August 4, 2012 (TSR) – Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton and South Sudanese Foreign Minister Nhial Deng held a press conference on Friday in Juba, South Sudan during Clinton’s 7 African nation trip.
This is a short opening remarks from the U.S. top diplomat:
The following transcript was issued by the U.S. State Department during the Q & A:
We, of course, appreciate the inclusion of Juba on the somewhat congested itinerary of the U.S. Secretary of State. We sincerely thank her for the gesture, which underscores the importance attached by the United States to its relations with our fledgling state and the welfare of its people. We look forward to continued U.S. engagement at both the bilateral and multilateral level, to help (inaudible) to South Sudan’s own development efforts. We also welcome current endeavors by the United States to facilitate the attainment of an agreement on the outstanding issues between South Sudan and Sudan on the basis of the African Union Roadmap and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2046.
The Republic of South Sudan has remained proactive at the negotiating table, where we recently offered a comprehensive proposal, which we called the Agreement on Friendly Relations and Cooperation, and which in our view could form the basis of a mutually satisfactory and beneficial agreement between South Sudan and Sudan. We hope that the United States, acting in concert with other members of the international community, will (inaudible) to ensure full compliance by the Republic of Sudan with aspects of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2046 (inaudible).
The proposals put forward by South Sudan on the Abyei referendum and modalities for resolving the impasse on the disputed and (inaudible) border areas merit serious consideration. We hope the international community, with the help of U.S. leadership, can convince Sudan to accept them. Furthermore, we hope that Sudan can also be persuaded to accept this truly generous package of financial assistance and payment associated with the use of Sudan’s oil infrastructure that the Republic of South Sudan has offered in return for resumption of oil export operations through the Republic of Sudan.
Last but not least, we avail ourselves of this opportunity to reiterate the gratitude of the people of South Sudan for the critical humanitarian assistance rendered to them by the United States during the war in Sudan. That aid went a long way in ameliorating the dire humanitarian situation in imposed on our people during that conflict. In this regard, we beg the United States to push harder for humanitarian access inside Kordofan and Blue Nile states in the Republic of Sudan.
Addressing the appalling humanitarian situation (inaudible) in two areas is a moral imperative that is likely to produce positive (inaudible) in terms of getting a fruitful political dialogue going between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM-North. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much, Minister, and I want to express my great delight in being here in Juba for the first time, and to have this opportunity to meet with the President and high-level officials to discuss so many important issues facing this new nation shortly after your first anniversary of independence.
South Sudan’s long quest for peace, dignity, and independence resonated in the hearts of the American people. American families sheltered children fleeing from war. America’s churches and charities provided assistance and support both here and to those who were displaced. And the United States – both our government and our people – remain committed to ensuring that the aspirations that the people of the Republic of South Sudan have are realized.
Today, one year after your independence, we can start to see the fruits of your hard work and sacrifice – a foundational legal framework; new, more accountable governing institutions; and the promise of future economic growth and broader prosperity. But as the President, Foreign Minister, and others along with me and my delegation discussed, we know significant challenges remain. Continued violence along the border of Sudan, unresolved ethnic tensions, gaps in infrastructure and the rule of law, persistent poverty in a land rich with natural resources, and new economic hardships caused by the shutdown of oil. Continued progress hinges on South Sudan’s ability to overcome these challenges.
The arrival of more than 200,000 refugees from ongoing fighting in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan is also creating urgent humanitarian needs, both here and in Ethiopia.
Today, I’m announcing the United States is contributing an additional $15 million to help the UN High Commissioner for Refugees respond to this crisis, bringing our total refugee assistance relief to more than $50 million.
The oil shutdown and the refugee crisis both point to an inescapable fact: While South Sudan and Sudan have become separate states, their fortunes and their futures remain inextricably linked. The promise of prosperity rests on the prospects for peace. And South Sudan’s ability to attract trade and investment depends on greater security on both sides of the border.
Today, we discussed how we can work together to support both a lasting peace and greater prosperity. We had a detailed discussion of the ongoing negotiations between South Sudan and Sudan and the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 2046, which provides a roadmap to resolve the remaining issues between the two countries.
I shared with President Kiir that the United States welcomes the recent proposals from South Sudan. It showed great leadership and statesmanship to make such proposals. Now it is urgent that both sides, North and South, follow through and reach timely agreements on all outstanding issues, including oil revenue, security, citizenship, and border demarcation. The people of South Sudan expect these matters to be resolved, but as is true in life and true in politics, both countries will need to compromise to close the remaining gaps.
