Posts Tagged ‘Dipnote
Secretary Clinton’s first stop on her inaugural official visit to Israel was at the residence of Israeli President Shimon Peres. Completed in 1971, the building was constructed from pink granite, Jerusalem stone, and exposed concrete. But what makes the scene come alive is the display of artwork reflecting Israel’s rich cultural heritage – all of it creates a beautiful backdrop. After 60 years of diplomatic relations and friendship, this is the place where Israel would welcome the Secretary and where the Secretary would begin her very busy day in Jerusalem.
For those of us already at the site, waiting for the Secretary to arrive unites feelings of excitement and nervousness. The staff of the residence made final preparations; Israeli and international camera crews trickled in and set up their equipment. As with most visits of this kind, the visuals would be critical to communicating the messages the Secretary was expected to bring with her. With everything in place, the motorcade arrived and the Secretary was met by President Peres. They shook hands and kissed, smiled broadly, paused for photos, and headed inside. Their actual meeting was held in a room off the main hall with the principals and delegation members attending.
The Secretary and President Peres emerged 45 minutes later and proceeded to lecterns where they made short statements to the press. Both statements conveyed the seriousness of the issues that had been discussed – security, peace, the situation in Gaza – but also articulated the shared optimism of the present moment. President Peres expressed words of welcome to the Secretary on behalf of Israel. In turn, the Secretary talked about her numerous trips to Israel over the past 30 years and her close friendship with the country’s current president. More photos were taken as President Peres presented the Secretary with a small bouquet – a great shot! The Secretary then signed the official guest book and moved toward the door, escorted by President Peres, and followed by her delegation and the traveling press. Goodbyes were exchanged, the Secretary stepped inside her car, and the motorcade rolled out. The renewal of the Israeli-American diplomatic friendship was off to a warm and friendly start.
Here’s an interesting look at preparations under way for the arrival of Hillary Clinton in China tomorrow for the last leg of her phenomenally successful tour of Asia.
About the Author: Dan Piccuta serves as the Charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China.<!–Related Entry: “Preparing for Secretary Clinton’s Visit: From the Advance Team to Wheels-Up” by Deputy Political Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing Ben Moeling.–>
Arriving at work the other day I could not help but notice ahead a foreigner merrily pedaling his local Chinese bicycle (Flying Pigeon brand) into the U.S. Embassy compound just ahead of me. I laugh as I realize the foreigner arriving on the “bike of the masses” is our American SecState visit’s Overall Control Officer, Ben Moeling.
For those not familiar with how high level visits are organized, beneath the Chief of Mission (me) and his Deputy, the one person most responsible for every aspect of a visit’s planning and preparation is the Overall Control Officer. And, this being Secretary Clinton’s first trip as Secretary, and first visit in that capacity to China, we are approaching every site and event with fresh eyes — meaning more preparation, more details, and more effort. Ben probably has over 100 American and Chinese employees working on preparations of every aspect of the visit from the airport arrival to the tour of a highly-efficient natural gas-fired power plant.
So my first reaction is amusement as I consider the irony of the American officer (of 350 assigned here) with the biggest role and the most to do that day calmly pedaling his bike a few kilometers to work. And then another thought comes to me: how appropriate that for a trip on which we hope climate cooperation, energy efficiency and the environment will be key themes, the American officer charged to prepare the visit is doing his part with a “green” morning commute by bike.
NOTE: It’s interesting Hillary Clinton will be visiting a natural gas fired power plant in China. If we only knew she was so interested in natural gas, we’d have suggested she spend more time around Oprah years ago (just not on chili day at the Harpo commissary…nobody on Earth’s interested enough in natural gas to suffer through THAT. And we rode an elevator with Oprah once in 2006, so please know that comes from personal experience (and olfactory abilities still unrecovered)).
It’s also always so strange for us to listen to anyone who works in the State Department, Peace Corps, or other like-minded, internationally-focused branches of government or government-sponsored organizations because they all seem drawn from a handful of very liberal Liberal Arts schools that indoctrinate certain PC dogma and “green” newspeak into all who pass through those ivy-covered walls.
We will always believe riding around outside on a bicycle is ridiculous, no matter how much people in China are told to love doing that by their authoritarian government. People here in Chicago who ride the Lakefront paths are truly a breed apart — a crazed, pathological, dangerous breed (most of whom wear spandex superhero getups while racing at dangerous speed on the bike paths, shouting LEFT! LEFT! LEFT! as they try to zip past tourists who have no idea LEFT! means get out of the way, and not, “Hey, Anastasia, you left something behind, so stand still in the middle of the path and wait for me to bring it to you at dangerously high speed in my spandex supersuit”).
So, riding around on bikes is overrated (like most of what we were programmed to love and support at a liberal arts school). Taking the train or bus instead of driving a car is realistic and wonderful, and as far as we will reasonably go to ever “help the environment” and “go green”. Considering the fact that we’ve never owned a car, drink only tap water and never buy plastic bottles of anything, eat steak about twice a year and other meats twice a week, and rarely waste much of anything, we just can’t deign to listen to anyone in our government advocate riding around on bicycles all day, no matter how much the Chinese, or Americans working with the Chinese, claim to love it. We have to draw a line somewhere, and that’s it, folks. No bikes for us!
A billion Chinese people are wrong about all sorts of things, and bicycles are one of them.
