Archive for January, 2010


ON FOREIGN TRAVEL Secretary Clinton holds Bilateral Meetings and delivers Remarks on European Security Issues in Paris, France.

PM Secretary Clinton returns from Foreign Travel.

Welcome home Mme. Secretary!!!!!

Read Full Post »

The Secretary of State, as we saw in the previous post, delivered a speech at the London Conference on Afghanistan, but that was not all. She held several bilaterals (no press releases yet on those). She also, with David Miliband, Bernard Kouchner, and Catherine Ashton, issued this joint statement on the violence in Nigeria.

Joint Statement on Nigeria

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton
London, United Kingdom
January 28, 2010

We express our deep regret at the recent violence and tragic loss of lives in Jos, and extend our sympathies to the bereaved and injured. We urge all parties to exercise restraint and seek peaceful means to resolve differences between religious and ethnic groups in Nigeria. We call on the Federal Government to ensure that the perpetrators of acts of violence are brought to justice and to support interethnic and interfaith dialogue.

Nigeria is one of the most important countries in sub-Saharan Africa, a member of the UN Security Council, a global oil producer, a leader in ECOWAS, a major peacekeeping contributing country, and a stabilizing force in West Africa. Nigeria’s stability and democracy carry great significance beyond its immediate borders.

We therefore extend our support to the people of Nigeria during the current period of uncertainty, caused by President Yar’Adua’s illness. We extend our best wishes to the President and his family, and join the Nigerian people in wishing him a full recovery.

Nigeria has expressed its resolve to adhere to constitutional processes during this difficult time. We commend that determination to address the current situation through appropriate democratic institutions. Nigeria’s continued commitment and adherence to its democratic norms and values are key to addressing the many challenges it faces, including electoral reform, post-amnesty programs in the Niger Delta, economic development, inter-faith discord and transparency. The gubernatorial elections in Anambra on 6 February will be a milestone in the journey towards electoral reform and a signal of Nigeria’s commitment to the principles of democracy.

We are committed to continue working with Nigeria on the internal issues it faces while working together as partners on the global stage.

In addition, she sat for an interview with Jill Dougherty of CNN.

Interview With Jill Dougherty of CNN

London, United Kingdom
January 28, 2010
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much for spending some time with us. I want to start with this idea of reintegration and reconciliation in Afghanistan. President Karzai today, in fact, said that he believes that the insurgents will definitely be invited to the peace talks. What do you think about that idea?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, in general, Jill, you don’t make peace with your friends; you make peace with your enemies. And I think what President Karzai is trying to do is to send some very clear messages. Number one, if you are one of the many, many Taliban members who is there because it’s a living, you actually are making money by being in this fight, or you were, in effect, drafted through intimidation of some sort, come off the battlefield and reintegrate into society. If you are a mid-level leader of the Taliban, not ideologically committed to their world view, then you too can rejoin society. However, there are very clear conditions: You must renounce violence, you must lay down your arms, you must renounce al-Qaida, and you must be willing to live by the laws and the constitution of Afghanistan.

So I think that this is the way peace usually gets made. You send out feelers. You see who’s willing to lay down their arms and abide by the conditions. You see how far up that will go. I do not expect Mullah Omar and those people to be at all interested in this. In fact, they’ve made it very clear that they’re not. But I think there are many members of the Taliban who will see this chance to reenter society under these very stringent conditions to be attractive enough to test.

I also think it’s clear that our commanders on the field, General McChrystal and his team, who are in the fight and reversing the momentum of the Taliban, they know, as we learned in Iraq, there is an opportunity to try to convince the insurgents to quit the fight and come back. And that’s part of this peace effort.

QUESTION: You mentioned Iraq. And in fact, the Sunni Awakening was what happened in Iraq. The United States was very actively involved in Iraq in that movement. In Afghanistan, what would be the role of the U.S., briefly? And especially when we get into the financial side of it, there’s going to be a fund, an international fund. Can the U.S. actually contribute money to that? Because after all, there are Treasury regulations that seem to preclude that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, just as we did in Iraq, the United States military will have funds available for these battlefield decisions. And all of the rules and regulations will be abided by, of course. But what our commanders tell us is that it is extremely useful when somebody shows up and says to a young lieutenant or captain, “I’d like to quit, I want to go home, I want to plant in my fields,” that happens a lot. And so to be able to say okay, and here’s what you’ll get if you meet our conditions and you go forward as a member of society – so we want to equip our military.

Now, on the civilian side, a number of countries today made commitments to what is being called the reintegration fund. And that will be a means also to make sure that the people who are now making more money as a Taliban fighter than they made as a farmer or doing something else within Afghan society will be able to support their families and contribute. I mean, that’s the way this works. We’ve learned a lot and we know much more today than we did five or six years ago in Iraq. And I have the greatest confidence in General McChrystal and his team to know how to pull this off.

QUESTION: But can the U.S. actually contribute to that fund without getting some type of a waiver?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, yeah. All the rules have to be abided by, yes.

QUESTION: Okay. Now, when you get into reconciliation, that would deal with the leadership, more important members. Five former leaders, in fact, have been delisted – as they say, taken off the UN list of suspected terrorists. Could they be part of the government?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, actually, one of the people who was on the list has already renounced the Taliban and has actually joined the government. So we’re kind of playing catch-up here, that the list has names of people who are irreconcilable – that is clear. The list also has at least one name we’re aware of, of someone who has already died. But there are people on that list who everyone believes, including the gentleman who has already met the conditions, who should be taken off the list and given a chance to be reintegrated.

