I am deeply saddened by the assassination of Pakistan’s Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti today in Islamabad, and condemn in the strongest possible terms this horrific act of violence. We offer our profound condolences to his family, loved ones and all who knew and worked with him. Minister Bhatti fought for and sacrificed his life for the universal values that Pakistanis, Americans and people around the world hold dear – the right to speak one’s mind, to practice one’s religion as one chooses, and to be free from discrimination based on one’s background or beliefs. He was clear-eyed about the risks of speaking out, and, despite innumerable death threats, he insisted he had a duty to his fellow Pakistanis to defend equal rights and tolerance from those who preach division, hate, and violence. He most courageously challenged the blasphemy laws of Pakistan under which individuals have been prosecuted for speaking their minds or practicing their own faiths. Those who committed this crime should be brought to justice, and those who share Mr. Bhatti’s vision of tolerance and religious freedom must be able to live free from fear. Minister Bhatti will be missed by all who knew him, and the United States will continue to stand with those who are dedicated to his vision of tolerance and dignity for all human beings.
“The eyes of the world are on Cote d’Ivoire. Last year’s election was free and fair and President Alassane Ouattara is the democratically elected leader of the nation.”
President Obama’s Message to the People of Cote d’Ivoire
The eyes of the world are on Cote d’Ivoire. Last year’s election was free and fair and President Alassane Ouattara is the democractically elected leader of the nation. And I commend President Ouattara for offering a peaceful future for all Ivorians–an inclusive government, reunification and reconciliation.
Now Cote d’Ivoire is at a crossroad and two paths lay ahead. One path is where Laurent Gbagbo and his supporters cling to power, which will only lead to more violence, more innocent civilians being wounded and killed and more diplomatic and economic isolation. Or Cote d’Ivoire can take another path.
Where Gbagbo follows the example of leaders who reject violence and abide by the will of the people. Where Ivorians reclaim your country and rebuild a vibrant economy that was once the admiration of Africa. And where Cote d’Ivoire is welcomed back into the community of nations.
This is the choice that must be made. And it’s a choice for all Ivorians.
I want to close by speaking directly to the people of Cote d’Ivoire. You have a proud past, from gaining your independence to overcoming civil war. Now you have the opportunity to realize your future. You deserve a future of hope, not fear. You deserve leaders like President Ouattara, who can restore your country’s rightful place in the world. You deserve the chance to determine your own destiny.
It’s time for democracy in Cote d’Ivoire.
And those who choose that path will have a friend and partner in the United States of America.
Statement by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe
Human Rights Council 16th Session
U.S. Statement General Statement on the adoption of the Côte d’Ivoire Resolution
Thank you, Mr. President.
The United States thanks the African Group and especially the Delegation of Cote D’Ivoire for proposing this very important and timely resolution. As an early Co-Sponsor of both this resolution and the December 23, 2010 Special Session, we hope that as it was the case then it will be adopted by consensus. As we said during the Interactive Dialogue on the 14th of March the situation in Côte d’Ivoire is grave and deteriorating. We deplore the gross abuses of human rights and trampling of fundamental freedoms in Côte d’Ivoire. We fully support this resolution’s call for the immediate establishment of an International Commission of Inquiry and we hope that through their work, all those who lost their lives during this troubled period will find a measure of justice.
I would also like to note that the crisis in Cote D’Ivoire is the result of the inability by Mr. Gbagbo to accept the result of an election which he agreed to hold. This is a challenge to democracy not only in the Ivory Coast and in West Africa, but to the democratic community as a whole. This situation is a critical test for democratic institutions and values across Africa and the United States will continue to support the efforts by the African Union and ECOWAS to resolve the crisis peacefully.
As the State Department’s spokesman noted yesterday the United States has, since the beginning of the political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, strongly supported African-led efforts to achieve a peaceful transition of power between former President Gbagbo and his elected successor, Alassane Ouattara. I want to once again underline that we firmly stand behind President-elect Ouattara.
Thank you, Mr. President.
President Obama believes that advancing the human rights of minorities and the marginalized is a fundamental American value. The President was pleased to announce during his trip to Brazil that he and President Rousseff agreed to promote respect for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals through the establishment of a special rapporteur on LGBT issues at the Organization of American States. This special rapporteur will be the first of its kind in the international system.
