Saturday, September 29, 2012
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
September 28, 2012
The U.S. Department of State and the Government of Senegal co-hosted the West African Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Workshop in Dakar, September 18 – 20. Coordinator for Cyber Issues Chris Painter led the U.S. interagency delegation and provided opening remarks along with Ambassador Lewis Lukens and the Senegalese Ministries of Justice and Telecommunications.
As the Internet, networked systems and the use of mobile phones expand throughout sub-Saharan Africa, nations are grappling with multiplying cyber threats ranging from transnational crime groups to terrorists. This workshop, a partnership between the U.S. and Senegalese governments, addressed broad issues on cybercrime and cybersecurity while focusing discussions on issues of specific interest to West Africa, such as mobile cellular security, computer forensics, Internet access and affordability, and the development of national computer emergency response teams or CERTs.
The conference was attended by government officials from eight other West African francophone states: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Niger, and Togo. Regional organizations ECOWAS, the EU and the Council of Europe, and national delegations from Kenya, Japan, and France also contributed their perspectives on cybersecurity and cybercrime.
The delegations agreed on crucial measures, including the importance of developing national cyber strategies, fostering domestic and regional coordination, developing CERTs, and signing the Budapest Cybercrime Convention.
Department of State
September 28, 2012
I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Nigeria as you celebrate your Independence Day this October 1.
The strong ties between Nigeria and the United States are grounded in our shared values and mutual interest in fostering good governance, increasing economic growth, and promoting regional stability. We value this partnership and remain dedicated to working together to meet the challenges of the future.
On the 52nd anniversary of your independence, I wish all Nigerians a peaceful and prosperous year.
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
September 28, 2012
Today marks three years since Guinean security forces opened fire on a group of peaceful, unarmed demonstrators at a pro-democracy rally in Conakry. At least 150 people were killed and over 100 women suffered rape and other forms of sexual abuse.
As Guineans gather to commemorate this tragedy in places from New York to Conakry, we call upon the Government and the people of Guinea to accelerate the pace of Guinea’s democratic progress, including by cooperating to hold timely and transparent legislative elections; investigate and try those responsible for the 2009 massacre; and engage in a dual process of national reconciliation and justice sector reform that will address and conclude Guinea’s lengthy history of political violence and impunity.
We call on protesters to remain peaceful, the Guinean Government to respect freedom of assembly, and police to refrain from excessive
use of force.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
New York City
September 26, 2012
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Under Secretary General. And let me join in congratulating both the new President
and the new Prime Minister. We very much appreciated the President’s statement outlining your government’s six objectives, and we stand ready to assist you in fulfilling them. I also want to thank former President Sheikh Sharif for a smooth and peaceful transition, the first in decades for the Somali people.
Let me make three areas of emphasis that deserve our attention quickly. First, we have to continue improving security. The United States has strongly supported AMISOM and the Somali national forces, and we will work closely with the new government as it takes more of a leading role. We will maintain our support for the security sector and focus on sustainable and comprehensive reform. As more areas are liberated from al-Shabaab, the government will need to establish police forces and courts. And we view the Joint Security Committee as a promising mechanism for coordinating efforts between the Somali Government and international partners.
Second, stabilization efforts must continue across the country. Although there has been encouraging progress so far under the National Stabilization Plan, more than 2 million people in Somalia still need lifesaving humanitarian assistance. Many more face hunger and malnutrition and can’t get basic services, such as clean water and adequate electricity. And the former combatants, who are defecting from al-Shabaab will need to be reintegrated into local communities.
In addition, we have to continue to keep focus on the refugee population. Kenya has been extremely generous in sponsoring hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees, and we have to continue to work overtime to relocate those refugees back in their homes.
So meeting these challenges will require the government to work with local communities as well as the international efforts to really focus, especially on southern and central Somalia, and that will give us a chance to try to provide enough stability for the government to get about its business.
And finally, with respect to the government, transparency and accountability must be required. We urge the new government to appoint a cabinet of people who will work to promote the interests of the Somali people and respond to their needs and maintain the confidence of international donors so future collaboration can continue.
So we look to the government to build transparent and accountable institutions.
Now, what’s been accomplished in Somalia – and I remember being in this room and other rooms over the last four UNGAs and hearing a lot of despair about whether or not there could be a positive outcome. But what has been accomplished has exceeded what many thought was possible. And it’s taken a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifice, first and foremost from the people of Somalia. But many of the international representatives around this table have also been extraordinarily generous and committed.
So now we have to help in the next phase for the people of Somalia, and we look forward, on behalf of the United States, to doing everything we can to make it a success.
Office of the Press Secretary
The White House
September 27, 2012
I welcome the historic agreement that was reached today between the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan on a number of critical issues. This agreement breaks new ground in support of the international vision of two viable states at peace with each other, and represents substantial progress in resolving the outstanding security and economic issues between Sudan and South Sudan. The Sudanese and South Sudanese people who have suffered greatly through decades of conflict deserve the benefits of a lasting peace – a peace that can only be achieved through continued dialogue and negotiation, sustained implementation of the agreements reached to date, and steadfast work to resolve remaining issues.
I commend the resolute efforts of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel, led by President Thabo Mbeki, for its leadership in shepherding this agreement. I also commend those international partners who have contributed to this peace process, particularly the chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the African Union, and the United Nations.
The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan have chosen to take another important step on the path away from conflict toward a future in which their citizens can live in dignity, security, and prosperity. The United States is committed to working with both countries as they implement these agreements and as they seek to resolve those issues that remain outstanding. We are hopeful that today’s deal can help spur broader progress on resolving the conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, securing unfettered international humanitarian access in those areas, and bringing peace to Darfur.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
New York City
September 26, 2012
Secretary General, thank you for calling this meeting and co-chairing it along with so many distinguished heads of state and government and ministers and excellencies. And let me recognize the leadership of President Hollande. I think we all respond to President Hollande’s sense of urgency and passion, and therefore, it is imperative that we leave this special high-level meeting resolved to immediately get to work. And it is the work that should begin in the Security Council to consider the various proposals by ECOWAS, France, and others because the chaos and violence in Mali does threaten to undermine the stability of the entire region. We all know too well what is happening in Mali, and the incredible danger posed by violent extremists imposing their brutal ideology, committing human rights abuses, destroying irreplaceable cultural heritage.
But it’s not only the violent extremists. We now have drug traffickers and arms smugglers finding safe havens and porous borders, providing them a launching pad to extend their reach throughout not only the region, but beyond. And nearly 500,000 people have been displaced from their homes, and 4.5 million more are suffering from dwindling food supplies. This is not only a humanitarian crisis; it is a powder keg that the international community cannot afford to ignore.
The United States supports the appointment of a senior UN envoy empowered to lead a comprehensive international effort on Mali and the creation of a diplomatic core group. This effort must include coordinating the delivery of emergency aid, helping address longstanding political grievances of ethnic groups in the north, and preparing for credible elections. We need to bring together all of the nations affected, and I appreciated President Yayi’s very strong statement about what is at stake for the countries of the region, and also his speaking on behalf of the African Union. The African Union must be at the table, ECOWAS must be at the table, because these are complex and interconnected security, political, and humanitarian challenges.
