Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a Press Conference in Maputo, Mozambique

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Maputo, Mozambique
January 27, 2023


AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  As I said to the press and the Minister of Foreign Affairs yesterday, we look forward with great anticipation to working with Mozambique as it begins its historic first term on the UN Security Council.

During my very extensive engagement with the foreign minister yesterday, we used the opportunity to reaffirm our strong bilateral relations.  We shared priorities related to regional security, climate change, women, peace, and security issues, as well as other issues of importance to both of our countries.  We stressed that together, we can strengthen UN initiatives that are already having a meaningful impact on the region.

And over the past two days, I’ve had the opportunity to also meet with UN officials who are helping build a safer, more peaceful region.  They, along with other organizations, are agents of good and are agents of change.  But we also know that change comes from our citizens, from civil society, from entrepreneurs, and activists and students like you.  And as you know, I had an opportunity to sit here with the students just before this meeting, and I can tell you we had an extraordinarily rich discussion about multilateralism.

I also spent a great deal of my visit here with grassroot leaders.  Yesterday, I volunteered alongside an environmental group at the Three Trees Beach.  Three Trees Beach is the last remaining coastal mangrove forest in urban Maputo.  These mangroves help protect tropical – protect against tropical storms, rising sea levels, and erosion, and they’re highly effective carbon sinks.  And we must restore and protect these natural defenses.

This morning, I met with women who participated in the YALI exchange program.  This is the U.S. initiative that helps young Africans develop leadership and entrepreneurship skills.  One of these women, Marta Uetela, founded BioMec Mozambique.  And this company produces high-performance prosthesis from recycled ocean plastics.  Talk about someone who’s driving change through entrepreneurship.  I still can’t imagine how she came up with the idea of producing prosthesis with plastics from the sea.  I mean, it is amazing.  And it’s making a difference in people’s lives.  I was truly impressed by her.

And as you heard, I sat down today with students from this university, right here in this room, and there are some of them still sitting here with us now.  And I was so impressed by their knowledge, their passion, and their commitment to service.  And as I told the president, I have no doubt that many of them will go on to serve Mozambique in posts abroad, around the world, but also serve Mozambique in the United Nations.

These two days here in Mozambique reinforced what I have always known: the U.S.-Mozambique partnership will shape not only the future of the region, but the future of the world.  And that will be a future that will be one of greater peace, greater security, and greater prosperity for all.

And with that, I look forward to your questions.

MODERATOR:  Anyone in the press have some questions?


MODERATOR:  And if you could say your name and outlet, that would be great.

QUESTION:  (In Portuguese), the Portuguese News Agency.  (In Portuguese.)

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  Thank you for both questions.  I had extensive discussions on the situation in Cabo Delgado during my two days here.  We discussed with the government their strategy.

Secondly, on the question of Mozambique’s positions in the Security Council.  Mozambique’s positions are Mozambique’s positions.  Our view is that when you look at the situation in Ukraine, you cannot be neutral when there is a country that is attacking another country, and particularly if that country is a member of the Security Council.  And it is important that the world sees this for what it is.  It’s an attack on the UN Charter.  It’s an attack on the sovereignty of an independent country.  It’s an attack on a neighbor.  And we call upon the world to help to defend Ukraine defend itself.

MODERATOR:  We have here two more.

QUESTION:  (In Portuguese.)

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  Well, to be honest with you, we will work closely with Mozambique, but we work closely with every single member of the Security Council.  Because if the Security Council does not work together, they do not work.  And so the new elected members of the Security Council are an important player for us, and Mozambique as a new elected member of the Security Council, it’s important for us to engage them, to understand what their priorities are, to share with them our priorities.  As I indicated, we don’t ask countries to take sides.  We don’t ask countries to choose between their friends.

Mozambique is an independent country and can choose the positions that it takes in the Council, but there are areas in the Council where we know we can work together.  We are very  much coming together on issues of climate change.  I want to know what Mozambique’s positions are and work with them to help them build their priorities.  I want to work with Mozambique on addressing issues of peace and security in this region.  And we work very closely with the entire A3 – all three members of the African members of the Security Council – to address those issues as well.

Sorry, I forgot your other question.  (Laughter.)

INTERPRETER:  (In Portuguese.)

QUESTION:  And do you —

MODERATOR:  Sorry, we’ll go here, and then we’ll end here.

QUESTION:  (In Portuguese.)

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  On our position on Africans purchasing commodities from Russia, we don’t have any sanctions at all on any Russian agricultural products.  Records show that Russia has exported at least as much if not more wheat – this year after the war – than they were exporting before the war.

But we know that the war has had an impact on food security on this continent.  I met with the FAO this morning and asked that specific question, if they had seen any direct impact from the war.  And I was told that they have seen major shortages and extraordinary price increases in the price of fertilizer.  And it is for that reason that we support the Secretary-General’s Black Sea Initiative that will open up more exports from Ukraine as well as Russia through the Black Sea.  But, despite the initiative, Russia has been blocking and continues to block easy access to Black Sea – wheat flowing through the Black Sea.  And that’s having an impact on this continent.

On – I think you asked me another question.  Oh, on terrorism, yes, and that is flowing to the south.  We are seeing terrorism, terrorists move and expand.  And that’s the reason we have to have a global effort to address issues of terrorism.  When I was in Ghana, what I heard from the Ghanaians is that terrorism was flowing out of the Sahel, pushing south toward Ghana and to the coastal countries.  We see that happening here as well.  So we have to redouble our efforts to push back on terrorist actions and the activities that are terrorizing ordinary citizens such as the citizens of Cabo Delgado.  And we’re working closely with the government to address those issues.

MODERATOR:  Okay.  Who wants one last question?  Yes.

QUESTION:  Ambassador.  (In Portuguese.)

MODERATOR:  And could you say your name and outlet?

QUESTION:  (In Portuguese.)

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  To address terrorism, you have to have a multifaceted approach.  It’s not just the security side, but it is also dealing with the issues that ordinary people are faced with every single day.  We’re providing training and equipment for the police.  But we’re also supporting the needs, the humanitarian needs, of people who have been impacted by the terrorists.

The U.S. is the largest donor to humanitarian programs in Mozambique, and much of that right now is focused on Cabo Delgado.

MODERATOR:  Thank you, everyone.  Thank you.

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