Friday, August 7, 2015
August 7, 2015
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Cote d’Ivoire as you celebrate your national independence on August 7.
The United States is proud to be your partner. I commend your commitment to rebuilding your democratic institutions and creating a strong foundation for economic growth. The new Millennium Challenge Corporation Threshold Program is a clear demonstration of the United States’ support for your nation’s development.
I wish the people of Cote d’Ivoire peace and prosperity in the years ahead.
Bonne fête de l’Indépendance!
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Department of State
June 14, 2013
Extractives Partnership between Guinea and the United States
French Translation PDF
Guinea, which has a population of 10 million in an area the size of the UK, has vast mineral resources, many of which remain undiscovered or undeveloped. It is the world’s largest producer of bauxite, and is set to become the third largest source of iron ore. Guinea also produces a range of other minerals, from gold to cement. Undeveloped mineral resources include: graphite, limestone, manganese, nickel, and uranium. Guinea’s mining sector alone generates more than 80 percent of all export earnings, and 26 percent of GDP, making transparency and good governance of the mining and extractive industries sector a critical goal to ensure these resources are used to sustainably develop the country, strengthen the economy, and lift its citizens out of poverty.
Guinea’s oil and gas sector is under exploration, with indications that there is offshore potential. Exploration is ongoing by a handful of small companies, but no discoveries have yet been made.
Guinea is an Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) candidate country, and has until April 2014 to achieve EITI Compliance or faces suspension of its candidacy. In early 2013 the government took the notable step of publishing all of its mining contracts, a move encouraged but not required by the new EITI rules. Guinea’s mining contracts can be found at: http://www.contratsminiersguinee.org/about/projets.html.
Guinea is also an important source of alluvial, artisanal diamonds, producing over 300,000 carats in 2011, for a total value of approximately USD$30 million; industrial production of diamonds is in the development phase with the potential to add significantly to this total. Guinea hosts several known kimberlites, and exploration is ongoing for additional primary kimberlitic source rocks for diamonds.
The Guinean government has been a Participant in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS)  for rough diamonds since 2003. The KPCS was established to ensure that the trade in rough diamonds does not finance rebel movements seeking to undermine legitimate governments.
Between 2006 and 2012, rough diamond production in Guinea twice exceeded the total estimated carat production capacity. The unusually high production figures reported in 2007 and 2008 specifically led to the passage of an Administrative Decision on Guinea by the KPCS, requesting an assessment of Guinea’s deposits to determine a realistic production range, and requiring Guinea to strengthen internal controls on their diamond exports. Since the implementation of this decision in 2009, production figures have significantly improved in accuracy and Guinea has improved its overall controls.
Nevertheless, data gaps, uneven enforcement, limited technical capacity and regulatory deficiencies in the artisanal mining sector persist, and Guinea continues to serve as a reported transit point for conflict diamonds from neighboring countries to international markets. These challenges not only deprive Guinea of needed revenues for development, but threaten the credibility of Guinea’s enforcement of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
2. Partnership Objectives
Specific partnership objectives related to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, and in particular the Washington Declaration (which was approved at the 2012 Plenary meeting and seeks to improve the formalization and economic development of the artisanal mining sector), include:
• Ensure more Guinean rough diamonds enter the legal chain of custody by strengthening the property rights/land tenure of artisanal miners and improving the miners’ skills and range of complementary livelihoods of artisanal diamond miners;
• Raise awareness and skills through training and public education about the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme at national and local levels;
• Increase information transparency with respect to Guinea’s alluvial diamond resources; and
• Strengthen the capacity of government officials, mining associations, and civil society to work collaboratively to assess Guinea’s diamond production capacity and minimize the risks of trade in illegal diamonds.
Transparency reduces the risk of corruption, and helps citizens to hold their governments accountable for spending natural resource revenues. Recognizing the importance of promoting such transparency in all countries, the U.S. is seeking to join Guinea and the 38 other member countries in implementing EITI. Specifihttp://www.state.gov/e/enr/rls/210631.htm#2c partnership objectives related to the EITI include to:
• Share Guinea and U.S. experiences to date in working to implement the EITI;
• Support diplomatically Guinea’s implementation of EITI, including the new EITI standard, in order to achieve EITI compliance by Guinea’s April 2014 deadline;
• Continue Guinea’s political support to implementation of EITI, including support to relevant government ministries, civil society groups, and other stakeholders; and
• Identify how EITI can continue to contribute to public discussions on responsible management of the extractive sectors in Guinea.
3. Achieving objectives
The U.S. proposes partnering with the Guinean Ministry of Mines and Geology (MMG) to conduct a study to determine how USAID’s Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development (PRADD) project could be restarted, building off its prior investments during the 2008-2009 timeframe. The study will focus on the applicability of the PRADD model in Guinea, including strengthening property rights of artisanal miners in order to ensure more diamonds enter the legal chain of custody, and facilitating training and public education and KPCS compliance at national and local levels.
The U.S. will also build on previous collaboration between the Unites States Geological Survey (USGS), the Ministry of Mines and Geology (MMG) and Guinean civil society to assess the potential and production capacity of Guinea’s alluvial diamond deposits and continue to monitor the artisanal mining sector. Developing local capacity to measure and analyze Guinea’s rough diamond production capacity is critical for ensuring increased transparency and enforcement of the KPCS. The objective of the partnership is to enable the Guinean government and civil society to work collaboratively to minimize the risks of trade in illegal diamonds and Guinea is complying with the requirements stipulated by the KP, and increase information transparency with respect to Guinea’s alluvial diamond resources.
The U.S. will also work directly with the Guinean government and the Gemological Institute of America to conduct a rough diamond evaluation training for government officials as part of strengthening the KPCS system.
Regarding EITI, the U.S. will coordinate with donor and partner organizations providing technical assistance in the areas of extractives transparency, (including the World Bank Multi-Donor Trust Fund to which the U.S. contributes, AfDB, GIZ, and Revenue Watch Institute) in order to maximize resources and engagement with the Government of Guinea.
4. Government and Partner consultation
The U.S. Embassy in Conakry held preliminary consultations with the Guinean Minister of Mines and geology to discuss the proposed partnership. U.S. officials from the National Security Staff and the State Department will meet with representatives from the Guinean government in Washington D.C. (May 31) to preview the partnership. Additional consultations will also occur at the Kimberley Process Intersessional meeting in South Africa (June 4-7).
5. Deliverables on June 15th 2013• Announcing the Partnership and action plan.
 The KPCS includes 80 Participants, accounting for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds. Participants include, but not limited to Brazil, China , Russia, the EU, the U.S., Japan, Indonesia and others. African participants include: Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo (Brazzaville), DR Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, Liberia, Mauritius, Namibia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania Togo and Zimbabwe.
 The 39 EITI candidate and compliant member countries are: Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic* (*suspended), Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo*, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Madagascar*, Mali, Mauritania*, Mongolia, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Republic of the Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Tanzania, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Yemen*, and Zambia. Nearly a dozen other countries including the United States, France, Myanmar, Senegal, Ukraine and the United Kingdom have committed to join.
Monday, August 3, 2015
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
August 3, 2015
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE YOUNG AFRICAN LEADERS INITIATIVE PRESIDENTIAL SUMMIT TOWN HALL
Omni Shoreham Hotel
11:15 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, everybody! (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday, Mr. President, happy birthday to you! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Everybody sit down. Thank you so much. (Applause.) Well, this is a good crowd here! (Applause.) First of all, can everybody please give Grace another big round of applause. (Applause.) Not only does she do incredibly inspiring work in Nigeria, but I have to say, following Grace is a little bit like following Michelle. (Laughter.) She’s so good that you kind of feel bad when you’re walking out, because you’re thinking, I’m not going to be that good. (Laughter.) But she’s just one example of the incredible talent that’s in this room.
