Press Release
Agency for International Development
Washington , DC
May 19, 2004

USAID Launches New Middle East Outreach Initiative with Media Summit

Washington , DC - Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern and MEPI Affairs of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) conducted a full day seminar for press correspondents on May 7, 2004. Participants included representatives from Al-Ahram; Algerian Press Services; Saudi Press Agency; Kuwait News Agency and Annahar. Also attending were journalists representing leading Arab-American publications, community newspapers and Arab correspondents.

"USAID's new p ublic diplomacy initiative is committed to presenting a more accurate image of America to the greater Middle East , and promoting a better understanding of the policy goals of Presidential Initiatives and the mission of USAID," says Director, Walid Maalouf .

Administrator Andrew S. Natsios, USAID's top official, welcomed frank discussion and spoke to a variety of issues raised by participants. Other USAID officers joining the discussion included Edward Fox, Assistant Administrator for Legislative and Public Affairs; Jim Kunder, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia and Near East; William Garvelink , Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Democracy; David Taylor, Director for Office of Transition Initiative, Jeff Grieco, Deputy Assistant Administrator for LPA, Samah Alrayyes , Public Affairs Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs and Portia Palmer, Press Director.

State Department officials participating included Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Spokesman; Pat Harrison, Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs; James Larocco, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs and Alina Romanowski, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary and MEPI Affairs.

Mr. Maalouf, the principal planner and moderator of the summit, said the day marked the largest exchange between Mideast-American correspondents and U.S. officials and was the first of several outreach events to the Arab and Moslem communities in the United States .