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U.S. Department of State
96/10/07 Press Briefing enroute to Mali
Office of the Spokesman

                         U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                          Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release                            October 7, 1996

                           PRESS BRIEFING BY
                      (EN ROUTE TO BAMAKO, MALI)

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  This is a quick switch of gears, but I thought I 
would give you a little preview of my own thoughts.  First, just a few 
words about our interest in Africa. I think that you probably think that 
the tilt of the balance with me making the trip to Africa at this time 
was the fact that Africa embodies so many of the global or trans-
national issues, which I think will be at the forefront of American 
foreign policy in the next century. 
Here, in this fourth year of my being Secretary of State, I think it's 
come home to me that the trans-national issues will be the focus of the 
next century.  That's reflected in my speech on the environment at 
Stanford.  Africa is the focus of so many issues in that area.  The 
environmental issues are predominant here:  The deforestation issue, the 
second largest rain-forest in the world is rapidly loosing size.  The 
desertification issues, which we will see so predominantly in Mali, as 
the desert moves down and takes more and more arable land.  Population 
issues, with Africa growing so rapidly.  A population of a billion, 
doubling it's population by about the year 2020, unless some steps are 
taken.  Women's rights issues, which are closely aligned with the 
population issues.  The bio-diversity issues, which have come into 
focus.  The narcotics issues, with so many African countries threatened 
with narcotics.  Infectious disease issues, not only AIDS but others.  
So you can see, there are just a passel of global or trans-national 
issues, which have come into focus in Africa, and which I want to draw 
attention to for later United States consideration, in the years ahead.

You can't do all of that in any one trip, but you can draw attention to 
them and provide information, provide background, provide an incentive 
to seek broader support in future years.

Our second major U.S. interest is the economic interest.  Africa really 
has not been integrated well into our international trading system.  
It's economic growth shows great promise here.  We have here, as someone 
noted, more trade with Africa now than we do with the countries of the 
former Soviet Union, but there is a long, long way to go.

The action taken on debt-relief this year, when the international 
financial institutions met in Washington, are a promising first step, 
but as I noted in the speech I made in 1993, the United States has a 
very strong interest in Africa that will grow stronger as the years 

Second, and closely aligned to that, is the desire to focus on African 
success stories.  I've been struck, in the last year or so, by the focus 
of the American media on the problems and failures in Africa to the 
point where I think many American citizens are somewhat inclined to 
write Africa off.  That would be a terrible mistake because there are so 
many success stories.  In choosing the countries to go to, of course, 
you have a limited number of choices, but certainly Mali has many of the 
ingredients; great progress in Ethiopia; and of course South Africa the 
shining example.  

I've also chosen on this trip to go to places where I could have a 
discussion of, or address, some of the most difficult problems.  I'll 
have a chance in Mali to talk about the situation in Liberia.  
Obviously, in Arusha to address the situation in the Great Lakes 
countries with the presidents that I will be meeting with there: 
President Konare, former President Nyerere, President Mkapa and then in 
Angola to try to give encouragement to the process there.  

Overall, our theme in Africa is and ought to be, for the future, to 
prevent this kind of crisis from arising.  One of the things we are 
trying to do there, to give us more resources, is the African Crisis 
Response Force, which has many contingent elements.  We would like to 
develop that force for use in various ways.  Primarily, as a 
humanitarian concept at the present time, but also if the forces are 
there, trained, integrated and able to work together we have other 
options that we are completely deprived of, at the present time.

