Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a Joint Press Availability with Foreign Minister Rui Figueiredo in Praia, Cabo Verde

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Praia, Cabo Verde
August 7, 2022


AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  Good afternoon. Let me say, Mr. Minister, how delighted I am to be here with you in Praia. It was a real pleasure for me to meet with the Prime Minister and you a few minutes ago. And I really want to thank you, and I want to thank all of you for coming out on a Sunday for this meeting.

I am here to reaffirm our strong partnership and friendship with Cabo Verde. I had the opportunity to have a full discussion of issues with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. We talked about issues of food security, we talked about the pandemic, and we talked about a full range of regional issues, as well.

As always, the United States is truly honored to partner with Cabo Verde, a country which serves as a regional role model for respect to democratic processes, justice, and human rights. Cape Verde is really, really an example and model for this entire continent, not just for this region.

I was thrilled to discuss with the Prime Minister his plans to attend the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit in Washington December 13 through 15, and look forward to, during that conference, having the opportunity to further deepen mutually beneficial ties between the United States and Cabo Verde, and strengthen our relationship with the entire continent. We’re really looking forward to vigorous participation at all levels of our Cabinet and including the President.

Let me just say this has been a busy week for me, a busy trip for me. I visited Uganda and Ghana where I met with the heads of state and visited grain mills and farms and food markets in both countries. I met with activists and market women, some of our exchange program alumni, and NGO workers.

And today with the Prime Minister we discussed in detail the food security crisis, because here in Cabo Verde, 10 percent of the population is already facing acute food insecurity. Let me state that no one and no country is immune from the devastating impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine, including countries and island nations like this one, and progress cannot be taken for granted.

But as I said in my speech in Accra, the United States is here to help rally the world to address the crisis. And we also believe this crisis presents an opportunity for Africa to become more independent and build up its own food supplies and its own systems so that it does not have to suffer when things thousands of miles away occur.

We discussed other opportunities on this trip to improve regional security, to improve mutual prosperity. And I know that Secretary Blinken is picking up where I left off. He’ll be delivering a major speech tomorrow, outlining a broader strategic vision for U.S.-Africa relations.

I packed a lot into a short time. I’ve been on the continent for about five days. And I’m looking forward to getting back to New York and getting to work to put the diplomacy in action to carry out the mandate that I’ve been given by President Biden, but also to take back the results of my conversations here in Cabo Verde, as well as in Ghana and Uganda.

Thank you very much, Mr. Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER RUI ALBERTO DE FIGUEIREDO SOARES:  Thank you very much, Madam Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield for carrying out this visit. It is a pleasure for us to welcome you on this Sunday, you and your delegation, Mr. Ambassador of the United States of America, dear staff, it’s a great pleasure and on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Cabo Verde I thank you Madam Ambassador for this very timely visit and for the words of praise which you addressed for our country, and we want to tell you, Madam Ambassador, that these words are very welcome, in this moment of great challenges that the world and Cabo Verde face.

The excellent relations of partnership, friendship, and collaboration existing between our countries, Madam Ambassador, these close relationships allow us to look to these uncertain times with confidence in the future. We will do everything possible to honor our commitments and continue to deepen the relations with your country. As you had the opportunity of telling the Prime Minister, looking at friends, in times like these, in these times of uncertainty, to look and underline the importance of having friends. We thank you, deep from our hearts, we, the people of Cabo Verde, as you know, we have many Cabo Verdeans living in the United States, we all thank you for this excellent opportunity to talk about challenges of the world in this tour you are carrying in some African countries, Uganda, Ghana and now, Cabo Verde.

Madam Ambassador was able to collect, whilst with the Prime Minister, subsidies which also help the United States to better dialogue with all the countries, especially with Cabo Verde in the area of mitigation of the crisis, triple crisis, in the case of Cabo Verde, the prolonged drought, the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and now this crisis of this war dictated by the Russian invasion to Ukraine.

This meeting, as you know Madam Ambassador and as have been reported here, in this meeting, Mr. Prime Minister had the opportunity to tell you about the great challenges we face, challenges also linked to the opportunities we have. Mr. Prime Minister told you something which he usually repeats. Our main riches are our assets: democracy, peace, security, stability. We want to transform these into capital gains for education, for health, for the new technologies, for the blue economy, for the transition, and for all of these, Madam Ambassador, we count on your support, the support from your country, and this visit you now make is a clear sign of this.

The issues of the climate changes, the seas and oceans that was present in the Conference of the oceans in Lisbon, the issues of the SIDS and the least advanced countries, are all tremendous challenges which need to be urgently addressed and we are grateful for the United States commitment in finding tangible solutions for the challenges in front of us. Indeed, we want to have a substantive role at the SIDS level. The climate changes specially hit the SIDS and Cabo Verde has the conditions, at the level of scientific investigation, of proposals for the oceans, to give a contribution for these matters that affect all the community so they can be indeed, solved.

Once again, I wanted, on behalf of the Government and the People of Cabo Verde, living in Cabo Verde living in the great North American diaspora, I wanted to thank you, Madam Ambassador, for this visit and assure you that Cabo Verde is still strongly set on this special friendship with the U.S. Please be, with President Biden, our faithful interpreter of this will and actually, we will have the opportunity of doing it. The Prime Minister in the II EU-Africa Summit, for which you reiterated the invitation from President Biden.

Thank you very much for your visit.