Over the past months our diplomats have been engaged in frank, and at times difficult, conversations about the human rights of LGBT persons with governments from around world. This morning, at the United Nations Human Rights Council, some 85 countries joined the United States in reaffirming our joint commitment to end acts of violence and human rights abuses on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The President is proud of the work we have done to build international consensus on this critical issue and is committed to continuing our determined efforts to advance the human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Palacio do Planalto
12:54 P.M. BRT
PRESIDENT ROUSSEFF: (As translated.) Your Excellency Barack Obama, President of the United States of America; ladies and gentlemen; members of the delegation of the U.S. and of Brazil; ladies and gentlemen journalists; ladies and gentlemen.
Mr. President Obama, your visit to my country makes me very happy and arouses the best feelings of our people and honors the historic relationship between Brazil and the U.S. It bears also a very strong symbolic value.
The peoples of our countries have built the largest democracies of the Americas. They also dared to take at the highest level an Afro descent and a woman, demonstrating that the basis of democracy allows to overcome the largest barriers to build societies that will be more generous and live more in harmony.
Here, Mr. President, I am the successor of a man that came from the people — my dear friend Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva, with whom I had the honor to work with. His legacy, most noble legacy, Mr. President, was to bring to the political scene and social scene millions of men and women that lived marginalized and were disenfranchised of their rights as citizens.
Of the nine heads of state of the U.S. that have visited officially Brazil, you are the one that sees our country in a most vibrant moment. The combination of a very serious economic policy with sound fundamentals and a consistent strategy of social inclusion has made our country one of the most dynamic markets of the world.
We have strengthened the renewable content of our energy matrix and we have advanced in developing the environmental policies that protect our important wind, forest reserves and also protects our very rich biodiversity. All this effort, President Obama, has created millions of new jobs and has dynamized many regions that before lived marginalized of the economic development. It has allowed Brazil to overcome with success the deepest economic crisis of recent history, keeping until the days of today record creation of new jobs.
But we still face enormous challenges. My administration at this moment is concentrating on the necessary tasks to improve our growth process and to guarantee the long period of prosperity for the Brazilian people.
My essential commitment is building a middle-class income society, assuring vocational, professional opportunities for the workers and for our immense youth population. I also want to guarantee an institutional environment that will trigger entrepreneurship and will favor productive investment.
My government will work with dedication to overcome the shortcomings in terms of infrastructure, and we will make all our efforts to consolidate our clean energy, which is an essential, key asset of Brazil. So we will take the necessary steps to reach our place amongst the nations that have full, strong development with democracy and social fairness. This is the point, President Obama, that I see the best opportunities for the advancements of the relations between our countries.
I follow very closely and I have high hopes on your efforts — your tremendous efforts to recover the vitality of the North American economy. We also have, as the rest of the world, one certainty, that the American people under your leadership will know how to find the best ways for the future of this great nation.
The kindness of your visit here in the beginning of my administration and the long track record of friendship amongst our peoples have made it possible to mention two issues that I consider central to the future partnerships that we can develop: education and innovation. Drawing closer ties and advancing in our educational experiments, enhancing our exchange programs and building progress in all fields of knowledge is a key issue for the future of our countries.
On research and innovation, the U.S. has reached the most extraordinary accomplishments in the last decades, fostering the productivity in different economic sectors.
Brazil, Mr. President Obama, has some important cutting-edge technologies in certain fields, like genetics, biotechnology, renewable sources of energy, and the exploration of oil in deep waters. To combine our most advanced capabilities in the field of research and innovation certainly will yield the best fruits for our societies.
I would like to mention as an example the pre-salt, the deep-waters oil reserve, which is the longest cutting-edge borderline that Brazil has reached in terms of its technology. We believe that the enormous challenges that we’ll face in each stage of exploration of this wealth could gather an unprecedented convergence of knowledge accumulated by the best centers of research in our countries.
But, Mr. President, if we wish to build a relationship that will be much more in depth, it’s necessary, frankly, to deal about our contradictions. I am concerned especially with the acute effects that come from the economic imbalances that were created by the recent global financial meltdown. We understand the context and the efforts that was undertaken by your government for the economic recovery of the U.S., something so important to the rest of the world. Nevertheless, everybody knows that broad-ranging measures sometimes provoke important changes in the relations of currencies around the world. This process is good economic practices and pushes countries towards protectionist measures and defensive measures of all nature.
