Secretary Michael R. Pompeo and Senegalese Foreign Minister Amadou Ba
at a Joint Press Availability
FOREIGN MINISTER BA: (Via interpreter) (In progress) opportunity to welcome him once more on behalf of the republic, His Excellency Mr. Macky Sall, on behalf of the cabinet, and personally, and on behalf of – and of all Senegalese populations, I would like to welcome him in the Senegalese land of hospitality. His visit, the land of teranga, but which is honored to the one of several American authorities in our country, demonstrate that we have excellent relationships. Our cordial relationships which have several achievements are characterized by a perfect convergence of views on several international issues, and we have – we share the same values of democracy and freedom and peace, former and constant partnership. We are still partners in several areas, namely development, health, education, and security.
So in as many sectors that have led to structures and American people who participate to our common efforts of emergence, I should like to mention particularly USAID and American Peace Corps. Your visit, dear friend, comes at a critical moment where our country once more has benefitted from the support of the American authorities who just provided us with a support –second compact for an amount at 560 (inaudible) million – billion CFA franc.
The first compact was extremely – has enabled to increase agricultural production by irrigation techniques and unlocking of production areas. We are hopeful that with the collaboration of our American partners the second contract be signed to strengthening the energy sector in accordingly to the visions of our president, which is (inaudible) through the Senegal emergent and will be also successful.
Our cooperation with United States doesn’t exclude exchange sectors. I am thinking of the African Growth Opportunity Act, which enables the country that are complying with human right and good governance principles to benefit from facilities of export, to export their country’s – their products in the American market, is reputation of democracy and rule of law has enabled the country to have – to be well ranked within the eligible countries.
Against a backdrop of permanent insecurity, our two state are cooperating to address the base insecurity regional and global threats such as terrorism and trans-border criminality. Africa is currently hit by several conflict, and back to stability won’t be possible without African, and the situation in Libya is a good illustration.
However, the state don’t have enough means to address these challenges, namely terrorism and narco-trafficking. And I should like here to comment the critical role played by the United State of America, namely in terms of providing training and logistic support but also for the intelligence. The implementation of necessary means as well as attribution of strong mandate, namely in Mali, are unavailable, therefore it is urgent for Africa to put in place its own funding system for the accretion of agreement to enable an efficient intervention of the initiatives in the Sahel areas. I am thinking of the G5 Sahel, likewise the Coalition for Sahel.
In this regard, the proposal by the President Macky Sall (inaudible) to fund part of this approach by our own resources should be significant seriously taken into account. Africa has to count on its own force, and this is the idea of the President Macky Sall, who is proposing to the international community that we should affect one percent of our deficit, budget deficit, to the security matters for all Africa. Nowadays, Africa is faced with major challenges linked to insecurity and terrorism, and (inaudible) United State of America who are a strategic area for back to be – have peace and stability.
I would like to thank the government – the American Government for its participant to the sixth forum of the International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, which was held in November in Dakar.
Lastly, in this area and in several other areas, we hope that our partnership will be strengthened by the – by the recurrent visit of this kind that will participate to further our cooperation and relationship at a very high – at the highest level.
Mr. Secretary, dear Mike Pompeo, I am very delighted for – to welcome you in Senegal, land of hospitality, here in our country we way, stay in peace. Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Now, ladies and gentlemen, let me give the floor to Mr. Michael Richard Pompeo, Secretary of State, for his speech. Mr. Pompeo, you are welcome.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. It’s great to be with you all here today. Foreign Minister Ba, thank you for your warm and true demonstration of Senegalese hospitality. I have felt it at every stop during my time here. And I am confident, too, that in 2022 the athletes who come from all across the world for the Youth Olympics that they’ll be welcome, too, with big embraces and warm smiles, just as I have been. That’s quite an accomplishment. It will be very special time here just a couple years off.
It was special, too, for Susan and me to have the opportunity to worship this morning with brothers and sisters from Senegal and other countries at the International Christian Fellowship here in Dakar. Susan and I will never forget that. I want to thank President Sall as well for hosting me at the absolutely beautiful presidential palace.
This is the beginning of my first trip to Sub-Saharan Africa as Secretary of State. There was no better place to start than right here in Senegal, a vibrant democracy rich in culture and history. The United States is proud to count Senegal as our closest – as one of our closest friends on the continent.
And one of the surest signs of our friendship, too, is the fact that our private companies flock here to Senegal. During our meeting, I congratulated both the president and the foreign minister on the newly discovered energy reserves off the coast. American firms like Kosmos Energy, Halliburton, and Baker Hughes are all helping to develop these resources so that they benefit the Senegalese people, not foreign actors.
