Monday, June 30, 2014
June 30, 2014
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people and government of Somalia on your 54th Independence Day on July 1.
The United States is proud to support Somalia as it continues on the path to becoming a stable, federal democracy and a strong international partner. We remain determined to help rebuild the political, economic, and security institutions that will provide lasting stability and meet the aspirations of the Somali people.
Today, Somalia’s outlook is improving because Somalis themselves have taken on the responsibility for reclaiming what was lost and rebuilding what was destroyed. They are the ones who have assumed the lead, and they are the ones who can be proud of the precious nature of the opportunity now before us.
The United States sends its best wishes on this Independence Day. I look forward to strengthening our partnership with a democratic, peaceful, and prosperous Somalia.
June 30, 2014
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Rwanda on the 52nd anniversary of your independence on July 1.
Rwanda and its neighbors are turning adversity into prosperity, and I commend all Rwandans for their commitment to a brighter and more hopeful future.
Over the last 20 years, Rwanda has emerged as a regional leader, borne by a deep commitment to strengthen economic growth for all Rwandans. It has improved health institutions across the country. And it provides wider access to healthcare and universal primary school education to all Rwandan children. By investing in its people, Rwanda is building a strong foundation for peace and prosperity in the years to come.
I congratulate the people of Rwanda on all you have achieved, and wish you a joyous Independence Day celebration.
June 27, 2014
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I send my best wishes to the people and the Government of Djibouti on your National Day.
Djibouti is an anchor of peace and security in the Horn of Africa. As our partnership deepens, I look forward to working together on energy, workforce development, education, healthcare, and security cooperation in the years to come. A secure, stable, and prosperous Djibouti is essential to the well-being of the entire region.
As you celebrate your independence, the government and people of the United States stand beside you.
June 25, 2014
On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I am delighted to congratulate the people of Mozambique as you celebrate your national day on June 25.
My family has a special bond with the people of Mozambique. My wife, Teresa, was born and raised in Maputo. Her parents fell in love with your country and decided to raise their children there. Teresa’s father was a doctor who would make her rise at dawn to help treat sick children from poor families. To this day, she still speaks their language every day at home and she carries the extraordinary spirit of your people with her wherever she goes.
Mozambique is a longstanding partner of the United States. Together, our countries are working to ensure peace, progress, and shared prosperity for all. We are especially proud of our joint efforts to strengthen democracy, promote economic growth, and combat the scourge of wildlife trafficking and other transnational crimes.
I wish all Mozambicans a joyous 39th anniversary celebration and a bright and prosperous future.
June 25, 2014
On behalf of President Obama and the American people I offer my heartfelt congratulations to the government and people of Madagascar as you celebrate your independence on June 26.
This year’s anniversary carries special significance as the first since Madagascar’s return to democratic rule.
We encourage the newly elected government to show its commitment to the Malagasy people by governing with transparency and respect for human rights and the rule of law. In times of crisis, we worked with you to advance the health and well-being of all your citizens. Now, in times of hope and opportunity, we look forward to deepening our partnership for peace and shared prosperity.
The United States recognizes that Madagascar’s strength and resilience lie in its people. We hope that this day will mark the start of a new and productive chapter in your history.
Friday, June 27, 2014
Department of State
June 25, 2014
At the invitation of the African Union, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield will head the United States delegation to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in connection with the AU Summit to be held this week.
While in Malabo, the delegation will engage African leaders on a number of issues of mutual concern and will update leaders on preparations for the U.S.– Africa Leaders Summit to be hosted by President Obama in Washington August 5-6.
Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
June 23, 2014
The United States commends the people of Ekiti State, Nigeria, who turned out to vote in the June 21 gubernatorial election. U.S. Embassy and international observers assessed that the process was credible and efficient, and that security forces collaborated effectively in providing a safe environment free of major incidents. We congratulate Mr. Ayo Fayose on his election, and commend Governor Fayemi on graciously accepting the results. We urge all parties to accept the outcome as representing the will of Ekiti’s voting public.
As we look towards the August 9 Osun State gubernatorial election and the national elections in February 2015, the process in Ekiti should lend confidence to the Nigerian public and the international community that INEC, the security forces, and the political parties have the capacity to conduct themselves in a manner that strengthens Nigeria’s democracy and gives political voice to its population.
Office of the Vice President
June 24, 2014
Dr. Jill Biden, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, and U.S. Ambassador Catherine Russell to Travel to Africa.
Dr. Jill Biden will travel to Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sierra Leone from June 30 – July 7, 2014. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Catherine Russell, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, will also travel with Dr. Biden.
During their travel, Dr. Biden, Administrator Shah, and Ambassador Russell will highlight how girls’ education and women’s participation in government, the economy, and civil society can accelerate economic development, improve health and educational outcomes, strengthen democratic governance, and foster peace and security. These themes will also be woven throughout the upcoming U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit held in Washington, D.C. in early August.
June 22, 2014
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter) I would like to welcome U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in his current visit to Cairo. And this visit (inaudible) time. Egypt is taking steady steps to (inaudible) the implementation of the roadmap, and after having fulfilled the second election (inaudible) elections, and the assumption of power of President Fattah – Abdel Fattah al-Sisi after having won a majority that reflects the wide spectrum of voters. These elections (inaudible) closely followed by several international observers, including the United States, (inaudible). I trust that Secretary Kerry, whom I’ve known personally when I was ambassador to Washington and he was head of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate – we both agree that the working relationship that we’ve had in the past in which we were used to having candid conversations and very (inaudible) will continue. We will work together to broaden these meetings and cooperation between both countries. This is the same spirit that prevailed once again during this visit.
