WASHINGTON, D.C. /eNewsChannels/ — Today, Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew welcomed a delegation from the African Union as part of the first Annual U.S. – African Union High Level Bilateral Meetings. The Bureau of African Affairs is hosting these talks to add structure to the U.S. – AU relationship and to broaden our level of engagement. Over three days of meetings in Washington, the AU delegation will discuss the full range of U.S. priorities in Africa, and meet with cabinet officials such as Attorney General Eric Holder, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, U.S. Trade Representative Amb. Ron Kirk, and senior officials from the National Security Council, the National Intelligence Council, and the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Commerce, and State.

The United States is a strong supporter of the African Union. The organization represents 53 member states and over a billion African citizens. It coordinates Africa’s response to complex transnational issues such as climate change, and increasingly is the institution the U.S. turns to for help in resolving some of Africa’s most challenging issues. The U.S. is one of only two governments to have a dedicated ambassador to the AU, and we are the largest financial supporter of the AU’s peace and security programs. The U.S. believes that the African Union is an essential institution for defending our common principles of democracy and governance.

The U.S. participation is led by Deputy Secretary of State Lew, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary for International Organizations Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs Jose Fernandez, Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization Ambassador John Herbst, Ambassador to the African Union Michael Battle, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Vicki Huddleston.

The African Union delegation is led by Chairperson Jean Ping. In addition to Chairman Ping, the AU is represented by Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha, Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra, Commissioner Elizabeth Tankeu, Commissioner Bience Gawanas, AU Ambassador to the United States Amina Salum Ali, and AU Ambassador to the United Nations Tete Antonio.

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