Joint Statement on Libya by Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and the United States

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release
August 6, 2014

MEDIA NOTE

Joint Statement on Libya by the Governments of Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and the United States

Representatives of the governments of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and the United States met today to express their deep concern about the political and security challenges facing Libya and the impact of these challenges across North Africa and the Sahel region. We call upon all parties in Libya to adopt an immediate ceasefire and to undertake negotiations to address the country’s security and stability needs.

The ongoing violence between Libyans is creating a tragic humanitarian crisis that affects the lives of the most vulnerable and threatens Libya’s democratic transition.  We call upon all Libyans to reject terrorism and violence and to replace it with political dialogue to end the instability that is spreading across the country.  We call on Libya’s newly elected Council of Representatives and other democratic institutions to adopt inclusive policies that benefit all Libyans and to build a government that meets the Libyan people’s needs for security, reconciliation, and prosperity.

We commend the determination of the Libyan people to ensure that democratic governance and rule of law form the bedrock of their country’s future.  The international community stands firmly behind the Libyan people, supports the democratically-elected institutions of Libya, and rejects outside interference in Libya’s transition.  We support all parties’ engagement to this objective, including the continued activities of the Tunis process on Libya.

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Investments Announced at Symposium for African Spouses

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the First Lady

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 6, 2014

INVESTMENTS ANNOUNCED AT SYMPOSIUM FOR AFRICAN SPOUSES HOSTED BY FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA AND FORMER FIRST LADY LAURA BUSH

More than $200 million committed to programs that will empower more than 1 million people in Africa

Today, the Office of First Lady Michelle Obama, the George W. Bush Institute, and the U.S. Department of State hosted a day-long symposium for spouses entitled Investing in Our Future at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

The symposium brought together First Lady Michelle Obama, Mrs. Laura Bush, African first spouses from nearly 30 countries, leaders from non-governmental and non-profit organizations, private sector partners, and other leading experts.

President George W. Bush delivered remarks at the event, announcing the expansion of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon® initiative and the important role of national leadership, including that of a First Spouse, in galvanizing a country to make the fight against women’s cancers a priority.

The symposium highlighted the important role first spouses play and focused on the impact of investments in education, health, and economic development through public-private partnerships.

The investments announced at the symposium total more than $200 million to support programs fostering improved education, health, and economic opportunity for more than 1 million Africans across the continent. Some of the announcements include:

·         The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), in partnership with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), launched Accelerating Children’s HIV/AIDS Treatment (ACT).  ACT is an ambitious $200 million initiative ($150 million from PEPFAR and up to $50 million from CIFF) to double the total number of children receiving life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ART) across ten priority African countries over the next two years.  This will enable 300,000 more children to receive ART.

·         Caterpillar Foundation announced a partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP)to create the first ever AWEP-Women’s Entrepreneurial Centers of Resources, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment(WECREATE) in sub-Saharan Africa.  Caterpillar Foundation and the U.S. State Department are providing $1 million each to create these self-sustaining women’s business centers where women can gain the tools, resources, support and education they need to become successful entrepreneurs and exporters. By being in control of their own financial destiny, women helped by the Centers will help to end the cycle of poverty faced by many girls and women in developing countries and catalyze economic development, prosperity and job creation in their respective countries.

·         Intel announced a new collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) called the Women and the Web Alliance. The Alliance will catalyze a group of partners to address the gender and Internet gap by bringing more than 600,000 young women online in Nigeria and Kenya in the next 3 years. The Alliance consists of USAID, Intel, NetHope, World Pulse, World Vision, UN Women, and Women in Technology in Nigeria, combining efforts to transform girls’ and women’s lives and livelihoods in Africa through digital literacy training, relevant content, policy work, and online social networks.

·         The MasterCard Foundation announced that nearly 6,000 of the 15,000 students it has pledged to support with The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, predominantly from Africa, will be enrolled in high school and university by December 2014. By the end of the 10-year initiative, 75% of the Scholars will be girls and young women.

·         Walmart, through its Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, has committed to train one million farmers, half of which will be women, by the end of 2016. Today, through $3 million in grants and in partnership with leading NGOs and USAID – which is working with the Feed the Futureinitiative – Walmart is accelerating the pace of training and aiming to deliver training to more than 135,000 farmers – 80,000 of which will be women – in Kenya, Rwanda, and Zambia. Kenyan farmers taking part in the program should see farm incomes double in just one growing season.

·         Additionally, six organizations made formal commitments to support Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon’s expansion into Ethiopia and Namibia. Their contributions toward Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon’s expansion comes in the form of financial commitments totaling nearly $3 million, and in-kind donations or assistance.

African First Ladies speaking in the program included: Mrs. Roman Tesfaye, First Lady of The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; Mrs. Lordina Mahama, First Lady of The Republic of Ghana; and Mrs. Penehupifo Pohamba, First Lady of The Republic of Namibia. 

Other program participants included: Deputy Secretary Heather Higginbottom, U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Deborah Birx, U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Cathy Russell, U.S. Department of State; Jamie Cooper, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Cherie Blair, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women; Shelly Esque, Intel Foundation; Ann Cotton, Camfed International; Dr. Sara Ruto, Uwezo; Reeta Roy, The MasterCard Foundation; Madame Aicha Bah Diallo, Foundation for African Women Educationalists; Isha Sesay, CNN International; Noa Gimelli, ExxonMobil; Neha Misra, Solar Sister; Kay Kuenker, Dow AgroSciences; Damaris Achieng Odeny, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics; Deb Elam, GE Foundation; Bernard Olayo, M.D., Center for Public Health and Development; and Maggie Sans, Walmart Foundation

About the Bush Institute: 

The mission of the Bush Institute at the George W. Bush Presidential Center is advancing freedom by expanding opportunities for individuals at home and across the globe. The Bush Institute is a non-partisan public policy institute committed to serious, independent research aimed at generating practical solutions to important public policy issues in the areas of education reform, human freedom, economic growth, and global health. Built on principles that guided President and Mrs. Bush in public life, the Bush Institute seeks to improve America’s public schools; foster the spread of democracy; save lives through global health programs; and promote free markets and economic growth. The Women’s Initiative works to improve access to education, health care, and economic opportunity for women and children around the world, and the Military Service Initiative honors our servicemen and servicewomen and helps them transition to civilian life.

About the First Ladies Initiative:

The First Ladies Initiative is a program of the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative, which helps prepare First Ladies’ senior advisors and staff with training sessions on effective governance, strategic planning, and communication, and also fosters public-private partnerships by connecting First Ladies with funding partners, corporations, and NGOs. These efforts help First Ladies effectively use their unique platforms to promote issues and programs that improve the lives of women and children in their countries, with an initial focus on Africa.

About Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon:

Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon® is the leading public-private partnership aimed at catalyzing the global community to reduce deaths from cervical and breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America by raising awareness of these diseases and increasing access to quality services to detect and treat them. Its activities integrate prevention—including increased access to vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV)—screenings, and treatment into existing healthcare programs. Organizing members of the partnership include the George W. Bush Institute, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Susan G. Komen®, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Corporate and foundation members include Becton, Dickinson and Company; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation; the Caris Foundation; GlaxoSmithKline; IBM; Merck; and QIAGEN.

About the Young African Leaders Initiative: 

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship exchange program of the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and embodies President Obama’s commitment to invest in the future of Africa. The first class of Mandela Washington Fellows arrived in June 2014 for six weeks of intensive executive leadership training, networking, and skills building, followed by a Presidential Summit in Washington, DC.  Regional Leadership Centers in Africa, seed funding, mentoring, and a vast array of virtual resources will provide sustained support to the Fellows upon their return to the continent.  The YALI Network provides online and on the ground platforms, programs, and resources for tens of thousands of young African entrepreneurs, activists, and public officials.  Through YALI, young African leaders gain the skills, connections, and investments they need to accelerate their initiatives and contribute more robustly to strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security in Africa.

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FACT SHEET: Partnering to Counter Terrorism in Africa

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 6, 2014
FACT SHEET: Partnering to Counter Terrorism in Africa

 

As the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania underscored, Africa based terrorists threaten the interests of the United States in addition to those of our African partners. The United States government has no higher priority than protecting U.S. citizens from attack by terrorists and violent extremists. But our efforts at countering terrorism in Africa are motivated as well by a recognition that extremist groups are tearing apart communities in many parts of the continent, robbing young people of their futures, constraining economic growth, and denying people the opportunity to reach their full potential. African terrorist groups, such as al-Shabaab, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Boko Haram, and Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis (ABM), threaten the security and prosperity of Africans across the continent.

We are committed to working with our African partners to address immediate threats and build durable and professional security sector institutions required to achieve our long-term counterterrorism objectives.

A Comprehensive Approach

The United States and our African partners are committed to countering terrorism in Africa through counterterrorism partnerships that draw on all of our tools: military, diplomacy, financial action, intelligence, law enforcement, and development alike. Our partnerships are building African partner capacities in the security and justice sectors to counter terrorism in a way that is consistent with the rule of law, and building the capacity of African governments and civil society in countering violent extremism (CVE) to neutralize violent ideologies before they spread.

• Enhancing military capacity. U.S. military personnel work hand-in-hand with their African counterparts to increase military capacity in countries threatened by terrorism. The Department of Defense (DoD) provides much needed equipment to empower African partners’ ability to halt terrorism. U.S. military personnel provide specialized training that includes instruction on planning, battlefield tactics, civil-military relations, best practices in counter-insurgency, and respect for the rule of law. The United States also sponsors multinational exercises to increase collaboration and strengthen bonds among African partners. The 2014 Flintlock Exercise, hosted by Niger, brought together more than 1,000 troops from 18 countries, including eight African nations.

• Enhancing law enforcement capacity: Strengthening our African partners’ civilian security and law enforcement capacity is another key priority of our counterterrorism strategy in Africa. In FY2013, we trained 2,584 participants in 19 African countries on how to prevent, detect, and investigate terrorism threats; secure their borders; bolster legal frameworks to effectively prosecute terrorists within the rule of law; and manage responses to terrorist incidents in a rule-of-law framework that respects human rights, as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. The ATA program provides training on a wide range of disciplines, from bomb detection to crime scene investigation. We have a longstanding ATA partnership with Tanzania, for example, which has helped institutionalize its counterterrorism training and stand-up a special marine police unit. On the sidelines of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the United States and Kenya signed a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA). This agreement provides the legal framework to allow for the exchange of information and evidence to assist countries in the prevention, detection, and investigation of customs offenses – including those associated with terrorism-related activities.

• Restricting travel and stemming access to resources: With our African partners, we work to restrict terrorists’ and terrorist organizations’ travel and their ability to raise, move, and store money. The Terrorist Interdiction Program/Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System provides partner countries in Africa border security assistance to identify, disrupt, and deter terrorist travel. The Counterterrorism Finance (CTF) program, run by the Department of State, provides training to partner governments that will better enable them to restrict terrorists’ and terrorist organizations’ ability to raise, move, and store money. CTF provides African nations with internal and cross-border financial investigations training to work effectively with counterparts in neighboring countries and assists these countries in strengthening their laws and regulations. We have three CTF-funded Resident Legal Advisors (RLA) and two Department of Homeland Security advisors in Africa who provide mentoring and training to judges and prosecutors so they are better able to adjudicate and prosecute these cases.

• Drying up potential sources of recruits: We also seek to stop terrorism before it begins by strengthening community resilience and creating environments that are inhospitable for terrorist recruitment. In Chad, Niger, and Burkina Faso, for example, USAID is leading efforts to support youth empowerment through education, skills training, strengthening local governance capacity, and improving access to information via community radio, targeting groups most vulnerable to extremist ideologies.
• Building global partnerships: We have also worked in the multilateral arena to build international architecture to combat today’s terrorist threats. In 2011 the United States co-founded the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), which includes participation from African countries. The GCTF focuses on identifying critical civilian counterterrorism needs, mobilizing the necessary expertise and resources to address such needs, and enhancing global cooperation.

• Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund: President Obama has asked Congress to create a new, $5 billion counterterrorism partnerships fund that will help build the capacity of our international partners to respond effectively to the terrorist threat. If approved, this fund would allow the United States to provide additional training, equipment, and operational support for partner states in our shared fight against al-Shabaab, AQIM, Boko Haram and others. It would also support targeted efforts to address the underlying conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, including by supporting partner efforts to combat terrorist safe havens.
Providing support to partners on the front lines
The United States is building strong partnerships with countries to address critical terrorist threats on the front lines in order to confront the threat at its roots.

• Confronting Boko Haram: We are deeply concerned by Boko Haram’s ongoing attacks against Nigeria’s citizens, civil institutions, and infrastructure, including the group’s April 2014 kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls. To support the Nigerian-led efforts to combat Boko Haram, we are providing an array of military, law enforcement, and intelligence support, such as counter-Improvised Explosive Device training and forensics training. We are also supporting the efforts of Nigeria and its neighbors to increase regional cooperation to combat Boko Haram. Because the specter of terrorism requires more than just a security response, we have also worked to encourage and support the Nigerian government’s efforts to promote development in northern Nigeria, including by boosting health, education, and social service delivery. Our security cooperation also supports the professionalization of key military units and underscores that effective counterterrorism policies and practices are those that respect human rights and are underpinned by the rule of law.

• Working to Degrade Al-Shabaab: In Somalia, we continue to support the Somali National Army and the African Union (AU) Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in their efforts to push al-Shabaab out of its strongholds. The Department of State has invested more than $170 million to recruit and train forces to help protect Somalia’s institutions and citizens. Since 2007 we have contributed more than half a billion dollars in training, equipment, and logistical support to AMISOM. While these efforts have weakened al-Shabaab and pushed it out of a number of cities, the group remains the most significant threat to peace and security in Somalia and the region. Our counterterrorism support for Somalia is embedded in an overarching policy of support for policies and reforms to eliminate the underlying sources of violence and increase national and regional stability. A stable, peaceful Somalia and Horn of Africa are the best long-term deterrents to a resurgence of al-Shabaab. Our Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism, has helped build the capacity and resilience of East African governments to contain the spread of, and counter the threat posed by, al-Qa’ida, al-Shabaab, and other terrorist organizations.

• Enabling Partners to combat al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM): We provided support to our French and regional partners to reverse AQIM’s expansion in northern Mali in 2013 and help the people of Mali reclaim their future. The United States has provided airlift and refueling support, and training and supplies to more than 6,000 African soldiers and police who have deployed to support the international response. This international partnership paved the way for safe elections and improved stability in Mali, taking on both the immediate threat and the dire conditions that helped the extremists take hold in the first place. Our Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) has supported these efforts and other partner country efforts in the Sahel and the Maghreb to constrict and ultimately eliminate the ability of terrorist organizations to exploit the region by increasing security sector capacity, addressing underlying causes of radicalization, and amplifying local voices that speak out against violence.

• Confronting Terrorism in North Africa: We continue to provide security and counterterrorism assistance and advice to our partners in North Africa to arrest the growth of extremist groups like Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia, Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi, and Ansar al-Sharia in Darnah. Through the TSCTP, we are working with the government of Tunisia to build its capacity to confront terrorist threats. We have also provided crisis response and tactical and command training to Tunisian security forces as well as training in leadership development, police reform, prison reform, hostage rescue, and crowd control management for the Justice and Interior ministries. Additionally, we have provided vehicles to enhance internal and border security in Tunisia. In Libya, we are working with the international community to train a Libyan General Purpose Force, build Libyan security institutional capacity, and improve the Libyan government’s ability to counter terrorism.
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Statement by the Chair of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 6, 2014

Statement by the Chair of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

Washington, D.C., August 4-6, 2014

 

I. Background

President Obama welcomed leaders from across the African continent to Washington, D.C., for a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the first of its kind. The largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government, the Summit strengthened ties between the United States and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing regions.

The Summit advanced our shared interests in increased U.S.-Africa trade and U.S. investment in Africa and highlighted America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people. By enabling discussion of tangible actions that can be taken to deepen the U.S.-Africa partnership, the Summit fostered stronger ties between the United States and Africa.

The Summit theme, “Investing in the Next Generation,” reflected the common ambition that the people and government of the United States share with the people and governments of Africa to leave our nations better for future generations by making concrete gains in peace and security, good governance, and economic development.

Based on extensive consultations and reflecting shared goals, Summit events included sessions on trade and investment, development, peace and security, and governance. Other events enriched and informed the dialogue among heads of state and government, including the Young African Leaders Summit, the Civil Society Forum, the landmark U.S.-Africa Business Forum, and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Ministerial. These events included a range of U.S. and African civil society, youth and business leaders and – underscoring a tradition of broad, bipartisan support for U.S. engagement with Africa – participation by Members of the U.S. Congress. The Summit also included a day-long Spousal Program, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush, that focused on the impact of investments in education, health, and public-private partnerships.

Leaders’ discussions centered on how to tackle shared challenges and accelerate progress in key areas: expanding trade and investment ties; creating educational and job opportunities for youth; accelerating and expanding our progress in promoting inclusive and sustainable development; intensifying cooperation on peace and security; and securing a better future for Africa’s next generation.

II. Investing in Africa’s Future

Leaders discussed Africa’s potential as a new center of global growth that is creating more opportunities for its people than ever before. Leaders also noted the challenge to ensure these gains are expanded and spread to benefit all of Africa’s people, which will create new markets and reinforce stability and democracy.

Leaders also agreed on the positive impacts that U.S.-Africa partnerships on public health have had on moving us closer to an AIDS-free generation, improving maternal-child health, dramatically reducing deaths from preventable disease, and moving people out of poverty. They committed to redoubling efforts to control the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa and, critically, working together to share expertise, as Africa moves towards the realization of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

President Obama welcomed the progress made under the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the commitments made to continue Africa’s leadership on food security, including those made for the African Union (AU) Year of Agriculture to triple agricultural trade in order to end hunger. Leaders welcomed the announcement of new investment commitments to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which has now mobilized more than $10 billion. They pledged that agriculture, nutrition, and food security would remain high on their shared agenda and to redouble efforts to promote resilience in order to increase the capacity of vulnerable communities to withstand the impact of external shocks, including climate change, and to promote climate-smart agriculture and value-addition.

Leaders welcomed the success of Power Africa, and decided to intensify joint efforts to double access to electricity in Africa, including within the African Union’s Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Framework. They emphasized the importance of regional power projects to fostering regional economic integration and the need to provide increased electricity through national grids and beyond the grid, particularly to remote and rural areas. President Obama pledged $300 million in assistance per year to expand the reach of Power Africa in pursuit of a new, aggregate goal of 30,000 MW, and announced that Power Africa has now mobilized more than $26 billion.

Leaders decided to intensify efforts to increase intra-African trade, including through trade capacity building, regional integration, enabling the adoption of the legal and regulatory reforms that break down barriers to the free flow of goods and services, and improving Africa’s capacity to meet international standards. President Obama announced the expansion of trade and investment platforms across the continent as well as additional trade capacity building assistance.

Leaders agreed on the importance of the prompt, long-term renewal of an enhanced African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and pledged to work together to increase its utilization by African countries. Leaders also agreed on the importance of increasing U.S. investment in Africa and welcomed the announcements made at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, including over $14 billion in new private sector deals. President Obama announced $7 billion in new financing under the Doing Business in Africa Campaign that will support U.S. trade with and investment in Africa over the next two years. Leaders pledged to take action to drive further investment and industrialization.

Leaders affirmed the importance of working together to ensure that negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda focus on clear, measurable goals and reflect the rich experience and commitments of developing countries and the spirit of partnership between our countries. President Obama welcomed the commitment and sincerity conveyed by Africa’s decision to develop a thoughtful and substantive Common African Position and their long-term vision outlined in “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.”

III. Advancing Peace and Regional Stability

Leaders noted that, at the same time that Africa is growing economically, conflict, crime, and terrorism continue to threaten many communities and constrain the continent’s prosperity. Thus, Leaders resolved to address the root causes of conflict and to enhance conflict prevention mechanisms and capacity-building for peacekeeping. They also determined to confront an increasingly lethal and geographically expansive set of transnational security threats.

Leaders agreed that Africa’s complex security challenges demand increased state capacity and regional solutions. Various leaders noted the need to confront transnational threats, including terrorism, with holistic approaches employing development in addition to security tools, advancing religious tolerance and supporting community voices.

The Summit afforded President Obama the opportunity to laud African leadership in responding to crises while reaffirming America’s commitment to be a strong partner in confronting peace and security challenges. To further this cooperation, the United States committed to: a new initiative over the next three to five years to build the capacity of African militaries to rapidly deploy peacekeepers in response to emerging conflict; create a Security Governance Initiative to pursue a strategic approach to building capacity in partner military and civilian security institutions and match expanded investments with leadership to pursue reforms; and expand its work to support information sharing among regional partners.

IV. Governing for the Next Generation

The theme of the Summit, “Investing in the Next Generation,” represented recognition of the fact that Leaders have the opportunity and responsibility to ensure their actions pave the way for the freedom, dignity, and prosperity of their citizens. Leaders engaged in a forthright and constructive dialogue on critical issues of governance and pledged to sustain this dialogue.

Leaders agreed that efficient, effective, and transparent governance is vital to the well-being of citizens, to boost investor confidence, and to sustain economic growth. They recognized that an active, empowered citizenry can contribute most effectively to the prosperity and well-being of their nations, and discussed the role of civil society, volunteerism, and public service. They further agreed on the centrality of inclusive growth and protection of human rights that benefit all citizens and communities.

Recognizing the losses to the continent and its people from illicit financial flows and corruption, Leaders decided to establish a joint high-level working group to develop a plan of action for further work in this area.

V. Investing in Women for Peace and Prosperity

Recognizing that nations reach their full potential only when women and men enjoy equal opportunity and respect for their rights under the law, Leaders resolved to work toward fuller participation for women in government, the economic sphere, and civil society. They determined to seek expanded roles for women in forging peace and security, and to augment efforts to protect women and girls from gender-based violence. They decided to promote women’s economic empowerment by improving access to markets and capital and by strengthening legal systems to protect their rights and opportunities. And understanding that education is one of the most effective ways to expand opportunities and life choices for girls and young women, they decided to seek to close education gaps between boys and girls.

To advance these goals, the United States announced commitments to further support women’s participation in peacebuilding activities, increase efforts to help women entrepreneurs launch and expand their businesses, and support parliamentary efforts to promote women’s rights.

VI. Providing Skills and Opportunities to Youth

The “Investing in the Next Generation” theme provided Leaders with the opportunity to discuss how to create opportunities, promote skills development especially in science, technology, research and innovation, and generate jobs for youth so they can advance economic growth and build the strong civic and public institutions needed to achieve shared goals. Leaders discussed how Africa’s youth are already shaping political, social, and economic realities – and can be the driving force behind economic prosperity, good governance, and peace and security.

In anticipation of the Summit, President Obama hosted a town hall with participants in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders to hear directly from young African entrepreneurs, civic leaders, and public servants. President Obama announced the expansion of his Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) to create regional leadership centers on the continent, an online network of educational tools (including to support professional and vocational education), the doubling of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, and expanded resources for entrepreneurs to further support leadership development, promote entrepreneurship, and connect young leaders with one another and the United States.

Various African Leaders announced commitments to further expand their investments in youth. The African Union Commission committed to redoubling its efforts to advance educational opportunities through the Pan-African University; to carry forward the African Youth Charter by urging Member States to consider the African Youth Decade Plan of Action as a road map for implementation; and to propose for adoption by Member States a Declaration and Plan of Action on Employment, Poverty Eradication, and Inclusive Development, with a primary focus on youth and women, at the upcoming Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Governments of the African Union in Ouagadougou in September 2014.

