Archive for April, 2009

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Remarks After Meeting With Lebanese President Michel Sleiman


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Beirut, Lebanon
April 26, 2009

Date: 04/26/2009 Description: Secretary Clinton with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman. State Dept Photo SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me begin by saying how pleased I am to be here in Lebanon on a beautiful day. I appreciated the opportunity that I had to meet with the president, with the minister, and other members of the government. I am grateful for this chance to deliver a letter to President Sleiman from President Obama, expressing the Obama administration’s strong support for a free, sovereign, and independent Lebanon.
And it is important that I stress this special bond that exists between the United States and Lebanon. My country has been enriched by the contributions of many Lebanese Americans. And, even more than that, we have been enriched by a diversity of communities. I know how diverse Lebanon is, and I know that that diversity is a source of strength as it is in my own country.
Over the past several years, Lebanon has gone through many challenges. And I want to commend the many courageous citizens from all different groups who have worked to build an independent and democratic nation. The parliamentary elections that are coming up in June will mark another milestone.
We believe strongly that the people of Lebanon must be able to choose their own representatives in open and fair elections without the specter of violence and intimidation, and certainly free of outside interference. And we join the international community in supporting the Lebanese government’s efforts to achieve that goal. We will continue to support the voices of moderation in Lebanon and the responsible institutions of the Lebanese state that they are working to build. Our ongoing support for the Lebanese armed forces remains a pillar of our bilateral cooperation.
The United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that the Lebanese armed forces is the only legitimate armed force in Lebanon, the only force that is accountable to all of the Lebanese people. And I want to commend the Lebanese armed forces for its efforts to defend Lebanon’s borders to fight terrorism and fully implement Security Council Resolution 1701.
I also am here to pledge our continuing support for the special tribunal for Lebanon. I will go from here to pay a call of respect at the memorial of former Prime Minister Hariri. There needs to be an absolute end to an era of impunity for political assassinations in Lebanon. It cannot, must not, be used as a bargaining chip. When I visit former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s memorial, I will honor his memory, and pay my respects to all those who have been killed while defending Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence.
The guiding principles from the Cedar Revolution that followed his death, sovereignty and freedom for the Lebanese people, is a core value that we respect and will honor and work to translate into a perpetual reality.
I believe that Lebanon has a key role to play in the long-term efforts to build lasting peace and stability in this region. And President Obama and I and the administration that I represent, as well as the government and people of the United States look forward to ongoing partnership and cooperation.
Thank you very much, and I will happy to take your questions.
QUESTION: You mentioned the forces of moderation and your visit happens two months before the elections and on the very anniversary day of the Syrian withdrawal. I was wondering, coming here today, if you intend to express your support for the current majority.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I intend to express my support and President Obama’s support for the people of Lebanon, and for a free, independent, and sovereign Lebanon, and for elections that will be free of any intimidation and outside interference, so that the people of Lebanon are able to peacefully make their decisions in these upcoming elections.
QUESTION: How can you (inaudible) is going to deal with the new Lebanese government in case the opposition or Hezbollah wins the election?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am not going to speculate on the outcome of your election. That is for the people of Lebanon to decide. The Lebanese people have a lot at stake in this election. And I know how seriously all of the candidates are campaigning throughout the country.
But we certainly hope that the election will be free of intimidation and outside interference, and that the results of the election will continue a moderate, positive direction that will benefit all the people of Lebanon. That is our hope. We want to see a strong, independent, free, and sovereign Lebanon. And we believe that this election will be, obviously, an important milestone on that path.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, welcome to Lebanon. (Inaudible) on this question. I know you don’t want to speculate about the results of the elections, but it does look likely that Syria’s allies, including Hezbollah, will make a strong come-back. How will that affect your support for the Lebanese army that you just discussed, you said it was a pillar of cooperation between the two countries? Would you re-evaluate that cooperation with the Lebanese army?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Kim, first let me say that it’s a great delight to have you with me on this trip. As some of you know, Kim is Lebanese, and has been so excited about coming back to a country that she loves, and I am pleased that I could be the reason she got to come back at this particular time.
I don’t want to speculate about the outcome of the elections. Obviously, as an outsider, which is all that I am, and representing our President and our government, we hope that the election is free and fair of intimidation, we hope that the people of Lebanon make a decision that will continue the progress that we have seen over the last several years.
It won’t surprise you to hear that I think moderation is important in the affairs of states, because that gives people from all backgrounds, and all different beliefs and convictions, an opportunity to participate. So that is up to the Lebanese people to decide, but we certainly look forward to working with and cooperating with the next Lebanese government.
QUESTION: Any settlement with Syria – that Lebanon could be paying the price for – especially regarding the international tribunal and why you don’t meeting (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with respect to my schedule, this was a very short trip, because of the necessity that I have to turn around and get back to Washington after having been in Iraq and Kuwait. But I really was here to send a very strong signal of our support for the free, fair elections, and of the state of Lebanon, symbolized by the president. And, therefore, I met with the president. I was very honored to be received by him and other ministers in the government of Lebanon.
I hope to return. I told the president that I feel very unhappy that I could come for such a short period of time. It’s like seeing this great banquet laid out, and all I am permitted to do is eat a tiny little appetizer. Because I have heard so much about this beautiful country, I have so many Lebanese-American friends that have told me about the beauty of Lebanon and the hospitality of the people. So I do hope to come back and spend more time here.
With respect to Syria, we are heartened by the exchange of ambassadors that was agreed to between Lebanon and Syria. Obviously we think it’s important that Lebanon have good relations with their neighbors, including Syria, but that Lebanon is an independent, free, sovereign nation. And there is nothing that we will do in any way that would undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty. We don’t have a right to do that, and we don’t believe that would be the right thing to do.
So, I want to assure any Lebanese citizens, that the United States will never make any deal with Syria that sells out Lebanon and the Lebanese people. You have been through too much, and it is only right that you are given a chance to make your own decisions, however they turn out, amongst the people who call Lebanon home, who love this country, who are committed to it, who have stayed here and done what you can to navigate through these difficult years. It’s a complicated neighborhood you live in, and you have a right to have your own future. And we believe that very strongly.
Thank you very much.

