Thursday, July 29, 2010

Statement by Secretary Clinton on Benin’s 50th Anniversary of Independence‪‪

Office of the Spokesman
July 29, 2010

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Benin on the 50th anniversary of your independence this August 1. The strong partnership between the United States and Benin is rooted in our shared respect for the fundamental principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

Benin’s vibrant democracy and stability make it an important regional ally in West Africa. We appreciate the positive role Benin has played in international mediation and peacekeeping, and we are proud to support Benin’s efforts to improve the health, education, and welfare of all its citizens. The United States will continue working with you to reduce poverty and promote broad economic growth.

On this historic occasion, I wish the people of Benin a happy Independence Day and health and prosperity for years to come.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thirty-Four African Businesswomen Attending AGOA Forum

By Charles W. Corey

Washington - Thirty-four African women entrepreneurs are participating in the 2010 U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum - better known as the AGOA Forum - and the African Women's Entrepreneurship Forum to further enhance the U.S.-Africa trade relationship by expanding their businesses and increasing economic growth in their own countries.

Four of these women - entrepreneurs from Uganda, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Botswana - talked to July 27.

Maria Odido, chief executive officer of Bee Natural Products Ltd. in Uganda, said she is currently assessing how her business could benefit under AGOA, the African Growth and Opportunity Act. "It would take me a while to access the U.S. market for several reasons," she said. "First of all, production levels are not very high, and therefore I cannot freely export to the U.S. I don't have a problem with quality, but I do have a problem with quantity."

Odido said she would like to see an expanded role for AGOA in the area of agricultural trade and in her particular business sector, which has a direct link to food security. Odido called small businesses like hers, known as SMEs for "small and medium-sized enterprises," "the backbone of the economy, because a lot of times they employ the unemployable. They are underfunded and not properly recognized, but they still exist and continue to exist alongside major multinationals. What I would like to see is recognition of the value that SMEs play in Africa, just as developed countries have recognized the role of SMEs in their countries and used them to strengthen their economies. That has not become a reality in Africa."

Whatever else is done, she said, "more attention needs to be directed at SMEs."

Her business employs 42 people and is the biggest honey and beeswax producer in Uganda and second largest in Kenya, Odido said. She hopes to begin exporting to three other East African countries soon, and stresses the importance of greater intra-Africa trade.

"While it is fantastic to romanticize about trading with the rest of the world," Odido said, "if we cannot have intra-Africa trade, intra-regional trade, then how are we going to understand international trade? Africa is composed of small SMEs and is the small SMEs that make up the backbone of African trade."

Not only do African countries need to drop their tariffs to stimulate trade among themselves, she said, "but regional bodies in Africa need to understand the realities on the ground and break the barriers both on the ground and not on paper."

"Right now we have governments in Africa who talk in the air, but whatever they talk ... is not translated on the ground. The bureaucrats, the technocrats on the ground cannot implement the visions of the heads of state and all the rectifications that have been made through the year," she said.

Odido suggested five ways to improve intra-Africa trade:

. Africans need first to understand each other and have pride in the products that are produced in Africa.

. African products must be of the highest quality and up to worldwide standards.

. Regional taxes must be uniform and forward-looking for the future.

. Individual border inspections should be removed and each African country that trades within a regional group should have confidence in the revenue and inspection standards for the group.

. Infrastructure must be developed to allow for the smooth flow of regional trade. "That is where the governments must play a leading role to ensure that we are able to continue doing business, so that we can play our part and the governments can play their part," Odido said.

Caroline Jose Ernestine Sack Ep Kendem, general manager and founder of Ken Atlantic, a clothing manufacturer in Cameroon, is in the United States to gain access to the U.S. market under the AGOA trade preference program.

Her company, which produces swimwear for export to Europe, wants to export work uniforms to the United States and has a contract with U.S. pharmacy chain CVS Caremark.

"I really hope to expand my business network" at AGOA, she said. Factors facing African businesses wanting to trade with the United States are many, she said, including high transportation costs (up to 45 days to ship from Cameroon to the United States) and the need for improved banking networks to facilitate business." It is a big issue," she said, talking of the shipping conundrum. "We have one ship a week" visiting Douala.

Kendem said her items can be cost effective and she hopes to expand from 110 to 800 employees if she secures additional U.S. contracts. "This is my goal for this year. So I need to meet some partners."

Nigest Haile Goshu, founder and executive director of the Center for African Women Economic Empowerment, an indigenous nongovernmental organization (NGO) based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, says her organization is working closely with the U.S. embassy and AGOA specialists to try to take advantage of the trade preference program, especially in the area of handicrafts and traditional weavings for home décor, as well as in textiles, leather and flowers.

The level of interest among Ethiopian women who are hoping to export under AGOA is very high, she said. Experienced businesswomen are working as mentors and role models, sharing their "best practices" with other businesswomen in an attempt to help them prosper under AGOA.

Helping women in business helps the local community, Goshu said. "Empowering women empowers the family. Empowering women is empowering a community and then empowering a nation. When you empower a woman and empower a man, you can see the difference. Whatever profit and benefit the woman is getting, she is investing that in her children, and she is investing in the home, better education for her children, better food, and better nutrition. So there is a great difference."

Chigedze Virginia Chinyepi, managing director of Tjina Njando Crafts of Botswana, is in the United States seeking customers for her company's handicraft products, which include custom decorative baskets. She has already exported her products on a small scale to the United States and displayed them at the prestigious Santa Fe Folk Art Market in New Mexico and the Los Angeles International Gift Show. "The goal we want is to secure permanent buyers," she said, much like the basket producers of Rwanda have done with the large retailer Macy's.

U.S. imports from sub-Saharan Africa increased by 78 percent to $26.6 billion in the first five months of 2010. Imports under AGOA increased 74 percent to $18.8 billion during this period. AGOA non-oil products included vehicles and parts, apparel, jewelry, fruits and vegetables, wines, nuts, spices, baskets, cocoa powder, cocoa paste and seafood.

Source: U.S. Department of State

AGOA Forum Highlights "New Strategies for a Changing World"

By Charles W. Corey

Washington - The ninth annual United States-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, better known as the AGOA Forum, includes two new elements this year. When its ministerial session opens in Washington August 2, the forum will host a delegation of 34 African women entrepreneurs and convene a segment of the conference on agribusiness in Kansas City, Missouri.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs William Fitzgerald sat down with to preview the event, which has as its theme "AGOA at 10: New Strategies for a Changing World."

Fitzgerald said the August 2-3 session will be the usual type of AGOA meeting where ministers meet with U.S. officials to discuss agriculture, competitiveness, health and how to boost U.S.-Africa trade. "It will focus mainly on the policies related to trade," he said.

On August 4, the venue will move to America's heartland - the Midwestern city of Kansas City. "The goal behind going out to Kansas City is to have businesspeople talk to businesspeople," Fitzgerald said. "We have the trade policy experts here in Washington talking about trade and then move to focus in Kansas City to where it all comes together. ... The U.S. government will bring them together and then get out of the way and let the free market do the rest."

"Most experts agree that for African economic growth to increase, they have got to step up in the agricultural field. Kansas City is a big agribusiness hub" for the United States, Fitzgerald said.

The Kansas City Board of Trade, which the delegates will visit, is where agricultural goods are traded, he explained.

"At this point we have more than 60 African businesspeople coming to Kansas City plus the 34 women entrepreneurs who will participate, with an equal if not greater number of American businesspeople."

African participants will spend two days there, meeting American business representatives ranging from farm-equipment producers to seed developers and sellers. They will also visit a local farm to see how technology has radically transformed the American farm, Fitzgerald said.

While subsistence farming will continue in Africa, he said, there is also an effort to promote larger commercial farming. Business delegates will visit a coffee roaster in Kansas City. "As you know, Kenya, Ethiopia and other African countries have taken advantage of shipping their arabica beans to the United States," he said.

Focusing on the 34 women African entrepreneurs, Fitzgerald said, "There are a growing number of African women who are getting involved in business," from soft drinks to banking to agriculture and trading.

"Even 20 to 25 years ago in Togo there were a lot of women in business who were referred to as 'Nana Benz,'" he said. They gained that moniker, he said, because many drove Mercedes Benz automobiles after becoming wealthy selling fabric throughout the African continent.

"Women must have the opportunity just as much as the men do" to enter and prosper in business, Fitzgerald said. "These entrepreneurs are the ones who are going to drive job growth and economic development, just as small and medium-sized enterprises have done in the United States."

AGOA has been a success as a trade preference program, but could be an even greater success if small and medium-sized businesses on both sides of the Atlantic become more involved under AGOA, Fitzgerald said.

Presently, oil and minerals make up some 95 percent of all imports to the United States from Africa under AGOA.

"Frankly, manufacturing, agriculture and other fields should make up a greater part of AGOA, so the U.S. government is devoting resources to capacity-building for the small-scale entrepreneur to be able to ramp-up and take greater advantage of AGOA," Fitzgerald said.

