Daily Archives: May 1, 2014

Africa: Remarks During Visit to Gandhi Memorial Hospital

Remarks During Visit to Gandhi Memorial Hospital

Remarks

John Kerry
Secretary of State

Gandhi Memorial Hospital
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
May 1, 2014


SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Good morning, everybody. How are you?

AUDIENCE: Good morning.

SECRETARY KERRY: What an incredible, incredible energy I can feel here. You all are amazing in the work that you are doing. And in the small little spaces that I just walked through, I saw how much is going on every single day. So you are maximizing each moment and you’re maximizing every bit of space, and I congratulate you on that.

As I was walking in here, I asked about some of the other activities, and I learned that 25 babies are born here every day – 7,000 or so babies a year, right? And 30 – about 35 percent of those babies are born by cesarean section, so you can imagine how much work is going on here every single day. It’s really quite extraordinary.

And this part of the hospital, the Gandhi Memorial Hospital, is really special. The sign that is back here – you’re just sort of hiding it – but it talks about Ethiopia and the United States of America investing in a healthy future together. And there’s a lot of power in those words, “investing in a healthy future together.” We are doing it together. You’re doing the day-to-day hard work every single day. We’re trying to provide as much medical expertise and as much insight, knowledge as we can to help. But this is your – this is really your program and it’s about your future.

And I am so impressed by the way in which people in Ethiopia have grabbed onto this, and you are making a difference everywhere. Back in 2004, there were about 2.7 million Ethiopians who were HIV-positive, living with the disease. That has been cut by at least a third, but most importantly, for young children, for the children coming into the world, because of the progress that we’ve been able to make, those children now have the chance of being able to live HIV-free. And we are learning how to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mother to child, from generation to generation, or from wife to unaffected husband or vice versa. This is a huge advance.

There were about, I think, 15,000 children being able to receive antiretroviral drugs back in 2004. Today, it’s about 335,000 who are receiving antiretroviral drugs, and today, there’s an incredible new program in place, the sort of – I guess it’s Plan B+[1]. And through Plan B+, we are now able to guarantee that a mother or a pregnant girl, woman, will be able to receive lifetime antiretroviral drugs if they take part in the program and we are able to be able to make sure that child is born, as a result, HIV-free. That program is taking hold and that’s the promise that is coming through because of PEPFAR, so that we can actually defeat this disease. It’s a huge impact.

Now, I know a story about this hospital. I know that there was a young woman named Ababa who was diagnosed HIV-positive. And she was, after her diagnosis, trying to get to a health center, and she was out in the rain and she was exhausted and tired and she didn’t know – she didn’t have the strength to be able to get where she was going. But some health workers saw her. They didn’t just drive past her. They didn’t ignore her. They helped her. They brought her to the health center. And they were able to find housing for her, they were able to give her treatment, and today, she is one of the people who’s out on the cutting edge of helping other people to know that there is a better alternative, there’s help, there are people there who are ready to be able to make a difference.

So on behalf of every American, I can tell you that Americans are very, very proud to be able to help in this. We’re really – this is the best of countries working together and the best of people working across big oceans and big continents, but coming together because we believe in something for each other. And I think all of you are really amazing leaders in your own right because you’re doing the hardest work every single day. You are working here to make a difference in the lives of other people. And the example of what you’re achieving here in Ethiopia is an example that we can take all over the world.

So I hope you feel very proud of it. I want you to know how pleased I am to be able to come here today and learn something about the Gandhi Memorial Hospital and to meet all of you who are working so hard. So thank you very, very much for everything you are doing, and congratulations to all of you. Thank you. (Applause.)

________________

[1]The Secretary is referring to Option B+


Africa: Secretary Kerry Travels to Addis Ababa, Kinshasa, and Luanda

Secretary Kerry Travels to Addis Ababa, Kinshasa, and Luanda

Press Statement

Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson

Washington, DC
April 25, 2014


Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Luanda, Angola, on April 29-May 5 to encourage democratic development, promote respect for human rights, advance peace and security, engage with civil society and young African leaders who will shape the continent’s future, and promote trade, investment and development partnerships in Africa. 