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Hillary spent Sunday in Lebanon.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Lebanese parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri as they visit the tomb of his father, slain former premier Rafiq Hariri (picture), in Beirut on April 26, 2009. Clinton made an unannounced visit to Lebanon as the country readies for parliamentary elections that could see the militant group Hezbollah and its allies emerge victorious. Clinton’s hours-long trip is seen as a bid to bolster the current pro-US majority in parliament ahead of the June 7 vote.

A handout picture released by the Lebanese photo agency Dalati and Nohra shows US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signing the guestbook during a visit to the tomb of Lebanon’s slain former premier Rafiq Hariri (picture) in Beirut on April 26, 2009. Clinton made an unannounced visit to Lebanon as the country readies for parliamentary elections that could see the militant group Hezbollah and its allies emerge victorious. Clinton’s hours-long trip is seen as a bid to bolster the current pro-US majority in parliament ahead of the June 7 vote.

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Meet and Greet at Embassy Baghdad with Employees and U.S. Troops


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Embassy Baghdad
Baghdad, Iraq
April 25, 2009

Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you all. Well, I apologize for being so delayed, but we’ve had a great day and I know a lot of you here this evening were the reason we did. The work you’ve been doing and the specific commitment to making this visit so successful is something that really speaks for itself. I’m very, very grateful to each and every one of you, and I must say you have certainly earned a wheels-up party when we’re out of here tonight.

I want to thank Lieutenant General Helmick for representing General Odierno, and more than that, for training the Iraqi security forces, which is part of his set of responsibilities. I also want to just acknowledge Jim Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State, who will be working with our new ambassador and all of you, to deal with the range of issues that we have to tackle. I am here for my fourth trip. I first came in 2003 and then I came back in ’05 and then I came back in ’07. And here I am once again, this time as Secretary of State.
I am both heartened by the progress that many of you have contributed to. I want to thank Pat on behalf of everyone here. She did a great job as DCM until we could finally get the Senate to agree that maybe it was important to have an ambassador in Iraq. And I want to introduce to you your new Ambassador, Chris Hill. You should know that as soon as he was confirmed – I think he was confirmed Tuesday night, late – he packed up everything and hitched a ride to Baghdad. And he was anxious to start this job, which is such a critical one for our own security and certainly for the security and future of the Iraqi people.
I also want to acknowledge former Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who did a magnificent job here. Both Ambassadors Crocker and Hill are among the very best that our Diplomatic Corps has to offer. Ambassador Hill has been in conflict situations in Kosovo. He was part of the Dayton Peace Accord negotiations in Bosnia. He served in Poland and South Korea. He was ambassador in Macedonia during the Kosovo war there. So he is no stranger to the kind of challenges that we are facing as we try to help this transition that the Iraqis are undertaking to a stable, sovereign, self-reliant nation.
Being here in my new role, I have to tell you how very proud I am of you. President Obama was here just a short while ago and gave the same message to both our military and civilian forces. We see this as a real partnership. We are now moving into a period where we will be drawing down our combat troops and we’re going to have to be ramping up our diplomatic and development efforts.
I see diplomacy, development and defense as each supporting the core components of American foreign policy: to protect our nation, to advance our interests, and to represent our best values, which is the greatest case we have to make to those who might wonder whether a future of democracy is in their best interests.
Whether you’re from State or USAID or one of the other many agencies represented here, or you’re from our military, you have taken on one of the toughest and most tasking assignments that you could have ever been given. And I want to be very clear, while our strategy has shifted with the SOFA agreement and our commitment to drawing down, we are still committed to the Iraqi people and the future of the Iraqi nation.
I have said that the cornerstone of our foreign policy is smart power with using the best of our hard assets, with what is sometimes called “soft,” but I think either is a misnomer. Many of you in the military have done a lot of diplomatic and development work over the last several years. And a lot of you in the Diplomatic Corps or USAID have done a lot of very hard work, trying to figure out how we could be successful partnering with the military. And I see lots of signs of progress and achievement.
Much has been said about the elections that Iraq has already had. But three successful elections, including this most recent one with provincial elections, is a significant achievement, and that could never have happened without you and your predecessors. So today was an opportunity for me to follow up on the President’s visit and to have in-depth conversations with a variety of Iraqi leaders, as well as a briefing from General Odierno, whom I first met on my very first visit when he was commanding the 4th ID.
And we also tried something a little different, an Iraqi town hall. And I have to tell you, it’s not much different than a town hall in Iowa or New York or somewhere in the States. Lots of hands, lots of questions, and good ones too. It was an opportunity for me to hear directly from Iraqis, and I learned a lot, and it underscored the challenges that we face. So our commitment has not waned; we’re just going to be executing it with some different emphases and priorities. We’re still committed to security because nothing can happen in the absence of it.
I believe, as General Odierno told me this morning, that the tragic attacks of the last few days have not fundamentally altered the security situation. But we have to stay alert and vigilant and we have to continue helping to prepare the Iraqi security forces to be able to prevent and deter the suicide attacks by either explosive belts or exploding vehicles. But I am very confident that we’re going to rise to the challenge. We’re going to be putting real meat on the bones of the strategic framework agreement, which as you know, was adopted at the same time as SOFA – didn’t get as much attention, but now it’s the primary focus of our efforts. Because we have to translate into reality what we mean when we talk about economic assistance and good governance and rule of law, and many of the other services and changes that we would like to be part of.
It is such a high honor for me to serve as Secretary of State. I’ve been blessed over the last years in the positions and honors that I have been able to hold on behalf of our country. And it gives me an enormous thrill to be getting off a plane representing our President, our government, and our nation. But what really touches me is to look out at all of you, away from your families, gone from home for many months, in many cases, committed to your mission, determined to succeed. That’s what is best about our country. We’re here because we see a better future for another people, but we also see the connection between our children’s future and the future of the Iraqi children.
This world has shrunk. It is so interconnected now. There isn’t any place we can walk away from without possibly seeing consequences we’d rather not. So I want you to know that in this beautiful new embassy, that took a very long time to build – (laugher) – are some of the smartest and best people that you’ll find serving America, not just anywhere today, but anywhere in our history. We just have to make sure we deliver. And we’re going to do everything we can to give you the tools and the resources to make that happen.
But it has to be a two-way street. You know, I started a website on the State Department larger web pages to solicit your ideas. If you have a good idea about something we should do differently or better, don’t keep it to yourself and don’t just complain to the people that you work with. Let us know, because we don’t have any time to waste. We need the best practices possible and we need to change direction if we’re going down the wrong way. So I encourage you to let the ambassador know and log onto the site to let us know because we’re going to be on this 24/7. And hopefully, we’ll be back here time and time again and see even more benchmarks and measures of success that we can attribute to the hard work of this team.
Thank you all very much and God bless you. (Applause.)

