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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal Evelyn S. Lieberman Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy
and Public Affairs

National Foreign Policy Conference for Leaders of
Non-Governmental Organizations,
U.S. Department of State, Dean Acheson Auditorium, May 19, 2000

Blue Bar

As delivered

America Reaching Out

In the interests of full disclosure, I asked to be invited to this event to speak to you today; there really wasn't a choice on the part of the host, and I thank you for accepting my invitation to invite myself. I wanted to thank you for the work that you do because so many of you are part of the programs of the office that I run. There is no way we could succeed without your help, your guidance, your advice, and your criticism -- all of which we take very seriously.

I consider the highest compliment that one of my colleagues said that I was approachable. The reason that I am approachable is because I want to hear from people who are not -- let me see if I can say this in the right way -- who are not just part of the institutions of the government but rather the people around the country and around the world who are implementing these very important people-to-people exchange programs including both Fulbright programs. There is no way that we could be as successful as we are without ordinary Americans, the people who are the lifeblood of the work that we do.

I know you've heard a lot today and will hear a lot from the Department, people who represent the Department today, as we express our interest in and talk about the necessity of working more closely with the NGOs in order to carry out US foreign policy effectively. This is especially true when it comes to the conduct of public diplomacy and public affairs.

The recognition of our changing times and the growing international role of business, NGOs, and the media were, in part, responsible for the merger of the United States Information Agency and the State Department last Fall which created the Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. The size and scope of this consolidation reflected the President's and Secretary Albright's and Congress' determination to move public diplomacy up to be part of foreign policy development, no longer to be something that comes in the wake of Department policy decisions.

We all know that the primacy of the private sector and the expanding influence of NGOs not only here but around the world are, to a large extent, helping to drive international relations these days. These forces, combined with the Internet technology and instant global media, have put an end to the days of traditional foreign policy conducted behind closed doors. These forces also significantly increase the State Department's need for effective public diplomacy and public affairs in the daily competition for ideas and policies.

Our aim is to combine public diplomacy with traditional diplomacy in order to keep pace with global communications and compete with the growing multiplicity of voices that fill world media and shape world opinion. The former USIA has always worked cooperatively with NGOs in the public diplomacy arena; indeed, we could not exist without all of you. But we still need to do a better job of going public together on many of the issues where we agree and where we seek the same goals.

My job, in the relatively brief time that I will serve as Under Secretary, is to build a lasting framework for American public diplomacy. We are working to set a foundation and a process for public diplomacy that proves durable for Secretary Albright and for her successor and mine. One of the best ways to do this is to continue to cooperate with NGOs as we give American diplomacy a new voice to advance our nation's interest and to proclaim our people's values.

So far, our work is on track. We have public diplomacy people working in all of the Department's regional and functional bureaus, where their expertise is providing a new asset in policy development. In the field, we have some administrative kinks to still work out, but public diplomacy people have always been part of our ambassadors' country teams; operationally this merger is going very smoothly at posts.

I am meeting with all of the public affairs officers at their annual regional conferences, and I am stressing the need to continue to work overseas with NGOs. As on other matters, the field is generally ahead of Washington, and I have been pleased to learn the extent to which our field officers are working in tandem with the NGOs sharing in-country resources and promoting commonly held objectives.

To make sure that our public diplomacy programs are working well, including education and cultural programs, we recently polled all of our ambassadors to see what they thought of our programs. We got back an astonishing 123 responses from the ambassadors who said unanimously that the public outreach and exchange programs that bring people together are the root of successful diplomacy. Not surprisingly, our ambassadors called on us to provide more resources for these programs.

Unfortunately, we struggle to do that because we are in constant search of adequate resources. As you probably already know, spending for foreign affairs amounts to less than one penny of every federal dollar, and we seem to be getting further pushed back. Public diplomacy programs are especially hard hit at a time when we should be bolstering them. I wish I had that one penny for every time I've asked "How much money do you think our government spends on foreign affairs?". The answer is always between 20 and 50 percent. It's one percent, one penny of the dollar.

While our primary focus is on implementing the USIA merger into State and building a foundation for public diplomacy, our second focus, even in the absence of increasing funds, is to strengthen cultural diplomacy. The Secretary believes that cultural concerns must be better integrated into the day-to-day conduct of United States foreign policy. Indeed, culture and American foreign policy are not often used in the same sentence, let alone the same paragraph -- and the Secretary wants to change that.

