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Archive for April, 2011

The Human Rights Council’s Special Session on Syria

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 29, 2011

Today the UN Human Rights Council took urgent action to shine a light on the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria and condemn the continued human rights abuses by the Syrian government. Today’s resolution – passed with an overwhelming majority by members from all regions of the globe – unequivocally indicates that the use of force by the Syrian government to quell peaceful political demonstrators is unacceptable. The international community has spoken and expressed its outrage at the violence used by the Syrian government to deny its population their universal human rights, including the freedoms of expression and assembly.

The Council’s forceful statement, coupled with its decision to establish an urgent investigation led by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, ensures that the international community will remain actively engaged in the human rights crisis in Syria.

The Council also called upon the Syrian government to immediately release all prisoners of conscience and arbitrarily detained persons, including those who were detained before the recent events, and to immediately cease any intimidation, persecution and arbitrary arrests of individuals, including lawyers, human rights defenders and journalists.

The findings of this Special Session further reinforce the crucial need for Council members to reject Syria’s hypocritical candidacy for membership on the Human Rights Council. No country engaged in such horrific and ongoing human rights abuses should be considered for membership on this important body.

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Another meeting on Libya and UNSC Resolutions 1970 and 1973.

Secretary Clinton to Travel to Rome, Italy

Media Note

Mark C. Toner
Acting Deputy SpokesmanOffice of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
April 29, 2011

Secretary of State Clinton will travel to Rome, Italy May 4-6 to participate in a meeting of the Libya Contact Group. The Rome meeting will build on the last Contact Group meeting held in Doha and will allow the United States to discuss with its international partners the ongoing implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973.

Secretary Clinton will also conduct a series of bilateral meetings, including Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, President Giorgio Napolitano, and Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. Assistant Secretary Philip H. Gordon and Assistant Secretary Jeffery Feltman will accompany the Secretary on this trip.

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Remarks With Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto After Their Meeting


Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 29, 2011




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SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good evening, everyone, and thank you for your patience on a very busy day. But this is a particular privilege for me to welcome the minister to the State Department for his first visit as the foreign minister of Japan.

Just two weeks ago, we met in Tokyo to discuss Japan’s ongoing efforts to rebuild after the earthquake and tsunami. The people of Japan have faced these disasters and the subsequent nuclear emergency with courage and conviction, inspiring the world with their strength. Today, I conveyed again the commitment of the American people to support our friends in Japan however we can, and particularly to work through the public-private partnership for reconstruction, bringing together the Japanese and American business communities in support of the Japanese Government’s plan for recovery.

In addition to these very important issues, we discussed a number of other regional and global matters of great concern to both of us. We discussed North Korea and reconfirmed out shared goal of a complete and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. I shared with the minister the upcoming plans for the third U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue with China meeting here in Washington in just over a week.

We also discussed developments in the Middle East, and I am grateful to Japan for its support in dealing with the increasingly alarming situation in Syria, as well as its solidarity with us and the European Union with regard to Iran and the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Japan has also made critical contributions to reconstruction and reconciliation in Afghanistan, and the government just announced it will continue its financial assistance to Afghanistan at the same levels as before the earthquake. That is a remarkable example of both leadership and generosity that we appreciate.

There are so many important matters for us to discuss that the minister and I are committed to carrying on our close consultation. We are working very hard to set a new date for the Security Consultative Committee, known as the “2+2.”

So, Minister, please let me again express my appreciation to you and to your government for the work we are doing together and the very important work that lies ahead as well.

FOREIGN MINISTER MATSUMOTO: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. I am Takeaki Matsumoto, Foreign Minister of Japan. Since taking office as foreign minister of Japan on the 9th of March, we have – Japan and the U.S. Government have maintained close coordination with each other.

I’ve had numerous opportunities of meeting as well as teleconferencing with Secretary Clinton. And it was my fervent hope to make the United States the first destination for my very first bilateral visit overseas, and I’m happy that it has become true.

We’ve been receiving very generous support and very generous and warm support from the United States following the earthquake. And one of the major objectives of my visit this time was to express directly to the U.S. Government and people that gratitude. But I regret to say that even before expressing gratitude, I may need to also express our sympathies to the United States for the very heavy damage and the very serious casualties, as well as heavy damage, caused by the most recent tornados in the United States. And as I watched the images on the television screen of the damage, it inevitably made me remember the earthquake damage of a month and a half ago. We, of course, are right in the middle of dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake, but I told Secretary Clinton, please tell us if there is anything we can do in also response to the tornadoes.

