Daily Archives: May 3, 2014

Africa: Meeting With Embassy Kinshasa Staff and Families

Meeting With Embassy Kinshasa Staff and Families

Remarks

John Kerry
Secretary of State

Chief of Mission Residence
Kinshasa, Congo (Kinshasa)
May 3, 2014


I’m happy to be here. I’m really happy to be here. I have wanted to be here for a long, long time. And finally, I get to be here and I get to join a terrific ambassador, Jim Swan. He is really one of the best – where is he hiding over here? (Applause.) Get over here. All right.

And I presume – where’s Daphne Michelle Titus? I haven’t met her, but where is she sitting over here? Daphne, hello. Thank you very much. How are you? Thank you. (Applause.)

And the twins, Mitchell and Garner. Hey guys. How are you? Stand up and – nice to see you. How you doing? (Applause.) You guys having fun? I’m jealous of you. (Laughter.) Anyway – for a lot of reasons. But age can be the beginning, anyway.

It’s really fun to be here. I tell you, Jim has had an extraordinary career, as many of you know. He was desk officer when the Mobutu regime (inaudible). And he’s really knowledgeable about this region, as knowledgeable as anybody we have in the Foreign Service. He served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. He’s been on the desk. He’s been at the intelligence arena, helping to discern the future. And we couldn’t have a better ambassador. I’m really honored that you’re here. So thank you, Jim, for your latest efforts. Appreciate everything. (Applause.)

I want to take the liberty of just introducing a few folks who are here and who are very special for your efforts and our efforts here now. I’m really proud of the work that our special envoy, former Senator Russ Feingold, has done. He’s over here. He’s absolutely done a spectacular job. (Applause.) And I want to thank all of you for the support that you’ve been giving to our team. He’s been out here nine times. I know it demands everybody to sort of (inaudible), but the progress we have made and what you’ve been able to achieve is historic. It’s really significant. And I’ll say a little more about that in a minute. But I knew he was the right person for the job, and he’s grabbed the bull by the horns and he’s out there, willing to take some risks and make things happen. And that’s how you get things done in the world of diplomacy.

We’re also blessed to have a spectacular Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. I stole her. I had to twist her arm; I didn’t quite break it, but I had to twist her arm because she had one of the best jobs in the State Department, because that’s how much we all respect her. But I knew we needed somebody out here who could really make things happen, and I’m so delighted to have Linda Thomas-Greenfield here, our Assistant Secretary of State. I thank her for her efforts. (Applause.)

Now let me – this is like having a Bible tent out here. (Laughter.) You want me to preach? I’ll get going. (Laughter.) I can’t thank you enough, all of you. We have about 113 Americans out here with their families, and we have about 372 local employees. Now, I want all the local employees – raise your hand. We can’t do this without you. (Applause.) Thank you very, very much. You are essential to what we do. Thank you very much.

I really thank you for – and President Obama, the American people, we’re grateful to you for helping us to help you. And I hope you see it that way. We’re here to try to help make a difference to the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the continent of Africa, and we believe this is a moment for a new Africa. This morning in Addis Ababa, I was privileged to give a speech on the top of a hill at the botanical retreat there that the University of Addis Ababa has. It’s a green building. It’s really a marvelous building, very special place. And I talked about – the opportunity is in Africa today.

Traditionally in America, regrettably, Americans think of Africa and they too often think of the images, the distant images of war or of other challenge, of crisis, of revolution, or a famine, or it’s a place for philanthropy, or it’s a place for some sort of different distant kind of mystery or something.

The truth is that that’s all changed now. There’s an enormous amount of investment coming to Africa. Eight of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. And there’s enormous change in the mood and the sense of identity in Africa today. We believe in that. President Obama is committed in that. That’s why he is hosting the African – summit of African leaders in August. We’ll have 40-some African leaders coming to Washington. It’ll be the first time in history that that many leaders from Africa have come to Washington at one time to meet with the President of the United States. And it’s an opportunity for Americans to refocus on Africa and begin to understand what the possibilities really are.

