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Clinton's Exercise In Public Diplomacy

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Clinton's Exercise In Public Diplomacy

World

Clinton's Exercise In Public Diplomacy

Clinton's Exercise In Public Diplomacy

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On her first official trip abroad since joining the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton is defining the kind of secretary of State she wants to be. Because she is well-known and admired, ordinary people, especially young people, have been eager to hear her.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is taking her message, not only to officials, but to the people on her trip through Asia. On each stop, Secretary Clinton is making an effort to connect with the public. She's in South Korea now after leaving Indonesia earlier today. NPR's Michele Kelemen offers a glimpse in Clinton's public diplomacy.

Unidentified Woman #1: Hi! How are you today?

Unidentified Person: (Unintelligible)

(Soundbite of laughter)

MICHELE KELEMEN: The hosts of this popular Indonesian program may be stars to young Indonesians. But they seem to see Hillary Clinton as the real rock star. She went on the program called "Awesome" and chatted about U.S. policy in the Middle East and her favorite music.

Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (State Department): You know for me, it's really the old standbys, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones…

Unidentified Woman #3: Okay, okay.

Sec. CLINTON: …and I really, you know, very…

(Soundbite of applause)

Unidentified Woman #4: Oh gosh, gosh. Awesome.

(Soundbite of applause)

Sec. CLINTON: I don't feel so old.

KELEMEN: And that wasn't her only way of reaching out to people in the world's most populous Muslim nation. She also hit the streets in a crowded and poor part of Jakarta.

(Soundbite of crowd)

Secretary Clinton is walking through the neighborhood waving to people as they go by. She's learning a little bit about the U.S. aid projects in this neighborhood - recycling projects and clean water. This is part of her outreach to get out of the government ministry buildings, as she says, to talk to the people.

Sec. CLINTON: Yeah. Are you excited to be doing this work?

KELEMEN: She spoke to women using recycled materials to make handbags and crafts, learned about a water purification project and a women's health program - all funded by the U.S. government.

Sec. CLINTON: Hello.

Unidentified Crowd: Hello.

KELEMEN: She was clearly popular with this crowd, mainly because she represents a president who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia. Indonesian reporters who covered the U.S. election asked Clinton how she's managing to work with her former rival. She said she's surprised as anyone to get tapped for the job.

Sec. CLINTON: President Obama was very persuasive. In our conversation, when he did ask me, we have so many of the same views about what we should be doing in the world. And as we talked more and more, I became convinced that it would be an exciting and important opportunity to work with our new president. And to try to send a different message to the rest of the world about what America was doing and thinking.

KELEMEN: Her message in Indonesia and throughout Asia was that the U.S. doesn't want to be absent anymore in this part of the world. It wants to be present. She later told reporters on the plane that this is what diplomacy is all about - it's personal contact that will continue here in South Korea when she takes part in a town hall in the world's largest women's university.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Seoul.

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