US Secretary of State's Visit to Djibouti

U.S. Department of State, Fri, Mar 9, 2018

The President of the Republic of Djibouti, H.E. Ismail Omar Guelleh received at the Presidential Palace US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on his first visit to Djibouti on March 9, 2018. Mr. Tillerson and his delegation had a working meeting with Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, Minister of Foreign Affairs and also a joint Press conference.

Press Availability With Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf

FOREIGN MINISTER YOUSSOUF: (Via interpreter) The Secretary of State has had two crucial meetings with myself and with the President of the United States. The Secretary of State is here at the beginning of his five-nation African tour, and Djibouti is extremely proud to be on the list of countries that the Secretary of State is visiting.

We’ve had many fruitful discussions today, but we are very proud also of the fact that Djibouti is the host country to Camp Lemonnier, and we’ve had many fruitful discussions pertaining to our goal together in fighting against violent extremism, and security, stability throughout the region. We have talked about many issues: our relations with China, and also many other commercial issues pertaining to the region. And also we also talked about the fact that this year there will be some upcoming meetings of the binational forum.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, first let me begin by thanking Foreign Minister Youssouf for his very warm welcome to Djibouti, and I appreciate his leadership, not just here, but in the region as well. And we had a very fruitful discussion on how we can deepen U.S. – United States and Djibouti relations.

I also want to thank President Guelleh for the opportunity to have an important dialogue with him, as well. As I expressed to the foreign minister, the United States is committed to continuing this very strong partnership with Djibouti. Our relationship continues to provide benefits to both the people of the United States, and certainly to the people of Djibouti. And both of us are working together to address a variety of challenges that this region is confronted with.

One of our most important areas of cooperation and mutual interest, I think is well understood, is security. And we are grateful to Djibouti for hosting thousands of United States troops here in Djibouti. This is a relationship that has been mutually beneficial to both the United States and Djibouti, by strengthening Djibouti military forces, as well. U.S. military presence here does facilitate a very quick response to terrorism and violent extremism that threatens both of our countries. But as well, it threatens the region and stability in this region.

Wherever that threat may come from, whether it be ISIS finding its way to this continent or from al-Qaida, al-Shabaab, or other terrorist organizations, we are here in partnership with the people of Djibouti to protect the citizens of both our countries, as well as countries in the region. And we greatly appreciate all that Djibouti is doing, and the contribution of troops it makes to the African Union Mission in Somalia, through AMISOM. Djibouti plays a major role in safeguarding the free flow of global commerce through the Red Sea, allowing billions of people to access goods from all over the world by keeping the sea lanes free and open.

During our meeting we discussed the large role Djibouti plays in humanitarian support. It is a critical staging point for significant humanitarian aid that is distributed throughout the region – in particular, countries that are suffering food insecurity. Djibouti is a very important port for the delivery and the distribution of food assistance to so many countries. And Djibouti also plays an extremely important role in its hosting of refugees that are escaping conflict in the region.

We talked about our efforts to support reforms that would create long-term prosperity for Djibouti and will make Djibouti even more competitive for investments and trade. And part of our commitment in working with the Government of Djibouti is to continue long-term progress towards good governance, strengthening the governance and the institutional governance capacity here in Djibouti. We are committed to support civil society development and institution-building in several ways, and we had a very good exchange on that.

So again, thank you, Excellency, for the warm welcome. We look forward to continuing this very important relationship with Djibouti. And again, I appreciated the opportunity for both of our meetings today. They were very useful to me. Thank you.

MODERATOR: We can take a few questions.

QUESTION: Good morning, Your Excellencies. It’s (inaudible) from Djibouti Television. My question is for the State Secretary, Rex Tillerson...

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