To do this, he stressed, "Africans must free up their market economies. The regulatory frameworks and structural impediments seem to grow every year."

"When we look at the sub-regional level, we have been impressed with the East African Community's progress. They recently signed the latest common market agreement that will allow workers to secure employment regardless of their nationality," Fitzgerald said.

"Exports need to start within the countries themselves, within Africa. It will give them the experience in developing markets, creating quality goods and turning a profit. The East African Community gets it."

"The Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] gets it too and has approved a number of economic and commercial agreements, but they have not implemented many of them."

Since 2006, Fitzgerald said, the U.S. government has offered commercial assistance to another sub-regional economic group, COMESA, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and trade has increased 109 percent within that community. With U.S. technical assistance, the Kenyan port of Mombasa has streamlined operations, and the time to clear a container has dropped from 12 days to six.

Looking to the future, Fitzgerald said, the Obama administration clearly embraces the importance of entrepreneurship, having recently sponsored an international entrepreneurship conference ( ) in Washington.

Entrepreneurs are the engines and catalysts for growth, he said. For them to prosper, they need an open business environment free of bureaucracy and too many governmental regulations.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Briefing by Ambassador Carson on African Union Summit

Office of the Spokesman
July 27, 2010


Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson and U.S. Ambassador to the African Union Michael Battle On the African Union Summit

Via Teleconference

OPERATOR: Welcome and thank you for standing by. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode until the question-and-answer session. Today's conference call is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time. I'd like to turn the conference over to Ms. Cheryl Benton. Ma'am, you may begin.

MS. BENTON: All right. Thank you very much, Laurie, and thank you, everyone for joining us here in Kampala for a briefing by Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of the Africa Bureau, and also by Ambassador Michael Battle, who is the Ambassador to the African Union. He took up his post in September of 2009 and is headquartered in Addis Ababa.

So the protocol for today's call is that Ambassador Carson will make an opening statement followed by Ambassador Battle, and then we will be able to open the lines for questions - for a question-and-answering session. So without further ado, we have Ambassador Johnnie Carson.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Thank you very much to those of you who are on the line. I have been in Kampala, Uganda for the past four days with Ambassador Michael Battle, our U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, and also with Scott Gration, the President's Special Representative and Envoy for the Sudan. We were joined here and led here for approximately 36 hours by the Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder, who gave one of the opening speeches at the heads of summit session of the African Union.

This is the half-yearly meeting of the African Union and it was an opportunity for the United States to come to Uganda to participate in the African Union meetings with a very timely and appropriate speech by the Attorney General. As many of you know, two Sundays and two days ago on July 11th, Kampala, the peace of - and tranquility of Kampala was disturbed by two suicide bombers who set off explosives at the end of the World Cup activities here, the World Cup activities that were being shown here - into the news.

So we thought it was extremely important and very appropriate for the Attorney General to come here to make remarks, which he did, expressing the condolence of the United States Government on the unfortunate bombing incident that occurred here, and to also reaffirm our solidarity with the Ugandans and with the AMISOM peace effort that they - AMISOM peacekeeping effort that they lead in Somalia.

But more importantly, our visit here was an opportunity to underscore the importance that we attach to the work of the African Union. We believe that the African Union is establishing both principles and programs that are making Africa and the work of African governments and African organizations increasingly more important globally, but increasingly more important around the continent. We think that the African Union is increasingly more sophisticated and more principled in its direction and leadership. We're extremely proud to be associated with the work of the African Union.

I think Ambassador Battle will have more comments on that, but let me say one of the most important things that I wanted to do here was to meet with a range of African leaders and also with members of the United Nations and with the international community here who are focused on the issue of Somalia. We think that the situation in Somalia is increasingly fragile and that it needs and deserves greater attention by the international community.

Somalia is a problem that can be looked at on three different levels - a state which has imploded, which is barely functioning, which is suffering from a humanitarian crisis with tens of thousands of internally displaced people. It is also a regional problem, sending hundreds of thousands of refugees into Kenya, into Ethiopia, Djibouti, Tanzania, Uganda, and also Yemen. The country most impacted, of course, has been Kenya, which receives between five and six thousand refugees from Somalia each month. It is also a problem of illegal arms moving across the border and illegal contraband. All of these things undermine stability and undermine the economies of Somalia's regional neighbors.

But increasingly, we have seen that Somalia is an international problem which has caused a great deal of interruption on the high seas as a result of piracy. We also see Somalia increasingly becoming a place for violent extremists to operate from, as witnessed by the Kampala attacks of July 11th. We think that Somalia has been neglected by the international community and we felt that it was important to bring together, as we did a number of leaders and foreign ministers, as well as representatives of the AU, the UN, and the European Union to talk about this issue and to look at how to develop a strategy to help strengthen the Djibouti peace process and also the AMISOM peacekeeping force that is on the ground there.

Ambassador Battle?

AMBASSADOR BATTLE: I would like first to thank Assistant Secretary Carson for his comments and to also express deep appreciation for the exceptional reception given to us by Ambassador Lanier, who is the bilateral ambassador here in Uganda.

The talks with the African Union have been of great importance to the U.S., as emphasized by the fact that in April of this year, we had the first high-level conversations between 17 members of the African Union Commission staff and leadership in every area of the U.S. Government that took place in Washington, D.C. and we're very, very proud of that.

Part of what happens with the U.S. Mission to the African Union is we deal with multilateral issues - issues that affect the continent, issues that transcend national borders and have implications for continental behavior. Things that deal with peace and security occupy most of our time. The continent's economic integration is also significant. Secretary Carson has stressed a lot of emphasis on Somalia, which happens to be one of the primary focuses of the AU Summit.

There is another focus as well and that has to do with Sudan. And part of what we have been looking at is how to prepare Sudan for the referendum that will take place in July - in January of 2011. And that will make a substantive difference in terms of how Sudan will function, whether it will function as a single unitary nation or whether it will function as two separate nations. And that has occupied a lot of the attention here at the African Union.

I'm also pleased that the United States Government has already begun, since April, two major agreements. One was signed just a couple of days ago at the African Union Summit, and that is an agreement or memorandum of understanding between the Corporate Council on Africa, which deals with private business interaction and investment on the African continent, and the African Union. And in a week or so in Washington, D.C., there will be a multifaceted agreement signed between USAID and the African Union that will delineate how we will function with the African Union not only in peace and security, but also in democracy and electoral assistance, and in some health areas from a multilateral vantage point.

It is important to note that the U.S. Government spends more money on the African continent than any other nation in the world in our exceptional work that we do bilaterally and also in what we do multilaterally. Thank you.

MS. BENTON: All right, terrific. Thank you, Ambassador and Assistant Secretary Carson. Laurie, you can go ahead and open the lines up now if you'd like.

OPERATOR: Thank you very much. If you would like to ask a question, please press * then 1 on your phone. If you need to withdraw that request, you press *2. One moment please for that first question.

MS. BENTON: Thank you.

OPERATOR: And once again, to ask your audio question, please press *1 on your phone. We do have some questions coming through. One moment.

MS. BENTON: Thank you.

QUESTION: Andre LeRoux of Media 245 in --

OPERATOR: The first question is from Pieter Dester, Victoria Public Affairs. Sir, your line is open.

QUESTION: Very good. My name is Andre LeRoux of Media 24 in Johannesburg. Mr. Carson, has the temperature changed since the 11th of July in East and Central Africa as a result of the Al-Shabaab bombings in Kampala?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: I'm going to have to ask you to repeat the question if you could. I know you're from News 24, but I did not hear the question. It was garbled on our end.

QUESTION: I'll speak slowly. My question is: Has the political and security temperature changed prior - from prior to 11th of July and after that, after the bombings in Kampala?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Absolutely. I think that the bombings in Kampala on July 11th were a wake-up call for the region and also for much of the international community, which focuses on Africa. I think that the regional states now recognize that the threat emanating from Somalia is not only a concern about refugees and illegal arms, but now one of terrorism.

I think also that there are countries in the international community, including the United States, Great Britain, France, European Union, who also recognize an emerging threat. This was the first time that we have actually seen Al-Shabaab set off suicide bombs or carry out activities outside of Somalia. The temperature, the interest, the concern, has risen and the threat has risen as well.

MS. BENTON: Yes, thank you, Pieter.

Operator, do we have another question?

OPERATOR: Yes, this next question is from Andrew Quinn. Your line is open, sir.

QUESTION: Hi. Andrew Quinn from Reuters. I have just a couple of questions. The first one on Somalia for Ambassador Carson. Do you think given what you've said about the rising problems there, do you think there's a need for some sort of international conference on Somalia as we've seen with Afghanistan and Yemen, that we need to sort of broaden the number of players here, take it beyond the African continent, bring in some of the western countries for a bigger role there?