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Remarks With Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Baghdad, Iraq
April 25, 2009

FOREIGN MINISTER ZEBARI: (Via interpreter.) Thank you very much. I would like to welcome – the best and warmest welcome to U.S. Secretary of State Secretary Hillary Clinton during his visit – her visit here in Baghdad. This is the first visit that she conducts in her current capacity as Secretary of State, but this is also her fourth visit to Iraq. I also would like to seize the opportunity to extend a warm welcome to the new U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, who presented his credentials yesterday, Ambassador Chris Hill who is with us today.
Today, we have conducted a series of talks and discussions with Secretary Clinton. I can summarize those talks as useful and fruitful. We covered a wide range of issues related to Iraq and regional issues, as well as Iraq’s relation with the region and the world. Secretary Clinton also conducted a series of very important meetings with the president of Iraq, as well as with the prime minister of Iraq. After – in a while she will be meeting also with the vice president of Iraq. In addition, to the officials meetings, the Secretary also had meetings with other ordinary Iraqi citizens this morning. The purpose and the objective behind this visit is for the Secretary to listen to various Iraqi leadership and to assess also the political, security, and economic situation, especially after the improvement in the security situation.
The Secretary’s message today to all of us was a very assuring message that the United States will continue to support the efforts of the Iraqi Government and the enhancement of Iraqi security and stability and will work with all of us to add additional gains in the area of democracy.
We are going through a very important transitional period, also in relationship to the U.S.-Iraqi relation and the transition of the Iraqi – for the relationship gradually between the United States and Iraq from a security and military relationship into a normal bilateral relationship that will focus on development and prosperity. But there is no doubt that there are serious security and economic challenges that are facing Iraq. Therefore, we will continue to rely on the continuation of U.S. commitment and support to both the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi people to enable them to face those challenges.
We also reaffirmed to the Secretary the Iraqi Government’s commitment to the SOFA agreement and to the withdrawal according to the timetable, and also to activate the strategic framework agreement between the two countries and enhancing cooperation and working together.
Once again, (inaudible), good to have you here, Madame Secretary, in Baghdad. We are delighted to have you here. We are delighted to have you visit here with us and convening this press conference at the headquarters of the Iraqi foreign ministers.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Minister Zebari, for your hospitality and for a series of excellent meetings today. I’m happy to be back in Baghdad and proud to have introduced my friend and our new Ambassador Chris Hill.
It is encouraging to both see and hear about the progress that is being made in Iraq, and that came through to me not only in my official meetings with the foreign minister, the prime minister, and the president, but also with the special representative of the secretary general of the United Nations. The special representative briefed me about the work that the UN is doing, including the recently concluded report on disputed internal borders.
I especially appreciated the chance to meet with Iraqis, including a group of women who were both war widows and who were helping widows and their children. I also participated in an historic town hall meeting with Iraqi citizens representing a broad cross-section of Iraqi society. At every stop, I have emphasized President Obama’s message that our strategy working with you may be in a new phase, but we pledge our full and continuing commitment to Iraq and the Iraqi people.
We are committed to seeing an Iraq that is sovereign, stable, and self-reliant, and fully integrated into the region. We are working toward an orderly transition of responsibility from the American military to the Iraqi security forces, and we continue to help train and equip these forces so they will take the lead in safeguarding their country.
Like President Obama, I condemn these violent recent efforts to disrupt the progress that Iraq is making. My heart and America’s sympathy go out to the people who have died and the families who have suffered. This violence has only reinforced the Iraqi people’s determination to seek a better future for their country. Their response and the response of Iraqi’s leaders has been united and firm.
The end of the United States’ combat presence in Iraq by 2011 will mark the beginning of a new phase in our country’s relationship. As we draw down militarily, we will deepen our civilian cooperation in accordance with the strategic framework agreement. We will work on development and diplomatic initiatives and a regional agenda that includes border security and refugees.
The Iraqi people have withstood challenges of the most vicious and violent sort from those who would have torn their society apart, and Iraqis from everywhere have made tremendous sacrifices. The United States has also shared in those sacrifices. But we are proud of the progress that the Iraqi people have made. I said today that the Iraqi people are known for intelligence, hard work, and courage. And we will stand with you as you build a future worthy of all of the children in Iraq.
Thank you, minister.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) We will take a question from the Arab media.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) My question goes to the Iraqi foreign minister and the question is about the latest UN Security Council Resolution 1859 and regarding getting Iraq out of Chapter 7.
FOREIGN MINISTER ZEBARI: (Via interpreter.) Yes, we have discussed this issue with Secretary Clinton and the accompanying delegation. Next June, UN Security Council resolution will review all UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq and Chapter 7.
We – the foreign minister – we have done an intensive inventory about all those UN Security Council resolutions that were imposed on Iraq, and they go back to 1990. And also the general secretary of the ministry reviewed – of the UN reviewed all the same UN resolutions that were imposed on Iraq under Chapter 7. Of course, there are resolutions that were compelling, and Iraq must carry out. Of course, there are also other UN resolutions that are no longer applicable. Some of those that were related to the various sanctions that were imposed on Iraq, some of them were related to the inspection regime that was imposed on Iraq, some of them related to oil for food. All of those were no longer applicable, but they will go through with the final review process. Of course, this process is going to be a tedious process. We will go through the reviewing process and we will work very hard. A lot of work is ahead of us, but we have to do that in order to free our country from the Chapter 7 obligations.
MODERATOR: Next, Arshad Mohammed.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei today has said – blamed the United States for recent suicide bombings in Iraq in which Iranian citizens died. What is your reaction to that accusation and does it bode well for the kind of engagement that President Obama hopes to bring about with Iran? And are you aware of the reports that North Korea has resumed reprocessing plutonium? And if so, what is your comment on that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not aware of the Supreme Leader’s comments. But I must say that it is disappointing for anyone to make such a claim, since it is clearly traced to the al-Qaida remnants and other violent groups who wish to disrupt the progress of Iran – of Iraq. The United States and Iraq are partners in that progress, and we are going to continue to be partners and do all that we can to support the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi people in this important work of standing up a stable, sovereign, and self-reliant Iraq. And we hope that all of Iraq’s neighbors will assist Iraq in achieving its goals.
And with respect to North Korea, we continue, along with our partners in the Six-Party Talks, to press North Korea to return to the obligations which it assumed. We were very pleased by the strong statement that came out of the United Nations last week, and we are working to implement that statement and we hope that we’ll be able to resume discussions with North Korea that will lead to their assuming responsibility for denuclearizing the Peninsula.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) The question is to the foreign minister. What is your comment about the question that was posed by (inaudible) about the statement came out of Ayatollah Khamenei about the U.S. responsibility behind the latest bombings in Iraq? And also what’s your comment about what General Petraeus said about one of the suiciders came — who was Tunisian national came to Iraq through a neighboring country?
FOREIGN MINISTER ZEBARI: (Via interpreter.) I’m not aware of that particular statement, but our experience with various terrorists, as well as suicide bombers, those who are basically – blow up themselves. We are not aware that any Americans participated in anything similar to that in the past. Regarding those terrorists who come to Iraq from the outside, either based on a jihadi ideology or based on certain religious ideology, they come from a variety of countries. Some of them come from Saudi Arabia, some other Gulf States, some of them come from North African countries. So I can see that some of them come from different nationalities, either Tunisians or Morocco. We have enough intelligence information at the hands of the Iraqi Government, that there are (inaudible) of those suiciders who come from North African countries.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I have one more question. I have to take two from my (inaudible).
QUESTION: Thank you. My question is for both Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Zebari. And first, I’d like to know, based on what you learned from your briefing from General Odierno and Iraqi officials today, based on the recent deadly attacks, will it still be possible to withdraw U.S. troops as planned from cities by the end of June?
And secondly, with the planned release of dozens of photos showing prisoner abuse by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, what are your concerns about that fueling anti-American sentiment and violence here in Iraq? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ll take those. General Odierno briefed me and members of my delegation this morning. And his view is my view, that these are tragic and terrible events, but they do not reflect any diversion from the security progress that has been made. They are certainly regrettable and horrible in terms of loss of life. But the reaction from the Iraqi people and the Iraqi leaders was firm and united in rejecting that violence, and refusing to allow it to set Iraqi against Iraqi, which is obviously one of its intended goals.
And with respect to any matters that are going on in the United States, I think we’ll wait and see what happens. I don’t want to be prejudging or commenting on anything until it does happen. But I think the strong relationship that the United States and Iraq have in our partnership on all levels is in a very positive framework and will become more so as we work together on specific issues and find solutions to the problems that confront Iraq as they make this very courageous transition into security and stability and sovereignty and self-reliance, and that’s what we’re going to be focused on. Thank you very much.
FOREIGN MINISTER ZEBARI: Just add to what Secretary Clinton has said actually on this issue, on this question. I personally don’t believe that these deadly attacks was (inaudible) government determination to pursue its plans to (inaudible) the country. Yes, we have, indeed, certain timeline for withdrawal from the population center and the city centers. But we are doing our utmost, and we are coordinating very closely with the multinational forces to ensure that there is no vacuum when that happens, and that security is viable to certain extent. But this ultimately would be an Iraqi responsibility.
As for the aim of this attacks, actually, if you look back most of them were Iranian (inaudible) innocent, soft targets that have been targeted by these terrorists in Diyala and (inaudible). And our condolences also to go to their families and to the government. And we are doing our utmost really to protect them and to ensure that they carry out their religious duty as it should be.
Thank you very much.