We are a country that are making all the endeavors to come out of years of very low development rates. That’s why we seek more fairness and balanced trade relations. For us it’s fundamental that we should break away from the barriers that have arisen against our products, like ethanol, beef, cotton, orange juice, airplanes, and so on and so forth. For us it’s fundamental that we should expand the educational and technological partnerships for the future.
I am equally concerned with the slow pace of the reforms in the multilateral institutions that still reflect an old world. We work tirelessly for the reform in governance of the World Bank and of the IMF. And we did that by the U.S., together with Brazil, together with other countries — and we welcome the beginning of the changes that were undertaken in these multilateral institutions, although they’re still very limited and belated due to the economic financial crisis.
We also advocated for fundamental reform in designing the global governance, the enhancement of the U.N. Security Council. Here, Mr. President, we’re not moved by a minor interest of bureaucratic occupation of spaces of representation. What mobilizes us is the certainty that a world that is more multilateral will produce benefits for peace and harmony amongst the peoples of the world.
And even more, Mr. President, we’re also interested to learn with our own mistakes. It was necessary — a very severe economic crisis to move conservatism that blocked the reforms of the financial institutions. In the case of the U.N. reform, we now have the opportunities to act in advance.
This country, Brazil, has a commitment with peace, with democracy and with consensus building. This commitment, it is not something that is transitory, but is part of our permanent values. Tolerance, dialogue, flexibility — these are principles that are written in our constitution, in our history, and even in the nature of the Brazilian people. We’re very proud to live in peace with all of our 10 neighbors for more than one century.
One week ago, Mr. President, we were in the effect of a consultative treaty of the South American Union of Nations, which we’re reinforcing the unity of our continent. Brazil is — their wish to consolidate peace, security, democracy, cooperation and growth in this region with social fairness. And within this environment is that we should develop the relations between Brazil and the U.S.
Mr. President, I would like to say that I see with great optimism our common future. In the past, this relationship many times was overshadowed by empty rhetoric that diluted what was truly at stake between the U.S. and Brazil. An alliance between our two countries, above all, if it intends to be a strategic alliance, is something that is a construct — a construct that is common, as you said yourself in your State of the Union very recently — when you delivered your State of the Union. But it has to be a construct amongst equals.
Nevertheless, the differences these countries may have in terms of the size of their territory, the population, productive capacity or military might, we are countries of continental dimensions that follow the path of democracy. We are multi-ethnical in our territories, live different and rich cultures — each one in their own way. We have what a Brazilian poet called — we have “the feeling of the world.”
Your presence in Brazil, Mr. President, will be of great value in the construction that we want to do together.
Once again, President Obama, welcome to Brazil. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, Madam President, for your very kind words, and thanks to you and the people of Brazil for the very warm welcome — that legendary Brazilian hospitality that you’ve shown me, Michelle and our daughters. Multo obrigado.
Now, in our meeting today I mentioned that this is my first visit to South America and Brazil is my first stop. This is no coincidence. The friendship between the people of the United States and Brazil spans nearly two centuries. Our entrepreneurs and businesses innovate together. Our scientists and researchers are pioneering new vaccines. Our students and teachers explore new horizons. And every day, we’re working to make our societies more inclusive and more just.
Brazil’s extraordinary rise, Madam President, has captured the attention of the world. Because of the sacrifices of people like President Rousseff, Brazil moved from dictatorship to democracy. As one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, Brazil has lifted tens of millions from poverty into a growing middle class.
Today, the United States and Brazil are the hemisphere’s two largest democracies and the two largest economies. Brazil is a regional leader promoting greater cooperation across the Americas and, increasingly, Brazil is a global leader, a world leader, going from a recipient of foreign aid to a donor nation, pointing the way to a world without nuclear weapons and being in the forefront of global efforts to confront climate change.
As President, I’ve pursued engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. And a key part of this engagement is forging deeper cooperation with 21st century centers of influence, including Brazil. Put simply, the United States doesn’t simply recognize Brazil’s rise we support it enthusiastically.
And that’s why we’ve made the G20 the world’s premier forum of global economic cooperation, to make sure that nations like Brazil have a greater voice. That’s why we’ve worked to increase Brazil’s vote and role at international financial institutions, and it is why I’ve come to Brazil today.
