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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Press Briefing at Sheraton Hotel
December 8, 2000, Pretoria, South Africa
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Blue Line

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: (in progress) Southern Africa, because I think we've made very clear during the eight years of the Clinton Administration that dealing with Africa is not optional. That it is a continent of huge importance to us, with hope and complications and that there is a tendency, I think, to kind of see it as a continent, but it has obviously a very large number of separate countries and each of them has a different history and a different set of problems and different challenges. I think the story in South Africa is basically a very positive one; evolution to a vibrant democracy that is dealing with its economic and racial problems and with HIV/AIDS and is playing, also, a very important role within the region as well as in the whole continent.

I've wanted to go to Botswana for a long time. I've had previous connections with it before I went into government but I have never been there. And Mauritius because it is a new member of the UN Security Council and is playing potentially a very important role also in developments in the Indian Ocean. So, I am very glad to be able to be here at this time.

Let me also do just two other things. I had very interesting meetings this morning with some women leaders who really are very plugged-in but talked about the very close connection between domestic violence and HIV/AIDS and also the role generally that women can play in understanding the horror of AIDS and doing something about helping to get better information out about it and do what they can to work on the problem. I also then went to a hospital, Baragwanath Hospital, where I was very impressed by the work that they do with prenatal care and the dignity with which they treat the women and the love with which they treat the children.

I have added a stop on this trip, to Algiers, where I will be participating in the event of signing the Ethiopia-Eritrea Agreement, which the United States, I think, can take great pride in having negotiated with Tony Lake and Susan Rice and Gayle Smith as the major players.

QUESTION: How did your meeting with Mbeki go?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well I have known President Mbeki for a long time. We had a very fine discussion. We talked about various regional issues, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo. We talked about Zimbabwe and Mozambique. We talked about the economic situation here and we talked about HIV/AIDS. I reported to him on the meeting that I had with the women. I said to the women, in the past I have often had meetings with NGOs and private groups after I have had a meeting with the head of state and then I have to write a letter, so this way I was able to get some of their views in to him.

QUESTION: Can we get some more specifics on some of the discussions you had with President Mbeki on, well I guess we can start with Zimbabwe and Mozambique specifically?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well I think, basically, on Zimbabwe, he had made a statement here that he did not foresee this kind of a land issue here. We talked about the role that the UNDP can play in terms of the land reform, the necessity for international financial contributions to it and the necessity of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

On Mozambique, we talked a lot about the fact that for a fairly lengthy period President Chissano was in the process of really building a democratic and economic revival state and clearly some concern about some of the political developments there. The issue of Mozambique is just totally different in terms of serious problems. It was just something that we talked about because we had talked about it before. I was particularly interested in raising the subject because I had been to Mozambique when I was UN Ambassador and had talked with President Chissano at that point about how he and RENAMO would work together. Then President Chissano came to Washington and was able to receive major praise for the way that he had really pushed forward democracy and economic development, and the inclusion of women in Mozambique. And then clearly now concern, some of which has come up as a result of the terrible flooding and the economic problems. So it was a different level of discussion from the kind we had about the problems in Zimbabwe.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about your discussion with Mbeki on AIDS. One of the women you saw this morning at the trauma center (inaudible)...violence against women, was saying that she felt that although he didn't necessarily have to explain the scientific aspect of AIDS it would be good if he were to come out and say how he felt personally as a man. Is that something you discussed?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Very briefly. We generally talked about the need for clearer statements and the need for better education about HIV/AIDS in smaller communities not immediately available to the national media centers.

QUESTION: At the end of your visit to the hospital you made a brief mention of a meeting you had with pharmaceutical companies. Can you give us any more detail on that?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: That was actually something that came about as a result of something else, about two nights ago in Washington. As you know, we have now at the State Department, a science advisor, which I think is a big step forward because scientifically-based decisions need to be a part of the way foreign policy is made and we talked about the fact that nobody even talked about bio-tech several years ago and now it is not only something that is discussed on the pages of newspapers but is part of our foreign policy issues as we deal with the Europeans, primarily. So there were a lot of discussions and one of the people there was the CEO of Merck and we talked about, I said I was going to Southern Africa and we talked about the fact that they were doing everything they could from their side in terms of trying to deal with the intellectual property rights issues and trying to develop some kind of drugs that were less expensive and more available. So, I didn't seek out a meeting with the pharmaceutical companies, he was part of the scientific (inaudible).