Africa has enormous challenge – enormous resources, obviously, enormous capacity. And what we need to do now is make certain that when we can end the war with M23, when we can finish doing what we need to do with the ADF or with the FDLR, when we can begin to get the nine nations that surround the Democratic Republic – all of which are negatively affected if something bad happens here. Everybody feels it. But if we can work together, this is the heart of Africa. This is where we can make a difference to the rest of the world.

And obviously, we face a security challenge. We have people who, regrettably, have no (inaudible) whatsoever about doing anything positive, but they want to tell you how to live. And they want you only to live by their standard, by their belief. And they’re willing to engage in terrorist acts, in violence, in order to make you do that. Well, that is not what the vast majority of people in Africa or in the world, and certainly in America, believe.

So we want to work with you to help provide these unbelievable numbers of young people who are teeming with energy and ability. We need them to be able to make sure they’re educated. We need to be able to make sure the jobs are there for people. We need to develop the infrastructure, build the capacity of government. There’s a lot of work to do here in the Democratic Republic. You know that. This is a place that is coming back from difficulties of the last years. But it’s a place of enormous promise.

So I just want to tell you that for me, it is a privilege to be here. We very much look forward to working with you in so many different ways, in the days, months, and years ahead here. We have an opportunity to help complete what Russ Feingold, Mary Robinson, President Kabila, President Kagame, and President Museveni and others have all been involved in – the Kampala Accords and the declaration and the whole peace and security framework – that now needs to be implemented. That will set an example to the rest of the continent.

So right here in Kinshasa, in this embassy, you all are in the middle of making history. And I hope you feel it. I hope you feel proud of it. I hope you’re ready to tackle the difficult tasks ahead. And on behalf of the President of the United States and on behalf of all the American people, I say thank you to you, whether you are Foreign Service, civil service, whether you’re in one of the separate departments of our government and you’re here serving in the embassy as part of the team, whether you’re local employee or temporary or political appointee – every single one of you are part of a team that is going to make an historic difference to Africa and to the world. Thank you for being part of that. We appreciate it. Thank you. (Applause.)


Africa: Remarks With Democratic Republic of the Congo Foreign Minister Tshibanda Before Their Meeting

Remarks With Democratic Republic of the Congo Foreign Minister Tshibanda Before Their Meeting

Remarks

John Kerry
Secretary of State

Ndjili International Airport
Kinshasa, Congo (Kinshasa)
May 3, 2014


SECRETARY KERRY: I’m going to say, if I may – if I could have everybody’s attention just for a minute.

FOREIGN MINISTER TSHIBANDA: I’m going to speak in French.

(Via interpreter) Mr. Secretary of State, on behalf of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on behalf of the head of state and on my own personal behalf, I would like to welcome you to our country. We are very happy you have found time to come to meet us, and that is extra proof of the interest that you are showing towards the D.R.C. I do believe that during the brief time that you will spend here with us, we’ll have time to update on the various issues of interest to us both bilaterally and regionally.

SECRETARY KERRY: (In French.)

And I’m going to speak in English because I want to make a few comments regarding some other issues. But let me say what a pleasure it is for me to be in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I have wanted to be here for some period of time. As many people know, our special envoy, Senator Russ Feingold, has been here nine visits now working very hard to advance the peace process and the stability of the region. We’re very proud of the work that he has been doing and we’re very, very pleased with the leadership of President Kabila, of the accords that have been reached, and of the progress towards disarmament and reintegration and demobilization. These are critical, critical issues.

We’ll talk about those more and I will have a chance to meet with the press here so I can answer a few questions and talk about the issues here. But I would like to comment on another issue of great importance to all of us, which is what is happening in Ukraine.

