Press Briefing by Sandra Thurman and Susan Rice (8/27/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                             (Abuja, Nigeria)

For Immediate Release                          August 27, 2000

                             PRESS BRIEFING BY
                           NATIONAL AIDS POLICY;
                            FOR AFRICAN AFFAIRS

                               Nicon Hilton
                                      Abuja, Nigeria

7:43 P.M. EDT

          MR. CROWLEY:  Good evening.  I think today can very aptly be
described as a very powerful day.  I think in a day we saw Nigeria as it
exists today -- about 70 percent of Nigerians live in villages such as
Ushafa, that you saw this morning.  We also learned more about the
challenge that Nigeria faces at the National Center for Women's
Development, where you heard the extraordinary story of John Ibekwe and his
family as they confronted the AIDS disease.  And then the President's
remarks at the U.S.-Nigerian commercial dialogue focused on Nigeria's
future and the fact that, as the President said, we're on this boat
together and let's sail.

          So we covered a lot of ground today.  We have a group of our
experts back in to help you finish today, and if you've got questions we
can help, to the extent that we can, set up tomorrow.  So opening our
briefing this evening will be Sandy Thurman, who is the Presidential Envoy
for AIDS Cooperation.  And then as we go into questions, joining her will
be the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Dr. Susan Rice --
who got a nice plug from Jesse Jackson, well deserved.  Also we have Laura
Efros, Senior Advisor for International Health Strategy; and Rick Samans,
Special Assistant to the President for International Economic Policy.

          So, hopefully, if you've got questions, we've got answers.  But
we'll start off with Sandy Thurman.

          MS. THURMAN:  Thank you.  I think during the visit today, and
reading all the briefing materials and hearing all the numbers, we all are
beginning to understand in a very real way that AIDS is a plague of
biblical proportion.  It's been declared the worst public health crisis
since the bubonic plague.  I think that's absolutely true.  In fact, at the
end of the day, public health experts think that the AIDS crisis will make
the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages pale in in comparison.

          We have 34 million people infected with HIV worldwide; more than
22.5 million of those people live on the continent of Africa.  Each and
every day, 11,000 people become infected in Africa.  That's one every 8
seconds.  Each and every day, Africa buries 5,500 people -- 5,500 men,
women and children to AIDS.  By the end of the next decade, we expect to
have 40 million children orphaned by AIDS in Africa -- that's losing one or
both parents to AIDS.

          Nigeria, to put this in context, is really at a pivotal point in
the progression of the epidemic in this country.  We have a great window of
opportunity, however, to turn the tide in the epidemic in Nigeria.  Nigeria
has one of the highest prevalence rates in all of West Africa at just at 5
percent.  And while that's not very big compared to most sub-Saharan
African nations, many of which are looking at 20 percent of all adults
infected, when you consider the fact that Nigeria is the most populous
country in all of Africa, and then begin to do the arithmetic, we can see
-- and when we look back at what happened, for instance, in South Africa,
that had a very low percentage of infection just five or six years ago and
now is looking at almost 20 percent of all adults infected -- when you
begin to do the arithmetic you can see that what we have is a real
potential for disaster here in this country.

          When we analyze all of the successful programs around the world,
we understand that there are two common denominators in the successful
programs that have begun to address this epidemic and turn infection rates
around -- like Senegal in West Africa, like Uganda in East Africa -- and
that's leadership and resources.

          And what we saw today is both of those.  We saw a $9.4 million
commitment on the part of the United States that triples our funding from
last year, which was $2.7 million for Nigerian AIDS programs, and
leadership -- I mean real leadership on the part of President Clinton, and
real leadership on the part of President Obasanjo.  And that's what it's
going to take if we're going to really have an impact and begin to slow the
spread of infection in Nigeria.

          As we looked around the crowd today and saw all the different
faces and the representatives of all different segments of society, it
reflects the fact that AIDS is no longer just a health crisis, that it's a
fundamental development crisis, it's an economic crisis, it's a crisis of
security and stability and, in addition to that, that it's going to take
all sectors of all societies pulling together if we're going to really
begin to turn the epidemic around.

          Governments can't do it alone.  The United States government
certainly can't do it alone.  It's going to require partnership with the
private sector and with the multinational organizations.  And probably most
importantly, it's going to require partnership with communities.  And,
again, we saw that reflected today in all of the community-based
organizations that were at the health event.  We understand clearly that
this epidemic or the battle against AIDS will be won or lost at the
community level.

