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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 20, 1996


Ambassador Madeleine Albright has just completed a visit to Burundi on behalf the President to underscore the deep concern of the United States towards the deteriorating political and security situation in Burundi. She delivered a letter to the Burundian President from President Clinton restating American support for the Convention of Government already agreed to as a means of sharing power and advancing democracy.

Ambassador Albright stressed to political leaders with whom she met that it was important for Burundians of all ethnic and political persuasions to set aside their differences, reject extremism, renounce violence and acknowledge the benefits of a peaceful, stable Burundi. She warned extremist forces that the United States will not support, recognize or provide assistance to any government that may come to power in Burundi by force and will lead an international effort to isolate any such regime.

We believe it is possible for Burundians to share power, to overcome their mistrust and fears. The U.S. and its partners in the international community are eager to find ways to help Burundians fulfill these goals. We continue to support international efforts to facilitate political reconciliation, including those of Burundi's neighbors, the United Nations, former President Carter and others.

The downward spiral of violence, resulting from interethnic strife, could result in an enormous loss of civilian life, a considerable outflow of refugees and destabilization of the entire Africa Great Lakes region. It is already resulting in widespread human rights abuses and the ascendancy of extremist groups who employ intimidation and violence.

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