Atlanta’s director of external affairs and international relations, Claire McLeveighn, aims to help make Atlanta a center for hemispheric trade, as well as a hospitable destination for international visitors, she told GlobalFax in an interview last week.

          Ms. McLeveighn, who assists Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin to address international issues important to the city, introduced herself to Atlanta’s consular corps during a luncheon at the World Trade Center Atlanta.

          The city’s offices of intergovernmental affairs and international affairs were combined, creating Ms. McLeveighn’s position, she said.

          “When I took this position in May, I didn’t realize the international piece of it would be so large, but it is, and it’s a challenge and an honor,” Ms. McLeveighn said.

“Making Atlanta a truly international city involves planning for global commerce, visitors from other countries and interaction with foreign governments,” she added.

          As part of these activities, Ms. McLeveighn said she will be attending a trip to Quito, Ecuador, in October with a delegation of Georgia officials, including Ms. Franklin. The group will participate in negotiations for the creation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas, a hemispheric trade bloc to be negotiated by 2005.

          Ms. Franklin is to give the opening remarks at the meeting in Quito on Oct. 30. The trip is part of Atlanta’s efforts to be selected to house the trade area’s secretariat.

          In addition to international commerce initiatives, Ms. McLeveighn said that her objectives also include forming a protocol for receiving international dignitaries. The mayor’s office receives at least one foreign delegation per week, including heads of state, foreign city mayors and diplomatic officials, she noted.

          She aims to work closely with the consular corps and the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism to ensure visiting foreign dignitaries are treated respectfully when arriving at Hartsfield International Airport.

          Ms. McLeveighn also oversees Atlanta’s Sister Cities Commission, the umbrella organization of the city’s 17 sister city committees that work to develop closer ties with cities around the world.

          Prior to working for the mayor’s office, Ms. McLeveighn was a strategic planning consultant with the Georgia Technology Authority and, previously, Fulton County’s intergovernmental director.

          Contact Ms. McLeveighn at (404) 330-6024 or