MS. JENSEN: Good afternoon and welcome to LiveAtState, the State Department’s interactive web chat platform for engaging international media. I’m your host, Holly Jensen, and today I’m delighted to welcome Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Today she’s going to be speaking with you about U.S.-Africa relations, the YALI Summit, and the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.
I am delighted to welcome those of you joining us from our posts around the continent. We’d like to send a special shout-out to those of you joining us from Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Lesotho, and Uganda.
Today we are providing this broadcast in simultaneous interpretation for French and Portuguese. If you wish to listen to this press conference in either of those languages, please dial in to the phone number provided to you at the lower bottom portion of your right-hand screen. You can also submit your questions to us now in the window titled “Questions for State Department Official” in the lower left-hand portion of your screen. And if at any time you have problems submitting your questions, please feel free to email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And after the conclusion of today’s program, you can follow us on Twitter using the handle @StateAfrica.
And with that, I won’t waste any more of your time. I’m going to turn it over to you. Welcome, Assistant Secretary.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Good. Thank you very much, Holly, and let me tell you how excited I am to be back with you here at LiveAtState. I really enjoy having the opportunity to connect with journalists, colleagues across Africa, and this gives me an opportunity to meet with so many more than I’m able to meet when I’m traveling. So I keep coming back and I hope you invite me back again.
Before we get started with questions, let me mention that we are less than a month away from what will be a truly historic event, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit onAugust 4 through 6. President Obama will host 51 heads of state and government from across Africa for the first ever here in Washington. The President and Secretary Kerry are really looking forward to this unprecedented opportunity to talk about where our partnership stands today and where we want to go in the future with Africa.
We also have an incredible Washington fellows program from the Young African Leaders Initiative. It’s already in its fourth week in the program in Washington, D.C., so there are about 500 young people who are spread across the United States at 20 of the top universities, and at the end of the month, they’ll be coming to Washington for a summit of their own with President Obama. I had the opportunity to meet with a group that’s at Howard University, and I can tell you they were quite impressive. So if this 25 that I met are any hint of what the other 475 are like, I expect to be awed when I meet them.
So this is an exciting time for us in the Africa Bureau. It’s an exciting time for us who are interested in Africa as we start our process of celebrating Africa this summer and partnering with Africa and celebrating the commitment that we’ve made to the continent. I look forward to all of your questions and I hope that we can talk a bit more about the Leaders’ Summit and about YALI and any other questions that you might have of interest.
Thank you, Holly.
MS. JENSEN: Great. Well, we’re going to kick it off with Mr. Antonio de Sousa and he would like to know: “What will be the format at the U.S-Africa Summit and what will be the topics of discussion?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you very much for that question. This is something that we have been working on for months in Washington after the President was in Cape Town and he announced that he would invite African leaders to the United States to broaden the partnership with countries across the continent.
So as I mentioned in my opening remarks, the conference will take place over three days, August 4 through 6. The first day of the conference, August 4th, we will have a series of what we are referring to as signature events. They will focus on areas where we have partnered with Africa in the past. We will be looking at the issues related to health. We will be looking at issues related to wildlife. We will be looking at power and how we have improved and worked on these issues across the continent.
On the 4th, also there will be a series of small dinners with heads of state hosted by Bloomberg philanthropy with the Department of Commerce, and each of these small dinners will be hosted by individual members of Cabinet. On the 5th, we will have the actual CEO leaders forum which will bring together about 200 companies from across Africa and the United States, companies interested in investing in Africa, and we will have some very quality engagement between these companies and African leaders. That evening of the 5th, the President will host a state dinner for African leaders and their spouses.
And then the 6th is the actual day of the Summit, “Investing in the Next Generation”. We will have three thematic events during that day. The President will be participating in all of these. The first will be “Investing in the Next Generation, Investing in the Future”. The second theme will focus on peace and security. And then the third theme will focus on democracy and governance, looking at how we invest in the future in Africa. We look forward to these discussions. The President has expressed the desire that this is an interactive discussion. We’re not asking heads of state to come with long speeches, but we’re looking for engagement, we’re looking for dialogue, we’re looking for an opportunity for heads of state to share their views with our head of state, and for the President to share his views with African leaders.
