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2012/04/25 00:58 KST
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(LEAD) U.S. to ramp up public diplomacy efforts during Yeosu Expo

By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, April 24 (Yonhap) -- With the opening of the 2012 Yeosu World Expo three weeks away, the United States announced a plan Tuesday to dispatch 40 "student ambassadors" to the event.

   Officials said the 40 American college students from across the nation will serve as a "public face" for the U.S. as it seeks to promote people-to-people exchanges with visitors during the Expo.

   It is scheduled to take place in the southern coastal city of Yeosu from May 12 through Aug. 12.

   They will greet visitors, government officials and other dignitaries as well as provide administrative, protocol and programming support, according to the State Department.

   "With more than 60 percent of the world's population under the age of 30, we must engage today's youth and tomorrow's leaders," Ann Stock, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, said at a press briefing. "Leading our people-to-people diplomacy efforts at the World Expo, our student ambassadors showcase the best of America's young people."

Ann Stock, assistant secretary of state, briefs reporters on the U.S. plan for the Yeosu World Expo, in Washington on April 24, flanked by U.S. Pavillion Chief Spokesperson Philippe Cousteau (L) and Brittany Alexander, who represents a group of student ambassadors. (Yonhap)

Philippe Cousteau, chief spokesman for the U.S. Pavilion, also said they "represent the hopeful and determined spirit of the American people." Cousteau is an explorer, social entrepreneur and environmental advocate. His family is known for efforts to conserve oceans.

   The Expo, to be held in Yeosu, about 455 kilometers south of Seoul, under the theme of "The Living Ocean and Coast," will be joined by 109 nations and international organizations.

   Organizers expect it to draw several million visitors.

   U.S. officials said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may visit the Yeosu Expo.

   "The Expo is also an opportunity to showcase America's commitment to oceans. Secretary of State Clinton has made environmental issues a priority at the State Department," Stock said.

   "The Republic of Korea couldn't be a better partner in this work," she added. "Our participation in the Expo highlights our strong relationship both with the Republic of Korea and its people."

   The Republic of Korea is South Korea's formal name.