And to all of you, I know that you’ve been here in the United States for just a few weeks, but let me say on behalf of the American people, welcome to the United States. We are thrilled to have you here. (Applause.)
And your visit comes at a perfect time, because, yes, it’s soon my birthday and that’s a very important thing. (Laughter.) But that’s not the main reason it’s a perfect time. The main reason is because, as many of you know, I just returned from Africa. And it was my fourth trip to sub-Saharan Africa, more than any other U.S. President. And I was proud to be the first U.S. President to visit Kenya, — (applause) — the first to visit Ethiopia, — (applause) — the first to address the African Union, which was a great honor. (Applause.)
And the reason I’ve devoted so much energy to our work with the continent is, as I said last week, even as Africa continues to confront many challenges, Africa is on the move. It’s one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. Africa’s middle class is projected to grow to more than one billion consumers. With hundreds of millions of mobile phones and surging access to the Internet, Africans are beginning to leapfrog old technologies into new prosperity. The continent has achieved historic gains in health, from fighting HIV/AIDS to making childbirth safer for women and babies. Millions have been lifted from extreme poverty. So this is extraordinary progress.
And young people like you are driving so much of this progress — because Africa is the youngest continent. I saw the power of youth on my trip. In Kenya, Richard Ruto Todosia helped build Yes Youth Can, one of the county’s most prominent civil society groups, with over one million members. At the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Shadi Sabeh spoke about how he started Brilliant Footsteps Academy in Nigeria, which uses education to fight religious extremism and provide more opportunities for Muslim youth. I met Judith Owigar, an entrepreneur who co-founded a nonprofit that trains young women living in the slums of Nairobi in computer programming and graphic design — and then helps place them in tech jobs.
So I saw the talent of young people all across the continent. And as President, I want to make sure that even as we’re working with governments, we’re also helping to empower young Africans like all of you. And that’s why I launched YALI — Young African Leaders Initiative — (applause) — to help you access the resources and the training and the networks that you need to become the next generation of leaders in all areas — in civil society, in business, in government.
And the response has been overwhelming. So far, more than 140,000 young people across Africa have joined our YALI network — so young Africans with new ideas can connect with each other, and collaborate and work together to put their plans into action. And I want to welcome all of the YALI network members across Africa who are watching this town hall today. I’m proud of all of you. I’m proud that we’ve made so much progress together, after just a few years. (Applause.)
And last year, I said we’d launch a new set of tools for our YALI network. So today, we’ve got more than 30 online lessons available on everything from public speaking to how to write a business plan, mentoring, new ways to network across Africa, around the world, new training sessions, meetings with experts on how to launch a startup. And we’re launching three new online Mandela Washington Fellowship Institute courses so that all members of the YALI network can access some of the great ideas that you’ve been sharing.
Last year, I said that we would create YALI Regional Leadership Centers across Africa to provide skills, networks, and opportunities to even more young African leaders. And in Kenya, I had a chance to visit the Regional Leadership Center in Nairobi. Just this morning, we opened a new center in Accra. And two more will be opened by the end of the year — in Pretoria and in Dakar. (Applause.)
Last year, I said we would do even more to support young entrepreneurs with grants to help you start a business or nonprofit, and with new training for thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs in small towns and rural areas. So at the recent Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, I announced that we secured more than $1 billion in new commitments from banks and philanthropists to support emerging entrepreneurs around the world, including in Africa — with half the money going to support women and young people. (Applause.)
And last year, I welcomed our first class of Mandela Fellows. This year, the response was overwhelming again — nearly 30,000 applied. And today I’m honored to welcome you, the second Mandela Washington Fellows class. We’re on track to double the Mandela Washington Fellowship program to 1,000 fellows by next year. (Applause.)
And I know you’ve been busy. Over the past few weeks, at schools and businesses all across America, you’ve been taking courses, developing the skills you’ll need to make your ideas a reality, so that you’re able to continue the great work that you’re already doing, but take it to the next level.
That’s what Brian Bwembya of Zambia plans to do. Where’s Brian? Where is he? (Applause.) There he is right there. So Brian uses music to advocate against things like gender-based violence and to educate youth on HIV/AIDS. (Applause.) So while in the U.S., he’s learned about our health care system, met the founder of an American HIV/AIDS organization, and now he plans to start a record label for music about social change. So, Brian, we’re proud to be your partner. (Applause.)
Or we’ve got Kadijah Diallo of Guinea. Where is Kadijah? (Applause.) There she is. So Kadijah helped lead UNICEF’s media campaign to stop the spread of Ebola. And with the management skills that she gained at Wagner College, she wants to work on improving the lives of women and girls back home in Guinea. So we are proud to be your partner. (Applause.)
Or we’ve got Jamila Mayanja of Uganda. Are you posing? (Laughter.) She’s posing. Jamila is not a fashion model — that’s not — (laughter) — she started a door-to-door laundry company to employ more youth and teach them entrepreneurial skills. And she hopes to take what she learned during her time at Dartmouth University to meet her goal of getting 1,000 youth to work in or run their own business. So we’re proud to be your partner, Jamila. (Applause.)
So that’s just a sampling of the incredible projects that are being done by fellows all across Africa. So this program is going to help all of you make a real difference back home.
But Fatou Ba Ndiour from Senegal — (applause) — where’s Fatou? So Fatou wrote me a letter and she said, if the real value of YALI is for young people to learn from others, then maybe we should start sending some young Americans to Africa also. (Applause.) And she made the point, not just to help poor communities as they usually do, “but to learn from other societies, with humility” — which I thought is absolutely true.
So I have good news, Fatou. From now on, YALI will give Americans an opportunity. (Applause.) Next summer, up to 80 young American leaders will join YALI and go to Africa to learn from you and your countries. (Applause.) And you guys are going to have to look after them when they’re there. (Laughter.) Show them good places — but not to have too much fun. (Laughter.) They need to be doing some work while they’re there.
So these connections and partnerships and friendships, they forge an understanding that brings our peoples closer together. After six weeks here, some of you are now officially Texas Longhorns or Notre Dame Fighting Irish. (Applause.) You’ve shared African cooking with your American friends, but you’ve also had a burger and a hotdog at Fourth of July celebrations. (Laughter.) I’m told many of you went bowling for the first time.
THE PRESIDENT: I hear it didn’t go that well. (Laughter.) There were a few strikes. By the way, there was at least one marriage that came out of last year’s class. (Applause.) So who knows what might happen here. (Laughter.)
So as your time in America comes to a close, I want you to remember this is really just the beginning. We just started this. And the truth is that our greatest challenges — whether it’s inclusive development, or confronting terrorism, dealing with conflict, climate change, increasing women’s rights, children’s rights — these are bigger than any one nation or even one continent.
Our hope is, is that 10, 15, 20 years from now, when you’ve all gone on to be ministers in government, or leaders in business, or pioneers of social change, that you’ll still be connecting with each other, that you’ll still be learning from each other, and that together, you’ll be reaching back and helping the next generation — that you’ll not only be making a difference in your own countries, but you’ll be the foundation of a new generation of global leadership, a generation that’s going to be working together across borders to make the world safer and more prosperous and more peaceful and more just. That’s my hope for you.
We’ve brought you here because we benefit from your leadership, but we’re counting on you to work together to make sure that you’re also reaching back to those who are going to be coming behind you. Couldn’t be prouder of you.
So with that, let me take some questions, all right? Thank you very much. (Applause.)
All right. So here are the — I think you’ve been told how this works, but I’m going to just repeat it. I’m just going to call on as many people as possible. When I call on you, introduce yourself, tell me what country you’re from. Make your question relatively short — (laughter) — so that we can get as many questions in as possible. And I’m going to go boy, girl, boy, girl — to make sure that it’s fair. All right? Okay. So let me see who I’m going to start off with. This is all such a good-looking group. I’m going to start with this young lady right here. Right here. Right in the middle. Yes, there you go — with the African earrings. Very appropriate.