The Secretary’s trip will also highlight U.S. investments in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

In Addis Ababa, Secretary Kerry will co-convene the Fourth Session of the U.S.-AU High-Level Dialogue and discuss a range of issues on which we partner with the African Union (AU). Secretary Kerry will meet with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom to discuss efforts to advance peace and democracy in the region, and strengthen important areas of bilateral cooperation with Ethiopia.

In Kinshasa, Secretary Kerry will meet with President Joseph Kabila and will discuss how the D.R.C. Government’s progress in neutralizing some of the dozens of dangerous armed groups that victimize the Congolese people can be consolidated and how to best advance the D.R.C.’s democratization and long-term stability, including through a timely and transparent electoral process.

In Luanda, Secretary Kerry will commend President José Eduardo dos Santos for Angola’s leadership of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and encourage the President’s continued personal engagement in the Great Lakes peace process. The Secretary will also discuss bilateral policy and trade issues with Foreign Minister Chikoti.

Secretary Kerry will also be accompanied by Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the Democratic Republic of the Congo Russell Feingold, Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth, and Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issue Catherine Russell.

Follow Secretary Kerry’s travel via @JohnKerry, @StateDept, and @StateDeptSpox on Twitter and go to the Department’s Flickr account for the latest trip photos. Stay connected: http://blogs.state.gov/social-feeds and keep track of all of the Secretary's travels at: http://www.state.gov/secretary/travel/index.htm


Africa: Remarks at Embassy Addis Ababa and the U.S. Mission to the African Union

Remarks at Embassy Addis Ababa and the U.S. Mission to the African Union

Remarks

John Kerry
  
Secretary of State
Patricia M. Haslach
  
Ambassador to Ethiopia

Embassy Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
May 1, 2014


AMBASSADOR HASLACH: Salam’no. I’d like to welcome you all today. Thanks for coming in.

We’d like to welcome Secretary Kerry back to our Embassy here. Secretary, about a week ago we had an awards ceremony here for all of our employees and that we were all honored by all the great work that everyone here does and now we’re doubly honored to have you here with us today.

SECRETARY KERRY: Wow. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, Ambassador. Thank you very much Ambassador Haslach. Thank you for all that you do.

I remember very well presenting the award to the marathon winner, Desisa, when I was here last time and he, rather remarkably, gave his marathon medal to me to take back to Boston, and it was really an enormous gesture of friendship and very, very well received. Everybody back in Boston was very excited.

This year, nothing negative to anybody in Ethiopia, but an American won the Boston Marathon. (Applause.) So, anyway. Pretty remarkable, though I might add of Kenyan descent. So I don’t know what it is. We’ve got to, I think, somehow get people running more or something like that.

Anyway, it’s great to be here with everybody. I just had the privilege of meeting two people – Ms. Mezegebua Tadesse – where is she? Here somewhere. She’s FSN – Foreign Service National award winner of the year. And with her also, Ephrem Girma, who has been the transportation division and helps to arrange the movement of all the vehicles. So why doesn’t everybody say “thank you” to our two Foreign Service nationals again? Well, probably – (Applause.)

You already did that, right, when they were awarded? But anyway. But I’m the Secretary of State and I get to come here and do that at least once anyway. And pleasure to do so.

I’m delighted to be here with your terrific ambassador. Patricia is a pro and she’s been in many, many spots and earned her spurs, and I think you have great leadership here. And the all-star DCM Molly Phee to support the efforts. And I’m honored to be here with all of you again. This is like old home week for me here now. Start doing this regularly, in Addis Ababa.

But I just came from a good meeting at the AU. I want to pay tribute to Reuben Brigety and the AU team here. This is sort of one team/two missions, and I appreciate that slogan and I appreciate all that it imparts in terms of what goes on here.