Obviously, we were very pleased that the seven OSCE inspectors were released today. It’s a step. But there are many other steps that have to be taken in order to be able to de-escalate the situation. And I talked this afternoon on my way here with Foreign Minister Lavrov. We discussed those additional steps that need to be taken. And in addition to that, we also talked about the meeting between President Obama and Chancellor Merkel. And I reiterated to him their conclusion that it is important for Russia to withdraw support from the separatists and to assist in removing people from the buildings and beginning to de-escalate the situation.

The President has made clear and the chancellor has made clear that if those supported by Russia continue to interfere with the election, regrettably, there will have to be additional sanctions, including the possibility of – or the reality of sector sanctions. But Foreign Minister Lavrov and I did talk about how to proceed and perhaps how to find a way forward here. We both will be in touch with President Burkhalter of Switzerland and talk about the ability of the OSCE to play a larger role in perhaps facilitating the de-escalation. We will both advance ideas about how to do that, without any promises of what those possibilities may produce.

In the end, we reaffirmed our support for the OSCE. I made clear that it is important to implement the constitutional process and that we need to have some kind of dialogue that is taking place between the Government of Ukraine, people in the east, and those interested stakeholders in the region.

We also discussed the ongoing removal of chemical weapons from Syria. And in that regard, I press that we must see the last removal of the 8 percent remaining in a site near Damascus. We agreed that we would work on certain things to try to see if it is possible to accelerate that process with an understanding that the Government of Syria cannot delay. The regime must move immediately to prepare those remaining chemical weapons for removal, and that we need to meet that removal as fast as possible.

So that is where we stand with respect to both Syria and Ukraine, and we’ll keep you up to date as any developments occur.

QUESTION: So the release of the monitors (inaudible) Ukrainian side?

SECRETARY KERRY: No.

Thank you all very much.

Oh, I forgot, the other issue, and that is the level of violence. The United States condemns the violence that has been taking place by any side, and that includes the violence of anyone who lit a fire and caused the death of those 38 people or more in the building in Odessa. All of this violence is absolutely unacceptable, and Russia, the United States, Ukrainians, Europeans, the OSCE – all of us bear responsibility to do everything in our power to reduce the capacity of militants and extremists who are armed to be carrying out these terrorist and violent activities. They must end, and everybody with any influence on any party has an obligation to try to bring an end to this violence.

Thank you all.


Africa: Background Briefing Following the Secretary’s Visit to Ethiopia

Background Briefing Following the Secretary’s Visit to Ethiopia

Special Briefing

Senior State Department Official
En Route, Congo (Kinshasa)
May 3, 2014


SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Let me just start out with Somalia.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Yeah, I’m ready.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We had about a 45-minute meeting with Hassan Sheikh and some of his ministers from the government. Hassan Sheikh set the tone by noting that this month marked the 25th anniversary of Somalia’s collapse, that for 25 years they had not had a government, the people had not had the experience of having a government, and that they were moving forward toward elections, and that would be the first time they would have elections in about 40 years.

He noted that a lot of progress had been made, but of course, a lot of challenges remain. Seventy-five percent of the country is under the age of 30, and that’s as much a challenge as it is an opportunity. He noted the continued conflict with al-Shabaab, that they were making some progress in the fight against al-Shabaab but had not succeeded in being able to fill in some of the space once al-Shabaab had been rooted out of cities. So with the possibility of two pickup trucks and a few people, they could still continue to destabilize areas between cities.

He noted the critical need to rebuild the country, that the government is not yet able to deliver services to the people, particularly outside of Mogadishu. He noted the importance of trying to find job opportunities for the large number of young people so that they can provide alternatives to piracy and to extremism. He talked about three main priorities that he is focusing on – first, building the national army. That is something that we have been assisting them in in very, very small amounts. It has not been a huge program. And he noted how small our program was and asked if we could provide additional assistance in that area. He noted the importance of economic growth and what would be required there, and then noted that he would be focusing on state reforms – reforming the civil service, reforming government agencies in their abilities to perform.

