Karen Hughes Presser En Route to Ireland
Karen Hughes, Under Secretary for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy
En Route to Shannon
September 29, 2005
(5:10 p.m. Local)
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I want to thank all of you for coming along. I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I did. At every stop people told me how important they thought this was, that America reach out and extend a hand and strengthen -- work to strengthen our dialogue. And I think it is very important and I plan to continue doing so. This is the first of what will be many trips.
I told you on the way over that public diplomacy is about people and about policy, and at every stop I talked about policy. We talked about everything from Iraq to Syria to Iran to the PKK to Cyprus to terrorism to religious freedom to women's political participation to freedom of expression. I had, as you know -- and I did that at the very highest levels of government and also with a number of individual people. We met with low-income parents in a neighborhood park yesterday in Turkey. I thought the event with the women's college in Saudi Arabia was extraordinary in several years, not the least of which was that they invited the members of our -- the men traveling with us to join and listen in the room, which is apparently, according to Gamal, quite unusual.
I think that we -- as I told you on the way over, I expected that I would hear from a lot of people who disagree with our policies, and that's what we -- we did hear that.
QUESTION: You were not disappointed?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I'm what?
QUESTION: You were not disappointed?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Or surprised. Or taken aback. I wasn't that, either. I pretty much thought that, you know, I heard a lot of heartfelt concerns. I think it's important that we talk about those. I think this is -- I think it's important that we talk about the tough issues. And that's exactly what I did. I talked about tough issues. And I also listened to talk about tough issues. I think it's -- part of my role is to not only seek to understand what people in other countries are thinking and make that known at our policy tables, but also to help people in other countries understand what we are thinking and make that known. And I had an occasion to do both during this trip, both trying to explain to people, asking questions of me, why Americans sometimes think the way we do or act the way we do, and trying to listen and learn from people in Turkey or Saudi Arabia or Egypt what their concerns are about our policies. And so, you know, in some cases you heard, as you might expect, given our role as a very important and powerful country, you heard very conflicting opinions about what we should and shouldn't do - it's constructive. At one lunch table in -- with opinion leaders -- I guess that was in Egypt -- I heard from one end of the table that the United States should push for greater freedom in Egypt, another that we shouldn't say so much, that we should mind our own business. And so, you know, I think that's an example. You have a diversity of opinion within these countries, as we do within our own country.
QUESTION: What was the most unexpected thing you learned?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I think it was interesting. I just -- I don't know that I had thought about how much people in particularly in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, how much perception of America is related to how they think Americans perceive them. And that shows how much work I think we have to do on both sides. I had several women in Egypt tell me, with great distress on their faces, that, you know, I'm afraid that Americans think we're all terrorists. Well, no, we don't think that.
And again, as a communicator, I was involved at the White House in the days after September 11th in a very strong effort to communicate that we didn't think that. President Bush went to a mosque, as you remember. He said on the phone with Mayor Guiliani and Governor Pataki that we understand that most Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and their faith is peaceful and tolerant. But obviously there is a substantial concern, at least I heard a substantial concern, that they didn't feel that that message has come through.
In Saudi Arabia you heard women say that they feel -- and I think -- I was told in advance that there was specific concern about a television show about spousal abuse that they felt portrayed Saudi Arabian women in a very bad light. So I think some of that was reacting to a specific issue, but I think what you heard was concern about how they view Americans -- about misperceptions they think Americans have about them.
And so again, I think that shows the need for us to talk about these issues and talk about them in an open and constructive way, and that's exactly what I view my role is to foster that kind of dialogue.
QUESTION: Do you feel that you have succeeded in explaining U.S. policies to the countries that you visited and were they really convinced with your argument?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, I think I did the best I could. I hope I'm an effective communicator and I think I explained some of the rationale behind our policies and why we're doing what we're doing. Now, does that mean that I changed minds? I told you on the way over I didn't expect that someone who was anti- -- was very against the war was going to suddenly change their mind and be for the war because Karen Hughes came to talk about it. That's naïve. I'm not naïve. You know, I didn't expect that.