Here’s a very interesting glimpse into Hillary Clinton’s trip to Japan, as posted on the official State Department blog, Dipnote (yes, we know, it’s a terrible name for a blog, but HillBuzz was already taken).
Despite the name, Dipnote’s a remarkable place to visit lately, as a concerted effort’s obviously being made to give readers an unprecedented inside look at the State Department, and Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. Apart from knowing people who are actually in the foreign service, where else could you find insights like those below?
About the Author: Lori Shoemaker serves as Assistant Press Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. You may also read Secretary Clinton’s blog entry from Japan.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Tokyo the evening of February 16 on her much-anticipated first trip abroad as Secretary, to reassert our commitment to our allies and partners in Asia and discuss common approaches to the challenges facing the international community. In her arrival ceremony Monday night, she met Japanese female astronauts and members of Japan’s Special Olympics team. On Tuesday, she started the day with an early-morning visit to the Meiji Shrine, one of my favorite spots in Tokyo. Walking under the Meiji Shrine’s majestic tall trees and historic torii (traditional wooden gates), you can leave the concrete, glass, and steel of modern Tokyo behind for a moment and feel a real sense of traditional Japanese culture.
Next Secretary Clinton stopped by the U.S. Embassy to meet and greet embassy employees and their families, expressing appreciation for our work preparing for her visit and in representing the United States abroad. Although I had to miss the “meet and greet” because I was already working at the Secretary’s next stop, Iikura Guest House, her close attention and willingness to listen to embassy staff meant a great deal to all of us.
Iikura Guest House is a beautifully-appointed Foreign Ministry building with a large reception hall, meeting rooms, and dining room. Secretary Clinton came to Tokyo to meet with senior Japanese officials for discussions on the strategic bilateral alliance and cooperation with Japan on regional and global issues such as the financial markets turmoil, humanitarian issues, and security and climate change. At Iikura House, the Secretary had a meeting and working lunch with Foreign Minister Nakasone and then together they addressed and took questions from a group of more than 100 journalists, including camera crews, assembled in the hall. My own role was to work out arrangements at the site for the traveling press which accompany the Secretary. After her meeting with Defense Minister Hamada and then a few moments with Ambassador Ogata, the president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Secretary returned to the U.S. Embassy to meet with family members of Japanese citizens who were abducted to North Korea, an issue to which she attaches great importance.
The Secretary then held a busy round of interviews with ABC, CBS and NBC in the embassy’s small television studio, before proceeding to the Imperial Residence, where, as a former First Lady, she was received by Empress Michiko. (In 1994, President and Mrs. Clinton held a state dinner in honor of the Emperor and Empress.) After tea with the Empress, the Secretary returned to her hotel to continue interviews, on-camera with two Japanese broadcasters, and then with two Japanese newspapers. (My job involved setting these up.)
The Secretary’s schedule was tight, timed down to the minute, and next she was whisked off to Tokyo University for a “Town Hall” meeting with Japanese college students. My colleagues told me that Secretary Clinton was in her element at the college “Town Hall,” warmly greeting individual students after answering a wide range of their questions. (If you have a question for the Secretary, you may ask her one yourself online.) Since I wasn’t at the “Town Hall,” look for more about it later.
From Tokyo University, the Secretary proceeded to a meeting and working dinner with Prime Minister Aso, where I am sure that both the conversation and the cuisine were high-level. She then had a meeting with opposition party leader Ozawa, before the end of her long day’s schedule.
As a mid-level press officer not at the Prime Minister’s dinner, I enjoyed a “conbini obento” (box lunch from a convenience store) back at the office while finishing up assigned tasks, including this blog, in order to rush home to see my (sleeping) children. I’m sure that our Secretary, as a hard-working mother and professional for many years, would understand.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blogged today over at Dipnote, the State Department’s official blog. Here’s what she had to say:
I am delighted to post my first entry to the DipNote community upon arriving in Tokyo, the first stop on my first trip as Secretary of State.
In addition to Tokyo, I will also be visiting Jakarta, Seoul, and Beijing this week where I hope to demonstrate America’s sincere intention to develop broader and deeper relationships with nations throughout Asia and the Pacific.
Over the past 30 years, I’ve had the privilege of traveling to a very different Asia. Today, Asia is on the cutting edge of so many of the world’s innovations and trends. In making my first trip as Secretary of State to Asia, I hope to signal that we need strong partners across the Pacific, just as we need strong partners across the Atlantic. I have become fond of saying that America is as much a transpacific power as it is a transatlantic one.
The Obama Administration believes that the futures of the United States, countries in Asia and around the world are increasingly inextricably linked. As you may know, I spoke from the Asia Society in New York City on Friday afternoon where I outlined the opportunities that I see for stronger bilateral, regional, and global cooperation and ongoing collaboration to deal with the economic crisis, to strengthen our alliances, to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and to build on efforts to face challenges like climate change, clean energy, pandemic healthcare crises and so much more.
As I’ve said before, America cannot solve the problems of the world alone, and the world cannot solve them without America. A Chinese aphorism says, “When you are in a common boat, you need to cross the river peacefully together.” The wisdom of that aphorism must guide us today.
During my travels, I intend to take advantage of new social media tools so the State Department can share its diplomatic work with a broader audience. I invite you to use these tools and become a part of this conversation. Be sure and visit DipNote throughout the week for updates from the trip. If you have questions for me during my trip and beyond – send me a question through the newly launched Ask the Secretary feature at www.state.gov.