ALEXANDRIA, Virginia - Ambassadors, diplomats, and military officers representing 45 African nations participated in a 90-minute roundtable discussion October 23, 2013, with three of the top U.S. officials engaged in U.S.-Africa
relations, including General David M. Rodriguez, the new Commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM); Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, new Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; and Ambassador Richard Schmierer, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for State for Near Eastern Affairs. The African Diplomatic Corps Roundtable was organized by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS).
The meeting also included: Her Excellency Faida M. Mitifu, Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the longest serving ambassador in the African diplomatic corps in Washington, D.C.; Ms. Alice Friend, Principal Director for African Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense; and Mr. Michael Garrison, Acting Director of the Africa Center. More than 80 African and U.S. officials attended the roundtable.
The event marked the first large-scale meeting with African ambassadors for both General Rodriguez, who took over U.S. AFRICOM in March, and Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, who took over the State Department’s Africa Bureau in August.
U.S. officials provided an overview of U.S. policies and initiatives in Africa, including President Obama’s initiatives for electrical power, trade, and developing young African leaders. Security issues discussed included the relationship between security and development, regional cooperation in addressing instability and violent extremist groups, maritime security, the role of the United States in improving the capacity of African security organizations, training of African peacekeepers, steps to protect nations from being targeted by terrorism when they provide troops for African Union peacekeeping missions, and how reduced U.S. government funding will affect U.S. engagement in Africa.
Discussions between U.S. officials and the African ambassadors took place under the Africa Center’s rule of nonattribution. However, earlier in the day, General Rodriguez and Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield conducted an on-the-record interview at the U.S. Department of State. A transcript and video of LiveAtState: U.S. Foreign Policy and Security Cooperation in Sub-Saharan Africa is posted on the State Department website.