What I do think is I opened the door to a conversation where we can talk about these issues and maybe they can begin to hear our point of view and understand that even when we disagree we can sometimes maybe -- okay, well, I see that, you know, what you think, but here's what I think. And that's kind of how conversations go. That's how conversations start. And this was -- you know, in order to begin an effective dialogue, you have to extend a hand, I view this trip as extending a hand.
QUESTION: Well, how does your conversation continue, then? I mean, I know you're going off to other countries so what kind of follow-up do you envision doing in countries like Saudi Arabia which you may not visit for several more months?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: We have an Embassy there and an Ambassador there who will be -- who already was talking with me as I left about ways to build upon the trip and some follow-up steps that he plans to take. There are a number of specific things. One is that, again, everywhere I went I heard the need -- that they want a strengthened dialogue. And so obviously we'll continue to work on that.
At every stop people underscored the crucial importance of exchange programs and that is one of the pillars, as you know, of my 4-E strategy -- I mean, engage, exchange, educate and empower. And well -- and everything that I heard on this trip absolutely confirmed that that is the right way to go, that people feel that these are vital programs. We've already seen it and I had already, before we came on this trip, worked to reprogram some 2005 money into exchanges and into English-language programs which on this trip again people emphasized to us the importance of those programs. We are increasing exchanges pretty dramatically in the 2006 budget and I think we'll be looking to build on that even further and make them even more strategic.
Again, when we talk about --
QUESTION: And how much do you increase the budget?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: In 2006 it's --
STAFF: Well, it's still --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: It's still --
STAFF: Basically it's been decided that our budget request for 2007 is over 70 million of an increase.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Of an increase. Yeah, a more than 70 million increase for 2006, which is --
STAFF: No, '7. I'm sorry. 2007.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: We're doing the budget now for '07 (inaudible).
STAFF: Right. But even 2006 (inaudible) right now.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Right. And in the budget, though, there's a $70 million increase in the 2006 budget.
STAFF: '6 budget.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Yeah, '6. It's '6 because we have not turned in a number for '7 yet. So we're working on a number for '7 and there's a $70 million increase proposal in the budget for 2006 which is being debated on Capitol Hill this fall. So I think the importance of people-to-people exchanges was underscored.
I think if you talk to our citizen ambassadors, they've got some ideas that we're going to follow up on. They've been meeting with citizens, exchanging e-mails, talking about -- Karima met with a number of young leaders last night in Turkey. And so we'll be following up. One of the things I've talked about that I really want to aggressively expand is our citizen-to-citizen exchanges, and everything I heard on this trip confirmed the importance of that.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on the visa issue, despite the importance of exchange, as you say continually, there is a limitation of that in terms of security because the U.S. has increased the visas that are being given to foreign students but still the issue of security is of great importance and post-9/11 is different from previous situation. So how are you going to deal with that? Because still it's going to take time. You have to vet the people who are coming. It's just any (inaudible) will come will have open arms and say come on because we want to hear your views. Obviously there is issues involved.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, we continue to work on the visa issue and that's something that both Dina and I have talked about a great deal at the Department. Secretary Rice is working with Secretary Chertoff, the Homeland Security Secretary, on that very issue. We've made some improvements. We need to continue to improve the process. We talked to Ambassador Oberweiter about the situation in Saudi Arabia when we were there because he is trying to expand the number of exchanges with Saudi Arabia. And so we're continuing to work on that. We want to work on that. Obviously we have to do so in a way that balances the need for security with the need and our desire to be a welcoming and an open country.
