Kerry’s Press Availability in Luanda, Angola

Secretary Kerry: Good morning, everybody. President Dos Santos and I had a very constructive conversation today. We discussed a broad array of the issues concerning not just the bilateral relationship, but also concerning regional and broader security issues and challenges of the region.

I want to emphasize that Angola is a very important partner in the region, and the relations between Angola and the United States are, in fact, moving on an upward trajectory and getting stronger with each meeting that we have. And I was very encouraged today by the discussions we had about enlarging our cooperation, engaging in a security dialogue, and in the near term building on the visit of the African leaders to Washington for the summit with President Obama and engaging in further meetings between ourselves on a bilateral basis during that time.

Over the past few days, I have – oh, excuse me. We have – I’m sorry. We have translation.

Over the past days I’ve spoken often about African leadership and this moment of promise and of decision for Africans. Angola is committed to making the most of this moment increasingly through an important role as a leader in the region and particularly on security issues. Angola is playing a central role – integral role, really – in bringing African nations together and in leading them towards an enduring peace, we hope, in the Great Lakes region. I thank President Dos Santos for his personal work and commitment to that effort, for his leadership, and particularly for the International Conference of the Great Lakes, which Angola is chairing, and which he has committed to continue to try to bring to completion.

Our special envoy to the Great Lakes, Senator Russ Feingold has been to the region nine times prior to coming this time in order to help support that effort. I worked very closely with Russ during our days in the Senate, and then, as now, he is a tireless worker, deeply committed to Africa, knowledgeable about Africa, and ready to try to work with the Angolan Government and help – in an effort to achieve the peace in the Great Lakes region. And I know that President Obama very much appreciates the fact that today President Dos Santos and Foreign Minister Chikoti both committed to continue to work with Senator Feingold and with our team in order to advance the peace process.

I also commended Angola for their commitments in the Central African Republic where the United States has provided $100 million in security assistance to the French and the AU-led forces, and 67 million in humanitarian assistance. And today, President Dos Santos informed us that he intends to remain strongly committed to the Central African Republic initiative and that he will be having meetings shortly in furtherance of that effort.

President Dos Santos and I also discussed the importance of bilateral trade and diversifying the Angolan economy. Angola’s economy has experienced, and continues to enjoy, a remarkable amount of economic growth. We talked today about specific ways in which the United States and Angola can grow the relationship and, in particular, we talked about increased possibilities of cooperation in agriculture, in technology, in energy diversity, and also in infrastructure.

I want to say that we are very pleased to see that growth in the economy now means growth of opportunity for Angolans and more and more – more and more Angolans are participating in the progress that is taking place here and in the vital industries. Yesterday at the port here in Luanda, I had the opportunity to visit General Electric’s operations and also meet with energy company executives who informed me about the numbers of Angolans that they are hiring and training and providing new opportunities to, and we think that is a critical component of any relationship. The people of Angola must receive benefit. We also hope that more Angolans will be able to bring their talents to the use of their country through greater engagement with their government and in a more open and engaged civil society.

I have learned that Angola will be conducting its first-ever national census since gaining independence. The collection of complete information and statistics about a population is a very important step in development and in providing services to citizens. So we wish the Angolan people well in carrying out this important task, and we also look forward to hosting African leaders in August in Washington at President Obama’s U.S. leadership summit. This meeting in Washington will provide one more opportunity for Angola and for its leaders to be able to share with us their successes, as well as to explore the ways in which we can build on our relationship.

I was genuinely impressed by the common agenda that we talked about today and felt as if there is an opportunity for both of us to be able to grow this relationship, and we look forward to continuing our work. We set some specific homework for each of us to do, and we’re going to follow up on it. So I look forward to growing this partnership in a very constructive, productive way.

Thank you. I’m happy to take a couple questions.

Ms. Psaki: The first question is from Phil Stewart of Reuters.

Question: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. South Sudan’s rebel leader Machar has said in an interview that he does not see the point of face-to-face talks at this point and that he didn’t think the transitional government could happen before elections. Have you tried to contact him again since your attempt Friday? Are we safe to assume these talks are not going to happen this week? And if he doesn’t go for face-to-face talks, will the U.S. now finally impose sanctions on him?

Also, on Angola, did you manage to formalize any commitment from Angola to airlift troops to Central African Republic, if needed, or secure any additional security commitments from President Dos Santos?

