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Archive for May, 2012

Chicago Council Event, posted with vodpod

 

Remarks on Global Food Security

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ronald Reagan Center
Washington, DC
May 18, 2012

Oh, thank you all. Thank you. Thank you. Well, that was really a wonderful introduction from someone who I’ve had the great pleasure of working with on a number of important issues and am delighted to be working so closely with Senator Lindsey Graham again, as he is the ranking member on the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. And I’m so appreciative of his strong support of America’s development and diplomatic efforts around the world. We promised him that we would seize and erase all tapes of what he has just said. (Laughter.) So don’t take it personally, any of you in the press, but this is to protect him going forward. (Laughter.)

Well, this has been an amazing day, and I’m all that stands between you and getting out into this absolutely beautiful afternoon and enjoying some of the sights that Washington has to offer. But I wanted to come to close out the formal part of the program to express great appreciation, first and foremost, to the Chicago Council – in particular, Catherine Bertini and Dan Glickman for bringing us all together today to our very special guests, the heads of state and government from Tanzania, Benin, Ethiopia and Ghana, and to tell you how exciting it is that we have this partnership at the highest levels with the countries that you represent here at this conference and for the months and years ahead. I also want to thank Raj Shah and his great colleagues at USAID. Raj has led a tireless effort on behalf of advancing food security worldwide along with the wonderful help of people not only here in Washington but in our posts and missions across the globe.

Thanks to our G-8 partners. I see representatives from the G-8 countries here. Thank you for your commitment to food security, for the great work that started in L’Aquila and has continued forward to here in Washington. And thanks to all of you in the private sector, in the not-for-profit sector, in the academic world, in the faith community, in the agricultural productivity and research world. Thank you all.

And this has been a real diverse conference. Not only heads of state and government and foreign ministers and aid workers and health experts and businessmen and women, but we had at least one rock star. I have it on very good authority. (Laughter.) And although we hail from different regions and hold different points of view, as Senator Graham said about his and my perspectives, on this we all agree – the need to drastically decrease hunger and poverty worldwide. And strengthening global agriculture is a powerful way to do that.

Now it wasn’t long ago that a symposium on food security would have drawn a very different crowd, because for years, passionate and persistent advocates made the case that this issue needed to be on the development agenda of every nation. Well, the United States listened, the G-8 countries listened, and now it’s a signature issue. Billions of dollars have been pledged by the world’s largest economies, and those pledges are being met. The G-20 has embraced this mission. So has the World Bank and the African Union. And 30 African nations are creating national agricultural investment plans and revising their budgets to make agriculture a leading priority.

Now in the United States, we’ve created our own global food security initiative, and as you were able to hear directly from President Obama earlier today, Feed the Future is at the forefront of our global development agenda. Now we took on food security right out of the box in this Administration because the facts were so compelling. Yes, it’s a complex, far-reaching issue, but it comes down to a couple of very key facts – nearly a billion people worldwide suffering from chronic hunger; by the year 2050, the global population will climb to 9 billion, and the world will need to produce 70 percent more food than we do today just to feed everyone; 75 percent of the world’s poor live in rural settings and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Now there are many other facts, but I think these three are sufficient not only to make the case, but to add up to a tremendous opportunity, because if we can help the rural poor produce more food and sell it in thriving local and regional markets as well as on the global market, we can decrease chronic hunger today, we can build an ample food supply for tomorrow, we can drive economic growth in places where poverty is persistent, and we can have better futures for men, women, and children.

Now I think what we are seeking to do through our investments in global agriculture is not just to solve the problem of hunger, we also want to solve the problem of extreme poverty. And agriculture, in our opinion, may be the best intervention point to do that. Development dollars spent on agriculture have the greatest impact on poverty reduction, more than money spent in any other sector. So if we want to make big gains in the fight against poverty, agriculture is the best way to do that.

And there is no place that that is more true than in Africa, where there is such great potential for gains in agricultural productivity. So together, African governments, donors, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society can close the productivity gap and feed many more people.

Now having said that agriculture development can deliver strong results, I have to admit the goals we have set for ourselves are very ambitious. They need to be. The countries that we are supporting are trying to transform how people farm, what people eat, how crops are stored and sold, and that is not easy. Some of the changes they seek will take years, perhaps even generations, to lock into place. So we need to have the foresight and to stay committed to this mission.

Many worthy ideas have been shared here today about what should come next in the global fight for food security. And I want to emphasize three issues that I believe deserve our particular attention. All three are areas in which progress is both urgently needed and well within our reach. And all are priorities of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition that President Obama announced this morning.

The first is a centerpiece of this symposium: partnering with the private sector. As President Obama said earlier, the New Alliance includes a major push to mobilize more private sector investment and involvement. Now part of the reason for that is simple math. Consider the 30 African countries that have created or are now creating comprehensive national agriculture investment plans. When we look at their own spending, even in those countries that have met the goal of allocating 10 percent of their national budget to agriculture, and then when we add to that the pledged support from development partners like the members of the G-8, a significant gap still remains because governments alone cannot supply all the investment needed to transform agriculture. We need the private sector.

Now that’s not only true only of agriculture. Private investment has become invaluable to development across the board. In the 1960s, official development assistance from governments and multilateral organizations accounted for 70 percent of capital flows going into developing countries. But today that number has fallen to just 13 percent. And that’s not because public assistance has gone down; it’s because private investment has skyrocketed. Now we need to drive more of that investment toward agricultural growth.

