Africa Regional Media Hub
Press Briefing with Ambassadors Michael Raynor and Mary Beth Leonard
March 9, 2018
OPERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the post-trip readout. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later there will be an opportunity for questions, with instructions being given at that time. If you should require any assistance during today’s call, please press * then 0 and an operator will assist you offline. As a reminder, today’s conference is being recorded. I’d now like to turn the conference over to your host, Brian Neubert. Please go ahead, sir.
MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone, from the U.S. Department of State’s Africa Regional Media Hub. I’d like to welcome our participants dialing in from across the continent and thank you for joining today’s discussion. Today we are very pleased to have two ambassadors in Addis Ababa, the U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Raynor, as well as the U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, Ambassador Leonard. We’ll begin today’s call with opening remarks from Ambassador Leonard and Ambassador Raynor, and then we will turn to your questions. At any time during the call if you’d like to join the question queue, press *1 on your phone. If you’d like to join the conversation on Twitter, we’re using the hashtag #SecStateinAfrica and you can also follow us on @AfricaMediaHub.
We have some of your questions in advance sent to our email address at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also continue to do that. As a reminder, today’s call is on the record. And with that, let me turn it over to Ambassador Leonard.
AMB. LEONARD: Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be virtually with our callers into Johannesburg and with our colleagues here in Addis as well. It’s a great pleasure to talk about the Secretary’s visit and his interactions with Chairperson Faki. We view as one in a series of engagements between the United States and the African Union. You’ll recall that we had our United Nations Ambassador, Nikki Haley, here in October. Of course, the Secretary and the Chairperson previously met in November on the margins of our High-Level Dialogue in Washington, D.C. The High-Level Dialogue is the annual culmination of our work together. Of course, we had our Senior Bureau Official Don Yamamoto here in December, and it was a pleasure to add this engagement by the Secretary in Addis over the last day.
You may have seen that we have a Joint Communiqué with the African Union that came out last night that talks about a lot of the content of our engagement. So basically we acknowledge that the United States and the African Union have very solidly-shared goals for how to achieve a stable and prosperous Africa. And the United States views our own security and economic prosperity as very linked to this continent. It is already a rather significant market of 1 billion people and by 2050 even more significant still. There are a variety of security challenges on the continent that we are happy to partner with Africa and the AU on efforts to counter those. There was that fabulous discussion about regional discussion and how that creates future good opportunities for trade with the U.S.
I’ll be happy to answer questions about some of the individual things that we discussed, but I would just say that moving forward, we’ll look forward to our new, this year’s, High-Level Dialogue in Addis Ababa and throughout the year we will continue with our technical working groups to lay the terrain for how Africa and the United States can work together with this premiere institution to help address the problems, the challenges, and seize the opportunities on the continent. Thank you.
AMB. RAYNOR: Good morning, Michael Raynor. I’m very happy to be here this morning. Really excited about the Secretary’s trip to Ethiopia. It came as part of a continuum of a very longstanding, very deep, very rich, very multifaceted bilateral relationship, and the intent of the visit was essentially to strengthen that partnership, to build upon it, to find new ways that we can be mutually reinforcing.
In that regard, the Secretary spoke with senior Ethiopian officials, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, about areas of shared interests. Talked about the security partnership, which is extremely dynamic and important. And there are political as well as security dimensions to that, in terms of supporting Ethiopia’s essential role in promoting stability in the region. They spoke about economic growth and development, and the opportunities that creates for both nations, and building economic ties, which again are longstanding and deep. And of course the Secretary is here at a very interesting moment in Ethiopia’s political life. And so that gave him a very good opportunity to hear from Ethiopian leadership about the transition of the Prime Minister, about movement toward greater democratic space, and again, this all came in the context of a very rich and deep partnership, and in that context it was very supportive, very constructive, and very candid dialogue. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you, ambassadors. We will now begin the question and answer portion of today’s call. For those asking questions, I do ask that you state your name and your media outlet, and if you could stick to the topic of today’s briefing, which is the Secretary’s visit in Ethiopia for bilateral meetings, as well as his meetings with the African Union. For those of you listening in English, again, you can press *1 on your phone to join the question queue. We can also take your questions at email@example.com . Ambassador Leonard, I’ll direct the first question to you, that was sent to us in advance. You mentioned the next High-Level Dialogue again this year in 2018. Could you talk a little bit about your next steps in the coming months following the Secretary’s meetings, the next steps that your mission, that the U.S. will take with the African Union, in continuing to grow the relationship and to prepare for the next High-Level Dialogue?