One of the greatest lessons of the last decade is that despite globalization, the Internet, the cell phone, CNN, and all the forces that seem to be pulling us together, the competing forces of national and cultural identity simply will not be denied. Our foreign policy will not be optimally implemented if we are oblivious to this fact or to the need to understand and respect other people's cultures.

It is not remarkable that America's global economic strength brings us admiration coupled sometimes with resentment and jealousy. In recent months, we've seen press reports of a growing feeling in other nations that America is not only strong but also arrogant and often insensitive to the attitudes and heritage of others. The fact is that we in America derive our strength from our diversity; we do respect other cultures but we're not always good at expressing that respect.

This matters for some very practical reasons. Culture and cultural differences have a major impact on many of the foreign policy issues we and NGOs confront, from trade and biotechnology to ethnic conflict and the treatment of women. NGOs know well how culture defines community. Those of you whose organizations work every day at the community level know that our cultures give us our roots. They bind us to each other, and they are the key to peaceful growth and prosperity.

We need to work with you and NGOs all over the world on what strategies to adopt and what approaches we can take to better convey cultural sensitivity, to strengthen cultural exchange programs, and to build a lasting framework for international cultural interactions. Of course, we will continue the vital exchange programs that have for years provided cultural bridges crossed by hundreds of thousands of Americans and people of other cultures. We have always employed culture as a development tool, and we work to shape global cultural relationships.

The programs I am talking about are the programs with which many of you here are involved: the Fulbright Senior Scholar Program for example, which sends 1,000 Americans to 140 countries each year to lecture and conduct research; the Fulbright Student program which supports 800 Americans studying abroad and 3,000 foreign students studying in this country. Our Citizens Exchange Program does equally important work, funding the participation of 1,000 Americans and 3,000 foreign citizens and professional and cultural exchanges. Our International Visitors Program will enable 4,000 to 5,000 current and emerging foreign leaders to visit America this year.

Among our International Visitors alumni are more than 200 current and former heads of state or chiefs of foreign government. I would call this a serious benefit. We also are pleased about the new international education policy spelled out in a National Policy Directive signed last month by President Clinton. The result of cooperation between the State Department and the Department of Education, this presidential policy calls for a coherent and coordinated international educational strategy. It calls for a doubling of exchanges over the next decade, increasing the number of Americans who study abroad, encouraging more overseas students to study in this country, expanding language learning programs, reviewing regulations that hinder exchanges, and making sure we make full use of technology in international programs. Needless to say, NGOs are the driving force behind this policy and they will play a significant role in helping us implement this directive.

I'm finding it very interesting, also, as I travel around the world and talk to some of the alumni of our programs and some of the people who are our liaison with these programs. They have talked to me about the competition among countries for these foreign students. We are not the only ones recognizing the importance and the value of these exchanges, and there is increasing competition for students to study in other countries, not just here.

Secretary Albright is determined to extend and build on the success of our exchange programs, to strengthen cultural diplomacy, and to move culture to the center of foreign policy decision-making. I just want to say as an aside here that part of the reason we have been able to be successful as we have moved USIA into the State Department is that the Secretary is such an enthusiastic advocate for all of these programs; everywhere she goes and in all her speeches, she talks about these public diplomacy programs, these exchange programs. Very often, when we submit weekly reports to her and talk to her about the things that are happening around the world, she'll write a note back to say, "tell me more; let's send this information over to the President; let's get this information out more." This enthusiasm and support has helped tremendously as we work hard to institutionalize the public diplomacy programs and the things that we do within the Department so that whoever comes after me and whoever comes after Secretary Albright will have a foundation from which to work and won't have to start from the very beginning.

Congressman Leach has introduced legislation in the House that would create a new endowment for State Department cultural programs. This would make it easier and more attractive for private companies to help fund cultural programs and cultural exchanges. Facing fear and sometimes resentment of their economic power, many multinationals are looking for ways to show that they respect and want to help preserve the cultures of countries where they do business. Many companies and foundations also want to show support for overseas programs that communicate our rich cultural diversity, programs that go beyond the commercial stereotypes of American culture, programs that accurately represent who we are, and programs that do not oversimplify our complexities or obscure our goal of a world of peace and equality.

