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Powell Intervention at Forum For the Future, Rabat

Powell Intervention at Forum For the Future

Intervention at the Opening Plenary of the Forum For the Future

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Rabat, Morocco
December 11, 2004

SECRETARY POWELL: It is a great pleasure and honor for me and U.S. Treasury Secretary Snow to join our friends Foreign Minister Benaissa and Finance Minister Oualalou in this first meeting of the Forum for the Future. We are deeply grateful to His Royal Highness King Mohammed the Sixth and the Government of Morocco for making this meeting possible.

Today, in Rabat, government, business, and civil society representatives from across the Broader Middle East and North Africa have come together in common cause. With the support of their partners from the Group of Eight, they are addressing the challenges and opportunities of building a future full of hope. As President Bush said at Sea Island: "We must help the reformers of the Middle East as they work for freedom, and strive to build a community of peaceful, democratic nations."

Already, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Yemen and so many others are moving forward on political, educational, and economic reform initiatives.

Finance Ministers convened in October in Washington to shape the economic work of the Forum. In Rome in November, Foreign Ministers of the Democracy Assistance Dialogue developed a framework to address far-reaching issues such as elections, the rule of law, free media, women in democracy and the role of civil society.

Today, we will advance initiatives to finance and provide training for small business and microenterprise and to promote literacy, especially for women and girls. Learning from each others' experiences, we can give young people the tools necessary for global citizenship and, at the same time, drawing strength and resilience from our respective cultures.

We share a confidence in the creativity and talent of the peoples of the region. The region is full of talented, hopeful people. In New York, I was truly impressed by the thoughtful and constructive contributions of the civil Society and Business representatives. We must rely on this shared confidence in people to make participation in public and political life more inclusive in every country. I was saddened by the accidental death of Ahmed Othmani, a courageous human rights activist and an important contributor to the Forum. We will keep him in our thoughts as we carry out this important work.

Now is not the time to argue about the pace of democratic reform, or whether economic reform must precede political reform. Increasing opportunities for all citizens especially women should not be put on hold to deal with other concerns. We all agree that effective and sustainable change can only come from within. We also see that countries with active political participation by all people tend to enjoy greater investment, economic growth and educational excellence. In short, political and economic freedom go hand-in-hand.

Indeed, all of us have just welcomed the inauguration of President Karzai, the first Afghan leader in history to come into office as the result of free and fair elections. At the same time, Afghanistan's economic recovery picks up steam. All of us have a major stake in the historic elections that will take place in Iraq at the end of January. Palestinian elections next month are also a vital step in renewing the search for peace. The United States is committed to working actively with Palestinians and Israelis as they move forward along the roadmap.

Friends: All of us confront the daily threat of terrorism. To defeat the murderous extremists in our midst, we must work together to address the causes of despair and frustration that extremists exploit for their own ends.

Ours is a long-term task requiring a long-term commitment, extending generations. This far-reaching effort starts here and now, with all of us. It is a challenge that must be confronted together. Our success as nations depends on the success of our citizens. This historic Forum for the Future represents our shared embrace of the greatness of our people and the power of hope. Thank you.

2004/1327

[End]

Released on December 11, 2004

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