International Affairs Committee
Two Ambassadors, Conference Executive Director Cochran, the State Department, the Japan Local Government Center, Discuss Variety of International Issues
By Kay Scrimger
July 12, 2004
Chaired by Virginia Beach Meyera E. Oberndorf, the International Affairs Committee focused on U.S.-People's Republic of China relationship, heard from newly-confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe, was briefed by the State Department, received information from Conference Executive Director Tom Cochran and from the Executive Director of the Japan Local Government Center, and considered a variety of other international issues.
His Excellency Yang Jiechi, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the United States, discussed the increasing responsibilities of China's mayors in its governmental system. In addition, he called for establishing an overall good climate between the U.S. and China, overcoming different religious and cultural barriers, and focusing on issues of co-interest. He noted that the "one of the most important bilateral relationships" in today's world is between his nation and the U.S.
Ashe discussed his new appointment and praised the spirit of the Polish people and their close relationship with the U.S., including their presence with the coalition forces in Iraq. He noted that he will arrive in Poland on July 22, just before the commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, one of the most painful and important dates in Polish history.
Cochran recognized the important assistance that the U.S. State Department has offered to Conference of Mayors delegations to other nations. He pointed out that, "We believe our government needs to recognize, as other nations do, that the central government should sponsor and fund the travel of mayors to other countries on such international missions."
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin discussed the matricula consular identification card, which is recognized and honored in Atlanta and several other U.S. cities to allow Mexican nationals to access city services, pay water bills, etc. The card, issued by the Mexican government to Mexican nationals who live abroad, legally or illegally, shows proof of Mexican citizenship. It creates no entitlement to U.S. government benefits but simply identifies the person who presents it.
Naofumi Hida, Executive Director of the Japan Local Government Center in New York City, discussed his organization and the continuing close ties of U.S. and Japanese mayors. He also called attention to the Japan-U.S. Ciites Summit, which will be held in Hiroshima, Japan, November 17-19, 2004.
David Freudenwald, Intergovernmental Affairs Officer, discussed the variety of ways in which the State Department is available to assist mayors in their trade missions and travel abroad and encouraged the mayors to make use of the services and information of the Intergovernmental Affairs office as they plan their travels overseas.
The committee passed the following resolutions.
Resolution No. 52: Expressing Concern of the United States Conference of Mayors about Implementation of the U.S.-VISIT Program at Border Cities and Border Ports of Entry requests the Secretary of Homeland Security or his designee to consult with border cities about how the current U.S.-VISIT system is being implemented in order to ensure greater ease of movement across the U.S., Mexican, and Canadian borders.
Resolution No. 53: Support for Extension of Authorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and for the U.S. Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Free Trade Agreement asks the Congress to extend the authorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and supports U.S. efforts to conclude a strong U.S.'southern African Customs Union, which has the potential to bolster U.S.'sub'saharan African trade and investment while strengthening the economies of sub'saharan African nations.
Resolution No. 54: Commendation of Mayors Victor Ashe for His Confirmation as Ambassador to Poland offers congratulations to Ambassador Victor Ashe, his wife Joan, and his children, and conveys warmest good wishes for a successful and productive tenure as U.S. Ambassador to Poland.
Resolution No. 92, Commencement of Negotiations on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons calls upon the U.S. President to support a decision by the 2005 Nuclear Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to commence negotiations on the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons and nuclear-weapon-related materials.
Resolution No. 93, Support for the Goals and Mission of Glocal Forum, expresses support for Glocal Forum, a globally-based, non-profit organization headquartered in Rome, Italy, and in Washington, D.C., which works for a new balance between global and local forces and emphasizes the central importance of cities in the world.
Two additional international resolutions, later offered from the floor and passed during the United States Conference of Mayors' consideration of resolutions on Monday, June 29, are:
The Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998 calls upon the U.S. Congress to pass proposed amendments to the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998.
Responding Effectively and Immediately to the Human Rights Tragedy in Sudan urges the U. S. Congress and the Bush Administration, in collaboration with the United Nations, to call on the government of Sudan to (a) declare a no-fly zone over the Darfur region, putting an end to aerial attacks, with enforcement of the no-fly zone to be provided by the United Nations; (b) allow the free movement of human rights investigators and humanitarian workers in the Darfur region; (c) cease supplying the allied Janjaweed militia with arms; and (d) agree to a United Nations mission of at lease 10,000 international peacekeepers to stop the violence and attend to the needs of those who have been impacted by the violence in the Darfur region.