          Most importantly, though, today helps us remember that this is
not about numbers, but about names; and not about facts and figures, but
about faces.  And I think John's story and Tayo's story today really help
us reflect on that in a very concrete fashion.

          What we have when we look at the young people and the women in
the audience today is an entire generation in jeopardy.  But the good news
is, in this epidemic, that we know what works.  Our challenge is to bring
the programs that we know work, like the ones we witnessed today, to scale
if we're going to really turn this epidemic around.

          So it was an exciting day for so many of us who have worked in
AIDS for a long time to see those two Presidents stand up and speak so
passionately to this issue -- and their comments reflected, and the person
living with AIDS and the young peer educator who shared their story with

          So let me stop there and ask my colleagues to come forward, and
see if anyone has any questions.

          Q    It's my recollection that two years ago the President didn't
have an address purely addressed on AIDS.  Is that -- when he came to
Africa.  Is that right, and if so, why did he think that now is the time to
give such an address?  There were, clearly, lots of AIDS problems in the
countries he visited two years ago.

          MS. THURMAN:  Well, we certainly talked about HIV and AIDS on the
last trip.  We didn't do an AIDS-specific event on the last trip.  The sort
of theme of the event was economic development, and most of our events were
focused on economic development, although we did talk about HIV and AIDS.

          I think there's been so much attention and focus on the global
pandemic in the last 18 months, a growing understanding that what we see in
Africa today is just the tip of the iceberg; that 15 years from now we'll
be looking at the epicenter of the epidemic in Asia, mostly in India and,
on down the road, other parts of the world.  So there's just a growing
understanding that we are facing a pandemic of unparalleled proportion.
And that's why I think this trip was a great opportunity to focus on that.

          The other is that Nigeria does have a great opportunity to keep
their infection rates low; that we know if we're out there and aggressive
early with prevention messages, like Senegal, as an example, that we can
keep infection rates low.  And that's very, very important to the future of
Nigeria and the future of Africa.

          Q    Does the U.S. still discriminate on visa applications by

          MS. THURMAN:  The United States has never discriminated, no.

          Q    What about that story that we heard today?

          MS. THURMAN:  Well, yes, what happens -- and I'm not sure in
John's story how he wound up being tested.  When people apply for visas to
come to the United States they're asked if they have an infectious disease.
There's no requirement for testing for HIV.  If they do say that they have
HIV, then the embassies work with them to provide some sort of proof of
health care coverage, in case there are health -- an ability to pay their
health costs if they come to the United States.

          There was a great debate in Congress, back in the late '80s,
about this because there was a feeling on the part of AIDS activists that
HIV ought to be -- HIV status ought to be removed from the infectious
diseases portion of a visa application, because people living with HIV can
be healthy for so many years without ever having a symptom.  So they didn't
think it was appropriate.  That was brought up in the Congress and soundly
defeated in the Congress.  So it's still a little gray, but we don't flat
out discriminate against people living with HIV, although, it's difficult,
makes it difficult for people to obtain a visa.

          Q    So to clarify it, you say you don't discriminate based on
HIV, but if they don't have health coverage you don't let them in?

          MS. THURMAN:  They work with the individual embassies, but their
visa applications can be denied if they can't show that they have the
ability to pay for their health care coverage.  So it's a little gray, but
we don't discriminate based on HIV status.

          Q    -- require them to be tested?

          MS. THURMAN:  No.

          Q    So what John said doesn't seem to jive --

          MS. THURMAN:  No, it didn't jive with our policy.  We've never
required testing for HIV.  We require testing for yellow fever and a couple
of other diseases.  But we've never required testing for HIV, although, the
question                  is on the application, so I don't know if --
again, I don't know what his particular story is, but we've never had a
requirement for testing.

          Q    My question is, first about the AIDS announcements today,
and then goes a little broader to the other economic announcements today.
We're having a very hard time figuring out how much of this money is new.
The thing you put out today said that Clinton announced more than $20
million to deal with polio, AIDS and other infectious diseases, but it
doesn't sound like any that's actually new money today.  Most of it sounds
like it's wrapped into to the FY 2000 budget and the FY 2001 budget
request.  As you get into the other economic issues, it goes further that
we're not clear on whether it is $1.2 billion in Ex-Import loan guarantees.
We're having a very hard time figuring out how much new money the President
brought with him from America this week and dropped off in Nigeria.