The United States has already provided more than $378 million to meet the escalating humanitarian needs in the Sahel, and we call on all parties to ensure unhindered access so that emergency aid meets those who need it most. We encourage fellow donors to increase their pledges and follow through quickly and fully. The need is urgent and growing.
It is also critical for all the actors in the region to redouble their efforts to develop a sound approach to tackling what is happening coming over their borders. We have to train the security forces in Mali, help them dislodge the extremists, protect human rights, and defend borders. We have seen the success of African-led efforts to do just that in Somalia and in Cote d’Ivoire and elsewhere. We need to now get about the business of examining seriously proposals to do the same. Because in the end, only a democratically elected government will have the legitimacy to achieve a negotiated political settlement in Northern Mali, end the rebellion, and restore the rule of law. So it is imperative that the interim government meet the April deadline for holding elections that are fair, transparent, and free of influence by the military junta. And all parties must do more to protect human rights and punish abuses.
But let us be clear. What is happening inside Mali is augmented by the rising threat from violent extremism across the region. For some time, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and other groups have launched attacks and kidnappings from northern Mali into neighboring countries. Now, with a larger safe haven and increased freedom to maneuver, terrorists are seeking to extend their reach and their networks in multiple directions. And they are working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions underway in North Africa, as we tragically saw in Benghazi.
This is a threat to the entire region and to the world, and most particularly, to the people in the region themselves who deserve better. They deserve better from their leaders and they deserve better from the international community. The United States is stepping up our counterterrorism efforts across the Maghreb and Sahel, and we’re working with the Libyan Government and other partners to find those responsible for the attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi and bring them to justice. But we are also expanding our counterterrorism partnerships to help countries meet their own growing threats. We’re taking aim at the support structure of al-Qaida and its affiliates – closing safe havens, cutting off finances, countering their ideology and denying them recruits. Let me mention briefly three initiatives.
First, our Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership is now helping build the capacity of 10 countries across the region, providing training and support so they can tighten border security, disrupt terrorist networks, and prevent attacks. This program brings together civilian, law enforcement, and military experts to pursue a comprehensive approach to counterterrorism.
Second, we are expanding our work with civil society organizations in specific terrorist hotspots – particular villages, prisons, and schools – trying to disrupt the process of radicalization by creating jobs, promoting religious tolerance, amplifying the voices of the victims of terrorism.
And third, we are working with our partners to reform security services and strengthen the rule of law. For example, Tunisia has agreed to host a new international training center that will help police, prosecutors, and other criminal justice officials across the region move away from the repressive approaches that helped fuel radicalization in the past, and instead develop strategies grounded in the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Ultimately, our perspective is that strengthening democratic institutions must be at the heart of our counterterrorism strategy. It is democracies that offer their citizens constructive outlets for political grievances, create opportunities for upward mobility and prosperity, and are clear alternatives to violent extremism. And their success offers a powerful rejection of the extremist ideology of hate and violence as we also saw in Benghazi last week.
So all this work, from meeting the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel to bringing stability back to Mali to combating violent extremism across the region is a shared responsibility. And there is no place where that shared responsibility can be actualized other than the United Nations. So in the days and weeks ahead, I look forward to deepening our cooperation and accelerating our common action. I personally don’t believe we have any time to waste.
Thank you. (Applause.)
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
September 25, 2012
Under the Department of State-funded Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) Program, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is coordinating an International Visitors Program (IVP) for nine officials from the Libyan Ministry of Defense and the Customs Authority. The IVP began on September 16 and will run through September 29, 2012, as part of a larger Department of State-Department of Homeland Security collaborative program with the Libyan government to improve border security.
The IVP is designed to provide an overview of U.S. border security operations, share best practices with Libyan border enforcement officials, and bolster U.S.-Libyan cooperation on nonproliferation. The IVP includes visits to Washington, DC, Baltimore, Maryland; Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia; El Paso, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; Nogales and Tucson, Arizona; and the Department of Homeland Security’s Global Borders College in West Virginia. The IVP will stress strategic planning, integrated border management, and the importance of training academies.
Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York City
September 24, 2012
MODERATOR: All right, everybody. As you know, the Secretary had a meeting this evening with President Morsi of Egypt. Here to give you a sense of that meeting is [Senior State Department Official], hereafter known as Senior State Department Official. Take it away, [Senior State Department Official].
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Hello. So the meeting took place in the President’s suite. It was principals plus three on each side: on his side, the Foreign Minister, the Ambassador, members of his finance team, and another aide; on our side, Deputy Secretary Nides, myself and Beth Jones. It was a very relaxed and warm meeting – serious and very professional, but there were moments of good humor as well.
It began with the Secretary thanking the President for the security that was provided to our Embassy. We all understand that in the first hours, as the Egyptians themselves have said, it may have been a little slow, but indeed quite quickly Egypt provided to our Embassy and has continued to provide to our Embassy quite professional and quite effective security.
I’m not going to get into what the President said in detail except for one point, and that is – because I know it’s so important to the American people, and he understands that. And that is that they affirmed that Embassy security is their duty, it’s their responsibility, and they take it quite seriously.
They had a very good discussion about how to address these issues in the future, including some of the triggers that set off the protest at our Embassy and the violence that occurred in other countries. And they discussed both what was necessary on the security side as well as the dialogue that we all need to have about tolerance. And the Secretary referred to the General Assembly resolution – sorry, not the General Assembly – the Human Rights Council resolution of April 12, 2011 which I’d commend to all of you, which was called Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence Against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief, and the efforts that have to be ongoing in that regard in the world and in an internet society how to get ahead of these kinds of issues.
They went on to discuss Sinai security in some detail and the channels that have been opened with their neighbors to ensure that that security can be maintained and improved. They discussed counterterrorism not only in Sinai but also in the region, on other countries, and ways that Egypt might help its neighbors since Egypt has institutions and has capabilities that some of the other countries in the region do not have.
We also – discussions about how to improve the day-to-day lives of Egyptians, which is very much on the mind of the President in Sinai and in – and throughout the entire country. That was, of course, the reason that the change took place in Egypt.
There was, of course, discussion about the IMF, about budget reform, around American assistance and the commitment that the President and Secretary have made to Egypt, and the continued commitment we have to provide the assistance that we’ve discussed, because we believe that a secure and democratic Egypt is important for U.S. national security and will provide for a more secure region as well, which is important for American national security.
The Egyptians have a lot of tough road in front of them to take the budget reforms that will be necessary and to do it in a way that helps them to move their democratic process forward.
We discussed the neighborhood and all the changes that have gone on in countries around Egypt, and that included everything from Libya and Tunisia to Syria as well as Iran.
It was a very fulsome discussion. It went for about 45 minutes to an hour. I don’t remember the exact time myself. But it was a very straightforward discussion and I think speaks to the developing relationship between our two countries and the interests that we do share for security and prosperity of a democratic Egypt.
MODERATOR: Just to remind, this is the second meeting the Secretary’s had with him in less than three months, the last time being when we saw him in Cairo in July.
QUESTION: Did they speak specifically about the video and if – about the question of free speech versus blasphemy and where the limit should lie?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: What they spoke about is how words, how acts, can become a reason that people take to act. It wasn’t so much an either/or conversation. The Secretary has been quite clear that there is absolutely no justification for such violence. So that is not – that is without doubt our position.
