3 May 2017

Africa: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Remarks to Department of State Employees (Exceprts)

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Washington, DC — The Trump administration plans to "to step back and take a more comprehensive look at our approach” to Africa,  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in remarks to State Department employees on Wednesday.

“We’ve been working alongside one another, and so I thought it’d be worthwhile to just share a few of my perspectives with you on where I think we are and some things that are coming that I know are of interest to you,” he said. He thanked those who have stepped into senior posts in the Department on an acting basis as he undertakes a “listening exercise” to help guide a planned reorganization.Here are his full remarks related to Africa.

So quickly to other parts of the world that are really important to us as well – the continent of Africa is so important from the standpoint that first, from a national security view, we cannot let Africa become the next breeding ground for a re-emergence of a caliphate for ISIS.  We also cannot allow the terrorist networks that weave their way through Africa to continue unabated.  You can connect the dots between countries throughout the central part of Africa and northern part of Africa where the terrorist networks are connected.  We’ve got to get into the middle of that and disrupt that to save those countries.

But Africa is also a continent of enormous opportunity, and needs and will get and will continue to receive our attention to support stabilizing governments as they are emerging and continuing to develop their own institutional capacity, but also looking at Africa for potential economic and trading opportunities.  It’s a huge, I think, potential sitting out there, waiting for us to capture it, and then, obviously, a big focus of our health initiatives, because Africa still struggles with huge health challenges.  And those are important to us and they’re going to continue to get our attention.

So we’re going to – we’re working – today we have some things we’re working in North Africa relative to its relationship to the Middle East challenges and our ISIS challenges.  We’ve got to step back and take a more comprehensive look at our approach to the entire continent, and that’s out in front of us as well.

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