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Archive for September, 2011

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Remarks With Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr After Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
September 28, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON:Good afternoon, everyone. It is a great pleasure to welcome the foreign minister here to the State Department for our first official bilateral meeting. We’ve spoken on the phone several times during these last few months, we’ve seen each other at large multilateral meetings, but there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting. So I am very pleased we had the opportunity to discuss a range of issues, and I expressed our very strong support for Egypt’s ongoing democratic transition.It is clear that Egypt’s leadership in the Arab world and in the region and beyond is key to regional progress. And I was very pleased that Egypt has recognized the Transitional National Council in Libya. I think there is a lot of opportunity for cross-border cooperation. I was also very pleased that the minister has reiterated Egypt’s support for the Camp David Accords, which is essential for stability and, of course, essential for Egypt’s growth, prosperity, and peaceful transition.

We discussed a number of our joint priorities, and I’d like to recognize the work of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has been an institution of stability and continuity. The Egyptian people look to the Supreme Council to support the transition and to ensure that the elections go in a very positive way that provides transparency, freedom, and fairness.

And we fully support the Egyptian people in their journey. We are looking forward to the parliamentary elections this fall, the upper house in parliament, the presidential elections to follow. But we’re well aware, having been working at our own democracy for over 230 years, that this takes time. This takes persistence and patience, and it’s often hard to have the latter in a time when there’s so much pent-up demand and hope for a better future. So we look to being a strong partner for the Egyptian people.

We are also looking to implement, through the Congress, the $1 billion debt swap that President Obama announced in May. Rather than making interest payments on a debt, the Egyptian people can invest that money into new projects that create jobs and give them a better standard of living.

We’re also working on launching a network of community colleges in Egypt that would provide training for Egyptians to be able to take advantage of the investment opportunities that we hope will come to Egypt. Egypt has the largest market and the largest workforce in the Arab world. In fact, Citibank released a study earlier this year suggesting that with smart investment in its people and its political and economic systems, Egypt could become one of the top ten economies in the world. And I believe that, Minister. I really do. It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but it is absolutely possible.

So we’re going to be focused on trade, investment, on the new Middle East Trade and Investment Partnership, to help Egypt gain even greater access to global markets. The Enterprise Fund that we are seeking to establish, the ongoing work of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, are all intended to provide support for what Egyptians themselves are doing.

And it is going to be a very important couple of months for the people of Egypt. I will be giving an interview tomorrow to an Egyptian radio host and taking this message and sending it out to millions of Egyptians that the United States stands with you and supports you and wants to see a prosperous, peaceful, exciting future for not only Egypt but the entire region.

Thank you, Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER AMR: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. As you said, we’ve been on the phone many times before, but this is the first time we have such an extended, face-to-face meeting, and it really was a pleasure.

I am pleased to be here today representing Egypt post 25th January revolution. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to have this round of talks with you. Egypt and the United States have enjoyed a longtime friendship and partnership. The United States assisted Egypt in many ways in its development and it continues do so, and we are sure that our cooperation and our friendship will only strengthen in the future. Both our countries have worked in the past for peace and stability in the Middle East and beyond, and we will continue to do that.

As you know, Egypt now is in the middle of a transitional period. During this period, we look forward to the solidarity and goodwill of all our partners. It is our expectation that our friends in the United States will demonstrate their commitment, as usual, to this partnership, and I am pleased to say that I have heard from the Secretary such a commitment explicitly today.

I have discussed with the Secretary a number of issues of mutual interest. Of course, bilateral issues were paramount in our discussion, but we also touched upon regional issues. Of course, the Palestinian issue came up, and I think we believe that negotiations should resume as soon as possible between Israelis and Palestinians with clear terms of reference and with a clearly defined timeline. Israeli illegal settlement activities continue to be an impediment in the road for peace, and we would like to see them stop. Our region is going through deep change and delicate times. Egypt and the United States will need to continue to work hand in hand in order to ensure that our peoples benefit from the opportunities that these changes bring.