Secretary Kerry met President Adbel Fattah al-Sisi today and they discussed (inaudible) meetings with him also were all held in a positive atmosphere, and we addressed several regional and international issues of shared concern. And we also agreed that we should mobilize our efforts to confront these challenges and threats threatening the region, and also to address some of the repercussions on international peace and security, and especially the situation in Syria and Iraq and Libya, and the faltering efforts on the peace front between the Israelis and the Palestinians. All these require close cooperation and continued cooperation between the U.S. and Egypt.
Our discussions also addressed bilateral issues on several fronts. And I can say that we have reached an agreement over the need to expend more effort in order to push our strategic relations between our two countries forward, to reflect the longstanding history. And this relationship has been based on shared and common interests and mutual respect in order to enhance the chances for building on the very strong relations between the two countries, and also reflecting the size – the important role of the U.S. and Egypt as a regional power.
We also agreed that we should work at the highest level to push our mutual relationship forward based on solid grounds and to clear it of any misunderstanding, in order to reflect the strategic nature. And we also agreed on the need to work sincerely towards removing any obstacles to its further development in the interests of both countries and both people.
I am certain that Secretary Kerry believes in the importance of the relationship between the two countries and the strategic depth, and I would like to reiterate that he personally is concerned to improve them even further. Once again, I welcome the Secretary John Kerry in Cairo and give him the chance to speak.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you very much, Minister Shoukry. I’m delighted to be back in Cairo. And I want to congratulate Sameh on his assuming the role of foreign minister of Egypt. And indeed, we have worked together previously, and I look forward to continuing that and working with him as both of us perform these functions as the ministers for foreign affairs of our countries.
I came here today to reaffirm the strength of the important partnership, the historic partnership between the United States and Egypt, and also to consult on the critical situations that we face in the region – obviously, particularly Iraq, Syria and Libya. After three difficult years of transition, the United States remains deeply committed to seeing Egypt succeed. We want to see the people of Egypt succeed, and we want to contribute to the success of the region.
As President Obama told President al-Sisi after his inauguration, we are committed to working together to fulfill the full promise of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, and to support the political and economic and social aspirations of the Egyptian people as well as their universal human rights. I reiterated that message in each of my meetings today as part of a broad and a very constructive discussion of the issues, including Israeli-Palestinian relations, Egypt’s return to the African Union, and confronting the shared threats of terrorism and extremism.
I want to thank President al-Sisi for a very candid and comprehensive discussion in which we both expressed our deep concerns about a number of issues, but most importantly our mutual determination for our countries to work together in partnership in order to deal with the challenges that we face.
I emphasized also our strong support for upholding the universal rights and freedoms of all Egyptians, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. We also discussed the essential role of a vibrant civil society, a free press, and rule of law, and due process in a democracy. There is no question that Egyptian society is stronger when all of its citizens have a say and a stake in its success. And I welcome the recent statements from President al-Sisi and his call for review of human rights legislation.
We discussed the economic challenges of Egypt and I made clear President Obama’s and the United States’s commitment to be helpful in that regard.
We also discussed, as I said earlier, the grave security situation in Iraq. Over the next week, I will make the same case with other leaders that I made to President al-Sisi today. ISIL, or DASH as many people call it here, its ideology of violence and repression is a threat not only to Iraq but to the entire region. This is a critical moment where together we must urge Iraq’s leaders to rise above sectarian motivations and form a government that is united in its determination to meet the needs and speak to the demands of all of their people.
For Egypt, this is also a moment of high stakes as well as a moment of great opportunity. Perhaps the greatest challenge that the new government faces is providing economic opportunity for Egyptians who seek and deserve a better life, including the millions of young people who have played an instrumental role in their country’s historic political change. Together with our international partners, including friends in the region like the Saudis, the Emiratis, the United States will contribute and work towards the economic support and transformation of Egypt, and work to help provide stability and an economic transformation for all Egyptians.
Egypt and its people have made clear their demands for dignity, justice and for political and economic opportunity. They just had a historic election for president, and there will be further elections for the parliament. And the United States fully supports these aspirations and the efforts of the government to help fulfill its obligations in that regard. And we will stand with the Egyptian people as they fight for the future that they want and that they deserve.
So we have a lot of work to do together. We know that. We talked about that today. And I think we really found ourselves on a similar page of changes that have yet to be made, promises that have yet to be fulfilled, but of a serious sense of purpose and commitment by both of us to try to help achieve those goals.
All of the things that are happening here are happening at a moment of extraordinary change in many parts of this region, and it is imperative for all of us to work cooperatively to try to address these concerns. Likewise, we talked about the challenges of Libya and the challenge that many countries face in this region of the spillover effect of terrorism, extremism that is playing out in various countries. That is true in Libya and that is true in Iraq. And both Egypt and the United States share deep concerns and a deep opposition to the challenge that these threats of radical ideology and extremism and what they present to everybody.