QUESTION: But the irreconcilables – what if the government, the Afghan Government, actually did want to deal ultimately with Mullah Omar, thinking that perhaps he could bring them Osama bin Laden or something like that? What could the U.S. do in that case?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the U.S. is a partner with the Afghan Government. So we are going to be closely consulting on the structure of the fund, the standards for the fund. I had a long meeting with President Karzai last night and we went over many of these matters that are going to have to be addressed. It is the kind of situation that, by the very nature of it, is going to be somewhat fluid because we don’t know what’s going to happen, who will come forward.

But based on our experience in many areas of Afghanistan today, the Taliban is extremely unpopular. There was a recent poll that has a lot of credibility, pointing out that most people in Afghanistan now believe that they can have a better future, they do not want the Taliban back. But they’re scared and they are looking for some support. And one of the ways, as we saw in an article in The New York Times, I think it was today, is that the military is going in and not just talking to individuals, but talking to tribes, talking to villages. This is classic counterinsurgency, and everyone knows that, as General McChrystal has said, you’re never going to kill or capture everybody calling themself a Taliban. But you can change the political environment so that those who continue to call themselves Taliban become more and more isolated, and that’s what we’re seeking.

QUESTION: Let’s talk about women, because in – this is a subject that’s very dear to your heart, it’s very important.


QUESTION: We know the traditional approach that the Taliban have taken to women. So if you bring these people in, isn’t it ultimately a deal with the devil?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, not if they abide by the conditions, which they have to in order to be eligible. They have to abide by the constitution and the laws of Afghanistan. That means girls are entitled to go to school, girls and women are entitled to get healthcare. Girls are given the same rights that they should have to be trained. Women have the right to participate in the government. In fact, the new Karzai government has some very prominent women nominated for ministers.

So I think that that’s a concern that some people have raised, but I don’t think that it, in and of itself, is what will impact women’s future. We have to change mindsets. There are very serious continuing problems for many women in Afghanistan that still need to be addressed. And women are just like the men of Afghanistan; they don’t want to see the Taliban come back, obviously, but they still have to be given the opportunities to participate in society.

But a lot of progress has been made. I just was meeting with one of the Afghan women who was presenting at the conference, and she said we want to protect women’s rights, we want to continue to get what we deserve to have, we don’t want anything done in the name of peace to interfere with that. And I said neither do I. And I made that very clear in what I said publicly and privately at this conference.

QUESTION: Now, on Iran, to change the subject here, Iran did not send a representative to this conference on Afghanistan. What do you read into that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not sure yet, because the foreign secretary here in London had told me that he expected Iran to send a representative. There was a name plate for Iran. It may, Jill, be another example of the uncertainty, confusion, division within the existing Iranian leadership. On many issues, it appears that they aren’t quite sure the way forward because the leadership is being challenged and there are lots of forces at work within the society. But I don’t know any more than that.

QUESTION: So we understand that you have at least an outline of sanctions that you want to impose or – on – we understand that you have at least an outline of sanctions that you want to impose on Iran. How quickly will we see those?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I was meeting all day today not only about Afghanistan, but also about Iran, with many countries. I brought with me two of the experts who are working on the design of the sanctions and the enforcement of the sanctions, and we are beginning to share ideas. It is premature to talk about those because I don’t want to preempt the consideration that other countries will be given to this, but it is very much our agenda to move forward.

We want as much support as we can possibly muster, and we want to be sure that we are aiming at the mindset of the Iranians so that they understand that the international community will not be turning a blind eye to their continuing violations of Security Council obligations of International Atomic Energy Agency regulations. But it is premature to talk in specifics.

QUESTION: You have said that the sanctions are basically aimed at the Revolutionary Guard. The Revolutionary Guard, of course, control key elements of the Iranian economy. So in hitting them, how do you avoid hurting the Iranian people?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they have a lot of business interests, as we have discovered. And our assessment is that the sanctions will be tough and clearly aimed at the Iranian economy, but that the international community does not have a choice, that this is, unfortunately, a situation in which the behavior of the Iranian Government, not just in this instance but what they’re doing to protestors and demonstrators. I mean, one of the foreign ministers from a Muslim country told me with just total bewilderment, he said, “How can they have a death penalty to demonstrate?” I mean, that’s basically what they’ve come to.

So their society is under a lot of stress. We think it’s imperative to change the calculus of the leadership, and we think this is an appropriate way to proceed, so we are pursuing it.

QUESTION: But could that be a way – if you make it difficult for the people, could the aim ultimately be to get the people angry at their own government and, hence, have some type of regime change?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is not meant to punish Iran; it’s meant to change their behavior, and it’s not meant as a target at any one person. It’s meant to change the calculation of the leadership, where – whether that leadership is in the supreme leader’s office or in the Revolutionary Guard or the president or anyone else. And I think that it’s hard to sit here and predict exactly how Iran will respond, because we still are open to the diplomatic track, but we haven’t seen much to really prove that they’re willing to engage with us.

And I think the time has come for the international community to say, no, we cannot permit your continued pursuit of nuclear weapons. It is destabilizing, it is dangerous, and we’re going to take a stand against you.

