|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks with Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth at Government House
December 10, 2000, Port Louis, Mauritius
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
PRIME MINISTER JUGNAUTH: On behalf of the government and the people of Mauritius, it is a singular privilege for me to welcome Mrs. Madeleine Albright, U.S. Secretary of State and her delegation to Mauritius. It is the first time that Mauritius is honored by the visit of such an eminent personality from the U.S. We had this morning the opportunity of discussing various matters of both mutual and international interest with Mrs. Albright and her delegation. Our discussions centered broadly on economic and political issues. In that respect we discussed various issues, designed to foster and improve economic relations and to facilitate U.S. investments both in Mauritius and the region. We also discussed our election, that is the election of Mauritius in the United Nations Security Council and the role that Mauritius is called upon to play while being a member. We also raised the question of Chagos and we had a very good discussion on this point and we also discussed the Africa Opportunity and Growth Act. We are very grateful to Mrs. Albright for having honored us with her presence and I have now the privilege to introduce her to the press.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Prime Minister Jugnauth. It is a great, great pleasure to be here with you and I'd like to say good morning to Mauritius. I am very pleased to have the chance to come and visit this beautiful place as Secretary of State.
When the United States first established a consulate here in 1794, our peoples shared a common link. They were connected to the world by sea-faring merchants, and our commerce was largely dependent on trade.
More than two hundred years later, the world is being transformed by globalization, but some things remain the same. The United States and Mauritius are linked by strong commercial ties and the beauty of Mauritius remains unchanged.
This morning I had a very productive meeting with Prime Minister Jugnauth and Deputy Minister Paul Béranger and Foreign Minister Gayan and I congratulated them on the recent election of Mauritius to the United Nations Security Council.
The United States looks forward to working closely with Mauritius on the most important security issues facing the international community over the next two years.
We also discussed ways to expand trade. The African Growth and Opportunity Act is the cornerstone of U.S. efforts to form a broadened, revitalized partnership with countries and companies in Africa. It provides virtually unlimited opportunities for the Mauritian companies to take advantage of the U.S. market.
We hope and expect that AGOA benefits will help Mauritius diversify its exports. This will demonstrate one of the benefits that can be derived from integration into the global economy. The United States sees Mauritius as a model for the 21st Century - combining a strong tradition of democracy with a commitment to the free market and respect for human rights. I'd like to point out that today is International Human Rights Day and I am pleased to spend it in Mauritius, a country long-dedicated to promoting the security, prosperity, and rights of all its people.
These are goals shared by both our countries and I hope our bilateral relationship will continue to flourish and prosper. Just to say Mr. Prime Minister, I'm very, very pleased to have had the opportunity to be in your beautiful country and to have had such detailed and important discussions with you and your colleagues. Thank you.
QUESTION: I would like to know what has been discussed about the Chagos and if the U.S. is prepared to discuss an arrangement with Mauritius in case the Chagos is returned to Mauritius.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes, as the Prime Minister said, we did discuss Chagos and spent quite a lot of time talking about the concerns of the Chagossians and the importance of the archipelago to Mauritius and also the importance of Diego Garcia to the United States as we try to fulfil our international responsibilities.
I have to say that I feel very well briefed now as a result of these meetings about the human concerns and the issues involved. Obviously the questions of sovereignty are those between the United Kingdom and Mauritius. This is not a legal claim on the United States but I am returning to the United States with a much greater understanding, thanks to my discussions, and about the concerns of the people and we will continue to discuss this, but I think it's important to understand that the legal aspects of this discussion are between the United Kingdom and Mauritius and not between the United States and Mauritius.
QUESTION: Could you tell us a little more about how you hope to improve economic relations with the United States and also, could you tell us what kind of role Mauritius would like to play on the UN Security Council? Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER JUGNAUTH: Well, Mauritius is a member of many organizations: OAU, Nonaligned, and we'll be there as a representative of countries of Africa.
So, we'll have to make a common cause with all the decisions that will be taken by OAU and other organizations. And then of course, there are other issues where we will have to use our common sense and we'll go by consensus. But ultimately both down to serving peace and the best interests of the world in which we are living and its people.
Now how to promote interests of Mauritius on the commercial, economic side is, we welcome this Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. We have faith in it. We will have to implement it and, we in Mauritius, we are taking all measures in order to adapt ourselves to be able to take full advantage of this act. Well, we believe, in the meantime, we can attract investors from the United States. We also believe that there is a new venue in which the United States can be interested, for example in (information), the "new" economy as we call it and of course, we hope that with the steps that are being taken immediately, our trade with the United States especially in the textile sector, will continue to grow. And this is how I look at it.