George Moose, the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, has reported 
that his initial trip to Africa provided encouraging indications that 
African countries are prepared to supply the troops.  We will consult 
with our European allies to see if they are prepared to help by 
providing the logistics and financial support.  In an overall sense, 
that gives us an option for the prevention technique, which is 
applicable not just in a military sense, but things like "The Horn Of 
Africa Initiative," where we are trying to get one step up on such 
scourges as famine.  Those are the thoughts that I have as I initiate 
this trip to Africa, which I'm really looking forward to for the reasons 
I mentioned.  It's something I wanted to do for some time.  A secretary 
of state always has a lot of pressure on his time and I'm afraid so 
often the urgent takes the place of the important, but this time perhaps 
it's embodied in the dual purpose of this trip.  I didn't want to give 
up the Africa trip, but I thought I needed to stop in the Middle East so 
I hoped I could combine this one time both the urgent and the important.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, The Economist recently did a supplement on 
Africa and it charged that the US had virtually disengaged from Africa, 
and it is true that AID figures have gone down in recent years 
significantly.  What do you say to those who allege that the US interest 
has diminished?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We have certainly not disengaged; indeed we have 
fought very hard to keep our aid levels in Africa.  In an era of 
diminishing resources, I think the fact that African development aid has 
been kept approximately at the $700 million level, certainly not as high 
as we would like to have it; nevertheless, it continues to be 
significant.  Also, the strong efforts we've made to retain IDA funding 
is very significant because much of that will go to Africa.  Do we have 
as much support for Africa as we would like?  Not at all, but have we 
given up?  Certainly not; and the extent we fought, in the Congress, to 
maintain the level of aid to Africa, I think is an indication of our 
strong and continuing interest. I have looked at that piece in The 
Economist as well, and I would say it is a distortion of United States' 
interests. The fact that I'm coming here, the fact that Madeleine 
Albright has made trips here, our continuing interest and the constant 
involvement of George Moose --  and Susan Rice is here -- is some 
indication of very strong, continuing United States interest.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, are you going to be seeking specific 
commitments from African countries on this trip for the new African 
leaders to participate?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Carol, that's not the primary focus of my trip.  
George Moose has made the swing through Africa.  At the same time, in 
each of the countries where I'll be meeting with leaders, I'm going to 
be talking about the African Crisis Response Force, urging them to not 
only to contribute themselves but to urge other African leaders to 
participate.  As I say, I can only go so many places while on one trip 
and the trip was not chosen with that in mind, but it will give me an 
opportunity to continue the exploration of that and to urge African 
countries to come forward and provide us with a resource that can have 
multiple uses in the future.  We'd like to -- the next time, the next 
crisis arises -- have at least a decent option of providing some trained 
forces that would be useful to prevent a crisis from developing or to 
deal with humanitarian aspects of it.

QUESTION:  Almost as intriguing as the list of countries you are going 
to is the list of countries you're not going to and I wonder if you 
would say something about the current state of relations with Nigeria 
and what if anything will you be saying about that on this trip?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I would describe the current state of our 
relations with Nigeria as being troubled.  We are concerned and troubled 
by the conduct of the government there, its human rights violations, the 
degree of corruption.  Although we saw some glimmerings of hope last 
spring, that promise has not been fulfilled as we've gone into the 
summer, and frankly we've been disappointed.  I think we'll be starting 
around on the consultations with Commonwealth countries and with our 
European allies to see if we can find support for taking further action.  
Here in the region, I certainly intend to talk with President Konare and 
others in the region as well as in South Africa to get their best 
thinking.  We really seek African solutions to African problems and I 
think their advice on the subject will be very significant.  Certainly, 
we continue to be very troubled by our relationship with Nigeria, from 
my own standpoint as much because of the tremendous potential that 
Nigeria has and the failed promise of Nigeria.  I was in government 
before in the late 1970's. Nigeria had tremendous promise as being the 
country that might be one of the leaders not only of Africa but of the 
world as a whole and to see how they forfeited that potential, or at 
least that potential has not been realized, has to be a great 
disappointment for us and all of Africa.

QUESTION:  Could you tell us a little more about what you'll be doing in 
Mali and also could you tell us about one of your personal experiences, 
if any, you've had before in Sub-Saharan Africa?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  George, in Mali, and this, of course, is a brief 
trip, Mali was chosen frankly in recognition of the tremendous progress 
that they have made in some of the most difficult conditions in all of 
Africa.  The triumph of democracy there, I think is especially 
praiseworthy because of the economic conditions they face and the 
problems they faced with the tribes in the north, so in many ways this 
is a trip of recognition for Mali.  At the same time it's a chance to 
get the advice of President Konare on Liberia and Nigeria and other 
group-related problems in the region.  Every place I go I'm also going 
to be talking about the importance of Africa coming forward with some 
good candidates for the U.N. secretary generalship.  Our views are firm 
with respect to Secretary General Boutros Ghali and I think it's time 
for Africa to come forward with some strong candidates.  We think that 
African candidates deserve special consideration, but unless some are 
offered we are going to be left without some to consider and I think 
that will be a disadvantage from the standpoint of Africa.  I think 
President Konare is clearly one of the leaders in the region, so that 
will be one of the elements.  I intend to visit our AID mission there 
and as you know Mali is, I believe, the largest Peace Corps endeavor in 
Africa.  I want to give some encouragement to that as well. 

This relatively short trip is an opportunity to give recognition to the 
tremendous contribution they've made.  This kind of recognition of 
course is also an effort to make sure they stay on the path of 
democracy; as President Aristide said so well, it's the second 
democratic election that may be the most important of all, so I'll be 
encouraging them down that road although I must say that the signs are 
all very positive there so this is not an alarm bell; nevertheless, it's 
a way to give recognition to what they've done.  Thanks.

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