Benin has set up two business-type incubators and committed to recruiting 15,000 youth in 2015 to fill civil servant positions. Burkina Faso announced a youth investment project involving 46,800 young men and women offered an opportunity to find sustainable jobs in the labor market. Burundi recently established the Youth Employment Agency, which helps high school graduates obtain jobs and internships. Cabo Verde will expand its current 20 youth centers to open one at each city and on every island in the country. The Republic of the Congo has instituted the “Corps of Young Volunteers and Civil Service Trainees” to promote community service and civic education activities. Cote d’Ivoire has declared 2014 a Year of Employment with special initiatives focused on youth, including a young entrepreneur’s competition. Gabon has supported the creation of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community’s (CAEMC) “Train my Generation” Fund, which aims to support the training and employment of young people. Guinea will host “The Guinea World Youth Congress” in December 2014. Senegal included young leaders in its delegation to the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and will do the same for the G-20. Seychelles will use a newly set-up fund to support young entrepreneurs to boost youth employment. Somalia will launch a youth empowerment framework with key initiatives in job creation and youth representation in the government. Tanzania announced the establishment of a “State House Fellows” program, modeled on the long-standing White House Fellows program in the United States, to identify, train, and provide high-level experience to the next generation of Tanzanian leaders.

VII. Conclusion

Leaders underscored their appreciation for the strong benefits and positive outcomes that deepened U.S.-Africa cooperation affords and reiterated the need for intensified cooperation to advance shared security interests and our common goals to increase prosperity for the United States and African countries and to advance the dignity, well-being, and freedom of our people.

Leaders underscored the importance of ensuring steady follow-up regarding the commitments made at the Summit and of further deepening the partnership between the United States and the people and governments of Africa, as well as coordination with the African Union. President Obama announced that the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit will be a recurring event.

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REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AT PRESS CONFERENCE AFTER U.S.-AFRICA LEADERS SUMMIT

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

_________________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release

August 6, 2014

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AT PRESS CONFERENCE AFTER U.S.-AFRICA LEADERS SUMMIT

 

State Department

Washington, D.C.

6:14 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  As I think everyone knows by now, this first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit has been the largest gathering we’ve ever hosted with African heads of state and government — and that includes about 50 motorcades.  So I want to begin by thanking the people of Washington, D.C. for helping us host this historic event — and especially for their patience with the traffic.

As I’ve said, this summit reflects the reality that even as Africa continues to face great challenges we’re also seeing the emergence of a new, more prosperous Africa.  Africa’s progress is being led by Africans, including leaders here today.  I want to take this opportunity again to thank my fellow leaders for being here.  Rather than a lot of prepared speeches, our sessions today were genuine discussions — a chance to truly listen and to try to come together around some pragmatic steps that we can take together.  And that’s what we’ve done this week.

First, we made important progress in expanding our trade.  The $33 billion in new trade and investments that I announced yesterday will help spur African development and support tens of thousands of American jobs.  With major new commitments to our Power Africa initiative, we’ve tripled our goal and now aim to bring electricity to 60 million African homes and businesses.  And today I reiterated that we’ll continue to work with Congress to achieve a seamless and long-term renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

We agreed that Africa’s growth depends, first and foremost, on continued reforms in Africa, by Africans.  The leaders here pledged to step up efforts to pursue reforms that attract investment, reduce barriers that stifle trade — especially between African countries — and to promote regional integration. And as I announced yesterday, the United States will increase our support to help build Africa’s capacity to trade with itself and with the world.

Ultimately, Africa’s prosperity depends on Africa’s greatest resource — its people.  And I’ve been very encouraged by the desire of leaders here to partner with us in supporting young entrepreneurs, including through our Young African Leaders Initiative.  I think there’s an increasing recognition that if countries are going to reach their full economic potential, then they have to invest in women — their education, their skills, and protect them from gender-based violence.  And that was a topic of conversation this afternoon.  And this week the United States announced a range of initiatives to help empower women across Africa.

Our New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition continues to grow, aiming to lift 50 million Africans from poverty.  In our fight against HIV/AIDS, we’ll work with 10 African countries to help them double the number of their children on lifesaving anti-retroviral drugs.  And even as the United States is deploying some of our medical first responders to West Africa to help control the Ebola outbreak, we’re also working to strengthen public health systems, including joining with the African Union to pursue the creation of an African Centers for Disease Control.

I also want to note that the American people are renewing their commitment to Africa.  Today, InterAction — the leading alliance of American NGOs — is announcing that over the next three years its members will invest $4 billion to promote maternal health, children’s health, and the delivery of vaccines and drugs.  So this is not just a government effort, it is also an effort that’s spurred on by the private sector.  Combined with the investments we announced yesterday — and the commitments made today at the symposium hosted by our spouses — that means this summit has helped to mobilize some $37 billion for Africa’s progress on top of, obviously, the substantial efforts that have been made in the past.

Second, we addressed good governance, which is a foundation of economic growth and free societies.  Some African nations are making impressive progress.  But we see troubling restrictions on universal rights.  So today was an opportunity to highlight the importance of rule of law, open and accountable institutions, strong civil societies, and protection of human rights for all citizens and all communities.  And I made the point during our discussion that nations that uphold these rights and principles will ultimately be more prosperous and more economically successful.

In particular, we agreed to step up our collective efforts against the corruption that costs African economies tens of billions of dollars every year — money that ought to be invested in the people of Africa.  Several leaders raised the idea of a new partnership to combat illicit finance, and there was widespread agreement.  So we decided to convene our experts and develop an action plan to promote the transparency that is essential to economic growth.

Third, we’re deepening our security cooperation to meet common threats, from terrorism to human trafficking.  We’re launching a new Security Governance Initiative to help our African countries continue to build strong, professional security forces to provide for their own security.  And we’re starting with Kenya, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Ghana and Tunisia.

During our discussions, our West African partners made it clear that they want to increase their capacity to respond to crises.  So the United States will launch a new effort to bolster the regions early warning and response network and increase their ability to share information about emerging crises.

We also agreed to make significant new investments in African peacekeeping.  The United States will provide additional equipment to African peacekeepers in Somalia and the Central African Republic.  We will support the African Union’s efforts to strengthen its peacekeeping institutions.  And most importantly, we’re launching a new African peacekeeping rapid response partnership with the goal of quickly deploying African peacekeepers in support of U.N. or AU missions.  And we’ll join with six countries that in recent years have demonstrated a track record as peacekeepers — Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda.  And we’re going to invite countries beyond Africa to join us in supporting this effort, because the entire world has a stake in the success of peacekeeping in Africa.

In closing, I just want to say that this has been an extraordinary event, an extraordinary summit.  Given the success that we’ve had this week, we agreed that summits like this can be a critical part of our work together going forward, a forcing mechanism for decisions and action.  So we agreed that the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit will be a recurring event to hold ourselves accountable for our commitments and to sustain our momentum.  And I’ll strongly encourage my successor to carry on this work, because Africa must know that they will always have a strong and reliable partner in the United States of America.

So with that, I’m going to take a couple of questions.  I’m going to start with Julie Pace of Associated Press.  Where’s Julie?  There she is.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  There’s been a lot of discussion surrounding this summit about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  And there’s an untested and unapproved drug in the U.S. that appears to be helping some of the Americans who are infected.  Is your administration considering at all sending supplies of this drug if it becomes available to some of these countries in West Africa?  And could you discuss a bit the ethics of either providing an untested drug to a foreign country, or providing it only to Americans and not to other countries that are harder hit if it could possibly save lives?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think we’ve got to let the science guide us.  And I don’t think all the information is in on whether this drug is helpful.  What we do know is that the Ebola virus, both currently and in the past, is controllable if you have a strong public health infrastructure in place.

And the countries that have been affected are the first to admit that what’s happened here is, is that their public health systems have been overwhelmed.  They weren’t able to identify and then isolate cases quickly enough.  You did not have a strong trust relationship between some of the communities that were affected and public health workers.  As a consequence, it spread more rapidly than has been typical with the periodic Ebola outbreaks that have occurred previously.

But despite obviously the extraordinary pain and hardship of the families and persons who’ve been affected, and despite the fact that we have to take this very seriously, it is important to remind ourselves this is not an airborne disease; this is one that can be controlled and contained very effectively if we use the right protocols.

So what we’ve done is to make sure that we’re surging not just U.S. resources, but we’ve reached out to European partners and partners from other countries, working with the WHO.  Let’s get all the health workers that we need on the ground.  Let’s help to bolster the systems that they already have in place. Let’s nip as early as possible any additional outbreaks of the disease.  And then during the course of that process, I think it’s entirely appropriate for us to see if there are additional drugs or medical treatments that can improve the survivability of what is a very deadly and obviously brutal disease.

So we’re going to — we’re focusing on the public health approach right now because we know how to do that.  But I will continue to seek information about what we’re learning with respect to these drugs going forward.

Q    If this drug proves to be effective, would you support fast-tracking its approval in the United States?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I think it’s premature for me to say that because I don’t have enough information.  I don’t have enough data right now to offer an opinion on that.

Jon Karl, ABC News.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  When you were running for President, you said, “The biggest problems we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all.  And that’s what I intend to reverse.”  So my question to you — has Congress’s inability to do anything significant given you a green light to push the limits of executive power, even a duty to do so?  Or put another way — does it bother you more to be accused of being an imperial President, pushing those limits, or to be accused of being a do-nothing President who couldn’t get anything done because he faced a dysfunctional Congress?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I think that I never have a green light.  I’m bound by the Constitution; I’m bound by separation of powers.  There are some things we can’t do.

Congress has the power of the purse, for example.  I would love to fund a large infrastructure proposal right now that would put millions of people to work and boost our GDP.  We know we’ve got roads and bridges and airports and electrical grids that need to be rebuilt.  But without the cooperation of Congress, what I can do is speed up the permitting process, for example.  I can make sure that we’re working with the private sector to see if we can channel investment into much-needed projects.  But ultimately, Congress has to pass a budget and authorize spending. So I don’t have a green light.

What I am consistently going to do is, wherever I have the legal authorities to make progress on behalf of middle-class Americans and folks working to get into the middle class, whether it’s by making sure that federal contractors are paying a fair wage to their workers, making sure that women have the opportunity to make sure that they’re getting paid the same as men for doing the same job, where I have the capacity to expand some of the student loan programs that we’ve already put in place so that repayments are a little more affordable for college graduates — I’m going to seize those opportunities.  And that’s what I think the American people expect me to do.

My preference in all these instances is to work with Congress, because not only can Congress do more, but it’s going to be longer-lasting.  And when you look at, for example, congressional inaction, and in particular, the inaction on the part of House Republicans, when it comes to immigration reform, here’s an area where, as I’ve said before, not only the American people want to see action, not only is there 80 percent overlap between what Republicans say they want and Democrats say they want, we actually passed a bill out of the Senate that was bipartisan.

And in those circumstances, what the American people expect is that, despite the differences between the parties, there should at least be the capacity to move forward on things we agree on.  And that’s not what we’re seeing right now.  So in the face of that kind of dysfunction, what I can do is scour our authorities to try to make progress.

And we’re going to make sure that every time we take one of these steps that we are working within the confines of my executive power.  But I promise you the American people don’t want me just standing around twiddling my thumbs and waiting for Congress to get something done.  Even as we take these executive actions, I’m going to continue to reach out to Democrats and Republicans — to the Speaker, to the leadership on both sides and in both chambers — to try to come up with formulas where we can make progress, even if it’s incremental.

Q    Do you believe you have the power to grant work permits to those who are here illegally, as some of your supporters have suggested?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  What I certainly recognize with respect to immigration reform — and I’ve said this in the past — is that we have a broken system; it’s under-resourced; and we’ve got to make choices in terms of how we allocate personnel and resources.

So if I’m going to, for example, send more immigration judges down to the border to process some of these unaccompanied children that have arrived at the border, then that’s coming from someplace else, and we’re going to have to prioritize.  That’s well within our authorities and prosecutorial discretion.

My preference would be an actual comprehensive immigration law.  And we already have a bipartisan law that would solve a whole bunch of these problems.  Until that happens, I’m going to have to make choice.  That’s what I was elected to do.

Margaret Talev, Bloomberg.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Along the lines of executive authority, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has previously said that the executive branch of government doesn’t have the authority to slow or stop corporate inversions, the practice that you have called distasteful, unpatriotic, et cetera.  But now he is reviewing options to do so.  And this is an issue that a lot of business, probably including some of the ones who were paying a lot of attention to this summit, are interested in.  So what I wanted to ask you was, what prompted this apparent reversal?  What actions are now under consideration?  Will you consider an executive order that would limit or ban such companies from getting federal contracts?  And how soon would you like to see Treasury act, given Congress’s schedule?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Just to review why we’re concerned here. You have accountants going to some big corporations — multinational corporations but that are clearly U.S.-based and have the bulk of their operations in the United States — and these accountants are saying, you know what, we found a great loophole — if you just flip your citizenship to another country, even though it’s just a paper transaction, we think we can get you out of paying a whole bunch of taxes.

