Meridian International Center Global Dialogue Dinner with French Ambassador Gérard Araud

On Tuesday, February 3, 2015, Meridian hosted the Ambassador of France to the United States Gérard Araud for a substantive salon dinner as a part of the U.S.-France Leadership Dialogue. The Dialogue facilitates ongoing bilateral collaboration on current economic, strategic, and social issues and lays the groundwork for generating shared solutions in a global environment. In the wake of the tragic Charlie Hebdo attacks, the off-the-record dinner conversation focused on both nations’ response to assaults on freedom of speech and personal liberty, and joint approaches to counter violent extremism.

While the dinner was off the record, common themes emerged. The United States and France are both countries that value diversity and tolerance, but practically, have had difficult experiences fully integrating immigrant communities. This has been a challenge for decades, but the damaging effects of alienation are exacerbated by the sophisticated training extremists are able to receive. In the short run, there must be close collaboration between policy forces, intelligence agencies, and governments to manage these threats; however, in the long run, we need a “counter narrative.” We need leaders in at-risk communities to decry violence and offer a path to social and economic opportunities. While there was a diverse group of government, private sector, diplomatic, and media leade

In addition to the Ambassador, the dinner was attended by Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Chairman of Meridian’s Board of Trustees; Assistant Secretary Charles Rivkin, former U.S. Ambassador to France; the Honorable Capricia Marshall, former Chief of Protocol for the United States; and Hervé de Villeroché, Executive Director for France at the IMF and World Bank. Joining them were several corporate leaders, including Ross LaJeunesse, Global Head of Free Expression and International Relations for Google Inc.; Jim Fraser, Vice President for Government Relations and Communications for Thales; and Jean-François Michel, Director of Public Affairs for Möet Hennessy. Members of the press were also central to the discussion, including Tom Toles, Political Cartoonist for the Washington Post; David Rennie, Washington Bureau Chief and Lexington Columnist for the Economist; and Howard Fineman, Global Editorial Director of Huffington Post.

The U.S.-France Leadership Dialogue is made possible in part by the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, and conducted in partnership with the French-American Cultural Foundation, the Embassy of France in Washington, and the U.S. Embassy in Paris. We also thank Moët Hennessy for their generous support of this special evening.

Project summary

Meridian International Center Global Dialogue Dinner with French Ambassador Gérard Araud
Number of Attendees: 12
Regions: Europe and Eurasia
Countries: France
Impact Areas: Foreign Policy, Media and Journalism, Public Diplomacy, Security
Program Areas: Exchanges, Forums
Partners: Public Sector, Private Sector, Individuals/Donors, Diplomatic Corps