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Karen Hughes in Cairo September 2005

April 14, 2011

The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has its own set of the Cablegate files and has released some cables that Wikileaks hasn’t put out yet.  In this I spotted this account of a meeting in September 2005 between then Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes and the Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif.

Some interesting points – first advice on what the US should do to improve its image.

Nazif said that concrete action was needed to improve America´s image. Post-disengagement Gaza offered a real opportunity for such action. Positive change in Gaza would go a long way toward improving America´s image. He noted three things the U.S. could do: 1) support Abu Mazen as he tried to consolidate power; 2) build Gaza´s infrastructure, focusing on projects with quick results; and 3) assure the Palestinians that Gaza disengagement was not the end, but the beginning. The Palestinians needed to see a path for continued progress toward a Palestinian state. Currently the message to the Palestinians was “prove yourself in Gaza first,” which was not going over well. A better message would be that disengagement was a good first step and Gaza could form the nucleus of a Palestinian state.

Hughes pressed Nazif to remove Hizbollah’s Al Manar TV channel from the Nilesat TV satellite service – Nazif declined to respond.

Hughes pressed Nazif to allow Radio Sawa to be broadcast in Egypt and pointed to Congressional pressure to link aid to Egypt to this matter.  Nazif responded that Hughes was asking Egypt to break its own laws.

Nazif complained that it had become more difficult for Egyptians to get US visas and that the US should fund additional exchange places – particularly as he’d benefitted from the International Visitor Programme.

It’s an interesting exchange that contains some familiar arguments about public diplomacy. – the US pushing for action on broadcasting, Egypt suggesting that actions might be more helpful and at the same time fending off suggestions about political reforms.

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One comment

  1. Very interesting post with more examples of the U.S. Department of State failing to abandon a Cold War mindset in response to the changed strategic environment. Censorship? A State-produced radio network? I wrote about State finally adapting to the times at http://www.eventuresincyberland.com/2011/04/state-department-abandons-cold-war-mindset/. Please let me know what you think!



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