Secretary Kerry said that he too saw that there was a lot of hope in Somalia, at least more than there’d been for the past 20 years, and that the U.S. Government will continue to support the priorities that the President laid out. He also said that we would continue to work to support AMISOM and the Somali National Army. Hassan also asked that we increase our presence in Somalia. And as you know, we do not have a permanent presence there. Our embassy team operates out of Nairobi and they go for regular visits. We have people from USAID, from the military, and others who visit and consult with the government on a regular basis, but they’re only able to stay for a few days at a time, and we have a cap on how many people we send in at any given time.

The Somali president said, when the Secretary informed him about the summit, that he looked forward to participating in the summit because he thought that Somalia was poised to gain immense benefits from the investments that we were looking at making on the continent. We both agreed on the continued importance of our partnership and in working together. There was acknowledgment that the U.S. Government is the largest bilateral donor to Somalia, and we’re the only country currently engaged on development outside of Mogadishu. So that is about the gist of it.

MODERATOR: Great.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Any questions? Yes.

QUESTION: Was there – what was the response about the request to increase training of the army? And how much are – is the U.S. spending right now to train Somalia’s army?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: How much we’re spending on —

QUESTION: Training.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I can’t give you the figure off the top of my head on what we’re spending on training, but we’re just working with them in small components on helping them respond to the al-Shabaab threat. So it’s not a large program.

QUESTION: Is the thinking behind the temporary nature of the diplomatic mission there entirely security, and what is your plan for how – for that going forward?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It is entirely security, and we do go back and forth on a regular basis, but we also have a plan to move forward in a permanent presence. That requires a lot of pre-planning and we’re in that process right now.

QUESTION: How long is it going to take —

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I can’t tell you how long it’s going to take. It’s taking too long.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that – excuse me – just to follow up on that, do you think that permanent presence is – it’s fair to say is still years off, not months? And then also, what kind of development is the United States assisting in outside Mogadishu? I find that interesting.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’m thinking months, not years for a presence. We already have a location that we have identified on the airport. The British Government just opened up an office and we’re having discussions with them about placing a person in their office. So we’re looking at months, not years.

And outside of Mogadishu, we are working on capacity-building with local governments. We have also done some work in Puntland and in Somaliland with their government as well. If you want greater detail, Linda Etim is here with us and she may be able to provide some refined detail on what AID is doing.

QUESTION: It’s mostly government-building as opposed to private investment at this point?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yes. Yeah, it’s all related to the government. Yeah.

QUESTION: A question on Congo. Are we right to think that the M23 is now primarily in Rwanda? And if so, does there have to be some sort of accommodation where the leaders of that group are returned to Congo to face some sort of justice? I would imagine the Rwandans wouldn’t – might not be looking forward to doing that.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: They’re both in Rwanda and Uganda. There are about 2,000 of them, and we’re working with the government to bring them back to D.R.C. Some of them will be reintegrated into the D.R.C. Government. A few of them – some of them will get amnesty, and others will be held accountable. And the government is working on that right now as part of their security sector reform.

QUESTION: And what are the Rwandans and the Ugandans saying? Are they on board with that?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Both are on board. Both were part of the Nairobi agreement, and they both have agreed. So they’re on board. We’ve been slow, at least the D.R.C. Government has been slow, in moving forward on implementation. They’ve speeded up that process now, and this is part of why we’re going there to encourage them to continue with the progress that they’re making.

QUESTION: Can I just ask a quick question about the Secretary’s African speech? There was just a line in there referring to the abduction of the women in Nigeria where he said the United States would do everything it could to help. Was that sort of a general – an expression of general support, or is there some concrete assistance going on? Was he referring to something specific?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: That’s a great question, and we constantly refer to them as women, but these were schoolchildren, and so they’re very, very young. And we’re very concerned about that situation; we – and have been consulting with the Nigerian Government for some time on supporting them in addressing the Boko Haram terrorist threat. Next week we will have a team going in to again consult with them on how we might be helpful. We’re already working with them in some areas and trying to do capacity-building to help them coordinate between their various security sectors. We have some experience in that having gone through our own terrorist attacks during 9/11 where we weren’t able to communicate with each other. So we want to share with them that experience and help them address some of their communication gaps, some of their inability to gather intelligence. And we’re looking at how we can be additionally supportive of that. So this is just not a line about wishful thinking; it is an effort to look very directly and positively on how we might support their efforts to address Boko Haram, but specifically to —