And beyond investment, the private sector has a great deal to offer in terms of skills and expertise. Whether it’s improving the supply chain so fewer crops are spoiled on their way to market, as Premium Foods is doing in Ghana; or training growers in certified seed production, like Tanseed is doing in Tanzania; or expanding the production and processing of highly nutritional foods like chickpeas and soybeans, as Guts Agro Industry is in Ethiopia, businesses often know how to do important things better and more cost effectively than anyone else.

African countries are taking the lead on cultivating private sector involvement. They are reforming their policies to make their economies and agricultural sectors more attractive for both domestic and international investment and private sector activity. Their partners can support this by launching our own innovative collaborations with businesses, both local and international.

Now, I do realize that not everyone welcomes wholeheartedly the notion of more private sector involvement. And let me be clear that while global corporations play an irreplaceable role, we want them to prosper alongside local business, not at their expense. Private sector activity must start with the smallholder farmers whose future prosperity is the focal point of all our efforts, and then expand outward from there.

Furthermore, I know that some worry that by asking the private sector to step up, governments are hoping that gives us the excuse to scale back. Well, I want to say as clearly as I can that the United States is in this for the long run. And we ask others to hold us accountable as we will do the same in turn. And we believe accountability must apply to our private sector partners as well. But private sector activity is the only lasting basis for self-sustaining economic growth. And ultimately, after all, isn’t that our goal?

The second topic I want to emphasize is nutrition. In recent years, we have learned that improving access to food does not automatically lead to improved nutrition. Neither does raising incomes nor creating new markets. What leads to improved nutrition is focusing on nutrition itself and integrating it into all our food security initiatives.

Nutrition is just too important to be treated as an afterthought. Children’s entire lives are shaped by whether they receive enough of the right nutrients during those crucial 1,000 days from pregnancy to second birthdays. And this, in turn, heavily influences whether a country will have a healthy and educated workforce. So when we overlook nutrition, we set ourselves up for a less healthy, less productive, less prosperous future.

Two years ago, during the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, I joined international leaders, including Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the foreign minister of Ireland and others, in announcing the “1,000 Days” partnership in support of the Scaling Up Nutrition movement known as SUN. That was the first time foreign ministers had gathered to focus squarely on nutrition as a critical development priority. And since then, a growing number of countries have committed to improving nutrition. Twenty-seven countries have committed to taking action through the SUN movement, and I urge more countries to join because we have proven solutions to the problem of under- and mal-nutrition

And let me also say that under-nutrition is not just a problem facing only developing countries. We’re struggling with it in the United States, and we have plenty of food. But many people, including far too many children, are not eating nutritious foods. They’re eating, but they’re not eating in a way that improves and sustains their health, and they are increasingly facing serious health problems.

In Chicago on Monday, while the NATO summit is underway, there will be a “1,000 Days Summit” to focus on the problem of child under-nutrition, not only abroad but here at home in cities like Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking on the so-called “food deserts” as a public health priority, because this problem of under-nutrition cuts across all borders and all incomes.

The United States has a set an ambitious nutrition target within Feed the Future. We aim to reach 7 million children within five years to prevent stunting and to increase child survival. I think we have the capacity to reach even more, and if we all work together we can set a global target.

The third issue I want to emphasize is gender equality. I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that I am convinced women are critical to our success in every field of endeavor. And this is not a matter of sentiment or personal interest on my part. This is also actually a fact-based, evidence-based statement. It has been said that – (applause) – the modern face of hunger is often a woman’s face, because in many parts of the world, women still eat last and eat least.

The face of a farmer is often a woman’s face as well. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, women comprise nearly half of the agricultural workforce across Africa. So if we want to support farmers, we also have to support women farmers. And that is not something that happens automatically. It has to be part of a deliberate, determined strategy that takes gender equality into account across everything we are doing.

And the results speak for themselves. The FAO estimates that if women farmers had the same access to productive resources as men – seeds, credit, insurance, land title, and so on – they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent. And that, in turn, could raise total agricultural output so much it could reduce the number of hungry people worldwide by up to 150 million.

Now the obstacles that stand in the way of women’s equal access to resources in agriculture or anything else are, unfortunately, formidable. They include laws, deeply held traditions, lack of information, plain old inertia, and we have to overcome each and every one of them. We can’t just hope that women get the support they need as a side effect of our work. We have to push for it. And it’s not optional. It’s not marginal. It’s not a luxury. It’s not expendable. It happens to be essential, or we will never reach our goals.

The United States has integrated gender equality throughout Feed the Future, and we will do the same with the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. We’ve created new tools like the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index to measure our impact. And we look to our partners to help us in this broader effort. When we liberate the economic potential of women, we elevate the economic performance of communities, nations, and the world.

So the work we’re talking about today will require all of us to change how we do business. Now that’s not always easy. I’ve seen that firsthand at the State Department and USAID. To give you just one example, I instructed our ambassadors in many parts of the world to take on agricultural issues, not something that our typical ambassadors know a great deal about, but they’ve educated themselves about land reform and export bans and fertilizer subsidies. And they’ve gone out and worked closely with our partners to help them achieve their goals.