At the same time, we understand that there are sensitivities which the President has spoken about publicly, and I think we all are reflecting on the kind of dialogue we need to ensure tolerance for all religious beliefs and all religious sensitivities. But again, with the Secretary always clear that there is no basis. I think it’s very clear to everyone where she stands. So it wasn’t – this wasn’t that kind of – they’ve had conversations. As you know, the President has spoken with President Morsi, so we’re sort of on to the next chapter in many ways.
QUESTION: Have they discussed Camp David (inaudible)?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: They discussed the important relationships that they have with their neighbors, discussed the Sinai, discussed the importance of channels of relationship, and the positive steps that have been taken in that regard. I think that it is well understood that all international obligations are being adhered to.
QUESTION: I’d just like to ask about the Egyptian initiative that President Morsi has been pushing on Syria. This four member group with Saudis, Turkey, Iran and Egypt. Did they discuss this initiative and does the U.S. think that this could actually bear some fruit?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I – that subject did come up, and I think that the Egyptians themselves would say that it’s a new initiative, and I think no one’s sure whether it’s going to head towards an endpoint or not. We always have concerns when Iran is engaged, but this was a small part of the conversation. It did come up.
MODERATOR: And you know, we’ve been quite clearly publicly about our skepticism with regard to any grouping that Iran is involved in because of Syria –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: And I certainly personally have very deep skepticism.
QUESTION: Did Secretary Clinton or – say that she think it’s unhelpful what Egypt is trying to do? Has she expressed that?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: There wasn’t – Margaret, there wasn’t a long discussion about this subject. I’ve given you a very long list. This was a maybe 45-minute meeting, back and forth. So that’s covering a lot of ground, so you don’t get into deep, deep discussion on any one issue. But I think that her position, the U.S. Government’s position on all these issues, are quite clear and quite well known to President Morsi.
QUESTION: Since a lot of it covered things that are already well known, what would you define as kind of the advance of this meeting? What was gained today by having them sit down and talk face to face?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I think what was gained is building a relationship which is going to be essential to cover the range of subjects that took place. I think to make sure that we are moving forward on all of the issues of concern that we have, whether it is embassy security, security in the region, ensuring that there are good channels of communication with Israel, to follow through on the commitments that Egypt itself has made, to talk about how they can move forward on their economic situation, because in fact they won’t be able to deliver for their people as a government unless, in fact, the economy starts moving forward. I think that President Morsi wanted to give us a sense of what they’re doing to try to move that forward. And that’s very important, because all of these pieces have to fit together as a package for them to, in fact, have the effect that we all hope to have to ensure a democratic Egypt.
MODERATOR: And you remember when the Secretary was there in July, she pledged that we would – after the IMF was there, we would have the Hormats team come talk about the package, and then we would have business delegations. So she was able, with this meeting, I assume, to get – take his temperature after all of that going forward. Yeah.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Absolutely. He was very pleased with the business delegation. He understood, of course, that unfortunately two days later we had a very unfortunate, difficult bump to say the least. But I think that Secretary Nides felt that the businesspeople that were there were very pleased with that visit and that things would continue to move forward.
MODERATOR: Andy and then Jill.
QUESTION: Just a related question. On the question of U.S. assistance particularly, was there any sense that the Secretary was sort of reassuring President Morsi that this will continue, despite the bump that you’ve described? And was she able to tell him that politically, they think that that’s – they’ve got the – sort of road smoothed to keep this going?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think what he heard from the Secretary was that she is committed to following through on what she has said we will do and that, of course, we understand that there may be members who have questions, but that there is strong bipartisan support for Egypt being a democratic success, because it’s in our national security interest that that occur.
QUESTION: Could I ask a slightly broader question, because it’s come up a bit? Why exactly is the Secretary meeting with world leaders and not President Obama? I know there have been some explanations, but it really is notable that he’s not meeting with anyone on –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I’d steer you to the White House more than to us. But I – Jill, he has very limited time here, and I think that he has to make choices. I think that the choices have been fine. The Secretary has met with a wide range of world leaders, and I think we’re doing just fine.
MODERATOR: These are also relationships that she has helped him to maintain all the way through. I mean, as we said, it’s her second meeting with him –
QUESTION: But the White House did a few months – a few weeks ago say that he was going to meet with Morsi, so I wonder if Morsi raised that at all today?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: He’s – I think that President Morsi well understands that the President had real limits and everyone has seen that he has not met with any leader.
QUESTION: Andy asked my question.
MODERATOR: Oh, there were go. All right. Margaret.
QUESTION: Follow-up on the conversations in regard to Libya. Given the shared border, what were the concerns raised by President Morsi about –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I’m not going to go into the specifics of what President Morsi raised. I don’t think that’s appropriate for me to do. But what I can say is that the Secretary and the President discussed the situation in Libya, the challenges that the Libyans are facing, the way that neighbors might be able to be helpful to Libya and the shared interest in Libya’s security.
QUESTION: Did they talk – discuss about the alliance? Because President Obama mentioned that Egypt is not an ally.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think we’ve moved past that and I think the President’s own words have moved past that.
QUESTION: Has been what?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I think the – I think we’ve moved past that.
QUESTION: On Israel, you spoke about – you said that they spoke about the importance of good communications with Israel. Are there any efforts or was anything outlined today in order to improve the dialogue between Egypt and Israel, which, as you know, is significantly less than it would have been a couple years ago?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, this is a brand new government. And so they are just getting themselves set up, moving forward. They have enormous challenges in front of them. I think they have created channels of communication. I think they have grown stronger over the last weeks, as they should. And I’m sure they will improve over time.
QUESTION: On the Secretary’s meeting with Israel’s Defense Minister yesterday (inaudible) yesterday that (inaudible) has proposed a new (inaudible) on the West Bank. Have they discussed (inaudible) yesterday?
MODERATOR: Are you talking about the meeting with Barak yesterday?
MODERATOR: We don’t have anything to offer from that. That was a one-on-one meeting.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) question about President Obama (inaudible).
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Can you speak up a little bit? Thank you.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yes.
QUESTION: I think that there was a tension between two countries when President Obama made a comment.
MODERATOR: I think [Senior State Department Official] has already responded to that one. Anything else?
MODERATOR: I think she’s already responded to that one.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We’ve moved passed that.
MODERATOR: Anything else? Okay, guys. Thank you very much. We’ll see you tomorrow. And thanks to you, [Senior State Department Official].
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Sure. Thank you.
Monday, September 24, 2012
Department of State
September 24, 2012
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Guinea-Bissau as you celebrate your Independence Day this September 24. We share the desires of the people of Guinea-Bissau for reforms that will lead to democracy, good governance and economic development, including free and fair elections early next year. As you celebrate your independence, I wish all Bissau-Guineans a year of peace, reconciliation and prosperity.
Department of State
September 24, 2012
Assistant Secretary for Conflict and Stabilization Operations Rick Barton will travel to Kenya September 23-30, 2012.
In Kenya, Assistant Secretary Barton will meet with Kenyan national and local leaders, as well as civil society organizations, to discuss ways in which the United States can assist Kenyan efforts to prevent conflict and ensure electoral security.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Department of State
September 22, 2012
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Mali as you celebrate the 52nd anniversary of your independence this September 22. The United States stands with you as you work for peace and security, restoration of Mali’s territorial integrity, and a return to democratically-elected government. The United States looks forward to many years of continued friendship.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Department of State
September 22, 2012
The U.S. Department of State announced today that Ann Stock, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, will travel to Zambia and South Africa September 24-29 to engage with youth, civil society, and entrepreneurs. She will also meet with State Department program alumni who have participated in educational, sports, media, cultural, youth, and women entrepreneurship exchanges.
