|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni
Joint Press Availability, State House
Kampala, Uganda, December 10, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
PRESIDENT MUSEVENI: Okay, ladies and gentlemen of the press, first I welcome the Secretary of State, Madame Albright. This is her first time, her first visit to Uganda. She had not visited Uganda all this time, even as an individual. I've just explained to her that Uganda is the midpoint in Africa, five and a half hours to Alexandria from here, five and a half hours to Cape Town from here, so it is the midpoint. Even east-west, it is almost midpoint as far as the west of Africa is concerned. Jokes aside, it is very important that President Clinton has decided to send such a high-powered delegation to Africa, and to Uganda in particular. Some months ago, the First Lady, Hillary Clinton, visited us. Now the Secretary of State has visited us. Yesterday, we had a visit from the Congressmen and women. This evidently shows that the President, the American administration, knows the importance of Africa.
Some months ago and some years ago, there was talk that Africa will be marginalized, will be forgotten. I dismissed that talk. I said Africa cannot be marginalized. Africa can only marginalize itself. Otherwise it is not possible to marginalize Africa. It is so big, it has got such a big population; it has got such a variety of resources, it has got such a good location on the globe, that it is not possible to marginalize Africa. I am glad, therefore, that the American administration obviously sees this. We have had very fruitful discussion on very many points, and what is most interesting for us is that this administration is focusing on investment, is focusing on trade with Africa. And we are also whispering to them that we need infrastructure, especially roads and electricity and telephones, in order to be able to trade and to do business together. Therefore, from our own side, we always need three things from our friends in the West. I normally summarize them as ITT: this is investment, trade, and tourism. That's what we want from the United States. I could add a fourth one, an I, meaning infrastructure, which we could get in the form of soft loans, or even private investment. Private investors can invest in telephones and in electricity.
So I'm very glad to welcome Madame Albright here, Secretary Albright, and I hope she will put up with the imperfections she will meet along the way when she's with us here.
Additionally, finally maybe, Madame Albright has agreed to go to the north of Uganda and see for herself the suffering of our children, who are perennially kidnapped and taken to the Sudan as part of Mr. Tarabe's mission of civilization. They are taken and they are raped. They are infected with AIDS. Some of them escape and come back. We see all these tragedies alone. It is good that now we have got witnesses to witness the sort of problems we have been having with the NIF regime in Khartoum. So Madam, a few words.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Mr. President, and I am very delighted to have had this generous welcome here, in a very beautiful country. As I travel from Uganda to states where the wounds of national conflict are very raw indeed, I see Uganda as a beacon of hope, and I am not alone. Under President Museveni, Uganda has demonstrated that increased respect for basic political and economic rights is a key to national stability and growing prosperity. And we all admire a great deal the work that the President has done. It is very encouraging to see the advances Uganda has made: your strong economic growth, your success in enfranchising women and minorities, your vigorous and independent press, and your dramatic progress towards national reconciliation.
The President and I discussed a number of issues today, best how the United States can assist regional leaders in efforts to build peace, promote stability, and develop democracy around the Great Lakes region. And this requires a new quality of partnership between Africans and Americans, a partnership in which all sides listen, and all sides show respect, and all focus on African solutions to African problems. As I said to the President as we were walking up here, we plan to listen more and lecture less. Our two countries, as well as others, are deeply concerned about the situation in the Sudan, and the President and I discussed this. The United States is consulting closely with the region as we work to isolate the Sudanese regime and contain its ability to support terrorism and destabilize its neighbors. Today, I will be meeting with leaders of Sudan's National Democratic Alliance. Its members not only oppose the National Islamic Front, but are also trying to lay the groundwork for a new Sudan in which people of all faiths and cultures can focus on rebuilding that country.
President Museveni and I also discussed the challenges that Uganda faces: strengthening and extending democracy, promoting health and education, fighting corruption and crime, and pursuing further economic development that is sustainable and benefits all Ugandans. Appropriately, since today is International Human Rights Day, I stress to the President America's constant concern with respect to human rights, and I look forward to meeting later today with Vice President Specioza Kazibwe, and representatives of groups here which are working to promote opportunity and protect the rights of women.
As the President mentioned, I also will be traveling to Gulu today, where I will visit some of the victims of Sudan-supported terrorism in the North. The United States is strongly committed to helping Uganda's efforts to find an end to the violence and to supporting Uganda's efforts to improve the protection of civilians, particularly children, from continued human rights violations. We salute the courageous defenders of human rights in Uganda and around the region who have let the world know what is happening in places like Gulu and who work to improve the lives of every human being.
And in closing, I want to thank President Museveni once again for your hospitality and I look forward to a strong and productive relationship between the United States and Uganda in the months and years ahead.
QUESTION: Mr. President, in view of your very serious problems in the North of the country, problems with Sudan, are there things that you would like the United States to do to assist Uganda in coping with the problems from Sudan? And could you comment on U.S. policy towards Sudan?
PRESIDENT MUSEVENI: When have got fire then you need fire brigade. So, we always discuss with our friends, the Americans, how to put out terrorism fire. They have got a lot of experience in the various places, and I'm sure we can benefit from that experience. And they also give us support, like they give us some equipment, radios and so on, for the Army, and we are very grateful for that support. It is the experience and support, material support.
QUESTION: My name is Peter Kaba. I work for a private radio station here. My question is to the Secretary of State. The former ambassador to Uganda here, Southwick, attacked the government here for failing to allow multi-party democracy. Now, is this the official stand of your government? And are we going to expect your government to demand more of this, knowing that the multi-partyists here say that the upcoming referendum is actually, should not be allowed because it is a vote on fundamental human rights?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, let me say that we believe that the progress made in Uganda under President Museveni has been remarkable. We admire the work that he has done, and look forward to working with him in the future. I think that one of the messages that the United States always has as we travel around is that every country's human rights record can be improved, and that is true here also. We talked about this very briefly.
My colleagues will pursue the subject, but I think that the important part to realize is that this country is a beacon in the Central African region, and we admire the work that the President is doing here, on behalf of his own people as well as his very, I think, progressive role and supportive role of democracy throughout the region.
PRESIDENT MUSEVENI: Thank you very much.
[End of Document]
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