By Sgt. Landis AndrewsMay 11, 2010
WASHINGTON -- The first plenary session of the African Land Force Summit began with Department of State's Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, ambassador Donald Y. Yamamoto, who spoke on the Obama administration's policy on relations with Africa.
Yamamoto touched on many issues facing future relations between the U.S. and African nations. The one thing that remained constant throughout the whole presentation was the idea of working together for capacity building within Africa's borders.
The first priority is to create and sustain democratic governance.
"We will work with African governments, the international community, and civil society to strengthen democratic institutions and protect the democratic gains made in recent years in many African countries," Yamamoto said.
We must cultivate governments that are accountable for their own people.
"African countries need civilian governments that deliver services to their people, independent judiciaries that enforce the rule of the law, professional security forces that respect human rights, effective legislative institutions, a free responsible press, and a dynamic civil society," Yamamoto said.
The economics of countries in Africa are a major issue, he said, and the key to boosting them is within their food growing capabilities.
"The United States is the world's number one provider of food aid throughout the world," the ambassador said. "But food aid does not make sense because food aid is not sustainable."
Yamamoto, who formerly served as the ambassador to Ethiopia, said that long-term projects within Ethiopia's borders are the key to success.
"We need to work on how we can promote food growth and make it sustainable," he said. "Not only will this create food for the country, it will create jobs for its people."
America will not be the big brother of the relationship.
"No issue will be downplayed," Yamamoto said directly to the delegates. "If it's a concern to you, than it is a concern to us."
It's that kind of teamwork that will drive this summit and this relationship into the future to combat any issues that may arise.
"Working together in partnership with you all, I know we will find these solutions."