US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined short, medium and long-term US approach for strengthening relations with the Muslim World in a keynote address late Tuesday at the three-day US-Islamic World Forum.
Speaking in Washington, Clinton said the United States will work with people and leaders across the region to create more open, dynamic, and diverse economies where it can be more inclusive prosperity, while addressing participants than 30 Muslim-majority countries, including Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria and Sudan.
In the short term, the United States will provide immediate economic assistance to help transitional democracies overcome their earlier challenges, including USD 150 million for Egypt alone.
In the medium term, the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation will provide up to USD two billion to encourage private sector investment across the Middle East and North Africa, especially for small and medium-size enterprises.
In addition, the Global Entrepreneurship Program is seeking out new partners and opportunities to improve and expand Qualified Investment Zones.
For long term, Clinton said the US is discussing ways to encourage closer economic integration across the region, with the United States and Europe, and around the world.
She thanked Qatar, UAE and Jordan for contributing planes to help enforce the no-fly zone in Libya.
“All the signs of progress we have seen in recent months will only be meaningful if more leaders in more places move faster and further to embrace the spirit of reform,” said Clinton. She called on the governments to diversify their economies, open political systems, crackdown on corruption and respect the rights of women and minorities.
Clinton said the protests that erupted this year dispelled ‘myths’ that the Arab world was not suited for democracy and universal rights, and that governments could stay in power indefinitely through authoritarian rule.
Clinton said the United States will support the change that has taken place in Egypt and Tunisia, where long-standing rulers held power for decades until their ousted by mass demonstrations.
She called on the transitional governments in those countries to protect civil rights, including for minorities and women, and to ensure that democratic rule takes hold.
She decried the violent crackdowns by other governments facing mass protests, such as in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, a US ally.
Washington was the location of the annual US-Islamic Forum for the first time since its inception eight years ago.
Usually in Doha, it was hosted by the Qatari government and Brookings Institution’s Saban Centre for Middle East Policy and is intended to find ways to improve life and civic participation in the region.