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It’s both AFRICOM and State Department. I went in with a team in December that included State Department, AFRICOM – USAID has been very, very involved in this area as well. So it’s a whole-of-government effort. It’s – because we don’t see this as just being a security problem that can be addressed as a security issue. There are broader issues here that need to be addressed that relate to how the government works with people in these communities. So that’s why we have USAID, we have INL looking at how we do police training, and then the State Department. Sarah Sewall, our new Under Secretary for G, Global Affairs, will also be part of the delegation because she has experience in that area.

QUESTION: Just to clarify, this is general support to the security sector, nothing – it’s not involved – it’s not technical support for this, but to help them with this particular situation?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No. We haven’t reached that point yet, but we’ll be having discussions on how we can help them.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you. A follow-up question on the D.R.C.: Will the Secretary encourage President Kabila to do more to push more in terms of demobilization and the reintegration of (inaudible) still active in eastern Congo? Because apparently there is a serious lack of money. It cost like $100 million, so is the U.S. ready to support D.R.C. for this demobilization plan? Thank you.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I can say categorically that we’re ready to support them. And it will be part of our discussions with the president to open more political space and move toward the upcoming elections more expeditiously. We are looking in our own budget for where we can provide additional funding for D.R.C. And we’ve identified some additional funding that we hope to be able to share with them.

MODERATOR: All right. (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Thank you.


Africa: Africa is on the Rise, and We Need to Help Make Sure it Continues

Africa is on the Rise, and We Need to Help Make Sure it Continues

Op-Ed

John Kerry
Secretary of State

The Washington Post
May 3, 2014


The best untold story of the last decade may be the story of Africa. Real income hasincreased more than 30 percent , reversing two decades of decline. Seven of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa, and GDP is expected to rise 6 percent per year in the next decade. HIV infections are down nearly 40 percent in sub-Saharan Africa andmalaria deaths among children have declined 50 percent . Child mortality rates are falling, and life expectancy is increasing.

This is a moment of great opportunity for Africans. It is also a moment of decision.

The choices that Africans and their leaders make will determine whether a decade of progress leads to an era of African prosperity and stability — or whether Africa falls back into the cycle of violence and weak governance that held back the promise of the continent for far too long.

The challenges are real. Bitter and bloody conflicts are embroiling South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Congo. Corruption remains rampant; the African Union reports that $148 billion is wasted through corrupt practices each year. Africa needs strong leaders and strong institutions to stand up for human rights, address discrimination against women and minorities, and remove restrictions on freedom of expression.

The United States and African nations have deep historic and economic ties. The U.S. government has invested billions of dollars in health care, leading to real progress in combating AIDS and malaria. Our security forces work with their African counterparts to fight extremism. U.S. companies are investing in Africa through trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. As a friend, the United States has a role to play in helping Africans build a better future.

Many of the choices are crystal clear. African leaders need to set aside sectarian and religious differences in favor of inclusiveness, acknowledge and advocate for the rights of women and minorities, and they must accept that sexual orientation is a private matter. They must also build on their economic progress by eliminating graft and opening markets to free trade.

The conflict and crises that have held Africa back for too long were evident Friday when I flew into Juba, the capital of South Sudan. I remember arriving in Juba in January 2011 when the people of South Sudan voted overwhelmingly for independence. Even in that moment of jubilation, the threat of ethnic violence loomed just over the horizon.

The violence turned tragically real in December when fighting broke out between forces loyal to the government and militias aligned with a rebel leader. Today we see the echoes of too many earlier conflicts: thousands of innocent people killed, both sides recruiting child soldiers and a country on the cusp of famine.