This is a critical time and I mentioned that just now in my comments as we open the dialogue – the High-Level Dialogue between us and the AU. Africa is on the move, but there’s also a lot of challenge. Eight of the ten fastest growing countries in the world are in Africa, and at the same time, some very persistent, dangerous conflicts – one right next door – are threatening to pull at least some countries back into an era that we really had hoped we had left behind.

So we have some serious challenges right now to try to mobilize a sufficient international sanctioned force of African Union, principally, countries that are able to go in and try to make peace and keep people from engaging in this unbelievably dangerous downward ethnic, sectarian spiral that winds up with literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people paying a price. Here is Addis Ababa, you all are on the cutting edge of that because this is the home of the AU, and also because Ethiopia plays such an essential role – a key role, a leadership role – and we’re very, very grateful for that.

I knew former Prime Minister Meles when I first became involved with the issue of Sudan a number of years ago, met with him here and talked with him frequently. And now I talk to Prime Minister Hailemariam likewise, and the – Foreign Minister Tedros as we try to navigate our way to try to help resolve that issue. But in every respect, this post where you have some two hundred-plus direct hire members of the Embassy team and the various teams that come with it – Defense Department, Justice Department, Agriculture Department, USAID, and so forth – also with our thousand or so foreign nationals who help us here, and I want to particularly say thank you to you. We’ll all – the foreign nationals who are here – I know this is a holiday even. So I’m – I don’t know if you’re crazy or I’m particularly grateful – (laughter) – but I want to thank you for being here today. (Applause.) Thank you.

It means a lot to me that you came in here today, I really mean that, so that I have an opportunity to say thank you to you. But I’ve also got something special for you. Since it’s a holiday, I’m going to make you feel really good. All of the Foreign Service nationals are about to get a 45[1] percent pay increase. (Cheers and applause.) And I want you to know – (applause) – it’s long overdue. You deserve it, and I want to note that the biggest applause of the day was for you getting your money, I don’t know. (Laughter.) Go figure. (Laughter.)

Everybody else, you will get a much smaller pay increase. (Laughter.) I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is. But at least it’s moving in a better direction than it has been in the last years, and I’m happy for all of you for that, that – it’s very important.

So look, very, very short message to everybody here. We are unbelievably grateful to you for what you’re doing. I personally as Secretary can’t thank you enough for the time you put in to carry the message of our country, but I’m happy to say I think it’s a universal message about the rights of people to be free, about democracy, about the ability for people to be able to choose their government and not be oppressed when they speak out or say something.

We still have some work to do here with respect to political inclusivity and liberty and freedom, and we’ll work at it steadily. We will never stop working at that. But all of you who are Americans are the face of America, and those of you who are foreign nationals – not just of here, but maybe of somewhere else – you have freely chosen to help us carry this message about health care, about education, about job opportunities, about the ability to be free from oppression, and to speak out and speak your mind. This is not an easy task, and so I just want to say a profound thank you to all of you for being willing to undertake that. It is always – got its challenges, as we all know.

This is a time here in Africa where there are a number of different cross-currents of modernity that are coming together to make things even more challenging. Some people believe that people ought to be able to only do what they say they ought to do, or to believe what they say they ought to believe, or live by their interpretation of something that was written down a thousand plus, two thousand years ago. That’s not the way I think most people want to live.

And so we’re engaged in a long-term challenge, a long-term investment. There is a saying in Africa that if you want to go somewhere quickly, go alone, but if you want to go somewhere far, go together. That’s what we’re trying to do here. That’s what we will work to do with AU, with partner countries, with our friends around the planet, all of whom have a vision for a world that can be more stable, and for a place that can welcome everybody with a sense of tolerance and understanding, that we have learned too many ways through horrible circumstances, when we don’t honor that, bad things happen.

