U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Washington is following through on promises made by President Barack Obama in a June speech to the Muslim world. Clinton met foreign ministers from the Middle East and North Africa at a democracy and development conference in Morocco.
Secretary Clinton says many people who heard President Obama's Cairo speech five months ago asked how his vision for a new understanding between the United States and the Muslim world would translate into meaningful changes in people's everyday lives.
"It is results not rhetoric that matter in the end. Economic empowerment, education, health care, access to energy and to credit - these are the basics that all communities need to thrive. And the United States seeks to pursue these common aspirations through concrete actions," she said.
Clinton spoke in Morocco at a democracy and development conference called the Forum for the Future, which joins foreign ministers from the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations with officials from North Africa and the Middle East.
She says Washington is delivering on President Obama's promises by helping local communities develop long-lasting solutions and not by focusing on one-time projects. Clinton says the biggest concern everywhere in the world is the economy: How can people get better jobs to give their children more opportunities?
"There are so many good ideas that die because the conditions are not right for bringing those ideas to market," said Clinton. "There are so many people who work so hard everyday but they can't realize the benefits of that hard work to the extent that they should."
She says President Obama will hold an entrepreneurial summit in Washington to help people develop their talents to generate income. Clinton says Washington is opening new business development centers and is working on a virtual entrepreneur network to link small-scale enterprises on line.
That is in addition to billions of dollars of aid to the Middle East and North Africa, including a $700-million Millennium Challenge Corporation grant to Morocco for fruit tree farming and small-scale fisheries as well as stronger financial services and enterprise support.
"Over and over we hear from small and medium-size businesses that they can not get the financial assistance, they can't get the technical support that would grow their business. So working with the government of Morocco, we are hoping to really help to see blossom a lot more economic activity at the lower levels that will then from the bottom-up build prosperity," the secretay of state said.
Clinton says the State Department's science envoys program is sending some of America's brightest scientists to North Africa, the Middle East, South and South-East Asia to fulfill President Obama's mandate to foster scientific and technological cooperation.
"It was the Islamic world that led the way in science and medicine," Clinton said. "It was the Islamic world that paved the way for much of the technology and science that we now take for granted. And now we face global challenges. How do we address water issues? How do we solve the climate crisis? How do we eradicate disease? Well, we want to look to your societies, and we want to help Muslim-majority communities develop the capacity to meet economic, social, and ecological challenges through science, technology, and innovation."
She says the Obama administration is boosting the number of environment, science, and technology officers at U.S. embassies. The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation is establishing a technology and innovation fund.
On education, Clinton says Washington is supporting partnerships between U.S. community colleges and institutions in Muslim communities. There is also additional technological support for civil society groups who she says help make communities more prosperous and stable while pushing political institutions to be more responsive to the people they serve.
"Our work is based on empowering individuals rather than promoting ideologies, listening and embracing others' ideas rather than simply imposing our own, and pursuing partnerships that are sustainable and broad-based," said Clinton.
"We believe that despite our differences, there is so much more that unites us. Fathers and mothers everywhere want safety and opportunity for their daughters and sons. People everywhere want to have a role in the decisions that affect them, to express their needs to their leaders, to be heard, and to help chart their own futures," she added.
The two-day Forum for the Future brings together public and private sector leaders from the West Bank and Gaza as well as Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Libya. Officials from Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen were also on hand to discuss improving human development, democracy, rule of law, and economic growth.