No institution is easy to change. Some of you know that all too well. But the State Department and USAID have changed for this issue because we are so convinced of its overall importance. And we will all have to change and change again to keep moving forward. But if we continue to align our investments and resources, find opportunities for partnership, share news of our progress, and share the lessons from our mistakes, and hold each other accountable, I absolutely believe we will succeed in significantly decreasing hunger and poverty worldwide.

In the past three and a half years that I have been privileged to serve as Secretary of State, I’ve traveled to nearly a hundred countries. And in many, I’ve met with farmers and agricultural scientists, policymakers, nutrition experts, and of all I have seen and all the people I have met, my hope and commitment has only been deepened. There is a sense of anticipation that we can move ahead. Not since the Green Revolution has there been this level of focus by the world on this problem. And we also are heartened by the real progress that we see already underway.

When I was in Tanzania last year, I visited a women’s farm cooperative with the prime minister. And the farm receives funding from USAID. The women there are raising vegetables – peppers and leafy greens mostly. But they didn’t have a market nearby where they could sell their excess crops. So they started one. And then they built cooling huts. And even though their vegetables are high-value, the women don’t sell all of them; they save them for themselves and their children because they have been made aware of how rich they are nutrients, especially for growing children. They were so eager to show me their crops, their drip irrigation system, their greenhouse. They know they are contributing to something of great importance – not only better lives for their own children, but a better future for their country.

So to anyone who wonders whether progress is possible, go visit women like the ones I met in Tanzania. Go visit the scientists in India who are carrying on the tradition of the Green Revolution by developing drought-tolerant and disease-resistant seeds. Go visit their counterparts in Kenya, who are working in their labs and greenhouses to create a green revolution in Africa. Look at the school lunch program in Brazil, which provides nutritious food every day to every Brazilian child, all grown by smallholder farmers. Look at the policy makers in Indonesia who had the foresight to make a substantial investment in nutrition as a strategy for economic growth. Look at the farmers, the entrepreneurs, the activists, the political leaders, the teachers, the parents who are devoting themselves to making their communities healthier, more just, and more prosperous.

These are the people who are on the frontlines of progress. Our place is standing right behind them, giving them the support they need to succeed. And I am very proud to be part of this movement, because indeed that’s what it is, and to work with each and every one of you and countless others like you who sign on to this movement’s mission. I am absolutely convinced we can not only keep the progress going, we can show results that will just surprise people everywhere and give hope to those who will never know our names, will never understand what we were doing here in Washington, but whose lives will be so much better because we made this commitment together.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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Sri Lankan FM, posted with vodpod

Remarks With Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris Before Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
May 18, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: I am delighted to welcome Minister Peiris, the external affairs minister from Sri Lanka. The United States strongly supports the process of reconciliation and reconstruction in Sri Lanka. We have very strong, important ties between our two countries. We were encouraged to see the end of a very long, bloody, terrible conflict, and look forward to working with Sri Lanka as they pursue their commitment to a better future for all the people. And the United States wants to be a supportive partner in those efforts. I’m looking forward to a productive conversation with the minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER PEIRIS: Well, it was exactly two years ago that I was here at the invitation of the Secretary of State, and I am delighted to be here on this occasion to have a wide-ranging discussion with the Secretary of State. During the intervening period of two years, a great deal has happened in my country, and by any standard, those developments represent a substantial accomplishment.

We have been able to complete 90 percent of the work connected with the resettlement of the people who were displaced by the conflict, and there is also a very moving story in human terms with regard to the ex-combatants who have all been rehabilitated. This includes 595 child soldiers who – they have all been reintegrated into society after the benefit of exposure to programs of vocational training which equip them to earn their living.

The most striking developments have really been in the northern province of Sri Lanka where the economy is growing by as much as 22 percent in comparison with the average for the rest of the island, which is about 8 percent. Now this is the result of an emphasis on the development of infrastructure to a degree that is really without (inaudible) at any other time in the island’s history.

This is, itself, the product of a deep conviction of ours that there is an intimate connection between reconciliation and economic development. We believe that any realistic process of reconciliation must focus upon economic factors, there must be a certain threshold of economic contentment and well-being, and emphasis on access to livelihoods and incomes. These are essential aspects of a reconciliation process. They have overriding importance, although of course we are, at the same time, addressing other aspects of reconciliation including land, language, which is a key to the understanding of other cultures, and it is also, as I’m sure you would agree, a very powerful instrument for preventing the stratification of (inaudible) society. We are also addressing, in earnest, constitutional reforms which are appropriate at this stage of the country’s political and social development.

I think I should refer very briefly to another deep conviction of ours, namely that a reconciliation process, if it is to be successful, it must reflect sensitivity to the aspirations of our people. It must have a homegrown polity. It is only then that the people of the country at large will be able to identify this process, which will then come alive in their hearts and minds.

Now, we have at this moment, a very rich and multifaceted relationship between Sri Lanka and the United States. We have as many as 5,000 students studying in the universities of the United States. And there is excellent cooperation between our two governments in the realm of defense. And only yesterday, I had a very productive meeting in the office of the United States Trade Representative, and the object of that meeting was to explore ways and means of building upon the trade and investment framework agreement which is in existence between our two countries.

And I’m convinced that today, more than ever before, with the return of stability and tranquility to our country, there is abundant scope for building further upon the relationship that is already very strong and vibrant. And that is why I’m particularly happy to be here in Washington today to meet with the Secretary of State to have a candid discussion about the future of the bilateral relationship between Sri Lanka and the United States. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, minister. Thank you all.

