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Ambassador Frazer Addresses African Conflict Resolution, Security

22 July 2005

Assistant secretary-designate also would give top priority to embassy safety

By Jim Fisher-Thompson
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- Ambassador Jendayi Frazer, whom President Bush has named to be the next assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said her focus in her new job would be on conflict resolution, fighting the war on global terror -- and safeguarding the thousands of people working at American embassies on the continent.

Frazer told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, meeting July 22 to confirm her appointment, that her recent job as U.S. ambassador to South Africa impressed upon her the need to create a safe environment for the officials and their staffs helping to promote U.S. policies and interests overseas.

The former University of Denver and Harvard professor worked in the White House as an Africa expert before being named by President Bush to be ambassador to South Africa a year ago.

If confirmed by the full Senate, Frazer told Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (Republican of Indiana), she will strive to safeguard the lives of U.S. citizens overseas.  "My most important responsibility is protecting Americans abroad," she said.

She plans to accomplish that task, she told lawmakers, by "working with [the Office of] Diplomatic Security and General Williams [director] at the Overseas Buildings Office [responsible for hardening U.S. missions against terrorist attacks]."

The goal, she said, is "to ensure the safety and security of the approximately 12,700 USG [U.S. government] officials and locally engaged staff serving at the 47 posts in sub-Saharan Africa."

Senator Lugar, who has long taken an interest in development issues on the continent, said he believed Frazer would be good for the job at the State Department because "you've been on the ground as ambassador," providing a "searchlight" on issues.

As she did when she was Africa adviser at the National Security Council, Frazer said, "I will continue to back African conflict mediation and strengthen African capacity to carry out support operations."

In that regard, Frazer told the committee, "I will ensure that the African Contingency Operations and Training Assistance [ACOTA] program receives the necessary guidance, oversight, and resources to contribute to Africa's stability."

Emphasizing military training partnerships, she added, "I will also, if confirmed, work to strengthen the East African Counterterrorism and the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiatives to provide a robust and multifaceted program to deny terrorists safe haven, operational bases, and recruitment opportunities in Africa."

Asked to comment of the recent trip to South Africa by President Bush's wife Laura, Frazer told Senator Lugar:  "It was indeed a wonderful visit.  It was an opportunity for the first lady to meet with many young girls and women in Africa.  In South Africa, the first lady really highlighted the question of women's empowerment and education and how it relates to the question of HIV/AIDS."

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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