President Rousseff and I both believe that this visit is a historic opportunity to put the United States and Brazil on a path towards even greater cooperation for decades to come. And today, we’re starting to seize that opportunity.
Madam President, I want to thank you for your strong personal commitment to strengthening the ties between our two nations. We’re expanding trade and investment that create jobs in both our countries. Brazil is one of our largest trading partners, but there’s still so much more that we can do.
Later today the President and I will be meeting with business leaders from our two countries to listen and find very concrete steps that we can take to expand our relationship economically. We’ll be announcing a series of new agreements, including a new economic and financial dialogue to promote trade, streamline regulations and expand collaborations in science and technology.
And as Brazil prepares to host the World Cup and the Summer Olympics — which still hurts for me to say — (laughter) — we’re ensuring that American companies can play a role in the many infrastructure projects needed for these games.
We’re creating a new strategic energy dialogue to make sure that the highest levels of our governments are working together to seize new opportunities. In particular, with the new oil finds off Brazil, President Rousseff has said that Brazil wants to be a major supplier of new stable sources of energy, and I’ve told her that the United States wants to be a major customer, which would be a win-win for both our countries.
At the same time, we’re expanding our clean energy partnership that’s vital to our long-term energy security. As a leader in renewable energy, such as biofuels, and as part of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas that I proposed, Brazil is sharing its expertise around the region and around the world. And the new green economy dialogue that we’re creating today will deepen our cooperation even further, in green buildings and sustainable development.
On the security front, our militaries are working more closely to respond to humanitarian crises, as we did together in Haiti. Our law enforcement communities are partnering against the narco-traffickers who threaten all of us. Brazil is joining the international effort to prevent nuclear smuggling through ports.
I thanked President Rousseff for Brazil’s leadership towards establishing a new regional center to promote excellence in nuclear security. And as a member of the Human Rights Council, Brazil joined with us in condemning human rights abuses by Libya.
I want to briefly mention the situation in Libya, because this is something that I’ve discussed with the President. Yesterday, the international community demanded an immediate cease-fire in Libya, including an end to all attacks against civilians. Today Secretary Clinton joined an international coalition of our European and Arab partners in Paris to discuss how we will enforce U.S. Security Council Resolution 1973.
Our consensus was strong and our resolve is clear: The people of Libya must be protected. And in the absence of an immediate end to the violence against civilians, our coalition is prepared to act, and act with urgency. And I am briefing President Rousseff on the steps that we are taking.
Finally, I’m especially pleased that the United States and Brazil are joining together to advance development and democratic governance beyond our hemisphere. Brazil is helping lead the global initiative I announced at the United Nations last year to promote open government and new technologies that empower citizens around the world. Today we’re launching new efforts to help other countries combat corruption and prevent child labor, and we’re expanding our efforts to promote food security and agricultural development in Africa.
I believe this is just the beginning of what our two countries can do together in the world. That’s why the United States will continue our efforts to make sure that the new realities of the 21st century are reflected in international institutions, as Madam President mentioned, including the United Nations, where Brazil aspires to a seat on the Security Council.
As I told President Rousseff, the United States is going to keep working with Brazil and other nations on reforms that make the Security Council more effective, more efficient, more representative, and advance our shared vision of a more secure and peaceful world.
So, again, with today’s progress, I believe we’ve laid the foundation for greater cooperation between the United States and Brazil for decades to come. I want to thank President Rousseff for her leadership, for making this progress possible. I had not known Madam President long, but I can tell in speaking to her, the extraordinary passion she has for providing opportunity for all the people of Brazil, lifting everyone up. And that’s a passion I share with respect to my citizens in the United States — my fellow citizens in the United States of America.
So I am confident that given this shared spirit, this camaraderie that exists not only at our levels but among our peoples, that we are going to continue to make progress for a long time to come.
I’m very much looking forward to visiting Rio tomorrow and the opportunity to speak directly to the Brazilian people about what our countries can do together as global partners in the 21st century.
Thank you so much. (Applause.)
1:15 P.M. BRT
President Obama: Remarks with President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China at the Official Arrival Ceremony
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release January 19, 2011
Remarks by President Obama and President Hu of the People’s Republic of China at Official Arrival Ceremony
9:20 A.M. EST
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good morning, everyone. President Hu, members of the Chinese delegation, on behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House. And on behalf of the American people, welcome to the United States.
