Ambassador Peterson presents Letter of credence to King Mswati III

Your Majesty, King Mswati III,

It is my honor and privilege to present to you today the Letter from the President of the United States, Barack Obama, accrediting me as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Swaziland and the Letter of Recall of my predecessor.

I am proud to have been chosen to serve as President Obama’s personal representative in the Kingdom. During my term, I look forward to working together to strengthen the dynamic relationship that already exists between the people and the governments of our two nations.

It gives me great pleasure to return to Africa, as I have spent much of my career working on this continent. I appreciate the warm welcome I have received in the short time I have been in the Kingdom. I am already enjoying the enormous beauty of this country and the kindness and hospitality of the people who live here. I look forward to meeting and working with Swazis from across all four regions of the nation during my tenure here.

The United States, Your Majesty, is committed to strengthening its partnership with the African continent, and our relationship with Swaziland is part of that commitment. This is an exciting time to serve as an ambassador of the United States in Africa, and I am thrilled for the opportunity.

As you know, our two countries have a long history of friendship and strong diplomatic relations. There is no better indication of the strength of that relationship than the United States – Swaziland PEPFAR Partnership Framework, which defines the cooperation between our governments in a joint effort to combat Swaziland’s HIV/AIDS pandemic. In fact, this year the U.S. Government has provided the most significant amount of funding to date in order to assist your government in its efforts to combat HIV – over one billion Emalangeni. With this funding, the United States partners with the Ministry of Health and NERCHA to support over 130,000 people on life-saving antiretroviral therapy. The funding also helps communities and over 41,000 orphans and vulnerable children mitigate the impact of HIV.

Part of the PEPFAR funding will also support a pilot initiative that is being rolled out in 10 countries, including Swaziland, which we call DREAMS. DREAMS represents a more focused and comprehensive effort to enhance and expand innovative approaches to reach the most vulnerable young women in Swaziland. I have always been particularly passionate about the rights and status of women and girls and I feel strongly that Swaziland, like all other countries, can never reach its full potential unless it actively defends and promotes those rights. I hope that through DREAMS and other Embassy programs, the U.S. Government can continue to collaborate with governmental and non-governmental institutions to advance gender equality and combat gender-based violence.

Our commitment to the people of Swaziland is also evident in the work of our 84 dedicated Peace Corps Volunteers serving across the country who are assisting the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland to implement its national strategy on HIV/AIDS risk reduction and impact mitigation. I thank the citizens of Swaziland who are collaborating with our Volunteers in those important efforts. I look forward to continuing to work together to build a stronger health system and, as a result, a healthier future for the people of this Kingdom.

Your Majesty, our partnership extends beyond the arena of HIV/AIDS and I am confident that together we will make steady progress on other issues of concern to our two nations.

I congratulate the Swazi government on completing the third of five benchmarks for restoring AGOA eligibility – the implementation of the Code of Good Practice for police officers – and the significant progress you have made on the remaining two, including a draft bill to amend the Public Order Act. I look forward to working closely with the Swazi government to assist you in any way I can to meet the remaining benchmarks so that Swaziland’s AGOA eligibility might be restored.

I also hope that our governments will continue to work closely together on areas of mutual interest, such as preventing trafficking in persons; promoting good governance, rule of law, and respect for human rights; and fostering sustainable economic development. While we may have some differences of opinion or approach on occasion, it is with the respect of true friends that we discuss those views with one another. I hope we can use our differences to engage in even deeper dialogue.

The new embassy in Ezulwini, which is nearing completion, is another very tangible symbol of the U.S. Government’s commitment to and partnership with Swaziland. We look forward to moving into the new building in the coming months and invite you to come see it in person.

Even as we look at long-standing initiatives on which we have collaborated, I am acutely aware of the drought that currently threatens the livelihoods and well-being of the Swazi people. I hope that we can join forces to identify mechanisms for near-term relief as well as plans for long-term disaster preparedness.

As we work together to promote democratic governance; the empowerment of women and girls; the full participation of youth in the future of this country; and economic growth and trade, in particular through the full implementation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, you can be confident that the United States of America is here as a friend and partner to Swaziland.

Since Swaziland’s independence in 1968, the United States of America has shown its commitment to maintaining strong ties with the Kingdom. As the U.S. Ambassador to Swaziland, I will continue to build on this history of friendship and look forward to a strong and productive diplomatic relationship with the government and the people of Swaziland.

Thank you.