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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S. presidential election and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East - Foreign Tour for Middle East Journalists

October 14, 2012


Date: 10/15/2012 Location: Washington, DC Description: Arab journalists on State Department sponsored tour meet with Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Mike Hammer. - State Dept ImageOctober 14-20, 2012; Washington, DC and Philadelphia, PA.
Contact: New York Foreign Press Center Director Alyson Grunder
Telephone: 646-282-2837; email: grunderal2@state.gov

NEA's press and public diplomacy office and the Foreign Press Centers jointly organized a reporting tour for 10 journalists from Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen/. The tour focused on the U.S. presidential election and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, with an emphasis on the essential role of the media in democracies. In Washington, the group met with Pollster John Zogby, the consulting firm Latino Decisions and a team of Al Hurra political correspondents for briefings that explained polling in U.S. politics, the influence of Hispanic voters, and election reporting strategies. They also participated in a Debate Watch event. In the Department, they received briefings from NEA officials on transition support, Syria, and Middle East peace; from DRL Senior Advisor Michael Kozak on U.S. perspectives on freedom of expression and religion; and from Assistant Secretary Hammer on U.S. outreach efforts in Arab Spring countries.

In Philadelphia, the journalists learned about America's own revolutionary past through a visit to Independence Hall. They had meetings: 1) at Factcheck.org (where one of the Tunisian journalists asked, "does U.S. law allow" you to exist?); 2) with Middle East scholar Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet who expressed concern the Arab Spring revolutions will follow a similar trajectory as the 1979 Iranian revolution; 3) with columnist Trudy Rubin of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Network of Arab American Professionals also held a dinner and discussion for the group during which the journalists pressed their hosts to exert more influence on U.S. foreign policy.