President Obama's Bilateral Meeting with President Jonathan of Nigeria

September 23, 2013 | 11:47 | Public Domain

President Obama and President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria speak to the press before a bilateral meeting.

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Remarks by President Obama Before Bilateral Meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria

Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York, New York

1:51 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I appreciate very much the opportunity to meet once again with President Jonathan and his delegation.  Obviously, Nigeria is one of the most powerful and fastest-growing countries in the world.  I think that's testified by the fact that President Jonathan is going to have the opportunity to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange.  (Laughter.)  I think it signifies how important Nigeria is becoming in the global economy.

We have a very strong relationship between the United States and Nigeria.  It’s not just based on government-to-government relations, but also people-to-people relations.  And we have an outstanding Nigerian-American community here in the United States that is making incredible contributions in every field every single day.

 President Jonathan has committed to building on the democratic process that we've seen in Nigeria in the past.  The last election that brought President Jonathan to power was a hallmark on the continent and in Nigeria in terms of free and fair elections.  And I know that he is committed to making sure that the elections in 2015 move in that same fashion.

We're going to be able to have an opportunity to talk about the issues of energy and power.  Nigeria is a major energy producer, but it’s also an important energy consumer.  And as many of you know who were on the trip that I took to Africa just recently, we are really focused on how we can help to bring electricity and power generation throughout Africa -- not just in the big cities but also in the rural areas, and Nigeria is a potential partner in that process.

 We want to develop the human capital throughout the continent and in Nigeria.  And that's why I'm excited about the Young African Leaders Initiative that is going to allow us to have young African leaders from across the continent, including

Nigeria, here in the United States where they can interact with top leaders here in our universities, our businesses, and that will further strengthen the ties between our two countries.

And we're going to have an opportunity to discuss some significant challenges on the security front in Nigeria.  In the northern regions of Nigeria we've seen the emergence of one of the most vicious terrorist organizations in the world -- the Boko Haram.  It presents an extraordinary security challenge for the people of Nigeria, and we want to be cooperative in that process of building capacity inside Nigeria to deal with that terrorist threat, but doing so in a way that is consistent with human rights.  Because we strongly believe that the best way to undermine the agenda of those who would do violence is to make sure that governments are responsive to the needs of people and following rule of law.

On that topic let me just make one last point.  I've had the opportunity to speak with President Kenyatta directly about the terrible tragedy that's happened in Nairobi, and we are providing all the cooperation that we can as we deal with a situation that has captivated the world.

I want to express personally my condolences to not only President Kenyatta, who lost some family members in the attack, but to the Kenyan people.  We stand with them against this terrible outrage that's occurred.  We will provide them with whatever law enforcement support that is necessary.  And we are confident that Kenya, which has been a pillar of stability in Eastern Africa, will rebuild.

But this I think underscores the degree to which all of us as an international community have to stand against the kind of senseless violence that these kinds of groups represent.  And the United States will continue to work with the entire continent of Africa and around the world to make sure that we are dismantling these networks of destruction.

1:58 P.M. EDT

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