So thank you to every single one of you for being part of this incredible embassy effort. Thank you, ambassador, for your leadership. And I look forward – I’m sure I’ll see you again when I come through here sometime in the future. Can’t guarantee you there’ll be a 45[2] percent pay increase that time, but please be nice to me anyway. Thank you. (Applause.)

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[1] 42 percent

[2] 42 percent


Africa: Remarks at the U.S.-African Union High-Level Dialogue

Remarks at the U.S.-African Union High-Level Dialogue

Remarks

John Kerry
Secretary of State

African Union Commission
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
May 1, 2014


Well, Mr. Deputy Chairperson, thank you very, very much. Thank you. First of all, we do feel at home. We’re very grateful to you for another generous welcome. We’re happy to be here. I’m personally happy to be back. And I appreciate the detail and breadth of your opening comments, and they’re very important, particularly your discussion about trade and the possibilities with respect to the meeting in Washington and beyond.

Please extend my best wishes to Chairperson Dlamini-Zuma. I know she’s off on another visit. And we both understood that we were not able to coordinate our schedules sufficiently this time, but I’m very appreciative to her for being willing to allow the meeting to go on, and we’re appreciative for your chairmanship and participation in the meeting. And after I have a chance to share a few comments here and we’ve opened up the meeting, as you know, our Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield will continue the dialogue with Ambassador Brigety, and we’ve very appreciative for both of their leadership on these issues.

My privilege is to join you in opening the fourth U.S.-AU High-Level Dialogue. And very simply, President Obama is excited that I am here on his behalf, together with our delegation, in order to build on what we have achieved together since the United States first launched our mission to the AU in 2006. I would note that the United States is the only AU partner with a permanent presence. And we hope that that underscores the importance that we place on the relationship.

It’s fair to say – and I think your comments sort of summarized it when you talked about the reduction in trade to some degree. When you combine that with other challenges throughout Africa, particularly the challenge of governance; some failed states, some failing; the challenge of violence, which we see in obviously the neighbor in South Sudan and in other places, is a challenge for all of us. Because those who challenge stability and peace and the structure of government are doing so by promoting a brand of lawlessness and extremism that is destructive to the democratic hopes and aspirations of the vast majority of people in Africa. So we need to work together.

We also know, in addition to the challenges of that side of the ledger, on the other side of the ledger you have an enormous growth in the population of young people, who need to be educated, who will need jobs in the future. And at the same time, Africa is home to eight of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world. The United States is the largest market in the world, and we think there is a lot more that we can do together to promote prosperity, shared prosperity, in keeping with our shared interests. Doing so is going to be critical to making the most of the economic opportunities. It’s also going to be critical to dealing with this challenge of violence and of young people. I think you know, Mr. Deputy Chair, that there are too many nations that risk falling into broad-based violence, or remain embroiled in too much bloodshed. And so we are very, very supportive.

This morning I had a discussion with our foreign minister friends from Kenya, and from Uganda, and here, our host. And we talked about this, about the challenge of South Sudan now. The United States, I want everybody to understand, fully supports African-led efforts to confront the most deadly conflicts of the continent. And it is clear that the unspeakable violence in Central African Republic, the deliberate killing of civilians on both sides in South Sudan – both of those underscore the urgency of the work that we have to do together. So I came here committed today to make clear to you, and to our colleagues who are working on this issue, that the United States will do everything we can, with the United Nations to support the effort, to bring and help in assisting with a peacekeeping force – peacemaking force, in some cases – and we think that this is absolutely critical.

We are also enormously encouraged by the remarkable economic activity, the rise of the economies that we see in parts of Africa. And we want to support your efforts to spread that prosperity, to make sure that everybody has a sense that they can share in the future. So a lot of this is going to depend on the decisions that we take. It’ll depend on the kinds of things that we’re going to dig into today in this dialogue. It will depend on real, concrete choices that we can make about how we could work together and proceed together. So I think this forum is really a vital opportunity to deepen our partnership and make the most of this particular moment of opportunity on the continent.