AMB. LEONARD: Oh, I’d be happy to. So our memorandum of understanding with the African Union organizes our work along sort of four lines of effort: peace and security, democracy governance, economic opportunity, economic development. And there are a variety of topics that fall neatly within those four areas, be it capacity-building and training, consolidating agricultural policy, talking about trade integration. So as we go throughout the year, we have both informal and more formalized technical working groups, where we get together with our counterparts at the African Union, we bring in experts from our own government, either physically or virtually, to talk about preparing the groundwork for the next steps in the variety of these programs. So that is what we’ll continue over the course of the U.S. mission to the African Union work on a daily basis. There is no fixed date in the year for the High-Level Dialogue; in 2016 it happened in December. In 2017, it happened in November. As you can imagine, it’s a question of putting together some very [UNCLEAR] schedules to figure out the exact date. But that gives us nine months of continuing to move forward on how the United States and the African Union can partner to make our work together and the work of the African Union more effective, more empowered, in meeting the challenges and opportunities presented on this continent.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Ambassador Leonard. As a reminder to our participants, to join the question queue you press *1 on your phone, and if you could state your name and affiliation when you do that. The next question that we have in advance, for Ambassador Raynor: you mentioned the very strong security cooperation the United States has with Ethiopia. One of the things that Secretary Tillerson mentioned in his speech at George Mason University on Tuesday before he left the United States was the economic relationships, the economic trade and investment with African countries, Ethiopia, of course, being one of the largest and most dynamic. If you could speak a little bit about the economic element of the bilateral relationship and the extent to which the Secretary addressed trade and investment while he was in Addis Ababa. Thank you, sir.
AMB. RAYNOR: Thank you very much. Indeed, the economic dimension of the relationship is a vital dynamic and growing one, and one that we are looking very much at ways that we can further strengthen. As you know, the Secretary has quite an extraordinary business background in his own right, so he brought a private sector perspective to there in a way that I think was very fruitful in these discussions. The Ethiopian government, as you noted, has had an extraordinary run of growth over the past 12 or so years, many of those years averaging 10% or more a year, becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
That creates opportunities for Ethiopia; it also creates opportunities for U.S. business and for investment, and it also is really important to helping address the needs and the aspirations of the Ethiopian people. So we see our engagement on the economic front as being multifaceted, as our broader relationship is. And we also see enormous opportunity for U.S. commercial engagement that’s mutually beneficial and reinforcing as well. So we spoke a lot about the various sectors in which that is the case, certainly we have a very highly-valued relationship with Ethiopian Airlines, that both parties were happy to speak about. We talked in great depth about the power sector, the fact that the U.S. has extraordinary expertise and commercial success in developing renewable energy sectors, so we mentioned the [UNCLEAR] and the thermal projects, as well as hydro and other projects. But there was really a broad-ranging discussion, we also discussed tourism and the mutually-reinforcing benefits of having more people go back and forth between our two countries. The economic benefits of that, but also creating greater connections and understanding.
So it was really quite a broad-ranging conversation, but the upshot of it was that there’s enormous U.S. interest in helping Ethiopia’s economic growth and playing both commercial and developmental roles in that regard. And that we see lots of opportunities to do that going forward. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Ambassador Raynor. I’ll add at this point, I should’ve mentioned at the top, for our listeners elsewhere, that we are joined by a number of journalists in Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa, and the ambassadors will have the opportunity to speak with them after we finish on the phone. But thank you as well for joining us, and I know that many of you join us pretty regularly for calls with the Africa Regional Media Hub, and we appreciate your interest. For those on the line, again, to join the question queue, if you press *1 on your phone and then we can ask you to state your name and your affiliation. In the meantime, we’re taking questions via Twitter @AfricaMediaHub, again using the hashtag #SecStateinAfrica if you’d like to join the conversation, and we’re also receiving emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A question for perhaps both ambassadors: there’s a lot of discussion, including in the Secretary’s speech on Tuesday, about the maximum pressure, diplomatic effort to isolate North Korea. He has mentioned some of the progress made in Africa, in discussions and diplomatic engagement with African countries, to join the United States in pressuring North Korea. Could you comment on the extent to which the Secretary raised that issue with the African Union and Ethiopian counterparts?
