Speaking at the 22nd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa on Thursday, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns expressed America’s commitment to supporting the AU in its efforts to address hunger and conflict.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Jan. 31 (UPI) – U.S.Deputy Secretary of State William Burns was
in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this week for an African Union summit, where
he led a ten person delegation and spoke about America’s commitment to
Speaking at a press conference at the 22nd AU Summit on Thursday, Burns commented on President Barack Obama‘s
efforts to strengthen U.S.-AU ties and to “realize the full potential
of that partnership.” That partnership, Burns went onto describe,
encompasses a range of shared interests, chief among them addressing
hunger — as well as conflict.
The AU proclaimed 2014 the “Year of Agriculture and Food Security.”
Burns noted that “on no issue are our efforts more aligned,” and cited
collaborative efforts to make Africa hunger-free by 2025 and President
Obama’s Feed the Future initiative.
“But as all of you know, in too many parts of this continent,
violence and conflict hold at risk the region’s economic progress.”
Burns then relayed America’s commitment to supporting the AU’s regional
peace and security efforts.
When reporters asked Burns about America’s position regarding tense
and fragile mediation efforts in South Sudan, Burns responded that the
U.S. will continue “to provide strong support to the IGAD mediation
effort” and that the U.S. delegation at the Summit planned to discuss
“further support efforts” with the IGAD mediation team later Thursday.
Reporters also asked the deputy secretary what it will take to “quell
the violence” in the Central African Republic. Admitting “we have no
illusion about the challenges that remain or the depth of human
suffering there,” he discussed American contributions to date. “The
United States is proud to have contributed… up to a 100 million dollars
in training, equipment and airlift support for AU forces, 45 million
dollars in humanitarian assistance, and 7.5 million dollars to date in
support for the reconciliation efforts.”
Burns was accompanied by a senior U.S. delegation that
comprised Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda
Thomas-Greenfield, Deputy to the U.S. Permanent Representative to the
United Nations Rexon Ryu, U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan
Donald Booth, U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the DRC Russell
D. Feingold, USAID Associate Administrator Mark Feierstein, USAID
Assistant Administrator for Africa Earl Gast and Acting Assistant to the
Administrator for Food Security Tjada McKenna, Assistant U.S. Trade
Representative for Africa Florizelle Liser, and Special Assistant to the
President and NSC Senior Director for African Affairs Grant Harris.