In Zambia, Assistant Secretary Stock will lead a conversation with members of civil society where they will discuss democratic elections, human rights, and the need for greater collaboration and partnership. In addition, she will participate in a dialogue with youth ambassadors and meet with alumni from the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), the Fulbright Program, Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, sports exchanges, and media exchanges.
While in South Africa, Assistant Secretary Stock will visit a variety of educational exchange programs. She will travel to the community of Diepsloot where she will engage youth participating in an English Access Microscholarship program and Fulbright English Teaching Assistants. She will also meet with EducationUSA advisors and local high school students in Johannesburg.
Department of State
September 21, 2012
Entrepreneurs and business leaders from 30 countries will travel to the United States from September 24 through October 12 as participants in the “A New Beginning” International Visitor Leadership Program. The exchange, now in its third year, is a special initiative developed following President Barack Obama’s April 2010 Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington.
A New Beginning aims to deepen ties between entrepreneurs in the United States and those from around the world. Alumni of the exchange return to their countries with new ideas for collaboration, growing their businesses, and accessing markets.
During their three-week visit, the participants will meet with leading American entrepreneurs, business executives, and government officials in Washington, Denver, Portland, Dallas, and New York. Private sector partner Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), a network of 8,000 business owners in 40 countries, will engage participants in interactive activities in each of the U.S. cities.
Entrepreneurs participating in this year’s program will arrive from Albania, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Djibouti, Egypt, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Haiti, India, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lesotho, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, People’s Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovenia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The International Visitor Leadership Program, within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. The program connects current and emerging foreign leaders with their American counterparts through short-term exchanges to build mutual understanding on foreign policy issues.
Department of State
September 21, 2012
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. I am pleased to welcome the Foreign Minister from Tunisia. I’m looking forward to our meeting. We obviously have a great deal to discuss, and I want to thank the Foreign Minister and the Government of Tunisia for their efforts over the last week to help secure our Embassy and the American Cooperative School of Tunis following the violent assaults of last Friday.
We are monitoring events closely today. There is no higher priority for President Obama and myself than the safety of our people. We’ve taken a number of steps around the world to augment security and to protect our personnel at diplomatic posts. And we are working closely with host governments in this effort.
As I have said before and as is embodied in the Vienna Convention and other international agreements, all governments have the duty, the solemn duty, to defend diplomatic missions. They must be safe and protected places so that governments can exchange views and work on many important issues, and leaders across the world must stand up and be counted in rejecting violence and holding violent actors accountable.
We are working closely with the Government of Tunisia. They have assisted us in enhancing the security of our facilities. We’ve also discussed with them the imperative of bringing to justice those responsible for these violent attacks. And we have offered and will continue to look for ways that we can assist the new Government of Tunisia in ensuring the rule of law throughout their country, first and foremost for the people of Tunisia themselves. We look forward to continuing to build our new partnership with the Tunisian Government and people. Our relationship is built around the shared principles of all democracies – a commitment to nonviolence, to tolerance, and inclusivity for all people, and to upholding the rule of law.
The Tunisian people have bravely put themselves on the road to democracy. They were the first of the Arab revolutions and they have made important progress in a very short period of time. They have worked too hard and sacrificed too much over too many years to see their progress hijacked or derailed by extremists with their own agenda. And those extremists, not only in Tunisia but in too many places around the world, look for opportunities to exploit this current situation or other situations, and all people and leaders must stand against them.
So as the Tunisian Government takes steps to strengthen security and protect the Tunisian people and economy from extremism and violent agendas, the United States stands ready to help. We also are working closely with Tunisia on the broader shared threat of terrorism, including from groups like al-Qaida and its affiliates.
So Minister, please know the United States remains committed to supporting Tunisia as you deal with this current situation, as you continue your democratic transition, and we want to be with you as you confront challenges and help seize opportunities together for the betterment of the future of Tunisia.
FOREIGN MINISTER ABDESSALEM: Thank you. Thank you, Your Excellency, Secretary of State, for providing us this opportunity to meet with you here in Washington. I’m here to express my condolences for the loss of the American Ambassador in Libya and the three other members of staff.
I’m also here to express our regret and full and strong condemnation for the storming of the American Embassy and school in Tunisia last Friday. This event does not reflect the real image of Tunisia. As a newborn democracy, all of you know that we are in process to dismantle the heavy legacy of political despotism and to set up the foundations of a new democracy. And we have the heavy, broader responsibility to succeed in this process of democratization. And I’m sure if we succeed, at least we send a positive message to the region, is that democracy is possible in that part of the world.
We are familiar to hear and to read in the newspapers and to hear from the media that democracy expanded in different parts of the globe except in the Arab region. But I hope that we prove by reality that democracy is possible in the Arab world – to be a democrat, Arab, and Muslim at the same time.
We already taken the necessary measures to protect the American Embassy, the American schools, and all diplomatic presence in Tunisia, members of foreign communities. It is our duty, and I’m sure that we have the ability and the capability to protect all private and public institutions in Tunisia. Stability, political stability, and security is priority for us as well for our friend and partner the United States. And I want to thank you, Mrs. Hillary, for providing us this opportunity, and I’m looking forward for a fruitful and constructive discussion.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER ABDESSALEM: Thank you very much.
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
September 21, 2012
The United States warmly welcomes Ethiopia’s selection of Hailemariam Desalegn as the country’s new Prime Minister and Demeke Mekonnen as the new Deputy Prime Minister. We commend the Government of Ethiopia for undertaking an historic, peaceful, and constitutional transition of power.
We have had a productive relationship with Mr. Hailemariam in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. We look forward to working with him in his new position to advance issues of mutual concern to the United States and Ethiopia, including strengthening economic development, advancing democracy and human rights, and promoting regional security.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
September 19, 2012
The Department of State is pleased to announce the extension of the Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Mali Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Archaeological Material from Mali from the Paleolithic Era (Stone Age) to Approximately the Mid-Eighteenth Century, effective September 19, 2012 for a period of five years, demonstrating America’s commitment to antiquities preservation. This extension, consistent with a recommendation made by the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, represents a continuation of cooperation that began in 1993 with the imposition of emergency U.S. import restrictions to staunch the pillage of Mali’s rich archaeological heritage and the illicit trafficking in such material.
The Government of the Republic of Mali requested this agreement under Article 9 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The Convention offers a framework of cooperation among State Parties to reduce the further pillage of intact archaeological sites; an activity that destroys information about past cultures and places a nation’s cultural heritage in jeopardy. Sites in the region of the Niger River Valley, for example, represent a continuum of civilizations from the Neolithic period to the Colonial era, lending archaeological significance to the region. Also included in the import restriction is material from the Tellem burial caves of the Bandiagara Cliffs as well as material found in the region of the Sahara Desert.
Restricted objects may enter the United States if accompanied by an export permit issued by Mali or documentation verifying its provenance prior to 1993 for archaeological material from the Niger River Valley and the Tellem burial caves of Bandiagara, or prior to 2007 in the case of archaeological material dating from the Paleolithic era to the mid-eighteenth century from sites throughout the country, and if no other applicable U.S. laws are violated.
