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US Launches Cultural Initiative to Improve Diplomacy Efforts

The United States has launched a cultural initiative aimed at improving its diplomatic efforts with international exchanges in the arts.

First Lady Laura Bush launched the Global Cultural Initiative at the White House Monday with Karen Hughes, the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy.

Mrs. Bush said art can reduce tensions and strengthen alliances, as it did during the Cold War.

She noted the positive effects of the broadcasts of former Voice of America disc jockey Willis Conover, whose jazz shows enjoyed a wide audience in the Soviet bloc. She recounted how his program is said to have done more to improve U.S-Soviet relations "than other official negotiations could."

The new initiative is to include international exchanges with films and film makers, and the translation of literary works. Mrs. Bush says countries including Pakistan, Mexico and Russia will take part in the literary exchange.