Fortenberry Renews Call for a Diplomatic Surge
Today in a hearing with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry renewed his emphasis on the importance of American diplomatic engagement in the Middle East. Following are excerpts of his exchange with Secretary Rice:
"Madame Secretary, in our previous gathering we had the opportunity to dialogue on a renewed spirit of diplomacy in the Middle East, a diplomatic surge to compliment and enhance our security efforts . . . I believe we now have a fledgling opportunity to strengthen new regional security cooperation. I'd like to hear an update on any progress made in that regard and the resources being applied there."
Secretary Rice replied, "I do think we have an opportunity with the Gulf States There's a renewed interest in cooperation, defense cooperation."
The Secretary further stated, "Out of the Iraq engagement, we've begun to engage Iraq's neighbors through an Iraq's Expanded Neighbors Conference. I have just accepted an invitation from the Kuwaitis for a meeting of that which will take place in late April. It also provides a kind of forum in which these interests can be pursued. I would finally note that we are working very intensively to make sure that Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and others, and to a certain extent the Palestinians, have the kind of increasing security capabilities themselves so that they can be stabilizing factors in the region, not destabilizing factors. I think the security situation of the United States has the chance to improve for the long run as a result of these efforts."
In December, Fortenberry introduced legislation calling for a "Diplomatic Surge" to further progress in Iraq and the Middle East. Fortenberry's measure, H. Con. Resolution 272, urges the U.S. Government to engage international stakeholders and governments in the region to curtail destabilizing influences, help prevent the spread of violence, and enhance progress in Iraq.
Fortenberry is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. He also serves on the House Democracy Assistance Commission.