U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not be participating in the Forum for the Future, which is being held in the capital Tunis from today through Thursday, December 13.
The State Department announced yesterday that Clinton canceled her trip this week to Morocco, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates due to a stomach virus.
“In her place, Deputy Secretary [William] Burns will travel to Marrakech for the Friends of the Syrian People meeting. We will let you know when she shakes this bug and resumes a public schedule,” said State Department spokesman Philippe Reines in a statement.
Yesterday’s announcement comes after earlier reports on Sunday that Clinton delayed her trip to Morocco by only one day due to illness. She was to partake today in a meeting on the Syrian crisis in Marrakech and discuss future efforts to reinforce the Syrian opposition along with other foreign ministers.
After her stay in Morocco, Clinton was then to visit Tunisia on Thursday where she would join regional leaders and Group of Eight (G8) representatives in the Forum of the Future.
It is a joint initiative that was begun in 2004 by Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries and the G8, and serves a platform for dialogue between the G8 and MENA governments as well as the private sector and regional civil society members.
The Forum’s focus dovetails with the goals laid out by President Barack Obama in his 2009 Cairo speech, which touched upon education, good governance, human rights, the role of women, and employment.