And secondly, on the African Union, are we at all disappointed in the discussion that seems to have been taking place in the African Union about enforcing the ICC warrant for Sudan's President Bashir? How do we read this? Does this mean that they're not kind of willing to take on some of their international obligations, or what should we make of that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Well, let me respond to the first question about the possible need for an international conference on Somalia. The answer is no. What we need on Somalia is political action and material support and a willingness by those who have made commitments to fulfill those commitments as promised. I think that it is absolutely clear where we should be going on Somalia. A number of international conferences have already been held. I think that it is time for the international community to act on its past promises and commitments and support the IGAD nations of the Djibouti peace process and the AMISOM mission that is on the ground.

AMBASSADOR BATTLE: With regard to your comment about the African Union's position on Bashir, it is not a new position - the African Union has articulated some hesitancy with the ICC for some time. In spite of that hesitancy, it does not then remove the U.S.'s position that when things that are done that have - are considered to be atrocious, we still hold all leaders, whether they're African or non-African leaders, to a very high standard. So the African Union's difference on opinion from the U.S. position does not deter the U.S. from its solid commitment that fair play should take place in all places of the world and people who do atrocious things should be held accountable.

But the position articulated by Jean Ping is not a new position on behalf of the African Union.

MS. BENTON: Great, thank you. Operator.

OPERATOR: This next question is from Sarah Childress of the Wall Street Journal. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi, I just wanted to ask in the conversations that you had at the summit with African Union or AMISOM officials, I wonder if you could talk about whether you discussed concerns that have emerged about civilian casualties caused by AMISOM fighting in Mogadishu. And can you talk about what came of those conversations? Is there kind of any other additional support, training, or assistance the U.S. might provide to help the AU minimize these casualties or any other action the U.S. might consider taking?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: There was discussion about the issue of civilian casualties who were - who have been, unfortunately, caught up in the conflict there. I think that the UN - the new UN Special Representative for Somalia, Ambassador Mahiga, spoke to this point on several occasions and there was a discussion. No one - no one views this as something which is desirable or acceptable. No one looks at this as intentional or a matter of AMISOM policy. Everyone agrees that everything should be done to reduce the prospects and possibilities of civilian casualties. Everyone recognizes that these sorts of things sometimes happen in conflict.

I think there was indeed discussion about how to provide the AMISOM troops with better artillery and counter-battery measures in order to reduce any prospects and possibility. We all know that there can be civilian - unfortunate civilian casualties in conflict - again, no one thinks that this is intentional, desirable, or a matter of policy.

MS. BENTON: Thank you, Assistant Secretary.

Operator, I think we're ready for our next question.

OPERATOR: And there is another question from Victoria Public Affairs. Your line is open.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)? Mr. Carson, (inaudible)? And secondly, what role do you see Africa playing in stabilizing - I mean, (inaudible)?

MS. BENTON: Sir, you were pretty garbled. Would you mind repeating your question and go a little bit more slowly? And that would be helpful to us here.

QUESTION: My name is (inaudible). I'm from the Business Day newspaper in Johannesburg. Mr. Carson, did you get the opportunity to meet with President Jacob Zuma and secondly, what role do you see South Africa playing in bringing about peace and stability in the Somali region?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: The answer is yes, I met very, very briefly with President Zuma in the presence of Attorney General Eric Holder. It was not a substantive conversation, just a friendly exchange. I did have an opportunity to step aside and speak with the South African Foreign Minister Mashabane. She participated in the small conference of states and organizations that talked about Somalia, as did several other senior South African diplomats.

It is for the South Africans to say what their role in Somalia would be or should be. I think that South Africa has a very distinguished record of support in supporting African peace initiatives around the continent, including playing key roles in settling the conflict in Burundi, both with the use of diplomatic leverage as well as South African police and peacekeepers. They have also played a positive role in helping to restore democracy and a level of stability to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Any role that South Africa chooses to play in Somalia will be greatly appreciated. It is for the South African Government to say and determine what that role will be. South Africa is one of the three or four most important countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It has great political influence. And as I've said before, any role that it chooses to play will be a positive one. It is up to the South Africans to determine what that role will be and to say it for themselves.

MS. BENTON: Thank you, Assistant Secretary. Operator?

OPERATOR: I'd like to give one more reminder to ask your questions, please press *1. There is another question in the queue and this is from Dana Hughes of ABC News. Your line is open, Dana.

QUESTION: Hi. This is Dana Hughes from ABC News in Nairobi. And I was wondering, in the discussions with the African Union about civilian casualties, are there concerns with the AU deciding to strengthen the mandate and allow the troops to be more proactive in, I guess, what they're saying is defending themselves?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: I think that we had a very good discussion about the issue of civilian casualties. It is not a matter of policy, not a matter of intention. I think that some of the tactics employed by Al-Shabaab are responsible for some of the civilian casualties that have been reported in the press. Al-Shabaab moves in and out of market areas, in and out of civilian residential areas with the clear intent of using those markets and those residential units where civilians reside as a place where they can launch their mortars and fire their weapons.

The AMISOM troops are aware of this. They are exercising precautions not to indiscriminately fire into markets and civilian areas, particularly residential areas. There is a recognition on the part of AMISOM that it needs to improve the accuracy of its counter batteries, which can be done with improved technology, and that they also need to improve the level of their intelligence collection so that they are able to act preemptively to prevent attacks or to be able to interdict those individuals who are attacking them after they have removed themselves from more populated civilian areas.

There is absolutely no question that AMISOM recognizes the dangers inherent in firing into civilian areas. It not only creates casualties, but it turns the population against them. This is, again, not a matter of policy, not a matter of intent, and AMISOM is doing everything that it possibly can to reduce civilian casualties and to be careful and - in the way that it operates on the ground.

AMBASSADOR BATTLE: One of the reasons that AMISOM has sought to move more aggressively is to make sure that it has the capacity to push Al-Shabaab further and further away from the center of the city. As Secretary Carson has indicated, one of the reasons that there have been instances of civilian casualties had to do with and continues to have to do with the tactics that are employed by Al-Shabaab in very close quartered, close proximity fighting. And by AMISOM being able to increase its numbers and to push Al-Shabaab further and further away from highly populated centers, that also will reduce, along with the technological counterbalances, the number of civilian casualties. The discussions about civilian casualties not only was a focus here, but has been a focus back at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa as well. There is a very, very high level of consciousness about trying to make sure that collateral damage is significantly reduced. And part of the acceleratio
n of a number of forces will be to achieve the kind of margin and distance between the fighting forces that we will reduce significantly those collateral damages.

MS. BENTON: Okay, Operator, I think we have time for another question. And if you have one in the queue, we're ready.

OPERATOR: At this moment, there are no further questions in the queue.

MS. BENTON: Okay. Well, first of all, I'd like to thank Assistant Secretary Carson and Ambassador Battle and thank for the press for joining us, also to just mention the Washington Press Office and the Washington D.C. Public Affairs front office for helping to coordinate this call. And thank you very much for your assistance.

OPERATOR: Ms. Benton, there did wind up being one final question from the Victoria Public Affairs. Did you want to take the time.

MS. BENTON: Sure. I'm sure that the gentlemen are happy to do that.

OPERATOR: Thank you so much, and your line is open.

QUESTION: David Smith of the Guardian newspaper from the UK. What is your assessment now of the threat posed by Al-Shabaab to the wider region? And how closely or not do you think it is connected with al-Qaida?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: The bombings in Kampala on July 11th demonstrate a growing capacity by Al-Shabaab to employ suicide bombers not only in the Mogadishu area, but some - several hundred miles away around the region. If Al-Shabaab can strike Kampala, it also is a threat to all of Somalia's regional neighbors, from Djibouti and Ethiopia and Kenya, all the way down to Tanzania. This is the first time that we have seen Shabaab use suicide tactics outside of the south central area of the country. This constitutes a threat, and I think the regional states are genuinely concerned about the capacity of Shabaab to do this, its ability to move in the region to do it and its willingness. I think it is also a wake-up call for the international community as well.

I think we all have to take this threat seriously, knowing full well that there are also in the Mogadishu area and in southern Somalia individuals who have been associated and affiliated with al-Qaida and who have also demonstrated both the will and the capacity to strike, as they did in August of 1998 against the American Embassy in both Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, and in November of 2002 when al-Qaida elements blew up the Israel-owned Paradise Hotel in Mombasa and shot MANPADS at an Israeli aircraft.

This is - the capacity of Shabaab to engage in the region is one that the African states see as a growing concern, and it is one of the reasons why they are determined to do as much as they can to help the TFG to strengthen its capacity to govern in order to stabilize the south. It is important that the TFG be strengthened, for if it is not, Shabaab will continue to emerge as a significant political threat not only in the south, but also throughout the region.

MS. BENTON: Okay, Operator, I do believe this concludes our conference call. And once again, thank you.

OPERATOR: Thank you for joining today's conference and you may disconnect.