The last few days have brought even more good news. Bechtel and local Senegalese partners are building a road from Dakar to Saint-Louis, and Philadelphia-based ABD Group and the Ministry of Economy agreed to new financing for schools and for housing. We celebrated this earlier today with signing of MOUs as well between General Electric and companies here, two of them. The first – the first will modernize Senegal’s health care infrastructure with updated equipment and a new medical center for burn victims, another will upgrade power plants and provide more Senegalese with electricity.
Finally, American company Weldy Lamont is also increasing electricity access, signing an MOU with Senelec to expand the electrical grid. This comes on top of what Foreign Minister Ba talked about with the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact, will provide energy to rural areas, just signed over a year ago, generating electricity throughout the country.
Five solid examples of great partnership between private industry in America and the same right here in Senegal.
President Trump’s Prosper Africa Initiative is making the kinds of deals signed this morning possible. The State Department is working to help female entrepreneurs in partnership with the White House’s WGDP Initiative led by Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump.
On a more somber note, Senegal’s leaders and I also talked about Islamist terrorism, which endangers 350 million people right here in West Africa. It threatens Americans too, and we are counting on Senegal. It is an important ally in this fight, and I assured our friends that the U.S. will keep up this fight as well.
In addition, we discussed how the United States can continue training and supporting Senegalese peacekeepers in the region. Their success in helping transition the Gambia to a democracy is a historic legacy.
We also talked about health partnership. The President’s Malaria Initiative continues to deliver. Under five mortality is down by 55 percent over just eight years, and infant mortality is down by 17 percent in just the past four years. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved.
We’re helping, too, to adapt to new threats. The CDC and USAID are working with your government to prepare for any potential outbreaks of diseases, including the coronavirus.
Mr. Foreign Minister, we deeply value our relationship with the Senegalese people and with you, and we’re here to help. Thank you again for being such a gracious host. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you, dear friends (inaudible) press, but they have allowed us to just take two questions, one for the Senegalese part and one for the American part. And naturally, for the Senegalese part, we will give the floor to Arouna Gaye of Radio Senegal for the questions.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Thank you, Excellency. Good morning, good afternoon. I would like to just ask one question to the Secretary of State. If this is your first visit in Africa since you’ve been appointed, but also this is the first time a Secretary of State is visiting Africa, so why have you (inaudible) Senegal? And is Senegal could be – could Senegal be a leader to develop the African – the American policy within Sub-Saharan Africa?
And for the Minister of Senegal, you have the frequency of (inaudible) the quality of visit here in the prospect, what are the sectors where the cooperation Senegal would like to focus for the benefit of our populations? What are the sector that will – the cooperation will focus on? Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you for that question. Yes, I chose Senegal with great intention. It was very purposeful. They are a great partner of the United States. They share our democratic values. They are a tolerant people of all religions. We have so much in common. We consider Senegal to truly be an anchor for democracy in Africa and a linchpin for security as well. We’re counting on Senegal and the Senegalese people to help on each of those two critical missions. They are deeply connected. Sound security allows economic growth, and economic growth provides the resources that in turn provide additional security. They are mutually beneficial and interlocking ideas, and Senegal is a true leader on each of them. It’s why I wanted to be here today and why I chose this as my first stop on this trip to Africa. So thank you for your question.
FOREIGN MINISTER BA: (Via interpreter) Thank you. I think the Secretary of State responded to your question. Macky Sall came to power in 2012, and from 2014 he implemented the Senegal emerging plan.
Responding to a question from the technical and financial partners, they said, “What have changed in Senegal? Sort of feel that the country will not (inaudible).” We responded that this is a leadership of the President Macky Sall, and indeed the leadership has allowed to have a strong growth. And thanks to the leadership, we have a macroeconomic framework that is improved, and thanks to the leadership, peace and democracy are – our democracy are strengthened. And this for that the traditional partners, they are – because they trust the vision of the president, they bring our – their support.
The relationship between the United State and America are that we have a long-term standing relationship. The American (inaudible). Senegal has got a second compact. It mean that by deciding to take part of the taxes of United State citizens to support Senegal, it means that we have met the expectations of the American (inaudible), and this was useful. Resources have been used on a transparent manner. Senegal is an open country.
We participate to peace maintaining everywhere in the world. In Lebanon, some years ago and in the former Zaire, now we are in Mali and Guinea Bissau. I think we have made significant effort, and international community is commending and on Mali and other countries we are working closely with the American Government, and we share the same philosophy – prosperity, security.
Currently, Senegal is not far from the United State when it just have eight-hour flight, is only ocean and the ocean is between. We share the same values of freedom and democracy. We are a country, which want to attract American capitals, like we’d like to attract other capitals. We are opened and you will see from the diplomacy openness towards emerging countries but also towards our traditional allies, likewise U.S. And that’s why we feel very happy and that’s the reason why we have to improve so as to deserve the trust from the international community. I thank you.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Now I would like the – to give the floor to the spokesperson of Mr. Pompeo.
MS ORTAGUS: Nick Wadhams, Bloomberg.
