Remarks at the Friends of Yemen Ministerial

William J. Burns
Deputy Secretary of State
Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York City
September 25, 2013

Good morning. I would like to express my gratitude to Foreign Minister al-Qirbi, Foreign Minister HRH Prince Saud al-Faisal, and Foreign Secretary Hague for their continued leadership of this important forum.

At our last meeting, Yemen stood on the cusp of launching its National Dialogue. The Friends of Yemen called on all Yemenis to seize that historic opportunity for national reconciliation and pledged their support.

It is a testament to the courage of the Yemeni people and the commitment of the Friends of Yemen that we stand together today one step closer to realizing our shared goal of a stable and unified Yemen.

Our objective should now be to support Yemen as it sustains the transition’s momentum – to build upon the National Dialogue’s recommendations, begin the constitutional reform process, and continue to lay the groundwork for the constitutional referendum and national elections in early 2014.

The Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative has been and must remain a Yemeni-owned process. But we all have a stake in its success. And we all have a responsibility to continue to stand by the Yemeni people, even as other regional crises demand our attention.

Since the beginning of Yemen’s transition in November 2011, the United States has provided more than $600 million of assistance – including more than $39 million in direct support for the political transition process. We continue to support President Hadi’s efforts to restructure Yemen’s military and security services, and commend his leadership in countering groups that threaten Yemen’s stability. And we continue to work with the Yemeni government to address the country’s dire humanitarian situation. All of us can -- and must -- answer the call to assist Yemen’s most vulnerable citizens and fully fund the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan.

But as we maintain the momentum of the political transition and continue to address the urgent needs of Yemen’s citizens, we cannot afford to lose sight of Yemen’s economic reform and economic development. The hard truth is that Yemen’s democratic transition cannot succeed without a sense of confidence in a better and more inclusive economic future. Undertaking reforms today -- such as reducing crippling fuel subsidies, eliminating ghost government employees, increasing transparency in the budget process, and reinvigorating the government’s anti-corruption efforts -- will better position Yemeni government to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

If we maintain our momentum and sustain our support, we can be sure that by our next gathering, the Yemeni people will have taken yet another step forward in their political transition. And that will give great hope to all those in the region who still yearn for the opportunity to write their own future.

Thank you very much.