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE:  Let us try to parse this a bit.  And
I'm going to ask Rick Samans to help out on the Ex-Im numbers, and Sandy
can give you more detail on the infectious disease money.  As I said
yesterday, prior to the President's trip to Africa, we had committed close
to $109 million in Fiscal 2000 to Nigeria.  That's a substantial increase
over the $7 million for Fiscal '98 -- so already a manifold increase in
both the size and the breadth of our assistance programs.

          The President, during the course of his time here in Nigeria this
weekend, has announced in various forms or fashions new cooperation, new
development, new assistance programs worth close to $20 million.  That's on
top of the $109 million.  That's money that is new to Nigeria, although
this is not necessarily new to the United States government and doesn't
require any additional appropriation.  And, obviously, some of it we will
look to be working with Congress for reprogramming and other sorts of

          In addition to that, the value of the training and equipping of
the five Nigerian battalions for peacekeeping is estimated to be $42
million.  That's additive on top of the roughly $129, which is where I got
the figure yesterday of roughly $170 million.

          Now, for the details.

          MS. THURMAN:  The HIV money, the $9.4 million is actually new
money, but it's, again, new to Nigeria this year.  It's not brand new
money, but, again, it triples our funding from last year.  And we hope to
work with Nigeria to increase funding again next year, because we just
think this is a really important investment for us to make.

          MR. SAMANS:  For the other part of your question regarding trade,
promotion and financing, the Ex-Im Bank has announced today a number of
facilities that will facilitate the financing and consummation of
transactions that could be worth ultimately hundreds of millions and,
possibly, billions of dollars.  The precise figure is, of course, hard to
know at this stage of the game.

          In addition, the Trade and Development Agency has consummated
some transactions for some project feasibility studies which, depending
upon the results of the project feasibility studies, could result also in
transactions in Nigeria worth as much as a billion dollars.

          Q    So, to clarify, on the AIDS money, the fact sheet here,
we've got $9.4 million, that's the new money that you are saying today is
going to come from somewhere --

          MS. THURMAN:  No, no.  It's money that we're already spending in
FY 2000.  It's part of the $109.  So it's --

          Q    But it wasn't promised to Nigeria before today, or it was?

          MS. THURMAN:  No, it was.  It was.  So that piece is included in
the $109 that Susan was talking about.

          Q    And the $8.7 million was already promised, as well?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE:  That's right.  The brand new money in
the $20 million -- excuse me?

          Q    Why did you put out a statement that says you announced
today this $20 million of AIDS money?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE:  That's not --

          Q    That's what it says on the statement that we've had all day
long to tell our editors what stories to expect.

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE:  Well, let me give you the breakout,
roughly.  Of the $20 million, the categories include -- I'm talking about
the $20 million that's over and above the $109 -- is in a variety of
categories, including digital divide, education, democracy, governance,
agriculture, labor and trade and investment, and a small quantity in the
health sector.  The money that Sandy was describing is fiscal 2000 money,
previously programmed for Nigeria.

          MS. THURMAN:  Again, the $20 million includes -- it's not just
HIV and AIDS, but it includes polio and tuberculosis.

          Q    Did Nigeria get any of that yet?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE:  I'm sorry?  Do you mean, has the money
been obligated and is it out the door?  I can't answer that.  Do you know
that answer to that?

          MS. THURMAN:  I know that some -- I don't know if all the AIDS
money is spent, but I know some of the AIDS money has already been spent
and is obligated and is on the ground now.  But I don't know how much of
our AIDS money -- I don't know about the malaria or polio money, but I do
know about the AIDS money.

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE:  Whether it's actually been obligated
and expended, it's all fiscal 2000 money and will be
this fiscal year.

          Q    -- I think the President and Gayle yesterday both said $1.3
billion in new loans being guaranteed today.  Is that number fuzzy?

          MR. SAMANS:  That's an estimate.  And again, because what we're
dealing with here are master guarantee arrangements, agreements with banks,
there are arrangements under which transactions could be financed and that
the specific amount of the transaction's dollar value of them, it's hard to
know with certainty ahead of time.  But this is a rough estimate that I
believe they were referring to before.