The Designated List of restricted types of objects, published by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), and information about the Agreement can be found at http://exchanges.state.gov/heritage/culprop/mlfact.html.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Secretary Clinton and Moroccan Foreign Minister’s Remarks at Opening Plenary of U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue
Office of the Press Secretary
Department of State
September 13, 2012
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. Well, let me welcome our friends and colleagues from Morocco here to the Benjamin Franklin Room on the eighth floor of the State Department for this very important first session of the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue. Before I begin to address the significance of this Strategic Dialogue and the next step in our long relations with Morocco, I want to say a few words about the events unfolding in the world today.
We are closely watching what is happening in Yemen and elsewhere, and we certainly hope and expect that there will be steps taken to avoid violence and prevent the escalation of protests into violence.
I also want to take a moment to address the video circulating on the internet that has led to these protests in a number of countries. Let me state very clearly – and I hope it is obvious – that the United States Government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. And as you know, we are home to people of all religions, many of whom came to this country seeking the right to exercise their own religion, including, of course, millions of Muslims. And we have the greatest respect for people of faith.
To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage. But as I said yesterday, there is no justification, none at all, for responding to this video with violence. We condemn the violence that has resulted in the strongest terms, and we greatly appreciate that many Muslims in the United States and around the world have spoken out on this issue.
Violence, we believe, has no place in religion and is no way to honor religion. Islam, like other religions, respects the fundamental dignity of human beings, and it is a violation of that fundamental dignity to wage attacks on innocents. As long as there are those who are willing to shed blood and take innocent life in the name of religion, the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace. It is especially wrong for violence to be directed against diplomatic missions. These are places whose very purpose is peaceful: to promote better understanding across countries and cultures. All governments have a responsibility to protect those spaces and people, because to attack an embassy is to attack the idea that we can work together to build understanding and a better future.
Now, I know it is hard for some people to understand why the United States cannot or does not just prevent these kinds of reprehensible videos from ever seeing the light of day. Now, I would note that in today’s world with today’s technologies, that is impossible. But even if it were possible, our country does have a long tradition of free expression which is enshrined in our Constitution and our law, and we do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views no matter how distasteful they may be.
There are, of course, different views around the world about the outer limits of free speech and free expression, but there should be no debate about the simple proposition that violence in response to speech is not acceptable. We all – whether we are leaders in government, leaders in civil society or religious leaders – must draw the line at violence. And any responsible leader should be standing up now and drawing that line.
I wanted to begin with this statement, because, as our Moroccan friends and all of you know, this has been a difficult week at the State Department. I very much appreciate, Minister, the condolences your government expressed to our Embassy in Rabat. And even though that tragedy happened far away in Benghazi, we found a reminder of the deep bounds that connect Morocco to the United States. It was in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco that one of the Americans we lost this week, Ambassador Chris Stevens, fell in love with the region when he served as a Peace Corps volunteer there. That experience set him on a decades-long career of service. So in the memory of fallen friends and colleagues, let us remind ourselves of the many ways in which not just our governments but the people of our two nations have worked together to build a better future.
In many ways, the United States looks to Morocco to be a leader and a model. His Majesty King Mohammed deserves great credit for the work you’ve undertaken. In fact, after my visit to Rabat earlier this year, I told my team: “We need to start a Strategic Dialogue with Morocco.” No country has been a friend of the United States longer than Morocco. You were the first nation to recognize us back in 1777. But we’re not satisfied with simply having a friendship that is longstanding. We want one that is dynamic, growing, looking toward the future. So let me highlight a few of the areas we should focus on today.
On political reform, we have all seen remarkable changes taking place across North Africa and the Middle East. I commend Morocco and your government for your efforts to stay ahead of these changes by holding free and fair elections, empowering the elected parliament, taking other steps to ensure that the government reflects the will of the people. Today, our political working group will discuss how the United States can continue to support your efforts to translate commitments into actions. Because as we all know, democracy, real reform, require that people themselves feel the changes in their everyday lives: the courts reformed, the government more open and transparent, universal human rights of all Moroccans – men and women alike – respected.
I’m especially pleased by Morocco’s commitments to take on the deeply troubling problem of child marriage. We know that child brides are less likely to get an education, more likely to face life-threatening problems, particularly around child birth and delivery, which not only shortchanges them but can even rob them and their communities of their lives and talents. So we want to encourage the government and civil society to continue their important work together on this issue.
With regard to the Western Sahara, the United States continues to support efforts to find a peaceful, sustainable, mutually agreed-upon solution. U.S. policy toward the Western Sahara has remained consistent for many years. We have made clear that Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, realistic, and credible, and that it represents a potential approach that could satisfy the aspirations of the people in the Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity. We continue to support the negotiations carried out by the United Nations and hope parties can work toward resolution.
With respect to the economy, our second working group will focus on what more can be done to deliver tangible economic benefits. Morocco’s economy is relatively healthy, but you face the same problem that is now endemic across the world – unemployment is still too high, especially among young people.
That’s why the United States is providing $1.5 million to support an effort to attract foreign investors, foster local economic development, and combat corruption across the region. And I’m pleased to announce that later this year we will hold a Morocco business development conference here in Washington to connect businesses from both countries.
Today, we should discuss ways to build on all of these efforts by increasing bilateral trade, a particular goal of mine since so much trade from Morocco goes to Europe. I’d like to increase the amount of trade coming to the United States, and also to improve economic integration across North Africa, which could greatly benefit Morocco because of Morocco’s stability and Morocco’s very strong economic foundation. The greater integration there is, the greater the benefits for Moroccans.
Third, the attack in Benghazi this week reminds us that security remains a vital issue. Through our work together on the Global Counterterrorism Task Force, the United States and Morocco already share crucial information and best practices, and I thank Morocco for hosting a Global Counterterrorism Task Force workshop on threats in the South Atlantic next month.
We are also collaborating through USAID, the Peace Corps, and other agencies to help provide Moroccan youth with alternatives to criminal and extremist organizations. And so we are partnering to help strengthen Morocco’s criminal justice system and law enforcement.
There will be a lot to discuss in the meeting today. And let me add, the United States greatly appreciates the constructive role Morocco is playing on the UN Security Council, especially your support for the effort to end the violence and bloodshed in Syria and help to usher in a new democratic future for that country. I commend Morocco for offering to host the next ministerial meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People, and we look forward to continuing to work closely together as close partners even after your term on the Security Council has ended.
Finally, our education and cultural ties are reason for much celebration. This year marks the 30th anniversary of our official program to facilitate academic exchanges and other bonds between us. There are more than 5,000 Moroccan alumni of these programs. Two are with us today – Dr. Benjelloun and Dr. Ouaouicha – and we thank them. But among all our work on this front, from preserving Morocco’s historic sites to empowering youth, there’s one area I particularly hope we can focus on today and receive your advice and counsel – namely, interfaith dialogue.
In these tense and turbulent times, it’s more important than ever for people of different faiths to exchange ideas, to build understanding, to promote religious tolerance. It’s one of the great challenges of the 21st century, and it’s one that we must address together.