So it really is going to be an exciting time, and we’re all looking forward to it.
MS. JENSEN: Wow, that sounds incredible.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Yeah.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Maggie Mutesi: “On June 30th, 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa, President Obama announced Power Africa, a new development to double the number of people with access to power in Sub-Saharan Africa. What is the progress of this initiative?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you so much for that question, and we have made tremendous progress in working with the six initial countries that are part of Power Africa, and working with the private sector to ensure that we get more investment on the continent. So we have moved forward in working with these companies that are looking at how they might improve power on the continent of Africa. And from everything I’ve heard in speaking with companies and countries – I was just in Malabo – there was great excitement about Power Africa and the improvements that have been made in terms of companies investing in power on the continent and countries opening up markets so that it is easier to invest in power on the continent.
So we’ve made a great deal of progress. We’re looking forward to sharing that progress with African leaders during the summit and seeing how we can further the efforts to improve power on the continent of Africa.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Mohammed Adow from The Starnewspaper in Kenya: “Last month, the United States announced the relocation of some of its embassy staff in Kenya to other countries because of the recent changes in Kenya’s security situation. Has this position changed or the staff still stay away due to the insecurity in Kenya?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Let me just start by saying that we have a strong relationship with the Kenyan Government. We have a strong partnership in terms of working with the government on fighting terrorism that has really been quite prevalent in Kenya over the past few months and past year. We did announce that we are making some changes in our footprint in Kenya. We’re looking at moving those individuals who are involved in regional programs that focus outside of Kenya because we had a huge regional operation in Kenya. And we’re looking at how we can decrease that footprint, but more importantly, we’re looking at how we can be more proactive in countering the acts of terror that are taking place on the continent.
So this is for us now a temporary move, but we’re hoping that we can work with the Kenyans to change the security situation not just for Americans who are working and living in Kenya, but also for Kenyans, because the terrorist attacks have had a greater impact on the Kenyan population. And so we need to work with the government to ensure that we address this issue that impacts all of us.
MS. JENSEN: Aloyce Ndeleio would like to know: “In some African countries, elephant and rhino poaching have so far continued to take place, which means the action downplayed President Obama’s initiative to tackle international wildlife trafficking. As per this, what do you expect from President Obama to African leaders during the U.S-Africa Leaders Summit?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: This is a serious, serious concern and a high priority for the Administration addressing wildlife trafficking on the continent of Africa. And we work with a number of countries to address this issue. One of the signature events that will take place on August 4th will focus on wildlife trafficking and how we can better cooperate with countries to address these issues, but more importantly, how we can work with those countries that are recipients of trafficked wildlife and help to deal with issues related to those countries’ purchasing.
So we are looking at this very broadly. It will be an issue for discussion during the summit, and we know that this is something that is important to a number of African leaders.
MS. JENSEN: Marthe Lucienne Kamano from Radio Sabari FM in Guinea wants to know: “What is the importance of the YALI summit for the U.S. as well as the young African participants? President Obama said in Ghana that the future belongs to Africa. What does that mean in the frame of the African and American relationship, and how many Africans will attend the YALI summit, and was their selection criteria?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Okay. That was a long, long question. Let me see if I can answer it all. I’m not sure I’m going to get it all, but it – if you want to come back you can. In terms of the future of Africa, if you look at the statistics, 65 percent of the population is 35 and under. That is a huge, huge youth bulge, and it is that population that will be the future of Africa. So the Administration, President Obama has made it a major priority to help African countries prepare for the future, to mentor young people, to support them, to train them so that they are prepared to lead in the future.
And when we talk about leadership, we’re not just – we’re not talking necessarily about political leadership. We’re talking about leadership across the board, leadership in the private sector, leadership in the public sector, leadership in communities, in civil society – all of these areas need to have young people prepared to take over and to lead in the future. It’s our future that they’re leading for.
So the Young African Leaders Initiative and the summit that’s going to take place in Washington is going to bring – has already brought, in fact, 500 young people from across the continent. We had 49,000 applications – in fact, close to 50,000 applications for these 500 slots. And there were a total of about 80,000 who attempted, so 30,000 didn’t get their applications completed. That says to us that there is a huge, huge need, and we want to work with countries to address these needs, to invest in the future, to invest in these young people so that they are vested in the futures of their countries.