QUESTION: Did you discuss the future of American policy on Africa with regard to the change of administration (inaudible)?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, it was in the following way, which was that I deliberately raised the fact, as I did with you just now, that the reason I came was to make very clear that our policy towards South Africa was not optional, that Africa was going to have to be very much a part of the discussion in the 21st century, that whoever was president would have to deal with Africa in great detail. We talked a lot about the fact that one of the most effective means of talking about South Africa had come from the Bi-National Commission that President Mbeki and Vice President Gore have had and that Vice President Gore is intimately knowledgeable of South Africa's problems and challenges in terms of the variety of working groups that have been formed as a result of the BNC. So he definitely has a leg up as far as being well known to the South Africans. He and Thabo Mbeki have really been partners to a great extent on a lot of issues. And then I really made quite clear that no matter who is president, as I said, that this is not the 1980s, this is the 2000s and that Africa and Africa's issues have to be very clearly understood as being part of U.S. national interest.

QUESTION: (inaudible) George W. Bush, the things he's said about Africa. There have been so many different interpretations of what he said. (What do you think?)

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that the points that I am making about the fact that it is very different than it was in 1990, and 1991, and some of 1992, is that this is not his father's foreign policy. Our foreign policy is now something that has a whole host of different subjects to it. The Science Advisor is a perfect example of it too. At the State Department what we have been trying to do is to show that we are kind of making -- I used to do this as a professor -- concentric circles about what is vital national interest, and ordinary national interests and just interest, doesn't quite work at this stage and that what is necessary is to see the 21st century foreign policy in all its complexity and we have learned a lot in eight years.

QUESTION: The Wall Street Journal today or yesterday, had a story that Ambassador Sherman would be going to North Korea and that there was a chance that the President will go. At this point, will you be sending Ambassador Sherman to North Korea and what's your assessment of the potential for a presidential visit there?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Ambassador Sherman had done work previously with former Secretary Perry and you know about the discussions that I had when I was in Pyongyang. We are looking at this step-by-step and the decisions as to who is going or when, those are still on the table. But we are looking at this very carefully and assessing the situation and the issues are under discussion.

QUESTION: NATO will be high on your agenda in the coming days. What is your opinion on the debate going on in Europe about (the EU) and NATO situation?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I had thought actually that we came very far, as far as coordinating structures on NATO and EU and non-EU and ESDP and all those things. As you know Robin Cook and I wrote an op-ed together about the importance of European defense within the structure of NATO and not having it be something, not in competition with NATO, but a way for Europeans to be prepared to do their share on issues of specific concern to Europe but in no way derogating from the overall structure of NATO and the importance of NATO. I think that is where these discussions will ultimately come out no matter what the rhetoric has been because the logic of it is that NATO is central - is the lynchpin - of the most important alliance in the post-World War II Europe and there is an understanding that there is a need for a European pillar but certainly not outside of the overall framework.

QUESTION: Any word yet on whether Pope will be released?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that we have some preliminary word that some more encouraging discussions are taking place. I had a conversation yesterday with Foreign Minister Ivanov about it and I think Mr. Berger has talked to Sergei Ivanov and I think there is some movement on it but I don't have the latest details.

QUESTION: Can you give us any update, while we're on the topic of Russia, on the discussions of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Aide Memoire?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well as you know when I was in Vienna, I had an agreement with Igor Ivanov about the need for there to be expert discussions on the subject of the Aide Memoire and those discussions at the expert level, I believe, have just concluded although I don't have a report on them. But I will see Ivanov again in Brussels. But I haven't had a report on it.

[End of Document]
Blue Line

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