Q I’m from Kenya.
THE PRESIDENT: Habari?
Q Mzuri sana. Yes. And my question is, I’m curious how you keep the balance in terms of your background as an African American and the kind of struggles you’ve had to get over to get here — and being to married Michelle Obama — she’s powerful and amazing — and as a father, as a husband. But you seem to not let that interfere with your work, and you’ve been effective. So how do you keep the balance?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I wouldn’t be who I was without Michelle. So she’s my partner. (Applause.) That’s true professionally, but that’s true in terms of my character and who I am. One of the things I’m very proud of is the fact that I married someone who is strong, and talented, and opinionated, and my equal. And part of the reason why that’s so important to me is because she’s the role model now for my daughters. And so Malia and Sasha, they have expectations of being strong and talented, and being treated as an equal by their partners as they get older — much older. (Laughter.)
The balance — I’ve written about this. The balance isn’t always perfect. I think one of the things that my generation, but now even more your generation, has to manage is, if you have two people working in the house, outside the home, how do you manage that in a way that we’re both good parents, we’re both able to succeed in our work. And what Michelle and I found was that we had to recognize that at any given point in our careers, one person might sacrifice a little bit — maybe this was a time that she really had to focus on something, and so I had to cover for her more. There were times where I was able to do something and she had to handle things more.
Now, I’m not suggesting that it’s been completely equal, because I’m the first one to acknowledge that she’s probably made more sacrifices, given the nature of a political career, than I have. But what I’ve learned from her is that if she doesn’t feel respected and fulfilled, then I’m going to end up being less successful, ultimately. And that’s something that I think that men in Africa, in particular — men everywhere — (laughter) — but men in Africa — I’ve spoken about this a lot. The best measure of how a country does economically in terms of development is how does it treat its women. (Applause.)
And as I said in a speech — a couple of the speeches that I gave while I was in Kenya and Ethiopia — if you’re mistreating your women, then you’re just holding yourself back, you’re holding yourself down. You may have some false sense of importance, but ultimately you don’t benefit if women are being discriminated against, because that means when they’re working, your family is going to have less income. If they’re not educated, that means your children are less likely to be well educated, because, typically, the mother is the first educator of a child. So if they see you disrespecting your wife, then what lesson is your — not just your girls, but what lessons are your sons learning from you?
And so this is something that I really think everybody, especially the young generation of African men, have to learn and internalize. And I want to see more men creating peer pressure among themselves. If you see a friend of yours, a classmate, one of your buddies abusing a woman, you have to say something. You have to ostracize them and say that’s not acceptable. Because, ultimately, this is not just an issue of laws — although here in the United States we’re still fighting for equal pay for equal work; we’re still fighting to make sure that women have the same opportunities as men — but it’s also a matter of culture and what our expectations are. And your generation is going to have to change expectations.
You do not lift yourself up by holding somebody else down. And that’s especially true within your own family and the people that you’re closest to. (Applause.)
All right. That young men right there, in the striped shirt. Yes, you.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I am from Rwanda. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: You have a little cheering section here. (Laughter.) Got the flags.
Q Mr. President, there is a big problem of climate change, and research has showed that Africa will be the most vulnerable continent to climate change in the next decades. Africa is the continent which is responsible to climate change mitigation, and it is reducing the greenhouse gases and the global warming. And I saw that Africa was the last continent to get the funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation. So my question is to ask you what is the plan of the United States of America to empower Africa so that our community can adapt themselves to the climate change in the next future? Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, this generation has to understand that climate change is going to be one of the critical issues that you face. Now, oftentimes you’ll hear people say, well, environmental issues, climate change, we don’t have time to worry about that right now because we have much more urgent issues — we have to educate our children, we have to feed people, we have to develop — maybe later we can worry about environmental issues — which I understand why a lot of African countries and poorer countries in Asia or Latin America or other places would say that, because historically, that’s basically what the United States and developed countries did.
The United States used to be terribly polluted. If you went to Los Angeles, you couldn’t — it was like Beijing is now. It was very hard to breathe if you ran outside. You had lakes and rivers that were so polluted that one of them caught fire. (Laughter.) That’s serious; that’s some pollution there. The same is true in London when London was first developing during the Industrial Revolution, because of all the coal that was being burned, and the soot.
Here’s the problem. Whether it’s fair or not, the issue of climate change is not like traditional environmental issues in the sense that’s it’s just isolated in one area. Global climate change will affect everybody. And because the changes could be so severe, frankly, the countries that are most likely to be adversely affected are the poorer countries because they have less margin for error.
So if you have changing weather patterns in, let’s say, the Indian Subcontinent, and the monsoon rains shift, suddenly you could have millions of people whose crops completely fail. Well, the same is true in Africa — if rain patterns and drought starts changing, subsistence farmers are completely vulnerable. If you are in coastal communities, and the oceans begin to rise, millions of people could be displaced.
So this is something that everybody is going to have to take seriously. Now, what we’re going to be doing is, here in the United States, we are initiating some of the most aggressive action to start reducing the emission of carbon that produces climate change. There’s going to be a Paris conference later this year in which we’re organizing China and other countries that are big carbon emitters to participate, and set targets for reduction of carbon pollution.
Now, Africa, per capita, doesn’t produce that much carbon. So some African countries have said, well, why should we have to do anything? Well, the answer is, is that you have to project where you’re going to be 20 years from now or 30 years from now. If you get locked in now in, for example, the way you producing energy that’s producing a lot of carbon, given the youth of Africa and its rising population, you could end up being the major carbon emitter if you don’t take plans now.
So what we’re saying is, learn from our mistakes and find new, sustainable ways of generating energy that don’t produce carbon.
When I was in Nairobi, I highlighted the work we’re doing with something called Power Africa, which has generated billions of dollars with the goal of electrification throughout sub-Saharan Africa. But part of what we’re trying to encourage countries to do is don’t automatically take the old models; think about new models of energy production, and try to leapfrog over the old models.
So, for example, with solar energy, we were looking at solar panels that you could send into rural areas, put on the roof of a hut, and for the same price per day that people are purchasing kerosene, they could have a small — solar panels and pack that generates light and provides what they need. And in fact, it will pay for itself in a year, and then they’ll save money after that.
And so, in the same way that you’ve seen banking and financial transactions off smartphones, cellphones, leapfrogging some of the old ways of doing business in advanced countries, the same has to be true for energy. And we want to encourage new models. We are going to be providing — the United States and other wealthier countries are going to be providing billions of dollars in money for adaptation and mitigation. But what’s more urgent is how do we create the energy that’s needed for Africa’s growth and development in a way that does not make the problem worse, but instead makes the problem better.
All right? (Applause.) Okay, this young lady right here. You’ve got the mic coming.
Q Hello. I’m from Mauritania and I’m 23 years old. So my question is simple: You, as a President, and you as a citizen — a U.S. citizen, will you, after leaving the White House, keep up this program? Because we still need it. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. It is a simple question, and I’ve got a simple answer: Yes. (Applause.) Now, here’s what we’re going to try to do. We want to institutionalize the program so that the next President and future Presidents and the United States government continue to sustain the program. (Applause.) So that’s going to be important.
And since I still have this job for the next 18 months, I haven’t been completely focused on what I’m going to do afterwards. (Laughter.) The first thing I’m probably going to do is I’m going to catch up on my sleep. (Laughter.) So I’m going to do that for a couple months. (Laughter.) But I can guarantee you that one of the things I’m interested in doing when I leave office is to continue to create these platforms for young leadership across the globe, to network, get relationships, to work together, to learn with each other. (Applause.)
