public diplomacy intended to address “a generational struggle of ideas.”

“I view this trip as the beginning of a new dialogue that is very much people-driven -- public diplomacy is people-driven and it's policy-driven because our policies affect people's lives,” Hughes told reporters en route to Cairo, Egypt, September 25.

She said her trip to the three predominately Muslim countries with close ties to the United States takes place within the context of a long-term struggle of ideas that, over time, will lead to a shift in overseas attitudes toward U.S. policies.

Hughes predicted a change in attitude toward the United States will occur as the United States works to create “greater freedom” and “more space for people to achieve their legitimate aspirations.” She said that, in contrast to terrorists’ values, U.S. policies are designed to promote education, opportunity, freedom of speech and expression.

The under secretary said discussions are under way about a “revitalized interagency process” within the U.S. government that makes public diplomacy an integral part of a national security strategy “to wage and win a worldwide struggle of ideas.”

Involving the private sector is another means of making U.S. public diplomacy more effective, she said, adding that organization of a university presidents’ summit is being considered to focus on ways to attract more foreign students to study in the United States and to encourage more American students to study abroad and learn different languages and cultures.

She also said she is interested in creating a program that would allow retired teachers, lawyers, business leaders and other professionals to go overseas and provide training.

“[W]e will train them for English language teaching, for business development. My own husband is going to Kazakhstan next month to teach -- … it's a partnership with a university there, and I realize [there are] so many people like my own husband, who are at a point in their lives where they want to do things like that, and it could be a wonderful program for our country to help share some of the knowledge and expertise that we have that some of the world wants, in a way that also links citizens of the world with Americans,” Hughes said.

Hughes said that she would be listening to a wide spectrum of opinion leaders during her stays in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey and that she hopes for reciprocity from her hosts.

“I hope to listen, to seek to understand, to show respect. Listening is a two-way street, and so I hope that those people I meet will also return that open spirit and be willing to listen,” Hughes said.

The under secretary said this is a time of great promise for Egypt as a result of economic and democratic reforms. She said the United States hopes to see greater democratic progress take place in Egypt when parliamentary elections are held in the near future.

In keeping with President Bush’s support for interfaith dialogue, Hughes scheduled meetings in Cairo with Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi of Al-Azhar University and Pope Shenouda, the leader of the Coptic Christian church in Egypt. Hughes said she also plans to speak with young people and women. (See related article.)

Commenting on her stop in Saudi Arabia, Hughes said the kingdom is an important partner with the United States in the War on Terror. She said she intends to raise U.S. concerns about human-rights issues in Saudi Arabia, while understanding that change in this matter “will come at its own pace.”

Turkey, the third stop on her trip, is an important democratic state and a key U.S. ally that bridges Europe and Asia and is carrying out important peacekeeping functions in Afghanistan. She said Turkey and the United States are similar in that both countries have assimilated people from many different backgrounds and places.

During her discussions in the three countries, Hughes said she will not try to conceal the shortcomings of American society. Hughes said democracies have imperfections and she will acknowledge to her interlocutors that the United States does not have all the answers to social ills.

Hughes in Turkey Discusses Iraq, Middle East Peace, U.S. Image

Under secretary of state also thanks Turkey for support after Hurricane Katrina

By Jeffrey Thomas
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes continued her goodwill tour to key Muslim nations September 28, arriving in Ankara, Turkey, where she met with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and his under secretary, Ambassador Ali Tuygan.

In a press briefing after the meeting, Hughes thanked the government and people of Turkey for their outpouring of support after Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf Coast.

“The Embassy told me how people would come by the Embassy and bring envelopes with single bills or coins. It was just a true outpouring that demonstrated the great warmth and hospitality and generosity of the Turkish people to America in our hour of need. We are so, so very grateful for that,” Hughes said.

Turkey and America have common interests and common values, including a belief in democracy “and a respect for individual and human rights, and the rights of women,” she said.
Hughes said her discussions with the Turkish officials also covered issues such as America’s support for Turkey’s membership in the European Union, and both nations’ “strong commitment to fighting terror.”

“And I want to make it very clear that America absolutely condemns the PKK,” the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which the United States has officially designated a terrorist organization, Hughes said. “We know that the citizens of Turkey are suffering. Every week, Turks are being killed by PKK terrorists.”

“As our National Security Advisor Steve Hadley said, we are committed to doing more, to confronting this terror threat to the people of Turkey,” she said.

HUGHES RESPONDS TO QUESTIONS

As in her previous stops in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Hughes responded to questions regarding the war in Iraq, U.S. policy on Palestinians, and the U.S. image overseas.

Concerning Iraq, Hughes said the United States faces “a public diplomacy challenge here in Turkey, as we do in different places throughout the world.”

“The way to overcome that is to for America to work in partnership, in consultation with the leadership here in Turkey,” she said. “And we want to work together to ensure that Iraq emerges as a unified and stable democracy.”

Ambassador Tuygan agreed on the need for “a deeper dialogue, a more structured dialogue.”

On Iraq, the Middle East, the Caucasus, and the spread of democracy, Tuygan said, “our views converge on all these matters. So I think the prospects for moving forward are very solid.”

Noting that President Bush is the first U.S. president to call publicly for the creation of a Palestinian state, Hughes said, “We want the people of Palestine to have a state of their own. We want children growing up in the Palestinian territories to be able to be educated, and to get good jobs, and to have a future that they can aspire to.”

In Iraq, the United States wants to see a stable, unified and democratic country emerge, just as many Turks and others in the region do, she said.

“In terms of Iran, we are working with the international community, which has concerns about Iran and about its pursuit of nuclear technology,” Hughes said.

“In terms of Syria, we are also working with the international community and Syria's neighbors to send a clear message that it is important that Syria -- and we are unequivocal about this, not just the United States of America but also Syria's neighbors and the international community -- that Syria needs to do more to close its borders and stop allowing insurgents to flow across its border.”

A transcript of the under secretary’s remarks at the Turkish Foreign Ministry is available on the State Department Web site.

Source: The Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.

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