Deputy Ambassador Ricciardone Chats Online After Cairo Speech

Photo from US Embassy Kabul

Shortly after the President concluded his speech in Cairo last Thursday, the US Embassy in Kabul had its own webchat about the speech (3:30 pm, Kabul time).

Deputy Ambassador Frank Ricciardone and a couple of other officials plus a moderator were on hand to answer questions from webchat participants. Highlights of the webchat have now been posted online in its Facebook page. Selected excerpts below:

U.S. Embassy Kabul: (15:44) as -salaam wa aleikum! welcome to everyone to the \american \embassy in Kabul. Ambassador Eikenberry is in Kandahar today. | am Deputy Ambassador, Francis Ricciardone. All my Afghan and American colleagues here at the Embassy were together with you just now in listening to President Obama’s speech. We are keen to hear your responses to it. What do you think?

LC Herat 5: (16:00) what is obama’s decision about iran nucler program?

U.S. Embassy Kabul: (16:00) Dear Herati citizen (I love Herat — thanks for your hospitality when my wife and I visited your beautiful city two weeks ago!) — Thank you for paying close attention to President Obama’s words on Iran and nuclear power: he was clear in supporting Iran’s right to nuclear power for peaceful purposes, under the NonProliferation Treaty. But he was also clear that Iran, like all countries who are parties to the Treaty, must uphold their obligations under the Treaty in order to prevent a horrible race to acquire nuclear weapons. and he was very clear that America seeks a world in which NO countries hold nuclear weapons — and he called on all countries in the region to share this goal. he said very respectful words about Iran — I hope the Iranians were paying close attention.

reza: (16:05) If we open our eyes and look at this trip exactly, dose this trip has a sign to support the old government of Husni Mubarak?

U.S. Embassy Kabul: (16:05) Dear Reza, until last year I was the US Ambassador to Egypt. It is a lovely country with wonderful people. Egypt and her government and people strongly support peace and tolerance, which were key words in President Obama’s speech. I’m sure he chose Egypt as the place for his speech out of appreciation for Egypt’s role as a center of Muslim history and learning, and to show his appreciation for Egypt’s role in promoting peace and tolerance. We certainly respect President Mubarak as the President of Egypt, but that does not mean we are signaling support for every policy of the Government of Egypt or President Mubarak.

S.Behbood: (16:19) what well the Mr.obama a bout the Taliban in Afghanistan?

U.S. Embassy Kabul: (16:19) Behbood, part of the problem is: who exactly ARE the Taliban, anyway? Some people who call themselves Taliban, or whom others call Taliban, no doubt are murderous criminals who cloak themselves in the guise of religion. They only wish to impose their will on others, and are ready to kill and injure others. These are not people who believe in the Golden Rule that Obama cited: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. they not only kill, they throw acid in girls’ faces. they are cowards. such are the violent extremist followers of Bin Laden, and they are not followers of The Prophet (PBUH) or any prophet. So we will help Afghans protect themselves against such people, whatever they call themselves. But perhaps there are other ”Taliban” who are willing to live in peace with their brothers and sisters of Afghanistan, and to respect the Constitution and the State. If your State decides to accept such people back to live as fellow citizens in peace, then America has no problem with such people, whatever they call themselves.

There! That’s as rapid response as it gets! I’m not aware of any other top embassy official doing webchats on the President’s speech (apparently there were four others, but posts were not identified).

Of the three US ambassadors I know who have their own official blogs, only US Ambassador to Tunisia, Robert Godec blogged about the Cairo speech in his Tumbler blog here, here and here.

Update: According to the White House summary of reactions to the Cairo speech:

*A post-speech webchat with Deputy Ambassador Ricciardone, Assistant Ambassador Mussomeli, and Political Chief Alan Yu answered over 40 questions from over 100 participants including those linked electronically at Lincoln Centers.

*5 Ambassadors chatted online with groups watching the event

*Over 100 viewing parties, discussions, or other events were held by embassies and consulates from Bolivia to Uzbekistan.

*In Sierra Leone, the Embassy funded viewing events through 11 cinema centers so that 1,000 people would be able to watch the event who would not have otherwise been able to.

*30+ posts used Facebook to enhance outreach either ahead of the event, to chat during and after the event, or to follow wall posts and status updates.

More reactions here.