And by the way, it’s not just in Africa. So we’ve set up a young leaders program in Asia. We’re doing the same thing in Latin America. Because the goal is, eventually I want not only for there to be a network of thousands of young African leaders who know each other across borders, are sharing best practices, sharing ideas, but I also want you to know young leaders in Indonesia, or young leaders in Chile, or young leaders around the globe.
Because I said before, ultimately you’re going to be global leaders, not just leaders in your own country. It begins in your own countries where you can make your mark, but one of the powerful things about technology and the Internet right now is you can learn and forge relationships and learn best practices from everyplace. So if you’re an advocate for women’s rights, and you’re doing great work in Nigeria, it may be that somebody in Burma can, on the Internet, see how you organized your campaign and how you were able to finance it and what you were able to accomplish, and suddenly what you’ve done in one country becomes a model for action all across the world.
So this is going to be a top priority of mine. I will definitely continue to be involved in that. All right? (Applause.)
Let’s see, I’ve got to call on a man now. Let’s see. Let’s see. I’m going to call on this guy right there. Yes, you right there — just because I like that hat. (Laughter.) That’s a sharp-looking hat right there.
Q I come from Madagascar.
THE PRESIDENT: There you go.
Q We Madagascar fellows are involved in the environmental entrepreneurship. So what is the commitment of the United States towards young entrepreneurship and climate change?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I said before, we are pledging — we’ve got a billion dollars for entrepreneurship; half of it we are going to direct towards women entrepreneurs and young people who are entrepreneurs, because they’ve been underrepresented in terms of access to capital. And as I mentioned to the young man earlier, the opportunities for entrepreneurship related to clean energy, related to conservation — which oftentimes, in a place like Madagascar, involves tourism and ecotourism — there’s huge potential there if it’s done properly.
So the key is, in some cases, just the access to financing. But part of what you’ve learned, hopefully, with YALI is part of it is also having a well-thought-out plan. Now, not everybody can afford to go to a fancy business school and graduate and have all the credentials, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a good idea. And one of the things that we’re trying to do, particularly through online learning, is to create some of the basic concepts for how a business or a nonprofit can get started, how it can be properly managed, how you can do the accounting in a way that’s efficient. We want to make sure that we are a continuing partner for you as you start your business and you learn.
And this is where these regional networks that we’re setting up is also useful, because not only will we have online learning but these regional hubs, initially in four regions of Africa, allow you to continue to network and access through the U.S. embassy, or the chambers of commerce, or private sector participants who are partnering with us, so that you can have hands-on mentoring and learning as you are developing your business plans, and as you’re trying to move forward.
The one thing, for those of you who are entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs, to remember is all around the world, even in the United States, not every idea succeeds. So if you want to be an entrepreneur and start a business, you have to believe with all your heart that you’re going to succeed, but then when — and if — one of the businesses fails, you’ve got to be able to get up, dust yourself off, figure out what you’ve learned, and then start another business. And eventually, it’s from continually refining your ideas and exploring what works and understanding what your market is and what consumers are looking for, that eventually, you have a chance to succeed.
Okay. It’s a young woman’s turn now. Well, she’s just dancing over here, so we’ll have to call on her. (Laughter.) That doesn’t mean, by the way, everybody should dance. (Laughter.) I just wanted to point that out. Go ahead.
Q Mr. President, thank you. I’m from Cameroon. And I would like to find out if you will support Africa’s condition for permanency at the U.N. Security Council. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: So the Security Council was formed after World War II, and obviously the world and the balance of power around the world looked very different in 1945, 1946, ’47 than it does in 2015, ’16 and ’17. So the United States is supportive in concept of modifications to the structure of the United Nations Security Council. I will be honest with you — how that happens, and how you balance all the equities is complicated. As a matter of principle, I would think that there should at least be one representative from the African continent on the Security Council, along with representatives from the other regions of the world and some of the other powers that have emerged.
I will tell you that — because, for example, Latin America does not have a country that’s represented — it does get complicated, because you have to figure out how — let me put it this way. Everybody probably thinks they should be on it. And so even in Africa, if you started saying, okay, let’s say we should have an African — is it South Africa? Is it Nigeria? Is it — see? (Laughter.) Uganda? See? Suddenly everybody was thinking, well, why not me? The same is true in — Japan considers itself, as one of the largest economies in the world, suitable. Brazil thinks it should be on. India, the world’s largest democracy.
So we’re going to have to design a process whereby all these various legitimate arguments are sorted through. But what I very much believe is that for the United Nations Security Council to be effective, it has to be more representative of all the various trend lines that have occurred over the last several decades.
One thing I will say, though, about the United Nations — everybody wants a seat at the table, but sometimes people don’t want the responsibilities of having a seat at the table. And that’s happening even now. And the one thing I’ve learned, both in my personal life and in my political life, is that if you want more authority, then you also have to be more responsible. You can’t wear the crown if you can’t bear the cross.
And oftentimes, in the United Nations — which I’m very committed to, and the agencies there do a lot of really critical important work — but when it comes to, okay, who’s going to actually step up and contribute to peacekeeping, who’s going to actually write a check when it comes to making sure that we’re dealing with the Ebola crisis, who’s going to show leadership in tackling climate change — are you willing to speak out on issues even when it contradicts your own interests, or when it’s politically hard, or when it’s uncomfortable — if you’re not willing to do those things, this is not just something where, okay, I got a membership key to the club and now I’m just going to show off how important I am. And you see that sometimes. This happens — and sometimes it happens at our own agencies.
On human rights, when I was in Kenya, I said that it’s not enough for the United States always to be the heavy who has to point out that it’s unsuitable for leaders to ignore their constitution and try to cling on to power. Their neighbors have to speak up as well, even if it’s uncomfortable. (Applause.)
So my attitude is, if you want to participate then you have to recognize that you have broader responsibilities. And that’s something that the United States, by the way, for all our occasional mistakes or flaws, or our policies not perfect all the time, the one thing we do try to be is responsible. If there’s an earthquake or a tornado or a hurricane somewhere, we’re there. We’re stepping up. When Ebola happened, we stepped up, even when other people were kind of looking around and trying to figure out, well, I don’t know, what should we do?
And that is part of leadership. That’s true, by the way, for you individually as well. You have to be willing to take some risks and do some hard things in order to be a leader. A leader is not just a name, a title, and privileges and perks.
Let’s see, I think it’s a gentleman’s turn, isn’t it? All right. This guy looks sharp, right here in the corner. I mean, that’s a serious-looking coat. Look at that. (Applause.) That’s a good-looking coat. Don’t worry, I’ll call on somebody who’s just wearing a suit at some point. (Laughter.)
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I’m from Cameroon. So we are very grateful for the American leadership in our fight against violent extremism and the military response. So my question is, what kind of engagement — what kind of support we can expect from you in building resilient communities, especially along the Sahel, where we are grappling with those issues?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, this is something that’s very important. Look, the sources of violence around the world are multiple. And it’s important for us to recognize that, sadly, the human race has found excuses to kill each other for all sorts of reasons. In the continent of Africa, oftentimes it’s been along ethnic and tribal lines. It has nothing to do with religion; it has to do with you speak a slightly different language than me, or you look just a little bit different. In Northern Ireland it was religious. In other places, it just has to do with trying to gain power, or a majority group trying to impose its will on a minority group. So there are all kinds of reasons for violence.
But one of the phenomena that we are now seeing is a very specific promotion of violent extremism that oftentimes is twisting and distorting and, I think, ultimately, defying the edicts of one of the world’s greatest religions — Islam. And it’s being exported and turbocharged through social media, and groups like al-Shabaab and ISIL and Boko Haram. And the question is, how do we fight back against those ideologies in a way that allows us still to be true to the values of peace and tolerance and due process and rule of law.
So the United States is obviously committed to this fight against terrorism. And we are working with countries and partnering with countries all around the world to go after whether it’s al Qaeda, Boko Haram. But what we’ve also said is in order to defeat these extremist ideologies, it can’t just be military, police and security. It has to be reaching into communities that feel marginalized and making sure that they feel that they’re heard; making sure that the young people in those communities have opportunity.
And that’s why it’s so important to partner with civil society organizations in countries throughout Africa and around the world who can reach young people before ISIL reaches them, before al Shabaab reaches them, and inoculate them from the notion that somehow the solution to their alienation or the source of future opportunity for them is to go kill people.
And that’s why, when I was in Kenya, for example, and I did a town hall meeting there, I emphasized what I had said to President Kenyata — be a partner with the civil society groups. (Applause.) Because too often, there’s a tendency — because what the extremist groups want to do is they want to divide. That’s what terrorism is all about. The notion is that you scare societies, further polarizes them. The government reacts by further discriminating against a particular group. That group then feels it has no political outlet peacefully to deal with their grievances. And that then — that suppression can oftentimes accelerate even more extremism.
And that’s why reaching out to civil society groups, clergy, and listening and asking, okay, what is it that we need to do in order to make sure that young people feel that they can succeed? What is it that we need to do to make sure that they feel that they’re fully a part of this country and are full citizens, and have full rights? How do we do that? Bringing them into plan and design messages and campaigns that embrace the diversity of these countries — those are the things that are so important to do.
We still have to gain intelligence and engage in effective military and police campaigns to eradicate those who are so brainwashed that all you can do is incapacitate them. But the question is constantly, how do we make sure that the recruitment of young people into these terrorist organizations, how do we cut off that flow? And that requires more than just military efforts. (Applause.)
All right. This young lady right here. Yes, right here in the green and red. Yes, you. No, no, no right here. Go ahead. No, no, no, right here in front. Yes, you. Yes, go ahead.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I’m from Kenya. And I’m speaking on behalf of my brothers and sisters with albinism from Africa. As you may know, Mr. President, persons with albinism in Africa are being killed and their body parts harvested for ritual purposes. My request to you is to raise this issue with the heads of states from African countries to bring these atrocities to an end, for the benefit of for us in this room, and our brothers and sisters back in Africa. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, good. Thank you. Well, can I just say the notion that any African would discriminate against somebody because of the color of their skin, after what black people around the world have gone through, is crazy. (Applause.) It is infuriating and I have no patience for it.
When I was in Africa, I said there are important traditions and folkways that need to be respected — that’s part of who each culture is, each country is. But there’s also just foolish traditions — (applause) — and old ways of doing business that are based in ignorance. And they need to stop. And the idea that a society would visit violence on people because of pigmentation, that’s not a tradition that is worth preserving. That’s tomfoolery. That’s craziness. It’s cruel.
The same is true with practices like genital mutilation. That just has to stop. (Applause.) You don’t do violence to young girls just because your great-grandfather or — because there’s no reason for it other than to suppress woman. That’s the rationale. That’s what it’s based on. Bride abduction — bad tradition. End it. Beating women — not a good tradition. (Applause.) I don’t care that that used to be how things were done.
Societies evolve based on new understandings and new science and new appreciation of who we are. And so we can preserve great traditions — music, food, dance, language, art — but if there’s a tradition anywhere in Africa, or here in the United States, or anywhere in the world that involves treating people differently because you’re scared of them, or because you’re ignorant about them, or because you want to feel superior to them, it’s a bad tradition. And you have to challenge it. And you can’t accept excuses for it.
Grace was up here — you heard the power of Grace’s talking. Now, traditionally, people with disabilities are treated differently because people are ignorant. And when — here in the United States, we passed the Americans Against With Disabilities Act. And that opened up more opportunities, and suddenly there are ramps so people can access it, and there are computers and new technologies so that people who maybe couldn’t communicate before can communicate. And it turns out there’s all this talent and brilliance, and people can do these things. Well, then people’s attitudes have to change, and the societies have to change. And that’s why young people are so important in changing attitudes.
The same, by the way, is true for sexual orientation. (Applause.) I spoke about this in Africa, and everybody is like, oh, oh, we don’t want to hear that. (Laughter.) But the truth of the matter is, is that if you’re treating people differently just because of who they love and who they are, then there’s a connection between that mindset and the mindset that led to racism, and the mindset that leads to ethnic conflict. (Applause.) It means that you’re not able to see somebody else as a human being.
And so you can’t, on the one hand, complain when somebody else does that to you, and then you’re doing it to somebody else. You can’t do it. There’s got to be some consistency to how you think about these issues. And that’s going to be up to young people — because old people get stuck in their ways. (Laughter.) They do. They do. And that’s true here in the United States.
The truth of the matter is, is that when I started running for President, everybody said a black guy names Barack Obama, he’s not going to win the presidency of the United States. (Laughter.) But what I was banking on was the fact that with all the problems that still exist in the United States around racial attitudes, et cetera, things have changed, and young people and new generations had suddenly understood that, in Dr. King’s words, you have to be judged not by the color of your skin, but by the contents of your character.
And that doesn’t mean that everything suddenly is perfect. It just means that, young people, you can lead the way and set a good example. But it requires some courage, because the old thinking, people will push back at you. And if you don’t have the convictions and the courage to be able to stand up for what you think is right, then cruelty will perpetuate itself.
So you guys are on the spot. If there’s one thing I want YALI leaders to come out with is that notion of you are strong by taking care of the people who are vulnerable, by looking after the minority, looking after the disabled, looking after the vulnerable. You’re not strong by putting people down; you’re strong by lifting them up. (Applause.) That’s the measure of a leader.
All right, how much time do we got? I’ve only got time for one more question. Now, first of all, the women — you’ve to put your hands down because I just asked a woman. (Laughter.) So it’s got to be a guy. And I promised I’d ask a guy in a suit. (Laughter.) I’m just going to ask this guy right here. (Applause.) Look at him, he’s all buttoning up. He looks very sharp.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: That’s my boy! (Laughter.)
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I’m from Nigeria. Thank you. I want to say we appreciate all the great work that the United States is doing with Nigeria and many other African countries, especially as it concerns infrastructure development policies and all of those. But I’m of the opinion that if we do not make investment in education more than any other sector of the economy, then we are not building a sustainable partnership. (Applause.) And I’m saying that with respect to the fact that we are all of the intellectual dream that Africa is experiencing. Due to the fact the grass seemed green on this side and then the United States attracts so many intellectuals, we should have stayed to development and grown these programs.
For example, recently, when you were in Kenya, you launched a project around power and energy. I’m of the opinion that if that program is going to be successful and sustainable, then all of those programs should include the partnership of universities. (Applause.) Because through that, we can build the capacity of universities, and then those countries can go around in other African countries replicating that. So in that case, we can control the dream that is moving from Africa to the West, or to any other part of the country. (Applause.)
So I want to ask, what is the United States doing to control this intellectual dream to the Western world? And what are you doing to increase, more than others, the investment in education so that our partnership and development can be truly sustainable? Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, good. That was good. That was an excellent question. It is an excellent question, but I’m going to reverse the question a little bit. The question is not what is the United States doing to reverse the brain drain. The question is, what are your countries doing to reverse the brain drain? (Applause.)
Now, many of you have friends who study overseas, they study in the West, and then they decide to stay instead of going back home. Now, the United States, we are partnering with every country here. I guarantee you there are programs to invest in education in your country. There are programs to work with the universities in your countries. I think you make an excellent point that on big projects like Power Africa, we should make sure that there is a capacity-building component. And in fact, one of the things that’s been done with our development assistance that we’re providing is to emphasize capacity-building.
So, for example, our Feed the Future program, the goal is not to just keep on sending food forever. The goal is teaching farmers to double or triple or quadruple their yields, which then gives them more income, which then allows them to buy maybe a tractor or to start a cooperative food-processing plant, that then accesses the market and the money gets reinvested, and now you’re building jobs and commerce inside the country as opposed to just being an aid recipient. So I’m all about capacity-building.
But ultimately, why is it that you have so many talented, well-educated young Africans leaving instead of staying? Why is it that you have so many talented, well-educated people from the Middle East or parts of Asia, or Latin America who would rather live here than there?
The issue is not just that we’re a wealthier country. I think it’s fair to say — and you know better than I do — but part of it has to do with a young person’s assessment of can I succeed in applying my talents if, for example, the economy is still built on corruption so that I have to pay a bribe or be well-connected in order to start my business. (Applause.) Or are there still ethnic rivalries in the country, which means that if I’m from the wrong tribe, I’m less likely to advance. Or is there still so much sexism in the country that if I’m a woman, then I’m expected just to be at home and be quiet, when I’m a trained doctor. Or is there a lack of rule of law or basic human rights and freedoms that make me feel as if I am restricted in what I can do.
I make this point to say that some of the brain drain is economic. But some of it has to do with people’s assessments of if I stay in my country, am I going to have the ability to succeed? And that’s why, when I talk to leaders in Africa, or anywhere around the world, I say, look, if you put together the basics of rule of law and due process and democracy, and you’re able to keep peace so that there’s not conflict and constant danger, and the government is not corrupt, then even a poor country, you’re going to attract a lot of people who are going to want to live there because they’ll feel like they’re part of building something and are contributing something.
Because the one thing I’ve discovered is — right now, I live in a big house but it’s a lease, you know, I have to give it up in 18 months. (Laughter.) A big house is nice for the first month — it’s like, well, this is a really big house. (Laughter.) Then, after about two months you realize, I can’t live in all these rooms. (Laughter.) My life is not appreciably better once I’ve got the basics. And I think a lot of young Africans would be much more interested in staying even if they don’t have as big of a house, or the shopping malls aren’t as big, or — if they felt as if the basics are taken care of, I can keep my family safe, I can practice my profession, I’m not going to be discriminated against — (applause) — the government is well-meaning and well-intentioned and is not corrupt, and public investments are being made, then people I think would have a sense of meaning in their lives.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be some people who would still rather live in London or New York because they think they can make more money. But I think that, as much as anything we do, is going to reverse the brain drain. And that’s why what you do is going to be so important, because if you set a good example of going back home and rebuilding your country, and if you, as young leaders, are creating an environment in which young people can succeed and you’re setting a new set of expectations about how exciting it is to be part of something new — that can help turn the tide.
So, good luck. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. (Applause.)
12:22 P.M. EDT
Secretary of State
Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
August 2, 2015
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Sameh, thank you very much. Assalamu alaikum. It’s a great privilege for me to be here, and I’m very pleased to be back in Cairo. And I want to thank President al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Shoukry for their very warm welcome and, most importantly, for the quality of the discussion that we had today and also for the tremendous work that the Egyptian Government has done in creating the combined agenda of both security and the economic front as well as all the other issues that were on the table for a very frank, very candid discussion.
We began with the Foreign Minister and I meeting privately, and we will continue some private discussion, and later this afternoon, after we have a working lunch, I will have the opportunity to sit down and have, again, a longer discussion with President al-Sisi.
As I said in my opening comments this morning, which the press were present at, Egypt has historically played a very vital role in the region and in world affairs, and we have no doubt that it will continue to do so. In the course of the meeting today, we covered a vast range of security, political, and economic issues. Let me say at the outset that the United States was deeply saddened by the recent terrorist strikes – including the deplorable murder of the Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat, by the attack on the Italian consulate in Cairo, and also the recent attacks in Sinai.
It doesn’t take courage to conduct a terrorist attack, which has no purpose other than to create chaos and destruction. It does take courage to create a political process with an agenda to improve people’s lives. And there’s no ideological or political or religious excuse for just killing innocent people, particularly in a world that needs constructive ideas and participation by citizens about how to avoid endless cycles of violent extremism. That’s why counterterrorism was so high on our list of priorities today, and I think you heard the foreign minister lay out to you the significant way in which we had a discussion about it.
We are all well aware that Daesh is a ruthless and a cowardly adversary. And so, as Sameh described, in the discussion that we had today we talked in a very honest way about the challenges of fighting back against terrorism, even as you are trying to build a political process that can be inclusive and provide citizens the opportunity to build their own future. We agreed that we must explore opportunities to expand our security relationship in order to work together to expose the utter hypocrisy of terrorist appeals. I expressed my appreciation for Egypt’s help in expediting U.S. overflights and access to the Suez Canal, especially in support of counterterrorism operations. And I welcomed Egypt’s support for the global anti-Daesh coalition in the upcoming Summit on Countering Violent Extremism that’s going to take place in New York this September.
Let me also take this opportunity to again congratulate Egypt on the extraordinary completion and major project that will have profound implications for the world in the increase of commerce and the movement of goods, and we congratulate Egypt on the expansion of the Suez Canal and the event that will take place in a few days to celebrate it. It’s really a considerable accomplishment.
We also emphasized the importance of a comprehensive strategy to combine vigilance with measures that will make it harder for terrorists to attract new recruits and spread their toxic ideology. We are absolutely clear that terrorists who kill civilians and attack Egyptian security forces have to be brought to justice, and we stand with Egypt in that effort. But it is equally important – and I think Sameh talked about this in his own comments – to distinguish between those who use violence to achieve their ends and others who seek peacefully to participate in a political dialogue, even if what they say sometimes may make people uncomfortable.
As President Obama said at the Countering Violent Extremism Summit in February, which I might add was attended by Foreign Minister Shoukry and we were very grateful for his participation in that, President Obama said, “When people are oppressed, and human rights are denied…when dissent is silenced, it feeds violent extremism.” And I want to thank Foreign Minister Shoukry for the very direct conversation that he engaged in today and which he has now reengaged in here at this press conference, about the very real need to balance – a difficult balance to find, but an imperative balance – between people’s rights to participate politically and the need to fight back against what can only be defined as a terrorist activity.
The success of our fight against terrorism depends on building trust between the authorities and the public. This is always true in every country, and it’s never easy. If that possibility doesn’t exist, then, regrettably, more misguided people can sometimes be driven to violence and there will be more attacks.
The foreign minister and I also reviewed the plan of action that we and our P5+1 partners have developed with Iran regarding the future of that country’s nuclear program. And we are grateful for Egypt’s commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and also to the full implementation of this agreement.
The United States and Egypt recognize that Iran is engaged in destabilizing activities in the region, and that is why it is so important to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains wholly peaceful. It is also why I will leave this evening to consult with the Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers in Doha, where we will discuss ways to ensure the future security of the region. There can be absolutely no question that if the Vienna plan, fully implemented, it will make Egypt and all the countries of this region safer than they otherwise would be or were.
Now, as I underscored during today’s Strategic Dialogue, the relationship between Egypt and the United States is not only a relationship about the threats that we face; it is also about the opportunities that we have to make both countries more successful and prosperous.
During the meetings today, I congratulated our Egyptian colleagues on the conclusion of the Suez Canal project, which will, in fact, add to the opportunities for improving the business climate; it will attract new investment; it will help us spur trade and create jobs, which was the focus of our economic dialogue today. The United States and Egypt will resume consultations under the U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in the fall. And I’m pleased that Ambassador David Thorne is here to help build on the initiatives that we launched during Egypt’s Economic Development Conference in March. And he is joined by our important economic team, including our Assistant Secretary of State Charlie Rivkin and our Special advisor and Representative Scott Nathan.
