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U.S. Department of State
96/01/18 USUN Press Release #007-(96)
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
USUN PRESS RELEASE #007-(96)
JANUARY 18, 1996
Statement by U.S. Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright
Wednesday, January 17, 1996
I am honored to have had this opportunity to observe first-hand how
Liberia is moving from war to peace. I came to Liberia because
President Clinton asked me to evaluate the implementation of the Abuja
peace accord. As a member of the National Security Council, and the
highest-ranking Administration official to visit Liberia, I can confirm
to you that the President and his senior advisers are deeply committed
to the future of this country and its people, and have demonstrated that
commitment repeatedly throughout the last three years. That is why I am
here today on this Presidential mission.
President Clinton asked me to convey a very clear message: this country
must not slide into the abyss of a devastating civil war again. The
costs are too high, the slaughter of civilians unacceptable, and the
stability of West Africa too important to permit a return to the power
struggles of recent years. My own judgment begins with President
Clinton's determination that the United States should take a risk for
peace when we have the means and when we can make a real difference.
What happens here in Liberia is critical to the wider search for peace
on this continent.
I will repeat to the people of Liberia what I told the Council of State
this morning: the civil war that devastated this country over the last
six years was your war. Now the peace pledged at Abuja is your peace to
achieve. The United States strongly supports the Abuja peace accord,
and we remain committed to its timely implementation. But in the final
analysis, either you fulfill the promise of Abuja or you will plunge
your country once again into the abyss. The choice is yours, the
responsibility is yours, and the future is yours alone to determine.
Throughout Liberia's tragic war, the United States has been steadfast in
its support of the Liberian people. We have provided $420 million in
humanitarian assistance and $60 million in support of ECOMOG's
peacekeeping activities. On October 27th we pledged an additional $75
million to support peace, including $10 million to assist ECOMOG
logistically. No other country has shown this kind of commitment to
Liberia. I have also brought in medicines, a thousand pounds or so of
medical aid to ECOMOG provided by AMERICARES because we really believe
they need it.
I must say also how impressed I've been with the commitment and resolve
ECOMOG is now showing. Gen. Inienger is doing an outstanding job in
difficult circumstances and ECOMOG has our full support as it moves to
deploy throughout the country and begin the disarmament and
The recent fighting in and around Tubmanburg threatens prospects for
lasting peace in this country. The United States strongly condemns the
deaths of innocent civilians and many brave peacekeepers of ECOMOG. I
want to express the condolences of the American people to the families
of the deceased and our hope for a speedy recovery to those injured in
the fighting. The United States joins the Council of State in calling
for an immediate cease-fire and urges all parties involved in the
dispute to cooperate with ECOMOG and stop the fighting.
There can be no further delay in implementing the most important
provisions of the Abuja accord: disarmament and demobilization. I am
pleased to announce that the United States government has just signed
two contracts to provide leased trucks and helicopters to ECOMOG to help
it carry out its responsibilities under the Abuja accord, beginning with
disarmament of Liberia's factions. I told the Council of State and
ECOMOG today that the word "delay" can no longer be a part of their
vocabulary. We have no intention of our logistical support being
squandered by anyone's failure of political will to achieve the
objectives of the Abuja accord.
As the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, I want to
acknowledge the courageous work of the observers of UNOMIL. Their role
is vital to the success of the Abuja accord.
I stressed to UNOMIL officers today that in addition to monitoring the
disengagement and disarmament of the combatants and assisting in their
demobilization, we expect UNOMIL to follow through urgently on the other
important tasks in the area of human rights. That's a tough assignment
but one which no party should hinder.
I also stressed to everyone today that the era of the child soldier in
this country must come to an end--immediately. It is an outrage by any
standard of civilization that children under the age of 15 and numbering
between 4,000 and 6,000 are toting automatic weapons, slaughtering
innocent civilians, and ignoring the rule of law entirely. We believe
UNICEF can play a key role in rehabilitating these abused children and I
pressed that point today in my discussions. The United States stands
ready to assist UNICEF and Liberian authorities to save these children
from themselves and from pathetically misguided leaders.
I hope the day will come soon when we can announce U.S. recognition of
Liberia's legitimate government and the Liberian people can reap the
considerable benefits that can flow from such recognition. But that day
cannot arrive until the peace process is firmly on track and disarmament
and demobilization of combatants are well under way.
On Monday, the United States celebrated the birthday of the late Dr.
Martin Luther King. We honor him each year because he preached non-
violence and the need for all Americans, whatever their race or
ethnicity, to live together peacefully and shape a prosperous future.
The principles Dr. King lived and died for resonate in Liberia as well
as in the United States. The violence must end; the hatred must
subside. The United States will remain the ally of those who pursue
peace and justice. Implementing the Abuja accord is Liberia's best
chance to achieve both. Your leaders must have the political will, and
you must have the political courage, to succeed in building a new,
peaceful and prosperous Liberia.
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