You've heard Secretary Albright say often that one of her goals is to interest and involve more Americans in the working of foreign policy and encourage an internationalist spirit here at home. As all of you know, we ignore the changing world at our peril; increasingly the American public is touched directly by developments outside our country, as remote from daily life as they may seem.

Although national and cultural differences persist despite the unifying forces of technology, the globalization of economics brings home to us a new set of practical considerations. If there is one way we are united in the world, it is economically. Trade policies around the world are felt directly in our supermarkets and in our factories. Asian bond markets impact the bank accounts of millions of America's families.

If biotechnology is feared abroad, it can have impact on what our farmers earn and grow. When foreign governments oppose overseas investment by US pension funds, our retirees take heed. This international linking and cross-linking of economies will continue to grow as the primacy of the private sector and the activities of all of you and NGOs around the world increasingly drive international relations.

All of us -- government, business, NGOs -- must do a better job of communicating and building support at home for our overseas efforts. We are not likely to see adequate resources for foreign affairs if the American public looks on foreign policy as a sort of exotic bird that flies high above their day-to-day experience. I tried to take out that analogy about the bird flying overhead above our experience, but I was urged to leave it in, and I was told that you would understand exactly what it means.

Clearly, I have a keen sense of the clock ticking. We are confined somewhat to high-profile activities and to promoting our public outreach goals and putting culture back on the foreign affairs agenda. I know time is short, but we do have the time to build a public and cultural diplomacy framework for our successors, and that is my intent. I hope that we will have the interest and support of you and groups like you in order to enable us to succeed. I hope you will allow us to continue to exploit ruthlessly the talent, experience and knowledge that you bring to your work and to this gathering.

And now I'd like to open this to your comments and questions, and I thank you for listening and for inviting me.

Q: Ms. Under Secretary, USIA is approaching a significant anniversary. It will be the 62nd anniversary of the founding in this Department of the Division of Cultural Relations on next Tuesday. As you know, it took place in a building a few blocks from here, and it was announced at a meeting similar to this. There were about 120 people in the room. They were university presidents, they were the heads of -- the heads, I repeat -- of all of the foundations in the country, the Under Secretary --

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Excuse me, would you mind identifying yourself?

Q: I'm Dick Arndt, former this and that.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Hello. You know, someone said to me about when I asked about people, that there are three categories of people who used to work for USIA. I don't know if you worked for USIA. He said they are us, used to be us, and working hard to be help us. So I'm putting you in this category of "us".

Q: I'm in the third, actually.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Okay.

Q: The presider was an Under Secretary as well, but there was only one in those days. His name was Sumner Welles. In that meeting, there were really two points made that I think bear reflection as we sit here today and that might interest you to make a comment on what has changed.

The first is that the budget of that office, which was experimental and which had a staff of eight, was $27,000 a year. The second is that Welles, who was extremely sensitive to reassuring the private sector that no one intended to interfere with any of their decisions, said that the private sector -- you folks out there in the audience -- would do 5 percent of the work -- excuse me, 95 percent of the work and we would only do 5 percent.

I wonder if you would like to reflect on what has changed.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: I found a number of things as I've been traveling around, and one of the reasons I've been traveling is to see firsthand how our programs work or do not work and may need improvement. What I've been finding is that in spite of the struggle for resources and the last ten years of cutting of many of the former USIA's programs, there is an enormous amount of work going on around the country. A couple of weeks ago I spoke to the Ohio Arts Council which had a program with Ohio State University on cultural diplomacy. The private sector is taking up a lot of what we hope we would be able to do with increased resources, and that is very comforting.

However, I am interested in institutionalizing the understanding again in this Department -- I don't mean to minimize it and say that there is not an understanding of public diplomacy or cultural diplomacy; it has nothing to do with that -- that it's very important, as we begin to think of how we relate to the rest of the world and indeed, how we talk to our own citizens, that public diplomacy and cultural diplomacy be a part of everything that we plan and think about. Even if there is not the money to do it, there has to be a sense that this is important and needs to be taken into consideration. Because I always say we want to bring public diplomacy back to the table where decision-making is made, I keep telling our folks who have come over from USIA and who say, "People here don't always understand what we're trying to do; there's not a sense of how important our programs are because the people at State Department don't really deal with our kind of programs." My response to them is always the same: "We are not guests in this house; you are not a mother-in-law at somebody else's party." That is not a reflection -- I have a very good mother-in-law so I don't mean it that way.