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Town Hall with PRT Leaders and Iraqi Partners


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Baghdad, Iraq
April 25, 2009

Date: 04/25/2009 Description: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a Town Hall meeting in Baghdad, Iraq. State Dept Photo MODERATOR: Salaam Alaykum. Thank you all for joining us here today. On behalf of my colleagues in the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Baghdad province, it is my great honor and privilege to introduce to you today the Ambassador of the United States to the Republic of Iraq, Christopher Hill.
AMBASSADOR HILL: Salaam Alaykum. (Applause.) It’s really great to be here, and you’re going to see a lot of me in the future, so I don’t think there’s a need to see a lot of me right now. But it is my great pleasure, indeed my great honor to introduce the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who has arrived here this morning and is going through quite a schedule today of many, many events, and we are just very honored that she’s here. Secretary Clinton. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. I am pleased to be here with all of you today and very excited about this opportunity to hear from you. I’m pleased that Ambassador Hill is now here in Baghdad ready to work to further and deepen our cooperation on a range of important issues.
I wanted to come today to repeat the commitment that President Obama and I and our government have to the people and nation of Iraq, and to assure you that as we make this transition, that the United States will stand with the people of Iraq and look for ways to create a close and important relationship for the future.
So what I would like to do is to really turn this over to the audience. I know we have Iraqis from many different parts of the country with many different experiences. We have members of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams. I thank John Bass for being here with me today. And as we move together into the future, we will do a better job if we talk to one another and if we listen to each other and then decide how we can solve problems together.
So I will invite you to raise your hands if you have a question or a comment, a good idea that you would like to share with me, and Pauline will be calling on people. Who would like to be first? I saw a hand go up right there.
QUESTION: William Worda (ph), activist in media and human rights. Following the situation in United State, we know that the new Administration in – of USA now engaged in the internal issues, especially economy. And it’s – looks like to us that the situation of Iraq is not so important or it’s not in the same level of importance for the new Administration.
I would like to ask whether this policy is a kind of reprieve or a kind of making another policy different for Iraq?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me answer. I think what we’ll do, Gamal, is if the question is in Arabic, you can translate it. Otherwise, I’ll answer it in English and that way, we’ll get more questions.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me assure you and repeat what President Obama said. We are committed to Iraq. We want to see a stable, sovereign, self-reliant Iraq. But we know we’re coming into office when there is a transition underway. The prior administration agreed to withdraw our troops and we support that. We want to do it in a responsible and careful way. And we also want to expand our work with the people and Government of Iraq in other areas of concern to help the government, to help the rule of law, to help the civil society. And so we are very committed, but the nature of our commitment may look somewhat different because we’re going to be withdrawing our combat troops over the next few years.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) One of the basic rules of cementing the basis and the principles of democracy is that democracy relies heavily on education. And in order to really have an effective democracy, you really have to reform your educational system. Iraq after the change is really facing a very serious and large problem. This is the problem of illiteracy and ignorance. We have a lot of young Iraqis who are really suffering from illiteracy. Through our own association of culture for everyone, we have young people at the age of 17 or 18 – they are still going through illiteracy programs.
The number of children who are leaving schools, they exceed 3 million Iraqi child. My question is: How can international organizations and other bodies put together a national program to help Iraq get out of this problem and this dilemma?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s an excellent question. How many of you agree with the questioner that we need a plan for Iraq’s education system going forward? Is this a problem?
Well, what I would like to offer is cooperation with the government, the Ministry of Education, universities and other experts so that we can work with you and hear what you think you need and offer help as appropriate. We do not want to tell you what kind of education system you should have. What we can offer is to bring information about what works in many places around the world so that you can have the benefit of that to make your own plans going forward, and I will make sure we do that.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) The first part – we are very delighted to have the – you, Madame Secretary, as well as the new American Ambassador in Iraq. We’re delighted to have both of you here.
Madame Secretary, I represent Iraqi tribes, and in Iraqi tribal societies, agriculture is the main source of life, and we do have a serious problem with the shortage of water. This is affecting the agriculture, it’s affecting our way of life, and my question to you: What is the United States – will be prepared to do in order to help us with the shortage of water to continue our agriculture life?
The – also, when it comes to the various machineries that are used by Iraqi farmers, it’s really old technology, and there is a need to really modernize the various machinery that is used in the agriculture production. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: You’ve raised two very important points. And I think both with water and better agricultural production, we can provide some expertise and some support for not only the Iraqi Government in Baghdad, but the provincial governments around Iraq so that they can work more quickly to try to help on the water and on the agricultural technology.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) First of all, I would like to welcome you, Madame Secretary, here. I work as an editor-in-chief of an Iraqi newspaper. The United States made a decision to topple down the previous regime in Iraq and now, there is a new way of democracy in Iraq. We strongly believe that true freedom and true democracy will not exist unless Iraqi women will enjoy true freedom and true democracy.
My question to you, Madame Secretary, is this: What is it that you are going to provide Iraqi women in order to empower them, in order to advance them? Especially that you represent the Democratic Party in the United States that seized power. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. I believe strongly that supporting and empowering women is good for families, it’s good for communities, and it’s good for countries. I know here in Iraq that women have voted in very large numbers in the elections, and that women have committed to supporting this new democracy through their votes and their actions. And so I believe that Iraq will be much stronger if women are educated and empowered to participate on behalf of themselves and their families, particularly their children, as Iraq makes a new future.
Before coming to this town hall, I met with a group of war widows who are struggling to support themselves and their children. And they asked me to talk with the Iraqi Government about helping women, particularly widows, have more opportunities, more jobs, and more support so that they can take better care of themselves.