So we have a lot of work to do, Minister, but our friendship runs long and deep, and as the treaty our nations signed in 1786 says, and I quote, “Trusting in God, it will remain permanent.” I’m confident that we will continue to solve problems and produce results that make our nations stronger, more peaceful, more secure, more prosperous, and also contribute to doing the same for the world.
So again, let me welcome you, Minister. It’s been a great pleasure for me to get to know you, to work with you, to be your colleague bilaterally, regionally, and globally, and also welcome your distinguished delegation.
Thank you. (Applause.)
FOREIGN MINISTER AL-OTHMANI: I would like to express my sincere condolences of the American people and the government for the death of the U.S. Ambassador in Libya and the other diplomats. We condemn this act of violence and we share the sorrow of their families and the American people.
(Via interpreter) Madam Secretary, honored, distinguished audience, I would like to thank Madam Secretary for the clear positions and frank positions that she expressed today. And these are positions that indicate that you have a balanced and prudent policy. And I would like to confirm that yesterday, with instructions from His Majesty King Mohammed VI, there was a clear message from Morocco issued by the Moroccan Government that condemned the attack that took place on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, and also condemned the killing of diplomats – of American diplomats, innocent diplomats who work – who should be protected because they’re ambassadors and diplomats.
Also, once again, would like to reiterate Morocco’s clear position against violence and against any confrontation as a way to solve problems and settle conflicts. Morocco has always been – has always stressed peace and security, while also maintaining the positions of each person, but solving problems through dialogue and conviction, but within the framework of peace and stability.
At the same time, I would like to thank Madam Secretary for her clear position vis-a-vis the video that attacks the Prophet and also for her position against this insult, and I would like to say that the Kingdom of Morocco also has the same position. We say all prophets should be respected and should not be attacked or insulted. We respect Prophet Moses and Jesus and Muhammad and all prophets because they are symbols for humanity, for the entire humanity, and insulting them is an insult to millions of human beings who respect them and hold them in high esteem. And any kind of insult would only provoke hate and conflict between people. And we live in a world that is tired of conflict. It’s tired of hate. And it needs policies that promote peace and security.
I would also like to extend my sincere appreciation and thanks to Madam Secretary for her special attention and personal attention that she paid to hold this first session of Strategic Dialogue. I am pleased and honored to be here with Madam Secretary in opening this dialogue. And as you indicated, the relationship between Morocco and the U.S. are historic, and they go back to centuries ago, and there are protocols of friendship that go back to the first protocol signed in 1787, and is still in effect and also it’s been succeeded by numerous agreements. And since that time, the two countries, Morocco and the U.S., have continued to be partners in several – on several issues and problems within the framework of engagement and direct dialogue, and also within the framework of working to establish the principles of sovereignty and abiding by international legitimacy, and also peaceful resolution to conflict within international law and convention of the UN and also within the framework of respect for human rights.
We have also referred to these issues in the strategic relationship during the latest visit that His Majesty paid to Washington, in which he called for – and I quote – His Majesty said that we should provide the right environment to promote a strategic partnership in the Mediterranean and also that within its European context and our signing of the memorandum of understanding is only a confirmation of this mutual desire for consultation between the two countries. It’s also within the framework of renewed partnership in order to exchange opinions and views about issues of priority in our relations and also to better coordinate our positions vis-a-vis international issues of mutual concern.
This diversity and wealth of our relationship will allow us to dedicate today four committees, four working committees, to address political, economic, security, and educational issues between us and also to activate the results and the decisions that would result as a result of these meetings and our distinguished relationship and Morocco’s balanced participation in the Mediterranean dialogue for the – for NATO and its active contribution to the UN efforts to maintain peace and – international peace and security, and also mutual cooperation between our two countries within the framework of the Security Coordination Committee makes Morocco a partner – a credible partner – in our Strategic Dialogue with the U.S.
Morocco, as you mentioned – as Madam Secretary mentioned – was in the lead since a decade ago to join, based on a deep conviction, to also engage in a series of daring reform, and these have been crowned with the adoption of a new constitution that dedicates its determination to move forward in building democracy and also establishing the rule of law. The changes in the entire Arab region and also in the North Africa and the – last year reflect the aspirations of their people to democracy and human rights, and also this has dedicated Morocco’s conviction to move forward in this direction that it has chosen earlier.
At the political level, I would like to point out or refer to four different portfolios. The first one is Morocco’s deep engagement in building the Maghreb Union as a strategic choice that is entrenched in the constitution as a priority for Moroccan foreign policy. And this we seek to achieve in coordination with our partnership in the region by strengthening our mutual relations and also through building a Maghreb – a democratic Maghreb Union, a prosperous one that respects human rights and also its own peoples.
The second issue is the security issue on the – in the Sahel region and the Sahara, and I would like to point out that Morocco is deeply engaged and heavily engaged in working with various partners, whether private nonprofit organizations or even civil society organization, and also countries in the region and international partners to establish peace and security in the Sahara and the Sahel regions using – through the peace and security mechanisms and also using political mechanisms. Therefore, Morocco is attempting to coordinate at the highest level with neighboring countries, and also with West Africa – African nations, and the Maghreb Union because maintaining security in the region is – maintaining also tribal security and the security of the Mediterranean. And this directly impacts international peace and security.
The third issue is the Western Sahara issue. Maghreb – Morocco has bravely submitted a proposal for self-rule, and it considers it to be base for negotiations to reach a final agreement to this long-lasting conflict.
And I would like to extend to you, Madam Secretary, my deepest thanks for your clear position that you repeatedly reiterated, and you once again confirmed it today, considering the self-rule solution to be a realistic solution and a serious one. And Morocco is open to implement UN resolutions in participating with sincere credibility in negotiations that would lead to such a final resolution.
Finally, the Syrian problem. You notice that Madam Secretary also noted that Morocco’s direct involvement and its sincere commitment to the partnership and also coordination with various parts and locally and internationally to put an end to this nightmare – to this horrific nightmare that the Syrian people – our brotherly Syrian people is facing. And we are committed to continue on this path of cooperation to put an end to the violence that the Syrian people are experiencing. And in this regard, Morocco will be hosting the upcoming meeting for the Friends of Syria meetings next October, and I wish that you would honor us with your participation.
The Strategic Dialogue that brings us together today is not just political and not just economic. Morocco is like any other countries in the region, has economic problems, and our major partners in Europe are also facing recessions, and this affects Morocco directly. For that reason, we are delighted to have this dialogue today on economic issues so that we can deepen our economic cooperation between the two countries and also attract more American investments in Morocco. And we would like to learn what concerns U.S. investors have so that we can address them and discuss them, and also find ways to attract these investments to Morocco.
We also would like to have a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries – more successful and more balanced, and this could also – so that it can open avenues for Morocco to benefit from it. As I said before, Morocco is committed to effectively contribute to the entire region to maintain peace and security, and therefore a discussion of issues related to the economic problems is very vital to this.
Finally, we have the educational discussions and also a dialogue between civilizations. And then this has been led by His Majesty, as Prince of the Faithful, and he’s been sponsoring dialogue between various cultures. And Morocco has always been a meeting place for all civilizations, and we are very delighted to be part of this discussion as well. Giving us today, the – today marking the onset of this U.S.-Moroccan dialogue that we started today with the signing of Memorandum of Understanding is a very important step in our mutual relationship, and it’s a very important turning point in our strategic relationship, and reflects the determination of His Majesty and also President – Morocco – President Obama, to further enhance and development this relationship. And we will do our utmost best to enrich the strategic relationship for the interests – best interests of all – both our people.