AMB. LEONARD: I’m happy to begin. As you’ll notice that in our Joint Communiqué we refer to the fact that the Secretary underscored very strongly our concerns with DPRK’s development of weapons of mass destruction. I think that it’s instructive to recall that for the African Union, a non-nuclear Africa and the African Union attaches a great deal of importance to non-proliferation, and so that deadlock principle for the AU, I think underscored their response to us as well.
AMB. RAYNOR: I would just, from the bilateral side, I don’t really think I would go too far into detail on what was discussed in particular meetings. I would say that the United States is quite grateful for Ethiopia’s role in helping to bring pressure to bear on the North Korean regime, certainly their role as a member of the UN Security Council and also as just a very constructive and responsible international partner has been very helpful, and we continue to coordinate and consult on ways that we can collectively bring greater pressure to bear.
MODERATOR: Thank you, both of you, Ambassadors, for your comments on that question. As a reminder to our participants, the communiqués that have been referenced by one or both ambassadors, that came out during the Secretary’s time in Ethiopia, have been made available to journalists, and certainly if there are follow-up questions or if you have not received those, the Africa Regional Media Hub can get those to you, again, if you ask us at email@example.com . I’m going to give just one more moment for any final questions to come in before we wrap up. I know that the ambassadors will turn to the journalists there in Addis Ababa next. Some of the participants, I know, are listening from Nairobi, which is one of the Secretary’s follow-on stops and the Africa Media Hub is endeavoring to host calls like this with ambassadors at most of the countries that Secretary Tillerson will visit in order to give you an opportunity to ask questions like you have done today and give the ambassadors an opportunity to amplify the messages and amplify the outcomes and takeaways from the time that the Secretary spent there.
It appears that we don’t have any further questions. Ambassadors, I’ll turn it over to you if you’d like to make any final remarks before we wrap up.
AMB. LEONARD: I would just like to remind us all that the visit actually happened on International Women’s Day, and I think that both our Secretary and Chairperson Faki have been great champions of gender equality of opportunity, and against harassment in the workplace, within their respective institutions. I will say that as a woman ambassador, it was a great treat on International Women’s Day to be able to take my Secretary to the African Union. And not only that, as we sat in the meeting with Chairman Faki, I couldn’t help but notice that we had the Secretary and one other man, but the remainder of our plus-five, the Secretary’s Chief of Staff, myself, Ambassador Sullivan from the Department of State, and Amanda Jacobsen, on the spokesperson side. So I think International Women’s Day is always a proud day, but yesterday for me, and I think for the U.S. delegation, it was in particular. Thanks.
AMB. RAYNOR: Thank you. I will just say a couple of things. Ethiopia, for the United States, is a cornerstone country. It’s one of the most significant partnerships we have in Africa and beyond. The United States has a great deal invested in Ethiopia being as stable, strong, prosperous, and politically inclusive as it can be, because that’s the best outcome for Ethiopia and for Ethiopians, but it’s also the best outcome for the United States and the strength of our enduring partnership. So that’s the spirit in which the Secretary came; I think it was a highly successful visit in building on that partnership, and we look forward to continuing that going forward.
MODERATOR: Thank you again to both of our ambassadors, Ambassador Raynor, the United States ambassador to Ethiopia, as well as Ambassador Leonard, the U.S. ambassador to the African Union. And thank you, Ambassador Leonard, for mentioning International Women’s Day; I can mention, certainly, at Africa Media Hub but several U.S. agency, U.S. embassy, Department of State, Twitter handles and other social media properties put out some very interesting information yesterday, some new initiatives that I commend to our participants to take a look at in the spirit of exactly what Ambassador Leonard referred to, so thank you very much Ambassador Leonard.