But again, let me say that we are truly grateful for the support that we received from the United States following the earthquake. And we’ll never forget the very strong support that we have received from the United States, from the – the very large number of service – U.S. service members who were engaged in Operation Tomodachi. The rescue teams who arrived on the ground very early on right after the earthquake and the many nuclear experts who are now on the ground helping us. And we’ve also – let me say that we’ve been touched by the expression of sympathy and support by a large number of people in the United States, notably small children who have also sent their messages to Japan.

I regret to say that two Americans who were engaged in what is called JET Program, a program for Americans and other English-speaking people to teach Japanese to small children, schoolchildren, and two of these Americans lost their lives because of the earthquake. They had been serving as a bridge between Japan and the United States. We’ll never forget the deep thoughts that they had for Japan and the fact that they were helping raise good children in Japan.

As Secretary Clinton mentioned just now, in our meeting today we did cover a broad range of issues. We were hit by the earthquake, but we wish to emerge stronger by overcoming the earthquake and continue to fulfill our responsibilities in the international community.

In connection with the evolution of the Japan-U.S. alliance, Madam Secretary Clinton already referred to the 2+2. Both of us see eye to eye on the importance of that 2+2 and will continue our coordination efforts to work out a schedule for that meeting.

With regard to, or in connection with the public-private partnership for reconstruction, we’ll bear in mind, of course, the blueprint for reconstruction that Japan is now drawing up, and we agreed that we’ll promote cooperation by focusing on building Japan-U.S. mutual trust between our two countries and striving to regain the trust of the international community in the Japanese economy by, in the first place, preventing or stopping damage caused by rumors, so-called reputation damage, and also gaining the trust of the international community with regard to Japan’s role as supply chain.

We also did discuss some regional issues. And in connection with the DPRK, we did agree that we’ll – or we reaffirmed the close coordination among Japan, U.S., and the Republic of Korea, and also agreed of the importance of constructively building relations with China. And also, the Secretary was kind of enough to show her understanding with regard to the abduction issue. Let me also report to you that we did discuss the situation in the Middle East, nuclear safety, as well as UN Security Council reform.

So once again, I would like to express our gratitude for the support given by the United States, and also would like to communicate to the people in the United States our determination to recover from the aftermath of the disaster, with the help of the United States as well, and would like to tell you that we will maintain closely coordinated with the United States.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Minister. Thank you very much.

MS. FULTON: First question comes from Elise Labott with CNN.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Mr. Minister, I’d like to ask you on the Syria sanctions that President Obama issued today, although there were some members of President Asad’s family and the intelligence community that were named, President Asad himself wasn’t named. And if, in fact, as the United States attests, that he is a dictator and has absolute rule in the country, how can he not be personally held responsible for the human rights abuses in his country?

And on North Korea, there’s been a flurry of activity in the region lately, which suggests that there could be a thaw in the stalemate over Six-Party Talks. Do you envision Six-Party Talks restarting soon?

And Mr. Minister, respecting your comments about what the U.S. has already done, is there anything else that the United States and the American people can do to help Japan as they rebuild? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Elise, the sanctions that were announced today are intended to show the Syrian Government that its behavior and actions are going to be held to account and they must begin taking steps to respond to the legitimate aspirations of their people and respect the rights of their people.

We continue to condemn in the strongest possible terms the absolutely deplorable actions that the Syrian Government is taking against its own people. The violence must end immediately, and we are conveying that both bilaterally and multilaterally to make it absolutely clear what is expected of the government.

I welcome today’s action in the Human Rights Council condemning the Government of Syria for its violent crackdown. With this action, the council has stood against attempts to silence dissent with the use of gratuitous violence. That is not the act of a responsible government. And the Human Rights Council has set a precedent which has advanced the importance of this organization, mandating an urgent mission by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate all alleged violations of international law, with the goal of bringing perpetrators to justice. We were strongly behind this action and we will strongly support its implementation.

And with respect to North Korea, we have made consistently clear what we expect from North Korea in its actions in the future. We would like to see them engaging in meaningful dialogue with the South in the first instance, prior to any other steps that might be taken.

