Press Conference at the Airport in Cote d'Ivoire
John D. Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
(Transcript includes an informal translation of the questions from French)
Press Conference at the Airport in Cote d'Ivoire
QUESTION: From Radio Cote d'Ivoire (state-run radio)
Progress has been made with the Ouagadougou Agreement. What is the United States doing to help lift or alleviate the sanctions on Cote d'Ivoire, namely the arms embargo and the ban of certain individuals?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think that first of all what I would like to say in general terms is that we support the Cote d'Ivoire and the peace process principally by supporting the United Nations presence here; the peacekeeping force which is maintained here at the cost of literally hundreds of millions of dollars every year. So I think it is a very important general contribution that we make and as you know we are the largest single nation state contributor to the United Nations.
As far as the question of sanctions are concerned, it is my understanding that those sanctions continue to remain in place although if there are some exceptional reasons to consider an exception to those sanctions, before the peace process has been completed, I am sure that the international community might be willing to consider that.
QUESTION: L'inter (Privately-owned Daily Newspaper)
So far, the United States has stood afar from the peace process in Cote d'Ivoire. What is the purpose of your visit? How will the United States participate more actively in the peace process? What can the United States do to help the peace process in Cote d'Ivoire?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: First of all, with regard to my visit, the United States and the Cote d'Ivoire have a long-standing friendship and I believe that I can say that there is a reservoir of friendship towards each other, in both the United States and in the Cote d'Ivoire. And I have come to visit in that spirit.
As far as the peace process is concerned, the "sortie de la crise" (which I think is the expression here), of course as members, permanent members of the Security Council, the United States has consistently followed this situation with great interest and with great care. My most important message to the government and the people of the Cote d'Ivoire is that we strongly support and encourage the rapid implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement... "Dans le délai le plus bref possible."
QUESTION: Fraternite Matin (State-owned daily newspaper)
You have said that during your meetings with the Ivorian government, political leaders, and with representatives of civil society involved in the democratic process, you have heard of obstacles about voter registration, disarmament and rule of law. Have precise facts been brought up to your attention?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: I think that it is for the Ivoirian politicians, the Ivoirian government leaders, and for the Ivoirian civil society to describe these issues in detail. But my point in mentioning that was that these were subjects that were discussed in our meetings. I don't think any of the obstacles that were mentioned are insuperable. I think that they can be dealt with. I think that the most important is a commitment on the part of everyone to overcome these challenges as quickly as possible. And we think that can be accomplished.
QUESTION: Ivorian Television (state-run television)
You have talked of the identification issue but we must add the civic service program. We know these two programs require a lot of funding. Many promises have been made but nothing delivered. What will the United States do to assist Cote d'Ivoire? My second question is about the peace process. What will be the United States' role in reconstruction?
DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE: First of all, I will agree with you that the issue of disarmament, demobilization and civic service is a very, very important part of carrying the Ouagadougou Process forward. To this end, there are some resources available through the international financial institutions to support this effort. And of course, we are strong contributors to the international financial institutions just like we are strong supporters of the United Nations.
(Replying to the second part of the question) I think first of all that the priority at the moment is the peace process and implementing the terms of the Ouagadougou Agreement. That's the priority as I understand it. Once that has been accomplished, I would think that the conditions of peace themselves will commit the people and the government of Cote d'Ivoire to improve their economic plans. Conditions for trade and investment will improve. And I think that if the terms of the Ouagadougou Agreement are fulfilled and democratic elections take place in the near future, that will also create, in my view, the conditions for even more extensive collaboration between the United States and Cote d'Ivoire. If the Ouagadougou Agreement is well implemented and as soon as possible, we, the United States and Cote d'Ivoire, will be in a better position to fully realize the potential of our bilateral relationships.
I would like to thank all of you for offering me this opportunity.
Released on November 12, 2007