The U.S. will begin shifting its diplomatic corps away from Europe, in a move aimed at bolstering democracy in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday.
Rice said she would start to shift some U.S. diplomats this year, to countries such as India and Lebanon, as part of what she has termed "transformational diplomacy."
Rice outlined modest plans to boost the U.S. presence in the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia in a realignment that recalled a similar, albeit larger, shift at the Pentagon.
"To advance transformational diplomacy, we are and we must change our diplomatic posture," she told university students in a speech in Washington.
"We will begin this year with a down payment of moving 100 positions from Europe and, yes, from here in Washington, D.C., to countries like China and India and Nigeria and Lebanon, where additional staffing will make an essential difference," she said.
Over the next few years, several hundred diplomats will move, with Europe being the main area to lose envoys.
The shift also coincides with a new emphasis that diplomats should have a higher profile abroad to sell America's image, said senior State Department officials, who asked not to be named.