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Excerpts from White House Briefing on Office of Global Communications - 2002-07-30

Briefing conducted by White House spokesman Ari Fleischer 30 July 2002

Q This morning you confirmed that the White House will be setting up a permanent global communications operation. Ari, moderate Arab leaders who have come through here in recent months have all said that the opinion of the United States by their people in their respective counties is at an all-time low. Is this something that has led to the creation of such an operation?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, what led to this is the President's belief, as he put in the State of the Union, that America is such a force for good around the world, and yet we hear messages from other nations that they don't see what the American people see in our country, that the President thinks it's important to share information, to listen to other countries, and to provide that information so they can listen to us. And so, as a result, the President does believe better coordination of international communications will help America to explain what we do and why we do it around the world. It's important to share the truth about America and American values with other nations in the world.

So the White House will be working very closely with the Office of Public Diplomacy at the State Department to help share that word with other nations in the world.

Q On this office of global communications, how will it work? Will it be working with the Voice of America, for example, or the department of homeland security, or completely separate from them?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, it's going to work with the department of -- the State Department's Department of Public Diplomacy -- Office of Public Diplomacy. That will be the principal group that they work with, but it will be interagency. And I think, depending on the issue -- for example, if you're talking about trade, you could anticipate a role for the Department of Commerce. This, too, is part of America abroad and the products abroad. The National Security Council, as you know, has a coordinating role in a variety of agencies, depending on the issue. And I think that's basically how the Office of Global Communications is going to work. Depending on the issue, it will involve different agencies, all of which play a role abroad. But it primarily is going to work with the Department of State.

Q But it is autonomous of the Department of State, it can do what it wants?

MR. FLEISCHER: No, it's not above the Department of State. The Department of State has the lead in public diplomacy around the world. But it's a White House coordinating body, to work shoulder to shoulder with the State Department on this.