United States secretary of state Colin Powell is pushing for more money for the prestigious Fulbright programmes in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks on New York and Washington.
Precise increases that President George W. Bush will seek for Fulbright and other exchange programmes will not be known until next month. But State Department officials recalled that Mr Powell had advocated the strengthening of public diplomacy on a number of occasions and emphasised that, as the flagship exchange programme, Fulbright would be central to his thinking. The department is the main funder of the programme, designed to give future leaders in politics, business, academia and culture immersion in American and British ways of life.
America's assessment of how the world sees it has been shaken since September 11, and the programme's value in overcoming false perceptions is underlined by messages from President Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair in the 2001 US-UK Fulbright Commission annual review, published last week.
President Bush says: "Our response to terrorism is not just military, and not just law enforcement. It must also be reflected in a renewed determination as a society to support tolerance, openness and the free exchange of ideas."
Mr Blair adds: "More than ever we are mutually dependent. National interest is to a significant extent governed by international collaboration. As Senator Fulbright once said, it is only by producing generations of leaders who, through the experience of educational exchange, will have acquired some feeling and understanding of other peoples' cultures, that the danger of war can be reduced."
James Moore, executive director of the Fulbright Commission, said: "Few who have reflected on the September 11 tragedy would have any doubt that there is still much work to be done to increase understanding between the people of the US and the rest of the world."