Now each of our key areas of success – of focus – peace and security; democracy and governance; economic growth, trade, and investment; and development and opportunity – each of these are critical parts of President Obama’s strategy for the sub-Saharan Africa. That is exactly the way he is looking at and trying to break up the choices that we’re making. They happen to also represent an area where the African Union has already taken a leading role. And so on each of these fronts, you are really already engaged in the business of developing solutions to the real concerns of the continent.

With the dialogue that we’re having here – and you mentioned it – we also have this important meeting. The President is inviting all African nations to come and join us in Washington. It’s not a – I want to emphasize it’s not a summons. It’s not some kind of a sort of summary invitation. It’s really representative of the President’s desire to make clear to the world, as well as to Africa, that we want Washington to focus more on this. And we believe that by inviting people to come to Washington, it will help the Congress of the United States. It will help the American people. It will help everybody to be able to share in the importance of this agenda.

So with our work over the next few days here, with our work together in the weeks and months ahead, we are absolutely committed to forging stronger ties on the continent. And the President, as you know, will be visiting. And he looks forward to that, as we look forward in the two and three-quarter years of his Administration, to strengthen these bonds and open up these opportunities to the greatest degree possible. Most importantly, the President and I and all of us in this delegation want to help forge a shared future, a sense of shared engagement, of shared commitment to making the choices we have to make. And in the end, we’re absolutely confident that the relationship between Africa and the United States will be stronger and better for that. So thank you for inviting me here today to share in this, and we look forward to the dialogue.


Africa: Press Availability in Addis Ababa

Press Availability in Addis Ababa

Press Availability

John Kerry
Secretary of State

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
May 1, 2014


SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I’m really pleased to be back in Africa and to be back in Addis Ababa, a city of enormous energy, and in a country that is really changing and on the move. I had a series of very productive meetings this morning with my foreign minister counterparts and African Union counterparts, and also have just concluded a meeting with Prime Minister Hailemariam.

I think it’s fair to say that Ethiopia, in terms of its economy and in other ways, is really on the move, and it is a place that is generating enormous energy. All you have to do is drive through Addis, as I have several times in the last hours, and you see the economic activity, you can see the numbers of cranes and construction that is taking place, and it provides a snapshot of the country’s rapid development. It is no wonder that Ethiopia is one of the eight African economies that is one of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world.

The United States remains committed to supporting Ethiopia’s growing prosperity, and we do that because strong commercial ties and this rate of development are critical to having shared prosperity, critical to providing opportunity to the broad population, and they also – it helps to provide stability and helps to provide the capacity for Ethiopia to be able to lead in some of the other initiatives that are so critical to stability in the region.

We want to say a special word of commendation to Ethiopia and its leaders for the work that they have done along with AU partners in addressing some of the continent’s most difficult problems. As part of the UN’s AU mission in Somalia, Ethiopia has helped to liberate towns from al-Shabaab, and they are working diligently to promote reconciliation. They’ve been a key partner in that effort.

In addition, Ethiopia is also taking a leadership role with respect to IGAD and the efforts to try to resolve the killing and the impending potential of enormous famine and devastation in South Sudan. The unspeakable violence of Sudan really makes the urgency of these kinds of efforts painfully clear. I thank the Prime Minister Hailemariam for the service of Ethiopian troops in Abyei and Darfur, and for working so hard to facilitate a dialogue between the government and rebel forces. That is something we are continuing to work on even right now and in the next few days.

Acts of violence against civilians on both sides in South Sudan are a reminder of the unbelievable capacity for cruelty on this planet when sectarianism, when violence of one tribe or one race against another, is unleashed. We have, all of us, vowed to try to do our best to prevent that kind of violence. And this is precisely the kind of violence that the people of South Sudan fought so hard for so long to try to escape. And the United States and other countries were all deeply involved in the effort to try to help make that happen with the comprehensive peace agreement, with the referendum, with the ultimate independence of the nation. Both President Kiir and Riek Machar need to, each of them, condemn the brutal attacks that are taking place against innocent people, and they need to condemn the perpetrators of this violence. Leadership is needed.

