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Under Secretary Hughes Visits Comfort in Peru

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070809-19
Release Date: 8/9/2007 6:18:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Karsten, USNS Comfort Public Affairs

SALAVERRY, Peru (NNS) -- Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes toured U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) and other medical sites in Peru, Aug. 8.

Hughes oversees three bureaus in the Department of State: Educational and Cultural Affairs, Public Affairs, and International Information Programs, and participates in foreign policy development at the State Department. She visited three sites during her trip to the Comfort which is at anchor off the coast of Salaverry.

The Trujillo Regional Hospital, Miguel Grau School and Sanchez Carrion School have medical staff from the U.S. Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Public Health Service, and Canadian Forces, as well as non-government organizations such as Project Hope and Operation Smile providing medical care to the local community. Services offered from Aug. 7 through Aug. 12 include primary adult and pediatric care, dentistry and optometry.

Hughes was greeted by the President of Peru’s La Libertad region, Jose Murgia. She met with local doctors and medical students working with Comfort personnel and addressed the local media about Comfort’s mission and future goals for relationships between the United States and Peru.

“I had a very warm welcome here,” Hughes said. “The people here are wonderful and I feel very at home in Latin America.”

“We are here working in a spirit of partnership,” Hughes said. “This mission is an example of an ongoing series of partnerships between America and Peru designed to improve health, education, and economic opportunities and to improve the lives of the people here.”

She also discussed how the Americas are known as a place of opportunity and the U.S. goal to expand the circle of opportunity to more citizens.

“In order to do that, our citizens need to be healthy, our children need to be educated, and we have to expand trade to improve economic growth here in Peru as well as other countries,” Hughes said.

After spending time at Comfort’s work sites, she flew to the Comfort for a tour of its medical facilities and visited patients whose scope of care involved more critical attention such as surgeries.

“Secretary Hughes’ visit to the Comfort put our work here in Latin America on a larger scale,” said Capt. Bob Kapcio, Comfort’s mission commander. “With her acknowledgement of our efforts, our mission’s purpose is further reinforced, and we’re working hard to meet the expectations placed upon us.”

Hughes has been a longtime advisor to President George W. Bush, and has served as manager of White House Office of Communications, Media Affairs, Speechwriting and Press Secretary. She has been tasked by Bush with leading efforts to promote America’s values and to confront the ideological support for terrorism around the world.

Comfort is on a four-month humanitarian deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean providing medical care to patients in a dozen countries.

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