QUESTION: But you seem to be changing – the United States seems to be changing the focus, at least broadening it. Originally, of course, it’s about the nuclear program; however, there seems to be now a desire to punish the people who are responsible for repression.


QUESTION: Isn’t that a broadening of —

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I mean, if – for example, if the leadership had accepted the offer that we made on the Tehran research reactor to ship out their low-enriched uranium, we would not be sitting here talking about sanctions. It was their choice. They chose not to. And I think that the Iranian people are at a crossroads. They have the opportunity to demand more from their own leadership, which has, obviously, from the outside, appeared to have failed the Iranian people and failed the very principles that they claim to govern by. So the voices of protest, the voices of opposition, are going to continue to challenge this regime in Iran.

But the outside world is not involved in that. This is an internal societal matter for Iranians to decide. What the outside world is concerned about is their nuclear program. Absent a nuclear program, we would still be expressing our regrets and our condemnation of their behavior toward their citizens, but we would not be looking for sanctions. We are looking for sanctions because their nuclear ambitions threaten the rest of the world.

QUESTION: Well, Madam Secretary, thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, good to talk to you.

Read Full Post »

Remarks at the International Conference on Afghanistan

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
London, DC, United Kingdom
January 28, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon, everyone. I think we have just wrapped up a very productive conference and we have seen the results of cooperation in the international community on a number of very important issues. I want to thank Prime Minister Brown and Foreign Secretary Miliband, the Government of Afghanistan, and the United Nations for bringing us all together and sponsoring this important meeting.

And I think that what we have seen is a global challenge that is being met with a global response. I especially thank the countries that have committed additional troops, leading with our host country, the United Kingdom, but including Italy, Germany, Romania. We also are grateful to all those who made their contributions known today. There are other countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, who are providing air space rights and other transit assistance.

But as important as our military mission is, we know that force alone cannot achieve our goals. Last week, I released the U.S. Afghanistan and Pakistan Regional Stabilization Strategy. Its goal is to support Afghan-led efforts to transform and strengthen their own society and ensure their own security. As we heard a lot today, starting with Prime Minister Brown and President Karzai and many others, the goal is to have an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned strategy, and we are seeing that translated into reality every day.

President Karzai laid out an ambitious agenda for reform at his inauguration last year. There have been a number of plans put forth and Afghanistan has moved forward on preparation for a conditions-based transition to take responsibility for its own security and an agenda for development and governance, which is critical to the future. Among the decisions made today was to establish a Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund to support the Government of Afghanistan’s efforts to draw disaffected Taliban back into society so long as they renounce violence, renounce al-Qaida, agree to abide by the laws and constitution of Afghanistan.

Japan has shown an extraordinary commitment with its announcement of $50 million for the fund. And in parallel, the United States military has been authorized to use substantial funds to support the effort, enabling our commanders on the ground to support Afghan Government-led initiatives to take insurgents off the battlefield.

We’ve agreed to support NATO’s plan to work with the Afghan Government on the conditions-based, province-by-province security transition. As President Obama has made clear, our efforts will allow us to begin to transition our own troops out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. But as I said this morning and would underscore this afternoon, this is not an exit strategy. It is about assisting and partnering with the Afghans.

Now, the kinds of reforms that President Karzai and the Afghan Government have announced are important, and we’re going to watch them carefully and make clear our expectations that they be fulfilled. Among them are their efforts to combat corruption, provide more public services to people, effectively manage international aid. We also had very constructive conversations last night at dinner, hosted by Secretary Miliband this morning at breakfast, hosted by Prime Minister Brown and during the conference, about how the international community can support these reforms more effectively, including significant progress toward Afghanistan’s benchmarks for debt relief from the Paris Club and international financial institutions.

I also believe very strongly, as is apparent in what I say about this issue, that women have to be involved at every step of the way in this process. To that end, I unveiled our Women’s Action Plan. It includes initiatives focused on women’s security, women’s leadership in the public and private sector; women’s access to judicial institutions, education, and health services; women’s ability to take advantage of economic opportunities, especially in the agricultural sector. This is a comprehensive, forward-looking agenda that stands in stark contrast to al-Qaida’s recently announced agenda for Afghanistan’s women, attempting to send female suicide bombers to the West.

So the agreement reached today brings us closer to the goal of a stable Afghanistan and advances our efforts to combat the violent extremists who threaten all of our citizens. In addition to this important work on Afghanistan, I had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a number of my counterparts on the sidelines of this meeting. We discussed a wide range of common concerns, including relief efforts in Haiti. And I thank the British Government for its significant assistance support for the people of Haiti.

I also had a chance to discuss Iran’s refusal to engage with the international community on its nuclear program. They continue to violate IAEA and Security Council requirements. We were disappointed by the Iranian Government’s rejection of an offer that would have built confidence by trading some of Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium for reactor fuel to meet the legitimate medical needs of the Iranian people.

The revelation of Iran’s secret nuclear facility at Qom has raised further questions about Iran’s intentions. And in response to these questions, the Iranian Government has provided a continuous stream of threats to intensify its violation of international nuclear norms. Iran’s approach leaves us with little choice but to work with our partners to apply greater pressure in the hopes that it will cause Iran to reconsider its rejection of diplomatic efforts with respect to its nuclear ambitions.

Tomorrow, I will travel on to Paris where I will continue many of these discussions with President Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Kouchner. I look forward to our close consultations with respect to the challenges facing us. And I’m delighted that we had an opportunity to get a lot of work done on many matters in one place, a particularly favorite place of mine. So again, I thank the British Government for their partnership and hospitality, and I’d be glad to take your questions.