Just recently in the New York Times there was an opinion editorial written by a citizen of the new Republic of South Sudan, Bishop Elias Taban. I look forward to meeting him later at the Embassy. He wrote – and this makes so much sense to me – “there must always come a point when we look forward and recognize the need to stop fighting over past wrongs so we can build toward a new future. It’s time” – as he said – “to dig wells instead of graves, time to reach an agreement that allows both countries to prosper.”
We heartily endorse these sentiments and the important steps that President Kiir and the government are making, and we will do everything we can to exert influence on Sudan to reach an agreement on these issues. I assured the President that the United States is committed to supporting you, the new country of South Sudan, as you build a free, democratic, and inclusive nation, one that is at peace, both internally and with your neighbors.
How will we do that? Well, we want to help you diversify your economy.
Through the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the Energy Governance and Capacity Initiative, and other efforts, we are supporting your government’s work to manage your oil sector effectively, improve transparency, and curb corruption.
We are particularly focused on improving agriculture productivity. We believe that South Sudan’s soil is fertile enough for the country to be not only one of Africa’s but one of the world’s breadbaskets. Yet most of your food still has to be imported. So we have launched a number of agricultural initiatives to help change that, including providing loans, seeds, and other technology to South Sudan’s farmers.
We’re also putting a new emphasis on creating expanded trade. Just yesterday, the United States Congress took two essential steps in this direction. First, Congress, at the Administration’s request, added South Sudan to the list of countries that are eligible to benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the so-called AGOA. We look forward to working with the Government of South Sudan to meet the eligibility requirements so that citizens here can take advantage of the significant trade preferences that AGOA provides.
Congress also renewed the Third Country Fabric Provision of AGOA, which supports tens of thousands of jobs across Africa. This has been a priority for both the President and myself, and I thank the many members of Congress who worked with us to accomplish it. This bill will be signed as soon as it reaches President Obama’s desk, and we will do everything we can to make sure South Sudan benefits.
Now, the road ahead, we know, is not an easy one. But the United States has stood with you during your struggle for independence, and we will now stand with you as you build a strong, enduring state. I think of that young marathon runner, Guor Marial, who is proudly competing in the London Olympics, although South Sudan is still too new to carry your new flag. That will change by 2016. This fearless young man lost many relatives in the war. He was enslaved by Sudanese soldiers, like so many other of the so-called lost boys. But he never gave up and he never lost hope. And now he’s an inspiration, not only for your country but the entire world.
South Sudan’s marathon is just beginning. But if I were a betting person, I would bet on you going the distance. And we will be there to cheer you on, Minister, and to occasionally offer whatever aid and assistance we can as you complete your journey.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
FOREIGN MINISTER DENG: Well done. Ladies and gentlemen, we have some few questions from the members of the press. And yes, Scorpion – this is not a real scorpion; he’s a human Scorpion. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Does he bite? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Thank you so much. My name is (inaudible) from (inaudible).
I have one question for Hillary Clinton this afternoon. Ever since the shutdown of the oil of the Republic of South Sudan in January of this year, South Sudan has been actually moving around to get loans from the international donors. To actually support, the people of South Sudan, who are actually in need of a lot of basic (inaudible), like you just say, agriculture, health, education, and many others. But there are some friends of South Sudan who are also moving around telling the donors that please don’t give a loan to South Sudan because they shutdown their oil, including America. What do you say about this?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, that’s not the case. We continue to support South Sudan. We continue to support you in a very robust way. We continue to provide development assistance in every way – in healthcare, in education, in agriculture, as I just said. We are helping to complete the Juba-Nimule Highway. We’re focused on the humanitarian needs. So clearly, we are continuing to provide assistance.
But assistance is no substitute for self-sufficiency. And we understood the frustration and the absolute concerns that the Government and people of South Sudan had over the oil revenues. And we know that shutting down the pipeline, as Bishop Taban says in his article, was something that was in the interest of making a strong point by South Sudan to the rest of the world. I think it is important now to recognize that you have made your point, you have brought Sudan to the negotiating table, you are in the middle of very difficult negotiations that are in the interests of your country. And we certainly hope that those negotiations can be resolved so that the oil can start pumping again, because the great beneficiaries of that will be the people of South Sudan.
So we, of course, believe that an interim agreement with Sudan over oil production and transport can help address the short-term needs of the people of South Sudan while giving you the resources and the time to explore longer-term options. We think that’s very much in your interests, and we would support reaching such a conclusion of the negotiations. We also believe it gives you the time to explore the possibility of another pipeline, which I know is something that your government is certainly looking at. But that will take many years, to do the engineering and to do the building and construction and then to actually start shipping oil.