QUESTION: You mentioned several times, and I've heard Secretary Rice say it several times, that George W. Bush is the first President to call for an independent Palestinian state. But Bill Clinton, as you probably remember, on January 7th, 2001, his last two weeks in office, gave a speech where he outlined what the called the "Clinton parameters" and said -- this was in New York -- I think you can still the transcript on the White House website -- "There can be no genuine resolution to the conflict without a sovereign, viable, Palestinian state. This suggests Palestinian sovereignty over Gaza, the vast majority of the West Bank. For Palestine to be viable it must be a geographically contiguous state." You know, on and on and on. He really went into a lot of detail.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: (Inaudible) is coming back here, Jonathan, who is double-checking that with David Welch, who is our policy expert, and he confirmed absolutely that President George W. Bush is the first President to make it a matter of U.S. policy that we support two states living side by side in peace and freedom and specifically called for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. I just checked on that. I was in the White House at the time that happened. I participated and helped write the speech and recall the policy discussions about what a significant step this would be for United States policy, and it was viewed in the region -- and David just confirmed -- that this was a significantly different and much more proactive United States policy for the first time calling for an independent Palestinian state. I just confirmed that with David Welch and he said he'd be glad to talk to you all about it.
QUESTION: But this is Bill Clinton saying --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I asked David, and he thought it was an offhand -- he said -- again, I'm just telling you, I asked because I wanted to confirm. David Welch, who is our expert, says that George W. Bush was the first President to make it a matter of United States policy that we support two states living side by side.
QUESTION: But then what was Bill Clinton doing at Camp David --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: You'll have to ask him.
QUESTION: Well --
QUESTION: Can we get any further clarification of David Welch is to --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: He just told me -- I said, "David, this is my recollection being in the White House. I've heard a number of our officials in our government say this." And he said, "Absolutely, you're on -- " He said it's absolutely the case, that it was viewed as a hugely significant step at the time the President made the speech -- President George W. Bush -- and it was viewed as very significant within the region as well.
QUESTION: It seems to be a distinction without difference. You know, I'm glad to have a debate with David about it, but I just don't -- you know, I've been writing about this issue for a number of years and, you know, it was important for Bush to say it because, at the time, a lot of the Bush Administration policies was not following what Clinton did. You know --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I was only saying what I understood to be the case and I just called back and David Welch said absolutely, that is the case, you were accurately, you're on completely solid ground, you're absolutely accurate. So I just checked with him.
QUESTION: It was an offhand comment that Clinton made?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I don't want to characterize President Clinton's words. I just checked with David Welch, Jonathan, who is our expert in the region, and he said absolutely it is correct that President George W. Bush is the first President to make it a matter of United States policy that we call for two states living side by side in peace and freedom, including an independent Palestinian state and the state of Israel.
QUESTION: Because that's not exactly what you said in those interviews or what we've heard the Secretary say. What you've said is that George W. Bush is the first President to publicly call for an independent Palestinian state. Now the formulation is used to make it a matter of U.S. policy to have two states side by side. Whenever you said the first President to publicly call for it and --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I was trying to reflect in my comments the significance of the shift in United States policy, the fact that the President was the first President to make that a matter of our United States policy. I was trying to accurately represent, again, what I understood and worked on at the White House at the time -- I was there -- that it was a very significant step that the President took.
QUESTION: You talked about changing minds and, you know, didn't expect to change minds necessarily about the war in Iraq or any other things.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: How about -- did you expect me to?
QUESTION: Well, no, no, no. (Laughter.)
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Did you expect the fact that I came over here, I was going to charm everybody into changing their minds about the war?
QUESTION: Right. Charm, maybe. (Laughter.) But no, but is this an ultimate goal is to change minds about the war values? What is you all's ultimate goal as a public diplomacy official in this administration? To do what?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Three things --
QUESTION: Exchanges is not --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I've announced three strategic goals: to offer a positive vision of hope rooted in the President's freedom agenda; to isolate and marginalize the extremists and make it clear how negative their vision for the future is; and third, to foster a greater sense of common interest and common values between Americans and people of different countries (inaudible). And those are my goals.