MODERATOR: This question is from Duncan Gardham of the Daily Telegraph.



QUESTION: I’d like to ask about the general tenor of the conference seems to be changing the pace of what’s been going on in Afghanistan, and to some extent, looking towards the time when troops can leave. A time scale has been mentioned this morning by President Karzai of around 15 years. And I wondered whether you thought that was a practical time limit to start pulling troops out, and also to have the Taliban lay down their arms in that – within that sort of time period?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, and I don’t think that’s what President Karzai meant. First of all, we have increased the numbers of our military forces. There will be more to come. As you know, the United States has added 30,000. Other international partners have added 9,000. We have upped the tempo of our military engagement and we’re beginning to see some evidence of reversing the momentum of the Taliban. That is all to the good.

It is absolutely necessary in order to provide the conditions for stability and security, but it is not sufficient to provide the political environment in which a lasting peace could be negotiated. So therefore, as you heard today, we will be pursuing the military action, going very aggressively against the Taliban, those who are trying to kill our soldiers and civilians and wreak havoc in Afghanistan, and at the same time, creating an opportunity for Taliban who choose to leave the battlefield, renounce violence, renounce al-Qaida, agree to abide by the laws and constitution of Afghanistan to reenter society.

It is our working assumption that we can make gains on both of these tracks over the next few years and that we can begin to transition security to the Afghan security forces on a timetable that is conditions-based, but which begins to have the Afghan security forces assume greater and greater responsibility, province by province, beginning this year. July of 2011 will mark a point of transition for American troops as we take stock of where we have come with our security efforts. And we expect that there will be a portion of the country that will be under Afghan control, and we will move forward to transition out our forces as they are replaced by trained and qualified Afghan forces.

I think what President Karzai was referring to, and I’ve spoken to him about this personally on several occasions, is that our military presence may continue as it does in many countries, providing training, logistics, intelligence. But our combat role will diminish and transition out. That’s as it should be. There was a very significant event a few weeks ago with the multiply timed suicide attacks in Kabul. That was handled well by the Afghans themselves. There were no international troops involved. And the assessment by our commanders – American and NATO ISAF commanders – is that the Afghan forces performed commendably.

We have seen an increase in the recruitment of the young men joining the Afghan security forces in the last two months. We’ve seen an improvement in retention. We’ve increased the pay, something that was quite noticeably lacking since the Taliban paid more than the Afghan security forces or police paid.

So I mention all of that to create the context that we see this as an evolving process where we are creating the conditions for Afghanistan to assume responsibility for its own security, which will then permit the transfer out of international combat forces. Having said that, there will likely be continuing military aid, assistance, and advice from international partners beyond the combat mission.

MODERATOR: The next question’s from Andy Quinn of Reuters.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I’d like to ask a little bit about this reintegration and reconciliation process. As you doubtless know, the Afghan Government has invited the Taliban to take part in the loya jirga that that they’re planning to have this year. I’d like to ask, does the U.S. specifically support this invitation? And do you think that the invitation could or should include top Taliban leadership such as Mullah Omar as long as they, or if they, renounce ties to al-Qaida? Does the U.S. have any plans to contribute funds, beyond the military funds that you’ve mentioned, to the reintegration fund that the Japanese are helping to establish? And more broadly, do you feel that this reconciliation process that we’re talking about today represents the first point in a real roadmap toward ending the conflict in Afghanistan? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andy, I think that the starting premise is you don’t make peace with your friends. You have to be willing to engage with your enemies if you expect to create a situation that ends an insurgency or so marginalizes the remaining insurgents that it doesn’t pose a threat to the stability and security of the people.

When President Karzai announced that he would be holding a jirga, which is a traditional Afghan mechanism for trying to reconcile competing views and reach decisions to take, it was natural for him to say that if we’re going to have a peace jirga, people who are not already in agreement with you might actually come.

Now, we have a very clear understanding of what we expect from this process. We expect that a lot of the foot soldiers on the battlefield will be leaving the Taliban because many of them have wanted to leave, many of them are tired of fighting. We believe the tide is beginning to turn against them, and we need incentives in order to both protect them and provide alternatives to them to replace the payment they received as Taliban fighters. This is similar to what the American military did in Iraq. As it became clear that a number of Iraqis were tired of the brutality and barbarism of al-Qaida, as they began to see the potential alternatives available to them in the political system, they began to talk with our military personnel about changing allegiance and becoming part of the forces fighting against the terrorists.

So we have some experience in this now of recent vintage. Some of the same people, including a British general who is active in this area in Iraq, are advising General McChrystal. We’ve already seen some examples. In fact, we saw – there’s an article in one of the American papers today talking about a whole tribe, a whole tribe of Pashtuns, about 400,000 members, who want to fight the Taliban. But you’ve got to realize the circumstances. There was a tribe in a village in Pakistan who decided to fight the Taliban and they were targeted with these brutal suicide bombings, killing more than a hundred people at a volleyball match.

So in order to make good on the offer of an alternative that can create the conditions for peace, you have to be prepared to help fund it and provide protection for people. And that’s part of the planning.

We do not have any plans to add money to the reintegration fund because, as I said, we have a significant amount of money that’s being used for the same purposes coming through our American military. And this is an international effort, and a number of international partners have signed up and made commitments to the reintegration fund. But they will be working in the same arena with the same purpose.

