US gets new PR boss

US President George Bush has formally given his closest confidante, Karen Hughes, the job of polishing the nation’s global image.

    Hughes plans to visit the Middle East within the month

    Bruised by the war in Iraq and now Hurricane Katrina, Bush made a rare visit on Friday to the State Department to watch the 48-year-old Hughes sworn in as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs with ambassador-level rank.

    He called her mission an "incredibly important" dimension to the so-called war on terror, adding "we must defeat the terrorists on the battlefield but also on the battlefield of ideas".

    Hughes, who has been at Bush's side since his days as Texas governor and was instrumental in his two successful runs for the presidency, pledged to bridge the gap between the US and hostile parts of the world.

    "I believe there is no more urgent challenge for America's national security and for a more peaceful future for all the world's children than the need to foster greater respect, understanding and a sense of common interest and common values," she said.

    Tough task

    Hughes will make a first "listening tour" of the Middle East at the end of this month, also stopping in some European capitals, said a State Department official, who asked not to be named. Her precise itinerary was not available.

    The March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the scandal over the abuse of Iraqi inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison and other incidents have taken a huge toll on US ties with the Muslim world.

    Scenes of chaos and neglect in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina also produced expressions of ridicule in Muslim countries, where commentators said they showed the United States to be a paper tiger unable even to take care of its own.

    Hughes, who began work in her new post four weeks ago, acknowledged to reporters on Thursday that the early federal failure to speed troops and relief supplies had hurt the effort to burnish the US image abroad.

    "It's unfortunate. The whole world has been watching," she said. "It's not just the world, it's also our fellow Americans - we recoil at the idea that the poorest, the most elderly, the sickest weren't able to get out."

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    More than 300 people died in Somalia but some are asking why there was less news coverage and sympathy on social media.

    The life and death of Salman Rushdie, gentleman author

    The life and death of Salman Rushdie, gentleman author

    The man we call 'Salman Rushdie' today is not the brilliant author of the Satanic Verses, but a Picassoesque imposter.

    The Beirut Spy: Shula Cohen

    The Beirut Spy: Shula Cohen

    The story of Shula Cohen, aka The Pearl, who spied for the Israelis in Lebanon for 14 years.