So we will continue to work. We will work hard to augment what is a longstanding and deep partnership between the United States and Egypt, recognizing that we both have things to do that we can do better and that we both will work to do so. But we will do so with a common understanding of the mutual interests that we share in standing up to the greatest threat of all to this region, which is the threat of these terrorists who want to tear apart rule of law and tear away an existing governance. And neither of us have an interest in allowing that to happen.
I’d be happy to answer a few questions.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: Thank you. A question from (inaudible) Al Arabiya magazine. And my question is for you, Secretary of State. First of all, you said that the Egyptian relation with the Americans are strategic. And yet, there is maybe a decision to decrease the aid by 26 percent. Don’t you think this give (inaudible) message to the Egyptians that the United States is trying to dictate Egypt, trying to pressure Egypt in a certain way which takes the level of the Egyptian-American relations away from being strategic? Your comment about this.
And the second point, you mentioned terrorism as the main actually threat to the United States and to the region, the Middle East. And yet, although you – the United States is saying that they are claiming that they are having efforts to combat terrorism, they are refusing to give Egypt the (inaudible) that the Egyptian are going to use to combat terrorism in Sinai. Don’t you think there is a contradiction here between words and actually actions when it comes to Egypt, and why? Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you for the question, and I’ll – I’m happy to answer both parts of it. On the first part of the question, President Obama and the Administration have proposed providing the full amount of aid, the $650 billion, that comes with the first certification, and the House of Representatives has passed that, and now it’s the Senate that had a slight reduction and a different formula. We will work that out, and I am confident that we will be able to ultimately get the full amount of aid for precisely the reasons that I describe – because it is strategic and it is important for us to be able to work together.
So I’m absolutely confident we will get on track there, as I am confident, to answer the second part of your question, that the Apaches will come and that they will come very, very soon. I had a conversation this morning even with Senator Leahy from here in Cairo, based on the conversations that we have had. I am very confident that we’ll be able to move forward and there are strong reasons for doing so. Those Apaches are focused on the issue of terrorism, and they will be used in a place where Egypt has been working very, very hard in concert with Israel and others, and with us, in order to push back against these terrorist activities.
So I think that the interests of American legislators – and I can speak to this having been one for many years – are to try and guarantee that the dollars, the taxpayer dollars of the American people that are being spent are being spent on things that Americans will feel is appropriate and meets their needs. It’s not an effort to dictate. It’s simply an effort to guarantee that that hard-earned taxpayer dollar is going to a purpose that the American people will support, and it’s really an issue of protecting that interest, not of trying to dictate to any particular country.
MODERATOR: The next question is from Margaret Brennan of CBS News.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Iran’s Supreme Leader this morning accused the U.S. of trying to put yes men in power in Iraq, and said he’s opposed to U.S. intervention there. How is Iranian influence and backing of Maliki affecting the efforts to try to create a more inclusive government there? And what will your message be to Gulf leaders who do have influence on the ground in Iraq and may be able to stop some of the funding that is also flowing through to ISIS?
And following that, Minister, if you could tell us – U.S. officials say there are a lot of concerns about this country’s mass jailing of journalists, of those associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and of an epidemic of sexual violence. Can you tell us if there are any assurances that you can provide that your country will prevent those?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, with respect to the question of Iran and the Ayatollah’s comments, let me just say that the United States is not engaged in picking or choosing or advocating for any one individual or series of individuals to assume the leadership of Iraq. That is up to the Iraqi people. We have made that clear since day one. It is up to the people of Iraq to choose their future leadership. But we do note that the Kurds have expressed dissatisfaction with the current situation, the Sunni have expressed dissatisfaction with the current situation, and some Shia have expressed dissatisfaction. And Ayatollah Sistani very recently issued a statement in which he said that it was vital for the leadership of Iraq to be a leadership that did not have – did not continue the mistakes of the past and that was going to represent all of the Iraqi people.
So I think we are completely in sync with the people of Iraq, certainly with the expressed comments of various leaders. The United States would like to see the Iraqi people find leadership that is prepared to represent all of the people of Iraq, that is prepared to be inclusive and share power in a way that will maximize the ability of Iraq to focus on the real danger at this moment from an external source, which is ISIL. ISIL is a threat to all of the countries in the region. Even today in our conversation with President al-Sisi and with the foreign minister, both expressed deep concerns about the impact of a group like ISIL and what it means to the region. No country is safe from that kind of spread of terror, and none of us can afford to leave that entity with a safe haven which would become a base for terror against anyone and all, not only in the region but outside of the region as well.
So that’s what we’re focused on, and I think that’s – that really is a fair summary of not only our position but the position of other people in the region that I’ve heard.
You had a second part?
QUESTION: (Inaudible) to the Gulf countries (inaudible)?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the – thank you, yeah. The message to any country from anywhere or any individual from anywhere is that there is no safety margin whatsoever in funding a group like ISIL. And we particularly discourage individuals in the region who may have been sending money through some innocent charity or through various backchannel initiatives under the guise that it’s for the general welfare and benefit of people who’ve been displaced, but then that money finds its way into the hands of terrorists. So we are obviously discouraging any kind of support to entities where it is unsure where the money is going or where it is specifically going to an entity like ISIL. And that goes to any government, any charity, any individual. We must not allow that kind of funding to be made part of the – part of this equation.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) (Inaudible) that the Egyptian people, which has come through three years of transition and launched two revolutions in order to fulfill its own aspirations for a democratic state that takes into consideration the interests of its own people and achieve justice and prosperity.
