Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
October 26, 2021
It’s very nice to be here with you today. I had the great pleasure of meeting with President Bazoum just now in a bilateral meeting, as well as several other members of his administration, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and we also met with other ministers in the government, including the Minister of National Defense over the course of my two-day visit here because I started my visit yesterday with the UN Security Council. I am so appreciative of President Bazoum and everyone else for taking the time to discuss matters of common interest.
In our meeting, I reiterated the U.S. government’s congratulations to President Bazoum – and to Niger – on his inauguration. I congratulated Niger for the first-ever peaceful, democratic transfer of power from one president to the next. That was an inspiring and historic day for Niger and for the entire region. It sets a clear example of what democracy looks like.
In our conversation, President Bazoum and I reviewed the many ways the United States and Niger work together: from diplomacy to development to democracy to defense.
On diplomacy, I thanked the president for Niger’s steady and continued leadership in the United Nations Security Council as Niger’s role in the United Nations and Niger’s role in the United Nations’ peacekeeping missions to Mali and Central African Republic. Niger has been a strong partner during its term on the UN Security Council in these past two years and in supporting security in the Sahel.
On development, the United States will continue to advance inclusive economic growth with our partners in Niger. In a landscape characterized by complex challenges, our joint efforts will ultimately create a better future for Nigeriens. This includes our work to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Government has provided $22.2 million in COVID-19 assistance, and we have already provided over 300,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines through COVAX.
On democracy, we discussed how protecting civil rights and civil liberties, such as free speech and free press, play an enormous role in strengthening every representative government. These efforts also help counter violent extremism.
And finally, on defense, we all know security is a key issue in the region. We believe Niger’s partners must address security together. Genuine collaborative security means a cohesive partnership between security forces and community, in which security provision is inclusive, equitable, and respects human rights. To that end, I expressed our grave concerns about reports that Russian mercenaries may deploy to Mali and the risk that would pose to regional peace and security and the broader Sahel. Russian mercenaries engage in human rights abuses of civilians, extract steep costs in payments and mineral concessions, and deprive local citizens of critically needed resources. Any role for Russian mercenaries in the region will likely exacerbate the current security situation. Instead, we hope Niger will work with us on our common goal: countering terrorism and denying violent extremism a home.
We are helping Niger accomplish these goals by promoting development and good governance through diplomatic engagement and programming, helping to increase security sector capacity and lifting up the voices of national and community leaders with a positive message.
Finally, it was an honor to hear from President Bazoum about the many initiatives he and his administration are working on. I heard about his focus on education, particularly for girls, when he spoke to the Security Council yesterday, efforts to increase economic growth, and plans to expand the size and capacity of the Nigerien military to counter regional security threats. We applaud the Government of Niger’s hard work on these issues. It has been a pleasure to discuss these important issues with President Bazoum and members of his administration. The United States is committed to Niger’s future. Together, we will work on our shared priorities and focus on bringing peace and prosperity to all.
And I want to just take the opportunity to thank the Nigerien government for its hospitality.