State Dept to focus on Muslim view of US

WASHINGTON, DC: The State Department is to launch an inquiry into its campaign to boost America’s image in Muslim countries that has run for the past two years.

The move – taken at the request of Congress and at a time when US troops remain engaged in various activities in Iraq – comes just one week after a Pew Global Attitudes survey showed that negative views of the US are increasing in the Middle East.

Veteran Middle East diplomat Edward Djerejian has been appointed to assemble and lead an advisory group that will review work so far,

and recommend changes by 1 October.

Most of the work Djerejian will review has been spearheaded by former ad executive Charlotte Beers, who left her post as Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy in March for health reasons.

‘This committee has about a three- or four-month time period to develop a paper,’ said Beers’s interim replacement Patricia Harrison.

She added that all efforts under review, known collectively as Shared Values, will continue during the inquiry: ‘Things have not stopped in terms of our focus on reaching younger, wider and deeper populations, especially in Muslim-populated countries.’

According to Djerejian, who is founding director of the James Baker Institute for Public Policy, his group will consist largely of private-sector PR and media experts, although no one has been selected as of yet.

‘My purpose is not to come out of this with just another paper on public diplomacy, but to have a viable instrument that can be used to manage and conduct public diplomacy at this very critical time,’ said Djerejian

Djerejian’s diplomatic career has spanned the administrations of eight US presidents.

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