(end transcript)

Source: U.S. Department of State

Attacks In Uganda Show Need For Stability In Somalia, U.S. Envoy Says

By Stephen Kaufman

Washington - The top U.S. envoy to Africa says the July 11 bombings in Kampala, Uganda, constitute a "wake-up call" to East African nations and the international community, warning that continued instability in Somalia now can affect that country's neighbors in the form of terrorism, as well as through continuing illegal arms smuggling and refugees.

Speaking to reporters July 27 from Kampala, where he is attending the African Union (AU) summit, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said the attacks, claimed by the Somali extremist group al-Shabaab, mark the first time that the group has used suicide bombing techniques outside of southern and central Somalia.

"This constitutes a threat, and I think the regional states are genuinely concerned about the capacity of Shabaab to do this, its ability to move in the region to do it, and its willingness," Carson said.

If al-Shabaab could strike the Ugandan capital, located several hundred kilometers away from Somalia, "it also is a threat to all of Somalia's regional neighbors, from Djibouti and Ethiopia and Kenya all the way down to Tanzania," he said.

Because al-Shabaab is affiliated with al-Qaida, the international community also has to take the threat seriously, Carson said, recalling al-Qaida's 1998 attacks against the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and its 2002 attacks against Israeli targets in Mombasa, Kenya.

In order to limit the capacity of al-Shabaab to operate in the region, Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) needs to be strengthened, Carson said. He also said the United States thinks that Somalia "has been neglected by the international community," and that American diplomats at the AU summit had taken the opportunity to raise the issue with African nations as well as the United Nations and European Union representatives to "look at how to develop a strategy to help strengthen the Djibouti peace process" and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeeping force.

"I think that it is time for the international community to act on its past promises and commitments and support the [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] nations, the Djibouti peace process and the AMISOM mission that is on the ground," he said.

According to news reports, the African Union decided July 27 to allow AMISOM to add 2,000 troops to its current 6,300-member force. The organization also decided to lift the cap that had held AMISOM to an 8,100-troop maximum.

Carson said that there had been discussion at the AU on how to provide AMISOM with better artillery and counter-battery measures in an effort to limit the prospects and possibilities of civilian casualties.

While harm to civilians is neither "desirable or acceptable," Carson said civilian casualties are sometimes an unfortunate reality of conflict.

"I think that some of the tactics employed by al-Shabaab are responsible for some of the civilian casualties that have been reported in the press," he said, particularly when the group "moves in and out of market areas, in and out of civilian residential areas with the clear intent of using those markets and those residential units where civilians reside as a place where they can launch ... mortars and fire their weapons."

The AMISOM troops are aware of this and are exercising precautions, Carson said. They are also aware of their need for more accurate weaponry, as well as better intelligence collection so that they can take preemptive action against al-Shabaab.

The U.S. ambassador to the AU, Michael Battle, added that among the summit participants there is "a very high level of consciousness about trying to make sure that collateral damage is significantly reduced."

AMISOM is trying to increase its capacity to push al-Shabaab farther away from the center of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, he said.

"By AMISOM being able to increase its numbers and to push al- Shabaab further and further away from highly populated centers, that also will reduce along with the technological counterbalances the number of civilian casualties," Battle said.

In March, Carson estimated that U.S. support for AMISOM has been "in the neighborhood of $185 million" ( ) since August or September 2008.

Carson said the United States has "supported the acquisition of nonlethal equipment to the governments of Burundi and to Uganda in particular," as well as Djibouti, ranging from communications equipment and uniforms to transportation and support for Ugandan military training of TFG forces.

Young Togolese Hopes To Gauge President Obama's Vision For Africa

By Jim Fisher-Thompson

Washington - Dede Marthe Woamede from Togo will attend the President's Forum with Young African Leaders, hosted by President Obama at the White House August 3-5, and says she hopes to gauge his vision for Africa, the continent the president has ties to because of his Kenyan father.

The first-ever such forum at the White House will bring together 120 young leaders from 17 African nations to discuss ways political and economic development can be furthered on the continent. A highlight of the gathering will be a town hall meeting with President Obama on August 3.

"By listening to President Obama face to face, I will have a deeper understanding of his vision for Africa and realize how best I and my colleagues from Togo, and in my NGO [nongovernmental organization], can work as partners to help make a better Africa," Woamede told

She added: "I personally see this as a dream come true because, as a young leader in my community, I have read, heard and learned a lot about the American way of life and winning spirit. These will be my very first steps on American soil and I will definitely take advantage in it to empower myself and be more influential in my community as a leader."

Woamede, known as "Mimi," has a master's degree from the University of Lomé and works at AfricSearch, the Togolese branch of Afrique Audit & Consulting, a firm that focuses on human resources management within a regional and local context. She is also a member of the board of the Alternative Leadership Group, an NGO that works with youths on leadership issues, and is a deputy coordinator of the Human Rights in Three Dimensions project, which involves human rights education for youth.

Echoing Obama's call for African self-reliance and anti-corruption measures in a speech he gave in Ghana in 2009, Woamede said she and her young colleagues "look as much as possible to identify African solutions for endemic issues such as poverty alleviation, support for education and development of leadership."

Most importantly, Woamede said, "I hope that the direct contact with President Obama and his administration will offer an opportunity to meet decisionmakers in the United States that will empower us and help us to implement our programs to the benefit of our populations on the ground."

"By inviting members of the next generation of decision makers in Africa to Washington, President Obama clearly demonstrates his commitment to African solutions to African problems," U.S. Ambassador to Togo Patricia Hawkins told "In too many countries we still see the same names and faces that have dominated governments for so long, pursuing the same tired policies that no longer work. It is truly time for those respected but 'old' leaders to recognize that the youth of their nations have important contributions to make and that they must be given the opportunity to participate in the political, social and economic activities of their individual nations and for the continent as a whole."

Angolan Looks Forward To Governance Tips From President Obama

By Jim Fisher-Thompson

Washington - Angolan lawyer and human rights activist Luis Kandangongo Jimbo looks forward to attending President Obama's Forum with Young African Leaders to gain tips on how to work with civil society in furthering good governance.

Jimbo is one of 120 young African leaders from 17 nations chosen by local U.S. embassies to attend the August 3-5 White House conference that includes a town hall-style meeting with President Obama, who has family roots in Kenya.

Before leaving for his first visit to the United States, Jimbo spoke with about his expectations. "I hope to gain more capacity, experience, understanding and global views about leadership initiatives from young Africans and Americans, particularly on the topics of jobs creation, entrepreneurship and advocacy," Jimbo said. "I hope to use this knowledge to promote good governance, human rights, conflict resolution and economic development in Angola."

Jimbo studied law at the Universidade Agostinho Neto in Luanda, Angola, and worked as a youth program consultant for the nongovernmental organization Search for Common Ground. For that group, he worked to engage civil society in the reconciliation process, serving as a "peace-building practitioner" among traditional authorities, provincial government officials and political party representatives across all of Angola's 18 provinces.

In 2006, he worked as a trainer for Angola's National Electoral Commission and served as a domestic observer for the elections. Recently, he joined another nongovernmental group, the Instituto Angolano de Sistemas Eleitoral e Democracia (IASED), through which he promotes youth involvement in constitutional reform and Angola's democracy. Jimbo is the organization's executive director.

Jimbo said that during discussions with President Obama, he would like to explore creating a "more permanent framework" through which networks would be established that will be creative in addressing young leadership on current and emerging issues. Such a framework, he said, would foster strong linkages between the youth and higher levels of government, and would further develop local governments' leadership capabilities. The framework also would have young people focus on the decisionmaking process for political reforms and integrate innovative academic theory and practical grass-roots initiatives to achieve a "balanced learning experience for future generations."

Jeff Hawkins, charge d'affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Luanda, told that President Obama's "emphasis on the power of youth in government and politics will provide motivation to a new generation of Africans to become active participants in their societies. This new generation can bring innovative thinking and solutions to the challenges facing Africa," he said.

Jimbo is a good example, Hawkins added. "He has distinguished himself as a leader by becoming a voice in support of civil society and the dialogue of important issues, such as democracy and constitutional reform in Angola. His work in establishing and leading IASED shows his commitment to helping Angola build networks to establish good governance, strategic leadership and public reform."

The Africa Policy Forum: A Vision For The 21st Century (Sep 22 - 25)

U.S. Attorney General Holder at African Union Summit in Kampala

U.S. Department of Justice
Remarks by Attorney General Holder at the African Union Summit
As Prepared for Delivery
Kampala, Uganda
July 25, 2010

Excellencies, Distinguished Heads of State and Government, Honorable Ministers, Leaders of the African Union, Leaders of the African Commission, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am honored to be with you all. I am grateful for this opportunity to salute, and to help strengthen, the critical work of the African Union. And I am proud to bring greetings from President Barack Obama and the American people.