So I will strongly urge not only the Iraqi Government, but the Iraqi people to be sure that women are given the rights and support they need not only to make better lives for themselves, but to help their country. When I met with the women and looked around the room, I could not tell what group they came from or what their background was. They were all united in the loss of a husband and the difficulties they faced for their children. And I think it’s important for the United States to be a strong partner with Iraqi women, and I intend to do that.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Nanjamee Ketchu (ph), (inaudible). I will ask my question in Arabic because I want everybody to understand. (Speaking in Arabic.)
(Via interpreter.) Madame Secretary, I am a citizen of Iraq. I’m an Iraqi, but I’m also (inaudible) and a Syrian. And there is a great deal of injustice that was given to us, even calling us as a minority. There is an injustice that lies right there because of our ethnic and religious differences. My people, they are still being forced to migrate and move their areas, some of them even forced to leave Iraq altogether and go outside.
Despite what it is called, as democracy in Iraq, these people are still, under pressure, forced to leave their homes and their communities. My question is: What kind of plans do you have in order to return those people, either those who were forced to migrate from one part of Iraq to another, to go back to their original places, or those who were forced to leave Iraq altogether to come back?
Unfortunately, some international organization, and through the UN, they are actually embracing the idea of encouraging those people to leave Iraq altogether instead of bringing them here and keeping them here. It’s a very unfortunate thing. We strongly believe that we – this is our land, this is our country, and we are a full partner in this country.
My question is: What plans do you have in order to restore the rights of those and the security of those people, and also to be treated as equal citizens, all of us as first-class citizens?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that’s a very important question, not just about your own personal concerns, but how Iraq will come together as one people and one nation with differences. I come from a country where there’s every difference in the world. People who do not get along in Iraq move to the United States and live down the street from each other. I would hope that for Iraq, given the intelligence and the work ethic and the courage of the Iraqi people that all Iraqis will be welcomed and put to work to help build a better future for your country.
I just want to add one thing. I know how hard this will be. My own country has struggled for many years with all kinds of divisions. And yet, as you know, we have just elected an African American president, someone who is leading all Americans, not just one group or another group. I believe that Iraq could be one of the strongest countries not just in the region, but in the world if there is a way to work together. And our government will work with the Iraqi Government to help bring people back to the country, because you want as many talented, hardworking people to be here, to be the doctors and the lawyers and the teachers and the farmers and the business leaders. That will help all Iraqis. So I’m going to work hard to see that we support helping people return and feel good about living in a new democratic Iraq.
QUESTION: Leyla Abdul Latif (ph), former minister for – of labor and social affair. (Speaking in Arabic.)
(Via interpreter.) Madame Secretary, my name is Leyla Abdul Latif (ph), former minister of social affairs. I believe that as – respect and in gratitude to the martyrs and those who lost their lives on both sides, from the American side and from the Iraqi side, it is crucial to protect the democratic achievements and the constitution of Iraq. I believe one of the most important elements to do so is to focus on the economic elements and the support and the economic support for both women and young Iraqis, especially those who are unemployed and in search of an opportunity.
I believe paying an attention to the unemployed also will benefit Iraq from a security point of view. I believe it is crucial for a woman to be truly liberated, and among the most important forms of liberation – to liberate her economically as well as to give her her rights.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I want to just underscore what she said. Iraqis need more jobs. And part of that will come if the economy around the world improves, because unfortunately, the price of oil is down and the economy is down. But it will also happen if we free up the economy so that more people can actually get jobs and we can bring more investment into Iraq to put people to work. But I share your concern about young people, young men and young women who do not have any work. And I think we have to try to come up with a plan that will permit Iraq to create more jobs as the economy picks back up again.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) In the name of God, the Merciful, Compassionate, my name is Kasam (ph) Al Hurishi (ph). Madame Secretary, I work with an organization that deals with orphans as well as Iraqi detainees who were released from jail as a result of not committing any crimes, but they were in detention for a number of years in various jails.
We are working with those people, and I’m here referring to the detainees who did not commit any crimes, who were not convicted of any crimes either against the Iraqi people or against the U.S. And through my organization, we are working on embracing those young people, trying to provide them with a variety of different training programs, either in computers or in sewing for women. We are trying to provide them with an opportunity to be integrated once again into the society, and not to put them in a vulnerable position where they could be recruited again to join either criminal groups or work with terrorist organizations.
Some international relief organizations are working and putting together some training programs. We have more than 500 people who went through those training programs, but frankly, they have very little budget to cover this type of training for those recently released from jail, especially that we have always to remember that these were innocent people. They were not there because they have committed any kind of crimes.
My question is: Is there any other – any projects, any ideas, any ways to support those people and incorporate them back again into the society?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a very important question, because as you know, there are thousands of Iraqis who have been detained. And as the questioner said, many of them were swept up in operations to try to make the country safer, but they aren’t hard-core criminals. And what we have to do is separate out the people who are criminals and terrorists from everybody else, and then when they come out of detention, there has to be a plan to help them, as you say, reintegrate into society.
It’s a very important question. I do not have an answer at this moment, but I applaud you for the work you’re doing. And I will work with our new ambassador and with our people in Washington to come up with a plan and to support organizations like yours that are doing the work of helping these young people find a place back in Iraqi society.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Madame Secretary, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you in Iraq as well as welcoming Ambassador Hill, and I wish you all success in your diplomatic mission here in Baghdad. I also would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who organized this town hall meeting and those who called on us to come here. We are very appreciative of all of this.
Madame Secretary, you know that economy and politics are basically two sides of the same coin. Political stability would lead to economic stability and vice versa. We know that American diplomacy is going through a different approach of opening new channels with some countries in the region, although some of those countries still insist on their old views and their old opinions.