Well, it’s not fair.  It’s not right.  The lost revenue to Treasury means it’s got to be made up somewhere, and that typically is going to be a bunch of hardworking Americans who either pay through higher taxes themselves or through reduced services.  And in the meantime, the company is still using all the services and all the benefits of effectively being a U.S. corporation; they just decided that they’d go through this paper exercise.

So there is legislation working its way through Congress that would eliminate some of these tax loopholes entirely.  And it’s true what Treasury Secretary Lew previously said, that we can’t solve the entire problem administratively.  But what we are doing is examining are there elements to how existing statutes are interpreted by rule or by regulation or tradition or practice that can at least discourage some of the folks who may be trying to take advantage of this loophole.

And I think it’s something that would really bother the average American, the idea that somebody renounces their citizenship but continues to entirely benefit from operating in the United States of America just to avoid paying a whole bunch of taxes.

We’re reviewing all of our options.  As usual, and related to the answer I gave Jonathan about executive actions, my preference would always be for us to go ahead and get something done in Congress.  And keep in mind it’s still a small number of companies that are resorting to this, because I think most American companies are proud to be American, recognize the benefits of being American, and are responsible actors and willing to pay their fair share of taxes to support all the benefits that they receive from being here.

But we don’t want to see this trend grow.  We don’t want companies who have up until now been playing by the rules suddenly looking over their shoulder and saying, you know what, some of our competitors are gaming the system and we need to do it, too.  That kind of herd mentality I think is something we want to avoid.  So we want to move quickly — as quickly as possible.

Q    Just to clarify, the federal contracting seems like an area that you’ve liked.  It’s worked well for you on issues like promoting gay rights, or contraception policy.  Is it fair to assume that that would — attaching this to federal contractors would be the first thing you would think of?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Margaret, I’m not going to announce specifics in dribs and drabs.  When we’ve done a thorough evaluation and we understand what our authorities are, I’ll let you know.

Chris Jansing, NBC News.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Russia said today that it is going to ban food and agricultural product imports.  That was about $1.3 billion last year.  At the same time, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the massing of troops along the border of Ukraine increases the likelihood of an invasion.  Are sanctions not working?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, we don’t know yet whether sanctions are working.  Sanctions are working as intended in putting enormous pressure and strain on the Russian economy.  That’s not my estimation; if you look at the markets and you look at estimates in terms of capital flight, if you look at projections for Russian growth, what you’re seeing is that the economy has ground to a halt.  Somewhere between $100 billion and $200 billion of capital flight has taken place.  You’re not seeing a lot of investors coming in new to start businesses inside of Russia.

And it has presented the choice to President Putin as to whether he is going to try to resolve the issues in eastern Ukraine through diplomacy and peaceful means, recognizing that Ukraine is a sovereign country, and that it is up ultimately to the Ukrainian people to make decisions about their own lives; or, alternatively, continue on the course that he’s on, in which case he’s going to be hurting his economy, and hurting his own people over the long term.

And in that sense, we are doing exactly what we should be doing.  And we’re very pleased that our European allies and partners joined us in this process, as well as a number of countries around the world.

Having said all that, the issue is not resolved yet.  You still have fighting in eastern Ukraine.  Civilians are still dying.  We’ve already seen some of the consequences of this conflict in the loss of the Malaysian Airlines airliner — or jetliner.

And the sooner that we can get back on a track in which there are serious discussions taking place to ensure that all Ukrainians are heard, that they can work through the political process, that they’re represented, that the reforms that have already been offered by the government in Kyiv are implemented to protect Russian speakers, to assure decentralization of power — the sooner that we move on those, and the sooner that President Putin recognizes that Ukraine is an independent country, it’s only at that point where we can say that the problem has truly been solved.  But in the meantime, sanctions are working the way they’re supposed to.

Q    The troops that are massing on the border are more highly trained.  They seem to have more sophisticated weaponry, according to intelligence.  Does that make you reconsider — as a few Democrats have suggested — providing lethal aid to Ukraine, given those troop movements?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, keep in mind that the Russian army is a lot bigger than the Ukrainian army.  So the issue here is not whether the Ukrainian army has some additional weaponry.  At least up until this point, they’ve been fighting a group of separatists who have engaged in some terrible violence but who can’t match the Ukrainian army.

Now, if you start seeing an invasion by Russia, that’s obviously a different set of questions.  We’re not there yet.  What we have been doing is providing a whole host of assistance packages to the Ukrainian government and to their military, and we will continue to work with them to evaluate on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis what exactly they need in order to be able to defend their country and to deal with the separatist elements that currently are being armed by Russia.

But the best thing we can do for Ukraine is to try to get back on a political track.

David Ohito, The Standard.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  You have been hosting African kings, prime ministers and presidents for the last three days.  But back home in Africa, media freedom is under threat.  The work of journalists is becoming increasingly difficult.  In Egypt, our Al Jazeera colleagues are in jail.  In Ethiopia, dozens of journalists are in prison.  In Kenya, they have passed very bad laws targeting the media.  What can the international community do to ensure that we have a strong media in Africa and, more importantly, to secure the release of the journalists who are behind bars?

And, two, so many countries in Africa are facing threats of terror.  I’m glad you’ve mentioned a few measures you’re going to take.  But what can the international community do also to neutralize terror threats in Mali, Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya?  Could that be the reason you have skipped Kenya in your visits to Africa?  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m sorry, what was the last part of the question?

Q    Could the terror threats be the reason you have skipped Kenya in your visits to Africa?

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, no, no, no, no, no.  Well, first of all, with respect to journalists in the media, the last session that we had on good governance emphasized that good governance means everybody has a voice, that government is transparent and, thereby, accountable.  And even though leaders don’t always like it, the media plays a crucial role in assuring people that they have the proper information to evaluate the policies that their leaders are pursuing.

And so we have been very consistent in pushing governments not just in Africa, but around the world, to respect the right of journalists to practice their trade as a critical part of civil society and a critical part of any democratic norm.  The specific issue of the Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt, we’ve been clear both publicly and privately that they should be released.  And we have been troubled by some of the laws that have been passed around the world that seem to restrict the ability of journalists to pursue stories or write stories.  We’ve also been disturbed by efforts to control the Internet.  Part of what’s happened over the last decade or two is that new media, new technology allow people to get information that previously would have never been accessible, or only to a few specialists.  And now people can punch something up on the Internet and pull up information that’s relevant to their own lives and their own societies and communities.  So we’re going to continue to push back against these efforts.

As is true on a whole range of issues — and I’ve said this in the past — many times we will work with countries even though they’re not perfect on every issue.  And we find that in some cases engaging a country that generally is a good partner but is not performing optimally when it comes to all of the various categories of human rights, that we can be effective by working with them on certain areas, and criticizing them and trying to elicit improvements in other areas.  And even among countries that generally have strong human rights records, there are areas where there are problems.  That’s true of the United States, by the way.

And so the good news — and we heard this in the summit — is that more and more countries are recognizing that in the absence of good governance, in the absence of accountability and transparency, that’s not only going to have an effect domestically on the legitimacy of a government, it’s going to have an effect on economic development and growth.  Because ultimately, in an information age, open societies have the capacity to innovate and educate and move faster and be part of the global marketplace more than closed societies do over the long term.  I believe that.

Now, with respect to terrorism, I think there’s uniform concern of terrorist infiltration in many countries throughout Africa.  Obviously, this is a concern that we have globally.  A lot of the initiatives that we put forward were designed to partner so that countries, first and foremost, can deal with these problems within their own borders or regionally.  And the United States doesn’t have a desire to expand and create a big footprint inside of Africa.  What we do want to make sure we can do is partner with the African Union, with ECOWAS, with individual countries to build up their capacity.

And one of the encouraging things in the sessions was a recognition that fighting terrorism also requires security forces that are professional, that are disciplined, that themselves are not engaging in human rights violations; that part of the lesson that we’ve all learned about terrorism is that it is possible in reaction to terrorism to actually accelerate the disease if the response is one that alienates populations or particular ethnic groups or particular religions.  And so the work that we’re doing, including the security initiatives that I announced today, I think can make a big difference in that direction.

It’s not just a matter of us providing better equipment or better training.  That’s a part of it, but part of it is also making sure that these security forces and the intelligence operations are coordinated and professional, and they’re not alienating populations.  The more we do that, the more effective we can be.

Last point I’ll make is, on good governance, one of the best inoculators against terrorist infiltration is a society in which everybody feels as if they have a stake in the existing order, and they feel that their grievances can be resolved through political means rather than through violence.  And so that’s just one more reason why good governance has to be part of the recipe that we use for a strong, stable and prosperous Africa.

Last question, Jérôme Cartillier.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Earlier today, the Israeli Prime Minister described the Gaza operation as “justified and proportionate.”  Do you agree with these two words?  And Israel and Hamas seems to be at odds over prolonging the cease-fire.  Are you hopeful the cease-fire — a true cease-fire can be achieved?  And what exact role can the U.S. play in the current talks going on in Cairo?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I have said from the beginning that no country would tolerate rockets being launched into their cities.  And as a consequence, I have consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself, and that includes doing what it needs to do to prevent rockets from landing on population centers and, more recently, as we learned, preventing tunnels from being dug under their territory that can be used to launch terrorist attacks.  I also think it is important to remember that Hamas acts extraordinarily irresponsibly when it is deliberately siting rocket launchers in population centers, putting populations at risk because of that particular military strategy.

Now, having said all that, I’ve also expressed my distress at what’s happened to innocent civilians, including women and children, during the course of this process.  And I’m very glad that we have at least temporarily achieved a cease-fire.  The question is now how do we build on this temporary cessation of violence and move forward in a sustainable way.

We intend to support the process that’s taking place in Egypt.  I think the short-term goal has to be to make sure that rocket launches do not resume, that the work that the Israeli government did in closing off these tunnels has been completed, and that we are now in the process of helping to rebuild a Gaza that’s been really badly damaged as a consequence of this conflict.  Long term, there has to be a recognition that Gaza cannot sustain itself permanently closed off from the world and incapable of providing some opportunity — jobs, economic growth — for the population that lives there, particularly given how dense that population is, how young that population is.

We’re going to have to see a shift in opportunity for the people of Gaza.  I have no sympathy for Hamas.  I have great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza.  And the question then becomes, can we find a formula in which Israel has greater assurance that Gaza will not be a launching pad for further attacks, perhaps more dangerous attacks as technology develops into their country.  But at the same time, ordinary Palestinians have some prospects for an opening of Gaza so that they do not feel walled off and incapable of pursuing basic prosperity.

I think there are formulas that are available, but they’re going to require risks on the part of political leaders.  They’re going to require a slow rebuilding of trust, which is obviously very difficult in the aftermath of the kind of violence that we’ve seen.  So I don’t think we get there right away, but the U.S. goal right now would be to make sure that the cease-fire holds, that Gaza can begin the process of rebuilding, and that some measures are taken so that the people of Gaza feel some sense of hope, and the people of Israel feel confident that they’re not going to have a repeat of the kind of rocket launches that we’ve seen over the last several weeks.

And Secretary Kerry has been in consistent contact with all the parties involved.  We expect we will continue to be trying to work as diligently as we can to move the process forward.

It is also going to need to involve the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank.  I have no sympathy for Hamas.  I have great sympathy for some of the work that has been done in cooperation with Israel and the international community by the Palestinian Authority.  And they’ve shown themselves to be responsible. They have recognized Israel.  They are prepared to move forward to arrive at a two-state solution.

I think Abu Mazen is sincere in his desire for peace.  But they have also been weakened, I think, during this process.  The populations in the West Bank may have also lost confidence or lost a sense of hope in terms of how to move forward.  We have to rebuild that, as well.  And they are the delegation that’s leading the Palestinian negotiators.  And my hope is, is that we’ll be engaging with them to try to move what has been a very tragic situation over the last several weeks into a more constructive path.

