Washington, DC – Today, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), and Senate Foreign Relations Africa Subcommittee Chairman Chris Coons (D-DE) met with President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila.
Menendez, Royce, and Coons issued the following joint statement after the meeting:
“We look forward to a time when a lasting peace and the opportunity for prosperity is a reality for all Congolese citizens and for the Great Lakes region.”
The Chairmen and the President discussed the longstanding conflict in eastern Congo and a sustainable path forward to peace for local communities, including vital efforts to disarm and demobilize rebel groups. The Chairmen urged the President to fully carry out actions agreed to in the February 2013 Framework Agreement, including deepening security sector reform and progress in decentralization.
The Congressional leaders also vigorously pressed President Kabila to lift the current suspension of exit permits for adoptive children, which is impacting hundreds of American families, while stressing the urgency of the medically critical cases. Earlier this week, one young child with health issues awaiting an exit visa from the DRC tragically passed away.
Additionally, they discussed the DRC lending its expertise to the West African countries confronting the current ebola crisis, given Congo’s past experience with the disease.
The Chairmen raised the issue of good governance and the importance of respecting presidential terms limits as outlined in the constitution. The group also discussed the DRC’s energy shortfall, a major impediment to economic growth. The Chairmen noted that they would continue to work to send to President Obama’s desk legislation that encourages private investment to help improve energy access and provide the energy needed for robust economic growth.