And you will find in Morocco a credible partner, and thank you very much. (Applause.)
Office of the Press Secretary
The White House
September 12, 2012
The President called Egyptian President Morsi today to review the strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt, and our ongoing efforts to strengthen bilateral economic and security cooperation. Given recent events, and consistent with our interest in a relationship based on mutual interests and mutual respect, President Obama underscored the importance of Egypt following through on its commitment to cooperate with the United States in securing U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel. The President said that he rejects efforts to denigrate Islam, but underscored that there is never any justification for violence against innocents and acts that endanger American personnel and facilities. President Morsi expressed his condolences for the tragic loss of American life in Libya and emphasized that Egypt would honor its obligation to ensure the safety of American personnel.
Office of the Press Secretary
The White House
September 12, 2012
President Obama called President Mohamed Magariaf of Libya this evening, their first conversation since President Magariaf’s election last month. President Obama thanked President Magariaf for extending his condolences for the tragic deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, and two other State Department officers in Benghazi yesterday. He also expressed appreciation for the cooperation we have received from the Libyan government and people in responding to this outrageous attack, and said that the Libyan government must continue to work with us to assure the security of our personnel going forward. The President made it clear that we must work together to do whatever is necessary to identify the perpetrators of this attack and bring them to justice. The two Presidents agreed to work closely over the course of this investigation. The President reaffirmed our support for Libya’s democratic transition, a cause Ambassador Stevens believed in deeply and did so much to advance. He welcomed the election of a new prime minister yesterday to help lead the Libyan government’s efforts to improve security, counter extremism, and advance its democracy.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
The White House
September 12, 2012
I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America’s commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.
I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.
On a personal note, Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya’s transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my Administration, and deeply saddened by this loss.
The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward.
Michael H. Posner
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
September 6, 2012
I am very pleased to be back in Uganda. I first came to know this country in 1974 when I wrote a report on human rights violations under Idi Amin. It was published by the International Commission of Jurists, and became the basis for the first debates on Uganda at the UN Commission on Human Rights. I was able to visit Uganda in 1982 as part of the first Amnesty International mission here in the post-Amin years. And I had the opportunity to come back regularly throughout the 1980s as Uganda emerged from this traumatic period. During each of my visits I saw the remarkable vitality, energy, resourcefulness, and humanity of the Ugandan people, even in times of crisis. These are all qualities I have seen here again on this visit.
With this historical perspective, it is striking to see the dramatic economic progress that has been made here over the past two decades. The United States has been a proud partner of the Ugandan government and people as you have worked to achieve this extraordinary economic progress. Though many challenges remain, when I first visited few could have envisioned the scope or pace of development that has occurred here. We will continue to be a partner in helping build a stronger future for Ugandans—through support for economic development , through health programs that help tackle the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and support for democratic institutions that benefit all Ugandans.
Uganda is an important regional partner of the United States in our collective efforts to combat the brutal practices of El Shabaab and counter instability in Somalia, and to end the inhumane terror wrought by Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army. We will continue to look to President Museveni and the Ugandan government as our partner in the years ahead as we continue our efforts to combat violent extremist movements in this region.
During our visit here, my colleague Dan Baer and I have had a series of productive meetings with Ugandan government officials and with members of Ugandan civil society. As the ICJ study I worked on reported to the UN in 1974, Ugandan civil society was decimated during Idi Amin’s reign. By contrast, today there are several thousand non-governmental organizations working here, which is a very welcome development.
But while many of these NGOs operate freely, a number of advocacy organization, especially those who publically challenge official actions and policies, are being subjected to increasing government scrutiny. In some instances, demonstrations are controlled, and their rights to free assembly curtailed. Their meetings are disrupted or they are subject to routine surveillance. Still other groups are threatened with deregistration because of their public statements. Some government officials resort to hostile rhetoric , and seem to treat these groups as a security threat. In response to this restrictive environment, some of these groups now self-censor.
As Secretary Clinton outlined in a major speech in Krakow, Poland in 2010: “along with well-functioning markets and responsible, accountable government, progress in the 21st century depends on the ability of individuals to coalesce around shared goals, and harness the power of their convictions. But when governments crack down on the right of citizens to work together, as they have throughout history, societies fall into stagnation and decay.” The United States views a strong, independent civil society as crucial to the building of strong stable democratic states. Here and elsewhere we stand behind civil society organizations and individuals who seek to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association as they advocate peacefully for change.
One of the issues we discussed was the NGO board and the registration and monitoring of NGOs. We understand that there are some proposals to revise the law governing the NGO law, and that revisions could include placing the NGO Board in the Prime Minister’s office, including NGO representation on the board, and removing security service representation on the board. Proposals like these could help send a message that NGOs are not a security threat, but rather a national resource. In addition, steps to remove the burdensome research permission requirements would be a positive step toward more openness, as would statements from government officials that reaffirm the rights of NGOs to speak out, even when they are criticizing or questioning government action on sensitive issues like land and resource management.
In or meetings today we also discussed restrictions on the press, including official efforts to block social networking sites and criminal prosecutions against a number of journalists. We raised these issues because a free media, too, is vital to the functioning of a strong, stable democracy. Censorship is not the only threat to a free media—punishment of journalists leads to self-censorship, and licensing processes for radio stations and other outlets can also be a means of applying pressure. So protection of a free media takes a robust commitment to rule of law and rights protections.
We also met today with members of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional law who received the 2011 Human Rights Defender award from the US State Department. As Secretary Clinton said when she met with some of these civil society activists to present the award last month, these groups are “standing up for human rights and setting an example for how civil society can work together in common cause.”
She also said that “it is critical for all Ugandans—the government and citizens alike—to speak out against discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of anyone. That’s true no matter where they come from, what they believe, or whom they love.”
A society’s commitment to human rights can often be measured by how it protects the most vulnerable or unpopular persons within it. As we raised the protection of all Ugandans, including LGBT Ugandans, with government officials today, we did so on the basis of making sure that universal rights are protected for all people, and we will continue to do so.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Michael H. Posner, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
September 5, 2012
I am delighted to be back in Kenya, a country I know well and where I have many friends and have spent considerable time. I want to commend the Kenyan government for hosting this conference and for the leadership role you are playing on Internet and information technology issues. I had the privilege of meeting with Minister Poghisio last December at the launch of the Coalition, and I am honored to be speaking after him today.
Kenya now has well over 15 million Internet users, and leads East Africa in mobile penetration, with more than two-thirds of all Kenyans now connected. The fact that so many African countries are participating in this conference is a tribute to Kenya’s leadership and convening power.
Kenya is not alone in embracing mobile and digital technologies. In neighboring Tanzania, for example, more than half of its citizens are using mobile phones. In Ghana, mobile penetration is now over 90%. These are statistics that were unimaginable a decade ago, and are cause for reflection and celebration.
Across Africa today, there is a new kind of race – a race to connect as many citizens as quickly as possible. By doing so, we are changing the development paradigm in ways none of us yet fully understand.
But while our technologies change, our fundamental principles and our development challenges do not. And so today I would like to say a few words about the role of Internet freedom, and how the free flow of information has implications for human rights and development.