Thank you very much, everybody.  And thank you all who participated in the Africa Summit.  It was an outstanding piece of work.  And I want to remind folks, in case they’ve forgotten, of the incredible young people who participated in our fellows program.  We’re very proud of you, and we’re looking forward to seeing all the great things that you do when you go back home.

Thank you.

END              6:54 P.M. EDT

FACT SHEET: U.S. Support for Peacekeeping in Africa

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 6, 2014

 

FACT SHEET: U.S. Support for Peacekeeping in Africa

The United States strongly supports the work of more than 67,000 African peacekeepers serving with the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) in Africa. These men and women are working to protect civilians, prevent violence, and promote security and stability in many of Africa’s most complex conflicts.

Since 2009, the United States has committed to provide nearly $892 million to develop African peacekeeping capacity and strengthen African institutions. The United States has trained and equipped more than a quarter-million African troops and police for service in UN and AU peacekeeping operations.

Saving Lives Through Rapid Response
African countries have made clear that rapid response to crises is at the top of their peace and security agenda. To support this priority, the United States announced at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership (APRRP, “A-Prep” for short) a new investment of $110 million per year for 3-5 years to build the capacity of African militaries to rapidly deploy peacekeepers in response to emerging conflict, a concept that holds powerful life-saving potential.

• The United States will partner with an initial group of six countries—Senegal, Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda—to develop a rapid response capability program, by building improved capacity in areas such as military training, equipment maintenance and repair, institutional support, and interoperability with other Africa-based peacekeeping forces.

• Under this program, African partner nations will commit to maintaining forces and equipment ready to rapidly deploy and state their intent to deploy as part of UN or AU missions to respond to emerging crises.

• The United States is not the only member of the international community that has a stake in this endeavor, so we will reach out to international partners to discuss how we can build a coalition to increase coordination on our goal to fill gaps in peacekeeping response.

• We are also prepared to provide support, including training for headquarters staff and key enabler functions, such as engineers, to catalyze the AU’s efforts to establish its African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis (ACIRC).

Building African Peacekeeping Capacity
Our new initiative builds on the United States’ longstanding commitment to developing partner capacity to support African countries and regional organizations to meet the challenges they face.

• Our Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) program has helped to build the capacity of African partners to conduct peacekeeping training themselves.

• Since 2005, through the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program, which is primarily funded by GPOI, the United States has trained more than 248,000 peacekeepers from 25 partner countries across the continent, prior to their deployment to UN and AU peacekeeping operations. The United States has expended more than $241 million in ACOTA activities since 2009 alone.

• In addition, through GPOI funding, the U.S. Africa Command has conducted specialized peacekeeping training for the African Union and 22 African partner countries since 2005 aimed at building a cadre of professional peacekeepers.

• The United States also has provided training and equipment to more than 1,100 African police prior to their deployment to UN peacekeeping operations in Darfur, South Sudan, and Mali, through the International Police Peacekeeping Operations Support (IPPOS) program, underscoring the critical role of civilians in peacekeeping.

Supporting AU-led efforts to Respond to Conflict
The United States values the increased AU leadership and political will to mount responses to African conflicts, and is committed to strengthening the AU’s institutional capacity to launch and support peacekeeping operations, as well as increase interoperability among AU states during peacekeeping deployments.

• Since 2005, the United States has provided a peace and security advisor at the AU Headquarters, provided assistance to the AU’s Peace Support Operations Division, and provided training on defense resource management and command and control.

• The Department of Defense supports numerous training exercises that seek to increase partners’ interoperability in complex operations and strengthen the African Standby Force’s ability to plan, deploy, employ sustain, and redeploy troops to conflict areas.

• The United States is committed to delivering over the next year approximately $70 million worth of deployment equipment to African peacekeepers, including for AU forces in Somalia and the Central African Republic, which will give willing peacekeepers enhanced tools to carry out their missions.

Supporting U.N. and AU Peacekeeping Operations
The United States continues to advance initiatives to strengthen UN and AU peacekeeping capabilities, including by seeking to expand the number, capacity, and effectiveness of troop and police contributors that are on the ground furthering Africa’s peace and security.

The United States is by far the world’s largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping operations. In FY 2013, the United States provided more than $1.7 billion in assessed contributions for UN peacekeeping in Africa, bringing our total assessed contributions to nearly $9 billion since 2009.

• Central African Republic (CAR): The AU-led International Support Mission to CAR (MISCA) and French forces operating alongside them are working to prevent further ethnic violence in CAR, and to restore stability and protect civilians. The United States has committed to provide up to $100 million in support for these forces, and the President has requested up to $428 million in FY 2015 for anticipated assessed contributions during FY 2014 and FY 2015 for the new UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA). These efforts underscore U.S. concern for the people of the CAR and aim to support restoration of security and provide humanitarian aid, while promoting accountability, reconciliation, and democratic governance.

• Cote d’Ivoire: U.S. assessed contributions for the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) since 2009 exceed $885 million, and are helping UNOCI to protect civilians, support disarmament efforts, and monitor and promote human rights. The United States also has provided critical support to Cote d’Ivoire’s post-conflict recovery, including bolstering border security, civilian protection, and stability in the wake of the 2011 election crisis.

• Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Since 2009, the United States has provided more than $2.1 billion in assessed contributions for the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), to help protect civilians and support the DRC government in consolidating peace. The United States funds an advisor to assist Congolese military justice personnel assigned to the MONUSCO-supported Prosecution Support Cells to investigate and prosecute serious crimes. Three U.S. military personnel also currently serve in MONUSCO. The United States strongly supported the revision of MONUSCO’s mandate in 2013 to empower it to take appropriate military action against abusive and destabilizing militias with the introduction of an intervention brigade (IB), and provided training to IB members prior to deployment.

• Liberia: The United States has provided more than $879 million in assessed contributions since 2009 for the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), enabling UNMIL to provide critical security during Liberia’s post-conflict transition, including a successful election in 2011 and the rebuilding of Liberia’s armed forces. Five U.S. military personnel currently serve in UNMIL, and a U.S. flag officer recently completed a tour as the UNMIL chief of staff.

• Mali: To address the instability in Mali, the United States has provided more than $115 million in assessed contributions for the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The United States also provided airlift support and committed to provide up to $173 million in logistical support, training, and critical equipment, such as vehicles and communications, to African peacekeepers deploying to MINUSMA and its predecessor, the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA). Nine U.S. military personnel currently serve in MINUSMA. U.S. support has enabled MINUSMA to provide critical stabilization and security and created the conditions for delivery of humanitarian aid and Mali’s pursuit of national reconciliation.

• Somalia: To help combat terrorism in Somalia and support the Somali Federal Government’s efforts to build security and stability, the United States has committed to provide more than $512 million to provide support to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to build capacity to counter al-Shabaab in Somalia and provide space for political progress. This includes pre-deployment training, provision of military equipment, and advisors on the ground. Additionally, the United States has provided more than $455 million in U.S contributions for the UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA), thereby bolstering support to African Union forces.

• South Sudan: U.S. assessed contributions for the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) since it was created in 2011 have been $635 million, supporting UNMISS efforts to protect civilians and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Five U.S. military personnel currently serve in UNMISS. U.S. leadership was essential in streamlining the mission’s mandate to focus on protection of civilians.

• Sudan-Darfur/Abyei: Since 2009, the United States has provided nearly $2.4 billion in assessed contributions for the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), and more than $182 million in assessed contributions for the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). U.S. support for these operations has strengthened civilian protection, facilitated humanitarian assistance, and promoted human rights and the rule of law.

###

REMARKS BY FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA AT “INVESTING IN OUR FUTURE”

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the First Lady

______________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release                           August 6, 2014

REMARKS BY FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA AT “INVESTING IN OUR FUTURE” – A SYMPOSIUM FOR SPOUSES ON ADVANCEMENT FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS IN AFRICA

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Washington, D.C.

10:09 A.M. EDT

     MRS. OBAMA:  Good morning.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you so much, everyone.  Well, my name is Michelle Obama, and I am an African American woman.  (Applause.)  On behalf of myself and my husband, it is truly a pleasure and an honor to welcome you all here to Washington.

     We have so many distinguished leaders here with us today.  Of course, we have President Bush and Mrs. Bush who are here today, and I want to thank them both and the Bush Institute for their passionate leadership on the issues that we’re going to be discussing today.

     I also want to recognize my dear friend, Dr. Jill Biden, who is here as well.  She has been a tremendous partner over the past five and a half years, and I’m thrilled that she is here with us today.

     And of course, most of all, I want to thank all of you for joining us at this event.  We have a fabulous program lined up for you today, as you’ve heard.  We’ll be discussing important issues, we’ll be hearing from renowned experts, and we’re going to be making some really exciting announcements about new initiatives across Africa.  So this is going to be a really big day.  This has been a day that’s been a part of a big week that’s been a part of a big couple of months, actually.

     As you may know, the summit that your husbands are attending this week is the largest gathering of African leaders ever hosted by an American president.  And about six weeks ago, 500 young leaders from across Africa arrived here in the United States to take part in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

     And I have to tell you that these young men and women are truly extraordinary.  Many of them are barely half my age –- I don’t want to say that, but they’re young — (laughter) — and they’ve already founded NGOs, they’ve started their own businesses, they’ve risen to senior levels of their governments.  And as part of the Mandela Fellowship, they have undertaken intensive academic coursework and leadership training at universities across America.  And the passion, the intelligence, the dedication of these young leaders has inspired all of us here in the U.S. who have had the pleasure of spending any time with them.

     I had the privilege of speaking with these fellows last week, and I met with a group of them who share my interest in girls’ education.  And two of the fellows from that meeting will be doing a presentation today about their stories and their ideas.  And I’m not going to steal any of their thunder, because they are remarkable individuals.  But I can tell you this — that while we talked about a range of issues, there was one theme we kept returning to.  Again and again, these young people emphasized how important it is for them to have support from leaders in their governments.  And this is the very same message that I hear so often from the young American leaders that I meet with.

     These young people are working so hard in their communities.  They’re facing so many challenges and obstacles.  And they’re looking to all of us for inspiration.  They’re looking to us to champion the issues they care about.  And most of all, they’re looking to us to empower them to be part of the solution.

     And that means that we all are going to need to do everything in our power to bring these young people to the table.  We need to spend a lot of time with them, more time listening -– and I mean really listening –- to their voices, to their views so that we can understand the challenges that they’re facing through their eyes.  And we need to learn from their experiences and from their expertise.

     You see, these young people are developing all kinds of new technologies and social media strategies to address problems that our generation hasn’t yet solved.  Whether it’s an app to fight cervical cancer or a new approach to clean energy, they’re coming up with solutions that we never could have dreamed of.

     So the question is, can we and our governments learn from them and follow their lead?  Can we embrace their ideas and incorporate them into policies and strategies?  And in our work as First Ladies, First Spouses, can we find new ways to be more inclusive of these young people and show them that we truly value their voices?

     And so many of you are already embracing the young leaders in your countries through your work –- whether it’s improving girls’ education, or fighting cervical cancer or HIV, or supporting microfinance.  You all have the potential to inspire millions across the globe.

     So it is my hope that today, we will rededicate ourselves to these efforts and commit to new efforts to lift up our young people.  And I hope that you all will have a chance today to really connect with each other, and learn from each other, and hopefully be inspired by each other.

     And with that, it is now my pleasure to begin a conversation with a First Lady who has long been an inspiration to me.  Laura Bush set a high bar for me during her time in the White House, and she has continued to do outstanding work around the world since she and her husband left Washington.  And I consider her not just a role model, but also a friend.  And I’m thrilled that our conversation today will be moderated by another woman who I greatly respect and admire, one of America’s leading journalists, our friend, Cokie Roberts.

     And with that, I will have them come out to the stage so that we can begin our conversation.  Thank you so much for joining us.  Enjoy the rest of the day.  (Applause.)

                             END                10:16 A.M. EDT

###

 

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AT OPENING SESSION OF THE U.S.-AFRICA LEADERS SUMMIT

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                            August 6, 2014

 

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AT OPENING SESSION OF THE U.S.-AFRICA LEADERS SUMMIT

State Department

Washington, D.C.