President Obama recognizes the growing importance of the African Union; he understands that a stronger Africa means a stronger America; and he appreciates the work that you are leading to strengthen political and economic cooperation across this continent.

Today, I want to extend my personal thanks to Chairperson Jean Ping and the AU leadership for helping to facilitate my visit and welcoming my participation. I was pleased to receive Chairperson Ping and his delegation in Washington a few months ago, during the first high-level U.S.-AU bilateral meetings, and I look forward to continuing our discussions.

I also want to thank President Museveni and the citizens of Kampala for welcoming me to this beautiful city and for hosting this important summit.

It is fitting that we've gathered here in Uganda - the nation that has been called "the pearl of Africa" - to determine how the potential of Africa and her people might be unlocked.

In the last 30 years, the people of Uganda have made progress that, once, had seemed impossible - the restoration of law and order; the reopening of schools and colleges; and the reconstruction of government, health care, and financial systems. The fact that we are here today - and that Kampala is now a center of international politics, learning, culture, and commerce - is a testament to the strength and resilience of the Ugandan people.

This strength has never been more obvious. This resilience has never been more inspiring.

I am proud to stand with the people of Uganda - and with her partners across this continent and around the world. But I am deeply sorry that we are now bound, not only by friendship and partnership, but also by a shared loss, a shared threat, and a shared grief.

Two weeks ago today, Uganda awakened to a new danger and began a new chapter in a history that, too often, has been scarred by violence. As the World Cup's final match was being played, men, women, and children across Kampala were enjoying life's greatest blessings - the joys of friendship and fellowship. That evening, the eyes of the world were fixed upon this continent - bearing witness to historic progress, to hard-won unity and, then suddenly, to heartbreaking tragedy.

Fourteen days after bombs ripped through the Kyandondo Rugby Club and the Ethiopian Village restaurant, we now know the statistics that have been assigned to this tragedy - 74 killed, 85 wounded. But we will never be able to measure the grief, the anger, and - above all - the compassion that followed these attacks. Al-Shabaab - a terrorist group operating in Somalia with ties to al-Qaeda - has claimed responsibility for murdering and injuring these innocent victims. And its leaders have infamously described these bombings as warranted acts of vengeance. But make no mistake: these attacks were nothing more than reprehensible acts of cowardice, inspired by a radical and corrupt ideology that systematically denies human rights, devalues women and girls, and perverts the peaceful traditions and teachings of a great religion.

America is among many nations now in mourning - grieving the loss of all of those defenseless victims, including one of our own citizens, and praying for the others who were injured. My nation is also among many working to bring the perpetrators of these vicious acts to justice. To assist Uganda in its investigation, we've provided a team of FBI forensic experts and offered both technical assistance and intelligence resources.

The United States also recognizes that ending the threat of al-Shabaab to the world will take more than just law enforcement. That is why we are working closely with the AU to support the African Union's Mission in Somalia. The United States applauds the heroic contributions that are being made on a daily basis by Ugandan and Burundian troops, and we pledge to maintain our support for the AU and the AU Mission in Somalia.

As our countries work together, with the support of the international community, my hope is that we will also always remember what was irreplaceably lost here in Kampala. Individuals with families. Individuals with futures. And individuals afflicted with the most tragic of fates - dying while doing good.

To his students, Nate Henn was known as "Oteka" - The Strong One. He had traveled from the United States to help Uganda's most vulnerable children, to provide them with an education, and to reveal to them a simple truth: that great futures await them. Tragically, Nate's own future has been lost to the ages.

Stephen Tinka, a Ugandan journalist and radio presenter, and one of the many Ugandans who were killed, was known for his infectious personality and his distinctive voice - a voice now silenced.

Ramaraja Krishna, a Sri Lankan father of two daughters, came to Uganda two years ago to help advance this nation's economy. Today, his body rests, once again, at home.

Marie Smith of Ireland was a missionary who spent 30 years helping Africans less fortunate than herself. But her work came to an abrupt end - not because of who she was or what she believed, but because of the seat she'd chosen on that catastrophic Sunday evening.

That is profoundly wrong. And any attempt to justify these murders of innocents is unimaginably shameful. As we struggle to make sense from the unfathomable, and as we seek justice from the ashes, we can take comfort - and find faith - in the Ugandan proverb that reminds us, "When the moon is not full, the stars shine more brightly." Yes, it is darker out today than it was just weeks ago. But we must believe - and we must make certain - that the stars of goodwill and grace and, above all, of justice will shine brighter now than before.

In this time of new threats and unprecedented challenges, the importance of the African Union's mission and work is brought into stark focus. Over the last eight years, you have united a diversity of nations around common goals. You've paved new paths for communication and cooperation, and for prosperity, peace, and healing. Together, you've established agreements to strengthen democratic institutions, to prevent and combat corruption, and to ensure the integrity of your elections and the strength of your justice systems. And you've pooled your resources and knowledge to increase Africa's participation in the global marketplace and to provide Africa's people with goods, services, and opportunities, as well as with leadership that honors their will and their best interests.

At the beginning of this year - your membership declared 2010 to be the "Year of Peace and Security." Together, you ignited a "flame of peace" that was placed in the care of President Mutharika. From Malawi, this flame began a year-long journey to all 53 AU member nations.

This journey continues. This flame still burns. And this Year of Peace and Security must live on. For too much is at stake. Too much has been sacrificed. And too much is yet to be realized.

Like President Obama, I believe that the 21st century will be shaped by what happens here in Africa. Your security and prosperity, the health of your people and the strength of your civil society, will have a direct and profound impact on the world's communities and on the advancement of human rights and human progress everywhere.

During his early days in office, President Obama traveled to Africa. In Cairo and in Accra, he described what he saw as "an extraordinary moment of promise" for this continent - a new era for international cooperation; a new beginning.

President Obama also made clear that "Africa's future is up to Africans." And, today, I want to reaffirm America's commitment to ensuring that this future is not hijacked or compromised; and that the progress you're working to achieve is not derailed or delayed.

I am proud to be counted among the African Diaspora - this continent is my ancestral home, I am of this place. Your work is of special and emotional importance to me - and not only because I am proud to serve alongside my nation's first African-American President or proud to be its first African-American Attorney General. I also join with you, and with my fellow citizens, in celebrating Africa's success because I recognize that the fate of my own country is intertwined with each of yours.

The future we will share depends on what we do today - on the goals we set, the relationships we forge, the commitments we make and the actions we take. And despite today's many challenges and uncertainties, one thing is clear: As your historic efforts to promote peace, development, justice, and opportunity continue, the United States will act in partnership and in common cause to help the African Union achieve its goals and fulfill its mission.

There are four specific areas where, I believe, America's support must continue and where I hope our partnership can be strengthened: in combating global terrorism and international crime; in promoting good governance and the rule of law; in creating the conditions and capacity for economic development; and, finally, in ensuring that Africa's women and girls are no longer disproportionately affected by violence or denied basic rights and equal opportunities to learn, to dream, and to thrive.

In each of these areas, the United States intends to serve, not as a patron but as a partner - as a collaborator, not a monitor.

First of all, because opportunity and prosperity cannot be realized without security, the United States will continue to direct every resource and tool at our command - from diplomacy and military tactics to our courts and intelligence capabilities - to defeat the global terror network. In protecting our people and defending our allies, we will respect the sovereignty of nations, as well as the rule of law. And we will look to engage more AU member nations in this work.

Second, we will strengthen current efforts to promote good governance and to combat and prevent the costs and consequences of public corruption. Today, when the World Bank estimates that more than one trillion dollars in bribes are paid each year out of a world economy of 30 trillion dollars, this problem cannot be ignored. And this practice must never be condoned. As many here have learned - often in painful and devastating ways - corruption imperils development, stability, competition, and economic investment. It also undermines the promise of democracy.

As my nation's Attorney General, I have made combating corruption, generally and in the United States, a top priority. And, today, I'm pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Justice is launching a new Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative aimed at combating large-scale foreign official corruption and recovering public funds for their intended - and proper - use: for the people of our nations. We're assembling a team of prosecutors who will focus exclusively on this work and build upon efforts already underway to deter corruption, hold offenders accountable, and protect public resources.

And although I look forward to everything this new initiative will accomplish, I also know that prosecution is not the only effective way to curb global corruption. We will continue to work with your governments to strengthen the entire judicial sector, a powerful institution in our democracy which depends on the integrity of our laws, our courts, and our judges. We must also work with business leaders to encourage, ensure, and enforce sound corporate governance. We should not, and must not settle for anything less.

Third, the United States - guided by President Obama's international economic development plan - will work to expand current economic development efforts. Here in Africa, President Obama has signaled his commitment to foreign assistance, with the goal that such support will, over time, no longer be necessary. This goal is driving our work to help Africa develop new sources of energy, to create green jobs, to grow new crops, and to develop new education and training programs.

