BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND PRIME MINISTER DESALEGN OF ETHIOPIA BEFORE BILATERAL
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 25, 2014
United Nations Building New York City, New York
9:57 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I want to extend a warm welcome to Prime
Minister Desalegn and his delegation. When I spoke previously at the Africa
Summit about some of the bright spots and progress that were seeing in Africa,
I think theres no better example than what has been happening in Ethiopia --
one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
We have seen enormous progress in a country that once had great
difficulty feeding itself. Its now not only leading the pack in terms of
agricultural production in the region, but will soon be an exporter potentially
not just of agriculture, but also power because of the development thats been
taking place there.
Were strong trading partners. And most recently, Boeing has done a
deal with Ethiopia, which will result in jobs here in the United States. And in
discussions with Ban Ki-moon yesterday, we discussed how critical it is for us
to improve our effectiveness when it comes to peacekeeping and conflict
resolution. And it turns out that Ethiopia may be one of the best in the world
-- one of the largest contributors of peacekeeping; one of the most effective
fighting forces when it comes to being placed in some very difficult situations
and helping to resolve conflicts.
So Ethiopia has been not only a leader economically in the
continent, but also when it comes to security and trying to resolve some of the
longstanding conflicts there. We are very appreciative of those efforts, and we
look forward to partnering with them. This will give us an opportunity to talk
about how we can enhance our strategic dialogue around a whole range of issues,
from health, the economy, agriculture, but also some hotspot areas like South
Sudan, where Ethiopia has been working very hard trying to bring the parties
together, but recognizes that this is a challenge that were all going to have
to work together on as part of an international community.
So I want to extend my thanks to the Prime Minister for his good
work. And we look forward to not only an excellent discussion, but a very
productive relationship going forward.
Mr. Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER DESALEGN: Thank you very much, Mr. President. First
of all, I would like to thank you very much for receiving us during this very
busy time. We value very much the relationship between the United States and
Ethiopia. And as you mentioned, my country is moving, transforming the economy
of the nation. But needless to say that the support of the United States in our
endeavor to move forward has been remarkable.
I think the most important thing is to have the human capability
to develop ourselves. And the United States has supported us in the various
programs that helped us move forward in having healthy human beings that can
produce. And as you mentioned, agriculture is the main source of our economic
growth, and that has been the case because we do have our farmers which are
devoid of malaria, which is the main debilitating disease while producing. So I
think that has helped us a lot.
And we value also the support the United States has offered to us
in terms of engaging the private sector, especially your initiative of the
Power Africa program, which is taking shape. I think it's remarkable and a
modern kind of approach. And in that sense, we are obliged to thank you very
much for this program and to deepen this Power Africa initiative.
Beyond that, you know that through your initiative and the leaders
of the United States, we have the Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition,
which is the most important program, where the private-public partnership is
the initiative. We have a number of U.S. investors now engaged in agricultural
production, helping the smallholder farmers, which is the basis for our
agricultural growth that's taking place now in Ethiopia.
Besides, peace and security is very essential for any kind of
development to take place. In that sense, our cooperation in peace and security
and pacifying the region, the continent, as well as our Horn of Africa -- I
think this has helped us a lot to bring peace and tranquility in the region. And
we've feel that we have strong cooperation. We have to deepen it. We have to
extend now our efforts to pacify the region and the continent. Of course, also,
we have to cooperate globally, not only in Africa, and that relationship has to
So, Mr. President, thank you very much for receiving us. We value
this relationship, which is excellent, and we want to deepen it and continue.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Two last points I want to make. Obviously we've
been talking a lot about terrorism and the focus has been on ISIL, but in
Somalia, we've seen al-Shabaab, an affiliate of al Qaeda, wreak havoc
throughout that country. That's an area where the cooperation and leadership on
the part of Ethiopia is making a difference as we speak. And we want to thank
them for that.
So our counterterrorism cooperation and the partnerships that we
have formed with countries like Ethiopia are going to be critical to our
overall efforts to defeat terrorism.
And also, the Prime Minister and the government is going to be
organizing elections in Ethiopia this year. I know something about that. We've
got some midterms coming up. And so we'll have an opportunity to talk about
civil society and governance and how we can make sure that Ethiopias progress
and example can extend to civil society as well, and making sure that
throughout the continent of Africa we continue to widen and broaden our efforts
at democracy, all of which isn't just good for politics but ends up being good
for economics as well -- as we discussed at the Africa Summit.
So, thank you very much, everybody.