Now it’s important that after having completed the second point on the roadmap and the approval or ratification of the constitution
and the election of the president, it’s important now that we move forward to establish a state of – that respects the rule of law. And the Egyptian people fully respect and trust its own judicial system and its ability also to deal with transparency and full neutrality to deal with all the issues and make things right, and also to preserve rights. Therefore, anybody who’s being accused has the opportunity to have fair trial and a strong defense to prove his or her innocence. And we are moving within the framework of upholding the laws that would give people the sense of stability that they need in this regard.
With respect to violence against women, we believe this phenomenon has attracted great attention here in Egypt. And following some of the most painful events that have taken place recently, there has been a law that has particularly targeted this issue. There’s also been – civil society has strongly also opposed it and the government is working in order to preserve the place of women in society and to protect them against harassment. Women are an important part of society and it’s important for them to enjoy full protection.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) This is Mohammed Madov from (inaudible).
QUESTION: Thank you. This is Mohammad Madov from October Weekly Magazine and the (inaudible) website.
Mr. Secretary, I’d like to ask you about what’s your comment on the disastrous situation in Iraq and Libya that have led many people to accuse the American administration of being responsible for this situation through its role in exchanging old regimes in the region. People think that led to division of the Arab armies, terrorism, and sectarian disputes and may lead to division of the Arab countries on sectarian basis.
(Via interpreter.) With respect to the American – U.S.-Egyptian Strategic Dialogue, is there any intention to further activate it?
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: I should go first?
SECRETARY KERRY: Go ahead.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter) With respect to the Strategic Dialogue, this is very important initiative supported that further enhance U.S.-Egyptian relations, and we have discussed this issue during our negotiations. And we are in the process of making special arrangements to activate this initiative. This initiative will definitely positively contribute to (inaudible) the appropriate framework for this relationships in the interest of both countries in various fields. This dialogue covers all areas of cooperation between the two countries and the economic and social and also political front in the interest of the Egyptian people, and also will further enhance understanding and deepen shared interest between the two countries and get it to a point which – according to which our relations can move forward, and it also allows for the exchange of opinions on issues which require further dialogue.
MS. PSAKI: The final question –
SECRETARY KERRY: No, let me answer that if I may.
MS. PSAKI: Sorry.
SECRETARY KERRY: Let me make this as clear as I know how to make this clear. The United States of America was not responsible for what happened in Libya and nor is it responsible for what is happening in Iraq today.
What happened in Libya was that a dictator was attacking his own people and was threatening to go door to door to kill them like dogs. And the United Nations joined together in a resolution that they would have a mission to try to protect those people. And the people rose up and the people marched all the way from Benghazi, all the way to Tripoli, and they, in their own voices, in their own actions, decided they wanted a different life. And today, the United States is working with Egypt, with Tunisia, with Algeria, with Morocco, with Europe, with other countries in order to try to help Libya to be able to pushback against extremists who don’t want them to have that rule of law and that kind of life.
Let me be also clear about Iraq. What’s happening in Iraq is not happening because of the United States, in terms of this current crisis. The United States shed blood and worked hard for years to provide Iraqis the opportunity to have their own governance and have their own government. And they chose a government in several elections, and they just had another election recently. But ISIL – DASH – crossed the line from Syria, began plotting internally, and they have attacked communities and they’re the ones who are marching through to disturb this ability of the people of Iraq to continue to form their government and have the future that they want. This is about ISIL’s terrorist designs on the state of Iraq. And no one should mistake what is happening or why.
And the United States is prepared, as we have been in the past, to help Iraq be able to stand up against that. The President has made the determination, which is an accurate reflection of the American people who feel that we’ve shed our blood and we’ve done what we can to provide that opportunity, so we’re not going to put additional combat soldiers there. But we will help Iraqis to complete this transition if they choose it. If they want, they have an opportunity to choose leadership that could represent all of Iraq, a unity government that brings people together, and focus on ISIL. And I am convinced that they will do so, not just with our help, but with the help of almost every country in the region as well as others in the world who will always stand up against the tyranny of this kind of terrorist activity. That’s what’s happening in Iraq, and nobody should lose sight of it.
MS. PSAKI: The final question is from Jay Solomon of Wall Street Journal.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Secretary Kerry, I was hoping if you could give us a sense of your meeting with President Sisi today. And did you obtain any assurances from the Egyptian leader that he’s committed to building a more inclusive government and providing more political space for Egyptian journalists, political activists, and the Muslim Brotherhood? As you probably know, more than 100 members of the Brotherhood were sentenced to death in recent days, and the trail of the Al Jazeera journalist is expected tomorrow, I believe.
And for Foreign Minister Shoukry, I was hoping you could describe in some bit your meeting with the Secretary on the situation in Iraq today. And is it the Egyptian Government’s position that Prime Minister Maliki in Iraq should resign because of his inability to reach out to the Sunni minority in that country? Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I had a very comprehensive discussion, Jay, with President al-Sisi about precisely those issues you’ve just raised and about many others. We talked specifically about Al Jazeera journalists. We talked specifically about the court system and death sentences. And I think it’s more appropriate for President al-Sisi to speak to those at such time as he deems fit and as is appropriate within the Egyptian process and system over the course of the next days and weeks.