FOREIGN MINISTER MATSUMOTO: (Via interpreter) I understand the question for me was about support for Japan. What Japan in general, as well as the people in the afflicted areas in particular, are seeking now is opportunity for economic activity. So please do come to Japan for tourism and for business. And please do buy Japanese products as you were before, or perhaps more than before. (Laughter.) And please do invest in Japan and contribute to an even greater level of economic activity. In fact, the U.S. Government as well the leaders of the U.S. private sector are already working in that direction. And I’m sure that should this sort of movement spread in the United States, that will inevitably spread around the world as well. So we do count on continued warm and strong support from the United States.

MS. FULTON: Next question goes to (inaudible) from (inaudible).

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible), reporter with the Shimbun. And I’d like to ask this question of both of you. You mentioned that you did discuss 2+2, but I wonder if any reference was made to the upcoming visit by the prime minister to the United States. If not, what is your sense of the timing of that visit, when would that be desirable? And also you mentioned that you did discuss that you will continue to coordinate on the dates of the next 2+2. You agree on the importance of the 2+2. But I wonder if you can tell us what specifically you’re going to confirm or discuss in the upcoming 2+2 meeting.

FOREIGN MINISTER MATSUMOTO: (Via interpreter) Well, first of all, 2+2 meeting will have to take place ahead of the prime minister’s visit to the United States, so it is from that vantage point that we are discussing the date of the next 2+2 meeting. And also it is our common understanding that we’ll continue to discuss the specific dates for the prime minister’s visit to the United States. But I trust that the two countries do share very deeply common awareness, common understanding regarding the significance that the prime minister’s visit to the United States will have on Japan-U.S. relations.

And with regard to specific discussions at 2+2, I think it is also our common understanding that deepening of Japan-U.S. alliance and Japan-U.S. cooperation and building on the Japan-U.S. cooperation that we saw following the earthquake would be one of the objectives of that meeting as well. And both of us understand that we’ll be covering a lot of items, including common strategic objectives, as well as the military bases issues.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m very grateful for the minister’s visit and, as he said, we look forward to continuing our consultations between us in the 2+2 format and in many other settings going forward.

Thank you all very much.

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Remarks With Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa Before Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 29, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is a particular delight for me to welcome back a friend and a colleague of great distinction. The minister and I have closely collaborated together for the entire time that I have been Secretary of State. And I want to thank her and thank the Government of Mexico for the very important work we are doing together between our two countries and also for Mexico’s leadership on so many regional and global issues. So welcome again.

FOREIGN MINISTER ESPINOSA: Thank you. Thank you, Secretary. I want to say I’m delighted to be back here. Today, we’re having a very important meeting. I have come with a big group of the members of the cabinet in Mexico. We will review our cooperation in many areas, and particularly the areas of security. And this is an area where we have been given clear instructions by the presidents to work together. This is the only way that we will be able to face the challenges in this area. So thank you very much, my friend, and I want to say also I appreciate enormously Mrs. Clinton’s friendship and the way she has supported our work together, not only bilaterally, but also in regional and global matters. Thank you.

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Remarks with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt Before Their Meeting


Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 29, 2011


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SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am delighted to see the Foreign Minister of Sweden Carl Bildt, a long-time friend and colleague to many of us with whom I have the pleasure now of working and consulting on a broad range of issues. Obviously, the relationship between our two countries is strong and enduring, and we work closely together on many other matters, particularly now in Libya, but also in the Balkans and Afghanistan and all through the litany of challenges and opportunities that we face. So it’s great to have you here, Carl.

FOREIGN MINISTER BILDT: Great to be here. We have, as the Secretary said, a stellar relationship – (laughter) – between the two countries. We meet fairly regularly at different international meetings, but it’s nice to be able to come here for, sort of, (inaudible) or whatever it is.

There are lots of issues that are on the agenda. Perhaps primarily what we can do together to support the demands for dignity and democracy that we see all over the Arab world where we, Europeans and Americans, are doing whatever we can to support the aspirations of the Arab people. That is most demanding, but also historically a duty that we have.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER BILDT: Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Very happy to have you here.

