US wants more partnerships with Muslim communities

June 11, 2010
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The Obama administration wants to expand partnerships with Muslim communities around the world by having more comprehensive engagements in areas of shared interest, a senior US official has said.

“In today’s complex world, it is critical for our countries to learn about each other, to have discussions and dialogues and debate important issues such as climate change and food security,” Judith McHale, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, said.

The US official, who was in Doha on a short visit for discussions, emphasized the need for common work to provide opportunities for people, especially the youth, to move forward toward the future.

She also highlighted the significance of looking into areas of common interest such as education and science and technology for collaboration and cooperation.

“We should look for new ways on how we can we work together to build bridges. I believe if we have broad relationships, we can find new avenues to work together, that we can hopefully find solutions to some of the problems,” McHale said. “There are many avenues that we can find where we have common grounds and work on and it is important to pursue those and not let various things that we might have different perspectives and different points of view to stop us and hopefully in building strong relationships we’ll have more productive environment to bring about solutions to issues,” McHale said.

McHale hailed Qatar as a very important partner and ally of the United States in many of its initiatives.

Referring to the partnership between the two countries in education, she said she wanted to expand the interaction between students in the US and Qatar.

“I believe that the more we have engagement the more we will know and understand each other, our cultures and histories. The information might help deal with problems like stereotypes, that people in this region might have of the US and the people of the US might have of this region,” she said.

McHale, a former media person, said media were significant partners and that the US was having discussions with Al Jazeera at various levels.

“In an information-saturated world, it’s important for governments to have active engagements with the media, to have open dialogue and be accessible to the media, to answer questions and that’s what we’re trying to do with Al Jazeera as one of the leading global networks,” she said at the roundtable meeting at the US ambassador’s residence. “I want to make sure that our government and representatives are available to Al Jazeera because they have a big role in the world today providing people the information they need. I want to make sure we are doing our part to be openly accessible, to make sure we have channels of open communications. I think it is very important for governments to do that with media outlets because without that open access to each other nobody is served well,” she said one year after the US President delivered a historic speech in Cairo in which he called for a new beginning between the US and Muslim-majority countries.

Sworn in as Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs on May 26, McHale is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Communications.

The daughter of a US Foreign Service Officer, McHale was born in New York City and grew up in Britain and apartheid-era South Africa. Her upbringing inspired a life-long commitment to social justice and engagement with development issues, especially in Africa, the US Department of State said.

McHale has served on the boards of the Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa, Africare, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the National Democratic Institute, and Vital Voices. In 2008, she was the co-chair of the Platform Committee of the Democratic National Convention.

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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