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Public Schedule for May 18, 2012

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
May 18, 2012

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
PUBLIC SCHEDULE
FRIDAY MAY 18, 2012

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

9:30 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with U.S Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

10:00 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris, at the Department of State.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING BILATERAL MEETING)

11:00 a.m. Secretary Clinton joins President Obama’s bilateral meeting with French President Francois Hollande, at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)

12:20 p.m. Secretary Clinton hosts a working lunch for French President Francois Hollande, at the Blair House.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING WORKING LUNCH)

1:35 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, at the Blair House.
(CAMERA SRAY PRECEDING MEETING)

4:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton delivers remarks at the launch of the G8 Food Security Agenda, at the Ronald Reagan Building. Please click here for more information.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

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Statement by President and Secretary Clinton on the Passing of Ed Malloy

“We are greatly saddened by the passing of Ed Malloy, a true public servant to New York and our country. For years we were proud to call him a friend as he labored tirelessly to transform the construction industry, provide New York with the best infrastructure possible and open doors for thousands of New Yorkers to begin their careers in the building trades. His legacy lives on in the countless parks, bridges, and buildings that stand because of his commitment and passion. He will be missed.”

Read more about Ed Malloy >>>>

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G-8 Reception, posted with vodpod

Secretary Clinton Hosts a Reception Celebrating the New Partnership to Advance Food and Nutrition Security on the Occasion of the 2012 G-8 Summit

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

Benjamin Franklin Room

Washington, DC

May 17, 2012


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is a very exciting time for all of us, which includes everyone in this room who has been working together in order to realize the dream of an effective, functioning partnership around food and nutrition security. And to those of you who have traveled from afar to be here in Washington, we welcome you. And in particular, we are honored to have the heads of state and government who have been introduced. These gentlemen are here because they understand the opportunity that is being presented to have a true partnership, a global partnership around the ending of food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition. And we are very impressed that you have taken this leadership position and the time to be with us.

Also in this room are representatives of the G-8 nations. This G-8 effort began in Italy, and I see friends of mine from the Government of Italy who began this process in L’Aquila. And at Camp David this weekend, in partnership with our African partners, we take it to the next level.

We are also pleased that so many of you who understand the importance of public-private partnerships representing the private sector are here as well. Because very honestly, we cannot reach the ambitious goals we have set without involving the private sector. And you’ll hear tomorrow about the exciting investments and pledges that the private sector is making. We need your investment, your expertise, your global reach, your commitment to results.

So we are teed up and ready to go. We are so pleased that we have this opportunity to present all the work that has gone into the presentation. We’ll dive into the details tomorrow when USAID hosts the symposium, but I want, in addition to thanking all of you who have contributed, to thank my colleagues, the two former speakers. Dr. Raj Shah was working at the Gates Foundation when first he left to come to work in the Obama Administration at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He began working on this effort which we know as Feed the Future, and he became such a valuable partner. And we were so pleased to see him become the director of USAID. He lives and breathes food security, and we are happy to be on the same trajectory with him to fulfill the goals we have set.

And I also wish to thank my chief of staff and counselor, Cheryl Mills, for the extraordinary work that she has done over the last three and a half years, basically just pushing, pulling, dragging us all across the finish line. Because if there were ever a cause worthy of our best efforts and our enduring cooperation, it is this one. We know the statistics: nearly a billion people worldwide suffer from chronic hunger; 75 percent of poor people live in rural settings and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. So by improving agriculture, we can together strike a powerful blow against both hunger and poverty.

And that’s why food security is a priority of the Obama Administration. It is both the smart thing to do and the right thing to do. It is a moral imperative to help people escape hunger and poverty. It is an economic imperative to spread prosperity, create rising incomes, give people the chance to give their own children a better future. It is indeed a strategic imperative. We want to support and build up countries who have leaders like those here before you to take their rightful place of leadership regionally and globally.

In the last three and a half years, I’ve had the privilege of visiting farmers, agricultural scientists, health and nutrition experts in a number of countries. And there truly is a palpable sense of excitement that we are on our way; we are poised for the kind of breakthroughs that we haven’t seen since the Green Revolution. In fact, in several countries, we are already seeing meaningful progress. Feed the Future is working with 19 target countries, and during the past three years, those countries have increased their total food production by about 6 percent, which is 70 percent higher than the increase in food production among least developed countries. More food is available to more people, more farmers are earning higher incomes, and the ripple effects of health and prosperity are spreading despite the global economic slowdown.

And we know that this is a very long dream for our country. As Cheryl said, Ben Franklin, who’s up there watching over us, knew a lot about farming. And he was someone who understood the connection between providing for people and having stable political systems. And of course, Thomas Jefferson was an actual farmer, and in the next room you can see the desk at which Thomas Jefferson wrote portions of our Declaration of Independence. He always believed that one of America’s great strengths were our farmers and, in fact, in 1785 wrote in a letter to James Madison, “The small landholders are the most precious part of a state.” Well, we know from our own history smallholder farmers helped to build America, and now we’re seeing it across the world.

So we welcome all of you here as we begin this exciting two days in Washington. We’ve provided you with a lot of food, so please don’t be shy about enjoying it. But we do so out of that sense of gratitude that you are on this journey with us. Our G-8 partners and friends, our African partners and friends, our private sector, our health experts, our academics, our agricultural experts, everyone – we are on a journey together. We’re proud of what the United States did during the Green Revolution, but we can’t keep looking toward the past and say that was great, look at what we did 30, 40 years ago. We now have to take what we know and apply it in the 21st century. We have to learn the lessons that we have learned, sometimes hard lessons over the last years, and we have to focus on the people, the people who will benefit, the people who will have their lives changed, the people of nations that will change because of this work.

So thank you all for your commitment to improving food and nutrition security for women and men who will never know about this, who will never know our names, but because of our work they will have their own lives changed and their futures uplifted. And that is the greatest reward of all. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)

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Signing Ceremony With the Tunisian Ambassador to the United States Mohamed Salah Tekaya

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Tunisian Ambassador to the United States Mohamed Salah Tekaya
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
May 17, 2012

 SECRETARY CLINTON:It’s wonderful to welcome Ambassador Tekaya here, along with members of the Embassy of Tunisia to celebrate this important step in our partnership. In the United States, we have an old saying: You’ve got to put your money where your mouth is. You can’t just say you support something; you have to back it up with value. And we have been very supportive of Tunisia’s democratic future, and we want to back up those words, Ambassador, with actions.

It was less than two months ago that I announced this cash transfer, and I’d like to thank all of my colleagues at the State Department and USAID for their work to make this happen so quickly. But this transfer is only one of many valuable commitments we are making to the people and the new government of Tunisia. We will soon be finalizing a sovereign loan guarantee agreement, fully backed by the United States, which will provide several hundreds of millions of dollars more in financing for the Tunisian Government. We are working through USAID to help Tunisia develop its information communications technology sector. And last fall, Tunisia became eligible for the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Threshold Program, which will support sustained, broad-based economic growth throughout the country.

We are also deepening our ties with the Tunisian people, helping to build Tunisia’s institutions of democracy and governance, fostering the growth of civil society and the private sector, and expanding educational and cultural exchanges. And as Tunisia’s leaders shape the country’s new institutions, we are encouraging them and working with them to ensure that core principles of human rights, transparency, and accountability are part of Tunisia’s democratic transformation. After years of totalitarian rule, the Tunisian people deserve a government that is responsible to their needs and usefully using their resources.

So the United States stands firmly with Tunisia, as do many others. Tunisia’s neighbors are increasing their investment and budget support, and we are delighted to see other nations joining in this important effort. The Tunisian people have friends all over the world, and each investment is a tangible demonstration of commitment to the Tunisian peoples’ goals of realizing a Tunisia founded on democratic principles, built on inclusive economic growth, where every man, woman, and child has the opportunity for a better future.

So, Ambassador, we are proud to be your partner in helping to shape that future.

AMBASSADOR TEKAYA: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Honorable Secretary, for your warm welcome and your kind words about Tunisia and the trust that you have in the ability of Tunisia to succeed in this transition.

It is, for me, a distinct honor to be here today, and to sign with Your Excellency, the Memorandum of Acknowledgment of the Cash Transfer that you have just mentioned, which is really to support the stabilization of the Tunisian economy through provision of budgetary support. Indeed, this is a significant measure of support for Tunisia at a critical stage in its transition to democracy, and it’s also a critical stage in its history. And on behalf of the Tunisian Government, I would like to extend to you – and through you to the Government of the United States – our deepest gratitude for that support.

Indeed, the cash transfer is one of the various measures that the U.S. administration has granted Tunisia. You have mentioned the loan guarantees, also the Tunisia Enterprise Fund, and the Threshold Program with MCC. So we are really grateful, and we also – I also want to extend a special thanks to the members of Congress for their support for these measures, as well as the various departments and agencies for the work that they have done to materialize these measures.

Tunisia today has made significant progress in this transition to democracy with the organization of free, fair elections and also the election of a president, a speaker of the constituent assembly, and also a head of government. And the constituent assembly is currently engaged in elaborating a new constitution for Tunisia – for a modern Tunisia, for a new Tunisia, which would be respectful of human rights, respectful of the values of the democracy, and which would respond to the aspirations of the Tunisian people for freedom and for dignity. And we count on the support of our friends in the first place, the friends who share these values, the values of democracy, liberty, and dignity, and the United States is certainly in the forefront of those countries with whom – for whom we seek the support.

Tunisia is facing enormous challenges, economic, social, and also financial challenges. It counts, in the first place, on its own resources and its own means, implementing meaningful reforms and also mobilizing national resources to face these challenges. But Tunisia counts also on the valuable support of its friends. And the United States has been steadfast in that regard. In his – we always want to recall that in his State of the Union Address in January last year, President Obama said that the United States will stand with the people of Tunisia. And I think that his support is really highly appreciated by the people of Tunisia. And since then, United States has been delivering on that support, so we are thankful.

We are also thankful for the role that United States – and the active role that United States has been playing, galvanizing international support for Tunisia. And I would like to pay a special tribute to you, Madam Secretary of State. You have been a special supporter of Tunisia, a strong advocate of support for Tunisia, so we owe you a lot of credit for that.

And as the revolution in Tunisia has opened new opportunities for the people of Tunisia, it has also opened – created new opportunities for the relations between our two countries. And these opportunities are really for us to explore, and we invite our friends from the United States to share with us these opportunities in many sectors. Last September, our two countries launched a political and economic partnership, which is setting up a rich, comprehensive agenda of cooperation on many areas of mutual interest. And that partnership is moving forward, and we’re happy to continue to work together to further advance it.

Tunisia looks forward to attracting American investment. We invite American companies to come to Tunisia to explore the opportunities that Tunisia offers, a Tunisia that is implementing far-reaching reforms – economic reforms, financial reforms, also strengthening good governance, strengthening transparency and the rule of law. Tunisia will be a very good place for American investors and for American companies.

So with this, also I would like to stress how important our friendship is, and we would like to further promote understanding between our two peoples through student exchanges, through additional exchanges, and through partnership between the private sector in Tunisia and the private sector in the United States of America.

And I thank you, Honorable Secretary, for providing us with this opportunity to celebrate a friendship and a partnership between our two countries.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Ambassador. (Applause.)

(The Memorandum of Acknowledgement of the Cash Transfer Agreement between the United States and the Tunisian Republic was signed.)

(Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much. Thank you.

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Tomorrow:

Secretary Clinton to deliver remarks at the launch of the G8 Food Security Agenda

Notice to the Press

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 17, 2012

On May 18th, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver remarks at the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security: Advancing Food and Nutrition Security at the 2012 G8 Summit, at the Ronald Reagan Building. The event, hosted by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, will feature announcements of significant new business commitments for African agriculture and discussions on addressing hunger and poverty in the changing development landscape.

For more information about the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security and to view the agenda visit: www.thechicagocouncil.org/GlobalAgSymposium.

The Secretary will deliver remarks at approximately 4:00 p.m. The event will be streamed live at www.state.gov.

I published a press announcement about this event earlier in the week. Here is the official State Department notice.

Secretary Clinton to Deliver the Keynote Address at the Gala Dinner for the International Special Operations Forces Week

Notice to the Press

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 17, 2012

On Wednesday, May 23rd, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver the keynote address at the Gala Dinner for the International Special Operations Forces Week at the Tampa Convention Center.

The dinner, hosted by Admiral William H. McRaven and the United States Special Operations Command, will bring together delegates from 96 nations. The conference will focus on building the global Special Operations Forces partnership.

The dinner will begin at approximately 7:00 p.m.

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Ehud Barak, posted with vodpod

Remarks With Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak Before Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
May 17, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure to welcome a longtime friend and colleague back here to Washington and, in particular, the State Department. We have a constant consultation between the Government of the United States and the Government of Israel on a full range of important issues. And I look forward to having this opportunity to do one of these reviews with Minister Barak, and I am delighted that you are here, sir.

DEFENSE MINISTER BARAK: Thank you. I’m delighted to be here once again and to have an opportunity to discuss Middle Eastern issues with the Secretary (inaudible). And we are highly appreciative of the approach of this Administration, of the Secretary, of Secretary of Defense, and of course of the President, in regard to the security of Israel, making sure that in our tough neighborhood, Israel will be strong and secure. And I hope, of course, that the new developments will lead into new opportunities to move forward, not just on security but also on the highly important issue of trying to find a way to have a breakthrough in the political process towards peace.

Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all.

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Burmese FM, posted with vodpod

Remarks With Foreign Minister of Burma U Wunna Maung Lwin After Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
May 17, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. I am delighted to welcome the foreign minister here today to Washington. We have been looking forward to Minister Wunna Maung Lwin’s visit and the continuation of the close consultation and cooperation that has begun taking place between our two countries. We met in Nay Pyi Taw last December, and I am very pleased to have you here, sir.

This is a historic visit – the first in decades, and it is a testament to how far we have come together in a short period of time. I want to salute President Thein Sein for his leadership and the leadership of his government as it charts a path of political and democratic reform for his country. I want to salute those like Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all who struggled and sacrificed because they believe in a better future for their country as well.

And I want to thank everyone here in the United States who has supported this process and understands the significance of what is happening. In particular, our partners on Capitol Hill – Republican and Democrat alike – including Senators McConnell, McCain, Kerry, Webb, Shaheen, Congressman Crowley, and others.

This is a moment for us to recognize that the progress which has occurred in the last year toward democratization and national reconciliation is irreversible, as the minister said to me. The United States wants to do everything we can to be sure that is the reality.

I applauded the parliamentary elections and recent steps to bring an end to conflict with the Karen National Union, one of a number of internal conflicts with ethnic minority groups that remain a matter of concern that the government is focused on. And I heard a very promising report from the minister about the additional steps that are being taken to continue reform.

The United States is committed to supporting this reform. We want to encourage it. We acknowledge it. But more than that, we want to be partners in seeing it continue. So today, we are announcing the nomination of Ambassador Derek Mitchell as our new ambassador, the first since 1990. Ambassador Mitchell has been serving as my special representative. He is well known and respected in the region. I urge the United States Senate to quickly confirm him to this new post so he can continue our important work. And I look forward to welcoming your ambassador to Washington.

Today, I am also announcing new steps to permit American investment in the country and export of U.S. financial services. These are the most significant adjustments to our previous policy that have been taken to date. The United States will issue a general license that will enable American businesses to invest across the economy, allow citizens access to international credit markets and dollar-based transactions.

So today, we say to American business: Invest in Burma and do it responsibly; be an agent of positive change and be a good corporate citizen; let’s all work together to create jobs, opportunity, and support reform.

Now, these are important steps that will help bring the country into the global economy, spur broad-based economic development, and support ongoing reform. We are doing what others have done – the European Union, the United Kingdom. We are suspending sanctions. We believe that that is the appropriate step for us to take today. We will be keeping relevant laws on the books as an insurance policy, but our goal and our commitment is to move as rapidly as we can to expand business and investment opportunities.

The State Department will work with Congress and our colleagues across government, particularly the Treasury Department, to be sure we are promoting responsible investment and deterring abuses. We strongly support the private sector being a full partner, and we want our businesses to set a good corporate example of doing business in a transparent, responsible manner.

We’ll expect U.S. firms to conduct due diligence to avoid any problems, including human rights abuses. We expect our businesses to create a grievance process that will be accessible to local communities; to demonstrate appropriate treatment of employees, respect for the environment; to be a good corporate citizen; and to promote equitable, sustainable development that will benefit the people.

And we hope that our partners in Europe and Asia will uphold the same high standards. The people have waited a long time because they have every right to expect development that will benefit them, not outsiders or insiders, but instead, the people themselves. Now, we are mindful of a pattern of abuses by companies and others, particularly in the ethnic minority areas. So we will keep our eyes wide open to try to ensure that anyone who abuses human rights or obstructs reforms or engages in corruption do not benefit financially from increased trade and investment with the United States, including companies owned or operated by the military. We will be maintaining the arms embargo, because we want to see amongst the reforms that are taking place a move for the armed forces to be under civilian control.

We will also continue working with the government in Nay Pyi Taw to put in place internationally recognized business and labor practices that foster respect for the rule of law. We will be taking these steps mindful of the difficult decisions that the government has already made and will continue to make. We also would like to see the release of any continued political prisoners and a continued emphasis in law and action to promoting national reconciliation.

The United States is very committed to supporting the end of the ethnic conflicts in the country. We think that the diversity of population is a source of great strength for the country going forward. And yesterday, I had a group of young people who were visiting the United States representing the mosaic of different backgrounds and ethnicities, and it was very exciting to see them all together focused on making their contribution to the future.

We are concerned about violence in Kachin State in recent weeks, and I was very pleased to hear about new mechanisms, both official and nongovernmental, to encourage meaningful dialogue. And as I said, the government must do all it can do. People on the other side of the table in these conflicts also must be willing to cooperate, to seek an equitable, fair ending to the conflicts. So reconciliation is a priority, and we will continue to support that.

Finally, we discussed our concerns about North Korea. I am encouraged by reports that President Thein Sein has stated he will end the military relationship with North Korea, and the minister assured me that they will fully comply with international obligations on nonproliferation.

I am very, very positive about what is happening, and I know how difficult this will be. It is never easy. I often remind people about the challenges my own country faced. They were faced many, many years ago – so you didn’t have the internet, television, constant attention being paid, as we struggle to live up to our own hopes and aspirations. So this is going to be an exciting, challenging journey for your country and those of us who are committed to supporting you.

But I am very pleased that the United States is taking these steps today, encouraging our businesses to go and help you grow your economy, encouraging our nongovernmental organizations to go and partner with you on education, healthcare, the environment, and so much else.

So, Minister, thank you for being here today, and I look forward to continuing to work with you.

FOREIGN MINISTER WUNNA MAUNG LWIN: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. Ladies and gentlemen, I have come to Washington, D.C. on an official visit at the invitation of Secretary Clinton. And this afternoon, we had a friendly and cordial discussion on matters relating to further promotion of bilateral relations. I have also had the opportunity to call on Senator McCain, Senator McConnell, and Senator Jim Webb. I also meet with – I will also meet with Deputy Secretary of State William Burns later this afternoon.

And during my meeting with them, they reiterated their recognition and support of the ongoing reforms undertaken by the government and President Thein Sein in Myanmar. We also discussed about further strengthening of relationship and cooperation in various areas of mutual interest, increased assistance to the people of Myanmar, and lifting of sanctions and restrictions imposed by the United States against Myanmar.

I have expressed our appreciations to the government and the people of the United States for supporting our efforts of reforms and the transition to democracy, and reiterated our determination to continue our reforms. The decision on the appointment of ambassadors in both countries is an important step forward in our efforts to resumption of normal diplomatic relations after more than 20 years.

Ambassador U Than Shwe will be the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to the United States. He is currently serving as permanent representative of Myanmar to the United Nations in New York. I have full confidence in him, because he has done an excellent job as our interlocutor with the United States side since we began dialogue for resumption of normal diplomatic relations over the last several months.

I am also blessed that Ambassador Derek Mitchell will be the new U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar. And Ambassador Mitchell is no stranger to Myanmar. In the past 12 months, he has successfully served as a U.S. special representative and policy coordinator for Myanmar, during which I had the pleasure to work with him very closely.

So my congratulations to both of them and wish them all the best for their new important responsibilities. I wish to thank Secretary Clinton for inviting me to Washington for official visit. I would like to express our appreciation to the State Department and the United States Government for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality accorded to us, as well as for the excellent arrangements made for us during our stay in Washington. I thank you all.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.

FOREIGN MINISTER WUNNA MAUNG LWIN: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: We have two today. We’ll start with (inaudible).

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, regarding the easing of economic restrictions, will the – will U.S. companies be able to invest and trade with Myanmar state-owned companies, including in the oil and gas sector? And also, you talk about the corporate responsibilities of U.S. companies. Will these expectations be binding under U.S. law?