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We do not have royals here which many Americans might have been reflecting upon while all of Westminster sang to the Queen who was the only one without her voice raised this morning. We sing to each other about our flag, and we like it that way. But some of our good friends and oldest allies are monarchies. The Netherlands is one of these. The pictures are from September 2009 when a replica of Henry Hudson’s Half Moon entered New York Harbor to celebrate the 400th anniversary of that event. We also see Secretary Clinton and Mayor Mike Bloomberg with Dutch Royals at this celebration.

Here is Mme. Secretary’s message on Queen’s Day in the Netherlands. We also extend congrats to the UK for a fabulous wedding this morning. The throngs in the streets so disciplined moving toward the palace were truly impressive. Spectacular! Best of luck to the royal couple!

Queen’s Day in the Netherlands

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 29, 2011

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I congratulate the people of the Netherlands as you commemorate Queen’s Day this April 30.

The Netherlands was one of the first European powers to recognize the United States, cementing our close relationship early in our histories. We celebrate more than 200 years of close diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and the United States, but the ties between our countries and our people go back more than 400 years. Since Henry Hudson landed on Manhattan in 1609, the Netherlands and North America have been inextricably linked.

Today, our partnership is as strong as ever as we work together on a range of global issues. The Netherlands and the United States share a special economic, cultural and military alliance that is building a safer, more peaceful world. This is a partnership based on mutual respect and shared values, including an unwavering commitment to tolerance, freedom, democracy, and justice.

I wish Queen Beatrix and all the people of the Netherlands, Aruba, and the Dutch Antilles a happy celebration, and look forward to deepening this partnership even more as we work for a brighter future for all our people.

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Public Schedule for April 29, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
April 29, 2011

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
9:30 a.m.  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, at the Department of State.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING BILATERAL MEETING)

10:40 a.m.  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, at the Department of State.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING BILATERAL MEETING)

11:00 a.m.  Secretary Clinton participates in the U.S.-Mexico Merida High Level Consultative Group meeting with Mexican Foreign Minister Espinosa, at the Department of State.
(CAMERA SPRAY)

12:50 p.m.  Secretary Clinton hosts a working lunch for the U.S.-Mexico Merida High Level Consultative Group with Mexican Foreign Minister Espinosa, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

3:00 p.m.  Secretary Clinton attends a meeting at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)

5:30 p.m.  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto, at the Department of State.
(JOINT PRESS AVAILABILITY FOLLOWING BILATERAL MEETING AT APPROXIMATELY 6:05 P.M.)

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Secretary Clinton Meets with Students and Teachers from Bosnia and Herzegovina Participating in State’s Youth Leadership Program

Media Note

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
April 28, 2011

On April 28, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with more than 20 secondary school students and teachers from Bosnia and Herzegovina who are participating in the Youth Leadership Program, an exchange organized by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. During the meeting, Secretary Clinton highlighted the United States’ commitment to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and talked about the important role young people play in shaping the future of their country.

The participants represent the 12th annual delegation of this exchange, which brings Bosnians of different ethnic backgrounds together in the United States for four weeks of leadership training, community service, home stays, and study of civics, debate, and conflict resolution.

During a three-week stay in Salem, Oregon, the students visited Oregon’s courts, joined a local non-governmental organization for a community service project, learned about civic leadership, and lived with American families. The participants, who come from Bijeljina, Orasje, and Bihac, arrived in the United States on April 1, 2011.

In addition to the meeting with Secretary Clinton, the one-week Washington, DC portion of their trip included programs with local American high school students and visits to the U.S. Capitol building and U.S. national landmarks. When the students return to Bosnia and Herzegovina, they will design and implement volunteer projects in their schools. The teachers, who accompanied the students, took part in professional development and mentoring programs.

The Youth Leadership and Program began in Bosnia and Herzegovina twelve years ago and today serves as a model for similar U.S. Department of State-sponsored programs around the world. The program brings together socially committed student leaders from different parts of the country to visit the United States for four weeks of leadership training, community service, home stays, and study on civics, debate and conflict resolution. Since its launch, 240 students and teachers from around Bosnia and Herzegovina have participated in the program.