MODERATOR: And our last question is Indira Lakshmanan from Bloomberg News.

QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, what did you hear from Chinese Foreign Minister Yang today that assures you China is ready to support a new UN Security Council sanction, or resolution on Iran? And what was Yang’s response to your call for an investigation of Chinese hacking against Google and other U.S. companies and your concerns about internet censorship in China? And lastly, what would you say to prominent American business leaders like Bill Gates, who this week said that China’s internet censorship is actually – quote – very limited?

SECRETARY CLINTON: On Iran, we had a very productive conversation with Foreign Minister Yang. They are part of the P-5+1 process, as you know. That process has been unified and we hope it continues to move forward on that same track to work together to change the strategic calculus of the Iranian leadership with respect to its nuclear program.

We shared some of our thoughts with our Chinese counterparts. We also set up some additional opportunities for expert consultations. We made it clear to everyone with whom I spoke today and yesterday that our efforts to apply pressure on Iran are not meant to punish the Iranian people, they are meant to change the approach that the Iranian Government has taken toward its nuclear program. And we made that clear when the P-5+1 agreed on a common plan to offer Iran the opportunity to ship out its LEU and have it reprocessed for their research reactor in Tehran, which they have thus far refused to accept.

So China is very much engaged, a very active member of the P-5+1, and we’re continuing to work together. I’m not going to preview what our plans our, but I think we had a very constructive conversation.

I raised the issue, as you would have expected I did, on the Google and internet freedom front. China has its approach. Obviously, they feel strongly that they are much more open than perhaps they’re getting credit for. We expressed – I expressed my concerns that we don’t want to create a series of actions that in any way impinges on the freedom and utility of the internet. But it was a very open, candid conversation. We agreed we will continue to discuss this matter in the context of our ongoing dialogue.

And as you can tell from the quote you referred to by Bill Gates, different people have different responses or different impressions. The overall issue is one that I think everyone should be concerned about, and that is making sure that no one uses the internet for purposes of censorship or repression. But we had a very positive exchange on this issue with the Chinese today.

Let me end, because you’ve been very patient – I know other people are probably waiting to come in and talk to you. Let me end by just asking these four women from Afghanistan to stand up. Would you all stand up? They are among the women who have been working in Afghanistan for the last years on behalf of expanding opportunities for women and protecting human rights and women’s rights. I’ve had a chance to work with some of the Afghan women who were here for the conference today in the past, and they are very much committed to their country’s future, but they’re also very committed to making sure that women in Afghanistan play their rightful role in that country’s future. And I just wanted to thank them for being here and for speaking out.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

Read Full Post »

While we wait for text and video that might come out of today’s conference, here are some really nice pictures of Secretary Clinton from today’s conference.  Here is one report.

Hillary Clinton and America’s Allies Mull Exit From Afghanistan
Thursday, January 28, 2010
By David Stringer and Jill Lawless, Associated Press

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meet at an international conference on Afghanistan in central London on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
London (AP) – Major world powers opened talks Thursday seeking an end to the grinding conflict in Afghanistan, drafting plans to hand over security responsibilities to local forces and quell the insurgency with an offer of jobs and housing to lure Taliban fighters to renounce violence.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai greeted delegates from about 70 nations and institutions in London, seeking to win new international support after more than eight years of combat which is threatening to exhaust public good will in the West.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Read Full Post »

Here in the NY Metro Area, they are calling this “Lake Effect Snow” – Really! I do not remember ever having lake effect snow this far southeast of the lakes. Anyhow, that is why this is late. Many accidents and slippery roads in these parts today. I hope the Secretary of State is having much nicer weather.


Secretary Clinton attends the International Conference on Afghanistan Hosted by the Government of the United Kingdom and holds Bilateral Meetings in London, England.

Read Full Post »

I have not seen any press releases of remarks.  If/when I do, I will post them.  Meanwhile, here are some images of our smartest and loveliest diplomat with President Karzai.

Read Full Post »

Remarks With British Foreign Secretary David Miliband And Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Abdullah al-Qirbi

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
London, United Kingdom
January 27, 2010

FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Foreign Office. Welcome, above all, to my colleague, the foreign minister of Yemen, Mr. al-Qirbi, and my colleague and friend, Secretary Clinton of the United States.

I want to first of all thank the Yemeni delegation who came to this conference headed by Prime Minister Mujawar, but also including the deputy prime ministers for defense and security and economic affairs, as well as Foreign Minister al-Qirbi for traveling here. I’ve just finished chairing a meeting of some 20 countries and five international institutions about Yemen, about its challenges, about how its government is tackling the problems that its people confront, and how the international community can support the government and people of Yemen. The chairman’s statement should be with you now, or if not, it will be on the website immediately.

But I just want to take this opportunity to outline three important things – why we met, what we’ve achieved, and what the next steps are, because it’s very important that these meetings lead not just to concrete outcomes, but to mechanisms for implementation as well. As you well know, the – our prime minister, the UK prime minister, called this meeting shortly after the failed terrorist attack on Northwest Airlines flight 253. We know that al-Qaida seek to exploit instability wherever they can, including places like Yemen. The Government of Yemen have been seeking to tackle the terrorist problem they’ve faced for some time, and the international community has been working to support them in this endeavor.