On the issue of economics, in order for economy to thrive, it really needs a fertile ground. We still have security threats and explosions taking place. What we are really asking for is the – for the American Government to support the Iraqi Government in order to have that peace and stability and security, as well as economic prosperity.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And you have our commitment to do that. There are so many hands. (Laughter.) How many more questions can we take? You know what this means? I have to come back. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh my goodness, it’s just – there’s too many good questions. We’re going to take one more question because I have to go meet the prime minister, but may I – okay, we’ll take two questions. We’ll take one from this side – all right, we’ll take three real quick questions. (Laughter.) But they have to be short, short questions. Okay, we’ll take one from here, we’ll take —
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay, one from here and then this man back there. Okay, we’ll take – all right. So that’s it. But here, let me say this: If you will – if you have questions that you wanted to ask, if you will write them down, and if we could, Pauline, get some cards so that if you wanted to ask a question, we’ll write them down, we’ll get them translated.
SECRETARY CLINTON: What? Oh, I’m going to be doing a press event later after the – after my visit with the foreign minister. So if you want to come to the press event, I will have you also talk to Pauline. But I have to take these three quick questions, so please make the questions short. Okay.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) give the jobs to the private sector.
STAFF: A chance for the private sector.
SECRETARY CLINTON: A chance for the private sector, I believe that. We’ll create more jobs that way. Okay.
QUESTION: I am speaking practically.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Practically, exactly. I’ve been told the Iraqis are practical people. Is that right?
QUESTION: First of all, may I speak in English (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, go ahead and speak in English.
QUESTION: Okay. My name is Sarah and I’m 18 years old. First of all, it’s an – very honor to me and to every Iraqi in here, I’m sure, to have you in Iraq, of course. My English might be a little misleading.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Your English is better than my Arabic. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Thank you. I’m flattered. My question is: Madame Secretary, for being, you know, a role model to every woman in this world and through the great accomplishments you have made and – what sort of advice you want to give me as an ambitious young woman who is looking forward to being – to obtain the positive – the position you have obtained and to – and hoping to leave this enormous impact that you have left to all the women around the world? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you’re much too kind. But first of all, it is very important for everyone to get an education. It is particularly important for girls and women to get an education. So I strongly encourage you to continue with your education, and that’s – that was our first question. We will do more on education.
Secondly, it’s important that the voices of young people be heard inside Iraq as you are making all of these changes, because, most – many of us in this room, most of our lives are behind us, not in front of us. But for the young people of Iraq, they deserve the kind of future that we can work for. I think it’s important that your voices be heard in that process.
And finally, for young women particularly, as I said earlier, Iraq will become much richer and stronger and more influential if it uses half the population’s talents in politics, in business, in the professions, everywhere in society. So I hope that you will stay committed to your country, and that you will help other young people to stay committed, because Iraq needs all of its young people, including those who should come home and be welcomed home to participate in building Iraq.
I think we’ll go ahead, Gamal, without translation, so I can get all of these questions in. Yes, yes.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Madame Secretary, I would like to welcome you, welcome the ambassador here and thank you for your time. I work basically with NGOs, and I believe that through NGOs, we have direct contact with all segments of the Iraqi society – women organizations, farmers, women in the rural society, handicapped people, children, all of that. We were getting some support from various international organizations that were supporting our work from the U.S. Some of them were Republicans. Others were belonging to the Democratic Party.
Now, we sense that organization that belonged to the Republican Party in the U.S. are going back and they are not continuing their efforts. And we see shortage in terms of American organization and international organization that’s supporting our work. My question: Is it possible to increase the number of American organization who can support NGOs in Iraq?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I will try to do that, and I will talk to my Republican friends as well as my Democratic friends. One of the reasons I wanted to come to Iraq within the first 100 days of our Administration was to hear for myself any ideas and suggestions. And I will try to get more groups to support NGOs here in Iraq.
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: And I called on this young man, he was – we haven’t gone back before, so here comes the microphone.
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
QUESTION: Thank you. (In Arabic.)
QUESTION: Okay. (Via interpreter.) Madame Secretary, my name is Samuel Russim (ph). I’ve been a journalist for 19 years. Everybody knows that the United States intends to withdraw its forces from Iraq. And frankly, some people are afraid and concerned what will happen as a result of that withdrawal. I know that we will hear from the U.S. side that the United States will prepare the Iraqi army and the Iraqi forces and security forces in order to fill the gap. But frankly, there are so many people here and so many citizens who do not have enough trust and confidence in the Iraqi forces.
Is it true that you really got entangled in this Iraq issue? And how – what could you do in order to really stop this misgiving and doubts that exists in the minds of some Iraqis about lack of confidence and trust in their own security forces and armed forces? The other part of the question: Do you support the return of some of the former Baathists who can come into the Iraqi society and government and contribute?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the last question is really for the Iraqi people to decide. And that depends upon how you view your efforts to bring your society together. There is nothing more important than to have a united Iraq. And that goes to your question. The more united Iraq is, the more you will trust the security services. The security services have to earn your trust, but the people have to demand it.
Now, we will be working closely with the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi security forces as we withdraw our combat troops. But we need to be sure that all of you are supporting a strong nonsectarian security force. And we will work to try to help make that happen, but I think that the ultimate answer is what the people of Iraq demand. And what I have seen over the last several years is a very strong desire on the part of most Iraqis to have a united, secure, stable, peaceful Iraq. That is our goal. We’re not going to tell you how to resolve internal political issues. You have to decide that. But we will continue to work very, very hard to give you the tools to make sure that you have a secure country.
Now, we are passing out cards for you to write your questions on, and I will get all of those questions, and we will answer them through the Embassy. But I want to thank you for taking your time to come and share your thoughts. And anytime I come to Iraq, we will do this again, because clearly, we did not have enough time.
QUESTION: Is that a promise?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a promise, it is. When I come next to Iraq, we will do it again, and I hope that – (applause) – I hope that we see continued progress. I have to go now to meet with government officials. But I will tell all the government officials what I have heard here today, because this is the message: Let’s solve our problems together.
And thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)