And, Minister, could I ask you – there is a lot of international concern about the continued detention of political prisoners. Can you say whether these prisoners, of which people say there are hundreds – are they going to be released? And if so, when will they be released?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you. First, let me say our presumption is that our companies will be able to deal in every sector of the economy with any business. That is a rebuttable presumption in the event that there is a company whose reputation, whose practices, are not in keeping with our stated policies of corporate responsibility or other matters that rise to our attention. But the presumption is that our oil and gas companies, our mining companies, our financial services companies are all now free to look for investments that can be mutually beneficial to Burma and to them.

Now, we are taking these steps in a measured, responsible way. We are keeping on the books all legislation and executive authorities that does give us flexibility, if the facts warrant, to tighten sanctions again – similar, as I said, to what the EU, the UK, and others have done. And moving forward, we will be working with our businesses to be sure that they do exercise the highest standards of corporate responsibility.

When I was in Burma, I heard stories about some companies that didn’t have a good reputation for the way they treated people, didn’t have good working conditions, didn’t abide by the basics of how you should run a company. They weren’t American companies, but it came to my mind that I want people to look at American companies and say that’s how you should treat workers, that’s how you should treat the environment, you shouldn’t deal with bad customers; you should deal with respectable, responsible businesses if they’re state-owned or if they are private and independent.

So we are very confident that suspending these sanctions and moving forward is exactly the right step to take for now, and we’re enthusiastically encouraging American businesses to invest.

FOREIGN MINISTER WUNNA MAUNG LWIN: Well, for the question you have asked to me about the prisoners, the president has granted amnesty four times in the past 12 months, past 12 or 13 months. About 28,000 prisoners were released from prison, and we have (inaudible) lists, so-called political prisoners, from the European Union as well as from the United States. And after the last amnesty, which has been granted in January, most of the people included in these lists were released.

And there are some remaining from the lists. After thoroughly checking and investigating these lists, there are – they are some prisoners who have criminal offenses, such as murder, rapes, or connecting to terrorist activities. But the president, in exercising his mandate invested upon him by the constitution, he will further granted amnesties when appropriate. I think this will answer your question.

MS. NULAND: Last question, (inaudible) from VOA Burma.

QUESTION: Actually, I have two parts of the questions and plus I’d like to address to the Madam Secretary and Minister Wunna Muang Lwin. Since the United States is easing the sanctions, could that cause collide with the China, which is quite influential in the region? And also, we have seen the report of the concerns from the Chinese officials. And also, last year we have seen that China is disappointed after suspension of Myitsone dam project. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me say what I said when I was in Nay Pyi Taw. The United States does not expect any country to give up relationships with their neighbors. And China is a neighbor, and there are longstanding ties that certainly are deep in the soils of both nations. What we are doing is providing additional support for the kind of development, both politically and economically, that the reform process, which the government in Nay Pyi Taw has begun, has made possible.

Because we do value representative government, democracy, good working conditions, protection of the environment, the kinds of things that the United States stands for, we hope that our relationship can be one that is very supportive of what I am told are the steps that the government and the people themselves wish to take.

So this is not about any other nation. This is between us. This is rooted in the changes we have watched happen and our desire to support the continuation of those changes. And we fully expect that there will be many countries, as you’ve already seen, who want to develop stronger and better relationships in the neighborhood, in the region, and around the world. And we think that’s good to open up the country, give the people more opportunities. So we are very pleased to be a partner in this.

FOREIGN MINISTER WUNNA MAUNG LWIN: Informing on the part of the relationship with China, we have a very long, traditional, and historical relation with China. We have very good relations with China, as we are neighboring countries sharing the common border of more than 2,000 kilometers. So we are cooperating with China. We are inviting investments. There are investment from China.

And according to the suspension of the Myitsone project, we have our domestic concerns, and then we have suspended that and we have informed that cordially to the Chinese side. And this is only a part of the cooperation between China and Myanmar. They can – they understand the situation very well. And I do not want to support your comments that China is disappointed with that, because we have explained the situation very clearly to the authorities and the respective and responsible ministry, and the Chinese company are discussing about the matter also. We have had a very good cooperation with China. So I think that this will not jeopardize the future relations with China.

On the part of the relation with United States, we have this pillar of our foreign policy to have good, friendly relations with – relationships with all the countries around the world. In this aspect, we are working closely with United States to have a strong bilateral relations with United States also.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.

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Public Schedule for May 17, 2012

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
May 17, 2012

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

9:15 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with the regional bureau secretaries, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

10:00 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with African activists working to end gender-based violence, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

11:00 a.m. Secretary Clinton attends a meeting at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)

12:45 p.m. Secretary Clinton officiates the swearing-in ceremony for Roberta Jacobson, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

1:30 p.m.Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister of Burma U Wunna Maung Lwin, at the Department of State.
(JOINT PRESS AVAILABILITY FOLLOWING BILATERAL MEETING AT APPROXIMATELY 2:20 PM)

3:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, at the Department of State.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING BILATERAL MEETING)

3:45 p.m. Secretary Clinton participates in a signing ceremony with the Tunisian Ambassador to the U.S. Mohamed Salah Tekaya, at the Department of State.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

4:30 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Admiral William McRaven, Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

6:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton hosts a reception celebrating the New Partnership to Advance Food and Nutrition Security on the Occasion of the 2012 G8 Summit, at the Department of State.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE FOR REMARKS)

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