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US ‘Public Diplomacy’ Funded By Private US Companies

Cash-short State Department gets private money to fund outreach to Middle East youth.
A Coca-Cola logo on a truck at a distribution center in Alexandria, Virginia October 16, 2012. Coca-Cola Co reported higher quarterly earnings on Tuesday, despite a hit from foreign exchange rates. The world's biggest soft-drink maker, with brands like Sprite, Fanta and Minute Maid, said net income was $2.31 billion, or 50 cents per share, in the third quarter that ended on Sept. 28, up from $2.22 billion, or 48 cents per share, a year earlier.

WASHINGTON — Strapped for cash, the US State Department is increasingly reaching out to private companies to help fund programs that bring Middle Eastern visitors to the US, seek to counter negative impressions of the US and promote economic development in the region.

Tara Sonenshine, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, told a Washington audience Wednesday [Jan 16] that her entire budget was only “a little over $1 billion” annually, of which half is spent on bringing foreigners to the United States. As a result, she said, the US government has increasingly turned to “public-private partnerships” to support its public diplomacy programs.

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