President Obama Makes Historic Visit to Hiroshima, Now For the Trillion Dollar Question

Posted: 11:45 pm ET
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Obama in Vietnam: Arms Embargo, Human Rights, Peace Corps, and Anthony Bourdain

Posted: 4:53 pm ET
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Meanwhile, Secretary Kerry made an unannounced visit in downtown Hanoi .

 

President Obama Pays Tribute to Argentina’s Dirty War Victims, Also Remembers USG Diplomats

Posted: 4:09 am EDT
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President Obama and President Macri at the Parque de la Memoria paying tribute to Argentina’s Dirty War victims.

It takes courage for a society to address uncomfortable truths about the darker parts of its past.  Confronting crimes committed by our own leaders, by our own people — that can be divisive and frustrating.  But it’s essential to moving forward; to building a peaceful and prosperous future in a country that respects the rights of all of its citizens.

Today, we also commemorate those who fought side-by-side with Argentinians for human rights.  The scientists who answered the call from the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo to help identify victims in Argentina and around the world.  The journalists, like Bob Cox, who bravely reported on human rights abuses despite threats to them and their families.

The diplomats, like Tex Harris, who worked in the U.S. Embassy here to document human rights abuses and identify the disappeared.  And like Patt Derian, the Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights for President Jimmy Carter — a President who understood that human rights is a fundamental element of foreign policy.  That understanding is something that has influenced the way we strive to conduct ourselves in the world ever since.

 

 

U.S. Embassy Havana: Post of the Hour Until POTUS is Wheel’s Up

Posted: 3:09 am EDT
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Via @USEmbCuba

The United States established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba in 1902, opening the first U.S. Embassy in Havana in 1923.  The Embassy was closed in 1961 when the United States severed diplomatic relations.  During President Carter’s administration in 1977, the United States and Cuba signed an agreement establishing the U.S. Interests Section (USINT) in Havana, and the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC.  Under the formal protection of the Embassy of Switzerland, USINT operated out of the former U.S. Embassy building, which first opened in 1953.  On December 17, 2014, President Obama announced the intention to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.  After six months of negotiations, the two nations officially renewed diplomatic relations on July 20, 2015, and USINT became U.S. Embassy Havana.

Photo from US Embassy Havana/FB

¡Feliz Día Internacional de la Mujer! Photo from US Embassy Havana/FB

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis (front row, right on couch) is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, and the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba.  Prior to taking up this position in August 2014, Ambassador DeLaurentis served for three years as the Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.  Prior to that posting, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Scott Hamilton (front row, left on couch) is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who assumed his current position as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Havana on July 20, 2015.

ADST writes that one of the most daunting and stressful tasks a Foreign Service Officer abroad can face is supporting a visit by the President of the United States:

Concerns about security, cultural sensitivities, press coverage and political effectiveness turn such events into an all-encompassing, embassy-wide obsession from the day the idea of the visit is floated until “Wheels Up” when Air Force One departs. There’s plenty of drama, bruised egos, hurry-up-and-wait, and silliness in the planning and implementation of such a visit. The outcome can make or break a career.  A mark of a great FSO is the ability to support a presidential visit while maintaining a sense of courtesy and good humor, especially when demands from everyone from the pre-advance team to the press pool verge on the ridiculous.

And what do you do when the White House press advance team is “as prickly as a hedgehog?”  Click here and read more: What Goes on Behind the Scenes When POTUS Comes to Town.

President Obama arrived at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana on Sunday, March 20, 4:50 p.m  and did a meet-and-greet at U.S. Embassy at 5:50 p.m.

Schedule for POTUS on Monday, March 21 (via usatoday):

• Wreath-laying and tour at the José Marti Memorial, 10:20 a.m.
• Official welcoming ceremony, Palace of the Revolution, 11 a.m.
• One-on-one meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro, 11:30 a.m.
• Expanded meeting between U.S. and Cuban officials, 1 p.m.
• Statements to the press by Presidents Obama and Castro, 1:50 p.m.
• Entrepreneurship summit, 3:45 p.m.
• State Dinner at the Palace of the Revolution, 7:25 p.m.

For Tuesday, March 22:

• Address to the Cuban people at El Gran Teatro de Havana, morning
• Meeting with dissidents and civil society leaders, morning
• Baseball have between the Tampa Bay Rays at Cuban National Team at Estadio Latinoamericano, 2 p.m.
• Departure from Jose Marti International Airport en route to Buenos Aires, Argentina, afternoon

 

 

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President Obama Visits #Cuba, First Visit By Sitting POTUS Since 1928

Posted: 5:49 pm EDT
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According to NYT, former President Jimmy Carter visited Cuba twice after he left office, in 2002 and 2011. President Obama’s visit today is the first visit by a sitting president in 88 years. In January 1928, President Calvin Coolidge attended the Pan American Conference in Havana. He rode the presidential railcar to Key West and then boarded the battleship USS Texas and set sail for Havana. This is also a first for Air Force One.

 

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Cuba’s Most Famous Comedian Finally Connects With President Obama #ObamaEnCuba (Video)

Posted: 6:16 pm EDT
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After years of trying, Pánfilo, played by Cuba’s well-known comedian Luis Silva, finally connects with President Obama a day ahead of the President’s trip there. Pánfilo’s television show is reportedly seen weekly by about two-thirds of the Cuban people. One of his most popular skits involves him getting calls from and talking with President Obama about life in Cuba. The show has been on Cuban television since 2008, and has won the award for Most Popular TV Show in Cuba for several years running.  President Obama takes off for Havana tomorrow. The White House’s Ben Rhodes writes about what the President and First Lady have planned for their trip here.

Video below via @USEmbCuba:

Read more here.

 

President Obama Visits Tokyo, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Manila — Yabusame, Durian, EDCA, and Lots of Handshakes

— Domani Spero

President Obama is traveling to Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines from April 22 to April 29. Below are some photos from his stops:

Japan

The US Embassy Tokyo folks also got a meet and greet with President Obama. We are pleased to hear that no one was strangled with the lanyard of some Top Secret Clearance badge despite all that standing around waiting to see POTUS.  You all did not get up at 3 a.m., did you?

Republic of Korea

Malaysia

Philippines

Shortly before President Obama arrived in Manila, the United States and the Philippines signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The agreement is designed to promote among other things, capacity building towards Philippine Army modernization, maritime security, maritime domain awareness and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

For more of that, see links below:

President Barack Obama stretches to shake the hand of a young girl held aloft during a U.S. Embassy meet and greet at the Sofitel Hotel in Manila, Philippines, April 28, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Photo of the Day: President Obama Meets Pope Francis

– Domani Spero

Photo via US Embassy The Holy See/FB

Photo via US Embassy The Holy See/FB Click on image to view more photos

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