Secretary Kerry: I didn’t hear you. I’m sorry, but that part of the question got swallowed up.

Question: On Angola? Okay, did you manage to secure any additional security commitments from President Dos Santos? You spoke – talked about deepening your security dialogue, and did you manage to secure commitment from them to potentially airlift troops to Central African Republic, if needed, or formalize any of their previous —

Secretary Kerry: Yeah. Well, let me – with respect to your question – with respect to Riek Machar, I saw the interview and he left the door open. He expressed some doubts, but he didn’t say he wouldn’t go. And I talked to Prime Minister Hailemariam — Hailemariam – who made it clear to me that Mr. Machar made a commitment to him that he would come. And he – the Ethiopians will be in touch with him. They said to me they will make the arrangements. In my conversation he expressed some concerns about the logistics, but his wife is in Ethiopia and we are convinced that that is the only way forward.

So he has a fundamental decision to make. If he decides not to or procrastinates, then we have a number of different options that are available to us. We said we are serious. There will be accountability and implications if people do not join into this legitimate effort. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and I had a conversation yesterday. He will be going to Juba tomorrow, and we talked about the process going ahead.

And let me make it clear that if there is a total refusal by one party or the other to engage in a legitimate promise which they have previously promised they would engage in, not only might sanctions be engaged, but there are other serious implications and possible consequences. So –

The parties need to recognize that they signed a cessation of hostilities agreement – both of them. And the international community is prepared to take steps to see that that is honored by putting additional forces in. I talked with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about the UN process with respect to that, and he is committed to see to it that we live up to our part of this bargain. So we encourage both leaders to take advantage of this moment to try to make peace with their people, and we’ve made it very clear that there are other choices available to the international community if they do not.

With respect to President Dos Santos’s commitments to the Central African Republic, the answer is yes, he is absolutely committed to further engagement. He will be directly engaged with the leaders in the region and providing additional assistance, as will we. And we agreed that the United States effort is already providing lift and assistance to the French in addition to resources, and I think that Angola’s prepared not only to do the same but to take a leadership role in convening leaders in order to try to diminish the level of violence and protect the civilian population. We did talk about that.

Ms. Psaki: The next question is from Mateus Gaspar.

Secretary Kerry: Let me – I didn’t (inaudible).

Ms. Psaki: Oh.

Question: So (inaudible), what are the other possible consequences?

Secretary Kerry: Well, you know there are. They’ve been talked about. There’s accountability in the international community for atrocities. There are sanctions. There are possibilities of peacemaking forces. There are any number of possibilities.

Ms. Psaki: The next question is from Mateus Gasper from TPA TV.

Question: (In Portuguese.)

Secretary Kerry: Can you hear? You got – a bit closer?

Participant: Do you have a mike?

Secretary Kerry: He has a mike, yes.

Question: (Via interpreter) The United States and Angola have had diplomatic relations since 1973. They’ve had a strategic agreement since 2009. But really, very little has been done. There have been very few developments. What is the United States’s reason and where do you envision that this relationship will grow and get stronger, and in what areas?

Secretary Kerry: Well, thank you very much. You are correct that there was a strategic dialogue agreement signed. And there has not been enough ability to follow up, and some meetings that were supposed to have taken place unfortunately got delayed. That’s why I’m here. I came here specifically because we have a desire to make sure that we build on that dialogue. And I can guarantee that today we laid out a schedule that over the next few months will wind up with our meeting probably in Washington, somewhere maybe even around the President’s summit. We will have our first meeting in order to follow up. We’ve agreed to set a specific timetable and a specific agenda. And that agenda will include a broad array of ways in which we work together. We currently do many – let me let him translate.

We have agreed today that we will continue to work together closely with Senator Feingold and the International Conference on the Great Lakes. We agreed that we will work on the Central African Republic and we will work on other security issues in the region. We agreed we will have an energy dialogue and we will have further discussion about the bilateral business economic relationship, including infrastructure, agriculture, oil and gas, energy, energy diversity.

We agreed we will continue to do the work we do now with respect to health in Angola, work on malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. And we will continue to be engaged in the health sector, and we particularly are excited about the possibilities of working on technology. We agreed to have a specific energy dialogue and we agreed that we will share the agenda with each other in the next days in preparations for the next round of meetings.

Thank you.

Ms. Psaki: Thank you.

Secretary Kerry: Thank you all very much.