On the political side, Sameh and I agreed on the importance of ensuring free and fair and transparent parliamentary elections in Egypt this year, and I understand from him that they are working towards a date sometime in the early fall. We are very excited about that, as it is part of the roadmap towards democracy, and we are assured that it will be open to all peaceful political actors. We discussed the need for comprehensive reform in the police sector, protection for nongovernmental organizations, for press freedom, and for safeguarding the rights and freedoms of all Egyptians.
In every one of the meetings that we had today – economic and security, private and more public – we conveyed the message of friendship and respect for the Egyptian people and of an understanding of the desire of the people of Egypt to live in security, in prosperity, in democracy, and peace. The United States Government supports the people of Egypt in that endeavor, and we will do all we can to try to be helpful on this roadmap that the government described for the transition to the full democracy that Egypt aspires to.
Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your work together. We’re delighted to be here today, and I look forward to taking a few questions.
MODERATOR: (In Arabic.)
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (In Arabic.)
MODERATOR: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Let me just correct one thing. I think we agreed it would be biannual – biannual, which is every other year – unless we decided we needed to have it more frequently.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: Right.
MODERATOR: (In Arabic.)
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, that question reflects a very different meeting from the meeting that we had. We had a very constructive meeting that was reflective of a lot of things that have moved over the course of the last months, and I think that the combination of economic engagement and security engagement sees the United States and Egypt moving back to a stronger base of relationship, which is the history of the relationship between us.
We have a significant amount of increasing military-to-military cooperation. As you know, our F-16s just arrived; the President has lifted the hold on the other equipment and goods, which are very essential to the fight against terrorism. We have talked today about increased border cooperation with respect to Libya and elsewhere. We’ve talked about additional training – training exercises, which we will engage in. We are moving back to the continuation of our Bright Star cooperation and other training. We have additional education slots that will be available for people to come and study in the United States. There’s a lot of increased engagement here reflected in the conversations we had today, including on the economic side.
The United States is the second – is the – I think we represent about one-fifth of the foreign direct investment into Egypt. Our businesses have come here in a significant effort, part of the meeting held by President al-Sisi last year in Sharm el-Sheikh. I took part in that. We were very, very engaged in increasing America’s direct business involvement. General Electric has been very involved in helping to increase the amount of electricity, which has helped Egypt over the course of this summer to avoid the blackouts that were present over a year ago. This has been part of President al-Sisi’s plan.
So there are many ways in which the cooperation is increasing. Now, obviously, there has been a little bit of tension here and there over certain issues. We discussed those quite frankly and openly today. The United States has expressed concern about some of the challenges of the human rights protection and transformation taking place, even as you fight a very difficult fight against terrorism. But we are absolutely clear in our support for Israel’s fight against terrorism. We are joined in that fight, and there are many ways in which we feel we are able to cooperate together.
So I think what both Egypt and the United States have done over the course of the last year is recognize that we have a very significant interest in working together to help Egypt transition economically, because as it transitions economically, it empowers its people and it helps to provide an alternative to people’s choice to engage in terror. We also have found a need to work together to do a better job of directly fighting against terrorism, whether it’s Libya or the Sinai, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which we have designated a terrorist organization and a foreign terrorist organization, and which has now affiliated with Daesh, against whom we are also jointly fighting as part of a coalition.
So we’re working very, very hard to make it clear that this relationship is a very important one, that we need to get through those areas where there can be some problems, even as we both recognize we share the same goal, which is a peaceful, prosperous, stable, democratic Egypt which will be a strong and important voice and partner in our efforts to create stability in the region and to push back against global terrorism.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (In Arabic.)
MR KIRBY: Next question, Michael Gordon.
QUESTION: Michael Gordon, New York Times. Mr. Secretary, you mentioned – you mentioned
human rights and the upcoming parliamentary elections in your comments, opening comments. I’d like to ask you a follow-up on that. Do you think the Egyptian authorities can be successful in heading off terrorist attacks at home if the Egyptian Government does not show greater respect for human rights at home? And more specifically, sir, does the United States think it is conducive for stability in Egypt to outlaw the political party that received the most votes in Egypt’s free elections in 2011 and 2012 – the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party? Do you consider the Muslim Brotherhood to be a violent and terrorist group, and do you think membership in the Brotherhood should be a jailable offense?
And for the Egyptian – Mr. Shoukry, Egyptian minister, please. You alluded to the challenge in trying to balance human rights and security concerns. Egypt is holding 18 journalists behind bars, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Some have been held without any charges or history of violence or political activism. Does Egypt have any plans to improve the freedom of the media and permit Egyptians in jail for the crime of demonstrating without a permit, like Yara Sallam, a young lawyer for an internationally respected human rights group? Does the Egyptian Government have any plans to release them? Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: I’ll go ahead. First of all, none of the journalists you alluded to are in prison or facing a judicial process related to their professional journalism – journalists, but are accused of implication with terrorist activity or contravening stipulated legal norms that has necessitated that these accusations are made. They are all in the state of due process by a judicial competent authority and are afforded all forms of defense to deal with these accusations. So none of these journalists are held on the basis of any expression that they have made or in relations to their profession as journalists.
The other question related to demonstration – again, any country is to regulate the issue of the demonstrations as it deems appropriate to preserving the stability and security of its people, and whoever contravenes these stipulations will be subject to a penal process and judicial process. Again, there is some confusion related to the – whether there has been judgments related to contravening the demonstration law or whether some of those had perpetrated violent activity in the course of demonstration without a permit, and of course, that is an issue which necessitates a more effective deterrent for the violence that has been perpetrated by some of those who have been convicted.
SECRETARY KERRY: We’ve had any number of discussions – not just today but by telephone, in prior visits, in visits where we’ve gotten together in other parts of the world – and Minister Shoukry and I have gone over this challenge of – that I raised in my comments a moment ago about how best to try to push back against terrorism and simultaneously protect people’s human rights and protect the right of assembly, the right of speech, and so forth.
We have been crystal clear about the United States’ beliefs with respect to those issues, and Sameh and I have had very direct conversations about them. He has often pointed out to me evidence in certain cases where it’s a very difficult choice for Egypt because there is evidence of engagement in violence by certain people and certain leaders – obviously not everybody, not a whole group, and they understand that. But the situation in Egypt has been fragile enough and challenging enough, as we have seen recently in bombs that have taken lives and attacks that have violated the tranquility and peace of the city particularly but other areas, that Israel – that Egypt is trying to find that balance that you’ve asked can they successfully find it. I think the proof of that is going to be over the course of the next months and into the election, obviously.
What impresses me is that there is a deep commitment in Egypt to move to that election. They ran into a problem with the districts and the way that they were defined, but they moved quickly to try to rectify that and I believe are aiming towards elections this fall.
So the proof will be over the course of the next months, how effectively that balance is maintained, Michael. I think that Egypt could not be more aware of expressions of concern by the United States, by the Congress of the United States, by visitors who come here and congressional delegations, and certainly by my own comments and my own questions that have been raised. But I am confident that the foreign minister, the president, and others understand this challenge, and I think the proof will be in the days ahead.
There are, obviously, circumstances where we have found reason to have grave concern, and we have expressed it very publicly. I don’t think we’ve shied away from that. But we have multiple issues that we need to work on simultaneously. Egypt remains vital to not just the stability of its own country but obviously engagement and stability in the region as a whole. And as everybody knows, the region is facing enormous challenges right now. So working on these multiple fronts is a big political challenge. It’s one that I think the authorities that I’ve talked to in Egypt are mindful of.