And I think that I was able -- for example, it was heartening to talk with a couple of teenagers in Turkey yesterday and realize that they're very similar to a couple of teenagers that I -- you talk to -- the teenagers you talk to in the United States. It was interesting just to talk as we sat and visited with people to realize that there is a lot that unites us. And it was not surprising but it was -- it reaffirmed what I thought, that people have a lot in common. We care about our children. We care about education. We care about security. We care -- you know, we have -- we care about faith. We have a lot in common. And I think -- I mean, is there --
QUESTION: But this is what you can do, right? This is the goal of your actions? What my point --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, that's an interesting point. That's an interesting point.
QUESTION: My question was what do you expect as a result of these actions to happen in the Muslim world? That outcome is what I'm interested in. Do they expect people to change their minds or they expect them to think highly of the United States? What is it on the other side that you think should happen?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, I hope that we would, on both sides, understand each other better and understand that we share many values and interests in common. It's interesting that you said "what you can do" because one of the things that I've said and that I intend and what I said to you on the way over here is that I have -- in some sense is an example because I realize one person cannot do any of this. It takes every American. It takes businesses. It takes academia. It takes government officials. It takes private citizens, which is why I brought two private citizens along. Fostering this sense of understanding and common interests and common values is going to take all of us, as President Bush said when he come to the State Department at my swearing-in. It's not just something for Karen Hughes to do.
QUESTION: I meant the United States.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: But it's something for our country as a whole to do. And you know, again, I hope that I can set an example that in the future that as government officials travel and as I travel, I intend to continue to sit down and talk with people, people who may not agree with us, people who disagree with us. But to sort of continue to have that dialogue.
QUESTION: Do you think you're going to -- you've spent a lot of time with, you know, people who have been in exchange programs with the U.S., you know, the elite of different societies. The next time you do this, are you going to try to reach out more to people that are outside the capitals and people that are, you know, not necessarily the elite that aren't on the standard Muslim rolodex of the embassies?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, you know, those were my instructions on this trip. It's interesting you say -- for example, the students at the American University of Cairo -- I talked with our Embassy there -- those are actually low-income students, disadvantaged students from the across the state of Egypt. They're not the elite. The students in that program are low-income students. The parents at the park yesterday, I doubt had ever been to any type of embassy function or any type of American function before. They seemed very appreciative to have a chance to meet with me, very surprised to have a chance to meet with a United States Government official.
But yes, to the essence of your question, I'm hoping and intending and wanting to reach out to people in different communities who may have not ever heard from a United States Government official before.
QUESTION: But you said several times you are a mom and in front of you, you have mothers, especially yesterday, did not understand why there is -- why the mothers in Iraq are living what they are living through now. So what are you telling them if you are not changing anything? Your word is just propaganda then. It's nothing. It's nothing else if there is no change.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: That's an interesting thought. Should I just throw up my hands and say I give up? (Laughter.) What I'm explaining to them is trying to explain --
QUESTION: No, but to the Iraqi mothers, what are you telling them?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: To the Iraqi mothers?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Are you talking about the mothers in --
QUESTION: Iraqi mothers and Turks. What are you telling them? Because you said everywhere, "I am a mom," and they are moms, too. So what are you telling them?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: When I say -- I'm sorry, I didn't maybe understand your question. What am I saying when I --
QUESTION: When are you -- what is your message to the Iraqi mothers and the Turkish mothers who do not understand American politics?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: That we have much in common, that we all want a better world for our children, that we are pursuing the policies that we are pursuing because we believe they will result in a better world for our children.
Pat, did you have something?
QUESTION: No, I just wanted to hear what her question was. The question was when you said should I throw my hands up and give up, what was the question?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: What difference does it make if you're telling people if you don't think you're going to change their minds about the war.
QUESTION: How soon are you going to travel again? Where are you going?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I'm going to travel soon. I'm still working on the final trip. I hope to go to Indonesia and to Asia. So that's what I hope to do. That's my intent. We're working on the actual schedule.
QUESTION: Take the same plane. The same plane.
