Department of State news

Tara Sonenshine, nominee for the role of Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, stressed the value of people-to-people exchanges in U.S. public diplomacy during her confirmation hearing yesterday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sonenshine said:

The U.S. Department of State announced this week the online opening of the Virtual U.S. Embassy Tehran as “an opportunity for engagement between the peoples of Iran and the United States.”

The Department of State published a notice in today’s Federal Register of a proposed information collection for the Form DS-7007, a new Summer Work Travel Job Placement Verification Form. The full notice is pasted below.

The Alliance was pleased to welcome Ann Stock, Assistant Secretary of State (R), to the Alliance Membership Meeting on November 8. Secretary Stock's full remarks are available below:

The BBC recently featured a report about "hip hop diplomacy," a new cultural initiative launched by the U.S. Department of State as a tool to help improve U.S.-Pakistan relations.

The report notes that "America diplomats are hoping [the program] might be a step in the right direction" to better relations with Pakistan. U.S. Assistant Cultural Attaché Jamie Martin said:

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The Department of State published a notice in today’s Federal Register capping current participant levels, and placing a moratorium on new applications, for the Summer Work Travel category of the Exchange Visitor Program. The full notice is pasted below.

President Obama announced today his intent to nominate Tara D. Sonenshine for Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Department of State. Assistant Secretary of State (R) Ann Stock has been in the role of Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs since July 8, 2011.

Sonenshine’s biography as posted on the White House website is as follows:

We urgently need your help.  

We understand that a Senate floor battle is looming on foreign affairs spending.  The State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill, in which exchanges are funded, is expected to come to the Senate floor in the next few days.  As you know, the Senate appropriation for Department of State exchange programs in FY 2012 ($612 million) is far higher than that of the House ($538 million). Successful amendments that strip funds from the bill will put Senate appropriators at a lower starting point in their negotiations with House appropriators in the final draft of the legislation.

Two key appropriations activities are happening in Washington right now:

While it remains unclear how much U.S. government money will be appropriated in FY 2012 for international exchange programs, including the Fulbright Program, other countries have been “steadily raising their financial commitment to [Fulbright]—a sign of international interest in academic ties despite the tough economic times,” the Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

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