SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, good afternoon, everyone. It’s a pleasure to be able to meet with the president of Niger, President Bazoum. Niger is a very valued partner of the United States, a strong example of democratic governance, a leader in trying to advance regional security at a time when that is more important than ever.
So this is a partnership that we greatly value and attach importance to. I’ve had the opportunity to engage with the president on several occasions, but it’s a particular pleasure, Mr. President, to be able to meet with you directly. I also want to say that the United States is intent on supporting our partners in Niger, especially at a challenging time for so many of us. We are in the midst of providing additional assistance for food security, $9 million, given the combination that we’ve seen of COVID, of climate, and now of conflict with the Russian aggression in Ukraine. We know the intense pressure that countries are under when it comes to food insecurity. We’re working to do everything possible we can to help.
In addition, we have our colleagues from the Millennium Challenge Corporation working on additional compacts on a regional basis that will make a difference in Niger. And I’m also pleased that on the security side – and I know we’ll have an opportunity to talk about that – we have delivered and will continue to deliver important equipment – for example, armored personnel carriers that are vital in the important efforts that Niger is making to advance regional security.
So Mr. President, thank you for taking the time to see us today. Very much look forward to our conversation. Welcome.
PRESIDENT BAZOUM: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary of State. I am likewise very happy to have this opportunity to have this exchange with you this afternoon after our previous conversations, including in December when I was in New York. Likewise, I would like to tell you (inaudible) have the same positive assessment of our relationship, about its quality, its shape it’s taking.
And of course we are grateful with respect to your engagement by our side to strengthen democratic institutions on the one hand, but also to support us given the security challenges that we are confronted with. And there’s also your engagement in terms of development aid for our country. As you know, you are a major partner in all respects for Niger, and this is why we are very happy to have this opportunity to have an exchange with you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you, everyone.