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Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Department of State Spanish Twitter Briefing


Special Briefing
Michael A. Hammer
Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
March 1, 2012

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This transcript is also available in Spanish.

MIKE HAMMER: Welcome to the State Department. It is a pleasure to be with you. As you know, today we will be taking questions by Twitter. It is part of our initiative to communicate with the public and inform you about United States foreign policy. We are very pleased that there has been so much interest, that you are following us at @USAenespañol, and well, we are going to try to answer as many questions as we can, but we may not be able to answer all of them. OK, now let’s get to the first question.

MODERATOR: The first question comes from @tonydiazcaleas. How can you be a beacon of democracy while at the same time you plan, execute and support coup d’états?

MIKE HAMMER: OK, @tonydiazcaleas. Democracy is a fundamental American value. As United States citizens and here at the State Department, we are dedicated to advancing democracy around the world. We support democratic institutions because it is important for the world that everyone’s human rights be protected and advanced. And we certainly we do not support any coup d’état. Next question.

MODERATOR: The next question comes from @lasbananas06. What is the political benefit of going to war in foreign lands? Thank you.

MIKE HAMMER: Thank you @lasbananas06. It is important to understand that the State Department’s primary mission is to diplomatically advance United States interests through peaceful means, because we want to resolve the conflicts that exist in order to better the world and to, of course, be in a better situation. And that is something we focus a great deal on. We do this with only one percent of the federal budget, since we have to use our resources in the best manner possible. So, through our diplomacy and development assistance we work globally through our embassies. It is also very important to know that as a government we have the responsibility to protect our citizens, and in situations where the United States has been attacked, such as the attack from Afghanistan on September 11th, 2001, for example, then yes, military action must be taken to protect ourselves. But our focus here at the State Department is diplomacy. Next question, please.

MODERATOR: @luistorresvas asks, what measures will the United States promote to support sustainable development this decade?

MIKE HAMMER: @luistorresvas, that is an important question because here at the State Department we put a great deal of emphasis on sustainable development. In fact, Secretary Clinton was in Los Cabos, Mexico a few days ago in an important meeting where these issues were discussed. And it is something we have to work on together with other countries in order to ensure that development is sustainable, that important issues like the environment are addressed, important energy issues. There are issues such as ensuring that sufficient water capacity exists. So it is something we are working on together and with international aid. For example, in the next Rio+20 meeting and as I have said, here in the State Department, it is something that we will consider, that now is the time to work on these issues, and it is the wave of the future. And in fact it is something that we need to focus on and we are focusing on. OK, thank you. Next question, please.

MODERATOR: The next question comes from @hagueabductions. Why do you not include incompliance with the Hague Convention on Child Abdjuction in your human rights reports?

MIKE HAMMER: OK, thank you for that question @hagueabductions. Well, actually here we do prioritize the interests of children who have been abducted. And we examine and follow closely how other countries behave regarding the Hague convention. And if you visit our website you can see that every year we send a report to Congress in which we indicate how other countries have implemented the Hague Convention’s regulations. In fact we do work on this issue and we follow it closely. Even though we do not include it in our human rights report, there are other reports that we write on this issue. OK, thank you very much and let’s move on to the next question.

MODERATOR: The next question comes from @hbabe242. Why does Hillary not want Cuba to attend the Summit of the Americas in April? What is Obama afraid of? Why are you excluding us?

MIKE HAMMER: OK, thank you for the question @hbabe242. The issue is that at the 2001 Summit of the Americas in Quebec, it was decided by consensus that only democratic countries with democratically elected leaders would be able to participate in the Summit of the Americas process. And the situation is that Cuba is not democratic, and it has not taken measures to work with the OAS to demonstrate that it is interested in allowing free and open political expression, in having a democracy and in bringing an end to repression. So as a result, they are not invited to the summit in Cartagena, Colombia. Thank you very much. Let’s see, next question.

MODERATOR: The next question comes from @ejvelasco. Has the ambassador in Venezuela provided any information about Chavez’s health? What does the administration expect from Netanyahu’s visit?

MIKE HAMMER: OK, thank you very much for those two questions, @ejvelasco. Regarding President Chavez’s health, the only information we have is what you have see in the press. Regarding the other question, we are very excited here about the visit of Israel’s Prime Minister, Netanyahu. As we all know, we have very good and very strong relations with Israel. They are very close relations and we anticipate discussing many issues. Among the issues to discuss: How to advance the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians? And also the great international concern that we all have regarding Iran’s nuclear program. It is a situation that we would like to see resolved diplomatically and that we are obviously working with the international community to ensure that the sanctions we have imposed make clear to Iran that there is only one road they can take, and that is a diplomatic solution that proves that the intentions of their nuclear program are strictly peaceful. Thank you. Let’s see, next question.

MODERATOR: @laser asks, do you all design policy towards Europe as a whole or do you differentiate between each European entity?

MIKE HAMMER: Thank you for that question, @laser, from Spain. OK, our relations with Europe are handled both ways—with the European Union as a whole and bilaterally with each country. Regarding the European community, obviously we work together to face the great challenges that we have on the economic front and so that our citizens can enjoy economic prosperity, which is of interest to both of our peoples—the United States and Europe. We also work together on important issues, as we have done in Afghanistan, as we are doing now regarding our concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, and as we are doing regarding the serious situation that we are seeing in Syria. And, in fact, of course we have our bilateral relations with each European country, because we have those relations historically, and we want to continue sharing and seeing how we can work together to face common global challenges. And this can also be done bilaterally. OK, thank you and let’s see. On to the next question.