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Yesterday, the Secretary of State Clinton’s Daily Schedule stated that she had “No public appointments.” I know that means PUBLIC and not necessarily “no appointments.” But I was not prepared for her stealth visit to Iraq. The first thing I heard when I was waking up this morning was that she was in Iraq. Of course I know they never publicize these visits to war zones in advance, and I worried for her after the terrible attacks yesterday. Nevertheless, she entered in her typical Hillary fashion – she has a way with that gangplank – and greeted the guys on the tarmac in a way no male in her position could ever get away with.

Disembarking Hill Force One (cute shoes!)

Greeting Ambassador Christopher HIll

Greeting Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. US military commander, Admiral Michael Mullen looks on.

A signature Town Hall meeting at the new American Embassy.

From here, we have word that she is to move on to Kuwait. I am pretty sure she has left Iraq already. She looks very happy on this trip (as usual). She certainly can pack a lot into a week, a month, a hundred days. Amazing!

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National Security Through Diplomacy


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Remarks Before House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
Washington, DC
April 23, 2009

(9:25 a.m. EDT)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very – is this on? Is this on? I want to get to your questions. I think it might help to do a quick overview of what we do have in the supplemental and the reasons behind it. We know that we’re asking for a significant sum, but it represents only a fraction of what we spend each year on national security. And we think that diplomacy and development are ever more important to safeguarding the security and prosperity of our people and our nation, because after all, if we are successful in either managing or solving problems, we save the money and the lives that would otherwise have to be spent in dealing with conflict.

You know very well on this Committee the range of difficult problems we’ve inherited and that we are attempting to cope with. We have launched a new diplomacy that we believe is powered by partnership and pragmatism and principle. And I’m very proud of the men and women of the State Department and USAID who literally work around the clock and around the world.

We’ve requested, with respect to Iraq, $482 million in the supplemental budget for civilian efforts to partner with our military efforts as the withdrawal continues. Already, the Iraqi Government is exceeding our spending for reconstruction, and in many areas, matching or exceeding our efforts on individual projects. We want to help manage that transition. And this money will enable our civilian American employees and their local counterparts to help create an environment in which we assist the Iraqi Government to take more and more responsibility.

Obviously, security is our paramount concern in Afghanistan. The supplemental request of $980 million for Afghanistan is targeted to specific areas essential for security and stability. As a result of our strategic review, we’re not trying to be all things to all people. We are focusing on making government institutions more accountable and effective, promoting the rule of law, stimulating licit economic activity, especially in agriculture. Afghanistan used to be self-sufficient in agriculture and even was an exporter beyond its borders.

We also are going to be working with local communities at the provincial level and below to help stabilize the security situation through job creation. What we have determined through our analysis is that many in the Taliban are there not because of ideological commitment, but frankly, because they’re paid better than you can be paid in the Afghan police force. So we are trying to unlock this puzzle about how to attract young men, in particular, into legitimate employment. Our commitment to train up the Afghan National Army and the police force will go hand-in-hand with that effort. And we are also focused on continuing to support women and girls. We think that is an essential part of our foreign policy.

