Ambassador Blome and Assistant Secretary Cooper Open American Pavilion of the Djerba Airshow

Remarks of the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, R. Clarke Cooper

Sabah alkhyr! I am honored and thrilled to join you all today here at the very first Tunisia International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition.

Tunisia is a strong partner of the United States, and we are proud to stand with you. We salute Tunisia’s many contributions to regional and international security, from your role as an elected member on the United Nations Security Council, your participation in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, to your deployments to five UN peacekeeping missions, and your engagement with NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue.

Before coming here today, I visited Mauritania to observe FLINTLOCK, the regional multinational military and law enforcement exercise, where our Tunisian partners stood shoulder to shoulder with us.

A secure, prosperous and stable Africa is an enduring American interest: indeed, it is an enduring global interest, and we will continue to engage actively with our African partners to advance peace and security through bilateral, regional, and multilateral channels. For decades, the United States has demonstrated this commitment through sustained efforts to build defense capacity, particularly through professional military education, grant assistance, security agreements, joint exercises, training, and military exchanges.

Beyond our support to Tunisia, the United States has an unwavering and longstanding commitment to the countries of Africa. We support good governance, security, the rule of law, opportunities for economic growth, and anti-corruption efforts.  S. programs have opened the U.S. market to African goods, helped to contain Ebola outbreaks, brought electricity to rural areas, and helped Africans grow more and healthier food.  Our relationship is one of cooperation, mutual respect, and transparency, and today no other nation can match the United States’ commitment the continent.

Today’s air show and FLINTLOCK both reflect this shared commitment to what I see as the spirit of healthy partnership. A partnership based on mutual respect and shared values, not self-interest and exploitation. A partnership that contributes to self-sufficiency – not lasting dependency – and to sustainable capability – not burdensome debt. Partnership that is not just a means to an end, but a path which we value in its own right, for the friendships it creates, and the lessons we all learn, side-by-side.

As you will see by the impressive array of American military and commercial aircraft on display here today, we take great pride in the unparalleled quality of U.S. products and services and the robust diplomatic and defense partnerships that come with buying American.

The United States stands with Tunisia. We share a commitment to sovereignty and freedom.  We are committed to supporting you continue the development of plans and capabilities to protect your own citizens, deter aggression and promote regional security, and respond to significant challenges we face, collectively, today and tomorrow. Together, we are indeed stronger.

Thank you. Shukraan lakum. Welcome to the American Pavilion! (cut ribbon)