 

1017 A.M. EDT

 

     PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good morning, everyone.   Michelle and I were honored to host you and your wonderful spouses at dinner last night.  I hope people didn’t stay out too late.  The evening was a chance to celebrate the bonds between our peoples.  And this morning, we continue our work, and it’s my privilege to welcome you to this first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. 

Let me also thank our Secretary of State, John Kerry, and everybody here at the State Department who’s hosting us today.  John and his team are doing outstanding work deepening our partnership with so many of your nations.  So, John, thank you for your outstanding work. 

I want to begin by welcoming President Conde of Guinea, and noting that two leaders were not able to join us — President Sirleaf of Liberia and President Koroma of Sierra Leone.  We are grateful for the presence of their delegations, even as these countries are focused on a very difficult situation back home.  And on behalf of all of us here today, our thoughts and prayers are with those who’ve been affected by the Ebola outbreak, especially those who’ve lost loved ones. 

The United States and our international partners will continue to do whatever we can to help our African partners respond to this crisis and to stand with the people of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  In their histories they’ve overcome great challenges, and they are drawing on that same spirit of strength and resilience today.

So we come together this week because, even as the continent faces significant challenges, as I said last night, I believe a new Africa is emerging.  With some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, a growing middle class, and the youngest and fastest-growing population on Earth, Africa will help shape the world as never before.

Moreover, Africa’s progress is being led by Africans, including leaders represented here today.  More governments are embracing economic reforms, attracting record levels of investment.  Gains in development, increasing agricultural production, declining rates in infectious diseases are being driven by African plans.  African security forces and African peacekeepers are risking their lives to meet regional threats.  A new generation of young Africans is making its voice heard.  

Africa’s rise means opportunity for all of us — including the opportunity to transform the relationship between the United States and Africa.  As I said in Cape Town last year, it’s time for a new model of partnership between America and Africa — a partnership of equals that focuses on African capacity to solve problems, and on Africa’s capacity to grow.  And that’s why we’re here.

To my fellow leaders, I want to thank you and your teams for helping us to shape our agenda today.  Our work can build on the valuable contributions already made this week by civil society groups, the private sector, young Africans, and — at our first session of this summit — our faith communities, which do so much to sustain the U.S.-Africa relationship.  Different though they may be, our faith traditions remind us of the inherent dignity of every human being and that our work as nations must be rooted in empathy and compassion for each other, as brothers and as sisters.

Today is an opportunity to focus on three broad areas where we can make progress together.

Number one, we have the opportunity to expand trade that creates jobs.  The new trade deals and investments I announced yesterday are an important step.  And today we can focus on what we can do, as governments, to accelerate that investment — economic and regulatory reforms, regional integration, and development so that growth is broad-based, especially among women, who must be empowered for economies to truly flourish.

Second, we have the opportunity to strengthen the governance upon which economic growth and free societies depend.  Today we can focus on the ingredients of progress:  rule of law, open government, accountable and transparent institutions, strong civil societies, and respect for the universal human rights of all people. 

And finally, we have the opportunity to deepen our security cooperation against common threats.  As I said, African security forces and African peacekeepers are in the lead across the continent.  As your partner, the United States is proud to support these efforts.  And today, we can focus on how we can continue to strengthen Africa’s capacity to meet transitional threats — transnational threats, and in so doing make all of our nations more secure.  

So, in short, we are here not just to talk.  We are here to take action — concrete steps to build on Africa’s progress and forge the partnerships of equals that we seek; tangible steps to deliver more prosperity, more security, and more justice to our citizens.  So, to my fellow leaders, again, thank you so much for being here.  I look forward to our work together today.

And at this point, I want to invite President Aziz of Mauritania, the current Chairman of the African Union, to say a few words.

President Aziz.

                       END               10:24 A.M. EDT

A Conversation Between First Lady Michelle Obama and Mrs. Laura Bush

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the First Lady

______________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release                        August 6, 2014

A CONVERSATION BETWEEN FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA AND MRS. LAURA BUSH MODERATED BY COKIE ROBERTS nAT “INVESTING IN OUR FUTURE,” A SYMPOSIUM FOR SPOUSES ON ADVANCEMENTS FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS IN AFRICA

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Washington, D.C.

10:17 A.M. EDT

     MS. ROBERTS:  Well, I am so excited that we get to do this again.

MRS. BUSH:  We did this last summer in Dar es Salaam.

MS. ROBERTS:  In Tanzania.  And thank you so much for that.  It was a wonderful, wonderful experience for all of us to be there with you.  So thank you for hosting us last year.  And thank you for hosting us this year.  So here we are.

MRS. OBAMA:  It’s my pleasure.

MS. ROBERTS:  But it is — I remember, as I recall, when were — last year you were still getting blowback about your bangs.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Yes, that’s over.

MRS. BUSH:  That’s an important issue.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Let’s see what they say about this one.

MS. ROBERTS:  But the program — you have bangs in the program, I just have to — (laughter) — and since then, your daughter has turned 16.

MRS. OBAMA:  Yes, I know.  (Laughter.)

MS. ROBERTS:  I know, but I have to tell you, I am envious to anybody who’s had a daughter turn 16, as envious to have it happen in the White House where you kind of can keep an eye on her.

MRS. OBAMA:  We can share the experience with the world.  (Laughter.)  All the pain and pleasure that goes along with it.

MS. ROBERTS:  I remember Lucy Johnson, President Johnson’s daughter, saying when she turned 16 in the White House and got a driver’s license, she said, it was permission to drive a motor vehicle.  That’s all it was.  (Laughter.)  For most people, a driver’s license is freedom.

MRS. OBAMA:  That’s right.  That’s right.

MS. ROBERTS:  But you’re experiencing it well, right?

MRS. OBAMA:  The girls are growing up.  And as Laura and the President know, that it is a true testament to the parents to raise wonderful young people through this experience.  And we have had some terrific role models — Jenna and Barbara are just amazing young women who are doing extraordinary things, not just in this country, but around the globe.  And once again, they’re setting a high bar.  But the girls are doing great.  I’m very proud of them.

MS. ROBERTS:  And you have a grand-baby, a girl.

MRS. BUSH:  That’s right.  We have our first grand-baby.  Yes, exactly.  (Applause.)  Our darling little Mila.  George and I are just gaga over our baby.

MRS. OBAMA:  How old is she now?

MRS. BUSH:  She’s 16 months.

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, she’s doing real things.

MS. ROBERTS:  Also 16.

MRS. BUSH:  Yes, exactly — 16 months.  She’s doing great.

MS. ROBERTS:  So we just saw that very important video.  And, Mrs. Obama, you spoke last week to the Young African leaders, and you were very strong in your statements about the need for educating girls and treating women and girls with dignity and equality.  Why did you choose to do that?

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, so often what we find in our positions is that you can — you have to change attitudes before you can change behaviors.  And one of the things I said to the young people, that we can talk about the need for more resources as it comes — when it concerns girls’ education, the need for school fees and the need to improve transportation.  But the bottom line is that until men, leaders, women, until we value women and girls, we won’t tackle those other problems.  Until we prioritize our girls and understand that they are as important and their education is as important as the education of our sons, then we will have lots of work to do.

And I wanted to just implant that notion in the minds of these young leaders, because they have to approach their work with a whole new attitude.  And one of the things I asked the young men is that you have to be introspective and ask yourselves whether you truly believe that women can be your equal.  And in sharing my story, just understanding the power of having men in my life who valued me and put me first and treated me with respect and didn’t abuse me, and didn’t talk down to me — I want young men around the world to understand that they have a role to play alongside women who are fighting for these rights, and I want our young men to understand this at an early age.  (Applause.)

MS. ROBERTS:  Mrs. Bush, you have been working on this issue for a long time, particularly with women of Afghanistan.  And are you still doing that?  Tell us about where –

MRS. BUSH:  Yes, we’re still working on that.  After September 11th, when the spotlight turned to Afghanistan and we in the United States looked at the way women in Afghanistan were treated, many, many people, women and men in the U.S., were concerned.  And that’s when I first started working with women in Afghanistan.

     And Mrs. Obama is right — in fact, one person said to me one time, why are you working with women, it’s men who have the problem.  (Laughter.)  And I think we do need to make sure worldwide that all humans are valued — that women and men are valued, that girls and boys are valued, and that human life is valued.  I think that’s really the most important thing we can do, all of us can do, is try to increase that knowledge worldwide that every life is precious.

MS. ROBERTS:  And of course on this question, the question of girls’ education and women’s health and all that, we have so much data now that shows that if you educate a girl, you save a country.  So are you finding that you’re able to keep working on that, that that’s something you’re able — because one of the questions I got last year after you all finished talking and I stayed for a couple of days from these wonderful women was, how do you keep it going?

MRS. BUSH:  Well, one of the things we’ve done, George and I have done — obviously when you live in the White House you have a platform.  But former First Ladies and former Presidents continue to have a platform and a convening power, and we’ve tried to do that with the First Ladies Initiative that we started last summer with the first conference in Dar es Salaam, and that is to bring together First Ladies really from around the world.

We started with African First Ladies but we’re interested in engaging women from every — First Ladies from every country to talk about the very unique platform that the spouses of world leaders have to help the women in their countries, to make sure that everyone is paying attention to the education of boys and girls in their country, and that we’re making sure that women have the opportunity to be involved in the economic life of their country.

Because only countries where all people are involved can be successful.  When we look around the world and we see countries where half of the population is marginalized or left out, then we usually see countries that are failing.  So it’s important to keep talking about that.

MRS. OBAMA:  And it’s important, as I said in my opening remarks, to make room for the next generation of leaders.  Because one of the things that the young people said to me, as I mentioned, is that they asked me to ask the first spouses to make room for them because they’re looking for a place at the table.  And they specifically said that when you meet with the spouses of our country, tell that we want to help, that we want a voice, and that we’re looking to them.  They’re looking to all of us to provide that seat.

And that’s where that platform that Mrs. Bush speaks of, why it’s so important.  Because these young people, they believe that we — they get their inspiration from us.  They’re looking to us.  They still don’t quite know that they have the expertise and the skills already, they think we know more.

MS. ROBERTS:  We actually do.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  We do, we do.  But when you listen to just the opening speakers, when you think about social media — I mean, just listening to the hashtags and the Twitter accounts — I mean, that was a little nutty.  (Laughter.)  But it’s how you continue the conversation.

MS. ROBERTS:  And globalize it.

MRS. OBAMA:  And globalize it.  And young people are just more adept at that.  And they can — as I tease my kids, I tell them I want them to use Instagram to take a picture of something really important rather than their food.  (Laughter.)  But young people can be a support to us.  I mean, no one really cares what you had for lunch.  (Laughter.)

MS. ROBERTS:  Well, you both talked last year when we were having this conversation about shining a light on an issue, and that you — in this unique position, that you have the opportunity to shine the light.  At some point, people stop looking at what you’re wearing and see what you’re aiming at.

One of the questions I get all the time is, how do you choose?  How do you choose what issue to shine a light on?  Now, you knew when you came in that you wanted to do something about military families, but it was kind of inchoate, right?  You expected to do something about early childhood education and cognition, and of course, September 11th changed all of that.  How do you put it together to decide exactly what you’re going to do?

     MRS. BUSH:  Well, I think you look at yourself and see what your expertise is.  When I came to the White House, I was a — had been a librarian.  I loved to read.  I had been a teacher.  And so, education and literacy were very, very obvious interests of mine and expertise of mine, so what’s I started with.

     But then, also you look at what appears, and are there ways you can take advantage of different things that happen to go in another way.  I got a phone call, for instance, from the head of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute here in Washington and she said, did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death among American women?  And I didn’t know that.  I just had assumed cancer was the leading cause of death among American women.  So I knew if I didn’t know that heart disease was the leading cause of death, that many American women didn’t know that either.

     And so I was presented with the opportunity to talk about The Heart Truth and to get the word out to American women that heart disease was the leading cause of death so that they could start doing things, because heart disease is often preventable.  But also, if you know that you might have a heart attack, it wouldn’t just be your husband that had a heart attack, then you can rush to the hospital yourself and get the kind of treatment that you would demand for your husband but you might not realize you would need it yourself.

