Twitter Diplomacy in Russia

The US Embassy in Moscow has now posted a photo of Ashton Kutcher with Ambassador Beyrle during the US Innovation Delegation trip to Russia. Neither of them identified in this photo:

from US Embassy Moscow
From the US Embassy Moscow:  U.S. Innovation Delegation Arrives in Russia | February 17, 2010
A combined public private delegation of leaders of major American technology and social media companies has arrived in Russia and will be here through February 23.  The purpose of their trip is to bring together these leaders with representatives of the Russian government, universities, private companies, and non-governmental organizations.  They will discuss how social media and other innovative technologies can be used to strengthen and broaden ties between the United States and Russia, and how these technologies can be used to develop knowledge-based societies and economies in both our countries.  This trip is part of the broad dialogue launched by the Bilateral Presidential Commission created by Presidents Obama and Medvedev in July 2009.

The delegation is being led by Jared Cohen from the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning staff and Howard Solomon of the National Security Council.  White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra will also participate. They are joined by leaders of major American technology and social media companies, including EBay, Twitter, Cisco Systems, Howcast, EDventure, Social Gaming Network, Mozilla, Katalyst non-government organization, and the New York Academy of Sciences.

The delegation will be travelling to Moscow and Novosibirsk.

The delegation is also on Twitter:
He may be unnamed in that embassy photo but the most popular member of the delegation and the one with the most Twitter followers is no other than Ashton Kutcher aka aplusk in twitterworld. At the time of this writing, aplusk has 4,569,942 followers. That makes him the most followed user on Twitter and he, of course, tweeted about the trip:
To join us live in the room hashtag #rustechdel we are talking transperency
How can the Russian government use technology to create transperency in practices #rustechdel 7:29 AM Feb 22nd via Twitterrific
Hanging with a room of Russian startups. Any advise for them #rustechdel
Meeting with Russian NGOs about human trafficking and exploitation of children. #rustechdel
Reactions from tweetworld:
ImSoNotinDC @aplusk Or transparency. We’re giving so much away nowadays, don’t let the Russians beat us in spelling, too. #rustechdel #snarkiness
jaredcohen Headed to airport after #RusTechDel Successful trip w/21 deliverables in education, anti-trafficking, health, anti-corruption, e-gov
nvnino RT @vlad_chernyshov @iponomarev NYTimes just didn’t understand the purpose of #rustechdel. It’s a pity.
holly_hole RT @pro4pro: Ashton Kutcher’s (@aplusk) cup from Starbucks. Starting price 100$. Money will go for russian innovations:) #rustechdel about 17 hours ago from web
nickwilsdon Ashton Kutcher @aplusk follower count on Feb 10 was 4,505,387, so he picked up around 65k followers on the #rustechdel trip
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A New Embassy for the Future. In London. For $1 Billion

The architecture firm founded in Philadelphia in 1984, KieranTimberlake has been selected to design the new embassy building in London.   TSB over at The Skeptical Bureaucrat has a piece about the future digs: Design Concept Selected for New U.S. Embassy LondonBelow is an excerpt from the official statement:

“KieranTimberlake’s design met the goal of creating a modern, welcoming, timeless, safe and energy efficient embassy for the 21st century. Their concept most fully satisfied the requirements outlined in the design competition’s mission statement. The concept holds the greatest potential for developing a truly iconic embassy and is on the leading edge of sustainable design. KieranTimberlake is an architectural firm known for its commitment to innovation and environmental responsibility.”
The anticipated ground breaking on this embassy will be in 2013 with a goal to complete the construction in 2017.

© KieranTimberlake/studio amd

Adam Namm, acting director of the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, was quoted in the press estimating the cost of the new embassy at about $1 billion _ “in the ballpark of the most expensive embassies we have built.”

Wouldn’t this be the most expensive?  We are updating our list of the top most expensive US embassies in the world:
#1 US Embassy London – Estimated at $1Billion (2013-2017)
#2 US Embassy Islamabad – Estimated at $670-830 million (pre-solicitation out)
#3 US Embassy Baghdad – $736 million
#4 US Embassy Kabul – approximately $590 million (and counting)
#5 US Embassy Beijing – $434 million (thank you TSB!)
Somebody please tell me which embassy occupies the 5th place or I won’t get any sleep over this. Moscow?  Nah, the one built in the 80’s was for $190 million (plus reportedly $20-$40 million to get rid of bugs, er security flaws). But — if they build a new one there, it might rival London in cost since Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in the world.  Tokyo would also definitely be an expensive design-build project because it is not just one but THE most expensive city; just don’t know if a NEC is in its near future. The 5th place…. help meeeeee!       
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New U.S. Embassy in London | KieranTimberlake
An Embassy for the Future |

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US Embassy Asmara Suspends Consular Services

Map of EritreaImage via Wikipedia

GOE Interferes with Diplomatic Pouches Delivery
The US Embassy in Eritrea has this notice on its website: 

“Due to an interruption by the Government of Eritrea of the delivery of the Embassy’s diplomatic pouches, the Embassy has had to suspend the provision of all consular activities except for emergency American citizen services. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and hope to resume the full range of consular services as soon as possible.”

The embassy has also issued a Warden Message last week (Warden Message | U.S. Embassy Asmara | February 19, 2010) regarding the suspension of services:
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Eritrea, recommends that U.S. citizens defer travel at this time, and informs U.S. citizens that the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Asmara is currently closed for all public non-emergency services.  The Consular Section will continue to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens.

Periodically since September 13, 2008, the Government of Eritrea has repeatedly, and in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, interfered with the unfettered delivery of the U.S. Embassy’s diplomatic pouches. As a result, the Embassy is unable to receive critical supplies and materials necessary for the conduct of normal operations. Until this matter is resolved, the consular section of the U.S. Embassy has no choice but to suspend all non-emergency services. This closure affects all routine services to American citizens, such as Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, passport services, and notarial services. The Embassy hopes to resume consular services once the Government of Eritrea resumes uninterrupted delivery of diplomatic pouches. Until then, American citizens who need routine consular services should consider traveling to the U.S. Embassies in Cairo, Egypt or Nairobi, Kenya, or the U.S. Consulate in Dubai, U.A.E.

Read the whole thing here.

Quote: Diplomacy is not about size

“In the end, diplomacy is not all about size; it’s about having a vision for what the world can and should be, and knowing how best it can be achieved. The world Washington sees today is profoundly different from the one that Cold War strategists saw before. It would be a mistake if the strategic toolbox were still the same.”

Abraham M. Denmark
February 9, 2010