Press Release
Agency for International Development
Washington, DC
October 27, 2004

USAID Sponsors Middle Eastern American NGO Summit


Washington , DC - The U.S. Agency for International Development hosted the Middle Eastern Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Summit for Peace and Prosperity. USAID's Office of Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern & Middle Eastern Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Affairs conducted this meeting in an effort to engage leaders from the Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern American community. Speakers for the summit included Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary for Global Affairs; Elliott Abrams, Special Assistant to the President for Near East and North African Affairs; USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios and other Administration officials.

The day long seminar focused on Presidential Initiatives in the Middle East (The Middle East Partnership Initiative and the Broader Middle East and North Africa .)

Also discussed was the role of Middle Eastern women in the political process; pressing political issues in Iraq , Lebanon , Syria  and the road map for a lasting peace in the region. Administrator Natsios briefed the group on current conditions in Sudan and USAID operations being conducted in West Darfur . He said " The war in the Sudan is not between Muslims and Christians as it is perceived, it is rather between government forces and rebels forces. It is a huge humanitarian crisis and we hope for a resolution soon. USAID helped with more than $300 million in humanitarian assistance which has saved countless lives."  

The afternoon session was dedicated to humanitarian assistance and development in the broader Middle East including the President's successful reconstruction programming in Afghanistan . USAID Assistant Administrator Jim Kunder briefed the group on USAID's current programs in the broader Middle East and North Africa . " The Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern American NGO community and other Arab cultural and educational organizations are the perfect bridge between America and the people of the broader Middle East and North Africa . They are the best vehicle for reform and democracy because they believe in it and they live it every day" said USAID Director for Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern & MEPI Affairs, Walid Maalouf.

A similar one-day seminar was held in May 2004 for Middle Eastern American community newspapers and Arab national correspondents. From that event, USAID established a communications mechanism to keep in touch with more than 75 Arab & Middle Eastern community newspapers, magazines, and TV & radio stations throughout the United States .