Yesterday, the United Nations commissioner was here, spoke out about the potential of famine. I would echo those warnings, but more so I would even go further and underscore that a kind of personal violence, a personal anger between two leaders should never be permitted to take an entire nation in the direction that South Sudan is currently spiraling downwards.

Those leaders need to do more to facilitate the work of those people who are trying to provide humanitarian assistance, which was part of the agreement back in January – that that assistance should be able to get in. And clearly, we all have a responsibility, whether we live in Africa or come from another country, no matter what our concerns on the planet today, we need to try to prevent the widespread famine that could conceivably flow from the violence that is taking place there now.

Those who are responsible for targeted killings based on ethnicity or nationality have to be brought to justice. And we are actively considering sanctions against those who commit human rights violations and obstruct humanitarian assistance. And we discussed this this morning with each of the foreign ministers and with the AU, and the foreign ministers each agreed that it is important that sanctions be on the table as one of the tools to try to end the impunity and begin to create accountability.

Today’s U.S.-AU High-Level Dialogue helped to deepen our partnership and will help to deepen it going forward in coordination with our efforts to tackle some of the continent’s most challenging conflicts. The United States is very, very proud to work with the AU in this effort, and we will continue to support the African Union mission in Somalia, as well as the AU’s efforts to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army, where the LRA-related deaths have declined by 75 percent. That is an effort that we will also continue.

We will also continue to provide counterterrorism assistance to help Nigerian authorities to develop a comprehensive approach to combat Boko Haram, while at the same time respecting civilians and respecting human rights.

And finally, as Ethiopia works to confront the continent’s challenges, I made clear to Ethiopian officials that they need to create greater opportunities for citizens to be able to engage with their fellow citizens and with their government by opening up more space for civil society. I shared my concerns about a young Ethiopian blogger that I met last year, Natnail Feleke, who, with eight of his peers, had been imprisoned. And I firmly believe that the work of journalists, whether it’s print journalists or in the internet or media of other kinds, it makes societies stronger, makes them more vibrant, and ultimately provides greater stability and greater voice to democracy. To support economic growth for the long term, the free marketplace of ideas matters just as much as free markets. It’s a testament to the strength of our friendship with Ethiopia that we can discuss difficult issues, as we do, even when we disagree on one aspect of them or another.

The United States and Ethiopia will continue to work together for a more prosperous Africa where extremism is countered by opportunity and where private sector investment and trade agreements prove that the lives of the African people will be made better through those initiatives; where we will strengthen, broadly, surrounding economies, including the American economy, even as we engage in those efforts.

So we remain committed to our partnership with Ethiopia, with the AU, with Africa, and again, I say it’s a great privilege for me to be back here in a region where we have been considerably – where we have been expending a considerable effort and energy over these years, and where we will continue to stay engaged.

I’d be delighted to answer a few questions. I’m not sure how that’s – are you going to do that?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I’ll follow up for you. The first question will be from Scott Stearns of VOA.

SECRETARY KERRY: Make sure we get some local.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, on the issue of South Sudan, with what’s going on there and what can be done about it, with civilians being targeted based on their ethnicity, United Nations says the international community must take all possible measures to protect populations from another Rwanda. Does South Sudan approach genocide, and what can be done about it? Troops and sanctions, those seem to be the two things you’ve been discussing today. How can you help integrate AU troops into a UN operation in South Sudan so you don’t have two lines of security?