We need to make ourselves annoying so that people understand that we are here to stay and that we bring great skills and assets to the Department. I always know that I'm being successful when I walk down the hall and someone spies me at the other end of the hall and turns tail and runs the other way. And I keep saying to people, "We need to try everything. It's okay if we fall on our faces, because then we'll know what doesn't work."

I keep trying to talk about these -- we don't call them problems now, we call them case studies. We have a window now in the first year of integration to try everything to see what works; we have the opportunity now, more than at any time, I believe, to try to fix things, not only because there's a honeymoon period and there's goodwill and all of that, but because Madeleine Albright is a very unusual figure in this enterprise and very interested. She understands the value. She wants us to institutionalize these things in the Department, and this is the time for us to do it.

I know in no way have I answered your question but it gave me a very good platform to doing my other propaganda, so I thank you.

(Applause.)

Q: My name is Peter Savage.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Hello

Q: I am a former Foreign Service officer, now in the private sector with my own company.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: So you are helping us. You used to be us, and now you are helping us.

Q: Well, my suggestion goes a little farther.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Okay.

Q: I was a Fulbright Scholar to Brazil and my daughter was a Fulbright Scholar to Colombia. Why don't you use us? Why can't we be part of the nuisance and the noise out there as well? I am certain that I could make a speech on your behalf. I am certain that I could make a noise which is fairly convincing and I'm sure that my daughter could too.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Thank you -- and this man is not a plant.

One of the things that I am working very hard to implement here is to make greater use of the people who have been part of our programs; they are our greatest assets. They speak about us in a way that nobody else can. Even more importantly, they live in places around the world where we need to get people to hear about us and understand us.

So I thank you very much. We are working very hard to get some sort of a database, at the very least, to find out where all our folks are. We have count of them in bits and pieces but not in a comprehensive way.

When I went to Ohio the other day, this gentleman from Columbia came up to me and handed me this lovely directory. He said, "I would like you to see the names and locations of all the former exchange and Fulbright students who have worked in Chile for the last 10 or 15 years." I just looked at him and said to myself, "if he can do it, we can do it." So thank you. That's one of our goals.

Q: I may be the other side of that coin. I am Jim Bush, a retired military officer from the Naples Council on World Affairs -- Naples, Florida, that is. I just returned from a trip to Taiwan with a group of NGO people. One of the things I'm doing is preparing an op-ed piece discussing the trip to Taiwan.

It would never occur to me to run this op-ed piece by the State Department, and it seems to me that if the State Department gets cozy, as it were, with NGOs it could have a problem if NGOs took a completely different position from State's, or taking a position at all. I think in reference to Taiwan State would rather not take a position.

Could that not be a problem?

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Before I came to this job, I was the Director of the Voice of America. One of the three parts of the charter says that we present the news objectively and we show both sides. When I talked to the USIA employees about coming over to the State Department, someone said to me, "I'm going to tell you the difference between the State Department and USIA. The State Department is accustomed to taking information and holding it close, and USIA is accustomed to taking information and giving it out to as many people as they possibly can."

My charge is to try to move those two characteristics closer together. One of the reasons that our public diplomacy programs are so successful is that people are permitted to show both sides and to say things that don't always necessarily reflect exactly every word of what State espouses. What I have found, however, in the same way that the Voice of America achieves its credibility by showing both sides, we do the same. Also, you are an American citizen. Nobody can tell you what to say. Nobody can tell you what to do; and if you put something through 25 clearances you'll never get published anyway.

(Applause.)

Q: Hi, my name is Eileen Hafey. I'm from the World Affairs Forum of Stamford, Connecticut.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Hello.

Q: I was very interested in your remarks about this new international education policy. It seems to me that the World Affairs Council network would be an excellent vehicle to help disseminate that because many of our organizations work with local high schools and colleges. I wondered how we might get more information about it.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Good. We accept. (Laughter.)

Q: Well, I'm only speaking for one at the moment.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: If you noticed, that was the part of my speech that I was reading very precisely because this is new and it's new in the way that we have been talking about. This is clearly the result of NAFCA and other organizations pushing us to say that this is something that the Administration has to implement.

There is a conference in San Diego during the first week of June in which I will be taking part, not only to talk about how we support this and how important it is, but also to try and learn from the advocates and the NGOs how best we can do what you're asking us to do.

So tune in again in June and we'll be able to be a little bit more explicit; and thanks for the offer.