QUESTION: In the next few weeks? In the next month? Do you have any (inaudible)?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, I'm trying to tie it with -- there's a chiefs of mission conference and I think you know totally but I've -- one of the things I'm trying to do is revitalize and reenergize the public diplomacy community at the State Department, and so as a part of that I have asked the ambassadors to bring their public affairs officers to the chiefs of mission conferences this year as a signal that, you know, ambassadors and public affairs officers should be working very closely together and that we view their public affairs officer as a very vital part of the embassy. And so I've asked ambassadors to bring their public affairs officers to chiefs of mission conferences; therefore, I'm trying to attend as many chiefs of mission conferences between Dina and myself as we can. There's one in Hawaii on October 24th and so I think I will try to go to the region before that and stop back. It sounds like a nice trip but it's -- I'm only going to be in Hawaii for a little -- very little, short time. But that way I'll be able to go to the chiefs of mission conference on the way back. And so I'm hoping to go to --
QUESTION: To discuss real problems with real clients?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Very good. Very good.
QUESTION: Karen, can I just ask --
QUESTION: I'm kidding. Gordon's stressing out. I was kidding.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)
QUESTION: (Inaudible) on China and Glenn's question. When you say that President Bush was the first President to make it U.S. policy, in what way did he do that? Was it because of his speech at the United Nations? Was it because of his speech in June of 2001?
STAFF: Well, he did speech in June then went to the United Nations (inaudible).
QUESTION: But is that where it began? Is that where the U.S. policy began? I think what Jonathan was getting at is that President Bush gave a speech on January 7th --
QUESTION: I'm sorry. Clinton. President Clinton.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Yeah, I understand what you're saying. All I'm telling you is I just checked with our chief policy expert and he said absolutely that that is -- that I was right in the --
QUESTION: It's just it makes --
QUESTION: The (inaudible) well, whenever you --
STAFF: He's welcome to take (inaudible).
QUESTION: Okay. But I mean, I guess because you said you helped President Bush write that initial speech, so at that time, you know --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: There was a lot of discussion about how this was a very significant step --
QUESTION: By whom?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: -- for United States policy --
QUESTION: For the administration or --
QUESTION: By the --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: -- the principles involved in that speech (inaudible).
QUESTION: Can I also ask about the Saudi women? Were you at all surprised by the fact -- because I have to say I was -- that the women in the auditorium were saying, you know, many of them, we don't want to drive, like we don't feel that's something -- like we like having drivers? Or did you --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: When did you hear them say that?
QUESTION: They were saying that to those of us who were talking --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Afterwards?
QUESTION: Yeah, yeah.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: On camera?
QUESTION: Well, we weren't allowed -- we weren't allowed to have cameras in there. But I mean, they were all being quoted by name and --
QUESTION: Yeah, and they would have gone on camera but, unfortunately, our camera had to leave the --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I think some of the stories that I saw did not reflect what -- the fact that I made a point of saying that different cultures and different societies had different traditions, that I made my point as an American woman that I understood different cultures and different societies have different -- and an important point was, the point I made, was that Saudi women ought to be more involved politically so that they would have the opportunity to make these decisions for themselves. But the reason I ask you is because I would say more than five, and perhaps more than that, women came up to me privately afterward and said, "I'm so glad you said that. I'm so glad you said that."
QUESTION: About the driving (inaudible)?
QUESTION: Oh, really?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: It was typically about the driving. And they whispered it very quietly. But they said, "I'm so glad you said that."
QUESTION: Was there --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) it is the only Muslim country in the world that women are not allowed to drive. It's nothing to do with religion. Obviously it's the culture.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Again, it's a matter -- as I said, I tried to say it in a very humble way that -- remember, I brought it up in response to a question where the woman said to me, "We don't understand why you all think, you Americans think, that Saudi women are, you know, repressed." And I was trying to explain in answer to her question that a lot of American women, you know, we just can't imagine not being able to drive. It's an important part of our freedom and that's a symbol that says a lot in America.
I went on to say that I understand that the culture and traditions of Saudi Arabia are very different and that the important point was that Saudi women be allowed to participate more fully so that they can make their own views known.
