Friday, December 12, 2008

U.S. Diplomacy in the Americas: A Conversation with the Diplomatic Corps

The Assistant Secretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Thomas A. Shannon, led a meeting of the Ambassadors to the Western Hemispheric nations at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He opened by welcoming all the Ambassadors and other guests and explained that the meeting was being held to examine the context of American diplomacy and assess how the hemisphere has changed in the past 8 years.

The majority of the meeting was spent in a question and answer period during which the audience could submit questions to the Ambassadors. The first question was directed to Ambassador Wilkins, from Canada with a request to assess the strengths of the U.S. Canada partnership. Ambassador Wilkins, who made a name for himself when he declared “Bonjour, y’all” in his first meeting as U.S. Ambassador to Canada, declared that the relationship is as strong as ever. Canada is the U.S.’s largest trading partner and they are excited about the incoming Obama administration.

Ambassador Sanderson from Haiti was asked about the UN peacekeeping force there, to which he affirmed the success of the ongoing operation. She asserted that part of its success was due to the fact that 70% of the forces come from Latin American countries, and is led by Brazilian forces. She affirmed that the forces have increased security in the area as well as played an important role in recovery from environmental disasters. They have been training a police force that will be able to maintain security in the country.

Many of the Ambassadors commented on the increased competitiveness within the diplomatic world when recognizing Asia’s increasing influence. Many also addressed the issues of environmental sustainability in the tropical areas as well as the human prosperity difficulties arising from the current economic crisis. The Ambassadors agreed that the global economic situation reaffirmed the interconnectedness of the world, which in turn reinforces the need for global cooperation.

Date: December 5, 2008
Sponsor: U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Location: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Hall of Flags
Attended by: Emily Riff

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