Foreign Exchange Program Opened With Iran –Visas Are Now Granted In Less Than One Week For Arab Students – Bush Proud of Efforts

Foreign Exchange Program Opened With Iran –Visas Are Now Granted In Less Than One Week For Arab Students – Bush Proud of Efforts

Dina Powell

The Iraqi Study Group Co-chaired by Former GOP Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Indiana, is expected to recommend a dialog with Iran and Syria in an attempt to help solve the sectarian violence problem in Iraq. Their long-awaited 100-page report will be released Wednesday.

Secretary of Defense nominee Robert Gates, a former member of the Iraq Study Group says that a dialogue with Iraq’s neighbors may be necessary. William M. Arkin writes in the Washington Post concerning both Iran and Syria, Gates says that the United States should seek some sort of dialogue. "Even in the worst days of the cold war the U.S. maintained a dialogue with the Soviet Union and China and I believe those channels of communication helped us manage many potentially difficult situations," Gates says.

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer of CNN on Friday December 1st 2006, Assistant Secretary of State under George Bush, Dina Powell, said that the Administration is proud of their efforts to make the United States a popular destination for Arab students. She was pleased to announce that this last year was a record year for student visas.

Dina said that the Bush Administration has made a “concerted effort” to streamlined the visa process for students coming from both Muslim and non-Muslim countries. In response to Blitzer’s comment that it used to take a year or longer to get a student visa, she said that “Over 90% of student visas are now issued in under a week, and that is in the Middle East… The welcome mat is out for foreign students.”

Wolf Blitzer quoted Fateed Zakaria in a Newsweek article “What if President Bush publicly offered to … begin student exchanges with young Iranians? In a country that is yearning for contact with the outside world, it might put the mullahs on the defensive.” Dina told Wolf that “this week is the first time we have restarted our exchange program with Iran.”

Dina said the exchange program will be getting larger and that “this is part of President Bush’s desire to show that we really do want to learn more about their rich history and tradition and culture of the Iranian people. We are so pleased that these participants came.”

Wolf said it sounded like an early exchange of students and athletes similar to the “ping-pong diplomacy” with China before we opened relations with that country. He asked Dina if that is what is happening between the US and Iran right now? Dina answered “it is”.

She said that “history is going to judge how well our (the Bush Administration’s) efforts worked.” Dina said that enemies are trying to “attack our very way of life, and we must work together to ensure that our values are preserved.”

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By Tom Madison
Best Syndication Writer

Keywords and common misspellings: Dena Dana Powel Irack

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