Finally, because we've seen that the global struggle for women's equality continues - in many aspects of American life, as well as in countries across this continent and around the world - we know that our work to promote security, opportunity, and justice must include a special focus on women and girls. The unique challenges and urgent threats facing women and girls across Africa have inspired unprecedented action, collaboration, and investments by the U.S government. In particular, I am proud of the contributions that U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors and law enforcement agents have made here in Africa, through the Women's Justice Empowerment Initiative - a three-year, $55-million-dollar program that was developed by the U.S. Departments of Justice and State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. In Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, and Benin, this initiative has helped to train attorneys, investigators, law enforcements officials, and medical professionals in
an effort to improve prosecutions and to raise awareness about the special needs of victims.

Through this initiative, we are joining with partners across this continent to educate Africans about violence against women and girls, to build the capacity of local governments to serve and assist victims, and to strengthen the ability of Africa's legal systems and law enforcement communities to protect women and girls. This work is making a difference. It must be a priority for all on this continent. This work is changing lives, families, and communities. And while I believe it has the power, the possibility, to transform entire cultures and countries, I am certain that its ongoing success and impact is directly linked to the engagement and commitment of you: Africa's leaders.

I have great hope for what can be achieved through ongoing international initiatives and strong AU partnerships. But I do not pretend that the progress we all seek - and the conditions and opportunities that all African citizens deserve - will come easily or quickly.

And yet, we all can be - and should be - encouraged that the state of the African Union is strong. And we have good reason to feel hopeful that this extraordinary moment of progress is, indeed, a new beginning - the start of a journey toward greater peace and unity, toward freedom and prosperity, toward opportunity and justice for all.

And although we may take our first steps beneath dark skies, our path forward will be guided by the flame of peace - and by the bright flicker of stars. In this Year of Peace and Security, America is proud to walk at your side, privileged to count you as partners, and grateful to call you friends.

Thank you.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Ugandan Traditional Leaders Waiting To Welcome Heads Of State

Monday, July 26, 2010

African Women's Entrepreneurship Program In Washington, DC

July 26, 2010

African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program Brings Women to Washington, D.C. and Kansas City, Missouri

The African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) is taking place in Washington, D.C., July 26 - August 3, and Kansas City, Missouri, August 4 - 6, in conjunction with the 2010 United States/sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (AGOA Forum). Women from AGOA-eligible countries will participate in the program. The AWEP is organized by the U.S. Department of State and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the auspices of the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

AWEP aims to empower African women entrepreneurs to become part of their national and global business network by increasing opportunities for women to use the AGOA program and expanding opportunities for exports and U.S. investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

The slate of AWEP activities includes:

· Meetings with officials from the Departments of State, Commerce, and Agriculture, and USAID;

· Presentations by companies and industry associations;

· Networking opportunities with non-governmental and civil society organizations, and diaspora groups;

· Introductions and exchanges with Congressional members and staffs; and,

· Information sessions with local government, civic and business leaders in Kansas City.

The professional exchanges are designed to help the participants build business alliances, develop advocacy and communications skills, identify resources to advance women's entrepreneurship, and take advantage of opportunities for U.S. partnerships through AGOA.

The women will have the opportunity to interact with African ministers of trade, finance, and agriculture during an AGOA plenary session in Washington entitled “Integrating Africa’s Women into the Global Economy.” Events and lunches will be sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, the non-profit organization, ONE, and others.

Activities are expected to continue in Africa after the U.S.-based program concludes. The follow-up activities, some sponsored by companies such as Exxon Mobil, will include training and mentoring programs for the businesswomen in their communities, as well as advocacy efforts to promote changes to discriminatory systems against women in business and to put in place greater systems of opportunities and support for Africa’s businesswomen.

# # #

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Secretary Clinton On Conflict Minerals In The DRC

Office of the Spokesman

July 22, 2010

Last year in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I spoke out against the trade in "conflict minerals" that has funded a cycle of conflict there that has left more than 5 million people dead since 1998, displaced countless more, and spawned an epidemic of sexual and gender-based violence.

President Obama has now signed into law a measure that will require corporations to publicly disclose what they are doing to ensure that their products don't contain these minerals. The DRC has formally expressed its support for this law and has thanked both the executive and legislative branches of our government. This is one of several steps we are taking to stop this illicit and deadly trade.

After my visit to the Congo, I directed the State Department to develop a holistic strategy on this issue as part of our broader effort to engage effectively with the DRC. We continue to work with the government to crack down on corruption, both bilaterally and through the Great Lakes Contact Group. At the United Nations Security Council, we successfully pushed to expand the listing criteria in the DRC Sanctions Committee to include those supporting illegal armed groups through illicit trade of natural resources. We have provided support for initiatives on certification and due diligence that have been initiated by the government of the DRC, local and foreign industry groups, and regional and international institutions. And we have met with a wide range of industry representatives and discussed the responsibility of end-users to ensure their supply chains are free of conflict minerals.

All of these steps underscore the commitment of the United States to stand with the people of Congo and to work toward an end to this conflict.

# # #

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

President Obama To Host Forum With Young African Leaders


Office of the Press Secretary

July 21, 2010

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 will host a forum in Washington, D.C., from August 3 - 5 with approximately 120 young leaders from civil society and the private sector representing more than forty countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Together with American counterparts and U.S. government officials, the participants will share their insights on key themes of youth empowerment, good governance, and economic opportunity. President Obama will host a town hall meeting at the White House with these young leaders to discuss their vision for transforming their societies over the next fifty years.

The President’s Forum with Young African Leaders presents the U.S. government and American friends of Africa with an opportunity to deepen and broaden our understanding of the trajectories of African societies, and to reflect on how the next generation are building their communities’ and their nations’ futures – just as their predecessors did in the era of independence from colonial rule. In addition to the town hall meeting with the President, the forum will include small-group discussions on topics such as transparency and accountability, job creation and entrepreneurship, rights advocacy, and the use of technology to empower individuals and communities. African participants will have an opportunity to meet with grassroots service organizations to share experiences and strategies.

As the President said in Accra, the future of Africa is up to Africans. The U.S. government’s role in this gathering is as a convener, encouraging networks between young American and African leaders, and pursuing lasting partnerships on behalf of our common security and prosperity. This dialogue and follow-up events in Africa will help the U.S. government better assess how to support Africa’s own aspirations going forward.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ground Breaking For New U.S. Embassy In Darkar, Senegal

Office of the Spokesperson

July 19, 2010                                                                                                                                                      

United States Breaks Ground On New Embassy Compound in Dakar, Senegal

U.S. Ambassador to the Republics of Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, Marcia S. Bernicat Patricia N. Moller; Diplomatic Advisor to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Senegal, Abdou Salam Diallo; and Managing Director for Construction, Facility and Security Management of the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) Rodney Evans broke ground on the New Embassy Compound (NEC) in Dakar today.
The Dakar NEC will provide a secure, safe, and functional facility for approximately 525 embassy employees. The NEC will consist of several buildings including a chancery, Marine security guard quarters, a support annex with maintenance shops, a utility building, parking structure and three compound access control structures.

In the last nine years, OBD has completed 72 new diplomatic facilities and has moved more than 21,000 individuals into safe, secure and functional facilities. The Dakar NEC groundbreaking marks construction of the 37th diplomatic facility to be built on the continent of Africa since 2001. OBO has completed 27 projects on the continent with an additional nine projects in design and construction.
B.L. Harbert International has constructed 12 diplomatic projects for the Department of State since 2001 and has an additional 10 projects in design and construction at the present time. The scheduled completion date for the NEC in Dakar is summer 2013.

Construction of the new embassy compound will begin in the same year as Senegal's fiftieth anniversary of independence, symbolically marking the importance of the bilateral relationship between our two nations. The United States and Senegal share an enduring partnership based on mutual respect and common values, including our respect for human rights, the rule of law, political and social justice, and transparency.


Monday, July 19, 2010

President Obama's Statement on Nelson Mandela International Day

Office of the Press Secretary

July 18, 2010

On behalf of the United States, I wish Nelson Mandela a very happy 92nd birthday. We are grateful to continue to be blessed with his extraordinary vision, leadership, and spirit. And we strive to build upon his example of tolerance, compassion and reconciliation. I also join the American people, the South African people, the United Nations, and the world in celebrating the first annual Nelson Mandela International Day. I encourage us all to heed the call to engage in some form of service to others, in honor of the 67 years of sacrifice and service Madiba gave to us. We strive to follow his example of what it means to truly give back to our communities, our nations, and our world.

President Barack Obama


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Nigeria's Ambassador to the U.S. (Prof. Adefuye) Unveils Cover Of Book On U.S.- Nigeria Relations

African Ambassador News Conference Series

Washington, DC

July 15, 2010

Nigeria's recently appointed Ambassador to the United States Professor Adebowale Adefuye has unveiled the cover page of a historic book celebrating 50 years of Nigeria-U.S. bilateral relations in a press conference held at the Nigerian Embassy.