          Q    Can you name any specific companies that are going to be
involved in these deals?

          MR. SAMANS:  No.  These are financing facilities that have been
set up.  And now, there will be subsequent discussions between companies
that will then apply for the financing that's been laid out.

          Q    So you've given money to these banks?  I'm just not exactly
clear what --

          MR. SAMANS:  No.  What Ex-Im Bank does is that it guarantees
loans made to importers, and so the importers have to apply to a local bank
here.  And what Ex-Im announced today was agreements with -- standing
arrangements with four Nigerian banks to finance and to guarantee a loan to
a Nigerian company that wants to import certain goods from the United
States, or services.

          Q    -- is it your understanding that there is an agreement that
will be signed tomorrow?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE:  Let me answer that question, but let
me begin with a bit of context and background.  We're going to Arusha
tomorrow as part of our ongoing efforts to support President Mandela and
the Burundi peace process.  The United States has actually been actively
trying to avert crises and worst-case scenarios, as well as negotiate a
lasting peace in Burundi since, in effect, the genocide in Rwanda in 1994
when the Burundian President was also killed in the same plane crash, and
the situation has been fragile.

          In 1996, President Clinton sent then-Ambassador to the U.N.
Madeleine Albright and his National Security Advisor Tony Lake to Burundi
in the first half of the year as part of our efforts to try to contain the
threat of violence and minimize the potential for worst-case scenario.

          In June of 1996, he appointed former Congressman Howard Wolpe his
Special Envoy for Burundi.  And Howard Wolpe has been working very
actively, along with many others in the United States administration, on
the Burundi problem since 1996, including with President Nyerere of
Tanzania, former President Nyerere, until his death last fall, and now most
recently since the appointment as the new facilitator of former President
Nelson Mandela.

          We have invested significant sums in support of the peace process
itself and lent our diplomatic support wherever and whenever possible.  The
President himself has been involved in the Burundi peace process, not only
through his personal envoy, but through his participation last February in
a video teleconference where he spoke to the Burundi parties during one of
their previous negotiating sessions in Arusha.

          We see the Burundi peace process as being that, as it's termed, a
process.  It is ongoing.  And whatever happens tomorrow -- whether there's
a signing, whether there's a partial signing of pieces of the agreement
that the parties are prepared to put their names to at this point, or
whether there is no signing at all -- we will be still experiencing
tomorrow yet another step in the process, because the situation is
extraordinarily complex.  There are 19 parties with very divergent
interests.  There are rebel groups that have not agreed to come to the

          So the best we can hope for tomorrow is an outcome that takes the
process a large step down the road.  We may have an outcome that takes the
process a partial step down the road, not so large; and we may have
something else.  In any case, the United States will continue to support
the efforts of President Mandela and the whole facilitation team.  In any
case, in the event -- whether it's tomorrow or weeks from now or months
from now, of a peace agreement that is viable and lasting, the United
States will stand with the people of Burundi and offer our best possible
support to consolidate that peace through a variety of means -- development
assistance, post conflict reconstruction assistance and, of course, support
for consolidating the peace, itself.

          So the precise answer to your question is we don't know exactly
what will happen tomorrow and we may not know until we are on the plane.
The parties are meeting, they continue to meet.  Special Envoy Howard Wolpe
is there; he is meeting with the parties on the margins; he is meeting with
President Mandela at various points in time.  And we will see how far they
get.  We wish President Mandela well.  We have great admiration for his
efforts, which have been extraordinary.  I cannot think of a more complex
conflict in its multiple facets than that of Burundi.  And we will --
today, tomorrow and henceforth -- continue our efforts to try to bring
about a peaceful resolution to that conflict.

          Q    Well, was not the President's visit to Arusha tomorrow laid
on in the expectation that there would be an agreement?

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE:  No, his visit was a response to an
invitation from President Mandela, the President, while he is on the
African continent lend his support to what President Mandela has hoped
would be a signing tomorrow.  The decision to go to Arusha was made
irrespective of whether or not there was to be a signing because, in any
case, the parties will be meeting, they'll be gathering and there will be a
further and continuous effort to push the process forward in the direction
of progress and, hopeful, to an ultimate conclusion.