Three decades ago, on a January day like this, another American President stood here and welcomed another Chinese leader for the historic normalization of relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. On that day, Deng Xiaoping spoke of the great possibilities of cooperation between our two nations.
Looking back on that winter day in 1979, it is now clear. The previous 30 years had been a time of estrangement for our two countries. The 30 years since have been a time of growing exchanges and understanding. And with this visit we can lay the foundation for the next 30 years.
At a time when some doubt the benefits of cooperation between the United States and China, this visit is also a chance to demonstrate a simple truth. We have an enormous stake in each other’s success. In an interconnected world, in a global economy, nations — including our own — will be more prosperous and more secure when we work together.
The United States welcomes China’s rise as a strong, prosperous and successful member of the community of nations. Indeed, China’s success has brought with it economic benefits for our people as well as yours, and our cooperation on a range of issues has helped advance stability in the Asia Pacific and in the world.
We also know this: History shows that societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful, and the world is more just, when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld, including the universal rights of every human being.
Mr. President, we can learn from our people. Chinese and American students and educators, business people, tourists, researchers and scientists, including Chinese Americans who are here today —- they work together and make progress together every single day. They know that even as our nations compete in some areas, we can cooperate in so many others, in a spirit of mutual respect, for our mutual benefit.
What Deng Xiaoping said long ago remains true today. There are still great possibilities for cooperation between our countries. President Hu, members of the Chinese delegation, let us seize these possibilities together. Welcome to the United States of America. Hwan-ying. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT HU: (As translated.) Mr. President, Mrs. Obama, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, it gives me great pleasure to come to Washington and pay a state visit to the United States at the beginning of the new year, at the invitation of President Obama. At this point in time, let me extend, on behalf of the 1.3 billion Chinese people, sincere greetings and best wishes to the people of the United States.
I have come to the United States to increase mutual trust, enhance friendship, deepen cooperation, and push forward the positive, cooperative, and comprehensive China-U.S. relationship for the 21st century.
Over the past 32 years, since the establishment of diplomatic ties, the China-U.S. relationship has grown into one with strategic significance and global influence. Since President Obama took office, with concerted efforts of the two sides, our cooperation in various fields has produced fruitful results and our relations have achieved new progress. This has brought real benefits to our two peoples, and contributed greatly to world peace and development.
As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, the people of both China and the United States want to see further progress in our relations and people around the globe want to see greater prosperity in the world. Under the new circumstances, and in the face of new challenges, China and the United States share broad common interests and important common responsibilities.
We should adopt a long-term perspective, seek common ground while resolving differences, and work together to achieve sustained, sound, and steady development of our relations. I hope that through this visit, our two countries will advance the positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship, and open a new chapter in our cooperation as partners.
Our cooperation as partners should be based on mutual respect. We live in an increasingly diverse and colorful world. China and the United States should respect each other’s choice of development path and each other’s core interests. We should deepen mutual understanding through communication, increase mutual trust through dialogue, and expand common ground through exchanges.
Our cooperation as partners should be based on mutual benefit. China’s future and destiny are increasingly tied to those of the world and China-U.S. relations have become closer. Our two countries should seek to learn from each other through exchanges and achieve win-win progress through cooperation. This is the right approach for us to develop our relations.
Our cooperation as partners should be based on joint efforts to meet challenges. China and the United States should step up communication and coordination in international affairs, work together to counter the global challenges, and make a greater contribution to world peace and development.
Our cooperation as partners should be based on the extensive involvement of the people. The Chinese and American people cherish deep friendship towards each other, and they fought side by side at defining moments in history when the future and the destiny of mankind were at stake. The two peoples should extend exchanges and enhance friendship. This will offer a inexhaustible driving force for the growth of our relations.
Ladies and gentlemen, our world today is undergoing major development, major changes and major adjustments. To pursue peace, development and cooperation is the irresistible trend of our time. Let us seize the opportunity to forge ahead, hand in hand, and work together to enhance cooperation as partners, and let us work with all other countries to build a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity.
Thank you once again, Mr. President, for your warm welcome. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much. Thank you.
9:38 A.M. EST
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of David Kato. In Uganda, David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom. The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David’s work.
At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate. In the weeks preceding David Kato’s murder in Uganda, five members of the LGBT community in Honduras were also murdered. It is essential that the Governments of Uganda and Honduras investigate these killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.
LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights. My Administration will continue to strongly support human rights and assistance work on behalf of LGBT persons abroad. We do this because we recognize the threat faced by leaders like David Kato, and we share their commitment to advancing freedom, fairness, and equality for all.
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
“I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world, as partners with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children. That partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility and mutual respect.”
President Obama, Accra, Ghana, July 2009
In 2010, seventeen countries across sub-Saharan Africa celebrate fifty years of independence. In honor of this important historic moment, in acknowledgement of the extraordinarily young demographic profile of the region, and as part of an effort to forge strong, forward-looking partnerships in the years ahead, President Obama is hosting a forum for young African leaders in Washington, D.C., from August 3 – 5. These 115 young leaders come from civil society and the private sector and represent more than forty countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
In Accra, the President highlighted a “simple truth” about our country’s connections with Africa: Africa’s prosperity can expand America’s prosperity. Africa’s health and security can contribute to the world’s health and security. And the strength of Africa’s democracy can help advance human rights for people everywhere.
He emphasized that “this mutual responsibility must be the foundation of our partnership.” And over the past year and a half, we have been focused on four areas that are critical to the future of Africa: strong and sustainable democratic governments, opportunity and development, strengthening public health, and the peaceful resolution of conflict. Here are some examples of actions the Administration has taken:
Addressing Global Issues
The Administration’s approach to development addresses issues at the core of Africa’s agenda.
Feed the Future: In 2009, President Obama announced a $3 billion global food security initiative that has the support of the world’s major and emerging donor nations. To date, the United States has led international efforts to review nine comprehensive country strategies, commit new resources in support of those strategies, collaborate in the establishment and initial capitalization of the World Bank-led Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, and launch a new research and development program.
Global Health Initiative: In May 2009, President Obama announced the Global Health Initiative (GHI), a six-year, $63 billion initiative which builds on the progress and success of PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Program on AIDS Relief) and also expands our global health effort and impact by including investments to strengthen health systems, improve maternal child health, address neglected tropical diseases, and foster increased research and development.
Climate Change: The United States and nations across Africa are addressing the challenge of global climate change through the Copenhagen Accord and a range of international partnerships promoting clean energy technologies and climate-resilient development for Africans. The United States has more than tripled climate assistance this year. Support for international climate adaptation has increased tenfold, with a focus on helping the most vulnerable nations in Africa and around the world. U.S. climate-related appropriations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 total $1.3 billion, and the Administration has requested $1.9 billion in appropriations for FY 2011.
Strengthening our Partnerships
The United States has elevated engagement with emerging and existing African powers, and has recently launched three new Strategic Dialogues to that effect:
The United States and Angola have signed a new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and have launched a new Strategic Partnership Dialogue, setting the stage for improved cooperation on energy, trade, security, and agriculture.
Over the past year and a half, the U.S. relationship with South Africa has gone from strained to sound. We have institutionalized the new era of cooperation in a formal, ongoing U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue and are working together on a range of issues from nonproliferation to agricultural development.
April 2010 saw the formal establishment of the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission, a high-level mechanisms to address issues surrounding governance and transparency (including preparing for upcoming elections), energy and power, food security, and regional security.
Throughout the region, through diplomatic engagement and support to key institutions and civil society organizations, the United States has promoted good governance as a critical priority for the region.
In Kenya, the United States has led international efforts to support Kenyan civil society and the reform agenda developed in the wake of early 2008 post-election violence.
The administration launched the first ever high-level bilateral discussions with the African Union. In April of this year, Secretary of State Clinton and National Security Advisor General Jones, Ret., welcomed African Union leaders to Washington to hold the first annual high-level consultation with the AU. Attorney General Eric Holder followed up on this initiative by addressing the AU Summit in Kampala in July. At the ninth U.S.-sub Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, also known as the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), being held in Washington this week, USAID will sign a new partnership agreement with the African Union to advance prosperity, peace and stability.
Crisis Prevention and Response
The Obama administration conducted a comprehensive review of our policies in Sudan and developed a strategy focused on addressing our multiple policy objectives in Sudan and the region, including resolution to the crisis in Darfur and implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. We have named a full-time Special Envoy who has re-energized and broadened the multilateral coalition addressing Sudan’s challenges.