The book titled The United States & Nigeria: Celebrating 50 Years of Friendship & Progress In Pictures is the second in a series launched by AMIP News early this year.

The cover page features President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister Tafawa Balwewa (Nigeria's first Prime Minister) in an iconic White House photograph taken on July 27th 1961 after a state visit to Washington. Others pictured are Dr. M.A. Majekodunmi (Health Minister) - Right of Balewa, T.O. Benson (Information Minister) - Behind and Vice President Lyndon Johnson — Extreme Right

The book will be launched in Washington during Nigeria's 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations.

Transcript of Ambassador Adefuye's Remarks during the press conference is below:

Begin Script:

On behalf of the huh…government and people of Nigeria, thank you most sincerely for finding it fit to be with us uhhh… this morning. Ummm…Quite a number of us have… even before joining the Diplomatic Corps been concerned with the perception of the American public uhhh… about Africa and Nigeria in general. But let me start by uhhh… giving you a few background I… about myself.

I… started life as a university professor, uhhh… university lecturer with a B.A. and a PH.D. from the University of Ibadan and ummm… being … lecturing at the University of Lagos for about thirteen good years during which I became Professor and head of History… Department. I managed to get a …a few… side… ummm… side… some side door entry into international relations and diplomacy arising from the fact that my discipline was ummm… history of international relations and ummm… fully involved in commenting on uhhh… on issues of diplomacy and international relations that do involve my country. And of course, at that period I… I happened to … to kind of get some access into uhhh… being uhhh… members of the tasking committees of Nigeria's delegations to many international conferences - AU, Ecowas, UN. But in 198… in 1987 uhhh… about the time I was finishing my tenure as head of History Department at the University of Lagos, I got called up to be Ambassador of Nigeria to Jamaica with concurrent accreditation to uhhh… Belize and Haiti. I did that for a couple of four years before being posted to London as ummm… uhhh… Deputy High Commissioner with specific uhhh… responsibilities for Nigeria's participation in international affairs uhhh… with regards to UN, Commonwealth and relations with European Union.

From there I joined the Commonwealth Secretariat first as Deputy Director, Strategic Planning and then later on Director, Africa Program for the Commonwealth Secretariat. The Commonwealth is ummm… the … an association of former uhhh… English colonies uhhh… 53 of them, who joined together for … to promote ummm… democracy, good governance and… and co-operate economically. I was the … I first started as ummm… Deputy Director, Strategic Planning, then moving on to uhhh… to the Director of the Africa Program.

There are nine…. there are nineteen African countries in the Commonwealth and my major task was to promote good governance ummm… encourage uhhh… in… international co-operation among member states and also uhhh… pro… uhhh… promote the ideals of democracy, good governance, accountability, responsive government, human rights, rule of law and sustainable develo… development in all the member countries of the Commonwealth but in my own case with particular reference to Africa. I did that uhhh… between 2000 and 2007. Thereafter I thought I had done enough uhhh… abroad then I decided to go back home to serve as the advisor on democracy and good governance to the Eco… Economic Community of West African States, otherwise known as Ecowas, the acronym for ECOWAS. Ecowas is of course the… West African includent of the OAS here… and I did that for 2 years and 3 months before call… being called … the call up for duty for this assignment. So ummm… that's where we are… that's how I got here.

But I think I should just tell you about the current state of Nigeria. You are quite aware of course that Nigeria has been in the news for quite some time, moreso when our departed Head of State uhhh… had to leave for… for Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. But at such a time where he was not in the mood… in … able to do a proper handing over note. Uhhh… we… we had… we experienced a lull in … in our activities… uhhh… but then wise… wise counsel prevailed … our [inaudible] were able to ride on together. All the real stakeholders knew that democracy had to survive. And then the current president, who had been Vice President was transformed first into an acting president, with the concurrence of all sector recoverability, the legislature, the ummm… the former heads of government, all the various stakeholders in the Nigerian community and ummm… unfortunately when the uhhh… the, the president died uhhh… the… the current, the act… the then acting president was confirmed… was sworn in as president. And since then uhhh…

I can tell you that ummm… things are quite stable in Nigeria right now. Quite a number of steps have been taken. We are…. we… we the… the government on the scene now, is now FULLY, fully committed to removing the fundamental weakness in our body politic and economy. Concrete real steps are being taken to set Nigeria on the right footing. We are taking… making efforts to diversify our economy… to diversify our economy… to lay a solid basis for democracy… a solid basis for uhhh… for political stability in our country, and we are making efforts to ensure that our relations with the outside world is on a very positive note. We are… the… the four… the four… the four major objectives of this government is that ensure that democracy and good governance is restored…

We are aware of the fact that the last elections we conducted was not the best and the government… the current government is nevertheless determined to ensure a solid base for democracy is assured and by promising to conduct a free, fair and credible election. We are also… the government is also aware of the… uhhh… the… the unbalanced nature of the economy - excessive reliance on oil and we are make… taking frantic effort to develop… to diversify the base of our economy by emphasizing the non oil aspects of the… of our economy. Infact, I am just coming here … I'm just uhhh… from here I am just meeting the uhhh… minister for solid minerals who is… who is around to… to some negotiation with the World Bank and to ensure that uhhh… on, on areas of … other areas of our mineral resources that we… that uhhh… that will be developed to ensure that uhhh… we have non oil exports for the economy.

The government is equally committed to restore the confidence of the people … the international community AND Nigerians in our ability to deal with the endemic crisis in Niger Delta - areas where our oil is being…. is being… where oil is being produced. An amnesty program is in motion, its been relatively successful. The amnesty program involves the militants surrendering their weapons and those of them who have skills before, are to be re-integrated into the economy and made… and to make sure that they are… the areas, the years of neglect are to be compensated by an uhhh… an intensified development program for the oil producing areas and to make sure that uhhh… uhhh… that the … those militants are re-integrated into the economy. And of course, we are excelling… we are… we remain committed to the ideas of rule of law.

On the international scene we want to remain an active player. Quite naturally we want out of the… we… the Nigeria has… is normally expected to play a leading role. We regard it as our manifest destiny to be a bastion… a su… a bastion of support for the aspirations of the black community all over the globe. Because for historical reasons 1 out of every 5 Africans is a Nigerian and 1 out of every 8 black persons in the world is a Nigerian. And with the resources that providence has endowed us, we see it as our moral responsibility … a responsibility endowed uhhh… forced on us by providence to be the leading light in the aspirations of black fellows. And we have a good record to prove this.

We were are at the forefront of the struggle for the liberation of Southern Africa - be it Namibia, ummm… Zimbabwe, South Africa and the rest of it. We were so much active on the liberation front that we were officially declared a member of the frontline country in the 1970's. Frontline countries are countries that are bordered… have boundaries with South Africa. But our… despite our geographical distance from that area… way back in… in… in West Africa… we were officially declared … we were officially declared a frontline country because we were in the forefront of the struggle for emancipation of our brothers in the Southern African continent. So that is the responsibility imposed on us by destiny and we are determined to carry it out. And how we carry it out … we'll have a strong economic and political basis and that's what we… we are doing. So we do, of course recognize our relationship with the … with the United States is very important.

The US is the leading, is the only uhhh… world power, and our relationship with the US goes back a VERY long way, for I mean… the … the dictates of history and the reality of the situation dictates that we should be on an even keel with the US. But then we know that we… we suffered setbacks from time to time. There was a time we were … we had some differences on the issues of liberation in Southern Africa, it was sorted out, especially during the Carter regime where uhhh… differences sometimes … especially with the Regan regime, uhhh… we sorted it out… But right now I'm proud to say that with President Obama here, things just have to be right between us.

Its quite na… its simply natural. Most Nigerians were very happy when Obama won, and of course that has been more than justified… ummm our… our hopes are more than justified. Yes, there was a time when uhhh… when a misguided Nigerian attempted to bomb a… a Detroit-bound plane, but we made it clear to the world that that attitude was completely out of character, completely un-Nigerian. Nigeria is a country where we have Muslims and Christians living together. 50% … roughly we are almost evenly divided between Muslims and Christians. But not as neat as people will say as if Muslims live in the North, Christians live in the South. There are Muslims in the South and there are Christians in the North. So we are an ethnically and religiously diverse community and you find… find families where the… the… the wife is a Christian, the husband is a Muslim and vice versa. And we have communities where people live together in that. So we made the point clear to the US that its completely out of character.

Not only that, Nigeria has been in the forefront of the struggle against terrorism. Both at the level of Ecowas and the level of the AU, we are against terrorism, we have uhhh… we have made measures… proposed measures which have been adopted by both Ecowas and AU to… to… to stop terrorism and… and it was so funny that by the time… even before the Mutallab episode occurred, we had submitted a bill to our national assembly by which Nigeria was proposing strategies to deal with the possible spread of terrorism… in … in an innocent manner. So all this we made quite clear to the American government and I think that influenced them in invoking a new policy by which access to… access to ummm… visitors will be dictated not by the … the green passport anymore but by you know… their own travel history. So we got that moved up. And then we were to transform our president … our vice president to the … into an acting president.