QUESTION: I would like to come back to the question of Diego Garcia. May we expect and when can we expect that the United States will give us back the island?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: It is not the United States that has the question of sovereignty about the island and as I said I think the sovereignty issues are those between the United Kingdom and Mauritius. From our perspective, we very much appreciate the usage of Diego Garcia. I said to the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister that as I sit in various meetings in the United States and we talk about our variety of peace-keeping responsibilities as well as our responsibilities for security in various parts of the world, Diego Garcia always plays a very important role and is very important to our various capabilities but I would like to make clear that, while I have learned a great deal about the concerns of the Chagois, the whole issue, and it is something that I will take back to the United States for further discussion, the sovereignty issue is not one between us and you.
QUESTION: Well I was actually wondering if you could give us some more specifics on how AGOA is going to help Mauritius and the region in general and if you could go into more detail.
PRIME MINISTER JUGNAUTH: Well, the fundamentals of this Act are that there will be no barriers, there will be no quota, there will be no tariff imposed. It will be a free market. It's for us to take all the advantages and compete and get the part of the market that we can. I think there is no miracle in it.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Could I just add: I think that the Clinton administration is very proud of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. I think it is one of the most important measures that we have taken to show our faith in the African economy and a variety of African countries. And clearly Mauritius is a jewel in terms of its abilities to compete with a free market economy.
I have just been given by the Prime Minister a most beautiful present, one of their outstanding model ships. And therefore, they understand well the image of 'a rising tide helps all ships' and we believe that by helping African economies to develop, it will help them all. And Mauritius is clearly more capable than most countries in the world to compete when there is a level playing field -- or ships or water or not to get things mixed up too much.
QUESTION: I'd like to ask Secretary Albright: the Clinton administration has been a firm believer in getting women fully on board in the development process. How successful do you think that African governments have been in getting women more involved in the decision-making process? And how important is that to you?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, from the American perspective, I have been very proud of the fact that we have been able to bring women's issues as a central part of our foreign policy, not as an adjunct. And that, we have done so because we believe that when women are able to participate both politically and economically within their own governments, that there is greater equity, that the issues of education are propelled forward, that issues of development get the right attention, that problems with diseases that are transmitted, that that is dealt with in a more comprehensive way. And that a whole host of issues that are important to developing and developed countries get greater attention.
I think that it is very hard to make a general response to how African countries are doing. I think yesterday, in South Africa I had an opportunity to meet with women that were involved in community activities as well as some government activities. I think there has been some progress.
I belong to a very exclusive club which I am about to leave, which is of women foreign ministers, and I believe that at this time there are four women foreign ministers out of a total of fourteen worldwide, that come from Africa. I'm hoping very much that there will be more women foreign ministers. I think that that is a way for networking that women have not had before. And frankly, I don't think any government is doing well enough in terms of putting women front and center. I think everyone, including my own, can do better. But it's clearly a subject that I have raised in Africa and everywhere whenever I travel and I'm glad to see women when they are more involved in political and economic affairs of their countries because I think the countries do better when more than half of the population is involved in making it work.
QUESTION: I'd like to ask: why do you believe Mauritius can take more advantage of the AGOA, compared to the other 33 countries eligible?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Because I think that they have great potential in terms of their industries that are operating already that are in good place, a very dedicated workforce and -- they told me they would.
QUESTION:: There has been a series of regional meetings to prepare the UN World Conference Against Racism, which will be held next year in South Africa. What role will the United States play to fight racial discrimination in the world?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Fighting racial discrimination has been one of the key aspects of our domestic and foreign policy and we will continue to try to be leaders in the subject. It gets to be a very complex subject when it reaches world organizations because I think that then there become a number of very complex agendas but the United States, and I believe appropriately on this Human Rights Day, can very proudly say that we are front and center fighting against racial discrimination. It does not mean again that we always succeed. I see the 21st century as the century of democracy and democratization and with democracy comes tolerance. And again, this country I find most interesting in its ability to mix people from a variety of backgrounds in an equitable way. It's interesting, you come to a place that you haven't, as the Prime Minister said, a Secretary of State hasn't been here before. A Secretary of State as long as, well as everybody else, always has a lot to learn and I am most impressed by the variety of people in Mauritius that work well together to promote democracy in a free market. It's a good model for other parts of the world.
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