Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
December 13, 2022
QUESTION: So this U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit is meant to deepen the ties between the U.S. and the continent. What are, exactly, those shared priorities that the administration is talking about that you want to work on?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: There are a number of priorities that we have on our agenda. One, as you noted, is to reaffirm our close ties with the African continent – to raise the voices of Africa, African leaders, and to look at where we can partner on issues of mutual concern, people issues. How do we develop people-to-people relationships? How do we partner with the private sector to promote American businesses that will create jobs in the United States but also jobs in Africa? How do we address the concerns that Africans have?
So, as you know, the President announced that we would be proposing that the African Union become a member of the G20. He also talked about Africa being part of the – having a greater voice and having a permanent seat in the Security Council. So these are things that we hope to engage with African leaders on over the course of the next three days.
QUESTION: There’s been this announcement, this pledge of $55 billion. Can you describe a little bit how this money is going to work? Where is it going to go? What are the priorities for those funds?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We’re still working out the details of how the funds will be addressed, but it’s something that the President was committed to doing to address some of the issues of financing on the continent of Africa, to address climate change. So there are a number of priorities that are there, but that’s in addition to the funding that we already provide to the continent of Africa.
QUESTION: There’s of course, looming over this summit – even though the administration doesn’t want to talk about the influence of China, but this is not about China, this is not about Russia; this is about the partnership. It is still an issue, and in the strategic – Africa strategy there was this concern pointed out about China, about Russia. So how do you talk about this issue without making it a central part of this summit, even though it is important?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We talk about our values. We talk about our partnership with Africa and how we develop that partnership. And to give you an example, I gave a – I participated in a fireside chat earlier today with the African diaspora. The diaspora community here in the United States is a huge, huge asset for us that provides opportunities to engage with African countries through people-to-people relationships that China doesn’t have. So there’s no competition there.
QUESTION: And you mentioned the diaspora. There is a rally planned tomorrow outside the White House by some leaders of the African diaspora here to sort of criticize or at least call out the administration to point out that some of the leaders invited here are not necessarily the best when it comes to human rights. Do you understand this criticism? And the administration has said that they went with the African Union – those countries suspended by the African Union were not invited. But how do you square this with the human rights protector that the U.S. claims to be across the world?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, first and foremost, the people who will be demonstrating outside the White House actually have the right to demonstrate, and we hear them and we listen to them. But we also lead in terms of our relations with our values. And we do value human rights. We do value democracy. We value press freedoms. Those are issues that the President and none of us will shy away from discussing with African leaders. And we have to engage them to discuss these issues with them, and this will be an opportunity for us to have honest and frank conversations with those countries that have issues that these people from the diaspora will be raising.
QUESTION: And final question: Will we get a presidential trip to Africa in the coming year?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I’ve heard a rumor. It was reported. I think it would be absolutely fantastic.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
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