So this is a delicate moment, because you’ve made a strong, irrefutable point about your rights to your resources. And now we need to get those resources flowing again so that you can benefit from what is the natural treasure of South Sudan. So I would urge your government to work to reach an agreement and then to be very clear about how to use that revenue flow to benefit the people of South Sudan. And we’re going to continue to work with and provide technical and expert advice to the government to do that.
MODERATOR: (Off mike.)
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, do you think the Government of South Sudan has been forthright and honest in its dealings with the United States over the last year and with President Obama in particular? And to your last point on oil production, are you disappointed that the South Sudanese have not taken your strong advice, till now, about resuming oil production?
Mr. Minister, do you think the United States has had unrealistic expectations for your young country?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as to the second question, I’m not going to substitute my judgment for the negotiating strategy of the South Sudan Government’s. I think that they bear the responsibility for negotiating what is a very important agreement between South Sudan and Sudan. We do believe getting it resolved is very much in South Sudan’s interest, because a percentage of something is better than a percentage of nothing, especially in an interim agreement while you explore other ways of getting your oil to market, which I strongly urge you to do. But getting that interim agreement finalized so that you can get the revenues flowing – because it’s going to take some time to get the pipelines prepared and transporting oil again – that’s just a technical challenge that has to be addressed.
But regarding the larger implication of your first question, we have had a very close and important relationship with the leaders of South Sudan before independence, and we continue to do so today. That doesn’t mean that we are always going to agree. I don’t think the United States always agrees with any nation. So we’re not always going to agree with our friends in South Sudan. But our commitment to this new nation is enduring and absolute in terms of assistance and aid and support going forward. We will give our best advice as we do to our friends and partners all over the world. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of any government to chart the course that it chooses to pursue. And we will, as friends do, point out when we agree and point out when we do not. But I think our relationship is strong and very positive, and we look forward to seeing it deepen and strengthen in the years ahead.
FOREIGN MINISTER DENG: Yeah. I think Madam Secretary has helped us quite a lot with the concept– question that he posed. In fact, during the course of the meeting which we just concluded (inaudible) Salva Kiir, she said that the United States is more than 200 years old, and yet they are not perfect. And so she doesn’t expect a country that is just celebrating its first anniversary to be perfect, and so I think the expectations they have of us are quite realistic. And I think she has also further underscored that point by saying that despite the strong relationship, the history of support of the United States to the people of South Sudan, she doesn’t expect them to always be on the same wavelength on all the issues. There are instances where (inaudible) where we might not see eye to eye. That’s only natural in the world.
Countries have relationships, (inaudible) alliances. But at the end of the day, on the international plane they are equal sovereigns, irrespective of size, of influence, of history and so on and so forth.
QUESTION: My question is: After a year or more, South Sudan is expected to conduct the census, and then after that, the elections. And taking the economic crisis in the country into consideration, this looks to be a challenge really ahead. I would like to know what is USA, as far as observing democracy in this young nation is concerned, what is your say? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we favor democracy, and we favor regular elections in which people have a chance for their voices to be heard and their votes to be counted as they choose their leaders. We do appreciate the logistical difficulties and other problems associated with holding elections, and we stand ready to assist in any way possible so that your process of democracy can continue moving forward, including holding regularly scheduled elections.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, hello. You have a very busy schedule, and I hope you’ll forgive me if I turn to your next stop in Uganda. I was hoping you could tell us what your message is going to be to President Museveni on the question of term limits and the wisdom of standing for perhaps another term in several years. And does the U.S. have any concern that the U.S. might lose a valued security partner if indeed President Museveni does make way for a democratic election?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the answer to the second is no, we have no such concerns. And I am going to be raising a number of issues with the President when I see him later today. Our position is that there has to be a constitution that sets forth the rules that everyone has to follow.
And we believe in constitutional order, rule of law, due process, and it is important for leaders to make judgments about how they can best support the institutionalization of democracy so that it’s not about – as President Obama memorably said in Ghana – it’s not about strong men, it’s about strong institutions.
Now each leader will make a different calculation about that, but our relationship is not with individual leaders. Over the long run, it’s with nations, it’s with governments, it’s with people. One of the reasons as Secretary of State I have emphasized so much people-to-people relations is because I know from my own political experience, leaders come and go. But relations between people, between the nations of the world, has to be based on a strong, shared foundation of common values and common interests, of mutual respect, as the Minister has just said.
So our relationship with Uganda is one that is very important to the United States and to Uganda, and we deeply respect the role that President Museveni has played in his country’s history. If one thinks back to the terrible situation that Uganda was subjected to, that he and many brave Ugandans were able to overcome and establish a peaceful country and build institutions, that’s a great legacy for him. And we will continue to work closely together and decisions about his future will be his to make. But that’s some years off now.