QUESTION: Do you think that the women who spoke to us were --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Oh, no, I think some of them --
QUESTION: -- some of them probably --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: No, I think some of them -- I think I was probably more likely to be approached by those who agree, so I'm not making that point at all.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I'm saying I'm sure some of them think that some of them aren't bothered by the fact that they can't drive and some of them maybe want to drive. But I would say the ones that came up to me were pleased that I raised it and obviously really hoped that they could be able to do that one day. The ones that spoke to you are probably ones that were very happy and they said -- I did see one quote, this woman who said she was happy but she might be a little happier if she could drive. So I mean -- but again, I'm not trying -- I'm not trying -- I would never presume to say what Saudi women should want. I do feel that it's part of broadening -- encouraging greater freedom and participation for all citizens that women should be more free to participate to speak up on these issues for themselves.
So it's great that they want to. Some of them will say they don't want to drive and some of them will say they do want to drive.
QUESTION: Karen, you said you weren't surprised that people were opposed to U.S. policy, but were you surprised about the kind of reality gap between America and these people? I mean, some people think Oprah Winfrey is the press, some people think Pat Robertson speaks for the government.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: That is interesting. There's a lot of misunderstanding of our media, and I think of media writ large, entertainment media, news media, the distinction between them. As I left Turkey, I was asked about a specific column that was viewed as speaking for the United States Government when it's not at all representative of the policy of the United States Government, yet they were somehow concerned that it was. And so I think what happens is in the region, in the broad region, people see a program, a television program, or they hear a news station or they see an editorial opinion, and they worry. And I will take that back with me, Patsy, because I think (inaudible) our view is that sometimes things that we sort of shrug off, oh, that's just one column, this opinion, obviously cause great consternation in the region. And --
QUESTION: How do you respond to that then, knowing that we do have a free press? And by the way, programs like Oprah Winfrey which aren't news programs perhaps are viewed that way. How do you --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I think what we -- I want to think about that and talk with our embassies about that. But I think what it may call for is our embassy public affairs people to be more proactive in addressing some of those issues. And if there's an editorial column or a television program that raises an issue, that causes concern in a country, that perhaps the embassy needs to address it more specifically and publicly. Because you know, obviously it causes consternation. And again, we may tend to dismiss it because we understand the concept of a free press and we know that there are different voices within a free press, yet what I heard is that sometimes they wonder, well, is that the administration speaking through the press and they're telling -- and that's what they really think but won't say, when really that's not the case at all.
QUESTION: Now that you've seen how wide the sort of gap is, do you think your job is -- after this trip, do you think your job is even harder than you thought it was before?
QUESTION: It's gone from hard to --
QUESTION: Do you think you (inaudible) --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Patsy, I just don't think I was ever -- I told you all on the way over here that I was very cognizant of that this is a challenge. And it's a difficult challenge but it's an important challenge. And actually, I'm energized. I enjoy people. I like people. I enjoy listening to people. I enjoy interacting with people. I had a -- I learned, as I said, you know -- to me, it's energizing to hear different perspectives. And one of the things that I will take home is something that Foreign Minister Gul said to me. We had a really interesting meeting. in fact, the chargé there said it was one of the most interesting meetings she'd ever seen. We had a really interesting meeting -- one of the most interesting meetings with Foreign Minister Gul she's seen -- where he was very heartfelt and open in talking with me about perspective of his country and he said something that really resonated. He said think of this as a common man in Turkey.
QUESTION: Think of what?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: A common man in Turkey. And he said, you know, for you all, when you're talking about Iraq, war in Iraq, and Iran and Syria, you're talking about countries over there. We're talking about our next-door neighbors. And it's an interesting perspective and an important perspective that I will now try to bring to our policy debate. Not that it hasn't been present, but I consider it my job to make sure that it's really highlighted and considered.