          Q    Can you explain this duty-free --

          MR. SAMANS:  The President announced in his speech a little while
ago that Nigeria will now be eligible for the GSP program.  GSP stands for
Generalized System of Preferences.  This is a trade program we've had for
about a generation now that provides preferential access to our market for
their exports of developing countries.  And so now, as a result of this
proclamation by the President, many Nigerian products, most besides oil, in
fact, will be eligible for tariff-free access to our market.  And this
tends in other cases where we've had the program in effect, to help
diversify the economies of developing countries by giving them a special
leg up in selling their products in our market vis-a-vis, say, exports from
developed countries that are not eligible for this special low tariff rate.

          Q    Low tariff or no tariff?

          MR. SAMANS:  No tariff.

          Q    How many countries --

          MR. SAMANS:  About 140.

          Q    Why did Nigeria not enjoy this previously?

          MR. SAMANS:  There are a series of eligibility requirements and
also the country has to apply for it.  Some of those eligibility criteria
include certain factors relating to how interested the economy is in
opening its markets, its protection of intellectual property rights, its
taking steps to afford internationally-recognized workers rights.  So there
are a series of criteria that Nigeria, I suppose, understood that it was
not going to meet, and we hadn't received an application until this year

          Q    -- differ from the eligibility they had under the African
Growth Opportunity Act?

          MR. SAMANS:  Yes, it does.  The African Growth and Opportunity
Act builds upon the GSP program.  In effect, it's a more expansive version
of GSP.  And so this, in many respects, could be considered a first step,
if you will, toward the extremely preferential treatment that Nigeria's
exports will receive should it be determined to be eligible for the African
Growth and Opportunity Act.  There are certain limitations in the GSP
program that will not apply under African trade bill or AGOA.
          Q    -- to get into, or are there a couple easy ones?

          MR. SAMANS:  Yes, it's not just specific products per se, such as
apparel, which is an import-sensitive product and is generally exempt from
the duty-free treatment under the GSP program, but also, there are process
requirements called "competitive need limitations."  In effect, what that
means is, if an economy sells more than $90 million of a given product
category to the United States, it really doesn't need the help to enter our
market.  So therefore, those products are not eligible for duty-free
treatment.  Under AGOA, under the African Trade Bill, those limitations
will not apply.

          Q    -- does that include fabrics in West Africa?  Will they now
be among the products that are under GSP?

          MR. SAMANS:  Some textile fabrics will be eligible for GSP

          Q    When they were drafting the law, they were talking about
using thread made in America and stuff like that --

          MR. SAMANS:  Yes.

          Q    -- and specifying only authentic garments or fabrics --

          MR. SAMANS:  Yes.  Now you're talking about the African trade
bill.  Under GSP, the issue about what thread is used is not a factor.
Under the African trade bill, you're right -- during the legislative
process there was by members of Congress some consideration about the rules
that would be required to be met in assembling an apparel product that
would be eligible for duty-free treatment.
                                 - 13 -

                                 - 12 -

          In the end, there was an agreement that is now part of the
African trade bill law that will provide duty-free, quota-free access to
the U.S. market for apparel made from African fabric subject to certain

          In addition, for the first four years of the program of the
African trade bill, for least-developed countries, including Nigeria,
garments made from not only African fabric, but fabric from anywhere in the
world will be eligible for this duty free, quota free treatment.

          ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE:  I just wanted to add a word on
Tanzania.  We're not only going to Arusha for the Burundi peace process,
we're going to Tanzania for Tanzania.  And President Clinton will do some
bilateral work tomorrow when he meets with President Mkapa of Tanzania.
This will be their second meeting -- second full up bilaterial meeting.
They met last year in New York at the U.N. General Assembly.  They will be
signing an open skies agreement, which is an important achievement for us
and for Tanzania.

          Tanzania is an important partner for the United States in East
Africa.  It is a solid young democracy.  It is reforming its economy and
opening its markets and working to attract trade and investment.  It has a
history of stability in a region of instability, oftentimes.  And it has
been a constructive partner for regional peace and security, whether in
Burundi or the Congo or in a number of other contexts.  So we look very
much forward to the opportunity to spend some time strengthening and
building the bilateral relationship with Tanzania, even as we come in
support of the Burundi peace process.

          THE PRESS:  Thank you.

                                 END                              8:10 P.M.

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