     So I think there are both ways, both look to your own expertise and then just take advantage of other interests that come up and see if you can make a difference in your countries.

     MRS. OBAMA:  Also, where your passions lie.  Because I’ve found that I’ve been most effective when I am uniquely authentic, there’s an authenticity to what I say.  So that means I have to really believe passionately in the causes that I take on.  And that lends itself to more power, more effectiveness.  It just makes you a better advocate, because this is something you care deeply about.  This was true when it came to the issue of educating our young people.

     I just started an initiative this year, Reach Higher, because one of the things I’m deeply passionate about is the role that education has to play in the lives of our young people.  And my story is the story that I try to share with young people to motivate them.  There is nothing in my life that would indicate that I would be sitting here on this stage with a former First Lady and one of the most renowned journalists and every first spouse in Africa.  (Laughter.)  Nothing in my life indicated that.

     But my parents believed in the value of education, even though they were not educated themselves.  And they pushed my brother and I to do the best that we could do.  So what I want young people in America to understand is that we are blessed in this country to have public education, to have opportunities that many girls around the world are putting their lives at risk to achieve.  So it’s incumbent upon us here in America to take advantage of every opportunity.  And young people have to own their education.

     I can do that because I believe it.  It is my story.  It is why I’m sitting here.  And my hope is that I can start a national conversation about reigniting that hunger for education in our young people and using that to talk about the issues that our girls around the world are facing with 60 million girls today not in school, 30 million of those in Sub-Saharan Africa.

     I want our young people across the globe to be talking about how do we fix that.  So that’s just an example.  I’m clearly passionate about that.  (Laughter.)

     MS. ROBERTS:  But one of the things that we’re going to do today in the various panels is how-to, essentially.  And you all have done the how-to.  And part of that is private-public partnerships.  And on all of your initiatives it seems to me that you’ve both done that; that you’ve brought in universities, companies, foundations, whatever combination of things works.  Can you talk about it, for instance, with Helping America’s Youth?

     MRS. BUSH:  Sure.  Helping America’s Youth was one of my initiatives.  And I traveled around the country and had summits, actually conferences in many parts of the United States with all of the youth-serving agencies, types of agencies — from individual foundations that people had to individuals themselves; two men, for instance, who used sports to teach character building in Seattle and worked with sports groups because they knew they could attract boys, and then they attracted their mothers there because their mothers would bring the boys to their sports practices.  So they would talk about sportsmanship in a way that really talked about life, and the way that people can use all the characteristics of a good sport to also be a good person.

     But what they discovered, then, was that their mothers were, in many cases, single mothers.  They didn’t have a community really of their own.  And so they started — after the sports games, they would have barbecues so the mothers could meet each other and be with each other.  And really, they were out to help the boys, but found out they helped the whole family with this one agency — or one foundation that these two men started.  And that’s just one example of many, many others that were part of Helping America’s Youth.

     MS. ROBERTS:  And helping people get off of drugs or not get into drugs.

     MRS. BUSH:  That’s right.

     MS. ROBERTS:  And it seems to me in some ways you’ve built on that with Let’s Move.  It is being preventatively healthy all along.  So talk to us a little bit about how you’ve put that together.

     MRS. OBAMA:  For those of you who don’t know, Let’s Move is my initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation.  And we have really relied greatly on public-private partnerships because what we all have to understand is government has limits — limited resources, a limited base of power.  People look to government and think that government can do everything, but many of the solutions that we’re trying to achieve require the involvement of the nonprofit sector and the private sector.

     So we’ve really enlisted companies to market food differently to kids so that they are not marketing unhealthy products.  We’ve enlisted sports organizations to get kids up and moving, try to invest in more sports in communities that are underserved.  Whether it’s the U.S. Tennis Association or the NBA or what have you, many of these private players have been very eager to step up and partner with us to achieve this goal, because we all have an interest in making sure that the next generation is as healthy as possible.  We spend billions of dollars in covering obesity-related illnesses, and all of these illnesses are completely preventable with good diet and nutrition, exercise.

So what we have said to many of our partners is that we all have an interest in this, and there’s a way that we can all do well by doing good.  We can — companies can still be profitable by creating foods and educating parents and families to help them make better choices about what they feed their kids.

MS. ROBERTS:  I must say, with teenage daughters, though, it must be — I would suspect that sometimes they say to you, let’s move, mom.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Yes, you’ve been sitting at our dining room table, Cokie?  (Laughter.)  Well, you know, every teenager has a little smart aleck in them, it’s true.

But one of the things we’ve found in our household is that kids listen.  They take on these new messages even when we don’t think they’re paying attention.  And that’s one of the things that we try to tell parents, is that they don’t — you don’t know that they’re listening, but I see how my children make different decisions about what they eat now as teenagers now that they have control because they have the information about how food affects their overall health and their ability to perform.  But it’s our job to empower parents and families to make the choices that are best for them.

MS. ROBERTS:  You’ve gotten some blowback for it, which to some ways –

MRS. OBAMA:  Surprising.  (Laughter.)  Blowback, right?

MS. ROBERTS:  Don’t worry, that was –

MRS. OBAMA:  I don’t know.

MRS. BUSH:  No good deed goes –

MRS. OBAMA:  Right.  (Laughter.)

MS. ROBERTS:  That was just where I was headed.  I know that you both get into these things and you’re doing them for the good of the country, and suddenly you get criticized for it.  And it must just be such a shock in a way.

MRS. BUSH:  Well, I was not that

But on the other hand, I think anyone who’s in a leadership position of any sort knows that you’re going to be criticized and a target, really, for criticism.

MRS. OBAMA:  That’s absolutely true.  And that’s really the role of leadership.  It’s not about amassing power; it’s taking some of those hits and continuing to do the work, even when it’s painful and sometimes unappreciated.

But that’s why it’s important for all of us to have a vision as first spouses.  Because if you have your vision and you know what you’re passionate about, and you know what direction you’re going in, then all of the arrows and the spears and the criticisms, they just — they bounce off of you because you keep doing the work every day.

MS. ROBERTS:  They might pinch a little.

MRS. OBAMA:  They might pinch a little bit.  You might get shot in the eye.  You just sort of go to the doctor, patch yourself up and get back in the game.

MS. ROBERTS:  Well, I think that’s an important message for people to hear, because it’s hard to do what you all are doing.  And you talked about “it’s not about amassing power” — it’s certainly not for the spouses.  It’s not being in that role, and still, you get the criticism.  So it’s important to say that you’ve lived through it.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, and everyone comes to these positions with different temperaments.  And watching Mrs. Bush, she has been able to traverse all of this with a level of grace and kindness and compassion.  Just seeing how our transition worked — and we talked about this in Tanzania — that people are who they are.  I said this in my convention speech about the President — being President doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.  And that’s true for first spouses as well.

You come to this with a temperament.  Some people are shy and never want the limelight; other people are much more outgoing and maybe a bit more aggressive and able to withstand the heat of the spotlight that shines on us.  But I think that all of us, we have to bring what is uniquely us to the table and work within that.  And that’s sometimes what people around the world don’t understand.  First spouses, we don’t choose this position, we just happen to be in it, and we do the –

MRS. BUSH:  We’re elected by one man.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Right, right.

MS. ROBERTS:  And you can’t be fired.

MRS. OBAMA:  Can’t be fired.

MRS. BUSH:  We certainly hope not.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  I guess we’ll see.  (Laughter.)

     MS. ROBERTS:  Well, one of the things that is unique is your voice as women, and you both talked about that last year.  I went back and looked at — you were both quite eloquent about how important it is for women to use to your voices and your power.  And I think, Mrs. Obama, you said, we’re not complicated, but we’re complex.  And I think that’s a good way of putting it.  But again, Mrs. Bush, why is it important for women’s voices in this particular position to be heard?

     MRS. BUSH:  For the First Lady, well, I think it’s important because the First Lady has an opportunity really to talk about what is most interesting to her and what she thinks she can help — the ways she thinks she can help her country and the people in her country the best.  I love to quote Lady Bird Johnson, who said, the First Lady has a podium and she intended to use it — and she did.  She was another Texas First Lady, and I admired her from a distance.  I didn’t know her then, but got to know her later when George was governor and we lived in Austin.

     But she really did, she used what she loved.  And she happened to love native flowers and the natural beauty of our country.  And she made a huge difference.

MS. ROBERTS:  Well, and Head Start.

MRS. BUSH:  The daffodils that you see blooming here along the George Washington Parkway were planted because of Lady Bird Johnson.  But, yes, she used education and civil rights.  And she was a southern First Lady, so it was very important for her to speak out about civil rights, and she did.  She campaigned all across the South for the civil rights laws that were passed and signed during President Johnson’s administration.

MRS. OBAMA:  Once again, I always go back to young people.  We meet — I know I do — we meet thousands of just wonderful young people in our countries and around the world.  And to have a seven year old or a 12 year old walk up to you or send you a letter and tell them thank you for what you do, I look up to you, you inspire me.  That reminds us all that whether we like it or not, we are role models.  And as women, we have — the young girls in our worlds, in our countries, they’re looking to us.  They’re looking to us for how we should be, how we should think, how to use our voices.

And as a result, we have a responsibility to show them the way in whatever way we can.  And that may be something as simple as embracing a child on the line and telling them that they’re beautiful and that you’re proud of them, and that you know that they’re important and they’re valued.  I think about that, because every time I meet a child I think, who knows what’s going on in her life, whether she was just bullied or whether she had a bad day at school or whether she lost a parent — that interaction that we have with that individual, that child for that moment, could change their life.

So we can’t waste this spotlight.  It is temporary and life is short, and change is needed.  And women are smarter than men.  (Laughter and applause.)

MS. ROBERTS:  That just goes without saying.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  And the men can’t complain, because you’re outnumbered today.  (Laughter.)

MS. ROBERTS:  But Mrs. Bush, you’ve talked about that before, too, that it’s a temporary spotlight.  But you are now working hard to carry it on.  And I think that sense of continuity is very important, so you have the George W. Bush First Ladies Initiative, you have the Global Women’s Initiative, the women for Afghanistan — you’re keeping going.

MRS. BUSH:  We are continuing to work, both George and I are, through the George Bush Institute, which is in Dallas now at the Bush Library and Museum.  And it gives both of us a chance to keep working on the issues that were the most important to us.  Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon is our global health initiative.  Many of you already know about that.  We’ve launched in three countries in Africa, and we’re going to hear about some more in a few minutes.

Because PEPFAR was started while George was President, the President’s emergency plan for AIDS relief, we wanted to be able to continue a global health initiative that builds on PEPFAR.  And when we looked at the cancer numbers across Africa, and really across the world, and saw that cervical cancer — which is preventable — is the leading cause of cancer death among African women, we figured out there was a way we could use the PEPFAR platform that’s already established and add the testing and treatment for cervical and breast cancer to PEPFAR.

And so, that’s our global health initiative.  It’s given us a way to keep building.  And we have a number of terrific partners who are in the room, so thank you all to all the partners, and thanks to the First Ladies in the countries where we’ve already launched and where we’re getting ready to launch.

MS. ROBERTS:  I just thought that was such a smart initiative, because it really does combine so many elements that are just sensible, which is another thing women are good at.  But the fact is, is that you had the PEPFAR clinics, so the women were already coming in, but you needed — since breast cancer isn’t caused by the same diseases, you needed to get somebody else in so you got Susan G. Komen and the pharmaceutical companies in.  And it’s really now turned out to be a total women’s health platform.

MRS. BUSH:  It is, really.  And it’s partnering, obviously, with the U.S. government as well, using the — U.S. State Department is our partner, because we are using the PEPFAR platform to add.  And the great news is that cervical cancer really can be treated — not when it’s advanced, which is why it’s so important that women come to be screened early on and then be treated.  And then, the vaccination programs with the HPV vaccination is important.  And I think many African First Ladies are trying now to manage these vaccination programs, so that we really won’t even have to worry about cervical cancer when these girls who are vaccinated grow up.

Q    And do you think about that, Mrs. Obama?  I know you’re still right in the middle of it.

