u.s. department of state

With the help of Global Ties U.S. and the San Antonio Council for International Visitors, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is funding the Police Professionalization Exchange Program for Mexico — a program that will train 3,800 police officials from Mexico in U.S. law enforcement policies and police tactics. [...] Police officials from Mexico are undergoing training to learn the best U.S. law enforcement practices to take back home.

I believe that a final, negotiated FY 2018 budget request for the State Department should include continued funding – if not a gradual increase – of what has been a relatively small amount of money allocated every year to the soft power of “cultural diplomacy.” Roughly defined as the use of an exchange of ideas, traditions, and values to strengthen relations and encourage engagement, cultural diplomacy is perhaps most easily seen in the use of music, arts, and sports to build cross-cultural understanding.

Former U.S. Ambassador Curtis S. Chin on the proposed funding cuts to cross-cultural programs.

Beginning this week, the U.S. Department of State, in partnership with Global Ties U.S., will sponsor Diplomacy Begins Here Regional Summits, bringing together leaders in business, government, and the nonprofit world to further citizen diplomacy and forge new connections in local communities. The summits will take place across the United States, engaging Americans from diverse backgrounds on the innovations and impacts that stem from international relationships.

To celebrate the June 5 World Environment Day, diplomats from more than a dozen foreign embassies and international organizations Monday joined the U.S. State Department to plant underwater seagrass in the Potomac River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Diplomats told VOA their participation in “green diplomacy” is to help raise awareness of the challenges of clean water here and at home. By working with the CBF’s “Grasses for the Masses” program, diplomats are demonstrating the commitment to environmental protection. 

Core practices of open government are eroding in the Trump Administration, with new limitations on the ability of the press to effectively question officials on U.S. foreign policy. The problem is starkly illustrated by comparing the press briefing schedules of the State Department for May 2016 and May 2017. In May 2016, the State Department held a press briefing nearly every weekday of the month, with only two exceptions. One of them was Memorial Day. In May 2017, by contrast, there was not a single State Department press briefing. The last briefing was on April 27.

The No. 2 diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing resigned Monday, telling staff his conscience would not permit him to formally notify the Chinese that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris climate accord. David H. Rank, a career Foreign Service officer of 27 years, had been acting ambassador until former Iowa governor Terry Branstad (R) was confirmed as the new ambassador last month. Rank held a town meeting with embassy employees to explain he had offered his resignation and it had been accepted.

As President Trump strains alliances and relationships around the world, some of the nation’s top career diplomats are breaking publicly with him, in what amounts to a quiet revolt by a cadre of public servants known for their professional discretion. On Monday, the chargé d’affaires at the American Embassy in Beijing, David H. Rank, announced his resignation after telling his staff he could not defend the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

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