But I will say to you that he gave me a very strong sense of his commitment to make certain that the process he has put in place, a reevaluation of human rights legislation, a reevaluation of the judicial process, and other choices that are available are very much on his mind, and that he’s only been in office for ten days, but he indicated to me that we should work closely, as we will, and stay tuned to what he is going to try to implement over the course of these next days, weeks, and months.
And as you know, that we think it’s important for the president to be given the opportunity – only ten days in office – to begin to get his cabinet moving and begin to focus on these issues. We have time to make that measurement and we will in the days ahead.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (In Arabic.)
MODERATOR: (In Arabic.)
Washington, D.C.–The U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting on June 18, 2014. The agenda items included discussions of a proposed compact with Ghana and the agency’s criteria for selecting countries eligible for subsequent compacts.
The Board of Directors reviewed the proposed Ghana compact. The proposed $498.2 million compact aims to improve power supply and catalyze private sector investment. The Ghana compact contributes to two White House initiatives–Power Africa and Partnership for Growth. It focuses on turning around the power distribution utilities, targeted infrastructure investments, policy, institutional, and regulatory reforms, and expanding access for micro-, small- and medium-sized companies. These investments are expected to result in a more functional, credit worthy and self-sustaining power utility that will better serve its existing and future customers. Under the proposed compact, in addition to MCC funds, the Government of Ghana would contribute approximately $37.4 million. The board was not asked to make a decision on the Ghana compact, which is still in the process of being finalized.
The Board of Directors continued its discussion on the agency’s long-term strategic approach for determining partner countries with a focus on how the agency has selected them for subsequent compacts. MCC partner countries are not automatically entitled to subsequent compacts and to date, of the 16 partner countries that have closed out their five-year compacts, only eight countries have been selected as eligible for a subsequent compact. The board received a briefing on past decisions, underscoring that MCC not only considers the merits, risks and opportunities of making initial investments in new countries, but also considers the possibility of making subsequent investments in existing (or previous) compact partner countries by examining country policy performance as well as progress on the implementation of the prior compact.
MCC’s new Chief Executive Officer, Dana J. Hyde, and board members Susan McCue and Ambassador Mark Green attended. They were all confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 20, 2014. This was the first quarterly meeting to have included all members of the agency’s Board of Directors since September 2009.
Secretary of State John Kerry, board chair, Michael B. Froman, U.S. Trade Representative, and board members Morton H. Halperin and Lorne Craner were also present. Sarah Bloom Raskin, Deputy Secretary of Treasury, and Eric G. Postel, USAID Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Economic Growth, Education and Environment, represented Secretary of Treasury Jacob Lew, board vice chair, and Rajiv Shah, Administrator of USAID, respectively. Both were unable to participate in the quarterly meeting.
MCC’s Board of Directors is expected to hold its next quarterly meeting in September.
June 17, 2014
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am pleased to congratulate the people and government of Seychelles as you commemorate 21 years of independence on June 18.
The lengthy and cordial history of U.S.-Seychellois relations illustrates the affinity between our nations, both of which prize diversity and economic opportunity.
The United States appreciates Seychelles’ continuing efforts in support of regional security. Your work to prosecute and incarcerate suspected pirates has made the world’s ocean a safer place. We share your hopes for growth as a tolerant, vibrant society with an active role promoting stability throughout the Indian Ocean region.
We also look forward to working together to sustainably manage our shared ocean resources. No one knows better than Seychelles that our ocean is a precious resource under the threat of pollution, overfishing, and other human impacts. The ocean’s future is our future, and it deserves our attention.
The United States wishes Seychelles peace and prosperity on your day of celebration. We look forward to continued partnership and cooperation in the years to come.
Office of Rep. Karen Bass
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health & Human Rights
On June 13, Rep. Gregory Meeks organized the “Engaging Wall Street on Power Africa” conference in the Financial District of New York City. The purpose of the conference was to convene investors, lenders, developers and project sponsors to discuss opportunities for U.S. businesses in relation to President Obama’s $7 billion Power Africa Initiative, which seeks to increase electrification in Africa where currently two-thirds of the continent is without access to reliable sources of electricity.
The conference was attended by large numbers of investors from the United States and the African diaspora including General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Aeolus Kenya, Symbion Power, and the African American-owned SEWW Energy. In addition, several high-level U.S. government officials from the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the World Bank attended.
The conference engaged thought leaders in several panel discussions that covered U. S. government assistance, public-private partnerships, private sector investment from companies, banks and investment funds in the U.S., Africa and Europe, and project linkages for American companies interested in doing business in Africa
Office of Rep. Karen Bass
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health & Human Rights
On May 11, 2014, a Sudanese woman, Meriam Ibrahim (pictured above), was convicted in a Sudanese criminal court of apostasy (or conversion from Islam to another religion). Ms. Ibrahim was then given three days to recant her Christian faith, and when she refused, she was sentenced on May 15 to death by hanging for apostasy. The court suspended implementation of the death sentence verdict for two years so that Ms. Ibrahim, who was pregnant at the time, could give birth and nurse her child. The court also suspended her lashing sentence, to be implemented two months after the child’s birth. She gave birth to a daughter, Maya, on May 27, and was moved, along with her son, Martin, who is almost two years old, from a cell to the prison clinic. U.N. human rights officials described the conditions in her prison cell as “harsh,” and international advocacy groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, condemned Ms. Ibrahim’s incarceration and called for her release.