Led by the U.S. special envoy to South Sudan, Donald Booth, the United States and our partners in Africa have been trying to mediate the conflict. On Friday, when I met with President Salva Kiir, I reminded him of our conversations about his nation’s promise. I urged him to set aside old grudges and reach a settlement with the opposition before that promise is soaked in more blood.

Resolutions of age-old grievances are difficult, but they are possible. For two decades, Africa’s Great Lakes region has endured a crisis as militants and gangs have fought over mineral wealth and ethnic differences. In recent weeks, Angola has demonstrated remarkable leadership in working with other African countries and the State Department’s special envoy to the Great Lakes region, Russ Feingold, to promote a framework for peace. There is a long way to go, but the progress is real and it represents hope for the region and the continent.

Our role in Africa goes beyond security assistance. We are working to develop the prosperity that is critical to a better future. One aspect of that effort is Power Africa, a public-private partnership conceived by President Obama to pump billions of dollars into the continent’s energy sector and double the number of people with access to electricity.

And we are engaging the promise of a new generation of leaders across Africa. This summer, 500 Africans will come to the United States for the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The fellowship is part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, providing training, resources and platforms to support leadership development, promote entrepreneurship and connect leaders with one another and the United States. In August, the president will host the first summit between African and U.S. leaders.

Africa can be a beacon for the world: Dramatic transformations are possible, prosperity can replace poverty, cooperation can triumph over conflict. This is tough work, and it requires sober commitment, regional cooperation and a clear vision of a better future. The goal of a prosperous, healthy and stable continent is within reach if Africans and their leaders make the right decisions.


In Bangui, UN peacekeeping chief discusses roll-out of Central African Republic mission

The head of United Nations peacekeeping operations continued today his visit to the Central African Republic (CAR), where he met a range of stakeholders and pledged that “no effort will be spared” towards full deployment of a newly mandated 12,000-strong UN mission to help stabilize the crisis-riven country.

At a press conference earlier today in the CAR capital of Bangui, Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations, told reporters that he had headed to the country as soon as possible following the Security Council’s unanimous authorization on 10 April of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission, to be known as MINUSCA.

“I have come…to personally get a more accurate picture of the situation. To hear from the different actors and stakeholders, to be sure that we integrate all these elements in the vision we have for deployment of MINUSCA, “said Mr. Ladsous, emphasizing the Organization’s commitment to help usher the country of “this terrible crisis,” and end the suffering that has continued “far too long.”

Fighting in CAR has taken on an increasingly sectarian nature following a 2012 coup and has since grown more brutal with reports of ongoing human rights violations and reprisal attacks between largely Christian anti-balaka and mostly Muslim Séléka rebels that have displaced hundreds of thousands of people both inside and outside the country, and left 2.2 million in need of humanitarian aid.

The new UN Mission will take over the responsibilities of the African-led International Support Mission, known as MISCA, and, as from 15 September 2014, will initially comprise up to 10,000 military personnel, including 240 military observers and 200 staff officers, as well as 1,800 police personnel.

Further, the Council has requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to incorporate the presence of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) into MINUSCA and to ensure “a seamless transition” from one entity to the other.

“I think we are now in a phase where we will work hard to ramp up MINUSCA, building on the excellent work that had already been the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Gaye [in] BINUCA,” said Mr. Ladsous.

The new mission will aim to protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian access in the war-torn country, and Mr. Ladsous said the shift from a political office to a peacekeeping operation would enhance the UN capacities on the ground, including through the deployment of civilian teams, as well as military and police components.

“[MINUSCA’s aim] is therefore to create safe conditions for significant improvement in the situation. It will help restore [State authority] and its various institutions. It is also to help with a political process…and national reconciliation,” he added.

“We will spare no efforts…and I think we have the desire to work with all stakeholders in the international community, with our partners in the African Union, in the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and major regional actors, all in a unity of vision, “Mr. Ladsous declared, adding that the CAR Government must also play a key role in easing the crisis.

SOURCE: AFRICAN RENEWAL