News / Africa

Obama Meets African Leaders at White House

President Barack Obama meets with, from left, Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou, Benin President Boni Yayi, Guinea President Alpha Conde, and Cote d'Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, July 29, 20
President Barack Obama meets with, from left, Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou, Benin President Boni Yayi, Guinea President Alpha Conde, and Cote d'Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, July 29, 20

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

As he continues to deal with the U.S. debt crisis, President Barack Obama met on Friday with four visiting African heads of state. Obama said the leaders represent expanding democracy in Africa, and the discussions also covered issues such as counter-terrorism and famine in East Africa.

Obama's meeting with the presidents of Benin, Guinea, Niger, and Ivory Coast took place in the White House Cabinet Room rather than the Oval Office.

The president sat in the middle of the long table in the room flanked by Presidents Boni Yayi of Benin, Alpha Conde of Guinea, Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, and Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast.

The talks were closed to media coverage, but in a fairly lengthy statement translated into French, 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.

Among those challenges, Obama mentioned Ivory Coast where Ouattara took power earlier this year following political upheaval and protracted fighting that left as many as 3,000 people dead.

In recognizing Ouattara as the new legitimate leader in Ivory Coast last April, replacing Laurent Gbagbo, Obama also called for steps toward reconciliation and said those responsible for atrocities should be held accountable.

The president repeated a theme he sounded during his only visit so far 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. 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.

"I think it has not gotten as much attention here in the United States as it deserves, but we are starting to see famine developing along the Horn of Africa, in areas like Somalia in particular, and that is going to require an international response, and Africa will have to be a partner in making sure that tens of thousands do not starve to death," said the president.

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.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid