Rethinking the U.S. Approach in the Global South

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This transcript is from a CSIS event hosted on March 7, 2024. Watch the full video here.

Daniel F. Runde: All right. Let’s get started. I’m really grateful that these two really impressive ambassadors have agreed to be with us today. I’m Dan Rande. I’m a senior vice president here at CSIS. We’re delighted to host today’s discussion as part of a new event series we’re launching at CSIS called the Great Power Dialogues. This series will bring together policymakers, diplomats, thought leaders, and the business community to examine the most critical issues defining this new era of strategic competition issues, that are core to our work at CSIS including security, regional influence, and economic and tech competition. Of course, we’ll look at these issues through the lens of U.S.-China competition, but there are many other dimensions to explore. Stay tuned for upcoming events in this series.

So I asked – when my colleagues said we had this idea for a series I said, well, I want to bring leaders from the diplomatic corps to come speak to us. Many countries send their smartest, most able folks. So you can each tell your spouse I said that you’re the – you’re obviously the smartest, most able. (Laughter.) This on the record. I’m at a think tank, so it must be official if I said it, right? So please tell your spouse I said that. But I do – seriously, many countries send their best folks to engage with us.

We have ADD. We have a limited bandwidth. It’s hard for us to engage many countries in the world. We I wrote a book called The American Imperative Reclaiming Global Leadership Through Soft Power. I gave a copy to the ambassadors. The next time I see them, there will be a quiz and I’m hoping they’ll have read the book, gentlemen. (Laughter.) But my – I wrote – I wrote the book for three reasons.

I think we’re in a new age of great power competition. And most of that competition is going to be non-military. And most of the competition is going to be in the Global South. So we – I know that sounds weird, saying this to my friends who are in the embassy. And I’m sure they’ll correct me on this. But the way we are – but I think we’re – so if you tell me what – how we’re going to engage in the Global South in a constructive way, I can tell you what great-power competition is going to look out look like. That’s my first point.

My second point of the reason I wrote the book is we can’t fight something with nothing. So we spent a lot of time in Washington saying the People’s Republic of China is a near-peer military competitor. Guess what? They’re a near-peer soft power competitor. So if we say to our friends in Kazakhstan or friends in Zambia, don’t let them invest in your mines, don’t take the Huawei telecom backbone, don’t take the Sinovac, don’t borrow money from them, don’t join the Belt and Road, we better darn sure have an alternative. So we can’t fight something with nothing. So what’s our something?

Third, reason why I wrote the book, is we need a positive, forward-looking agenda that speaks to the hopes and aspirations of our friends and potential friends. No one wants to be a pawn in some great-power competition. They want to – they have their own agency, they have their own visions, they have their own ideas of what they want for their futures. So it may be that fear of great-power competition is bringing us to this conversation about saying, hey, how can we be a better partner to Kazakhstan? And, hey, how can we pay more attention to Africa? But that’s not necessarily – that may be what our motive – one of our motives. And I think that’s straight up what’s going to be one of our motives. But I think our friends aren’t necessarily going to be interested – that’s not what’s interested in them talking to us. That’s not why they necessarily want to talk to us.

So I thought – I generally don’t talk this long at the beginning of events, but I just thought – what I asked my friends to talk about today – I said, I’d like to meet you. So I go, OK, given all of this, and given that we’re doing this series called the Great Power Dialogues, what kind of a partnership does Kazakhstan and what kind of a partnership to Zambia want from the United States? And what kind of a partnership do you seek with others? Of course, I want to know what you want to have – what kind of partnership you want to have with Russia. I’ll be really listening carefully to that. And I really want to know what kind of a partnership you have with China. I’ll be super-duper listening closely to that.

But let me start again. Like, what kind of a partnership do you want with the United States? And I know that sounds like a super basic question, but I don’t know. How often do we ask that question? How often are you asked that question? I bet our ambassador friends think about this all day long. I bet their job is to think about that question. But I bet they’re not asked that question that often. I was, like, OK, well, why don’t we just start with a basic question. So why am I interested in this?

Well, we’ve had this terrible thing happen where we’re – Ukraine was invaded illegally by Russia. But not everybody in the Global South was kind of down, you know, with kind of on Ukraine’s side. They said, well, this isn’t our problem. Or they voted with Russia. And we could point fingers, and I could spend the whole panel saying like, why, did you vote this way, or why this, or why that. I think it’s a little bit of a wake-up call, frankly. So I think you’re going to see a lot – you’re seeing a lot more, like, conversations in Washington about, like, let’s pay attention to the Global South. Well, OK. That’s – I think some of it’s about that.

So, anyway, so with having said all of that, let me – so we have two really accomplished ambassadors – the Ambassador Ashikbayev, who I’ve met many times before. I’m a friend of Kazakhstan’s, I’m fascinated by Kazakhstan, I’m a student of Kazakhstan’s. I really wanted the ambassador to be here. I think we need to have an engaging – we need to deepen our relationship with Kazakhstan. We need to listen really carefully when the government Kazakhstan says what their intentions are. And I take them at their word. And I’m really happy to have Ambassador Kanyama, who has a great reputation in town. Was at the IMF before. And is someone who’s very, very thoughtful.

So I think – I’m trying to see what the run of show is. So I think we’re first asking Mr. Ashikbayev to start, right? And then we’ll hear from Ambassador Kanyama. So just giving you each a chance to open remarks. I’ll shut up. I promise not to make more opening remarks from me when you came in to hear from other folks. And then I’ll turn it over to you, Ambassador Ashikbayev. And then I’m just going to ask, like, some super basic questions. And we’re going to have a conversation around this framing question of, like, well, what kind of a partnership do you want with the U.S.? And tell me about the kinds of partnerships you want with others. So Ambassador Ashikbayev, I’m going to turn it over to you.

Ambassador Yerzhan Ashikbayev:

 (Off mic.) Thank you, Mr. Runde. Thank you for this wonderful introduction and convening this roundtable discussion – (comes on mic) – oops, yeah, sorry. Sorry, for that.

Mr. Runde: You were saying I was really smart and wonderful. (Laughter.) You were going to tell your spouse everything I said. That’s what you were saying when the microphone was off? Right, exactly.

Amb. Ashikbayev: Yeah, yeah, yeah. (Laughs.) Yeah, everything that – yeah. Yeah. But, you know, the toughest questions are the simplest ones, so. But let me first thank the audience, my distinguished colleagues, for making that event happen. And this response to one of the main tasks of the ambassadors in this town is to raise awareness of the U.S. decision makers and public on what’s going on globally. And in that sense, we are natural competitors with Ambassador Kanyama, and, well, sharing the stage, but we’re always going to be looking for some similarities because our countries one way or another associate themselves with this concept of Global South.

Of course, we have different terms, like “developing world,” “G-77,” “third world,” previously. Different concepts. But what unites most of us is our self-identity, why we self-identify with the Global South. On a bigger scale is, of course, a vision of a more inclusive global economy and more multipolar international system. This is overall setting. Of course, Mr. Runde alluded to this big power geopolitical rivalry, that creates additional pressure, and it reminds me – I graduated Soviet high school, I entered Soviet university. And back then, it was all about USSR and USA. The allies, NATO and Warsaw Bloc, and the rest of the world. So we are seeing something in line with that and those different challenges, crises, that has nothing to do with us, basically. Not of our making. I don’t know, you name it, but very few crises are originating in what is called Global South.

So, effectively, we – so often these days we are confronted with the simple question, where you are? Are you with us or are you with the others? So and it was particularly – I was glad to see in Biden-Harris administration’s National Security Strategy such claims as: We’re trying to support every country in exercising the freedom to make choices that serve their interests. And then, we’ll continue to engage countries on their own terms. So, these are – you may – you may look at them as some declarative statements. But those are the intentions and they signal also the changing nature of relationship of superpowers with Global South.

So, we, Kazakhstan – let me do it, a little bit of awareness raising what Kazakhstan is. And Kazakhstan is a small, tiny country of 20 million population, but with the ninth-largest landmass in the world. And we are situated right in the heart of Eurasia, bordering both Russia and China, and three other Central Asian brotherly republics. And our borderline with Russia is the longest uninterrupted borderline in the world. Just for you to understand the scope. So –

Mr. Runde: Get the picture, right?

Amb. Ashikbayev: So it’s visualization – simple visualization. So imagine the straight line from New York to Moscow. If you straighten up our border line, it’s going to be longer by another 50 miles. So that’s the scale. And then, our borderline with China is much shorter, but still impressive – 1,100 miles long border. So –

Mr. Runde: How far is that in the U.S.? 1,100 miles, what’s that?

Amb. Ashikbayev: Well – (laughs) – one –

Mr. Runde: My provincial visual thinking, help me out as the ugly American here. What is that? Is that from here to Miami? Longer?

Amb. Ashikbayev: Maybe. It’s up to Americans. (Laughs.)

Mr. Runde: Ilya, Google that – Google that and tell – Google that and tell me how long from D.C. to what is 1,100 miles.

Amb. Ashikbayev:Yeah. It’s up to American to figure out.

Mr. Runde: My god. We got to figure that out.

Amb. Ashikbayev: But those are not small numbers. And you can imagine what kind of fabric of interaction countries sharing such a border may have. But that said, again, even though being the ninth largest, we are tiny – I wouldn’t say little small, but much smaller than our bigger neighbors. In terms of population, it’s – Russia is seven times bigger and China is –

Mr. Runde: It’s a lot bigger.

Amb. Ashikbayev: Some 70-plus times bigger than Kazakhstan. And even our southern neighbor, Uzbekistan, is almost twice as big in terms of population as Kazakhstan.

But that said, from the very beginning of our independence, almost 32 years ago, we declared so-called multi-vectoral of foreign policy. What is that? So it’s – in a nutshell, it’s a balanced relationship with everyone, with the partners just across the border, which happen to be two nuclear powers states – nuclear weapons states, NWS Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, NPT. But also we, being such a big country, territory-wise, we thought of ourselves as a part of global community.

But, and this is – I probably said, Global South is not homogeneous. But those are similarities between ourselves and my Zambian friends. We are landlocked. Which means by default we are dependent on our neighbors for any contacts with the outside world, with global community. But we – from the very beginning we coined that term. And we’ve been developing our relationship not only regionally, but globally as well. And I won’t bother you with then fourth-largest nuclear arsenal and how we became non-nuclear weapon state. Which was, by the way, back then bigger than combined arsenals of U.K., China, and France. Just for you to understand the magnitude of the problem.

So fast forward, now we are a country which is associating itself with wider definition of Global South. We’re not part of G-77 group, but we do have an observer status. We work closely with so many countries, members of that community. We are one of the leading countries in LLDC group, Landlocked Developing Countries. And we – our focus is on, and being this land-isolated, is to build bridges, is to be not a battlefield of geopolitical fights but rather a place where our bigger partners, bigger economies, bigger powers can find synergies, can see the implementation of their respective agendas without compromising them.

Then you said a lot of things. The U.S. probably was telling you you shouldn’t be doing. Among them, Belt and Road Initiative, and which was announced, by the way, in our capital city –

Mr. Runde: Kazakhstan is the belt buckle on the Belt and Road, right? It’s the central – most investment happens in Kazakhstan. Is that right, Ambassador? That’s right.

Amb. Ashikbayev: Yes. Yes. These days, 80 percent of transcontinental trade between Europe and China, it runs through the territory of Kazakhstan. So this is an entry to the conversation.

Mr. Runde: Yeah. And I’m going to – Ambassador, I’m going to come back to you. I think it was really important you set the stage about Kazakhstan. So I’ve been to Kazakhstan. Not everyone’s been to Kazakhstan. So I think it’s important, just – I think it was really important you set the stage. I want to just say one other nice thing about Kazakhstan. I don’t know – I’m not as knowledgeable about Zambia. I hope to get there. So I’m – Ambassador, I’m fishing for an invite. So definitely invite me, and I’ll come.

But one of the impressive things about Kazakhstan is in 1991 is GNP per capita was $700, per capita. Today, it’s 14,000 (dollars). OK, that’s an amazing achievement. It’s an amazing achievement. The government of Kazakhstan has made it a policy in the last 24 months – I think it was the last 24 months – they have stated the specific goal of joining the OECD. The OECD is the club of market democracies. I take Kazakhstan at its word. That’s going to be a long journey, but that’s a really important statement. And I take them at their word. OK. Thanks, Ambassador Ashikbayev. I’m going to come back. I want to ask you the question, you’re here every day, you have an entire embassy. What kind of partnership do you want with the United States? So come back and think about that question.

So, Ambassador Kanyama, I want to give you a chance to make some opening remarks. If you want to place in context a little bit, what’s – tell us about the country of Zambia, for those of us who are more ignorant about it, and educate us about that. I’d be grateful. And I will give the floor to you, Ambassador.

Ambassador Chibamba Kanyama: OK. Thank you much. Thank you, your excellency. And for the rest of us who are here with us, thank you. Thank you very much.

Just by show of hands, how many of you know Zambia? You’ve heard about it. OK.

Mr. Runde: (Off mic) – is the question have you visited or, like, is the question –

Amb. Kanyama: OK, yeah, have you visited Zambia? OK. We got two people. That’s not bad. (Laughter.) Not bad. We are north of South Africa. At least we know South Africa. So we are north of South Africa. When South Africa does advertise its tourism packages, they always like mentioning you also visit Victoria Falls. And they make it look like it is in South Africa. Actually, Victoria Falls is shared between Zambia – the larger part of it in Zambia – and Zimbabwe. So we border Zimbabwe on the south, Democratic Republic of the Congo is on the north. We have got eight neighbors. So we are landlocked with eight neighbors. On the eastern side we have Tanzania and Malawi, and southeast we have Mozambique, south we have Zimbabwe, and then we have Namibia, Botswana, and Angola on the northwestern and the western side.

So we are largely a copper producing country. We are number five, I think, in the world – copper producer in the world, and cobalt. So our major export is copper, from which we generate about 85 percent of our exchange earnings as a country. So we’re highly exposed to one product in terms of getting foreign exchange. A population of about 19 million people – just slightly over 19 million people. We are, of course, a farming community as well, but mainly are small-scale farming, peasant farming. But a few commercial farmers, too.

We are a democracy. We consider ourselves a multiparty democracy. And the current government in power right now been there for two and half years. The current leader is an economist. We call him a corporate person, but has been in opposition for about 15-20 years. He made about, how many attempts, about seven attempts for the presidency. And he finally got it. He is currently the president of Zambia. I would say, from the time he took over power we have seen dramatic change in terms of relations with the U.S. government.

Prior to that, in 2018, Zambia had severed its relationship to the USA, having its ambassador deported. Mr. Foote was deported here, largely because of his comment on gays, which didn’t go very well with the regime at the time. But, of course, that was just some underlying issue. The real issues were bigger than that. And since then, we saw the USA retract – reduce its involvement in terms of supporting Zambia. We are dependent on donor funding to alleviate poverty, because the poverty levels are quite high in Zambia. About 68 percent of our people are poor.

So we rely on USAID support, and many other cooperating partners – DFID and so forth. So USAID has been the major arm in Zambia for many, many years now, supporting different communities. And, unfortunately, that relationship has not been very well, until the new regime came into power. And now, I’m emphasizing this point because when the new president came into power the first country he visited was the USA And that signaled, and up to this moment, has signaled some level of misunderstanding politically, internally, within the country.

There are people who don’t like the USA with passion. They don’t like the USA He is perceived to be imperialist. He is perceived to favor the USA, to be a puppet of the USA But when you look at actual actions, not only what he has said but what he has done and he continues to do, we continue to enjoy relationships with almost all countries, including China. So when there will be questions on China, I will be able to elaborate more on that, where we are and how we define our relationship with other countries, Russia or China. And that is some historical perspective to that, why we maintain what we call nonalignment. And we shall deal with almost every country the same way.

The fact that the USA has shown so much interest in Zambia in recent years does not mean the Zambian government has severed its relationship with other countries. We have still maintained relationships with others. In fact, if anything, in the past six months we have seen much more penetration of China once again into Zambia, more than the USA has done. So I will be able to respond to those questions a little later. Thank you.

Mr. Runde: OK. So let me start with the most basic question. Which you both – you get up in the morning, you have an embassy, you’ve been sent here. So what kind of partnership does each of your countries want with the United States? If you want a partnership, what does that look like? Can I start with you, Ambassador Ashikbayev. And I did get the – so 1,100 miles is from D.C. to Miami, 1,100 miles is from D.C. to Minnesota. So Kazakhstan shares a border with China the length of from here to Minnesota. That’s a long drive. That’s a long drive, people. My kid goes to Notre Dame. That’s 10 hours. That’s more than 10 hours of driving. OK, so Ambassador Ashikbayev, go ahead.

Amb. Ashikbayev: Well, again, we are in competition, and with so many other countries – not only in our relationship with the government, but also with the businesses and with expert community as well. So we are trying to gain your attention, gain your focus with – again, the idea is to have balanced relationship overall. And within that frame, I would say there are different priorities, political – I can name a few of them, but overall no sitting U.S. president ever visited Kazakhstan or Central Asia. That’s one of main goals, I would say.

I don’t know when they’re going to be another big opportunity, but we’re daily working in different fields to make that happen. Meaning that there are different U.S. foreign policy priorities. And some of them has to do with Kazakhstan, some of them not. But basically, when it comes to green transition, energy wise Kazakhstan has everything you can imagine – from coal, to oil and gas, to natural uranium, to renewables, to anything you can imagine – including spiritual power if that produces electricity. (Laughter.) So we have that as well.

Mr. Runde: Copper – sorry. Copper, cobalt, you have that?

Amb. Ashikbayev: Yes.

Mr. Runde: OK. So all – critical minerals, rare earths, all the things people talk about?

Amb. Ashikbayev: Of course.

Mr. Runde: Ok.

Amb. Ashikbayev: This is one of the avenues, critical minerals dialogue with – bilaterally – all with so-called C5+ groupings, which stands for five Central Asian countries. All the standing ‘stans – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan. Those five are – I would say, we are in the same submarine, being landlocked. Still, I’m using this to kind of underline the symbolic nature. We’re all landlocked. We have historic ties, connections. Most of us are Turkic-speaking nations. So we do share the same faith. We do have the same priorities. And in so many instances, this is not only – mainly economic reasons. Because it’s one thing that when you’re talking about a market of 20 million. It’s completely different when the market is the size of, let’s say, Turkey 75-80 million population.

But I’m trying to find those hooks, if you wish, that would bring not only political attention, but rather businesses developing mutually, mutually developing certain projects that will create a win-win solution for everyone. So critical minerals, one thing. I would love to see the opening up of direct flights between our two countries. This is very practical goal, so that you won’t need to have waiting – a connecting flight somewhere, but rather flying directly.

Mr. Runde: You’ve heard me say this before.

Amb. Ashikbayev: Yes. (Laughter.)

Mr. Runde: So I did a big study on Kazakhstan about seven or eight years ago. And we did, like, six meetings. And my deepest thought after six meetings and a lot of papers is, like, if we could just open a direct flight between New York, preferably D.C., but D.C. to Astana, or D.C. to Almaty, that’d be a really awesome thing for relations between Kazakhstan the United States.

This – so, OK, so you have a political agenda. You have a political agenda that’s subregional, but also bilateral. You probably also feel like you have to spend a lot of time getting attention from folks in town, is that – you probably have don’t have that – you probably have some success, and sometimes it’s frustrating because some people may be ignorant about your country and you have to educate them on kind of an ongoing basis. I’m sorry – one of – you know, we have many positive things about my country, but we’re often perhaps, I’d like to say, a little more ignorant than we should be about other parts of the world. So I suspect you have to spend a lot of time doing that.

But you also have a business agenda here. And you’d like to have companies in the United States have a direct flight, you’d like to have folks invest in the mining sector. What are some other sectors of the future for your country that you’d like to see the United States partner with you on?

Amb. Ashikbayev: Let me just point out that the – let me just point out that the U.S. is, by far, the biggest investor into our economy, out passing, you know, neighbors, the biggest trading partner, which is European Union. The United States is the biggest investor. It’s north of 60 billion (dollars) of U.S. investments, mainly in the energy sector. Now, we are trying to diversify that. Wabtec, for example, formerly known as GE Transportation, has locomotive construction company factory in the middle of Kazakhstan because we are – being a big landmass, railways are essential. And for increasing our transit capacity as well.

We are very much optimistic about IT industry. Just the other day, Starlink started functioning on a – first Starlink started functioning in Kazakhstan. Natural uranium, let’s say. Which is not a critical mineral, as defined by U.S. Geological Survey, but we account for 43 percent of global natural uranium production – 43 (percent). And we’re bigger than number two, three, and four combined. If countries are interested in this green transition –

Mr. Runde: Yeah, you want to have a carbon transition, you better love uranium. And you better love nuclear power. Now, that’s not generally the conversation we have in Washington. But if you really are concerned about climate change, then you got to tell me how much you love nuclear power. And you better tell me how much you love mining. You got to tell me those two things. You got to love mining to the tips of your toes and you got to learn to love nuclear power to the tips of your toes. So if you love mining and you love nuclear power, and you’re concerned about the carbon transition, then Kazakhstan ought to be on your speed dial. Is that fair?

Amb. Ashikbayev: Indeed. Very much. Agriculture. We are – again, given the size – we are the countries with probably the biggest potential in terms of agricultural output. We are already a breadbasket for the region, but we are very much ready to be serving wider global community. So it’s a country of immense opportunities.

Mr. Runde: Infra, ag, IT. What percentage of your population has a college degree? Pretty high.

Amb. Ashikbayev: Well, we have 99.9 percent literacy in our country. And what is important, and I keep underlining this, over 15 years ago Kazakhstan introduced third language into its educational system. So we are bilingual by default. So everyone in Kazakhstan speaks Russian and the Kazakh language, as 70 percent of population are ethnic Kazakh. So country is bilingual by default. But we introduced English language from the second grade. For the first graders, it’s too stressful to start studying, and then to start studying three languages simultaneously. But then, to the degree that the young, high-school students, they are quite proficient. And we have several universities in Kazakhstan where the only language of instruction is English. And criteria is quite high. IELTS score of 6.5 is required, which is comparable to some U.S. universities.

Mr. Runde: In terms of level of English?

Amb. Ashikbayev: Level of English, yeah. And this is in a country which never been part of either British colonial system or – this is in the middle of Eurasia. And this is how we see ourselves. This is, I would say, creative way of overcoming geographical disadvantages.

Mr. Runde: Do you want the United States to be your third border? In Mongolia, the policy is that they would like the United States to be their third neighbor. I know that’s a little bit of an edgy question for you, Ambassador.

Amb. Ashikbayev: No, not at all. We want to have as many channels of communication open, as many supports to our sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity as possible. But U.S. role is fundamental in this regard.

Mr. Runde: OK. Thank you, Ambassador. Let me turn to Ambassador Kanyama. So, Ambassador Kanyama, what kind of partnership do you want with the United States? Please use the microphone.

Amb. Kanyama: Sure. Yeah, there is no argument that the U.S. is the biggest economy in the world. So when you look at a country whose GDP is nearly – am I on? Are you sure? Yeah? GDP is nearly 23 trillion (dollars), thereabouts, and ours is about $27 billion U.S., you want to ride on the back of the biggest. And that’s really what is driving us here, is economic diplomacy. That is the fundamental thing.

But you cannot drive economic diplomacy when your relations are not very good. So you’ll find in your prioritization if certain relations, foreign relations that involve the USA, become number-one priority. And, like I said earlier on, we had the ambassador of the USA deported from Zambia. We now have a new ambassador. The past two and a half years, we’ve had a new ambassador to Zambia, collaborating quite well. And this has really helped our relations. We have had a visit by the vice president to Zambia.

Mr. Runde: Vice president of the U.S.?

Amb. Kanyama: Yes. Yes, last year.

Mr. Runde: That’s excellent.

Amb. Kanyama: Yeah, she went. We had Yellen, the secretary of treasury. She also visited.

Mr. Runde: Secretary Yellen came.

Amb. Kanyama: Secretary Yellen visited Zambia. We have had senior government officials next month. We have the appropriation committee visiting, the chairperson, to Zambia.

Mr. Runde: Kay Granger, or?

Amb. Kanyama: Yeah. I have to remember, there are about five of them who are traveling, yeah.

Mr. Runde: Mario Diza-Balart.

Amb. Kanyama: Yeah.

Mr. Runde: That’s oftentimes the most important committee.

Amb. Kanyama: Absolutely.

Mr. Runde: They’re the ones that cuts the checks, right?

Amb. Kanyama: Yeah. So there’ll be in Zambia. They’ll be meeting the president and ministers. So this, to us, is an indication of a restored relationship with the U.S. So that once you have a healthy relationship with a country, then you look at your next one, economic diplomacy. What do you drive? We want U.S. investment. We don’t have as much as there is in Kazakhstan. And the way I heard it now, the figures is very high compared to Zambia. In terms of investment, for an investment right now, the exposure is inclined towards China.

Mr. Runde: So right now, tell me about your economy. You have copper mines?

Amb. Kanyama: We have copper mines. So the two largest copper mines, Lumwana and First Quantum, are Australian – are a hybrid of Canadian and Australian investors. And then we have had Mopani, which was Glencoe. And Glencoe pulled out about three years ago, out of Zambia. Which has just been taken over now and bought by a Saudi company from the Middle East. We also have had Konkola copper mines, which was under Vedanta, an Indian firm. It was taken over by the government in 2019, and now given back by the new government, just about two months ago. Given back to Vedanta. So we have five large copper mines. We have three others under the Chinese, but they’re not as pronounced as these other – the big ones.