Q: My name is Hope Burns and I'm with the Sarasota, Florida, Sister Cities. I'm the wife of a retired Foreign Service officer and I have a daughter in the Foreign Service.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Good.

Q: We do a lot of programs in Sarasota where we send students abroad for different events and so forth. I was just kind of amazed in meeting these children that they have no idea what to expect, how to act. Now we, knowing, we can tell them that they represent the United States and that they are the ambassadors and that what they say and their whole attitude is going to reflect on our whole country. But there are so many students that are going without getting a briefing on how they should act.

Is there some sort of a program that you could put together that we could present to our schools so we, our different groups, or even the teachers, could help to teach the children how to act when they go abroad and the importance of it?

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Actually, that's a great suggestion. We do it for our ambassadors; we're also expecting the young people and the other people who go abroad to act as representatives of us -- I think it's a great idea. I see some of my colleagues sitting over there who are taking very careful notes. I think that's a great idea.

Would you talk to Keith Geiger, who is sitting over there in the fifth row? Keith, why don't you raise your hand so everybody can come and discuss this with you? That's a great idea. Thank you very much.

Q: Good morning, Under Secretary Lieberman. My name is Abigail Fuller. I'm a graduate student at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, and I'm happy to be doing an internship this summer at the National Council for International Visitors.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Oh, good.

Q: Of course you know that one of the most significant aspects that makes up culture all over the world are the greatly varied religions. With respect to the necessary differences and separations of church and state, I did want to ask you what role you perceive religious non-governmental organizations playing in the coming years in performing that citizen diplomacy that you were speaking of?

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: I don't see organizations that are connected with the different religions behaving any differently from the rest of the NGOs who are here, so the role is continuing the same role that you've played all along. I don't see any change in that. I'm interested in getting as many people from as many diverse organizations as possible, and the more the merrier. I don't make a distinction there.

Q: Fantastic. Thank you.

Q: Hello, Under Secretary Lieberman. My name is Jeff O'Malley and I'm with the Council of State Governments. I say it slow; it's a little bit of a mouthful.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Yes, but we like you.

Q: Oh, well, that's great. We like you, too.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: I don't hear that a lot.

Q: You're one of "us," I suppose. I did want to say that we truly enjoy our relationship with the Public Affairs bureau and State; they've been very helpful in some of our international efforts. I should mention our organization represents all branches of state government in the United States.

As you probably know, the states and local governments are doing a tremendous amount internationally these days. We are currently considering setting up an office in Poland. It's a very serious consideration; in fact, we hope to make a decision next week.

One of the purposes of that office would be for outreach not just in-country but also in Ukraine. Ukraine is right next door, as you know, so that would be an interesting development. A counterpart organization that works with state legislative leaders is strongly considering setting up an office in Indonesia. We also have a strong interest in increasing our efforts in southeast Asia.

I mention those things just because there's a tremendous amount going on despite the pressure of resources. I guess the question is what more can be done to coordinate with states and localities and to support those efforts in the international arena.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Organizations like yours, the Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties -- all of you are really the keys to our success in this country. I think that we have not done as good a job as we should in trying to work with your organizations, even just in talking to your folks. When we talk to them we don't necessarily talk about pubic diplomacy programs. Of course we haven't talked about public diplomacy programs in the past because they weren't part of the State Department.

I think that organizations like yours can help us do a lot to reach the people in the states that we need to reach; it's the locally elected officials, the state officials, who can understand the numbers of students who come, the numbers of exchange programs, the kind of unbelievable money these foreign students bring into our economy.

The answer is we need to do a better job of working with you, and that's one of the things that I'm trying to do in running as fast as I can. I'm very happy that you have volunteered your services, and you can be our new contact with your organization. Thank you.

Q: Thank you very much.

Q: Under Secretary Lieberman, I'm Kenneth Rogers, Indiana University, International Programs. The remarks you've just made and the questions raised by the previous questioner are very, very close to what I was hoping to ask you myself. The question has to do with the economic benefits, if you will, of international education exchange, though most of us working in the field in universities or in NGOs off-campus would prefer to stress the cultural, the intellectual benefits, and so on. Nevertheless, the economic benefits are very, very significant.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Enormous. What are talking about, $13 billion in a year from exchanges?

