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World: Senator Supports U.S. Public Diplomacy

Washington, 7 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - The chairman of a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations sub-committee says there is broad support among senators for strong and effective U.S. public diplomacy efforts, including international radio broadcasting.

Senator Rod Grams (R-Minnesota), the new chairman of the International Operations subcommittee, says he understands the powerful impact of using various media to advance democratic principles, particularly in societies without a free press. He spoke at a hearing yesterday on the budget request for the U.S. Information Agency

The sub-committee is one of several in the Senate and the House of Representatives which will be deciding in the next few months how much money the United States will spend on its public diplomacy programs. These efforts include such things as academic and student exchange programs, sponsoring international conferences, publications, and broadcasting.

President Bill Clinton has asked the Congress for about $1.1 billion to finance all U.S. Information Agency programs in the financial year that starts October 1. From that total, $399 million is the projected budget for all U.S.-supported broadcasting. That includes the Voice of America, which broadcasts around the world; Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, which broadcast to Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union; Radio Free Asia, which broadcasts to China and other closed societies in Asia, and Radio and TV Marti, which broadcast to Cuba.