And on sanctions, United States has a mechanism in place, as you said, so why not on your own or on U.S. own, sanction Salva Kiir and Riek Machar today, if you are reflecting on their personal anger? And did you receive any word of cooperation from the Kenyans, the Ugandans, and the Ethiopians today that they would join you in those sanctions?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me answer it. With respect to the question of genocide, there are very disturbing leading indicators of the kind of ethnic tribal targeted nationalistic killings taking place that raise serious questions, and were they to continue in the way that they have been going could really present a very serious challenge to the international community with respect to the question of genocide. It is our hope that that can be avoided. It is our hope that in these next days, literally, we can move more rapidly to put people on the ground who could begin to make a difference.

Now you said, you asked about the question of both troops and sanctions as being the two tools – there’s a third tool, and I’ll talk about each of the tools. We still hope that visits with serious discussion, with clear implications to the leadership about what is at stake and what the repercussions may be if they do not begin to move in a different direction, that that kind of effort might be able to make a difference. No promises – might.

This has been very frustrating. I had many conversations with both Riek Machar and President Kiir during the period of December and January when this was spinning up into the conflict it is today, and I was frankly disappointed by both individuals’ responses at that period in time. Now since then there have been many interlocutors and many efforts. The IGAD effort, which we’ve been engaged in, UN, other high level visits, and we are very hopeful that the message is finally getting through.

President Kiir, as you know, released four remaining detainees in the last days. We are hoping that that now opens up the possibility of a mediation and dialogue that could take place anywhere in the next few days, and that that could have an impact on the outcome.

But with respect to the fundamentals, I remain convinced and each of my foreign minister counterparts today – from Uganda, from Kenya, and from here in Ethiopia – agreed that the greatest single difference will be moving rapidly with UN Security Council imprimatur of support to get forces on the ground who could begin to separate people and provide safety and security. That’s imperative.

Simultaneously, we believe that the possibility of sanctions also remains a reality, and the simple answer to your question is we are absolutely prepared to move on our own. We may well move on our own. But each of the foreign ministers today accepted the responsibility for also doing sanctions, and each agreed that it is, in fact, important that the regional players engage in that – in unison, together, and I believe that they will be considering that over the course of these next days also.

So it’s our hope that we can reach the different individuals who have been responsible for this violence. Some of it, I think you all know, it comes from certain independent generals who have their own agenda. And so it’s not just reaching Kiir and Machar, it’s also reaching those other players. But the place to start is the place where it started and that is with the former vice president, with the current president of South Sudan.

I will also draw a distinction. The current president of South Sudan is the elected, constitutional president of a country, and Mr. Machar is a rebel who is trying to unconstitutionally take power by force. And there is a clear distinction. There is no equivalency between the two as far as we are concerned. And we talked about that today, and I think Mr. Machar needs to think clearly about that, particularly in the wake of Bentiu and Bor, and what the implications may be for the future.

So this is a time to get even more serious, even more focused; there’s much greater urgency, and that’s why I’m here and that’s what President Obama wants all of us to try to do in these next days.

MS. PSAKI: The next question is from Brooke Worku from Ethiopian TV.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. You mentioned earlier that you have talked with the prime minister of Ethiopia. What were the issues that you discussed with the prime minister? And you also stated that there is lots of economic activity happening in the city. Will the U.S. provide any support to Ethiopia to further (inaudible) those economic activities? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the United States is already providing – we’re investing hundreds of millions of dollars here in Ethiopia, and we’ve been deeply involved. This morning I visited the Gandhi Memorial Hospital where we have a major division of the hospital, which is dedicated to dealing with HIV/AIDS, and that has been an enormously successful program. As I said today, in 2004, there were 35 – there were about what – 15,000 young people receiving anti-retroviral drugs here in Ethiopia. Now there are 335,000. In 2004, there were 2.7 million people who were infected with HIV/AIDS. Now that’s been cut by more than a third and it’s going downwards. Now we are looking at the potential of children whose parents are HIV-positive, that these – that the children can be born HIV-free. So we’ve made enormous advances, and that’s an American-Ethiopian cooperative effort through PEPFAR. In addition, we are engaged in economic development initiatives, and we will continue to do so.