Thanks to both of you for taking the time. This concludes today’s call. Again, if you have any questions to follow up, you can contact the Africa Regional Media Hub at firstname.lastname@example.org . Again, thanks to our Ethiopian journalists who have joined in person there in Addis Ababa; thank you for listening patiently and now you’ll have the opportunity to engage directly with the ambassadors. Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: We have about another 15 minutes available for questions, so please stick to one question at a time so we that we can get as many opportunities as we can. Yes. Please state your name and your affiliation.
QUESTION: My name is Eskinder; I work for the Voice of America. My question is, we understand Ethiopian government was not happy about the U.S. government’s position on the state of emergency. The Secretary of State reiterated that position yesterday again. Can you tell us how the discussion on that issue went yesterday, and what next?
AMB. RAYNOR: Well I think you actually did a very good job of telling us how that discussion went. The government of Ethiopia, as you said, has publicly expressed concerns about our position on that. It’s a position we made because we felt it was correct and appropriate, and the Secretary reiterated that yesterday. We understand that the government does need to address legitimate security concerns, and to ensure the safety of its citizens. We hope very much that it can do so in a way that is as respectful as possible of people’s rights and political space at the same time. We had noted important efforts toward broadening political space between the last state of emergency and this one, peaceful public demonstrations that were allowed. Certainly the release of, by now, nearly 10,000 prisoners. The Prime Minister’s own peaceful, voluntary decision to step down to further the cause of political reform. That was the context within which we saw the state of emergency as problematic, and a step in a potentially unhelpful direction. So we wanted to make our position clear. I think we’ve done so, and I think the Secretary succeeded in reiterating that yesterday. Where we go forward is we do everything we can to partner with Ethiopia to support its own reform agenda, to support its own efforts to meet the interests of its citizens on security, economic, and political grounds. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Other questions? Yes, please.
QUESTION: Thank you. Neamin Ashenafi from the Reporter. You were telling us Mr. Tillerson and the Prime Minister were discussing the common areas of interest, but was there specific discussion on human rights and democracy in the country?
AMB. RAYNOR: Well, I can’t go into great detail on the discussions, but I can assure you that there was a lot of discussion about political space, about rights, about Ethiopia’s trajectory in that regard. The Secretary has been quite clear; he was quite clear in his press availability yesterday, that the United States stands ready to support Ethiopia however it can in expediting the reform agenda. I think there was also discussion about the pace of that agenda, and a shared view that these reforms need to happen at a pace commensurate with the expectations of the Ethiopian people, and again we stand ready to support that however we can.
MODERATOR: Yes, please.
QUESTION: Thank you, my name is Tesfaye from Capital Newspaper. The peace situation in Ethiopia is not like it was two or three years ago.
AMB. RAYNOR: I’m sorry, the…?
QUESTION: The current peace situation in Ethiopia because there are a lot of protests, people are died every day and do you think such kind of things will destabilize the relationship between U.S. and Ethiopia?
AMB. RAYNOR: I’m sorry, I didn’t understand. The what situation?
QUESTION: The Ethiopian situation.
AMB. RAYNOR: Ethiopian situation.
MODERATOR: If I can help, sorry, I believe the question is, so the situation in terms of the peace in Ethiopia has been over the past two or three years concerning in the sense that there have been acts of violence, deaths… is there concern that this ongoing situation, if it continues, will disrupt relations between our two countries? Is that correct?
QUESTION: that is what I am saying. Yes.
AMB. RAYNOR: Okay. I’m sorry. Thank you. Thank you for your patience. Well, I think I would answer that in a couple of ways. You sort of touched on political and security dimensions of the current environment. I think what we’re seeing here is an effort to strike a balance, and we understand that effort. We aren’t happy when we see violent protests, and we aren’t happy when we see criminality, and we aren’t happy when we see criminality in the guise or pretending to be political in expression. So we don’t endorse that, we don’t support that, and we understand that any government has a legitimate role to play in ensuring the peace of its country and the safety of its people. At the same time, you know, the Secretary was very eloquent in mentioning that democracy is not easy, and it’s not always clean. It’s a messy process, and you have to have a certain tolerance for that as you evolve and grow your democratic traditions and institutions. And I think that’s part of the balance that Ethiopia is striving to meet right now, is finding ways to create space, to broaden space, to respect rights, but to do so in a way that is commensurate with maintaining peace, and I think as we said in our statement on the state of emergency, we may have different views at times about how that balance is best struck. The U.S. impulse is to say that more freedom is always better, and so that will probably continue to be our role, but that’s nothing new. That’s been a part of our dialogue for a long time, and because we have this deep and rich friendship, we can have this dialogue without putting at risk our fundamental relationship.