Mr. Runde: So other than mining, when you think about industries of the future for Zambia – and do you have a young population? Is it growing?

Amb. Kanyama: We have a young population in Zambia. Actually, it’s is 70 percent.

Mr. Runde: So 70 percent of the population is under what age, 30?

Amb. Kanyama: Yes. Yes.

Mr. Runde: OK. And you have 20 million people. Twenty years from now, how big will your country be – 30 million, 35 million?

Amb. Kanyama: Yes. We think about 33 million.

Mr. Runde: Yeah. So your population is going to – I don’t know if it’s going to double, but sometime in the next 25 years it’s going to likely double. I’m going to go with that for this conversation. Whereas, Kazakhstan I’m going to describe as an aging society, almost right? Or is it – no? Is it not? It’s not? It’s flat? I was always under the impression Uzbekistan was growing and Kazakhstan was sort of, like, flat. Is it going to grow?

Amb. Ashikbayev: There’s a population of 20 million. We have 400,000-plus newborn babies annually. So for the past decade or so. So you can imagine what kind of – it’s relatively close to – percentage-wise – to –

Mr. Runde: OK, I take it back. Kazakhstan’s birth rate is 3.13 births per woman. Google is amazing. So 2.0 is replacement. So Kazakhstan’s above replacement. I stand corrected. So what is the birth rate of Zambia? Because I think this – I know this sounds like a –

Amb. Kanyama: The thing you’ve got to understand –

Mr. Runde: Four-point-three-eight. So what this means is that both these countries are growing. They have a young population and they’re going to grow. OK, so I take it back. So you have a growing population. And sometime in the next 20 to 25 years, your population is going to double. OK. So if I think about the future – you’re also – OK, so you have mining. And when I think people think about Kazakhstan they think about oil and gas, they think about mining sectors. And you’ve talked about others, Ambassador Ashikbayev. But if you think about the future, Ambassador Kanyama, what are the sectors you – where would you like the jobs of the future for Zambia to come from? Is it tech?

Amb. Kanyama: Agriculture. Tech, yes. Tech, yes. But we need to still define it. It hasn’t been fully defined as to what contribution it would make to the overall economy. That is where the appetite and interest of many young Zambians is right now. And we see it holding huge potential. But when you look at where is government putting its resources? Its energies and deliberate policies is towards agriculture. The belief is that agriculture been dominated by rural work, people haven’t been able to get formal jobs. The literacy levels are very, very low. So the capacity to grow efficiently is very, very low. When I looked at some statistic, it shows that for every one cob of corn produced by a Zambian farmer, and American produces seven.

Mr. Runde: So the ag productivity has a lot to be desired. So you’re not meeting your full agricultural potential, is that fair?

Amb. Kanyama: We want to have full agricultural potential going forward. So in government policies, whether it’s about financial lending, and educational biases, and policy market, everything is tilted towards encouraging young people to be farmers.

Mr. Runde: But what percentage of your population has functional literacy?

Amb. Kanyama: We – about 68 percent –

Mr. Runde: Sixty-eight?

Amb. Kanyama: Sixty-eight percent. These can read, can write, understand.

Mr. Runde: And it’s – and that’s growing?

Amb. Kanyama: Literacy, to us, is widely defined as the ability to read English and write. And simple math.

Mr. Runde: OK. And is that – I’m assuming the younger folks, it’s higher than that, in terms of there’s probably a higher level –

Amb. Kanyama: That is where we have higher levels of literacy. So we – you know, the challenge we’re facing right now is we – the growth in terms of job creation has lagged behind. So we’re not creating as many jobs. The past 25 years, since the collapse of the mining sector – I’m using the word “collapse of the mining sector,” because we’re not producing as much as before. We’re just producing 850,000 metric tons of copper per year, as opposed to the previous high of about 3 million metric tons of copper per year.

Mr. Runde: Can you each stay 15 minutes more than 4:00, because this conversation is super interesting.

Amb. Kanyama: Oh, definitely. We are here.

Mr. Runde: Ambassador Ashikbayev, can you get his – I’m super interested in this. OK. I’m super interested in this conversation. OK. So, Ambassador, I’m going to come back to each of you. I want you to each think about, OK, OK, what can we do better as – the U.S. is not – you know, we often overshoot and go into, like, self-flagellation. Say, oh, we’re terrible, and blah, blah, blah.

I will be interested – you can be diplomatic or less diplomatic. I think you can say whatever you want to say. I know that it’s on the record and it’s not like it’s just three of us up here, so you have to think about how you want to say it. But what could we do better? How could we be a better partner to each of your countries? Let me start with you, actually, Ambassador Kanyama. We’ve had some scratchy moments in the last five years with Zambia. So how could we be a better partner?

Amb. Kanyama: Efficiency and speed in decision making and execution of those decisions. That’s number one, to me. Since I came 10 months ago, I’ve spent a lot of time in meetings, and conferences, roundtable meetings, and strategizing. And in the – in that space of time, China has signed about 12 MOUs with Zambia and executed about half of those. We are slow. And I think that’s where the –

Mr. Runde: And how many have we signed in this country? Zero?

Amb. Kanyama: We have signed one for the Lobito Corridor.

Mr. Runde: OK, so 12 versus one.

Amb. Kanyama: No, no, actually two. Let me not lie. There’s a battery – there’s a battery – EV batteries MOU, yeah. Two, yeah.

So if there’s anything that I’d ask for the USA, we are moving quite OK. Very good. We restored relationships. However, the speed of execution is very low. We understand the dynamic. The governance framework of Chinese firms different from the governance framework of U.S. firms. Here, there are listed companies, there are highly private companies. So in terms of risk assessment may differ from how a Chinese firm assesses risk for Zambia. Here we are still debating about de-risking.

So, number two, which is a really critical point for me, where we need help from the USA is to be part of the de-risking of the investment climate in Zambia. Because most U.S. firms are saying, look, we cannot go there because of this risk, political risk. And there are so many other risks that we don’t understand. But the U.S. investor knows them. We want to hear them. We want to know them. But not only just to know them, we want the U.S. to help de-risk, where possible.

And number three is for – to finance what we call the feasibility studies. We have a lot of potential and potential investment, particularly in infrastructure. But the entry points and so many other areas, but no one wants to put money or capital or commit without understanding the environment properly and assessing the opportunities that lie ahead. We need somebody to go on the ground and do an assessment and help kind of evaluate what potential lies within the Zambian environment.

So if we can be supported in that area, feasibility studies across a wider range of sectors, so that whoever wants to invest in Zambia already has got a document. It is not – it’s very expensive for every potential investor to do their own due diligence. And you have got one area to do an investment. This one come do their own due diligence, other one come do an assessment, another one – so it’s expensive. Why can’t you support us in that area? And I think if you do that for us, we’ll be saying, thank you. Now you created the right environment for the private players to come in.

Mr. Runde: OK. Ambassador Kanyama, let me just push on one topic. I’m not sure how to ask this. So I think we’re going to have both – I think in both of your countries, we’re going to have – we’re in this new age of great-power competition. I care about democracy. I care about human rights. I think during the Cold War we had a lot of dilemmas in the Cold War about democracy and human rights. And we had to make choices that weren’t necessarily – and we came across oftentimes as hypocritical – but we would make decisions not necessarily only on the issue of human rights or democracy. And so it was kind of – I would describe it on sometimes a sporadic basis, on an opportunistic basis.

I think we’re going to see an – regardless of whether it’s a President Biden or President Trump – you will see attention on issues of human rights and how every single person in a society is treated, I guess, is how I will describe it. I think you know what I’m trying to say, Ambassador. So how – and I think you’re – our ambassador was – and one of the reasons he was asked to leave was that this – on this specific issue. I think this is going to be an ongoing issue for us. We’re not going to be able to – there’s going to be pressures within our society to continue to raise these issues.

What’s your message to us about this? And so then I think, Ambassador Ashikbayev, I do want you to answer the bigger question, but I want to come back to this issue of democracy and human rights because I think this is also a little bit of an elephant in the room in our relationship with Kazakhstan. So could I just – Ambassador Kanyama, can you just press just a little bit on, like, how should we be thinking about it?

Because whether it’s a president – a second Biden term or first Trump term, he was – he was asked to leave in the Trump term, not in the Biden term. But as you know, this has become – this is, like, right now – I don’t fully understand why there’s been a lot more – I’m not paying enough attention to it – but there’s – you know, there are a number of countries that are socially conservative countries in Africa that I don’t think that’s going to change. And I suspect there’s probably a consensus among most of the political parties or all the political parties in Zambia on certain views on certain things that may be different than in the United States.

And so how should – what’s your message to us? How should we be thinking about it? Because I don’t we’re going to – I think it’s going to be hard for us to stop kind of talking about this. So what’s your message to us?

Amb. Kanyama: Well, I was praying that you don’t ask me that question. (Laughter.)

Mr. Runde: You’re welcome. You’re welcome. I tried to ask it in the most ginger, subtle and nuanced. I don’t know if I succeeded, but I did try and I sincerely tried.

Amb. Kanyama: You have tried. Yeah. Two messages. The first message is, it would be unfortunate if support we receive from the USA is tied to certain conditionalities that compromise our values. I’ll tell you something. If right now – and I’ve shared this with many USA –

Mr. Runde: Leaders.

Amb. Kanyama: – leaders. I’ve shared this – (inaudible) –. If you push it and say, accept this, Zambia, or else we don’t do this to you; and then the president of Zambia says, OK, to serve our people we shall do as demanded; the next election, I can guarantee you, that president will be voted out the next election. And when you’ll pushing it to another president: Do this, or else we’ll withhold aid to you. That president will be voted out. And we’ll be having change of government every five years, because you are dealing with a culture. These are cultural issues. And Zambians are very passionate about their culture.

The second thing I want to say is there is no discrimination in Zambia, actually. There is nothing like go and hunt against these individuals. Find them. And where you find them, let’s prosecute them, let’s kill them, let’s jail them, what I hear from other countries. The law are very clear – the laws are very clear about it. But we’re not intentional or deliberate on pursuing, denying people, are you of this orientation? Yes. Then we won’t give you a job. There is not even a question asked about those things. Where you have heard the cases like what happened is because whether it was them who are found or not, in the law could still have applied. If I’m found in an office with compromising myself in a – whether man, woman – I was to pay the price for it.

So these are laws that apply. And we always say Zambia is governed by three C’s. And the three C’s are the national constitution. So to change that you have to change the national constitution. The second one is that Zambia considers itself in the constitution as a Christian country. That’s the second C. So it values its Christian orientation. Not that it discriminates against other religions. Not at all. We pray together. We stand together. We are together with Muslims and other religions. But its values are guided by Christianity. And the last C is about the culture. And this is the point I said earlier on. We are very passionate about the culture. Do those things happen in our community? They do. But there’s a line you cannot cross. So that’s the answer I can give.

Mr. Runde: Thank you, Ambassador. I think it’s very important we heard that. Thank you so much. OK, so Ambassador Ashikbayev. Thank you so much. So, Ambassador Ashikbayev, what are some of the things that the U.S. could do better, vis-à-vis our relationship with Kazakhstan?

Amb. Ashikbayev:

 So, basically, I would subscribe to the majority of the arguments of my Zambian colleague. Of course, speed and execution and, well, one should accept that countries around the world are not homogeneous and there are different legal systems, different mentalities. And recognizing that would be really, really important. Otherwise, you can keep investing in the alliances and partnerships you already have. And, well, this is probably a direct way to segmentation of global economy, which we, as much as I understand the U.S., is not willing to see.

Another thing that we expect, I will describe it with one word only: Continuity. Let me not elaborate on that further. But continuity in your approaches to different tissues, to different countries, to different problems is essential. I would also add a more realistic – managing your expectations realistically. Our neighborhood is –

Mr. Runde: You got a hell of a neighborhood, Ambassador.

Amb. Ashikbayev: No, it’s perfect for us.

Mr. Runde: You don’t get to pick your neighbors, you get to pick your friends, right?

Amb. Ashikbayev: Yeah. We know how to navigate our waters. And we’re blessed with the partners we have.

Mr. Runde: Blessed is an interesting word, but it’s a word. It’s a blessing I – yes.

Amb. Ashikbayev: That’s – no, that’s – yeah, yeah. You can do nothing. You have to accept this.

Mr. Runde: You have to accept.

Amb. Ashikbayev: This is the blessing. So managing expectations, being realistic. So our partners – the partners of entire Central Asia. Let me name them: Russia, China, Afghanistan, Iran, and then this is sealed off by Caspian Sea. This is the neighborhood.

Mr. Runde: This is your neighborhood.

Amb. Ashikbayev: This is – this is our neighborhood. And there is nothing wrong for the countries, for my country, for the countries of the region to be having good, predictable relationship, peaceful relationship, trusted relationship with our neighbors. And it’s even more important if one would think of our landlocked nature. And this is something that is essential. Regardless of the talks, discussions, policy priorities formulated here, the implementation in different parts of the world should recognize that countries are not the same. The circumstances they find themselves are not universal. Each of them have unique set of relationship circumstances.

And I would also like to comment on some issues with religious freedoms, or largely the cultural differences we may have. Of course, no one in this – at these times, these days, no one would tolerate any imposition of policies, decisions. These are the new realities. And countries are increasingly more and more vocal. And at the very beginning of my introductory speech, I also stress that this is being recognized by our partners, not only here in the U.S. but also be it in Beijing, Moscow, Brussels, others. The world is multidimensional these days. And so religious freedoms.

If you read the report of the State Department on any country, you would come up with a conclusion that, well, there is no freedom, countries are – the governments in those countries are simply dreaming of persecuting someone for their beliefs. In reality, Kazakhstan is a secular state. It has been since very early days. Being secular, we are the members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. We are the country – the northern tip of Islamic civilization, of ummah. But at the same time, we’ve been at the crossroads. Christianity, the – we still – these days, we have 3 million ethnic Russians as full-fledged citizens of Kazakhstan. So Orthodox Christianity. The China Confucian, the Buddhism is –

Mr. Runde: And Christian – the Catholic Church – the Roman Catholic Church is operative there. There’s a bishop.

Amb. Ashikbayev:

 Catholic Church, yeah. My president has just recently visited –

Mr. Runde: Pope Francis.

Amb. Ashikbayev:

 Yeah. And Pope Francis. And those are – if you go to the streets – I will tell you one interesting story. One of the Western diplomats – in my previous capacity was deputy foreign minister. And he was asking permission for visiting a synagogue. I was a bit surprised, what kind of permission you need? Well, he elaborated, well, I’m in a Muslim-majority country and going to synagogue is sometimes a security issue, not for me but for the synagogue itself. So usually there are several layers of security. I said, well, we don’t have that. You go and knock the door. If they deem you a decent person, they will open up. And the only requirement is for you to show respect. That’s it.

We understand that those reports are mainly the conditions put forward by the Congress, is to concentrate on some negative facts. But with this, the focus is shifting and whoever reads that gets completely wrong impression. We are talking about multiethnic, multireligious country, a secular state. And all of this is not being appreciated at all. The one who reads the report or the comments made from the DRL or USCIRF would focus on – no one is ideal – but on those nasty things that are given much more importance than overall both stability, peaceful coexistence, harmonious relationship between the different ethnic and religious groups. Think about that.

Mr. Runde: OK, Ambassador, let me go back to this democracy and human rights thing. I know you’ve kind of alluded to it here, but let me just go – push a little bit further. So there was some challenges in your country in the last 24 months. And how should they – how would you describe them? And how should – what message do you have to folks who are on the outside observing what happened. And there were some events that happened about two years ago. Could you just – how should folks understand those events?

Amb. Ashikbayev:

 So, yeah, this is still, even despite more than two years periods since those events, it’s a very painful and very tragic events, when we lost 230, almost 240, citizens in a public unrest. And it testifies to the very sensitive nature of stability, of balance. The country, which was governed for many, many decades, from abroad, from Moscow, is – has evolved, and thought this is a good political system. It turns out that there are huge challenges.

And the transition process, which was basically acknowledged as one of the peaceful transitions, still has its own internal challenges. Mainly relating to the unequal redistribution of wealth, popular dissatisfaction with the prospects for ordinary citizens, for them to be able to have a voice in the future of the country. This is –I would say, everything that foreign ambassadors say here is divided at least by two. (Laughter.) Those are the realities. But I would claim that yeah, we are – we are addressing those concerns. It’s in the best interest of us, as a nation, not to lose our independence.

Mr. Runde: OK. I want you each to tell me about your relationship with Russia. Just briefly. And I want you to each tell me about your relationship with China, briefly. When I say Russia, I mean the government and the – you know, the government. And then in the case of China, I’m talking about the People’s Republic of China. OK, so let me start with you, Ambassador Kanyama. If I said, Russia – what is the Zambian relationship with Russia? How old is it? And what kind of a partnership you have with Russia? Because it didn’t start 20 minutes ago, is that fair?

Amb. Kanyama: Well, thank you. I will say, it’s a very healthy relationship with Russia. Russia should be the first country, if I’m not mistaken, to have recognized Zambian independence, 1964. The first country to acknowledge and send us a congratulatory message. So from that moment, Russia and Zambia have been very good friends, and much of it is historical in the sense that many of you know that Southern Africa fought for independence for quite a long period of time. And Russia supported much of southern Africa liberation struggle. Zambia was at the forefront of helping its neighbors attained independence.

Russia used to support – militarily, training people, training freedom fighters from southern Africa, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe. Most of those had their headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia, the capital city. Then they go to Russia for training. They come through Zambia. So that’s how that relationship has been with Russia. And we have maintained it since that time to where it is today. If you know, our president was among the eight heads of state from Africa who traveled last year, led by South African president, to go and negotiate for a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine-Russia war. And they met the two presidents to negotiate for that. That’s a demonstration of our nonalignment and maintaining these relationships.

With China –

Mr. Runde: Sorry. In the case of Russia, did many of you – the young Zambian study in Russia in the past?

Amb. Kanyama: We have had a lot of Zambians study in Russia under free scholarships, because Russia – and it still does to date, it still offers scholarships per year. The number may have reduced slightly compared to what used to be in the 1970s, however we have a lot of people who were trained in Russia. They don’t come out now. In the past 20 years, they don’t really freely say, “I was trained in Russia,” because of the stigma around it. But we know that many got their education from Russia.

Mr. Runde: Why is there a stigma around studying in Russia?

Amb. Kanyama: I think it has to do with socialism. It’s, like, Russia is giving a kind of education not aligned to the free markets now, what Zambia has. So you find economists, for example, and medical doctor – I had a medical doctor who couldn’t find a job for quite a while when he come back. We have had two economists who couldn’t find a job for quite a while when they came back –

Mr. Runde: Because they were educated in Russia?

Amb. Kanyama: You have all government the ministry is saying, look, you have Russia, what are you trained in is not aligned to what we are executing. And yeah. Yeah.

Mr. Runde: OK. OK. What’s your relationship with China like?

Amb. Kanyama: China, again, almost the same. China has been – its historic as well. The biggest investment Zambia has ever had in terms of infrastructures is from China. The Tazara Railway, which comes from the port in Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, all the way to the center of Lusaka, of Zambia. And this was constructed by the Chinese in the early 1970s, as their contribution to Zambia. And since then, China has maintained a very strong relationship with Zambia, including military support, until maybe just about 10 years ago. China has been considered a very good friend of Zambia. We were socialists, just by the way, until 1991. We were socialists instead. So our friends were, more or less, communists – former communists, or communists in these countries. And, yeah. (Laughs.)

Mr. Runde: We don’t like communism. Communism is bad. OK, but – OK, but do you – are more Zambians studying in China today than in the United States? Is that probably the case?

Amb. Kanyama: I would not really give a number.

Mr. Runde: I know this is a little bit of a – I’m not trying to put you on the spot. But I ask two questions when I visit a developing country. I ask, where do you buy your weapons from? And where do you send your elites to study? Because I want the next finance minister of Zambia to have Boston on the speed dial not Beijing on the speed dial. I want the next finance minister of Kazakhstan not to have Moscow on the speed dial. I want him to have Manhattan on the speed dial.

Amb. Kanyama: Yeah. The preference of many people really to do their education in the U.K., in the USA. It’s very expensive. I am a beneficiary of the Chevening (ph) scholarship in the U.K. I studied in the U.K. myself, yeah. And that was a scholarship. China is a balance of scholarships as well as individuals sending their children there because it’s cheaper. It’s far, far cheaper to send your child to China than it is to send to the USA Slowly Zambians are beginning to appreciate the science, Chinese science, in medicine, architecture, civil engineering, and so forth. So the majority of Zambians who are in China now are in the sciences.

Mr. Runde: OK. So, Ambassador Ashikbayev, tell us about your relationship with Russia. It’s deep. It’s long. It’s in – you have a significant border. Tell us about your relationship with Russia. And then tell us about your relationship with China.

Amb. Ashikbayev: Well, both of them are strategically important for Kazakhstan. With Russia, we have – we are allies, basically. Legally, economic, political, military allies. We are in the organizations that were born out of the collapse of the Soviet Union, be it Commonwealth of Independent States, or Common Security Treaty Organization, or Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and many, many others. We are in economic union, Eurasian Economic Union, which is – which gives four freedoms: freedom of movement of goods, services, capital, finances. This is – well, you expect nothing less.

And it’s growing relationship. At the same time, we as a country – since so many violent events not only recently – but we are a country which stems from our own interests. So we never recognized annexation of Crimea. We never – we always reiterate the support to territorial integrity, not only of Ukraine but also Georgia. One China policy is –

Mr. Runde: Similar.

Amb. Ashikbayev: Similar. For that matter, we haven’t recognized Kosovo, because it’s disputable, at least. But we stand from our own national interest. And let’s say, with China, we have eternal strategic partnership. This is a very unique term. Many Chinese strategic relationships are described by the word “all weather,” right? All-weather strategic relationships. Ours is eternal, because we are neighbors. And I’ve mentioned about 3 million ethnic Russians. And we never use the word minority when it comes to the ethnic – different ethnic or religious groups within the country. They’re full-fledged citizens of Kazakhstan. And for the same matter, we have 600,000 ethnic Kazakhs, over 600,000 ethnic Kazakhs living in Russia, being citizens of Russia. We have roughly 1.6 million ethnic Kazakhs living on the other side of the Kazakh-Chinese border. So this is very organic, very dynamically developing partnership.

And I’ve mentioned that Belt and Road Initiative, and you’ve rightfully pointed out, that we are buckle on that belt.

Mr. Runde: You’re the belt buckle on the Belt and Road.

Amb. Ashikbayev: Yeah. So and not only President Xi Jinping announced that initiative in capital of Kazakhstan, but the first post-pandemic foreign trip by Chinese leader was also to Kazakhstan. So we see a lot of similar interests, a lot of value in developing those relationships. And let me point out that they started back in 1991. And the USSR and PRC were not kind of closest friends. The development of our relations started with the pullout of military contingents by 100 kilometers off the border. And then what followed next is a very good example of why we strongly believe in the power of diplomacy.

Having this longest borders out of all the states that were born out of the Soviet Union, we negotiated and agreed borders with everyone. First, that was People’s Republic of China. There are no border claims – there could be no border claims.

Mr. Runde: Same with Russia.

Amb. Ashikbayev: Same with Russia. And with Russia, what is unique is that, well, regardless of how border crosses some precious oil deposits or critical materials deposits, there is an understanding on both sides that this is going to be developed on 50/50 basis. And we do have those examples already being implemented. Even if you – the border cuts your share, technically, 30 percent of the oil field is on your territory and 70 percent on the other side, it’s going to be developed, and is being developed, on an equal basis. So compromise. Finding common solutions and creating win-win situations is essential.

Mr. Runde: So it’s in our enlightened self-interest to have a better relationship with both of your countries. We are going to pay more attention to both of your countries. Now, our – the reason we’re going to pay more attention to both of your countries may be for a bunch of motives that are going to be very transparent and clear. We’re not too subtle, right? I think you’re all very smart. But we’d like to do a better job of being a better partner. We are sincere about that. We have an ADD foreign policy. It’s hard to pay attention to Africa. It’s hard to pay attention to Central Asia. I’d very much like to have a head of state visit Kazakhstan. I’d very much like – I don’t know, has a president visited Zambia? Did President Bush visit Zambia?

Amb. Kanyama: We have had retired presidents.

Mr. Runde: OK, so we’d like to have a head of state. So we ought to have a goal sometime in the next 10 years of a sitting U.S. president visiting Zambia. Has Xi Jinping visited Zambia. How about a sitting – has a sitting Russian leader, or sitting Soviet leader, or sitting Chinese leader visited Zambia?

Amb. Kanyama: In the ’70s, yes, when it was Kenneth Kaunda.

Mr. Runde: OK. OK, so – OK. And then have you – and you’ve had – OK. So my point is – so I would ask both of you think about this. We’d like – we’re going to be doing a lot more work on kind of different dimensions of how to be a better partner. So we would welcome your help on this, in terms of thinking about this. I appreciate you all joining us today and let me go a little over – extra overtime on this great-power dialogue series. It’s also opening up this conversation we’ll be having over the next 18 months on how to be a better – how to rethink our partnership with the Global South.

I want to ask everyone to thank my two friends, the ambassadors, and thank you all for your patience and being here today. Thank you so much. (Applause.)

Amb. Kanyama: Thank you.