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  • UNESCO Director-General Mr Koïchiro Matsuura meets Mrs Laura Bush during his visit to Washingtion, DC

    01-03-2005 1:35 pm From 27 February to 1 March, Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura met with United States government officials and non-governmental partners during his visit to Washington, DC, to open a Georgetown University conference on UNESCO and Education for All.LauraBush---2004-official-p.jpg

    The conference featured First Lady Laura Bush, the new U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, US Ambassador to UNESCO Louise Oliver and UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education Designate Dr Peter Smith. On the eve of the conference, Georgetown President John DeGioia awarded the Director General the Georgetown University President's Medal. During his trip the Director-General also met with President Bush and administration officials, U.S. congressional leaders and private sector representatives interested in partnering with UNESCO.

    Following the opening of the conference, Mrs. Bush, who serves as UNESCO Honorary Ambassador for the Decade of Literacy, hosted a coffee at the White House in honor of the Director-General. Guests included US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings; National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights and International Operations Shirin Tahir-Kheli; and Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs Kim Holmes. Among the topics discussed were the Education for All initiative, UNESCO’s work on regional and global tsunami warning systems, and UNESCO's new program for the preservation of artifacts and museum development that was launched with support from the United States. On this occasion, President Bush stopped in to greet the Director-General.

    On 1 March, the Director-General joined officials at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) headquarters to sign an Agreement to work together to protect environmentally significant sites around the world. As part of the joint effort, NASA will help UNESCO monitor World Heritage conservation, Biosphere Reserves and Natural Hazards, as well as cooperate in science education, capacity building and outreach activities. The signing ceremony and reception were hosted by NASA Acting Administrator Frederick D. Gregory.

    The Director-General also met with John H. Marburger, Science Adviser to the President and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and his Deputy for Science and Associate Director Kathie L. Olsen, to discuss the development of the global tsunami warning system.

    The Director-General also visited the State Department to meet with Acting Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Patricia Harrison, and to discuss educational exchanges and cultural preservation programs.

    During the visit the Director-General also met National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia; National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Bruce Cole; and USAID Deputy Administrator Frederick Schieck; Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Robert Martin; President's Committee on Arts and Humanities Chair Adair Margo; and U.S. National Commission for UNESCO Executive Director Marguerite Sullivan. The Director-General also met with former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, who has been appointed by the UN Secretary-General to head the United Nations Children's Fund beginning in May.

    The Director-General also attended a dinner in his honor at the National Museum for Women in the Arts, organized by the Committee for Economic Development (CED), which included members of the American business and philanthropic communities. The dinner resulted in new expressions of interest and support for UNESCO’s goals.

    At the House Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill on 1 March, Director-General Matsuura and Ambassador Oliver were honored by a United Nations Foundation luncheon hosted by Representative Jim Leach and Representative Tom Lantos. United Nations Foundation President Tim Wirth presided over the program of the luncheon that included among its speakers Librarian of Congress James Billington.

    The luncheon was attended by Members of Congress including Representative Thomas Petri and Representative Chris Smith, who praised UNESCO's work in the areas of press freedom and efforts to improve the quality of education materials in different regions. Administration officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations also attended the luncheon.

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