QUESTION: Mr. Foreign Minister, for you, the U.S. is considering a strategy to draw down troops in West Africa. That’s currently under review. Did you discuss that matter with the Secretary of State, and are you urging the U.S. not to draw down its troops? And could you talk a little bit further about the imminency of the threat regarding Islamic extremism and ISIS here in West Africa?
And Mr. Secretary, would you support a strategy that would draw down American troops in West Africa, particularly given your own stated concern about the ISIS fight moving to the region? And then if I may, just on coronavirus, are you concerned about the growing possibility of a broader pandemic now that an American has tested positive after coming off this cruise ship in Cambodia? Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER BA: (Via interpreter) Thank you. The United State informed us about their wanting to draw down some fighters, but it doesn’t mean that they will – the American soldiers will leave. We have talked about the need to be present in the area. We want them to remain present. We hope that they will continue to support in security areas. We hope that they will continue to support us in training and intelligence. I think this – this was discussed with the president of the republic and with myself.
But now we respect the position of the United State, and that the reason why, as the saying goes, you have to support yourself. Charity begins at home. Within this conflict it is important for Africa to show – I mean, to start to working himself. I mean, we have people that are skilled. What is lacking is on information. We only lacking agreement. And we think – and this is the idea behind the President Macky Sall idea. We have just to use taxes from local people and to affect it to security, and then we, for the gap, we will look for the support from the international community and the United State.
And that the reason why the President Macky Sall deem it necessary that we have to discuss with international community, the IMF, and which is a partner, so that countries, African countries, will have an agreement with the fund that limits the GDP to 3 percent. We should add 1 percent of the deficit that will be funded by (inaudible). I mean, we repay what the generation, the future generation, will pay, and that will be used on a transparent manner to enable to strengthening our internal security, firstly, but also to be able to support the neighboring countries – Mali and Burkina Faso – who are facing these challenges. But it’s only after that that we will look for the operational and military support of the fighters from the United State.
But for the time being, we need – Africans need to provide human resources. But they don’t have means, but we have a solution for this (inaudible) if it can come from our mechanisms and relationships with the other OCDE countries, then we are open. But we didn’t – we believe that the proposal by the President Macky Sall to have 1 percent of our deficit to us is relevant to preserve our stability and security but to have the means to support our friends who are in Mali or in Burkina Faso.
Regarding the threat, unfortunately, the terrorism has no border and it is very costly. It’s very costly. Yes, we are under threat. But with the support of all our partners, including the United States, but through the means that we have up to now we are – we have not had any threat. But we have a framework. We have a moderated – a moderate Islam. We are very open. In Senegal you will not know who is Muslim, who is not. And I was telling that to Secretary today that the first Senegalese president was a Christian, and at the time we – social network were developed, and the second, his wife was a Christian. We don’t have – we don’t face (inaudible) difficulties in Senegal. What we are very open with – I mean, we have to guarantee the security of all the people living in Senegal. Unfortunately, we don’t have the means. And that is the reason why we want to use our own means here in Senegal, but to use the means to support the others. And I think that we count on the support from the Government of the U.S., and this was – we asked the Secretary to be our advocate. Thank you.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you, Excellency, for (inaudible) and (inaudible). (Laughter.)
SECRETARY POMPEO: One more.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Good. You want to do it? (Laughter.)
No, no. Look, Nick, I think the foreign minister actually gave a good description. We did have a lot of conversation about the security issues here, about America’s role in those. We’ve made it clear the Department of Defense is looking at West Africa to make sure we have our force levels right. I’ve been to – I said this is my first visit to West Africa as Secretary of State. I was here as CIA director, so I know these security issues very, very well.
We’ll get it right. We’ll get it right collectively. I’m convinced of that. I don’t have any announcement to make, but I think the people of Senegal should know that collectively Senegalese forces in the region, European partners, the French, and the United States of America, we have an obligation to get security right here in the region. It’s what will permit economic growth, and we’re determined to do that. And I am convinced that when our review is done, we’ll have a conversation with not just Senegal but all the countries in the region. We’ll talk through why we’re doing it, how we’re doing it, and we’ll deliver an outcome that works for all of us.
Your second question, Nick, was about the coronavirus and about a particular instance. I don’t think that particular instance changes the analysis of what’s going on with the coronavirus around the world, but I think we all need to be mindful of the serious nature of the threat that is posed, especially in places that don’t have significant health care infrastructure.
I was talking with our ambassador today. We have a CDC official here in Senegal. We have CDC officials of the United States in many countries around the world, and we are prepared to do everything that the United States can do to reduce the risk to populations, especially those populations where there is not significant capable health care infrastructure. That presents a lot of risk, and we are already doing our best. We announced $100 million, or up to $100 million, of assistance, now a week or ten days ago. We’re prepared to do all that America can to reduce the threat and risk from this virus.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you. Thank you. (Inaudible.) (Applause.)