The 500 who are here now are getting mentoring in entrepreneurship and civil society and public service, and they will end their six weeks with the summit here in Washington where they will engage with senior leaders from across the United States, including a town hall meeting with the President. And we hope that these young people go back inspired, inspired to lead but also inspired to be successful so that they can contribute to their countries’ future. And this is what investing in the next generation is about.
MS. JENSEN: You answered every single one of those questions.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Good.
MS. JENSEN: The next one comes from Olive Burrows from Capital FM in Kenya. “How is the U.S. responding to increased radical Islamic attacks on the continent? And why did the U.S. military only recently admit its presence in Somalia since 2007?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you for that question, and I think the reason we are in Somalia and the reason we are working so closely with African governments is that terrorism has impacted a large swath of the African continent. As we look at AQIM, we look at al-Shabaab, we look at Boko Haram, there is a concern that extremism will cause – continue to cause problems as it did in Mali, as we’re seeing in Somalia.
We see an opportunity in Somalia for the first time in over 20 years for this country to move into the community of nations. Somalia has not had a government until now, and we, among other countries in the international community, are working with the Somali Government to help them try to build a society, to build a democracy that can address the needs of the people of Somalia. So as you may have heard, secretary – Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman’s speech a few weeks ago, we have a Somalia strategy that tries to focus on helping Somalia invest in the future of its people. And part of that strategy is to have our military work with – a small cell of our military work with the Somali military to build their capacity to address the kinds of attacks that we saw happen yesterday at the villa and other attacks that we’ve seen around the continent.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Aggrey Mutambo. He wants to know: “Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say Kenya mistreated Somali refugees recently in its program to purge foreigners believed to be sympathizing with al-Shabaab. Is this something you have raised with the Kenyan Government, and how should they do it?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: This is something we have raised with the Kenyan Government. Kenya has been an extraordinarily hospitable host to refugees for many, many years. And we would like the Kenyan Government to continue to offer that hospitality to people who are fleeing persecution from their countries.
So the recent roundup of individuals in response to the terrorist attack brought into its mix individuals who UNHCR and humanitarian organizations have identified as meeting the status of refugees. So we did raise this with the Kenyans and we’re working with UNHCR and the government to address this to ensure that those people who were in Kenya in refugee status continue to maintain the hospitality, but also the protection that is being provided by Kenya and by UNHCR for those who are living in Kenya.
MS. JENSEN: The next question comes from PanAfricanVisions.com in Cameroon: “The USA recently suspended aid to Uganda because of the anti-gay laws. May we know how so much a move impacts cooperation between your country and Uganda from common issues like the hunt for Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army and the quest for solutions to the crisis in South Sudan?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you for that question. We have made very, very clear to the Government of Uganda as well as other governments around the world our strong views on discrimination against the LGBT community. Uganda’s passing of the AHA legislation was a huge setback for human rights, and we’ve made our views very, very clear that we believe that human rights are a universal right and that discrimination against any population, to include those in the LGBT community, is unacceptable to the U.S. Government.
So as a result, we have reviewed our relationship with Uganda, particularly looking at those programs that are supporting individuals or supporting programs that are supporting organizations that discriminate against the LGBT community, and as you know, we issued a statement outlining changes in our support for those programs as well as statements indicating we are prepared and have sanctioned individuals who have discriminated against the LGBT community in Uganda as well as other places in the world.
That said, we have a very, very strong partnership with Uganda in terms of fighting terrorism and fighting the LRA and supporting Uganda’s efforts in providing peacekeeping across the region. So those efforts will continue; they’re in our national interest. At the same time, we will continue to raise our concerns about the AHA until that law is repealed.
MS. JENSEN: The next question comes from Ramasiarisolo Mathieu from Madagascar: “The return of Madagascar into the AGOA is a hot topic right now in Madagascar. AGOA will come to an end in 2015. Could the USA extend it again? And if yes, for how many years?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: One of the best phone calls I had to – I made recently was to your president to inform him that a decision had been made to readmit Madagascar into AGOA. So I’m happy that that’s the news that is making news across Madagascar.
As you know, the AGOA legislation expires in September of 2015. The President has announced that there will be seamless renewal. How long it will be extended is the prerogative of our Congress, our legislature, and they are looking at the AGOA legislation now, and it is our hope that they will make a decision on extension in – before the September 15th – September 2015 deadline. How long that extension will be I’m not at liberty to say. We’re all waiting for that decision.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Capital newspaper: “Many opposition leaders and journalists are arrested by Ethiopian Government. What is the U.S. opinion on these?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Our views on human rights in Ethiopia as well as across the African continent are well known. Secretary Kerry was in Ethiopia in early May. We had meetings with the government. Issues related to arrests of opposition have been raised regularly by our Embassy as well as in our meetings with the Ethiopian Government.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Ibrahima Thiam from Le Soleil in Senegal: “Are all the leaders of the African countries invited to participate in the African Leaders Summit? And why are some invited, and some not? Which leaders of which countries are not invited? And also, which themes will be covered at this summit?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I talked about the themes earlier, but I think you almost answered your question. Your question was are all leaders invited, but some are not invited. So some are not invited. All leaders – right now, we have 51 invitees to the summit. That includes all African countries, both in Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa, except those countries that have been expended – suspended from the AU or countries that are not in good standing with the United States Government for various reasons.
Right now, the countries not on the list are Sudan, Eritrea, and Zimbabwe.
MS. JENSEN: Great. Our next question comes from Franz Wild from Bloomberg News in South Africa: “Winning major contracts, such as in infrastructure and energy has become increasingly competitive in Africa. How important are these African contracts for U.S. Government? And who are the U.S.’s greatest competitors? And what efforts has the U.S. Government undertaken to help its companies gain an edge?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It is part of our goal working overseas to support American companies and to advocate for American companies bidding on contracts overseas. And so we have very proactively, through or embassies but also through calls from Washington, encouraged countries to have a very transparent process, a level playing field, so that American companies can compete successfully for these bids. There are many, many competitors for these contracts because they are lucrative – a large number of Chinese companies; there are Turkish companies, there are European companies bidding on the contracts.
Of course, we think American companies are in the best position to provide the services and the quality of work that these countries need, and we will continue to advocate for American companies to win these contracts.
MS. JENSEN: The next question comes from my good friend Rosiland Jordan from Al Jazeera English: “Regarding the rise of extremist groups such as the Boko Haram, the AQIM, and al-Shabaab, how much time will be devoted to discussing the problem and to creating mechanisms to combat extremism?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you for that question. A huge portion of the – of our time will be used to discuss these issues. There is a segment of the summit that will focus on peace and security, and during that peace and security discussion I expect – and I can’t predict, but I expect – that issues related to extremism, issues related to al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, AQIM, will be discussed by leaders. When I was in Malabo recently for the AU summit, this was an issue that was raised consistently by all of the African leaders I met with – their concern about the spread of extremism, their concern about how to effectively address extremism, and their request for U.S. assistance and coordination with neighbors to stop the spread.
MS. JENSEN: Peter Wonacott from The Wall Street Journal wants to know: “What are the logistical and protocol challenges of hosting so many heads of state in the same place, from transport to dining? And also, will President Obama hold meetings with each head of state? And if not, why?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I am fearful of the logistical challenges of hosting 50 heads of state in Washington at the same time, but we have a very, very capable group here in the State Department. Our Conference Services Office is working closely with our Office of Protocol, with the airports, with DHS, and also with our security people to ensure that we do this in a way that shows respect for African leaders and gets them through what we already know will be a very, very challenging and very, very difficult logistical process, as they’re all arriving in Washington between the 3rd and 4th of August.
We’ve made the decision that there will not be one-on-one bilats between the President and the heads of state. There are 54 of them, and what the President plans to do is spend a tremendous amount of quality time during the three days of the summit. On the day of the actual leaders’ summit on August 6th, the President will be at that event for all three sessions. He will be also participating in other events during the prior two days, in addition to hosting a dinner at the White House for all the heads of state.
Trying to figure out what, if not doing all 50 – and I say 50 but it’s 51 because we’ve invited the chairman of the AU as well – to try to determine who the President should meet with among the 51 if he couldn’t meet with all 51 is a very, very difficult decision, and I wouldn’t want to make that decision. And I think we’ve come up with the best solution that we think will work, and that is having the President engage throughout the summit. And there will be lots of time for leaders to engage with the President.
MS. JENSEN: Great. Our next question comes from Lesotho Timesnewspaper: “Lesotho, being a country with high altitude, seems to be well placed for hydropower generation in Southern Africa. So the question is: Does the Power Africa include investment in hydropower generation? And also, do the CEOs meet with the African leaders and the African business community have interests to invest in hydropower?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I think everything is open for a discussion in terms of how we improve energy availability on the continent of Africa. And the CEOs – there will be some energy-related CEOs, I think, are prepared and ready to invest. We’ve seen that. We have seen billions of dollars being put on the table for investing in energy in Africa. And energy can come in lots of different forms, and hydro is a major form of energy that is clean energy that is a possibility.
MS. JENSEN: Great. Our next question comes from Aggrey Mutambo: “On South Sudan, after the parties signed a ceasefire agreement, what’s next for them? And any timelines?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: The answer to that is very simple: They need to honor the ceasefire agreement. And that is a huge problem, because after they signed the agreement, fighting has continued. So we are encouraging the – both sides to honor the ceasefire, but we’re even more concerned about the impending famine that the humanitarian agencies are reporting – a manmade famine because people are not being allowed to go to their farms and prepare for their agriculture. So it is really important that the fighting stop.
Signing a peace deal is good, but if you’re not honoring the peace deal, it doesn’t get us very far. So we are encouraging them to honor the peace deal and come back to the negotiating table prepared to move forward in helping Sudan celebrate – South Sudan celebrate its three – 3rd-year anniversary. So we’re all excited. It’s three years of independence, and we’re at war with each other, so it’s very sad.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Luc-Roger Mbala: “What’s your government’s position regarding the DRC and Burkina Faso’s president’s apparent plan to revise the constitution to stay in power? Does the U.S. consider doing something to prevent this from happening?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We have made very clear what our policy is on this issue. As the President said in his speech in Ghana when he first visited, that Africa needs strong institutions. They don’t need strong men. Strong institutions are institutions like your constitution. If constitutions do not allow for – if constitutions call for term limits, then those term limits need to be honored. And we have been very clear in discouraging African leaders from making changes in their constitution that will benefit one person, one party; to allow that person to stay in power longer than the constitution intended for them to stay in power. We have made, again, our views known to all of the leaders where there are attempts to make changes in the constitution. There is absolutely no confusion on what our position is there.
MS. JENSEN: Elvis Darko from The Finder newspaper in Ghana would like to know: “Unemployed youth are easily recruited for terrorist activities in Africa, with reference to Boko Haram in Nigeria. Don’t you think it’s time to locate the headquarters of the Africa High Command or AFRICOM to West Africa to deal with Boko Haram and other terrorist groups?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It’s not so easy. The – dealing with these terrorist groups require a multifaceted, multidimensional response. It requires a response that addresses the needs of these young people who are not vested in the futures of their countries. They are attracted by the extremist ideology because they have no other ideology to focus on, and this is what the Young African Leaders Initiative is about. It’s about finding a way to provide for the futures of these young people so they’re not attracted to the Boko Harams of the world; they’re vested in the futures of their country. They are employed, they’re in successful businesses, they’re educated, and then they are less attracted to extremism.
So the answer is not the U.S. Government sending Africa Command to address this in a military way. This is not just a military response; it’s much more a response that requires looking at economic development, looking at education programs, looking at services and infrastructure being provided to these communities that are impacted by Boko Haram.