I believe it’s futile in the long run to try to separate one kind of freedom from another, to attempt to distinguish online freedoms from freedoms we enjoy in the physical world, or to try to keep the Internet open for business in a given country but closed for free expression. Because, as Secretary Clinton said at the first Freedom Online conference in The Hague in December, “There isn’t an economic Internet and a social Internet and a political Internet: there’s just the Internet.”
Yet we continue to see attempts by countries to harness the economic power of the Internet while controlling political and cultural content. Some countries are devoting great resources to attempting to purge their online space or, like Iran, attempting to isolate their people inside what amounts to a national intra-net – a digital bubble. Such attempts may succeed for a limited time in some places; but at a cost to a nation’s education system, its political stability, its social mobility, and its economic potential.
These are costs that no nation can afford. Whether developed or developing, the economies of the 21st century must compete to attract capital, to spark innovation, to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of our people and provide the climate in which they develop enterprises that can provide jobs and sustainable growth.
Around the world, some groups tend to focus more on erasing the digital divide, extending Internet access that last difficult mile, and putting into the hands of the next two billion users a mobile device that also provides access to banking and education, medical and agricultural advice and so much more. Meanwhile, other groups tend to focus more on Internet freedom, ensuring that the evolving information and communication technologies remain the foundation of an open, global platform for exchange, where people can exercise their rights, and not a tool used to spy on or silence citizens.
Today, the world has not one but two digital divides – the divide between the two billion of us who have some form of Internet access and the five billion who have yet to get it, and also a divide between those who enjoy the free use of their connectivity, and those whose experience of the Internet is restricted by censorship of the information they can receive and fear of retaliation for the information they transmit. The access divide is narrowing, thanks to the efforts of people around the world and the hard work of people in this room. But the second divide, the freedom divide, is widening.
We must continue to work together to erase both divides, and these interests must be pursued in tandem.
This is a world in which citizens of democratic nations can have uncensored Internet access and thus membership in a global community that exchanges news, information, ideas, products, innovations and services. At the same time it’s a world where citizens of some other countries remain trapped and isolated behind firewalls that stunt not just their political freedom but ultimately their economic opportunities. We must do everything possible to oppose what amounts to information curtain created by national governments that do not want their own people to have full and free access to the Internet.
There are no magic bullets that will erase this divide overnight, but the United States is committed to helping expand the benefits of information and communications technologies to other nations as an integral part of both our human rights and our development policies.
As President Obama wrote last week – in response to a question put to him during an Internet chat — “We will fight hard to make sure that the Internet remains the open forum for everybody — from those who are expressing an idea to those [who] want to start a business.”
The United States takes a holistic approach to these issues. We recognize the linkages between broad-based access to 21st century communications and inclusive economic growth, and in turn between inclusive economic development and human rights. We know that human rights do not begin after breakfast. People need both. Without breakfast, few people have the energy to make full use of their rights. And after breakfast, they need both political and economic freedom to build profitable businesses and peaceful societies.
What does that mean in practice? It means the U.S. government is involved in a wide range of Information & Communication Technology development efforts from a variety of different agencies, from USAID to the National Science Foundation.
As a first step, companies, governments and civil society groups are starting to come together to work on this crucial issue. The goal is to find ways to achieve the UN target of providing entry-level broadband service for less than 5% of average monthly income. We recognize that governments have a role to play in creating the right incentives, ensuring healthy market competition, and supporting investment and continued infrastructure development that brings the Internet and mobile technology to more people in more places.
On the openness side, we have expanded our funding for Internet freedom advocacy and programming, for which the US Congress has allocated $100 million since 2008 to projects that provide technologies and knowledge to millions of people whose freedoms online are repressed. We are thrilled to be launching at this conference the Digital Defenders partnership, an unprecedented collaboration among governments to provide support for digital activists under threat.
But just as we support individuals who are targeted every day for exercising their rights online, we are conscious of a broader threat to the future of Internet openness. Right now, in various international forums, some countries are working to change how the Internet is governed. They want to replace the current multi-stakeholder approach, which supports the free flow of information in a global network, and includes governments, the private sector, and citizens. In its place, they aim to impose a system that expands control over Internet resources, institutions, and content, and centralizes that control in the hands of governments. These debates will play out in forums over the next few months and years.
The United States supports preserving and deepening the current multi-stakeholder approach because it brings together the best of governments, the private sector and civil society to manage the network, and it works. The multi-stakeholder system has kept the Internet up and running for years, all over the world. We want the next generation of Internet users — whether small business owners or independent journalists – to be involved in shaping the future of the platform.
That next generation of users will not just be in the United States. Many of them will be here in Africa. That is why we need to ensure that stakeholders in Africa and the rest of the developing world are able to participate in the various multi-stakeholder forums where Internet governance issues are decided. And that is why we value our partnership with the governments of the Coalition and welcome Kenya’s leadership, which leads by example in demonstrating that the right way to foster both access and openness – to harness the potential of these new technologies — is through inclusion and collaboration with everyone in this room.
Monday, September 10, 2012
The Press Secretary, Office of the Press Secretary
The White House
September 10, 2012
The United States congratulates Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud on winning the support of Parliament and becoming Somalia’s new president, and the Somali people for completing this momentous political transition. Today’s vote represents an important milestone for the people of Somalia, and a crucial step forward along the path of building a representative government.
With leadership comes tremendous responsibility. The United States calls on Somalia’s leaders to usher in a new era of governance that is responsive, representative, and accountable. We encourage President Hassan and all members of Parliament to be inclusive and collaborative, and to build on today’s vote by continuing to strengthen democratic institutions, improving stability and security, and bringing tangible improvements to the lives of Somalia’s citizens.
The United States stands with the people of Somalia during this historic moment, and will continue to be a committed partner moving forward. Today’s achievement would not have been possible without the contributions of the African Union, United Nations, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and regional stakeholders. While today’s vote marks the end of the transition period, much work remains to be done. The United States calls on the international community to reaffirm its commitment to Somalia, and to help realize a more secure and prosperous future for the Somali people.
Department of State
September 10, 2012
On September 10 in Washington, DC, Under Secretary Robert Hormats and Sierra Leone’s Minister of Aviation and Transportation Vandi Chidi Minah signed an Open Skies air services agreement that will formalize the liberalization of our bilateral aviation relationship. The United States and Sierra Leone initialed the agreement in June 2012, and it has been applied via comity and reciprocity since that time.
The Open Skies Agreement entered into force upon signature.
The Open Skies Agreement establishes a liberalized aviation relationship between the United States and Sierra Leone. It creates opportunities for strengthening the economic partnership between the United States and Sierra Leone through closer links in transport and trade.
Open Skies agreements permit unrestricted air service by the airlines of both countries between and beyond the other’s territory, eliminating restrictions on how often the carriers fly, the kind of aircraft they use and the prices they charge. This agreement will allow for the strengthening and expansion of our strong trade and tourism links with Sierra Leone, benefitting U.S. and Sierra Leonean businesses and travelers by expanding opportunities for air services and encouraging vigorous price competition by airlines, while preserving our commitments to aviation safety and security.
The United States has over 100 Open Skies agreements with partners around the world and at all levels of development.
For more information about Open Skies, please visit: http://www.state.gov/e/eb/tra/ata/index.htm