China and India have declared 2011 as the "Year of China-India Exchange", during which each side will invite 500 youths from the other side for a visit.

Countries in East Asia are increasingly looking to pop culture, as an instrument of "soft power". And the "soft power" competition is alive and well in East Asia, with not just financial returns at stake, but also as a positive influence in the attitudes of target or importing countries.

Golbi, 19, and the winner of the 2010 season of "Kochav Nolad" - the Israeli incarnation of "American Idol" - performed a short set of songs on behalf of ELEM, a nonprofit organization that assists and rehabilitates “distressed youth” in Israel with programs ranging from counseling and social services to vocation and job training.

The cultural center is called @america – a name chosen because diplomats in the world’s most populous Muslim country thought it would appeal to the technical savvy young people, while conveying a measure of respect.

The internet is transforming public diplomacy around the world and has spurred popular involvement in key global issues such as accountable governance, climate change and terrorism, say experts and diplomats.

September 7, 2011

Essentially, the heart of our public diplomacy initiative is to engage more effectively beyond the official level contacts. Sort of going beyond the seminar circuit and establishing a people-to-people contact... The mode involves targeting campus interactions, developing contests, which get young people to think creatively beyond collaborations, beyond summit level engagement. It’s a work in progress.

Young adults helping to shape the future of the Middle East and North Africa will meet the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, at an event in London organised by the British Council. Their trip to the UK is part of the British Council’s work with young people around the world, and will help to inform the international response to the changing political landscape in the region.

Sessions throughout the weekend will focus on topics such as an in-depth look at civil society in Israel, current developments in public diplomacy, the Arab Spring and the Islamic world, combating the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and how to serve as an effective advocate for Israel.