MS. JENSEN: Mr. Paulo – I’m going to try to pronounce this right – Muacavula wants – from the LUSA News Agency in Angola wants to know: “What is Angola’s role in Africa in the U.S. perspective?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I could ask you that question. But you may know that I was in Angola in fact two times recently. I visited in April and then I came back in early May with Secretary Kerry, and those visits are recognition of the increasing role that Angola is playing on the continent of Africa. Your president is currently the chair of the International Contact Group for the Great Lakes. He has been very proactive in assisting and dealing with the situation in CAR, in DRC, and we are very encouraged by the proactive role that Angola is playing. And we think that it’s a role that is appreciated around the continent of Africa, but particularly in the region.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Mozambique: “AU leaders have met in Malabo two weeks ago. I liked the decisions that were taken there, but I am skeptical about its implementation by current leaderships. I think that the U.S. can think about the methods of preparing future leaderships to implement good decisions that are being taken now. What do you say about it, and did you think of the setting – or did you think of setting specific strategies to address AU 2063 agenda, among other AU policies in the scope of YALI?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We work very, very closely with the AU as the AU is moving forward with this agenda for the future and addressing the needs of youth in the future. They have a very proactive youth program as well, and we want to see how we can work with them to prepare leaders for the future, to prepare youth for future leadership roles in all of the various sectors across the continent of Africa. It’s a huge challenge, and I think it’s a challenge that the AU has taken on, I think, with a tremendous amount of energy. And we want to encourage that effort and support that effort.
At the same time, we also want to continue to work with individual African countries to help those countries also prepare for the future, to make commitments and investments in their young people. This is one of the outcomes that we’ve asked African leaders to bring to the summit, and that is an announcement of how they are investing in the future of their youth on the continent. Because we know if we don’t invest in these young people, they will be attracted, as we have seen, by an extremist ideology that does not provide a future for Africa.
MS. JENSEN: We have time for two more questions. The first one is: “What happened to the U.S. efforts regarding the seizure of about 200 girls in Nigeria by the Boko Haram?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I was surprised I didn’t get a question on Boko Haram and the seizure of the girls earlier. As you know, both President Obama and Secretary Kerry indicated that we are going to work closely with the Government of Nigeria as well as countries in the region to do everything possible to bring these girls home. We are working with the Nigerian Government, both as – on the security side, but also in addressing broader issues related to the girls. We have a team, as you know, in Nigeria. The team is multi-agency. We have individuals there from the civilian side who can provide assistance on negotiations. We have individuals from USAID who are there to assist those girls who escape or the girls who are recaptured, to help them reintegrate back into their communities and into society.
And we’re working very, very closely with regional partners. The French Government hosted a heads of state summit bringing together Nigeria and the four neighbors back in May. The UK Government brought the foreign ministers together a few weeks ago, and Nigeria will be bringing the neighbors together onSeptember 3rd to look at how we can further cooperate with each other, share information, and also fight the attacks that Boko Haram has made throughout Nigeria as well as in neighboring countries.
It is still an ongoing battle. Our ultimate goal is to stop Boko Haram, to stop the kidnappings, and to bring the girls home, as well as others who have been kidnapped by Boko Haram.
MS. JENSEN: Our last question comes from Notre Sante newspaper: My question is related to the fight against HIV/AIDS. The U.S. supports the implication of MARSP, who are the most exposed population to the virus. Among the MARSP, there are LGBTs who are an issue here in Cameroon because the law condemns homosexuality. Do you think that this is – initiative is safe for the society?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We are working to ensure that all of our efforts to support bringing HIV/AIDS assistance and programs to countries do not discriminate against any population, and particularly the LGBT community. And this is something – this is a factor that is considered in supporting any organization and in supporting any program. There cannot be discrimination against any group, and this is something that we’ll be watching closely to ensure that we continue to address the problem broadly across all populations.
I would just add that this program, our PEPFAR program, has been one of our most successful initiatives on the continent of Africa. We are now able to see a generation of Africans who are HIV/AIDS-free. Secretary Kerry and I visited a clinic in Ethiopia in Addis when we were there, where there were children who were born to HIV-positive parents – both parents – but the children were born HIV-free. That is, for all of us, the reward that we all seek – that there will be a generation that’s AIDS-free on the continent of Africa, and it really is happening.
MS. JENSEN: Wow, that’s incredible.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Yeah.
MS. JENSEN: Well, that’s all the time we have today. I’d like to thank you for joining our program, and thank you Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield —
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You’re welcome.
MS. JENSEN: — for coming once again. We’ll always welcome you here anytime you want to come. We will have the full audio and video transcripts of today’s program available for you shortly, and if you’d like to continue this conversation, you can do so on Twitter using the handle @StateAfrica or @StateDept. Thank you for joining us.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you.