Remarks With African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma After Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
November 28, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. It is such a personal pleasure for me to welcome the Chairperson here for our high-level meetings. This is our third high-level meeting, and we highly value the relationship and the increasing cooperation that we are enjoying with the African Union. And of course, I want to congratulate the Chairperson for becoming the first woman chair of the African Union.

I want to start by saying a few words about the ongoing situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The humanitarian impact of this conflict in the eastern part of the country is devastating. More than 285,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since this rebellion began back in April. They are in critical need of assistance. Health workers in Goma have been killed and abducted. Members of civil society, human rights activists, judicial authorities throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo have received death threats. The United States strongly condemns these tactics of fear and intimidation. And those who abuse human rights must be held accountable.

Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson has been in the region holding discussions with leadership from the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda to try to help bring about a ceasefire. We strongly support continued cooperation among the leaders of these countries and throughout the region and commend the African Union for its recent decision to send a special envoy to the Great Lakes.

With regard to the M23 rebel group, there is only one way forward: They must meet their commitments under the Kampala Accords to cease their attacks, withdraw from Goma, and pull back to the July lines. Under the Kampala Accords, President Kabila’s government has agreed to hear and address the grievances of the M23 leaders, and we call on leaders and governments from throughout the region to halt and prevent any support to the M23 from their territory.

Now this is just one issue that illustrates the importance of enhanced, strong cooperation between the African Union and the United States. First, on peace and security, we strongly support the AU missions in Somalia and Darfur as well as the AU’s facilitation efforts in Sudan and South Sudan. And we are working to support the AU’s leadership with respect to the crises in Mali, and as I said, eastern DRC.

The AU is the partner who is best able to empower and mobilize the resources and the will throughout the continent to address crises, and we are very pleased to see this strong role getting even stronger. Secondly, we want to work together to promote credible elections and foster good governance, strong transparent institutions, and democracy. Third, we want to enhance trade and investment between the United States and Africa. As I never tire of saying, seven of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies are located in Africa. And we want to do more to really see greater prosperity across the continent.

We have a lot of work ahead of us. This high-level meeting builds on President Obama’s presidential policy directive on Sub-Saharan Africa, and we are going to do all that we can to promote peace and prosperity. So it’s a great pleasure to have this meeting, which is a two-day set of meetings here in the State Department and in agencies across our government, and to work together on a framework for implementation with timelines and accountability, something that both the Chairperson and I believe strongly in doing, so that everyone knows what we are trying to achieve together.

So, thank you so much.

CHAIRPERSON DLAMINI-ZUMA: Well, thank you very much. We are very happy to be here, and our approach to this meeting is that we have to have a balance between dealing with crises and peace and security matters with development, because we feel that these are two sides of the same coin. If we delay development, there’ll be more crises and more instability. But at the same time, if we don’t deal with the security situation, we can’t develop. So that balance for us is very important. And going forward, we are working as the AU towards a prosperous Africa which is at peace with itself and the world. And so all our efforts are geared towards those – towards that vision. And we have had very fruitful discussions. And obviously, discussions are as good as the follow-up, and we are going to make sure that we follow up on all the decisions that – and discussions that we’ve had. Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Good. We’ll take two this evening. We’ll start with CNN, Jill Doughterty.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you. I wanted to ask you about tomorrow. The Palestinians go to the United Nations, asking for non-observer status. We know that the U.S. objects, and we know many of the reasons. But why are you adamant about it at this point when Mahmoud Abbas could use some shoring up at home – he’s losing support – and even as Hamas is gaining support?

And then if I could ask you one question on Benghazi: Some are saying since the State Department is responsible for embassies, why wasn’t it you who was on the talk shows on Sunday, as opposed to Ambassador Rice?

Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first with regard to the Palestinian question, I have said many times that the path to a two-state solution that fulfills the aspirations of the Palestinian people is through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not New York. We have made very clear to the Palestinian leadership – you know I met with President Abbas just last week – that we oppose Palestinian efforts to upgrade their status at the UN outside of the framework of negotiations to achieve a two-state solution, because no matter what happens at the United Nations, it will not produce the outcome that this government, this President, and certainly I strongly support. And the only way to get a lasting solution is to commence direct negotiations, and we need an environment conducive to that. And we’ve urged both parties to refrain from actions that might in any way make a return to meaningful negotiations that focus on getting to a resolution more difficult. So I may have more to say about that later, but certainly that’s our overall view.

Let me just say, first of all, that Susan Rice has done a great job as our Ambassador to the United Nations. And of course, this decision about my successor is up to the President, but I’m very happy he has the opportunity with a second term to make a decision. And I’m not going to answer any hypothetical questions about what could’ve happened but didn’t happen. I’m looking forward to being able to discuss all of the issues pertaining to this after the conclusion of the Accountability Review Board. My responsibility was to appoint such a board, which I did immediately. They have been hard at work. We are hoping that they will be finished with their work very soon, and we intend to make the results of their investigation publicly, and at that time I will be able to address all of these issues.

MS. NULAND: Last one this evening, (inaudible).

QUESTION: Madam Chairperson, Madam Secretary, can Rwanda be part of the solution in Kivu if it continues to deny that it’s part of the problem, specifically its support for M23? And do you think President Kagame has any personal responsibility to bear on what’s going on there now?

CHAIRPERSON DLAMINI-ZUMA: Well, our approach to this matter is that it doesn’t help us in fingerprinting – finger-pointing. We just need a solution. And we met in Kampala on Saturday, the summit took decisions that the M23 must be out, that there must be a special force, a neutral force to deal with that area, and that President Kabila should listen and evaluate the concerns of the M23. And so for us, what is important is to get that resolution of that problem, and the rest will be taken care of because Rwanda is part of the Great Lakes. They have taken a decision that there must be a neutral force there. And Rwanda was there. It supported that decision that M23 must move out of Goma. Rwanda was there. It supported that decision. So for us, that’s what is important.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And I would fully support the Chairperson’s comments. We have consistently called on all parties, including Rwanda, to play a positive role in helping to bring about a peaceful resolution of this conflict. And that includes ending any and all support for the M23. Any military assistance from anyone to the M23 is in violation of the UN arms embargo. And we were very heartened by the results of the Kampala summit. And as the Chairperson said, now we want to see it implemented. There was an agreement. There’s a path forward. But it is up to the parties now to hold themselves accountable, and each other, for acting on those agreements.

Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Thank you all very much.

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PRN: 2012/1870