Do I think there are things they could do further? Yes. Have we laid them out? Yes. Will we continue to? Yes. But we need to do so while simultaneously fighting a pernicious entity called Daesh and pushing back against individual acts of terror that steal the opportunity for the full transition that we all hope to take place to do so. And so we’ll continue to work hard at this, staying true to our values while simultaneously also staying true to the day-to-day imperatives of improving life for Egyptians as a whole and fighting a very complicated war against a number of different terrorist entities.
FOREGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: Let me just add as a comment to the Secretary’s remarks that on various occasions it has been a matter of misperception and lack of information related to the judicial system in Egypt and how it applies the rule of law. But it is the government’s adherence to the rule of law and the full implementation of the legal rights of both the accused and of society that is important in this regard. And we have a very clear definition and delimitation between issues related to the progress of this country and the fields of democracy and human rights and the fight against terrorism.
There’s no problem in terms of our ability to make that differentiation and to proceed on both counts within a very defined and articulated legal and judicial system that has proven its ability and competence and continues to do so.
There is also recourse to legislative reform that might relieve some of the pressures on the judicial system in how it addresses issues of multiple rulings and the accused’s ability and recourse, especially when in absentia, to the legal system. And this is done in recognition of a constant reform process to advance society’s ability to deal with the various challenges.
SECRETARY KERRY: And Michael, one thing I’d add to that if I may, because Sameh raised the issue of the legal system. One of the things we talked about openly in the session that we just had is the problem of radicalization that can take place through imprisonment, through incarceration, and obviously the need for a judicial system to be able to move rapidly with understandable rule of law and rights that are protected in order to prevent that, because one of the things we don’t want to do is see a sort of revolving cycle of terrorism where young people are not pushed into greater radicalization as a consequence of the fight against it. And so we had an interesting exchange regarding that, and it’s one of the things that we need to be very mindful of as we go forward here.
MODERATOR: Mohamed Mostafa (in Arabic.)
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the answer is yes, of course, we did. But just asking is not going to produce the result and hasn’t yet, which is why we’re taking steps. Let me be very clear: The United States has labeled Iran the number one state sponsor of terror in the world, and the United States has taken steps over the course of the last years to try to deal with the reality of the destabilizing choices that have been made. But I have one simple fact to put in front of everybody: If Iran is destabilizing, it is far, far better to have an Iran that doesn’t have a nuclear weapon than one that does. And you say, “Why did we sit down?” We sat down because we believe we have arrived at an agreement that will prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon.
Now, you also have to measure the significance of the fact that Iran agreed to the steps that we are taking and Iran has agreed to live by the NPT. But up until the moment that we began our negotiations, Iran was moving full speed in a direction that would have left Egypt, Israel, the Gulf states, everybody in the world, questioning where Iran was going. With the agreement that we have arrived at, those questions are answered by the steps that have to be taken in the agreement, and every option that has been available to us prior to this remains available to us going forward.
So I am absolutely convinced that Egypt, Israel, the Gulf states, every country in the region, is safer with one-year breakout for 10 years than two months, and safer with inspections, and safer with reductions of the stockpile, and safer with an adopted process under the NPT that Iran has to live by for the lifetime of this agreement. That’s why. And we believe it is better to rid the world of nuclear weapons than to leave the ingredients for them to become not only the possession of one country in the region but perhaps the necessary possession of a number of countries in the region.
No question in our mind this agreement adheres to the NPT, is a step that is significant against proliferation, and it ultimately, if fully implemented and properly adhered to, will make the region safer. And if it is not fully implemented or not adhered to, we have all the same steps available to us that brought this negotiation about still available to us in the future.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (In Arabic.)
MR KIRBY: Last question, Pam Dockins, Voice of America.
QUESTION: Thank you so much. First of all, Foreign Minister Shoukry, in your – can you hear me?
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you. First, Foreign Minister Shoukry, what additional collaborative measures are you considering or would you like to see with the United States when it comes to fighting militant unrest in the Sinai region, especially groups that have claimed allegiance to the Islamic State?
And Secretary Kerry, did you discuss efforts to broaden the U.S.-Egypt collaboration in addressing the threat from groups that have claimed allegiance to the Islamic State in Libya?
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY KERRY: With respect to Libya, we had a very – it was a significant part of the conversation that we had, an important part of the conversation. Egypt and the United States agree completely that this is a very critical moment in Libya, and we both are very supportive of UN envoy, Special Envoy Bernardino Leon’s efforts. Egypt has been making a significant contribution to that process over the course of the last months. We’ve got a special envoy who’s been working very closely with him, and it’s our feeling that it’s important for all parties to support that work and to recognize that this is a moment, even though not perfect, where we have the ability to be able to have a recognized government that can begin to build capacity in Libya and begin to push back against individual militias or individual – individuals themselves who are spoilers in that process.
So the United States will work very closely. We agreed that we’re going to review a couple of possibilities and options over the course of the next days of how we might give even greater support to the UN initiative right now, and that it is very, very important for those who have played proxy roles in this conflict to – all of them – pull back from their – some of their individual initiatives in order to be supportive of the larger goal of the UN effort. We cannot allow one or two or three different spoiler groups who have not achieved all of the goals they’d hoped to achieve through the conflict to destroy the entire process as a result. So it’s a very critical moment for Libya, and we intend to work together – Egypt and the United States – in order to try to see a government emerge around which Libyans can finally organize the prospects of a stable economic and peaceful future.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: Shukran jazilan. Thank you, John.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, my friend.
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
August 2, 2015
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry hosted United States Secretary of State John Kerry in Cairo on August 2, 2015 for the inaugural round of the Egypt-U.S. Strategic Dialogue at the ministerial level, based on the shared belief that it is necessary to deepen the Egypt-U.S. bilateral relationship to advance our shared interest after almost four decades of close partnership and cooperation. This belief reflects the importance of the two countries’ regional and international roles and the need to develop collective solutions to a wide range of complex issues.
The two sides agreed to continue close cooperation to improve their mutual security, to combat terrorism and extremism, and to work together to delegitimize terrorist narratives. They discussed the status of Egypt’s Road Map and the importance of efforts to promote democracy and human rights in all fields, including in the fight against terrorism. The U.S. welcomed Egypt’s participation in the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, and reiterated its unwavering support for Egypt in its fight against terrorism.
The two Ministers underlined the importance of working together to address the current conflicts in the Middle East region, especially in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. Moreover, the two sides emphasized the importance of attaining a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement between Israelis and Palestinians, which fulfills the vision of the two-state solution, in accordance with the agreed principles and international resolutions. They also discussed other regional developments, and expressed the importance of the full implementation of JCPOA between Iran and the EU3+3 to enhance regional security and stability.
Commensurate with their commitment to further the strategic ties between the two countries, both sides reviewed ongoing developments in their relations at the bilateral level. The two Ministers discussed the prospects of enhancing the relations in various fields, including military cooperation and people-to-people relations, as well as increasing cooperation in cultural and educational domains.
The two delegations reaffirmed their shared commitment to broaden and deepen bilateral economic and commercial cooperation. They acknowledged the importance of expanded trade and investment ties as the key to a sustainable, balanced and enduring partnership, including through reinforcing cooperation in the areas of information technology and energy, and deepening cooperation to create jobs, enhance education, and promote healthcare. The United States congratulated the Government of Egypt on the upcoming opening of the Suez Canal. Both governments welcomed the Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund’s announcement of its first USD $20 million investment. Ministers agreed to hold Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Talks, resume the Bilateral Science and Technology Agreement and renew the high-level Working Group on Information and Communication Technology.
The two sides renewed their commitment to the strategic relationship and resolved to take practical and specific steps to consolidate it. They further stressed that a long-term and strong Egypt-U.S. partnership, anchored in the common goals of their strategic ties, is vital for the peace, stability and prosperity of the region. The two sides agreed to hold the next round of the Strategic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. in 2016.