However, it’s been a common feature of every contribution that we have heard today that the assault on Yemen’s problems cannot begin and end with its security challenges and its counterterrorism strategy. In tackling terrorism, it is vital to tackle the root – its root causes. In Yemen’s case, these are manifold – economic, social, and political. I also want to stress that many of the countries represented in the room upstairs today have not – have been concerned about the challenges in Yemen for some time, have been longstanding friends of the people and Government of Yemen, and have been taking concrete steps to support a united and stable Yemen.

As you’ll see from the website, we stress strongly our respect and support for Yemen’s sovereignty and independence and our commitment to noninterference in Yemen’s internal affairs. Many of you will know that in 2006, we hosted in London a meeting committed to increasing aid for Yemen. The UK is one of the largest Western bilateral donors to Yemen. That conference yielded pledges of some $5 billion, but the vast bulk of that money has not been spent and that’s one of the things that we have been seeking to address today, because it goes to the heart of the problems that Yemen faces.

Working closely with the Government of Yemen, we decided that our agenda needed to cover agreement on the nature of the problem and then address the solutions across the economic, social, and political terrain. Five key items were agreed at the meeting for the way in which the international community can support progress in Yemen.

First, confirmation by the Government of Yemen that it will continue to pursue its reform agenda and agreement to start discussion of an IMF program. The director of the IMF represented at the meeting made a compelling case for the way in which economic reform could be supported by the IMF. This is important because it will provide welcome support and help the Government of Yemen confront its immediate challenges.

Second, an announcement by the Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General that he will host a meeting of Gulf and Western donors on Yemen in Riyadh on the 22nd and 23rd of February. The meeting will not just share analysis on the improved disbursement of aid to Yemen, but also establish a joint dialogue with the Government of Yemen on its reform priorities.

Thirdly, the international community represented at the meeting committed to support the Government of Yemen in the fight against al-Qaida. It welcomed the recent UN Sanctions Committee decisions on designation and called on all states to enforce the terms of the designation under UN Security Council Resolution 1267.

Fourthly, the meeting agreed to engage in further helping Yemen to address its broader security challenges, including through increased international support for the Yemen Coast Guard. This should help enhance maritime security for Yemen and the wider region.

Fifthly, we agreed to launch a formal Friends of Yemen process made up of those at the meeting today which will address the broad range of challenges facing Yemen, including through two working groups on economy and governance and justice and law enforcement. These should meet in time to report back to the first Friends of Yemen meeting which should take place in the region in late March. So these are issues that will take sustained engagement by Yemen and by the international community. The meeting today was a part of a longer-term process. It was an important step forward and it’s one that we are determined to build on.

I’m now going to ask Minister al-Qirbi to say a few words and then Secretary Clinton, and then we look forward to your questions. Thank you very much indeed.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL-QIRBI: Thank you very much, Your Excellency. (In Arabic.)

FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: Thank you very much. Secretary Clinton.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Secretary Miliband. And thank you again, and Prime Minister Brown, for organizing this meeting and, as Minister Qirbi said, accomplishing so much in such a short period of time.

And it is a privilege to be here with Minister Qirbi. I met with him about a week ago and we talked in depth about a lot of the issues confronting Yemen, and I appreciated he and the prime minister coming to this meeting so committed and so well prepared. They presented a document that was a very clear assessment of the challenges facing Yemen, and it gave us a good basis on which to conduct our international consultation.

The United States is intensifying security and development efforts with Yemen. We are encouraged by the Government of Yemen’s recent efforts to take action against al-Qaida and against other extremist groups. They have been relentlessly pursuing the terrorists who threaten not only Yemen but the Gulf region and far beyond, here to London and to our country in the United States. By doing so, they have earned the support and cooperation of the international community that was pledged at the meeting today.

Now, these are essential steps, but we recognize that the challenges facing Yemen cannot be solved by military action alone. Progress against violent extremists and progress toward a better future for the Yemeni people will depend upon fortifying development efforts. The Yemeni people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future, not leaving their fate to extremists who incite violence and inflict harm. To help the people of Yemen, therefore, we have to do more. But we have to work in conjunction with the Government of Yemen.

However, the Government of Yemen must also do more. This must be a partnership if it is to have a successful outcome. The United States, along with many other countries and international institutions gathered here today, are committed to working with Yemeni leaders to secure the country’s borders, deny safe haven to terrorists, promote unity, protect human rights, advance gender equity, build democratic institutions and the rule of law, and implement democratic and political reform.

The United States just signed a three-year umbrella assistance agreement with the Government of Yemen that will augment Yemen’s capacity to make progress. This package includes initiatives that will cover a range of programs, but the overarching goal of our work is to increase the capacity and governance of Yemen, and give the people of Yemen the opportunity to better make choices in their own lives. President Saleh has outlined a 10-point plan for economic reform, along with the country’s national reform agenda. Those are encouraging signs of progress. Neither, however, will mean much if they are not implemented. So we expect Yemen to enact reforms, continue to combat corruption, and improve the country’s investment and business climate.

The progress in Yemen also depends on resolving conflict and ending violence. Armed conflict with rebels in the north, now in its sixth year, has left many thousands dead and more than 200,000 displaced. We’re encouraged by reports that the Saudi Houthi fighting may be coming to an end and a ceasefire among all the parties to that conflict will allow humanitarian assistance to be delivered, negotiations to begin, and the violence to end.

In the south, a longstanding protest movement continues, fueled by grievances a generation old. Urgent reform is needed to encourage robust civil society and ensure that responsible, independent media in Yemen are able to inform citizens without fear of prosecution. A genuine inclusive national dialogue is essential for successful parliamentary elections in April of 2011.

Now, there is much to be done and we recognize that, but the situation in Yemen is of particular concern. It does truly affect all of us in a very direct way. So with the leadership of our partners in the Arab world, friends of Yemen everywhere stand ready to assist the Yemeni Government and people. So I will reiterate a strong message of support from the United States. We believe bringing unity and stability to Yemen is an urgent national security priority of ours and we look forward to working with our international partners and with the Yemeni leadership. So again, to Secretary Miliband, thank you for bringing us together.


QUESTION: (Inaudible) preview what’s different about the assurances you’ve received from your Yemeni counterparts today from those you have had previously?

FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: I think that the most important development is twofold, really. First, they are concrete and specific in a way that they have not been in the past. Secretary Clinton has just referred to the 10-point plan. Secondly, there is a degree of international engagement that hasn’t existed before, notably through the Friends of Yemen process that will bring together 20 countries to engage on a structured and systematic, not to say intensive, basis with the Government of Yemen for the benefit of the people of Yemen.

I suppose there is one other point which is important. This is a genuinely comprehensive approach. I think that if you look through the chairman’s statement, and certainly having sat through the discussions, there is now a recognition of the linkages between economic, social, security, and democratic reform. So I think that is something that we need to build on.

Minister al-Qirbi.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL-QIRBI: I think the most important thing about Yemen commitments now is that they come out as a result also of a collaborative effort with donors and not only by Yemen alone. This commitment also stems from our belief that challenges we are facing now cannot be remedied unless we implement this agenda of reforms and the 10 points that Her Excellency alluded to, because this is now a priority (inaudible) that we have to start with, and I hope this is – will be one of the outcomes of this meeting.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I agree with what my colleagues have said. I would just add three points.

One of the factors that’s new is the IMF’s involvement and commitment. The IMF has come forward with a reform agenda that the Government of Yemen has agreed to work on. Secondly, the intense engagement of the region. It’s been certainly on a bilateral basis where countries in the Gulf and the wider Arab world have engaged with Yemen, but now we have a concerted effort.

And finally, I saw something today which is rare to see anywhere, and that was a report by a government that was brutally honest about the problems it faces. In fact, there was a category of statistics that was labeled “Appalling Indicators.” I’ve gone to a lot of international meetings and I have worked with many, many governments over many years, but that struck me and I want to commend the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minster because when you look at the statistics of very high population growth, very high illiteracy and so much else, you get an unvarnished view of what Yemen is up against. And I appreciate that honest assessment.

QUESTION: I’ll speak in Arabic first for Dr. al-Qirbi. (In Arabic.)

I’ll put it in English for the two British and American secretaries. Regarding that the Yemenis, in fact, that they have fears that these foreign troops’ intervention into Yemen that will, of course, affect the situation and also will make it worse, especially that people, they are very concerned about the Yemeni sovereignty and they are not really like in any way to have any foreign intervention. And also it will double the problem because there are people who they are emphasized with al-Qaida elements and they will, of course, double this problem.

So what is the intention regarding this intervention, and also what we hear about it? Thank you.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we share the concern about Yemen’s sovereignty, and in fact, we reiterated support for a unified Yemen, respect for its sovereignty and independence, and a commitment to the non-interference in Yemen’s internal affairs. That was a paramount guiding consideration for all of us and we reiterated it at every turn. You’ll find it in the chairman’s statement. It is not only, from our perspective, the appropriate approach to take, but we think it’s a more effective approach, because ultimately, the future of Yemen is up to the Yemenis themselves, and therefore the Yemenis have to manage and solve their own problems. Where we can be of assistance, we offer to do so.

FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: Let me just add to that that the allegations keep on being made that, first, the international community is seeking to impose its will on Yemen and Yemenis. Not true. In fact, the Yemenis themselves want a change. Secondly, the allegation that we are pursuing a very narrow counterterrorism agenda. Wrong, because the comprehensive breadth of programs is a denial of that. Thirdly, that we would somehow neglect the importance of reform in Yemen. Wrong, too, because people spoke very plainly about the need for reform. And fourth, this was just a one-off. That’s the fourth allegation. Also wrong, because there will be real follow-up. And I think it’s really important that people understand these points.


QUESTION: I’m a journalist with Al Watan of Oman and Afaq al Mustaqbal of Abu Dhabi. Did it have to – we all know about the problems of Yemen for a long time. Did it have to wait until the Christmas Day incident to trigger this process? And I would like also to ask a question with regard to the help which will be given to Yemen from the West and from the Gulf countries. Are the Gulf countries going to take the financial side and the Western will take the other technical and management side?

FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: Well, the participation and presence of the GCC countries, I think, is very significant, and the fact the GCC’s Secretary General was there today gives an institutional basis to GCC engagement, I think is very, very welcome.

In respect of whether we suddenly discovered a Yemen problem on the 24th or 25th of December, no. In the case of the UK, not only did we host the London meeting in 2006, but actually throughout 2008 and 2009, in all my talks in the Arab world and more widely, the significance and dangers of the situation in Yemen came through. As it happens, our own Yemen strategy was updated in September 2009, which is not just about aid, but it’s also about serious engagement on the ground. So I think that it’s wrong to say this is the beginning of a process. We are in the midst of a process that is becoming increasingly urgent, and that’s why I think you see the level of engagement that existed today.

