28 June 2012

Ethiopia: U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing: Ethiopia


Excerpt from the United States Department of State daily press briefing:

QUESTION: On Ethiopia, last night's statement on Ethiopian conviction of journalists and political opponents under an anti-terrorism proclamation raised questions about the government's intent for that proclamation. As you'll recall, Prime Minister Meles was just here for the G-8 summit. Were those questions about the government's intent of the anti-terrorism proclamation raised with him at that time? And if not, how does that fit into the concern that you have?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you say, he was a guest of the President for the G-8 summit, so with regard to what may have occurred in White House meetings, I'm going to refer you to them. But in the Secretary's meetings with Ethiopian leaders, the whole question of press freedom, of creating and maintaining space for the political opposition, is always underscored, something that we raise at every turn.

QUESTION: Why host such a head of state whose government appears to pursue policies, at least according to your statement, directly at variance with what the United States would like to see in terms of freedom of the press and so on, at an event as high profile as the broader G-8 meeting? Why do that? I mean, don't you try to exclude countries where you - North Korea doesn't get invited to the G-8 meetings. Why have included them?

MS. NULAND: Well, the event that the African leaders came to was a food security event that was organized by the White House to highlight in a G-8 context the importance of large African countries, food exporters in particular, stepping up and doing what they can to improve and increase food security. This is a major issue in our bilateral work with Ethiopia. Ethiopia is working to become a leader not only nationally but in the region.

So that doesn't change the fact that even as you work with countries on certain things, you can be straight with them when you disagree with their policies in other areas, as we always are with Ethiopia with regard to press freedom.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:27 p.m.)

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