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Swearing-in Ceremony of “Take Your Child to Work” Day

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Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Dean Acheson Auditorium
Washington, DC
April 28, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much. (Applause.) Well, I am so excited to see so many of you here today and to welcome you to the State Department. I know that some of you have been here before, but how many of you have never been to the State Department before? Raise your hand. Oh, that’s good. So we’ve got a good number that are here for the first time. So as you go through your day, ask whatever questions you want of the people that are around you, because I want you to learn a lot about what we do here at the State Department. Because we really couldn’t do our jobs without the support of our families, and in a very real way, each and every one of you whose mom or dad or aunt or uncle or grandmother or grandfather or somebody else who brought you today, we really couldn’t do it without you understanding and supporting how important this work is.

I also want to single out two groups. First, the students who are guests from Miner Elementary. Who’s here from Miner Elementary?

AUDIENCE: (Cheering.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yay! (Applause.) Well, I know that there are a lot of State Department employees who give their free time to Miner Elementary and the students there and the teachers, and we’re delighted you could join us.

And then I particularly want to welcome any of you whose mom or dad aren’t home because they’re serving our country somewhere else. Maybe they’re in Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan or Yemen or Syria or lots of other places that are very challenging right now. And then there are some of you who had to be evacuated, who left a lot of friends and maybe your schools in the Ivory Coast or in Egypt or in Libya or some other place that – because you couldn’t stay because of what was going on. So I especially want to welcome each and every one of you here and thank you for your understanding and support of somebody in your family, a mom or dad or someone else, who is far away and maybe misses a birthday party or a ballgame or a recital or a school event. They think about you all the time. And thankfully with technology now, they can actually communicate with you. So I am very grateful for your understanding and your support.

At the State Department we do a lot of work everywhere in the world, trying to help our country with the important issues that we face. I’m very proud of all the people who work here. Some are helping to protect our environment, our oceans or our air or our land. Some are helping to end wars and conflicts, try to bring warring people together so that maybe they can figure out a way to get along. Sometimes we’re opening up business opportunities so that more people back here in the United States can have jobs. And sometimes we are talking about what America stands for, who we are as a people, what our history is, what our values are, by reaching out into the community and trying to be involved with what goes on in another country. Every single day that’s what people here do, whether they’re posted in Washington or they’re posted at a mission overseas.

And I really want you to know that we want to help people. We want to keep our nation strong and safe. But mostly we do the work we do because we want you to have a better future. We really want you to be in a world that is more peaceful, more prosperous, more positive about what will happen not just in our country, but in all the countries that you may travel to as you get older.

And because we are engaged around the world, it’s a 24/7 job, because when we’re asleep, somebody else halfway around the world is awake. And that means that a lot of our people working here and working elsewhere in the world are on call all the time, because you never know what’s going to happen and what it’s going to take for us to be involved and helpful.

I think that it is one of the most rewarding jobs that anyone could have. And as you go up through the years of your schooling, I hope you’ll think about maybe a career here at the State Department, study languages, learn about science and technology, particularly new communication. Because now, since I’ve been Secretary of State, we are on Twitter and Facebook, we’re communicating in many different languages because we want to reach people where people are actually involved online. Read everything you can about history, particularly world history, and keep up with the news every day, because even if you decide you’re not going to go into the Foreign Service or the Civil Service or some other role in helping our country work around the world, you’ll be an informed citizen, and we and our democracy really need as many informed citizens as possible.

Now, we have a tradition here at the State Department on this “Take Your Child to Work” Day that all of you become honorary employees for the day. So this is kind of a big deal, because it’s not just that we want you to come and hang around, we want you to participate. But in order to do that, you have to take an oath, which is what we do when we swear people in – that’s the description – when we have somebody raise their hand and take an oath, then they come to work and work on behalf of our country.

So I want you please to stand up. Inside your folders, there’s a copy of the oath. Just the people being sworn in – the adults can stay seated, but just our honorary employees for a day. And the oath is inside, so you can follow along. Raise your right hand and repeat after me.

Secretary Clinton administers oath.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, congratulations! You are now honorary employees. (Applause.)

I hope you have a wonderful day here. I hope you get lots of work done for America. I hope you will ask every question you can imagine that you’re interested in, because that’s what we’re here for today, is to answer those questions, and that I hope you will seriously think about coming back and working with us full-time, sometime in the future, after you finish all of your education. I am so proud of you, and I am so pleased that you could be here.

Thank you all, honorary employees for the day. (Applause.)

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