Q: That's right. In my own state, apropos of the questions just raised, there is, I think, a growing appreciation at the state government level of the benefits we realize. The State of Indiana has 12 overseas offices, and many other states have trade offices abroad, too.

One of the problems that we in international education have perceived in recent years is that there is too little information for prospective students abroad. Many of the overseas advising centers -- some of them supported formerly by USIA -- have had to be closed down or reduced in one way or another.

My suggestion for your consideration is for State to work in partnership with state governments to try to develop additional outlets, if you will, for good information, reliable information on educational opportunities in the United States and promoting study in the United States, among other things. I think this could be a natural for us.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: And a natural for us. In the environment of decreasing resources -- and I don't mean to spend my whole time here crying about money -- what I've told our folks that we need to be as creative as possible in working with people like you and the previous questioner because you have already developed information sources. Some of you have newsletters; some of you have web pages. This was brought home to me when we were in Moscow where we have a center for students to come in and learn about the United States; there are college catalogs there. I looked through the college catalogs and some of them were five, six years old, and in some cases, older. I said, wait a minute. Why aren't we keeping these current? Well, we don't have the money; it's very hard.

We called the American Association of University Women, who called their contacts, and we said, "Send these catalogs." Of course, the catalogs started to come in. There are resources in our own country that we need to make better use of, and I recognize that. This is something that we need to do.

Q: One final thing on which we would welcome your initiative and your leadership on has to do with addressing the need among many prospective students and their parents and sponsors abroad for a better way to finance study in the United States. If the Department, through your office, could take a lead in interesting private lending institutions and making available educational loans for foreign students along the lines of those that are available to US citizens, I think this could help to remove what is a very serious impediment: the sheer cost of study in the United States.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: You know, I usually start every meeting by saying three things. It usually makes the meeting very short. I have no money, I have no people, and I don't make promises that I can't deliver. And I would put your recommendation for the last in the third category. We will talk to Keith about how we can make some of that happen better. I don't know if I can deliver it in my life, but thank you.

Q: Thank you.

Q: Good morning, Madame Under Secretary. My name is Dave Truesdale. I'm from a Council on World Affairs. It's in Jacksonville, Illinois, population 20,000.

Some years ago, our Council used to receive a goodly number of foreign visitors, but then in about the last half dozen years or so we were told we're too small. We're really not in the loop, I suppose, would be the right way to say it. I'm wondering if, when we have had visitors, those visitors could have stayed in our homes, spent time moving around our community. There are a lot of things to see and a lot of things to get to know about Small Town America.

So I guess I'm putting in a plug for trying to restore visitors to communities in small town America.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: I'm a little surprised to hear this, and we'll look at you because right now a lot of the programs that we're doing have much greater reach to community colleges and smaller communities. That's one of the things that we've been trying to do.

So I hope during this break you talk to those men over there.

Q: Thank you very much.

Q: Good morning. Genevieve Rubinatti with the Frederick Hubert Foundation. I'm also an alumna of one of your programs, the Congress Bundestag Student Exchange Program.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Good. Talk to everybody you know.

Q: And that's the main reason I have a question for you. I don't know the exact details of the legislation, but I do know that Congressman Lamar Smith has been promoting legislation that's directed at illegal immigration within Texas, which is understandable. However, this legislation has the effect of limiting the rights of or the abilities of student in an exchange program at the high school level -- for students to come into the United States as an exchange student.

Could you comment on that legislation as well as general funding from Congress for student exchange programs such as the one in which I participated? I regularly receive requests to say this year might be the last year for student exchanges, and that saddens me as my year really did affect my career choices.

Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: I should have said that the fourth thing I usually say in a meeting is I don't talk when I don't know what I'm talking about. I can not answer your question, but we will take it. If you give your name to my friends over there, we'll try to get an answer for you.

The one thing I will say, though, is I find that the more Members of Congress find out from people like you about what's going on in their own communities, the more they become enthusiastic supporters of our programs. But I don't think I'm allowed to urge you to do that.

Q: My name is Reverend Doctor Minkee Kolomashanganobo. I'm with the Metropolitan AME Church as well as a co-chairperson for Maryland National Summit on Africa.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Maryland? You're based in Maryland?

Q: Yes, I live in Maryland. I really applaud your speech when you say cultural sensitivity is critical to public diplomacy. My question is how do you envisage involving immigrants from other cultures to be part of your sensitivity training; we'd like to help you with that.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: I don't know if I'm up to sensitivity training yet, but I will tell you some of the things that we are trying to do.

