Barack Obama

In a joint press conference with President Yudhoyona of Indonesia, President Barack Obama yesterday stated that as part of forging new ties between Indonesia and the U.S., the two governments are aiming “to double the number of educational exchanges between our two countries within five years”.

En route to Jakarta and the second stop on President Obama’s current trip to Asia, White House officials spoke with reporters about the President’s agenda while in Indonesia. Jeff Bader, the Senior Director for East Asian Affairs on the National Security Council, noted that educational exchanges between the U.S. and Indonesia are a priority for the President. As Bader said:

At a Town Hall meeting yesterday with students in Mumbai, India, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama stressed their belief in the power of exchanges and close cooperation between India and the U.S., the White House reports.

Mrs. Obama especially highlighted the role of international exchanges, referring to her husband’s work to expand educational exchanges and partnerships. As the First Lady said:

While the results of this week’s elections may limit President Obama’s ability to move his domestic agenda, foreign policy “remains his domain,” several news sources, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, have argued. As the Times notes:

Beginning Wednesday, September 8, tourists to the U.S. from the 36 countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program will have to pay a fee of $14 to register in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), CNN reports.

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The Obama Administration is planning to return to “people to people policies” with regard to Cuba and expand opportunities for Americans to travel to the island nation, the New York Times reports today. This new Cuba policy would be meant to “loosen restrictions on academic, religious and cultural groups that were adopted under President George W. Bush, and return to the people to people policies followed under President Bill Clinton.

“The United States will spend $165-million over the next five years on programs to help strengthen higher education in Indonesia through educational exchanges and university partnerships,” the Chronicle of Higher Education reports. President Obama and Indonesia's president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, announced this initiative yesterday at a meeting at the G-20 summit in Toronto.

In her commencement address last Friday at Anacostia Senior High School in Washington, DC, First Lady Michelle Obama encouraged the graduating class—90 per cent of whom will attend college in the fall, many as the first in their family to do so—to find ways to get involved with the world and to study abroad:

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While the timeline for the markup and passage of FY 2011 appropriations bills remains uncertain, the Obama administration released two memos last week “setting guidelines for departments and agencies on their FY 2012 budget requests,” the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition reported. The memos underscore a “growing focus on reducing spending and the deficit”:

The White House last Thursday transmitted a new National Security Strategy to Congress. The 60-page document includes two references to the value of exchange programs. In a discussion of how the U.S. will engage with the world:

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