Good morning Prag Obots!
This week we will look back at some of President Obama’s memorable meetings with world leaders.
On July 29, 2011, President Obama welcomed President Yayi of Benin, President Conde of Guinea, President Issoufou of Niger, and President Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire to the White House. President Obama said the leaders represent expanding democracy in Africa, and the discussions also covered issues such as counter-terrorism and famine in East Africa.
The talks were closed to media coverage, but in a fairly lengthy statement translated into French, President Obama noted that all four men came to power through free and fair elections.
Calling democratic progress vital to a stable, prosperous and just Africa and critical to global stability, the president said each had shown persistence in the face of enormous challenges.
“Because of their fortitude and because of the determination of their people to live in democratic, free societies they have been able to arrive at a position of power that is supported by the legitimate will of their peoples and as such they can serve as effective models for the continent,” Obama said.
The president repeated a theme he sounded during his visit to Africa in 2009, and in interactions with African leaders, that “this is a moment of great opportunity and significant progress” for the continent. He said all agreed that development “cannot keep on duplicating an approach that breeds dependence” but must embrace one that creates sustainability and greater capacity.
The talks also covered security issues. President Obama said he expressed appreciation for assistance from African countries in battling terrorism that he said is “trying to get a foothold inside of Africa.”
Spreading famine and humanitarian crisis in East Africa also was a topic, including how the U.S. can work with countries to prevent things from getting worse.
President Obama noted that Niger’s President Issoufou had mentioned Obama’s upcoming 50th birthday. Obama used that to underscore another message he has sought to communicate to the people of Africa.
“When we think about the extraordinary progress that has been made, I think there is much that we can be proud of, but of course when we think about the last 50 years, we also have to recognize that there have been a lot of opportunities that have been missed,” he said.
The president said he believes the leaders in the room are “absolutely committed” to making sure that 50 years from now they can say they helped to turn the tide in their countries, establish strong democratic practices, and establish economic prosperity and security.