Following a comprehensive review of our policies on Somalia earlier this year, the President issued Executive Order 13536, the first E.O. focused on addressing the underlying factors contributing to instability in Somalia. The Administration’s policy on Somalia is the first comprehensive approach to addressing the counterterrorism, counterpiracy, humanitarian, and security and political concerns facing the beleaguered state.
In central Africa, Secretary Clinton has elevated the issue of sexual and gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to a top priority, personally visiting eastern Congo in August, 2009, and directing that additional resources and innovative approaches be employed to combat this violence, end impunity and assist those affected.
In Guinea, the United States was an international leader in condemning the September 28 massacre, supporting a return to constitutional order, and assisting in the electoral process that gave Guineans their first opportunity to vote in credible elections since their country became independent in 1958.
Encouraging Private Sector Growth
The United States is currently hosting the ninth United States – Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (AGOA Forum) in Washington, D.C., from August 2 – 3. Unlike previous Forums, this will be held not only in Washington but also in Kansas City, Missouri, from August 5 – 6, to allow for a deeper focus on agri-business. We are also emphasizing the role of women through a two-week AGOA Women’s Entrepreneurship Program to provide tools to better integrate African women into the global economy. In addition, as a follow up to President Obama’s Entrepreneurship Summit this past April, the Board of Directors of the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) approved on June 24 up to $150 million in financing to support the establishment of a private equity investment fund designed to invest in companies in West Africa.
The most senior representatives of the Obama Administration have actively engaged on African issues.
President Obama directly laid out a comprehensive vision for U.S.-African engagement in Accra, Ghana, in 2009 during the earliest visit to sub-Saharan Africa by any President in his first year in office. In addition to holding a meeting with 25 African heads of state and African Commission Chairperson Jean Ping at the United Nations General Assembly last year, President Obama has also held bilateral meetings with President Zuma of South Africa, President Kikwete of Tanzania, President Mills of Ghana, President Jonathan of Nigeria, Prime Minister Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe, President Khama of Botswana, and President Sirleaf of Liberia.
Last summer, Secretary Clinton traveled to seven African countries (Kenya, South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde). She continues to host and reach out to African leaders on a regular basis.
In June 2010, Vice President Biden traveled to Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa to address important bilateral issues in addition to holding numerous in-depth discussions on looming challenges in Sudan and Somalia.
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Seven years ago today, terrorists heinously attacked the UN Headquarters in Baghdad, killing twenty-two innocent people who were in Iraq to support Iraqis in their quest to live with freedom, dignity, and security. That outrageous attack highlighted the increasing dangers faced by unarmed humanitarians from around the world who dedicate their lives to serving their fellow human beings, often in extremely difficult circumstances. It is our respect and gratitude for their contributions that has led the international community to designate August 19 as World Humanitarian Day.
These humanitarians live and work in the world’s most dangerous and difficult places, often at great risk to their own lives. From Somalia to Sudan, Haiti to Iraq, Burma to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Pakistan to Afghanistan, these individuals, often unheralded, provide life-sustaining support to millions. Today, we honor their selfless service and the humanitarian principles that they embody.
These local and international humanitarian aid workers have distinguished themselves again this year. In the aftermath of the deadly earthquake in Haiti, humanitarian aid workers from around the world mobilized immediately for emergency rescue efforts, and remain in the country today to support ongoing relief and recovery efforts. Today humanitarian aid workers are providing food, water and other life-saving assistance to millions of Pakistanis devastated by flooding. In Sudan, aid workers risk violent attacks and kidnapping to try to feed the displaced of Darfur and help the South prepare for its approaching referendum.
Today we also mourn the losses of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of humanitarian ideals. This month, ten American, Afghan, German, and British humanitarian workers in Afghanistan were brutally murdered. They died distributing medicine, eyeglasses, and other assistance urgently needed by the people of Afghanistan. And they are the victims of a dangerous trend. Armed groups are increasingly targeting the humanitarian workers whose simple goal is to help innocent civilians in times of danger and suffering. Over the past decade, over 700 humanitarian workers have lost their lives in service, and murders of humanitarian aid workers have more than tripled annually, to 102 deaths in 2009.
On this World Humanitarian Day, the United States condemns the killing, kidnapping and other attacks against humanitarian aid workers and we reaffirm our enduring commitment to the goals to which they have dedicated their lives. Every humanitarian aid worker must be free to serve without fear for their safety, and every person in the world must be able to pursue their aspirations in peace and security.