QUESTION: I have two questions in reverse about the Arab media. You know, administration officials always criticize it and say it's biased and inciting violence and et cetera. Did you get this feedback from the people that you spoke to in the region that that was the case, and whether Al Hurra, which is a State Department-funded television -- Congress paid $60 million -- and according to (inaudible) only 4 percent of people in the Arab world watch it. Is it worth the effort? Do you think that counterbalance what the pan-Arab stations like Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya has been doing? Do you have the feeling that -- do you think that Al Hurra, which is supported by the U.S. Government, managed to counterbalance what Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya has been putting on?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, actually, as you know, Al Hurra is relatively new and doesn't have anywhere near the size audience of those two much better established, much more long-term established stations. But I think one of the important -- there is no one source of information in this day and age. There are lots of different sources of information. And I think it's important that we have both a platform to present different views and that we also be more aggressive about engaging and getting our point of view across on on Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera. I did an interview with Al Jazeera. I think it's important that we get our point of view across as a communicator. I believe it's important that we communicate on the station that reaches 40 million listeners. I think it's important that we communicate with Al Arabiya. I've done interviews with Al Arabiya. You're here. I think it's important that we communicate with stations that are widely listened to in the region.
On the point about sort of rumor and disinformation and -- the rabbi yesterday at our meeting, at our interfaith meeting, made what I thought was a very important point. He said, you know, he said if you see -- if you ingest enough poison, some people get poisoned. And I think that's an important point that if people hear enough inflammatory, inciteful hate rhetoric, some people are filled with hate. And so I think it's important and incumbent on -- that's why I think exchanges are -- between, for example -- that's why I think -- we've had a number of journalistic education facilities in America want to host exchanges for journalists to help them understand American standards of accurate, objective reporting. And I think that's important. When you've got an explosion of new satellite networks or new newspapers, you have a need for -- suddenly you have a need for a lot of trained journalists and our American institutions have a lot of experience in helping train journalists in methods of objectivity and fairness and balance. And so I think that's an important --
QUESTION: Karen, you said --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: It's important that --
QUESTION: You said you didn't expect to change any minds, but did you expect your mind to be changed about anything? And did your mind change about anything?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, I didn't really say I didn't expect any. What I said is I did not think that because I visited the Middle East that someone who was adamantly opposed to the war in Iraq would change their mind. I mean, think about it. You all are intelligent people. You know that's not what happens.
QUESTION: I didn't mean to overstate that. I really was focusing on the second part. Was your mind changed, changed about anything?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, I think I learned. I listened. I did listen. I learned. I --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) changed (inaudible)?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, I mean, I listened, I learned, I heard different perspectives. And I am -- I think as I said that I will from now on, when there's something that we talk about, an issue related to Iran or Syria or Iraq, I'm going to think of what Prime Minister -- Foreign Minister Gul said about think of that common man in Turkey and I'm going to think about that.
QUESTION: Well, it won't change -- how would that change what you say or what you -- how our policies are presented or anything?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, I can think of a variety of ways. In some cases it may be perhaps we should reach out and talk with some people in Turkey and get more advice from them, our allies there. Perhaps -- we understand perhaps in some cases it might be that we understand -- and for example, let's back up on Iraq. We understood -- President Bush understood when he made the decision to go into Iraq that it was a very hard decision and that a lot of people were not going to agree with it. But he felt it was absolutely right and it was something he had to do in the interest of the security of our country. And so in some cases it may not make a difference. We may ultimately decide in some cases it may -- it may be something where we can reach out and work with our partners and allies and friends in the region on issues.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Thank you.
QUESTION: Just a final thing regarding follow-through and things that the embassy will do. Do you feel that it's going to be important for you personally, say, to return to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt, or will you essentially be passing the baton on to the embassy and to other proxies for you?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, I've got a lot of traveling to do and I don't -- I haven't specifically thought it through, but I expect that I personally will be back in all those countries at some point over the next several years.
QUESTION: Thank you.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Thank you all again for coming along. It was a very interesting trip. Absolutely.
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Released on October 6, 2005