QUESTION:  Cabo Verde, in the past month of June, declared a social economic emergency due to years of drought, also COVID-19 and also as a consequence of this war in Ukraine. As a consequence, Cabo Verde should need, until the end of the year, about 100 million dollars. I ask whether the U.S. is willing to fund a part or the totality of this need. By the way, I also ask you, Madam Ambassador, and the question also goes to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, what does the support from the U.S. mean for the entry of CV at the UN Human Rights Commission? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  Thank you for that question. And we are very aware of the announcement that the President made in June, and we have been working very, very closely with the Government of Cabo Verde to address this unfortunate crisis that they are experiencing along with countries all over the world. The U.S. has provided funding to Cabo Verde, first and foremost to deal with the COVID-19 response, including assistance to support the extremely efficient and effective vaccination campaign that the government carried out. And because of that, more than 85% of eligible adults are vaccinated and that’s among the highest rates in the world. And through USAID’s West Africa hub, the United States provided over 2 million dollars to help Cabo Verde’s private sector recover from COVID-19. We have provided some emergency funding to the International Federation of the Red Cross to respond to the crisis level of food insecurity currently impacting 10% of the population here and we will continue to explore additional ways to assist Cabo Verde in addressing food insecurity and food systems development after almost 8 years of severe drought. I will also share with you that Secretary Blinken hosted a ministerial on food insecurity during our presidency of the Security Council in May, in New York, where we worked with a number of countries to talk about how they can commit to assisting those countries who are in dire situations such as Cabo Verde. So, we will also be working with other partners to ensure that they too answer the call and the needs that the Prime Minister identified here.

FOREIGN MINISTER FIGUEIREDO SOARES:  Thank you Madam Ambassador. Referring to the question about Human Rights, the Prime Minister received the United States’ suggestion. The fundamental in this matter is knowing that Cabo Verde is, as the Ambassador said, exemplary is terms of democracy, in terms of the respect for the human rights, and we will consider, with great attention, this possible application of Cabo Verde to the Human Rights Commission as we are an intransigent defensor of Human Rights in the international arena. Thank you very much.

QUESTION:  Good afternoon, Madam Ambassador, welcome to Cabo Verde. Your tour to Africa, a very short one, is being seen as a counterpoint to Russia’s chief of diplomacy visit to our continent last week. And my question is, in this troubled geopolitical context, what are Washington’s expectations towards Africa, what do you expect from the positioning of the African countries. In terms of Cabo Verde, how can a small state such as Cabo Verde with many frailties be useful to the international community?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  Thank you so much for that question, I didn’t stop anywhere on the continent where I was not asked the same question, whether my visit was in response to the foreign minister of Russia’s visit to Africa. And let me just say, I came to this continent almost 40 years ago. So, this is not my first time on the continent of Africa, it will not be my last time, the trip that I made this week had been long planned. I had been working with the Ghanaian Government, the Ugandan Government, to make a visit and I will say that it was delayed, unfortunately, but it was not in response, at all, to the Russian’s Foreign Minister’s visit. But let me be clear: what he was here to do on the continent, was to make excuses for what they’re doing in Ukraine. They have attacked their neighbor, they have created an international global crisis that has led to food insecurity across the world, and they were here to defend that, not accept responsibility and put the blame on someone else. And there is no one to blame for what is happening other than Russians themselves and they can fix it by stopping the war in Ukraine. And I will say as well that we do not have any sanctions on any of Russia’s agricultural products. They can get their agricultural products out to the market if they want to.

QUESTION:  In the follow up I also had a question for our Minister of Foreign Affairs: This visit by Madam Ambassador is surely one of the most important ones from Washington to Cabo Verde in the last few years. How does the Government of Cabo Verde interpret this visit?

FOREIGN MINISTER FIGUEIREDO SOARES:  Thank you very much, Mr. Journalist Júlio Rodrigues. Our interpretation was said here at the beginning of this press conference. In the words of Madam Ambassador, for what she conveyed to the head of the government, Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva, and for what I said as well at this time. This visit is a proof of the existing special bonds, the close relationships between the United States and Cabo Verde. Relations that go beyond governments, beyond conjectures, and which are also marked by the vast community we have in the United States. They are multisecular partnership and friendship relations which we now want to underline and this visit by the Madam Ambassador is a proof of the exceptionality of our relations. Thank you.

QUESTION:  Africa does not have a permanent member in the Security Council at the UN. But African countries reclaim it. What’s the position from the U.S. in that matter and linking this subject, what can the Security Council make with the tension in the South China Sea at the moment?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  So, first, on the reform in the Security Council, as you know, there are now three elected African members on the Security Council. And they rotate every three years Sorry every two years. We support Security Council reform. We’ve been clear on that from the beginning. We are prepared to have these discussions; we have discussed with various countries different configurations of what they are proposing in terms of new permanent members, and we look forward to continuing those discussions with the idea that we will come to some decision about having some reforms made. We were also very, very supportive of a recent reform in the general assembly that requires that any country that uses its veto power be called before the general assembly to explain why they found it necessary to veto a resolution of the Security Council and we think that country should be prepared to defend themselves if they use the veto power and so that was a new reform that we were very supportive of. I forgot your second question.

Oh, the South China Seas. Look… Speaker Pelosi made a trip to Taiwan. She is a member of our Congress. Members of Congress can decide if they want to travel. None of that changed our policy on One China policy. On Taiwan, we have not had any policy change whatsoever. A speaker who has visited before, members of Congress visit regularly, and we think that China is using this as an excuse to be more aggressive toward Ukraine. We are not going to allow ourselves to be provoked by any provocation that they make. So far, this has not been brought before the Security Council and I’m hoping that China will decide that they will allow sleeping dogs to lie and not keep pushing for some kind of action and to continue to threaten Taiwan.

Thank you very much.