In response to Ms. Ibrahim’s imprisonment on February 24, 2014, the US Department of State issued a statement expressing its deep concern with the apostasy ruling and the flogging sentence, and it called on the Sudanese government and judiciary to respect the right to freedom of religion.
Following months of intense pressure from the international community, as well as global advocacy groups, the Sudanese government announced the release of Meriam Ibrahim from prison on June 23. This development was initially lauded as a diplomatic breakthrough. However, Sudanese authorities re-arrested Ms. Ibrahim at the Khartoum airport on June 24, on grounds of not obtaining proper exits visas to depart the country.
Although initial reports suggested that her release was unconditional, it remains unclear when and if she’ll be able to leave Sudan following the recent detainment.
Office of Rep. Karen Bass
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health & Human Rights
From June 12-16, Rep. Steve Stockman led a congressional delegation including Reps. Frederica Wilson, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Lois Frankel and Louie Gohmert to Nigeria. The purpose of the trip was to further investigate the kidnapping of nearly 300 female students from Chibok, in northeastern Nigeria and receive briefings related to the ongoing threat of Boko Haram throughout the region. While in Nigeria, the delegation met with survivors of attempted kidnappings by Boko Haram, as well as parents of the girls who are currently missing. They all shared harrowing stories of escape and the daily struggles to maintain hope while they wait for their daughters to be found.
On June 19, the delegation held a press on conference on Capitol Hill (pictured above) to report on their findings and continue to raise awareness around the serious security concerns that result in ongoing violence in Nigeria. During the press conference, Rep. Frederica Wilson called for members of Congress and the advocacy community to tweet every day between 9-10am using the hashtag “#BringBackOurGirls” to continue pressuring the Nigerian government for action on this issue and raise awareness around Boko Haram and the kidnapped girls.
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
June 16, 2014
Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom will travel to Senegal, Kenya, and Liberia from June 16 to June 20.
While in Dakar, Senegal, Deputy Secretary Higginbottom will meet with senior Senegalese officials, including Prime Minister Aminata Touré and the Minister of Economy & Finance Amadou Ba. The Deputy Secretary will also meet with prominent business leaders and American companies, visit U.S. Government-supported health and food security projects, and participate in a reception with Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) candidates, young entrepreneurs, and alumni of U.S.-funded exchange programs.
From Senegal, Deputy Secretary Higginbottom will travel to Nairobi, Kenya. In Kenya, the Deputy Secretary will meet with senior Kenyan Government officials to discuss a range of issues of mutual interest in the U.S.-Kenya partnership, such as health, wildlife conservation, economic development and commercial ties, and security. She will visit U.S.-supported health and economic development projects, including a Kenyan company that exports its products to the United States. She also will hold discussions with private sector and civil society leaders.
During her last stop in Monrovia, Liberia, Deputy Secretary Higginbottom will meet with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other Liberian officials. Her visit will also include a discussion on promoting women entrepreneurs and small businesses, as well as a reception with YALI applicants and the Ambassador’s Council of Youth Advisors.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Morgan State University
June 16, 2014
City Of Baltimore Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake today welcomed 26 Young African Leaders to Morgan State University for a Leadership Program under President Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI).
In a welcome ceremony attended by Morgan State University President, Dr. David Wilson, Ambassador Wonekha (Embassy of the Republic of Uganda), diplomats, faculty and staff, the mayor challenged the fellows to maximize the opportunity given them through this unique program, develop their profile as global citizens, and explore the city of Baltimore.
The fellows are working professionals from Burkina Fasso, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Niger, Nigeria and Zambia.
Over the next six weeks they will receive instruction in Public Administration, Governance, Infrastructure development, and public Policy among other disciplines.
The Washington Fellowship is the exchange program of the president’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). http://youngafricanleaders.state.gov/washington-fellowship/
Beginning this year the program will bring over 500 young leaders to the United States annually for leadership training, academic coursework and mentoring. It will create unique opportunities in Africa to put those new skills to practical use in propelling economic growth and prosperity and strengthening democratic institutions.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
December 10, 2013
Washington, D.C.–At its quarterly meeting today, the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Board of Directors selected Lesotho as eligible to develop a proposal for a new compact. The Board also reselected five countries to continue developing compacts and two countries to continue developing Threshold Programs.
The Board selected Lesotho because it has consistently demonstrated a clear commitment to democratic governance and sound policies. A new compact with Lesotho offers MCC the opportunity to have a significant impact on reducing poverty and creating economic growth in the country.
“Throughout the development and implementation of its first compact, Lesotho has been a strong MCC partner,” MCC CEO Daniel W. Yohannes said. “We look forward to continuing this strong partnership and helping the Basotho people create a more prosperous future.”
Lesotho successfully completed a five-year, $363 million MCC compact in September 2013 that helped expand water supply for household and industrial use, strengthened the country’s health care system and removed barriers to foreign and local private sector investment. The Government of Lesotho demonstrated a strong commitment to the compact, and will have spent $50 million of its own money to complete construction and fund complementary investments.
Through the compact, MCC also supported the passage of landmark legislation that empowered Basotho women by ending the second-class status of married women and granting spouses equal rights.