When I say to you that the clock is ticking -- and people say to me, "Don't say that, don't say that. They'll think of you as a lame duck and that you can't get anything done." -- I look at it exactly the other way. Because of the shortness of time, I realize that I have to do more, push harder, and be more obnoxious than I would ordinarily be just to make things happen in this short period of time.

One of the things we're trying to do is to host some high-profile events in the field of cultural programs, cultural diplomacy. Last month, the Secretary hosted a dinner with about 26 cultural leaders from the United States and around the world and some foundation officials -- not the usual suspects but people who have been working in this field for a very long time who talked very frankly to her about some of the issues, I'm sure, that you deal with every day.

Second, I hope that in another three weeks we will be sending a team of museum directors, artistic people, actors, to Nigeria to meet with their counterparts and then, later on, have a visit from them here.

Third, we are trying to do a trilateral project, probably out of necessity, working with the Internet -- which is good for us anyway -- with the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Finally, we hope that in the Fall we'll be able to have a White House conference on culture and diplomacy.

I am talking to you about all these very high-profile things we are planning to show our commitment and more importantly, the need to get advice from people in the country and around the world about how we should operate. So, in December, I'll have some answers for you and I hope you will participate and give us some of the suggestions that you have that will enable us to help show that we're sensitive to this. We will have more less-visible but continuing programs within the State Department to deal with these issues.

Q: My name goes into the hat.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: This man is going to rue the day he came down here.

Q: Madame UnderSecretary, you bring a breath of fresh air to the State Department. I want to congratulate you and compliment you for the things that you're doing.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Thank you, but I'm not sure that my State Department colleagues would exactly describe it that way.

Q: My name is Henry Ponda and I am the CEO and President of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, which is the organization for all of the African American colleges and universities in this country.

With that statement, I would like to issue a challenge to you, since the clock is ticking. How can we make the image of the State Department reflect the multiculturalism of this country? The President talks about it. He makes his Cabinet look like this country. How can we get the message across that the State Department ought to look the same way?

UNDERSECRETARY LIEBERMAN: I can't tell you how many times in the last months that I have been here that I have sat in the meetings with the Secretary where she has asked the same question. She has implored Department employees to encourage young people of every color, of every religion, of every stripe to join us and become part of us. She is working very hard to do that.

In particular, we have been working very hard on outreach to those of the Islamic faith. It's not only outreach, but also in order to have a greater understanding of Islam within the Department. We are working to do that. But the more important answer is this is very much on our agenda and something that we are not only conscious of but reminded of all the time. You need to help us try to do it a little better than we have been.

I hope that if we are successful in what we're trying to do with outreach to the American public, we'll not only talk to people about the importance of foreign policy but also talk to young people about the importance of public service and participation in the work of the State Department.

Q: I'm David Millman and I'm former retired school superintendent in New York, a 25-year professor at Southeastern University, and for 17 of those years a volunteer with the Foreign Association.

I want to know how to get your message across to Florida. We need it badly.

When I get home, I'll make the recommendation to our president that you be invited to come and talk to the poor folks in Florida. I'm sure he'll listen to me.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: I'm sure my Aunt Ida would be very pleased as well to see me down there.

I realize that many of you work with organizations that have great outreach to your constituencies. And I know -- I'm not kidding about my Aunt Ida who lives in Century Village in Deerfield. They have a newspaper that they publish every week; everybody scrutinizes every single word, if for no other reason than just to find out the gossip. I think that these community newspapers, church bulletinsare the kind of thing that people pick up and read no matter what their age; these outlets are extraordinarily important and extraordinarily useful.

What I find is that while we're so busy working with the national media and with large metropolitan newspapers around the country, the real truth is that people read closer to where they live. So I hope those of you with organizations that have some sort of newsletter or newspaper or web page or any kind of outlet like that will work with us to try and publish information that we can give you for your communities.

Q: My name is Patty Williams, and I am the Program Director of the World Affairs Council of Portland, Maine. Even though we're small -- 68,000 in the proper city -- I just wanted to ask you what we can do to increase the resources that you need in each community. We have just recently published an international organization directory, and to our dismay we discovered 165 throughout the State of Maine that are involved on an international basis, whether it be importing students from other countries or helping the immigrant adjust to our community.