We discussed all issues today, a broad cross-section of issues about the region, about the AU, about Ethiopia, about South Sudan, about Somalia, about terrorism. And I think we had a very in-depth discussion including about the question of the constitution and the political playing field, the elections that will come up next year, and so forth.

MS. PSAKI: The next question will be from Anne Gearan of The Washington Post.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, your end-of-April deadline for an Israeli-Palestinian outline peace deal has passed and talks, I guess, are at best now on hiatus. In hindsight, would you have done anything differently, and do you think the parties were simply not ready to make the hard choices you asked of them? And looking forward, is now the time to put a comprehensive American peace plan on the table in lieu of a negotiated one that didn’t come to pass over the last nine months?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Anne, let me just say first of all that, to begin with, the date of April 29th became irrelevant several weeks ago. And it became completely irrelevant when the talks were suspended. So the combination of the appeal to 15 different treaties when – at the time when the prisoners exchange did not take place, then combined with the reconciliation unilaterally with Hamas, which came as a complete and total unannounced event, without any heads-up, so to speak, at the moment of important negotiations, that resulted, obviously, in the suspension which we’re living with now, which is the state of play and has been for the last days.

That said, both parties still indicate that they feel it’s important to negotiate and want to find a way to negotiate. So we believe the best thing to do right now is pause, take a hard look at these things, and find out what is possible and what is not possible in the days ahead. As I have consistently said, I think peace is to the benefit of both parties – benefit of Israel, and benefit of the Palestinians. Both leaders took serious steps in order to engage in this discussion. What has not been laid out publicly and what I will do at some appropriate moment of time is make clear to everybody the progress that was made. These eight months, eight months plus were not without significant progress in certain areas. And I don’t think anybody wants to lose that progress.

So I personally remain convinced that as each sort of work through the reasons that things began to become more difficult in the final hours, there may be quiet ways within which to begin to work on next steps. But one thing I know, the fundamentals of this conflict will not go away, and importantly, I believe both parties have a very real interest in wanting to try to find a way to make progress.

So it’s time for pause, but it’s also time to be reflective about the ways in which one might be able to find a common ground even out of these difficulties.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you, everyone.

SECRETARY KERRY: Give this gentleman – I want to give him a shot.

MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead.

SECRETARY KERRY: I know he was very impatient. I’m going to —

MS. PSAKI: He’s the boss.

SECRETARY KERRY: I want to make sure we get a fair distribution here.

QUESTION: Thank you, thank you. Yeah. Well, I have only two questions for you, sir.

SECRETARY KERRY: I may have invited the hardest question of the day now. (Laughter.) But one question. Fair enough?

QUESTION: Okay.

SECRETARY KERRY: Okay.

QUESTION: So let me choose. You have raised both issues of Natnail Feleke, who is a blogger (inaudible) —

SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah.

QUESTION: — (inaudible). So these things are repeating very much from the times of Eskinder Nega and others to our young brothers. So is it lip service, or are you seriously concerned about the arrests? Because these guys are social activists using the social media, they were advocating freedom, democracy, and participation as a citizen. So we really demand a genuine answer from you. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, when I stand up in public, and I say something, I try to be serious about it, and I think the fact that I’m doing that is serious. And when I raised him by name in my comments today, I am raising a very legitimate concern. We are concerned about any imprisoned journalist here or anywhere else. And we raise this issue elsewhere. And we believe that it’s very important that the full measure of the constitution be implemented and that we shouldn’t use the Anti-Terrorism Proclamations as mechanisms to be able to curb the free exchange of ideas. And in my meetings with all public officials, I will always press the interests of the political space being opened up and being honored. And so we have previously called for the release of these individuals, and that is the policy of our government, and it’s a serious policy.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you, everyone.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all very, very much. Appreciate it. Good to be with you.