The Board generally decides each December whether to select new compact and threshold partner countries, and whether to reselect those previously selected countries that are currently developing proposals for MCC investments. By law, the Board must consider three factors when selecting countries with which MCC will seek to enter into a compact:
• the extent to which a country meets or exceeds eligibility criteria,
• the opportunity to reduce poverty and generate economic growth in the country and
• the availability of funding.
MCC’s annual scorecards, which rely on third-party data to measure a country’s commitment to ruling justly, investing in its people and encouraging economic freedom, represent the best available individual measurements of policy performance. When choosing or reselecting partner countries, the Board also considers supplemental information to assess issues or recent events that may not have been captured by the scorecards.
After careful consideration of previously selected countries’ performance, the Board reselected Ghana, Liberia, Morocco, Niger, and Tanzania as eligible to continue development of their respective compact proposals.
The Board expressed strong concern that two of the countries, Liberia and Morocco, passed only nine indicators in their latest scorecards. The Board indicated it expects Liberia and Morocco to pass the scorecard before approving a compact with either country.
Two other countries currently developing compact proposals, Benin and Sierra Leone, were not reselected. The Board discussed the fact that those two countries did not pass MCC’s control of corruption indicator, which is a hard hurdle for passing the scorecard, and did not put them up for a vote on reselection. After also reviewing supplemental information on anti-corruption efforts in Benin and Sierra Leone, the Board urged continued but limited engagement with both countries and indicated it expects both countries to pass the control of corruption indicator before it would approve a compact with them.
“We are very concerned when a country does not pass the control of corruption indicator,” Yohannes said. “We recognize the efforts that the governments of Benin and Sierra Leone have undertaken to address corruption, and I can assure them that MCC is committed to helping those efforts succeed. I am hopeful that the continued and deepened efforts of both countries will be reflected in future performance on the control of corruption indicator.”
The Board committed to further discussions about the agency’s selection process and criteria.
The Board also reselected Guatemala and Nepal as eligible to continue developing Threshold Programs.
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Department of State
June 5, 2014
The U.S. Department of State and the Government of Botswana, supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, will host a Sub-Saharan African Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Workshop in Gaborone, June 4–6. U.S. Department of State Coordinator for Cyber Issues Christopher Painter will lead the U.S. Interagency Delegation and provide remarks along with U.S. Embassy Gaborone Chargé d’Affaires Michael J. Murphy; Botswana Ministry of Defence, Justice, and Security Permanent Secretary Segakweng Tsiane; and other officials from the Government of Botswana.
As use of Internet and mobile phones expands throughout sub-Saharan Africa, nations are grappling with multiplying cyber threats coming from transnational crime groups to terrorist groups. This workshop, a partnership between the U.S. and Botswana Governments, will address broad issues of cybercrime and cybersecurity while focusing on issues of specific interest to the sub-Saharan region such as combating cybercrime; mobile phone security; Internet freedom, access, and affordability; and the development of national computer emergency readiness teams, or CERTs.
Workshop attendees will include government officials from Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Zambia. Regional organizations such as the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will contribute their ideas on cybersecurity and cybercrime. Distinguished guests from Symantec, the Botswana Information Technology Society, and the University of Botswana Computer Science Department will share perspectives on cyber issues.
This workshop, the fourth in a series on this critical topic, supports the State Department’s priority of promoting cybersecurity and cybercrime capacity-building efforts across the globe.
To learn more about this workshop or other cyber policy efforts at the Department of State, please follow us on Twitter @State_Cyber, or contact us via email at SCCI_Press@state.gov. To learn more about U.S. Embassy Gaborone, please like our Facebook page.
Friday, June 6, 2014
Department of State
June 2, 2014
As the world’s attention shifts to the soccer pitch with the June 12 kickoff of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the State Department will welcome to the United States 16 youth soccer coaches from around the Middle East on a multi-nation Sports Visitors program.
The men and women soccer coaches from Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen will travel to Washington, D.C., June 1-15 for workshops with American coaches, clinics with young athletes, and meetings with U.S. sports professionals. The program will strengthen regional leadership and cooperation, promote dialogue between U.S. and Middle Eastern youth, and allow for discussions on empowering youth through sports.
The participants will connect with organizations that include the Virginia Youth Soccer Association, the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League, DC United of Major League Soccer, and the team’s charitable arm, United for DC. They will discuss such issues as promoting leadership, conflict resolution, strengthening democratic governance, and enhancing regional peace and security through sports coaching and administration.
To learn more about State Department sports diplomacy within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, follow the program on Twitter at @SportsDiplomacy.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2014
Statement by the Press Secretary on the Presidential Election in Egypt
The United States looks forward to working with Abdelfattah al-Sisi, the winner of Egypt’s presidential election, to advance our strategic partnership and the many interests shared by the United States and Egypt. President Obama, who is currently traveling in Europe, plans to speak with President-elect al-Sisi in the coming days.
We note that domestic and international observers concluded in their preliminary statements that Egypt’s Presidential Electoral Commission (PEC) administered the election professionally and in line with Egyptian laws. We are pleased that international organizations were allowed to participate as observers, and note that balloting proceeded in a calm and peaceful manner.
We also share concerns raised by observation groups about the restrictive political environment in which this election took place. We have consistently expressed our concerns about limits on freedom of peaceful assembly, association, and expression and call upon the government to ensure these freedoms as well as due process rights for all Egyptians. As Egypt looks toward parliamentary elections later this year, we urge the government to consider the recommendations of the observer groups on ways to improve the administration of future elections.
