Thank you Mr.President. Thank you Special Adviser Benomar for your briefing. As is reflected in our gathering today, the UN, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the international community as a whole have all played important leadership roles in support of Yemen’s critical transitional period.
I would also like to recognize Foreign Minister Qirbi, Foreign Minister Bishop, who’s now departed, Secretary General Zayani, and other leaders who are here. My delegation has appreciated the chance to engage with you this week and to listen to your views here today. The United States shares many of the aspirations that you have expressed.
We firmly support Yemen’s transitional process, including the National Dialogue and the confidence building measures undertaken by President Hadi. We join with Yemen’s regional and global partners in standing behind Yemen’s efforts to strengthen the country’s political stability, security, unity, and development. And, of course, we are aware of the many challenges to Yemen’s internal peace and economic progress, but we share the determination expressed by many here today to continue our efforts, in coordination with Yemen’s friends, to build on the important forward steps that have been taken.
As Special Adviser Benomar pointed out last April, “The National Dialogue Conference has opened a new chapter in the transition for which Yemenis are now writing their own pages…Groups, which only a year ago were engaged in armed clashes, are now gathering in the same hall to discuss a common future for their country.”
Given the nature of past grievances and the scope of current challenges, it is proving very difficult to do a variety of things: to decide on the structure of a state, to resolve deep-seated regional grievances, to consider the question of accountability for past violations and, at the most basic level, to meet humanitarian and social needs. My government was pleased to note the substantive discussions within the dialogue’s working groups, as well as vigorous efforts at outreach that were undertaken, and the inclusion of women--which has been referred to several times here today--as well as men from all parts of the country into the process.
In recognition of the historic nature of this moment, our shared objective now should be to ensure that the outcomes of the National Dialogue are translated into a new constitution and legislative agenda and explained to the Yemeni people. We need to work together to ensure that the electoral commission updates the voter registry, organizes the constitutional referendum and prepares for important national elections early next year. We urge the Yemeni government to produce a detailed plan and detailed budget for the elections process to help donors identify resource gaps.
My government also continues to support President Hadi’s efforts to restructure Yemen’s military and security services, including the decrees he has issued to outline a new brigade structure and to otherwise professionalize and enhance the capabilities of the armed forces. We encourage the government to maintain and expand its efforts to implement this essential aspect of the transition agreement. We all know how important security is, as the foundation for all else.
In addition, we strongly commend the president and his government for the leadership they’ve shown in countering the threats posed by violent extremist groups. We join with others in condemning recent attacks, including the vicious assault on Shebwa on September 20th that killed and wounded dozens of soldiers who were simply there to do their jobs. Yemen is determined to build a better and more stable future for its people; terrorists will not be able to stand in the way of that landmark initiative. In Yemen, as elsewhere, open and constructive policy debate should be welcome, but efforts to divide and destroy through violence must be resolutely opposed.
Looking ahead, we are encouraged by the commitment shown by the UN, the GCC, and other partners to support Yemen during this pivotal period. It’s essential that the transition remains on track and that progress also be made in implementing economic reforms, fighting corruption, and strengthening governance, which is, of course, again, foundational as with security. I emphasize, as well, the persistence of food insecurity and other urgent and dire humanitarian needs within the country. The UN’s response plan for Yemen remains severely underfunded; it is critical that countries who have pledged deliver on their pledges and do everything necessary to see that basic requirements are met. The United States has provided over $320 million over the past three years in support of the UN appeal.
Ultimately, the success or failure of the transition depends on the choices made by Yemen, by Yemen’s government and by Yemen’s people; that is both appropriate and it is a challenge for all of us to work as diligently as we can to attain the goal we all seek: a Yemen that is stable, confident, at peace with itself and its neighbors, and moving in the right political and economic direction.
In closing, I’d like again to commend the leadership being demonstrated by President Hadi and his government, by Special Envoy Benomar, and by the members of the GCC. In this joint effort of extraordinary importance, the United States remains ready and willing to do its part.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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