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Clinton Urges U.S. Technology Companies to Aid Foreign Policy

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the innovation of U.S. businesses such as Google Inc., as she called on technology companies to use their resources to help meet the country’s foreign policy goals.

Silicon Valley’s new technologies drive U.S. leadership and empower civil leaders and citizens in closed countries, and the Obama administration wants to integrate that “into every aspect of our foreign policy,” Clinton said in prepared remarks to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, the nation’s oldest public affairs forum.

Since taking charge at the State Department, Clinton has encouraged the use of technology to bolster development work. One of her first acts was to appoint a senior adviser for innovation. On Oct. 7, Clinton and Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, kicked off the “mWomen initiative” to get mobile phones to more women in developing countries.

“Part of our approach is to embrace new tools, like using cell phones for mobile banking or to monitor elections,” Clinton said. “But we’re also reaching out to the people behind those tools, the innovators and entrepreneurs themselves.”

The State Department is pursuing private-public partnerships to match the “on-the-ground” experience of its diplomats and development experts with the resources of U.S. companies, Clinton said. State Department officials have taken delegations of technology leaders with them to Syria, Mexico, Colombia, India and Russia, she said.

“We want to invest in innovative delivery systems and financial tools, in fresh solutions,” Clinton said. “If you have an idea, we’ll listen.”

At the event with Blair, Clinton outlined how her agency uses mobile technologies to coordinate disaster relief and track its global health programs. For women in the developing world, a mobile phone can provide information about how to protect crops from pests or allow them to control the family finances, Clinton said.

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