Hughes resigns as public diplomacy chief

WASHINGTON: Karen Hughes, the head of the US State Department's public diplomacy operations, is quitting her post as of mid-December to spend more time with her family in Texas, the State Department announced today.

WASHINGTON: Karen Hughes, the head of the US State Department's public diplomacy operations, is quitting her post as of mid-December to spend more time with her family in Texas, the State Department announced today.

As the under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, the longtime Bush advisor led an effort to boost the image of the US around the world, particularly in the Middle East. Critics derided the effort as insufficient in the face of US foreign policy, including the war in Iraq and Israeli policy, which they say provoked animosity toward the US.

In an interview with PRWeek in July 2007 touting a new State Department public diplomacy plan that emphasizes various US and overseas exchange programs, Hughes argued that US policy couldn't simply be changed to curry favor, that there would always be disagreements. Yet greater personal contacts between the Americans and the world would nevertheless foster warmer feelings toward the US, she claimed.

“Some people disagree with some of our public policies - no question about that,” she said. “People will always disagree with some actions. We disagree with what other countries do. You [won't] change their minds about that. But you might try to explain the rationale in a better way.”

The State Department did not say who will replace Hughes, who will continue to be a “consultant” on unspecified projects, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said.

Dina Habib Powell, a key deputy to Hughes on the effort to boost the image of the US around the world, left her job earlier this year as assistant secretary for cultural and educational affairs to become director of global corporate engagement for Goldman Sachs Group.

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