While elections are an integral component of a democratic society, true democracy is built on a foundation of rule of law, civil liberties, and open political discourse. We urge the President-elect and the government to adopt the reforms that are needed to govern with accountability and transparency, ensure justice for every individual, and demonstrate a commitment to the protection of the universal rights of all Egyptians.
Egypt and its people have made clear their demands for dignity, justice, and political and economic opportunity. The United States fully supports the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people and we will stand with them as they pursue the future that they deserve.
Photo Credit: US Embassy, Tunisia
Office of the Spokesperson
June 3, 2014
Today, the United States and Tunisia signed a loan guarantee agreement which will allow Tunisia to access up to $500 million in affordable financing from international capital markets. The loan guarantee underscores the United States’ commitment to the people of Tunisia and their democratic transition. The loan guarantee agreement is designed to support Tunisia as it pursues important reforms that will provide the foundation for economic growth and prosperity.
The signing of this agreement reaffirms President Obama’s commitment to Tunisia’s economic development made during his meeting with Prime Minister Joma’a in the Oval Office on April 4, 2014. At that meeting, President Obama said, “We want nothing more than for Tunisians to determine their own destiny, for the economic reforms to take place to allow Tunisia to be not just self-sufficient but thriving in the world economy. And we are confident that with the Prime Minister’s guidance that, in fact, Tunisia can meet some of its reform goals and lay the foundation for great success in the future.”
Prime Minister Joma’a added, “We are very proud of our new constitution, of our shared values in democracy and rights. As we set this road map, we need to think about economic and social aspects, and also about teaching and learning, because we are eager to develop our youth and to develop new technologies.”
The signing of today’s agreement is evidence of the U.S. commitment to help Tunisia build an economic foundation that supports sustainable and inclusive economic and job growth, bolster international confidence in the Tunisian market, and support and expand U.S.-Tunisian economic relations.
This is the second U.S. loan guarantee the United States has provided to Tunisia. The earlier guarantee for $485 million in 2012 was successful in facilitating Tunisian access of global capital markets for the first time since 2007. These loan guarantees are one component of broader ongoing U.S. support for Tunisia. Since 2011, the United States has committed an additional $400 million in assistance to support Tunisia’s transition.
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
June 2, 2014
In an important symbol of our enduring friendship with the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, U.S. Charge d ’Affaires Eunice Reddick broke ground on the new U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott today.
The new Embassy will be situated on a 10.5-acre site in the Tevragh Zeina district and will include a chancery, warehouse and maintenance facilities, a utility building, multiple access pavilions, and community facilities. When completed, the new complex will provide Embassy employees with a secure, modern, and environmentally sustainable workplace.
The $181 million project will incorporate numerous sustainable features, including the Department’s first major wind-powered turbine for an American Embassy; emissions-free power through the use of the 50 kW wind turbine and a 185 kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic array; an onsite water treatment plant for irrigation reuse; and light-emitting diode (LED) site lighting. The facility’s design targets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The design architect is AECOM of Arlington, Virginia, and Integrus Architecture of Spokane, Washington, is the architect of record.
The project is scheduled to be completed in 2017 and will be constructed by Caddell Construction Company of Montgomery, Alabama.
Since 1999, as part of the Department’s Capital Security Construction Program, the Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has completed 111 new diplomatic facilities and has an additional 32 projects in design or under construction.
OBO’s mission is to provide safe, secure, and functional facilities that represent the U.S. government to the host nation and support our staff in the achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives. These facilities should represent American values and the best in American architecture, engineering, technology, sustainability, art, culture, and construction execution.
Photo Credit: Reuters/Eldson Chagara
State Department Spokesperson
May 31, 2014
The United States congratulates Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and Mr. Saulos Chilima on being elected the new President and Vice President, respectively, of the Republic of Malawi. We further congratulate the people of Malawi for actively and peacefully exercising their democratic rights in selecting their new leader. The United States looks forward to continuing our close partnership with the Government of Malawi in the advance of our mutual interests of supporting Malawi’s development.
Monday, June 2, 2014
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Dr. Maya Angelou, one of the most powerful voices of contemporary literature, died on Wednesday in her home in North Carolina. She was 86.
A statement issued by her family reads in part "Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension". They described her as a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. She lived a life as a teacher, activist and artist.
Dr. Angelou’s long standing relationship with the African continent makes her loss felt in Africa as much as it is felt in the United States.
In 1961 met South African freedom fighter Vusumzi Make; they never officially married. She and her son Guy moved with Make to Cairo, where Angelou worked as an associate editor at the weekly English-language newspaper The Arab Observer. In 1962, her relationship with Make ended, and she and Guy moved to Accra, Ghana, he to attend college, but he was seriously injured in an automobile accident Angelou remained in Accra for his recovery and ended up staying there until 1965. She became an administrator at the University of Ghana, and was active in the African-American expatriate community. She was a feature editor for The African Review, a freelance writer for the Ghanaian Times, wrote and broadcast for Radio Ghana, and worked and performed for Ghana’s National Theatre. She performed in a revival of The Blacks in Geneva and Berlin.
In Accra, she became close friends with Malcolm X during his visit in the early 1960s. Angelou returned to the U.S. in 1965 to help him build a new civil rights organization, the Organization of Afro-American Unity; he was assassinated shortly afterward.