But progress in Afghanistan, we believe, depends on progress in Pakistan. And we do seek supplemental funding of $497 million. I take very seriously Chairman Obey’s comments and cautions. And Mr. Chairman, my view on this is that in order to manage, we have to make these commitments. We have to keep our pledge at the Tokyo Donors’ Conference. Other nations seek Pakistan as we now do, and therefore came forward with $5.5 billion in commitments. We have to try to strengthen civilian law enforcement, particularly in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the Northwest Frontier Province.

And there are humanitarian needs that we think serve our national security interests, which we have, in my view, never sufficiently built on. Following the earthquake in Pakistan, Pakistani public opinion toward America improved dramatically, because we were there with both military and civilian assets to help the people who had been stricken by the earthquake. We never followed through. We never had a strategy to say, “We’ve made some progress in these areas. What more do we need to do to consolidate that?”

Key to our new strategy for both Afghanistan and Pakistan is to hold ourselves and our partners accountable and we are committed to doing that. We obviously are going to set performance measures. I remember very well for six years on the Armed Services Committee trying to get accountability measures for both Iraq and Afghanistan, trying to get what we then called benchmarks. We never got them. We’re going to prepare them. We’re going to share them with you. We’re going to work with you to try to figure out what are the ways we can tell whether we are successfully managing and/or solving our challenges.

We also are focused on the Middle East, as Chairwoman Lowey mentioned. Both she and Ranking Member Granger emphasized the importance of this region to our country. If we are genuinely interested in achieving a comprehensive and secure peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, we have to remain steadfast in our commitment to Israel’s security.

At the same time, we believe, we should continue to help the parties find a path to a two-state solution and support efforts initiated by the Palestinian Authority, under the leadership of Prime Minister Fayyad, to end corruption, promote security, and build infrastructure to demonstrate tangible benefits of peace to the people of the West Bank. And we think as part of that strategy, we have to address the humanitarian needs in Gaza by working directly with carefully vetted partners.

We have made it clear that we will only work only with a Palestinian Authority government that unambiguously and explicitly accepts the Quartet’s principles: a commitment to non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap. In the event of any Hamas participation of any sort in this coalition, this would apply if the government, representing all of its agencies and instrumentalities, accepts these principles.

At Sharm el-Sheikh last month, I announced a U.S. government pledge of $900 million that includes humanitarian, economic, and security assistance for the Palestinian people, both Gaza and West Bank. And Madame Chairwoman, our supplemental request of $840 million is included in that pledge; it is not in addition to it. And it will be implemented under the most stringent requirements we’ve ever put on aid going into that area.

From the first days of this Administration we have also signaled our determination to create partnerships: partnerships with other governments, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations and institutions. This is not a moral or altruistic imperative. We believe that extreme poverty poses a grave threat to global security and certainly to prosperity.

Development experts have predicted that 50 million more people could end up living in poverty this year. A sharp increase in global poverty has the potential to spark new humanitarian crises, erode gains from a wide range of U.S. taxpayer investments in development, reverse progress toward achieving the Millennium Development goals, and destabilize countries that are partners of ours. Many responsible countries cannot raise funds to support safety nets, restore financial markets, serve the poor. And I care particularly about children and women, who are the most marginalized to begin with. And we think this is an important action that our government should take in our interest as well as to further our values.

The $448 million requested for assistance to developing countries hardest hit by the global financial crisis is designed to provide a temporary safety net. And I appreciate Congresswoman Granger’s question. At this moment, we are evaluating which ones of these countries will need our help and how best to deliver that. I think the United States has to remain a world leader in providing food aid and life-sustaining support for refugees and other victims of conflict. And these efforts will be complemented by investments in the supplemental budget for emergency food aid.

The food security problem is especially acute. And I’m pleased that the President has asked the State Department and USAID to lead our government’s efforts in addressing this across the agency. We had the first meeting, Ms. Madame Chairman, ever held in our government to bring everybody together. So our efforts are trying to rationalize and streamline and make more effective our efforts across the board.

We also think it is important that we lead by our example when it comes to shared responsibility. That’s why we’ve included $836 million for United Nations operations, some of which will be used to cover assessments in which we are already in arrears.

Now, we are well aware that the United Nations needs reform and greater accountability. But I think it’s fair to acknowledge that in many areas, UN peacekeeping missions save lives, and frankly, expense for us. I was just in Haiti, where the UN blue helmets cost 75 percent less than if we had to send troops to Haiti, as we did 12 years or so ago. And when I was in Haiti where we support those UN peacekeepers, I concluded, listening to the Brazilian general who led them, that they have made significant gains in security and stability that are still fragile. Our continuing support for peacekeeping missions like this, I strongly believe, are a low-cost way for us to achieve our own goals.

We are asking for small investments targeted to specific concerns: international peace keeping operations and stabilization in Africa; humanitarian needs in Burma; the dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear program, assuming that they come back to the Six-Party Talks; assistance for Georgia that the prior administration promised that we believe we should fulfill; support for the Lebanese Government, which is facing serious challenges; funding for critical air mobility support in Mexico as part of the Merida Initiative.

Let me end with one final point: In order for us to pursue an ambitious foreign policy to both solve and manage problems, to address our interests and advance our values, we have to reform both State and USAID. And to do so, we have to create a Department and an agency that are funded the right way, where the people doing this work have the tools and authorities that they need. This is particularly important in dangerous regions like Iraq and Afghanistan.

I want to just end with one statistic. I asked for a review about the dangers facing aid workers. In Afghanistan, the casualty rate for USAID employees, contract employees, locally engaged employees, and other international aid workers, is 1 in 10 have been killed in the last eight years. Our comparable percentage for military casualties in Afghanistan is 1 in 57. What we are asking people to do, which we believe is absolutely essential to our country’s security, is assume responsibilities so that we can make diplomacy and development on a par with the military and defense functions of our foreign policy.

But I want to underscore to this Committee, which knows this very well, that this is not easy, it is not safe, and it is extremely difficult to get right. But I pledge to you that we’re going to do everything we can as we move forward, advancing President’s Obama’s and our nation’s vital interests, to make sure that diplomacy and development are well prepared to take our place at the head of our nation’s foreign policy objectives.

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