Remarks With Founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative Ben Affleck
WASHINGTON, February 27, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Remarks
Secretary of State
Russell D. Feingold
Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
February 26, 2014
SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks, all, for coming in. Just want to say how much I appreciate Senator Russ Feingold's efforts with respect to the Great Lakes region, and I'm particularly grateful to Ben Affleck, who's had a longtime engagement on this. He testified before us in the Senate. We worked on this issue for some period of time. And they've just – have you already testified or --
MR. AFFLECK: This afternoon.
SECRETARY KERRY: He'll be testifying this afternoon before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
But Russ did a superb job working with Mary Robinson of the UN to help bring about the Kampala Accords and a diminishment in the violence, hopefully, when we get it fully followed through on, the disarming of M23, and a movement forward towards some stabilization and economic development and other issues. It's been a terrific effort, and I'm appreciative to both for their leadership in that regard.
So do you want to say anything, Russ?
MR. FEINGOLD: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Your willingness to be involved with this every step of the way has made a huge difference. Each time you've given me an additional thing to get done with good guidance and always willing to make the calls that need to be made. And it makes a huge difference when the Secretary, obviously, calls people. We try to use it sparingly, but when we do it, it's effective. So I'm grateful to you for your support on this, and we are making some progress.
SECRETARY KERRY: Ben, do you want to say anything?
MR. AFFLECK: Well, yes. I'm very grateful to be here in this esteemed company and particularly grateful to the Secretary, whose purview is the entire world, has taken time to focus on this issue and to recognize that this is a moment where we have a window where we can really effect change. And I'm grateful that he appointed Senator Feingold, who's an extraordinary man of great influence, to be ambassador to – or Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region. And finally, it's just a pleasure to be back here in the State Department after – the real State Department – I had to fake it for Argo. (Laughter.) I get to see the real thing here, so it's quite intimidating. Thank you again, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY KERRY: Happy to have you here. Thank you all very much. Appreciate it. Thanks.
MS. PSAKI: Thank you, everyone.
QUESTION: Is it better or worse than what it was like in Argo?
MR. AFFLECK: Well, this part's much better. In fact, this was – this area was too fancy to try to recreate so we just recreated white hallways with colored stripes. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What's your message to the Senate today?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thank you, everyone. Thank --
MR. AFFLECK: Well, you have to come to the testimony to talk about it, but in short it is in fact that while – this is a region that's suffered enormous damage and trauma. And this fire is now abating a little bit, and we have a window where engagement on the part of Secretary, the President, the Congress all collectively can make a real difference. And I think historically, there's an instinct to sort of put out one fire and go to the next fire. And this is a point where we can act to prevent the fire from igniting again.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all. Appreciate it very much.