Mr. Johnny Carson the… the Deputy Secretary of State for the US was in Nigeria at that time and…. and ummm… America was the first country to openly declare support for the move in order to safeguard democracy. Uhhh … it was so clear that they were very much in support of us. And President Obama kindly consented to receive our president … our acting… then acting president when he visited and that was a VERY very successful visit. He provided with a platform to explain his policies, his hopes, his aspirations and these were endorsed and approved by the American government. Not only that, we now have a bi-national commission agreement with the United States of America. A bi-national commission agreement is the highest level of strategic co-operation you can get between 2 countries. And therefore access of that bi-national commission agreement.

First is… ummm… we call it trans… TGI… transparency, governance and ummm… integrity. And these are to deal with … essentially to deal with preparation for the 2011 elections, to ensure that our economies have a financial crime commission which deals with issues of bribery and corruption in the private sector and the economic area is made to work more effectively to ensure that uhhh… the… the human rights set posts of the government actively maintained and encouraged. And so they are working towards the… the first … that's the first aspect of the bi-national commission agreement. The second aspect has to deal with the ummm… energy and investments and the third aspect has to deal with ummm… Niger Delta and regional security, while the fourth one deals with ummm… food security and agriculture. We've had the first two meetings on the first two aspects on… on… on ummm… TGI, transparency, governance and integrity and that … that was held in Abuja. The second one on energy and investments was held at the State Department here some three… four weeks ago and what it means is that first…. the acronym of the first one is that the American agencies will assist us in our preparations towards the 2011 elections.

We have right now in Nigeria IFES, helping us with issues of water registration, ummm… issues of logistics in preparation for elections and all that. We also have … when we met on energy and investment, the whole purpose was to ensure that uhhh… the usual power generation problems we have in Nigeria are put to… are put to rest and we have Ame… many American companies in … in Nigeria now intensifying their activities in Nigeria to ensure that we have ummm… we have ummm… a good… a good electricity supply. Also, the… the.. the… around September… infact we are still discussing the date now, we decided to meet in September … we're gonna have the third… a meeting on the third aspect of the bi-national commission agreement is going… which is going to deal with ummm… the issue of Niger Delta and regional security. Thereafter we have the one on food security and agriculture. But it cannot be otherwise. Nigeria and America … we are bound by the forces of history… strategic consideration and … and the rea… issues of the realities of the moment.

First, there are 1 million… 1 million Nigerian-Americans making their useful contributions to the economic development, social development, political development of the United States of America. It is only in America that we have the largest concentration of Nigerians outside Nigeria. And America is a super power … is the more… is the country most concerned with peace and security in the world. And if there has to be peace and security in the world, there has to be peace and security in Africa. And if there has to be peace and security in Africa, it must start from Nigeria for the simple reason that once ummm… Nigeria…. because of the leverage can afford… can … is … can afford and execute to ensure that all African countries towing the line of democracy, good governance, anti-corruption and… and ummm… accountability. So it is in the interest of America and ourselves that we get it right. And its something we have both uhhh… both realized and we are working towards getting it right. So we… we are committed to… to doing that. And also Nigeria is the uhhh… America is the… we… uhhh…

Nigeria is the uhhh… 6th largest producer of oil in the world. And we've… we are the 3rd largest importer of oil… exporter of oil to America. So it is very important we are… so we hold ourselves in strategic importance. We know we are both of strategic importance to each other and we are… and with the kind of government we have, a government that is responsive and responsible, a government that is committed to removing the fundamental weakness in the body politic, a government that is headed for the FIRST time, headed by an academic, with a PH.D from the university of Port Harcourt, somebody who.. as you always say, a [inaudible] of those of us who always congregate in university staff clothes and be criticizing government, saying this is what they should do, this is what they should do. But with all the best ideas in the world you… you have no power to do it. But now we have somebody who has the right ideas and now has the power. There is no way we are not going to make it. And sure we shall make it and in a big way ummm… to the glory of Nigeria, Africa and the black world.

Thank you very much. (Applause)

End Transcript

Statement by Clinton on Nelson Mandela International Day

U.S. honors Mandela on contributions, lifelong commitment to human dignity

Office of the Spokesman
July 15, 2010


Nelson Mandela International Day

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate Nelson Mandela and join the world in celebrating his 92nd birthday this Sunday. I am honored and humbled to call President Mandela my friend. Like millions of his admirers around the world, I am deeply moved by his generosity of spirit and unfailing courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles. After 26 years locked in an apartheid prison, he emerged to lead South Africa's transition from the division of apartheid to an integrated, multi-racial democracy. He embraced his jailers without bitterness or hatred and provided an example to his own people and people everywhere.

Last year, the United States joined 192 other United Nations member states in supporting the creation of Nelson Mandela International Day. Its first observance on July 18 this year honors President Mandela's extraordinary contributions and lifelong commitment to justice and human dignity.

Nelson Mandela is a hero to people of all backgrounds and experience who strive for freedom and progress. His story is filled with an amazing strength and integrity of spirit. There is no one more deserving of this unprecedented international recognition, and I am delighted to offer him my warmest wishes on this special day.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Referendum Is Key to Progress in Sudan, U.S. Special Envoy Says

General Gration notes Africa may have new nation in six months

By Jim Fisher-Thompson

Washington - An upcoming referendum in southern Sudan to decide the region's political future must be "free, fair, credible and transparent" to ensure lasting peace and stability for the whole nation, and that is a goal the U.S. government is working hard to achieve, says U.S. Presidential Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration.

"We might have a new country" in six months, Gration said. So there is an urgent need to prepare for a possible independent south if a majority of southerners vote that way next January. "We're not prejudging the referendum," he added, but must plan for such an outcome.

The retired U.S. Air Force major general gave a countdown to the referendum at a July 13 briefing sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Africa Program. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn and Sudanese Embassy Charge D'Affaires Dr. Akec K.A. Khoc attended the event moderated by CSIS Africa Program Director Jennifer Cooke.

In 2005, the United States, along with international and African partners, facilitated an agreement between the government of Sudan and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) ending a decades-long north/south civil war that had killed or displaced millions. The resulting Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) provided for a referendum to be held in the south no later than January 2011 to decide whether the region would become an independent nation or remain a part of Sudan.

Gration said the U.S. government was working "on the ground" in the south with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and community members helping to prepare for the vote, which includes organizing the "diaspora vote" of southerners living in eight foreign countries.

"While the time is short" before the critical ballot, Gration said he was optimistic about Sudan's future. Since being named special envoy in March 2009, he said, "we have accomplished a lot. And looking forward, we will make a difference" toward a lasting peace for the war-torn nation.

With the southern referendum looming, Gration said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton "has taken a very positive role" in areas like overseeing a diplomatic expansion that tripled the State Department's presence in the south.

On the multilateral level, Gration said, "we are building a [diplomatic] team of countries like Norway and the United Kingdom" to help ensure provisions of the CPA are implemented. In addition, other countries and organizations including France, Russia, China, the African Union and United Nations "partnered with the United States to make a [positive] difference in Sudan."

One such group - "the Envoy Six" - planned to meet in the region July 17 to discuss the southern referendum, and Gration said he would attend. He said he would also meet with Sudanese government representatives in Khartoum and rebels groups in Doha on his trip to the region beginning July 15.

On the economic front, Gration said, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is devoting personnel and millions of dollars to help forestall famine that threatens 4.3 million people in southern Sudan. The agency will host a regional conference in August with experts and implementers on the ground to discuss better ways of ensuring food security, including improving seed quality, fertilization and better planting techniques.

But "we can't just focus on the south," Gration told his CSIS audience. While the CPA cease-fire between north and south has held, fighting in the Darfur region continues.

Declaring "justice and accountability are critical ... [to] a lasting peace in Darfur," Gration said his office was working on a two-track approach to the problem involving peace talks with the Khartoum government and rebel groups in Doha and "working in Darfur itself" to protect its vulnerable residents.

The son of missionaries who worked in the Congo and Kenya, Gration said, "To me it's just really terrible" that more than 2 million people are living in crude huts in Darfur "where they are subjected to gender-based violence" and to other injustices and inhumanities.

Crime must stop and security must be restored in Darfur, Gration said. "We're working very hard with the government of Sudan, UNAMID [The African Union/U.N. hybrid operation in Darfur] and NGOs to come up with a plan for Darfur security and stabilization."

"I'm pleased to say we just got the basic outline of a plan from the government of Sudan and it is a very, very good plan," Gration added.

During his July visit to the region, Gration said, "I will work with these officials in Khartoum and Darfur, NGOs and members of the community to make sure we put into place a system of security and stabilization" that ends the violence and provides a framework for lasting peace.

Source: U.S. Department of State