Secretary of State John Kerry opened his remarks to African Union leaders gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this weekend by asking whether some had traveled by donkey.
“Thank you, Mr. President, for being here. And thank you, all of you, for treading up the hill to join me this morning. I saw a couple of donkeys out there. Did some of you come up on the donkeys? (Laughter.) But a lot of buses and cars, and I am very, very appreciative.”
The meeting, officially entitled the “Fourth Session of the U.S.-AU High-Level Dialogue,” addressed a number of issues on which the U.S. is working with African leaders, including conflict resolution, democracy, trade, and development.
South African journalist Nicholas Dawes noted Kerry’s “donkey gaffe,” adding that Kerry had failed to address the plight of journalists imprisoned in Ethiopia.
On Press Freedom Day in Ethiopia, John Kerry had room for donkey gaffe, but not for the journalists in jail nearby: http://t.co/3pYXDSkbMH
– Nicholas Dawes (@NicDawes) May 3, 2014
Kerry did urge press freedom earlier in the week.
Kerry’s itinerary includes South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola, but does not include Libya.
On Friday, House Oversight Committee Chair Darrel Issa (R-CA) issued a subpoena to Kerry, ordering him to testify about the State Department’s failure to provide relevant documents that the committee had demanded in connection with the deadly Sep. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
In his remarks to the AU, Kerry addressed other conflicts, and warned African leaders about the effects of climate change.
“[I]t is no exaggeration to say that the greatest risk to African agriculture, and even to our way of life, not just in Africa but on this planet, comes from the potential ravages of climate change,” Kerry said. He added that Africa should not repeat the mistakes of the developed world by using fossil fuels in its development.