The Foreign Service Journal, October 2022

OCTOBER 14, 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL TALKING POINTS New Scholarships to the State To support efforts to build a workforce representative of all segments of society, the Department of State has created two new scholarship programs to provide funding respectively its civil service and its diplomatic security service. On August 17, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the launch of the Colin Powell Leadership Program, which will provide paid scholarships to recent college graduates and paid internships to students enrolled at accredited institutions of higher learning. Both paths can lead to full-time employment in the department’s civil service. The Powell program aims to “develop future leaders through training, mentorship and on-the-job experience to prepare them for the world of diplomacy,” the secretary said. The second new program provides scholarships, job training and mentorship to graduate students from underrepresented communities. Upon completion of the program, they will enter the Foreign Service as Diplomatic Security Special Agents. This scholarship will be named after William D. Clark Sr., the first member of diplomatic security to achieve the rank of ambassador, which he did in 1998. Secretary Blinken announced the new programs at an event at the State Department celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, the 20th anniversary of the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program, the 10th anniversary of the Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship, and the 5th Anniversary of Foreign Affairs Computing (DONE) Fellowship Program. Executive Director Marcia Bernicat, Ambassador (Retired) Tom Pickering, and USAID Administrator Samantha Power also spoke at the event. In his remarks, the Secretary highlighted the value of scholarship programs as a way to strengthen American foreign policy through a diverse and innovative workforce. “One in nine active foreign service officers participated in Rangel or Pickering. Thanks to them, the number of GPs from underrepresented backgrounds has increased by 33%,” he said. Exchange of prisoners between the United States and Russia? In a July 29 phone call, Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to accept a proposal put forward by Washington to secure the release of two Americans whom the State Department considers to be “wrongfully detained” in Russia. The call marked the first conversation between the two diplomats since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. On the table is an exchange proposal in which American basketball star Brittney Griner, detained since February 2022, and former United States Marine Paul Whelan, detained since December 2018, would be released in exchange for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer imprisoned in the United States since 2008. He is currently serving a 25-year sentence for conspiracy to kill Americans and aiding terrorists. On August 4, a Russian court sentenced Griner to nine years in one of the country’s penal colonies. These remote facilities are notorious for their poor treatment of prisoners and heavy labor requirements. It remains unclear how the prisoner swap negotiations will be affected by US promises to provide Ukraine with long-term security aid. During an unannounced visit to Kyiv on September 8, Secretary Blinken pledged nearly $3 billion more in aid and weapons, bringing Ukraine’s total security assistance to $13.5 billion. dollars since the start of the Russian invasion, NPR reported. The President’s Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs, Ambassador Roger Carstens told NPR in July, “Throughout history you will find [instances] where hostages can be detached from broader policy issues. … But I would say it’s a bit more difficult when countries actually take a human being and use them as a bargaining chip. Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy Announced During a visit to Pretoria, South Africa, in early August, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the Biden administration’s new five-year strategy for sub-Saharan Africa. The plan, Blinken said, “is rooted in the recognition that sub-Saharan Africa is a major geopolitical force, one that has shaped our past, shapes our present,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced, two new fellowships during a a conference on August 17. event celebrating the anniversary of four State Department scholarship programs. USD STATE DEPARTMENT

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