QUESTION: For Secretary Clinton, but the Foreign Minister might comment as well. You’ve talked quite a bit about the need for a ceasefire and the instability that’s caused in Yemen by the problems with the Houthis of the north. Did you get any assurances from the Yemeni Government that they might follow in Saudi Arabia’s path and also agree to a ceasefire? And in connection with that, is there any sort of unifying assessment of what the threat is? Yemen and Saudi Arabia really think that this threat comes from Iran, but the U.S. Government doesn’t seem to share that, and it seems there needs to be some sort of kind of coming together on what the threat is so everyone can have a common approach.

Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jake, first of all, we were pleased by the announcement of a ceasefire between the Saudis and the Houthis. That should lead, we hope, to broader negotiations and a political dialogue that might lead to a permanent end to the conflict in the north. It’s too soon to tell, and I think that’s the attitude – and I’ll let the minister speak for himself, but I think that’s the attitude of the Yemeni Government as well. They want to test it and work with the Saudis and try to figure out if there is a way forward to resolve the conflict with the Houthis.

On the issue concerning outside interference, I spoke about this in my meeting with Minister Qirbi on a bilateral basis. We heard more about it today. There are a lot of issues in Yemen that result in conflicts and there are a lot of internal and external forces at work. One that I think has not gotten the attention it needs is that there are 800,000 Somali refugees in Yemen. Think about the instability that causes.

So we’re trying to find a common basis for looking at all of the internal threats and the external outside interference. I don’t want to prejudge it. And I respect the Yemeni Government’s and others’ assessment as to what they think is occurring right now. But the bottom line for me is that there is a multiple-layered set of conflicts that are caused by many different factors.

And I can only end with one statement by one of the Gulf ministers who said, “Look, did the conflicts cause the development problems in Yemen or did the development problems cause the conflicts?” I’m not sure we’ll answer that question anytime soon. What I am absolutely confident of is that we have to address both.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL-QIRBI: Let me comment, if I may. Yemen Government has actually announced previously five ceasefires. And with every ceasefire, we wait only to get the Houthis prepare themselves for another (inaudible). And now we are prepared for a ceasefire if they accept the conditions put to them, and that is to stop attacking, to surrender to – their heavy arms and fortifications. And according to the constitution and the law, we will deal with all their grievances; whatever grievances they have can be dealt with through dialogue. But unless they accept the conditions of abandoning armed struggle and insurgency, we are not going to repeat the previous five mistakes.

QUESTION: A question about counterterrorism. And Yemen just said that the Detroit plane bomber was radicalized in London. And the British Government has insisted it believes the Detroit plane bomber was radicalized in Yemen in the last six months of last year. Who’s right?

FOREIGN MINISTER AL-QIRBI: Well, let me tell you, sometimes probably you don’t read things properly. We said he’s spent in London four years and he spent in Yemen one year. Where did the radicalization take place?

FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: I always know that it’s very unwise to take an additional question. (Laughter.) And this has proved that beyond reasonable doubt because the harmony and unity that has prevailed – (laughter) – doesn’t find an easy third way in which to answer this question.

But I think it’s important that I say, in all seriousness, that all of our evidence led us to make the very serious statements that we did about the radicalization that took place. We’ve gone in some detail to the time that the attempting – the bomber – attempted bomber spent in London. We are very vigilant about the way in which British higher education and other institutions are used. We have seen no evidence it was used in that way in this case, but it’s something that we obviously keep a very close eye on.

There is one important further point, though, and this is I think where the discomfort that you sought to apply through your question can maybe be avoided. And that’s as far as, in the end, none of the three countries sitting on this platform are interested in pointing their fingers at each other about where things might have gone wrong in the past. Every single country sitting on this platform wants to take responsibility, because the truth is that global jihad knows no boundaries and recognizes no borders.

And we in the United Kingdom are extremely vigilant about our own situation. We are resolute in offering no complacency about how we combine the virtues of an open society with one which is able to defend itself and ensure defense of other free societies around the world. And that is something in which there are more and more partners engaging in this process. And we in the UK will learn all of our lessons in an open way with our partners, and I’m delighted that the Government of Yemen, as always the Government of the United States, committed to do that with us.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Could I – I just want to add one other point, because I think that the question in the 21st century may be somewhat beside the point, with all due respect. The role of ideology knows no boundaries or borders. The internet is an increasingly effective recruitment and radicalization tool. We have evidence that a number of those who have been arrested, engaged in, or having committed terrorist acts in the United States in the last months were in communication with persons on the internet. They never met them necessarily in person, but they were highly influenced by their messaging.

I gave a speech about a week ago really defending strongly internet freedom, but I also pointed out that the internet is a neutral tool. And increasingly, we are having to face, whether it’s the U.S., UK, or Yemen, the threats coming from beyond our borders that cannot be, as David said, pinned on any event in a particular place. It’s an accumulation of influences. And I think we have to look more thoughtfully at this, and I think there’s a role for the free media to play. Because we need a counter message to young people who, for whatever reason, seek out these voices of extremism. And I think that is something that governments need help in doing on both a technological basis and in terms of the media’s narrative.

FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: Good. Well, we’re definitely not taking another question, but thank you very much indeed, everybody.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: