Good evening everybody. I’d like to address two topics. First, I was very proud to speak on behalf of the United States at the High Level session that is underway on HIV AIDS. I underscored the United States leadership role from the very beginning until now and the fight against HIV/AIDS, the United States was a founding donor to the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. We remain its largest single donor. We contribute over 58% of the national bilateral funds to the global fight against HIV/AIDS. It is a contribution that we are very proud of, that has saved millions of lives. And today as we speak, some 3.2 million people are alive because of PEPFAR and the role that we are playing in providing lifesaving treatment around the world and particularly in Africa.
It is not every day that we have the opportunity to give the attention to the pandemic that it deserves. It has claimed millions, 25 million lives, and an extraordinary number of people are still being infected every day. The United States, under President Obama’s leadership, will continue the work that began under the Bush Administration. We have intensified it through the President’s Global Health Initiative and now we are not only fighting effectively the HIV/AIDS pandemic, but we are strengthening health systems throughout critical countries so that all sorts of diseases are better treated and health capacity is built.
But the United States and no single country can fight this horrific pandemic alone. And our message today was even as we will continue and intensify our efforts, so must the rest of the world. Other donors, the private sector need to intensify and increase their contributions because we have a long way to go before this pandemic is defeated. And so, we have insisted that this must be a shared responsibility among those affected countries as well as donor countries who support in partnership those who suffer most.
Secondly, I’d like to say a few words about Syria. As you know, we were in consultations on this subject this evening. We received a briefing, a very disturbing and comprehensive briefing, from Assistant Secretary General Fernandez-Taranco. The Council discussed that briefing as well as the text that has now been proposed, again, by our European colleagues. I expressed on behalf of the United States our strong support for that text and I underscored that the United States has consistently and repeatedly condemned the horrific actions that the Syrian regime has taken, using violence of an extreme fashion against its own people and peaceful protesters.
We have imposed a series of tough sanctions of our own on top of the sanctions we already had in place, including on President Assad and those closest to him. We will continue our efforts in various fora to make clear that reform must take place and must take place peacefully and that the violence must stop.
Happy to take questions.
Ambassador Rice: As you heard President Obama say on May 19, he can either lead that process or get out of the way. In the time that has elapsed, he is clearly not leading that process.
Reporter: Do you agree with Prime Minister Cameron’s comment that (inaudible) who opposed this (inaudible) on their conscience?
Ambassador Rice: Well I think we’ll see when and, presumably, this is brought to a vote. I’m most concerned that United States of America express itself clearly and plainly. We will be on the right side of history as and when this comes to a vote. If others are unable to or unwilling to then that will be their responsibility to bear.
Reporter: Follow up - do you have any evidence that (inaudible) may have been shot by Syrian forces?
Ambassador Rice: I have seen reports to that effect but I can’t confirm them independently.
Reporter: follow up – (inaudible) do you see any signs of change of the Security Council (inaudible)
Ambassador Rice: I haven’t seen much in the way of change. I think that we heard several Council members, in some instances I would argue disingenuously, use Libya as an excuse and as a ploy to avoid the real issues that we are facing in Syria and in some instances elsewhere. We heard some things in this discussion, that I thought, to be polite, strained credulity, not to mention morality. And we will see where a number of Council members come out.
Reporter: Would the United States like to have sanctions in this resolution or any other non declarative measures?
Ambassador Rice: I think you have all seen this text. It does not include sanctions at this point.
Ambassador Rice: I mean this is a process of building support. It is one that we’ve devoted efforts to, others are devoting efforts to and I think we have more to do and I’m hopeful, as others have stated they are, that there will be the possibility of a strong message from this Council. That’s what ought to happen.
Reporter: (inaudible)…Russia veto this vote?
Ambassador Rice: That will be their choice if this comes to a vote. The United States has been clear in its view on this. We think what has happened is reprehensible, unacceptable, is deserving of condemnation and clear message from this Council, and we’ll see what others think.
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