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Hughes takes up mission to boost U.S. image abroad

Hughes takes up mission to boost U.S. image abroad

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Washington (dpa) - Karen Hughes, a key adviser and confidante to President George W. Bush, Friday officially began her new job of reshaping America's sagging image abroad.

Bush said at the swearing in ceremony that the U.S. cannot win the war on terror with weapons alone, but it must also convince the rest of the world that its ideals are worthy.

"To succeed in this war, we must effectively explain our policies and fundamental values to people around the world," Bush said, stating that it is "a real blessing" that Hughes will serve as Department of State Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

"Public diplomacy is the job of every member of my administration," the president said, adding that he wants to enlist the private sector in the effort of changing minds in the rest of the world.

"Everyone who travels abroad or welcomes an exchange student to their home is an ambassador," he said, and encouraged Americans to learn more about foreign languages and cultures.

Hughes, whose main job will likely focus on the Arab world, will also be tasked with countering enemy propaganda and said at a State Department event Thursday that the U.S. must rely on truth to achieve this goal.

"Our opponents have to resort to propaganda and myths and distortion and indoctrination because they want closed minds; they don't want people to question or think for themselves," she said.

Hughes said given a free choice, most people will choose a society based on freedom, justice, tolerance and diversity.

"Our overall mission is to put in place a long-term strategy to ensure that our ideas prevail," she added.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that she views public diplomacy as critical and also stressed that the U.S. needs to learn more about foreign countries and cultures.

While it is important to educate the world about the U.S., Rice said it is also necessary to find out "who the rest of the world is".

Rice added that "in many ways, Americans are too focused on who we are. We need to know more about the cultures and the languages of the world."

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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