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Press Availability in Tripoli, Libya

John D. Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State
Tripoli, Libya
April 18, 2007

QUESTION: El Sedeiq Hussein, Sudan News Agency. During the conversation in Naivasha, the United States said that she will support Sudan. Also during the conversation in Abuja, the United States said that she will support Sudan. But now the United States is speaking about punishment and the Security Council.

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think that there is no greater supporter of the people of Sudan than the Government of the United States. Just to give you one example of the extent of our commitment in dealing with the humanitarian tragedy in that country, we have given one billion dollars each year in the years 2005 and 2006 to provide humanitarian assistance and food to the stricken people of Darfur. I would also say that we are strong supporters of the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement that was signed in May of 2006. We continue to follow that question with great interest and a sense of urgency and we believe that all the parties to the Darfur agreement, including the Government of Sudan, must do their outmost on an urgent basis to implement that agreement.

QUESTION: Abdel Hamid Shwehdi, JANA (Jamahiriya News Agency). We would like to ask, Mr. Deputy Secretary, about the outcome of your visit to Libya and about the bilateral relations and the Darfur issue.

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: Thank you. First of all, on the Darfur issue, I think we had excellent conversations with Ambassador Treki who is the official responsible for African issues in the Foreign Ministry and whom I had known previously when he was Ambassador to the United Nations. We had extensive discussions for several hours last night and I think we share many points of view and many interests in common with regard to the situation in Darfur and we agreed to continue consulting together on a regular basis about the Darfur issue as well as other issues concerning the African continent.

Now regarding the bilateral relationship I had meetings this morning with the Foreign Minister and then after that with the Deputy Foreign Minister who brought together all the different officials in the Foreign Ministry who deal with implementing the various aspects of the United States/Libya relationship: economic, political, consular and so forth.

Now I pointed out during those meetings that we are very committed to building this new relationship as soon as possible and one of the examples that I cited was that we hope to be able to name an Ambassador to Libya in the near future. That would be one example. Another is the fact that we are hoping to build a new Embassy building here, both for practical reasons and as a symbol of the importance that we attach and intend to continue attaching to the United States/Libya relationship. We also agreed that this whole question of implementing our new relationship and advancing it is something that should be a subject of constant dialogue between the two governments and I invited the Deputy Foreign Minister to visit me at a mutually convenient time in the future in Washington.

QUESTION: Rana Jawad, BBC World Service. First of all, what's your response to officials here when they say that Africa should solve its own problems through the African Union and there shouldn't be any foreign interference? And secondly, what do you hope to achieve in Mauritania in your next stop? And, would you please be so kind, if it's not too much trouble, to speak closer to the microphone just for sound purposes? Thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I am sorry. I just didn't like to be sitting down. Well, in response to the question about Africa dealing with its own problems, we certainly support and share that vision and that aspiration. And in fact, I think that we are the leading country in terms of having provided support to the countries of Africa to develop their own capabilities. I would say just one example: we have trained about 60% of Africa's peacekeepers so that more and more African nations and the African Union can take over peacekeeping activities in the future. There are other examples as well: the dramatic increase in assistance that the United States has carried out with respect to Africa in the economic and the health fields during the past several years, where our assistance to Africa, economic and development assistance to Africa, has reached historic high levels…. I am waiting for her to translate. I have more to say.

But while we support those aspirations and that vision, I think, realistically speaking, and even the African officials and the African Union troop leaders for example will say to us that those capabilities have not yet been sufficiently developed for Africans to take over these responsibilities entirely. And I can give you examples of situations in recent years where the international community has played a very constructive role in resolving serious African security issues, whether it's in Sierra Leone or in Liberia or in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And I don't think those situations could have been stabilized were it not for the assistance of international peacekeeping forces. So what I would say is that yes we share the long term aspiration and the vision; but it is going to take time and a graduated approach to get there, but we certainly fully share the African goal of ultimately taking responsibilities for these matters. The second question was what? I forgot.

QUESTION: What do you plan to achieve in Mauritania?

DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: We are principally going there for the inauguration of the new President. I am leading our delegation to the inauguration of the President of Mauritania, and that will take place tomorrow morning, which is why I have to leave now because they close the airport after dark in Mauritania. So you will excuse me. Thank you.


Released on April 18, 2007

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