Sister Cities International was created at President Eisenhower’s 1956 White House conference on citizen diplomacy.  Eisenhower envisioned an organization that could be the hub of peace and prosperity by creating bonds between people from different cities around the world.  By forming these relationships, President Eisenhower reasoned that people of different cultures could celebrate and appreciate their differences and build partnerships that would lessen the chance of new conflicts.

Sister Cities International creates relationships based on cultural, educational, information and trade exchanges, creating lifelong friendships that provide prosperity and peace through person-to-person “citizen diplomacy.”  Since then, Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and now President Barack Obama have served as the Honorary Chairman of Sister Cities International.

Since its inception, Sister Cities International has played a key role in renewing and strengthening important global relationships. Early partnerships included a trading relationship between Seattle, Washington and Tokyo, Japan, repairing post-WWII tensions by creating cultural and educational exchanges and, subsequently, lasting friendships.  A 1974 study found that many early sister city relationships formed out of the post WWII aid programs to Western Europe. The relationships that endured, however, were based on cultural or educational reasons that developed lasting friendships. Sister Cities International improved diplomatic relationships at watershed moments over the past 50 years, including partnerships with China in the 1970s.

In the new millennium, Sister Cities International continues to expand its reach to new and emerging regions of the world. Today, it dedicates a special focus on areas with significant opportunities for cultural and educational exchanges, economic partnerships, and humanitarian assistance.

“The increasing interconnectivity of nations in today’s global economy underscores the need for robust partnerships between communities around the world.  Organizations like Sister Cities International foster such relationships, increasing mutual knowledge and understanding between cities and cultures.  These collaborations promote collaboration and trust among citizens and nations, create opportuntiies for technological and economic innovation and development, and lay the foundations for continued peace and prosperity.  I am proud to serve as your Honorary Chair.”


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“I am honored and proud to lend my name to an organization that has encouraged better international understanding in the fields of education, culture, economic, and social relationships. Thank  you for extending me the privilege of being associated with the United States Sister Cities Program.”


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“The Sister Cities International program has been instrumental in breaking down barriers between cultures and in fostering better relations between peoples separated by oceans.  I applaud your efforts to build lasting bridges between people of different nations in a rapidly changing world.  I am committed to working for a more peaceful planet and am impressed with your organization’s ongoing work toward this goal.  I am happy to offer my support as Honorary Chairman.”


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“I am proud to serve as Honorary Chairman of Sister Cities International and to be associated with a program whose human aspect reaches far beyond purely formal contacts between cities. Because of your emphasis on the exchange of people and ideas, Sister Cities serves to promote better understanding and cooperation throughout the world. Out of this effort comes a spirit of friendship which, when multiplied, results in improved economic, cultural, and social relationships between people everywhere."


“Exchange of ideas and just getting to know each other on the level that the Sister City program provides plays an important role in maintaining good relationships between the U.S. and foreign relations. The Sister City program is based on a mutual situation – all countries experience urban problems – and from this common base we can move toward broader understanding to bring our diverse cultures closer together.”


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“When President Eisenhower proposed the establishment of a program of affiliation between American and foreign cities on September 11, 1956, no one could have anticipated how successful it would become in creating imaginative and valuable exchanges in the fields of education, culture, youth, business, local government and professional expertise. All who have given of their time and talent in this effort can take great satisfaction from their accomplishments.”


“The dramatic past successes of the Sister Cities International program give you and your fellow members a dynamic role in the task of building a more peaceful and prosperous world community.”


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“Sister Cities work outside government in a field vital to all: the promotion of friendship among citizens of every land so they will understand each other and want peace. I know of no other task more important for the people of every country.”


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“No impersonal representation of a culture can fully communicate its reality to others who have never known its living substance. Through personal relations – our curiosity can be fulfilled by a sense of knowledge, cynicism can give way to trust, and the warmth of human friendship to be kindled.”