I just want to say that we offer that to the State Department if you so need.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Why do you say you found to your dismay that there were 165 names of people who had participated?

Q: No, not the people, but of organizations -- 165 organizations just in the State of Maine that are involved internationally, because it's so sparsely populated compared to so many other states.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: I think what we need to do is, before the end of the day, give you all some names and addresses of our web pages and of people in our organization who can give you information. I know that at the end of the day my colleagues are going to have some resources for you to pick up so that you can at least contact them and we can give you the kind of information that you need.

Thank you. He's nodding his head vigorously. We'll try to hook up with you.

Q: Okay, thank you.

Q: I'm David Kamack. I speak as a World Federalist, but my concern is that whenever we've taken surveys, they've shown that the public is much more supportive to international relations and United Nations than is represented in our Congress. The problem is that people, when they run for Congress, are being voted on usually for local issues. I'm wondering if there is some way to change this, such as amending the constitution even, to have a few people in Congress representing a larger dimension so we have a chance to vote on a foreign affairs issue rather than it not even coming up in local elections.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: I think I can say with some assurance that between now and January 20th I can not amend the Constitution.

However, all of you live in districts where people run for office. I hope that in your travels and in your visits to some of these places, you have conversations with some of those people -- and others. We need you to do it for us.

Q: My name is Maria Melinski Crowley. I am a teacher and I also am a Russian interpreter. Last year, I joined Friendship Force International, founded by President Carter in 1977. And as a member of this organization, we went to visit Japan last year and we lived in a family's home and had opportunity to learn the culture, to learn the language. This is a wonderful opportunity for Americans to go visit other countries to establish friendship relations. I thought that this was a wonderful organization.

I would like to ask you, do you have any relations with this organization and how you can participate with them.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: One of my colleagues, I think, wants to say something.

A PARTICIPANT: The friendship course is located in Atlanta, Georgia.

Q: Yes.

A PARTICIPANT: I'm (inaudible) with the Georgia Council of (inaudible). We're very (inaudible) actually in the same office building downstairs. We are coordinating a trip to Russia in September working in conjunction with the Friendship Force.

Q: Wonderful.

A PARTICIPANT: They are a great organization and we work with them, and hope it will be a very good trip.

Q: I would like to talk to you about this. Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: That's the best answer I can give.

Q: I'll try to keep this one brief. Randall Newnam. I'm from Redding, Pennsylvania. I work with the World Affairs Council there. Public diplomacy is very much a part of the State Department's mission; do you have a speakers bureau from the State Department?

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Yes, absolutely. A very good one.

Q: Because we're always very interested in getting speakers and often find ourselves reaching into the Department looking for people who are often too busy to come see us.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: You need to call our Public Affairs Office.

Q: Is there a good directory for that?

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: I don't know if we have a directory, but I must tell you that the Secretary tells us all the time, "Get out to the country. Talk to the people and talk about why foreign affairs is important." I say emphatically yes to you, and call Public Affairs. I'm going to include the telephone numbers.

Q: Thanks.

Q: (Inaudible)?

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Public Affairs. Right there.

Last question. Thank you for asking.

Q: Ambassador Lieberman, thank you --

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Ambassador? No, but thank you anyway.

Q: Under Secretary. Excuse me. Maria Sharp with the Academy of Diplomacy and the Cox Foundation, which promotes a strong foreign service.

You mentioned your effort to build a national domestic framework for taking public diplomacy to the nation, to the heartland of our country. Like this gentleman, I want to challenge you and your office to establish a cadre of civil diplomats, ambassadors-at-large, in each state to work in conjunction with your office to take the issues of foreign affairs and the value of American diplomacy to each of our 50 states. I think that's one way that we can build a national infrastructure which would have a long-standing connection and liaison to better educate the heartland of America. I just think we need to have long-standing representatives in each state that have a passion for American diplomacy and foreign affairs issues that have a legitimate connection with the Department of State.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: Did you talk to Secretary Albright before you came down?

Q: No.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: The best ambassadors that we have to our states are all of you. That's why I look to these meetings and discussions as critical and as one of the most important things to do for people who talk on our behalf about the importance of our programs. Since we can't assign ambassadors, we need you to be diplomats for us -- and I hope you will be. I thank you for saying that.

Q: Thank you for your insight in bringing your staff to take down the notes.

UNDER SECRETARY LIEBERMAN: They didn't know. Thank you.

[end of document]

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