QUESTION: my question is do you think such kind of scenario will destabilize the two countries’ relations?
AMB. RAYNOR: Well, I think we have to talk about short-term stability and long-term stability, and I think if you have a particular area of unrest, you have to look at the causes of that, and you have to look at what proportionate measures might be warranted. I think in the long term, any country is more stable when its people have more political space, when they feel that their government understands them, that they have access to influence their government, and that they have results from their government that seem responsive to both their political and their economic aspirations. I think that is the path to true long-term stability.
MODERATOR: Yes, please.
QUESTION: I am Eyuel from Fortune. My question is a little bit different. Yesterday the Secretary of State addressed that the Chinese government is exerting a force of dependency on African relations. And plus, large debt rates.
AMB. LEONARD: And large…?
MODERATOR: Debt rates.
AMB. LEONARD: Debts. Gotcha.
QUESTION: So, what do you think is the solution? Is the solution to make the Chinese government get out of the countries? What do you think is the solution?
AMB. LEONARD: I would say the United States is not here to try to exclude any country from partnership with Africa. There is room for many partners, there are many opportunities for engagement, there are many means, and all partners can contribute to that cause. I think the point the Secretary was trying to make is that as partners come in, that we hope they would do so in the spirit of openness and inclusivity and transparency, so that those engagements bring their maximum help and don’t create complications or constraints in the course of interacting with African governments.
I think you also heard the Secretary say, either while he was here or in his speech at George Mason, that we’re happy to cooperate and partner with other governments who work in this space as well – where we may – and in fact we do so with China. I would offer the biggest example, probably, is our efforts with the African Union CDC, where the U.S. and China are some of the largest contributors to the standing up of that new organization. We operate in similar spaces insofar as China contributes equipment for military operations or training and equipping of military institutions as well. So it is possible to cooperate. I think his plea is for, insofar as other actors interact with this continent, that they do so in the spirit of transparency and openness and inclusivity.
MODERATOR: Yes, question here.
QUESTION: My question is concerning the security situation in the horn of Africa as we know…
MODERATOR: I’m sorry, could you state your name and affiliation?
QUESTION: Ok. Yeshihareg Abebe from Kana Television
MODERATOR: Thank you.
QUESTION: we know that AMISOM is preparing to withdraw from Somalia, and Somalia’s strength to protect its citizens from al-Shabaab or any other terrorist organization is questionable. So what do you think, or what is your country’s stand on post-AMISOM situation of Somalia, and is your country’s forces will also leave Somalia, or it will continue to assist the Somalian government?
AMB. LEONARD: The United States has been very engaged in Somalia and in supporting AMASOM for a very long time. I think over the last few years, our assistance to AMASOM has been perhaps $1.1 billion. Our contributions through UNSOS to support Somalia have been upwards of $600 million, we’ve also been very engaged in direct training and assistance for the Somali national forces. I think everybody in the international community who has been involved in this effort is very conscious of the great investment and commitment that has been made, and how successful that commitment has been over time. You know, I often reflect as I’m sitting here in a long career in Africa, for how many decades the situation in Somalia seemed to hopeless. And through this incredible investment and this incredible cooperation with international partners and with countries in the region, to see how far Somalia has come – to have a government, to have a national security architecture, to have a national development plan. No one wants to see that investment be squandered.
So the question is, how do we go forward? I think that some concerns were expressed by troop-contributing countries in a recent meeting in Kampala, that perhaps the timeline for transition between AMASOM and Somali forces might be a little longer, and I think you heard the Secretary, and you’ll see references in our statements in our Joint Communiqué, is very committed to figuring out how we can continue to be a partner in this, and I think that there is great goodwill to figure out a solution to the end of a prosperous and stable Somalia that we all want. I think there are some questions about burden-sharing and how to get ourselves to the goal, but there are also a number of efforts under way to identify how that can be achieved. And I heard a very strong commitment from the Secretary for the United States to participate actively still in that equation.