MODERATOR: @jdlmetro asks, how do you envision ending the war against drug trafficking in Mexico?

MIKE HAMMER: OK, thanks @jdlmetro, who has sent us multiple questions from Guadalajara about this important issue. And that is, how can we fight drug trafficking? This is an incredibly serious problem that we all have to overcome. In fact the United States, through our positive relations with President Calderon and his cabinet, has been working and cooperating to see how we can overcome this challenge. We recognize that from our side, as the United States, we need to fight the problem of demand, but international cooperation is also necessary. We are doing this not just with Mexico but also with Central American countries and other countries around the world. Next weekend Vice President Biden will continue this discussion. He is going to Mexico for meetings with Mexican authorities to discuss this issue, and then he will continue his trip in Honduras. So, we need to continue this focus, continue working together, because both societies are asking us to find ways to end this horrible violence by the drug cartels . Again, let’s move on to the next question.

MODERATOR: The next question comes from @obama4me2. I would like to visit Cuba, but I am an American citizen. When are you going to lift the embargo?

MIKE HAMMER: OK, thank you @obama4me2. The issue of the embargo on Cuba should really be put to the authorities in Havana. When will they allow the Cuban people to live in democracy? When will they allow people to freely express themselves, without fear of retribution? When will the repression end? When will they free the political prisoners? These are all things we would like to see happen immediately. Things that the world has been asking of Cuba for years, that they allow a democratic opening. And that is the focus of our policy. We want to promote the rights of the Cuban people so that they can live in a free Cuba. And I hope that happens immediately or as soon as possible. OK, let’s go to the next question.

MODERATOR: @fla830 asks, did you receive any concerns from business people about the Argentine government’s trade policy?

MIKE HAMMER: OK, thank you for that question, @fla830. We would like to improve our relations with Argentina, and we are constantly discussing how they can be advanced, because we believe that both countries can work together on many issues. The economic issue is one that we discuss not only with Argentina, but with many countries, because it is a priority of the State Department to promote trade, to promote investment, and we belive that in countries that allow investment, where there is an open and transparent system where it is understood that you can invest worry-free, that is good for that country. So, it is something that we are obviously discussing with many countries around the world because we believe that free trade and an open, transparent business environment is the best way to advance the interest of our countries. OK, thank you and let’s see, on to the next question.

MODERATOR: @varendiaran asks, has your country renewed interest in signing a free trade agreement with Uruguay?

MIKE HAMMER: OK, thank you for that question, @varendiaran from Uruguay. Well of course, yes, we have good relations with Uruguay and we want to see how we can continue advancing trade and commercial relations. We know that from our side there are good opportunities for United States businesses to invest in the energy industry and the agricultural industry in Uruguay. So we continue to discuss and promote investment. Investment is not only important for those other countries but also for the United States. We want other countries to invest here in the United States to create more jobs, which, at the end of the day, is something we are trying to advance, and it is important for the work of the State Department. OK, with that let’s go to the next question.

MODERATOR: Our last question comes from @paezescamaradela. I am from the United States, I live in Venezuela and I want to make my daughter a United States citizen. What should I do?

MIKE HAMMER: OK, thanks @paezescamaradela. Here at the State Department one of our most important priorities is to provide support and assistance to United States citizens abroad. That is what our embassies and consulates do around the world. And it is something very important and a principal part of our mission. In this case, if you have a question about the citizenship of your daughter, go to our embassy in Caracas and I am sure that they can assist you and answer your questions. OK, I understand that that was our last question and we are out of time for today.

I want to close by thanking you for your great interest in communicating with us by Twitter. As you can see, we have our official thread, @USAenespanol, where you can follow us, and as you have seen during this discussion there are many important issues that we work on here at the State Department. And I hope that we are able to continue discussing these issues. As you may know, there are some important events coming up. We have the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, where hemispheric leaders will meet to discuss, and decide how we can face challenges together, as partners, to advance the interests of our citizens. For example, the main topics will be economic issues, how to advance prosperity in a socially inclusive way so that everyone can benefit from the great development that we are seeing throughout Latin America and the United States. We are going to discuss how we can confront energy challenges so that everyone can benefit from an energy system connecting the Americas. They will discuss the environment, educational issues, citizen security issues, how to address crime and the drug trafficking problem together, and lastly there will be a discussion about how to strengthen democratic institutions. We are very excited about the summit in Cartagena, Colombia. Here at the State Department we work on many issues. Issues of how to advance United States interests through diplomacy and development, because as Secretary Clinton has said, we have to be smart about the way we use our resources, and we believe that through effective diplomacy and effective development, sustainable development in particular, we can advance United States interests, and that is good for the rest of the world. OK, with that we are going to conclude this session and I hope to see you again in the future. Thank you very much and I hope you will continue following us at @USAenespanol. Here on the screen behind me you can see other ways that you can follow us using a variety of platforms. Thank you and have a nice day.



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