MRS. BUSH:  I hope you’re not thinking about that, yet.

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, no, not at all.  Not at all.  (Laughter.)

     MS. ROBERTS:  But about how you can carry on some of these — and talk about some of your other initiatives too while you’re doing it, because you have done these private-public partnerships, particularly around the military families.

     MRS. OBAMA:  Well, Dr. Biden and I, we started Joining Forces, which is a nationwide effort to provide the support, respect to our men and women in uniform and their families.  We have worked with private companies to create jobs as these men and women transition to civilian life, working on making sure they get the education benefits, all the support that they should expect having put their lives on the line and their families’ lives on hold.

     MS. ROBERTS:  And the medical schools — you’re working with medical schools too?

     MRS. OBAMA:  Well, nurses are becoming trained to be able to identify and support men and women who may have post-traumatic stress disorder; just educating the entire country on what PTSD means, trying to de-stigmatize it so that these men and women feel like they can seek help when they need it.  All of that has been — it is a passion for both Jill and I.

     Jill is a Blue Star Mom, and she proudly says that.  She has grandchildren who she has seen grow up while her son Beau was deployed, so it’s truly a passion for her.  And for me, this is something that I’m going to do long after we leave the White House, because these needs will always be there.  And as I’ve been able to see through former first spouses and former Presidents, that the platform is — it continues.  And that’s something that I would encourage all of you to think about as well, is how do you sort of lay the foundation for the legacy that you want to create for yourselves.

     And I think as women, we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about our legacies, what we want to leave behind in the work that we do.  Yes, there are so many important, symbolic responsibilities that we have in our roles, but there is nothing wrong with thinking about legacy and what we want to leave for the world.

     But that takes planning.  It takes coordination.  It takes partnerships.  And I don’t think that we should be afraid as women to have those conversations.  It’s too soon for me to do it now — (laughter) — but the time will come and I will embrace that, because what I’ve seen from the Bush family is that there is a level of freedom that also comes after you’re out of the spotlight; it’s a new spotlight, it’s a different spotlight.  But I think that there is more that you’re able to do outside of office oftentimes than you can do when you’re in office.

     MS. ROBERTS:  Except you don’t have the same — I remember you saying at one point, Mrs. Bush, you could pick up the phone and call a member of Congress and get something done.  (Laughter.)

     MRS. BUSH:  Yes, exactly.  (Laughter.)

     MS. ROBERTS:  But I also just want to come back because we are at an African summit and both of you have exhibited such a strong interest in Africa, and I think you have very much helped to shine a spotlight on the continent and caused us all to learn a great deal more about the good news that’s going on in Africa.  But I’m kind of wondering how you got there.  I mean, Mrs. Bush, I know you were in 75 countries when you were First Lady, which is a lot, but why Africa?

     MRS. BUSH:  Well, obviously, it started with PEPFAR.  When George launched PEPFAR in 2003, remember what it was like — people were dying every single day all across Africa.  It was a huge pandemic that was going to leave a continent of orphans if no one did anything about it.  And so George saw that it was really important for the United States to be actively involved in helping in Africa.  It was so important for us, as the wealthiest country in the world, both because we could, but also because we should morally try to save as many lives as possible.

     So I went on that trip with George in 2003 when PEPFAR was launched.  And our daughter Barbara was with us as well, and she has really made her life choices because of that trip.  She is now the head of Global Health Corps, she engages young people from every part of the world.

     MS. ROBERTS:  She created it, right?

     MRS. BUSH:  She created Global Health Corps, founded it to engage young people to work in the health field.  And she has Global Health Corps fellows in Africa and also here in the United States.

     But I think because of that first trip and because of PEPFAR, we just got a huge interest in Africa and traveled there many times, and of course have traveled there many times since we’ve been home.  We just had a wonderful trip this last March — a private trip, not a business trip — to Ethiopia to visit the Christian sites in Ethiopia.  So Africa has become a very important continent to us, partly because of that, because of PEPFAR, but just also because of our experiences there.

     MRS. OBAMA:  And Africa is an important continent to the rest of the world.  Its success is integral to the success of this nation, the United States and the world.  And it is an under-valued, under-appreciated continent.  So it is incumbent upon the world to have a better understanding of what Africa has to offer.

     The importance of Africa is very personal to me because, as the President said last night in his toast, Africa is home for us.  His family is there.  We have relatives there.  We have visited the continent on several occasions.  We have taken our daughters back to his grandfather’s village and they have seen a part of themselves.

     So the partnership with this continent means a great deal to us.  And we’ve seen the power, the potential — I mean, to meet these young leaders and to see how hungry they are to take their countries to a new level, that kind of passion is infectious, and it’s something that young people here should know and understand.

     We want people from America to travel to Africa, to understand its languages and its different cultures, and not to see it as a monolith, and to truly see the investment opportunities — which is one of the reasons why this summit has been so important, because it hasn’t just been a conversation with world leaders, but some of the nation’s most powerful businesses are here; some of the most prestigious non-profits are here.  That’s why today’s session is so important, because our success as a nation is directly tied to the success of Africa.  And now it is time for the United States as a whole to embrace that reality.

     So this is the beginning of a lot of work that needs to be done, but it is — we are encouraged and we are optimistic.

     MS. ROBERTS:  Well, I think this week has been very instructive for the whole country.  I really do.  It was wonderful to be in Africa, but to have African leaders here in the United States is educating the country about what is going on there.

But I am going to end where we began, which is that as good as the news is coming out of much of Africa, it won’t be as good as it can be until we do more about the girls.

MRS. BUSH:  That’s right.

MS. ROBERTS:  And if you all want to just say a finishing word on that subject, and then we will conclude.

MRS. BUSH:  Well, let me just thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you, Michelle, and thank you to President Obama for hosting the African Leaders Summit here.  And thank you for inviting the Bush Institute to be a part of the First Lady’s initiative.  Thank you for coming to our First Lady’s Conference last summer as well.

And thanks to all the First Ladies who have joined us.  Thank you for the great work you’re already doing in your countries, which we’ll hear about in a few minutes.  And thank you for all the good work you will do.

Thanks, Cokie.  (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Well, thank you.  Back at you.  (Laughter.)  But, Laura, no, absolutely.  We are here today because of the example that was set in Tanzania through the summit that the Bush Institute organized.  And as my Chief of Staff stated, that when this summit was being organized, we jumped at the chance to do something similar and to continue this conversation and to come together as first spouses, and to continue to be inspired by each other.

What I would say just in closing is that we have to fight for our girls.  There should never be a girl in this world who has to fear getting educated.  That should be something that is intolerable to all of us.

I can only think of my own girls, and I think we all have to see our daughters in these young girls.  We want the best for our daughters.  We want them to be smart and empowered and loved.  We want them to be healthy.  We want them to be mentally sound.  And if it’s good enough for our girls, it’s good enough for every single girl in the world.

But it’s going to take leadership like us, women like us speaking up in our countries and making sure that young girls are not subject to abuse, and that they are loved and valued.  And until we do that, we will not solve these problems.  Investing in our women — the people who raise our children, the people who take care of families — they have to be healthy and whole.  And that is the most important work that we do.  Whether we talk about clean energy or economic empowerment, until we start to value women and girls, we will continue to struggle on this planet.

     But I have high hopes when I look around this room that we won’t tolerate that, not anywhere on the planet.  And if we continue to work together and continue to lift up our young people who we’re fighting for a better future, then I think we will see some progress on these issues.

     So I look forward to working with all of you in the years ahead.  So thank you all, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference.

     Cokie, thank you.  Thank you, as well.

     MRS. BUSH:  Thank you.  (Applause.)

     MS. ROBERTS:  Thank you both so much for the work you’re doing, first of all, for coming together.  I keep saying you’ve set such a good example for the men.  (Laughter.)  But also for allowing me to participate in this conversation.  Thank you very, very much.  (Applause.)

                             END                10:55 A.M. EDT

 

 

Featured: The African Diaspora Bridge Builders Awards During the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

 WASHINGTON, DC, July 17, 2014 /UsableTech.co/ – On August 4th at the Washington Marriott at Metro Center, The African Diaspora’s most prominent ‘Bridge Builders’ who have made contributions in the areas of development, strengthening relationships and providing opportunities for returning Africans, will indulge in a star-studded evening of dinner, dancing and music. The event will feature award-winning actors Lynn Whitfieldand Lou Gossett Jr., and Nana Rita Marley OD, wife of famed Reggae great Bob Marley.The African Diaspora Bridge Builders Awards emerges on the heels of a monumental feat in U.S. History: The first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. The gathering of African Leaders at the White House was initially announced by President Barack Obama during a visit to Cape Town last year as a means to “provide a proactive and forward looking vision grounded in partnership [with Africa].” From the 4th through the 6th of August, invited African leaders will work to strengthen democratic institutions, spur economic growth, trade, and investment, advance peace and security, and promote opportunity and development. Historically, President Obama is the first U.S. President to facilitate a relationship with Africa. He initially showed interest in June 2012 with the launch of The New Strategy Towards Sub-Saharan Africa.

Asked about President Obama’s efforts to bridge the Diaspora gap, H.E. Dr. Erieka Bennett, Ambassador of the (AU) Diaspora African Forum remarked, “I am personally thrilled to see the descendants of enslaved Africans work together with their continental brothers and sisters to dispel the stories that have kept our people apart. President Obama is a descendant. We are thankful to see him engage Africa in a meaningful way.” The Bridge Builders Awards celebrate the legacy of President Obama and the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit through our honorees.

The African Diaspora Bridge Builder Awards Honorees

Countries:
Ghana
Ethiopia
Liberia
Tanzania

Organizations:
Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa (Bernadette Paolo, Esq., President & CEO)
African Diaspora Network/ ADN (Almaz Negash, Founder & President)
Africare (Dr. Darius Mans, President)
Constituency for Africa/ CFA (Melvin P. Foote, President)
Diaspora Africa Women’s Network/ DAWN (Semhar Araia, Founder & Executive Director)
Rita Marley Foundation (Nana Rita Marley OD, Founder)
The Nigerian House Committee on Diaspora Affairs (Honorable Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairperson)
TransAfrica (Danny Glover, Chairman of the Board)

Individuals:
Ufo Eric Atuanya
Dr. Barryl Biekman
Ms. Xernona Clayton
Lou Gossett, Jr.
Dr. Leonard Jefferies
General Fred Leigh & Dr. Karyn Trader-Leigh
Brother Akbar Muhammad
Princess Naa Asie Okansey
Dr. Chika A. Onyeani
Ms. Jeannie B. Scott
Rev. Dr. Leon H. Sullivan (Posthumously)
Ambassador Dr. Bamanga Tukur
J. Eric Wright
H. E. Dr. Nkosazana Diamini Zuma

The celebration is supported by the (AU) Diaspora African Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The AU Diaspora African Foundation supports communication and understanding among all African descendants through education, exchange programs, activities and conferencing.

The African Diaspora Bridge Builders Awards
Honoring The African Diaspora’s most prominent ‘Bridge Builders’ who have made contributions in the areas of development, strengthening relationships and providing opportunities for returning Africans.

Date:
August 4, 2014
Silent Auction, 5:30PM
Dinner and Awards, 6:30PM – 8:30PM

Location:
The Washington Marriott at Metro Center
775 12th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005

Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Please contact bridgebuildersawards@gmail.com for more information. For interviews with H.E. Dr. Erieka Bennett, Ambassador of the (AU) Diaspora African Forum please contact bridgebuildersawards@usabletech.co.

About the African Union (AU) Diaspora African Forum
The (AU) Diaspora African Forum is an African Union endorsed non-governmental organization which was established on the 1st of July, 2007. The Mission was born as a result of the recommendations of the African Union ad hoc Ministerial Committee that, the AU should invite and encourage the full participation of Africans in the Diaspora in the building of the African Union, in its capacity as an important part of the continent. The (AU) Diaspora African Forum Mission is the first diplomatic mission of its kind to be established in Africa and has its headquarters located in Accra, Ghana on the premises of the historic W.E.B. Dubois Centre. The mission is opened to all willing individuals and organizations who share in the vision and goals of the (AU) Diaspora African Forum Mission.

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