AMB. RAYNOR: Maybe I would just add from an Ethiopia perspective that we have enormous regard for the role Ethiopia plays in Somalia. We believe that the Somali government needs to be supported politically but that it has enormous challenges on the security side, and the role Ethiopia plays in that regard is essential and one of the centerpieces of our security partnership is to support Ethiopia and the role it plays in Somalia, and we are certainly committed to that partnership going forward.
MODERATOR: Okay, we’ll go to EBC and the last question to VoA after that.
QUESTION: Thank you very much, Tibebu from EBC. There was a kind of disagreement between Africa and the U.S. due to President Trump’s comment a month ago. So did the Secretary try to clear out this thing yesterday in his discussion with the AU chairperson?
AMB. LEONARD: I think what you see reflected in our statement, and what was certainly the content of their discussions, is a recognition that the African Union and the United States have an enormous amount of work to do together. It is a relationship founded on great respect and commitment to furthering the goals and aspirations of Africa. All of the work that we do at the African Union is about helping the AU and by extension, the continent, solve real problems and affect real people and seize real opportunities that can benefit real people. And if you read our communiqué you’ll see in great detail all the various avenues that we pursue to do that. And that was very much the focus of their discussion yesterday.
MODERATOR: Okay. Did you have a question? Okay, last one.
QUESTION: [Eskinder form VOA] Thank you. Africa hosts most of the peace operations in the world. And there have been concerns that the U.S. proposed budget cuts will affect these operations. Has this issue been discussed between the Secretary and Moussa Faki yesterday, and are you on the same page when it comes to peace in South Sudan, especially with regard to sanctions?
AMB. LEONARD: So we’ve got two sets of questions there. I think the United States remains a very heavily engaged contributor to peace support and peacekeeping operations across this continent. I think that sometimes we have some concerns about what kind of money ought to be used for that, there’s been a long discussion, for example, about the G5 Sahel, where the United States has long been heavily financially implicated in supporting the efforts of the countries that now comprise the G5. We just in the fall announced another $60 million to that effort. We do take the view that that is more appropriately addressed through bilateral contributions than through peacekeeping activities. It’s in some ways a very technical question of countries that are operating with permission of their neighbors to go across borders, don’t need UN authorization, and that’s probably an offensive sort of activity, and so therefore we choose to support that in a bilateral. But we are still very involved in supporting those activities.
At the same time, I think that there are important questions that should be asked on a regular basis about what is the efficiency of the use of resources, are they being used for their intended purpose, are the people who are being funded through that meeting standards of accountability in terms of human rights and behavior? And those are important questions that deserve to have answers, and that’s an ongoing conversation. But I would say that one should not in any way doubt the commitment of the United States to remain engaged in supporting the efforts of the African continent, African troop contributors, and peacekeeping more generally in this world.
On the question of South Sudan, I think that was a very good discussion, I think there was great commonality of intention across partners, whether it be IGAD or the African Union, the Troika, the International Contact Group, about the need for the High-Level Revitalization Forum to go forward, for there to be a negotiated path forward, but at the same time there’s concern about violations of the cessation of hostilities, and I think that you’re hearing not only the United States but AU and IGAD partners talking about the need for there to be consequences for behavior that goes counter towards a stable and prosperous future for South Sudan. So I think that’s a conversation that will continue over the coming weeks, and we look forward to remaining engaged on that score.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, ambassadors. Any final closing thoughts?
AMB. LEONARD: Well I think I would sort of repeat what I had already said about International Women’s Day, because it was obviously a special moment in an ambassador’s life, and across the table on the AU side we had a very representative panel as well, so nice symbol for an important day.
AMB. RAYNOR: And if I may, I would just like to thank you very much for the work that you do. This is a cornerstone of democracy and political space and rights and freedoms, and the work you do to capture areas of interest and to get that out to people is vital to Ethiopia, it’s vital to everything we strive to promote from the United States, so we’re always very happy to have these opportunities and I really thank you for the work that you do.
MODERATOR: Thank you all for coming.
AMB. LEONARD: Thank you so much.
MODERATOR: Did everyone get a copy of the communiqué?