Again, I’d like to thank you, Madam Secretary, for your warm reception, kind words, and frank and useful exchange of view. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER AMR: Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: My pleasure.

MS. NULAND: We have time for two questions from each side today. The first question is from Reuters, Arshad Mohammed.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, a week ago today, the Egyptian army said that the emergency law would remain in force until the end of June 2012. That’s exactly the timeline that was outlined when President Mubarak was in power. Is its extension for another nine months acceptable to the United States?

And Mr. Minister, can you explain to us how it was that that Egyptian security forces were not able to protect the Israeli Embassy when it was attacked some weeks ago?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Arshad, we have encouraged and continued to encourage the government to lift the state of emergency. The Supreme Council has said that it will be in a position to do so in 2012. We hope to see the law lifted sooner than that, because we think that is an important step on the way to the rule of law, to the kind of system of checks and balances that are important in protecting the rights of the Egyptian people, to create the context for free and democratic elections, and we want to see this as soon as possible. We have discussed this repeatedly, and we will continue to raise it.

And I know you asked the minister to comment on the attack on September 9th against the Israeli Embassy, but I want personally to thank the minister and thank the high officials of the Egyptian Government who were very responsive to our outreach. I reached the minister at 2:30 in the morning. He was on an airplane before that, and I certainly can attest to the fact that the officials in Egypt moved to remedy the problems that existed.

FOREIGN MINISTER AMR: Yes. That attack on the – or the incident with the – involving the Israeli Embassy in Cairo was quite unfortunate, and I think it was condemned by all responsible parties in Egypt at the time. We made it very clear that Egypt respects its commitment under the Vienna 1961 Treaty on diplomatic relations. We made it clear that we are committed to protect any mission on our soil and the personnel working in them. If you remember, actually, we – that the army was very careful to see that all the personnel that wanted to leave left in – I mean, under the guard of the army. No one was hurt; we made sure that everyone was safe, and I think we were very clear in just reiterating our commitments to the protection of any mission and personnel.

MS. NULAND: Next question from (inaudible).

QUESTION: I have two questions, one about Egypt and one about the Palestinian and Israeli issue. About Egypt, I wonder if there is some more on light on the performance of the transition in Egypt and how the military council is responding. How do you assess this? Because it is very difficult conditions prevailing Egypt and anybody else or any authority will suffer a lot to govern this.

For the Palestinian issue, I want to – negotiation is the best way to – this is the United States stance. And this is very good, but there must be terms of reference, as the foreign minister said, and something to be abiding – they have to abide by – there must be a certain time they have to come to a conclusion over this term. Is there a possibly for arbitration as the end of the road, the last thing to hope. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Excellent questions. Let me start with the first one and say that we are very supportive of the steps that have been taken in Egypt to establish a timetable for elections, to create the conditions that permit the elections to proceed, the formation of political parties, for example, a lot of free and diverse opinion being expressed. The invitation to international witnesses we think is a very important step. So we have a lot of experience around the world in helping countries that are moving to democracy, most recently after the fall of the Berlin Wall in parts – other parts of the world as well.

And I know that people in Egypt are very anxious, because this is a right they wish to exercise. But I think if one takes a step back and looks at how rapidly this has moved, it’s quite remarkable. And the elections that are upcoming in the next several months should produce an outcome that will set the stage for a new constitution, for the presidential elections. And we think that’s an appropriate timetable. We want to do all we can to support those who are trying to make sure these elections are viewed as free and fair and legitimate.

I also know that the economic challenges in Egypt are significant, and we are urging our Congress to work with us to move the aid that President Obama announced as quickly as possible, and we are urging other donors who have made commitments to Egypt to also move. Because the revolution that occurred, which was so important, did disrupt economic activity. And I was pleased when the minister told me tourism is returning, investment is returning, but there’s more to be done to create jobs and more prosperity. So I think on both the political and the economic tracks, progress is being made, but it’s never fast enough and it needs to keep moving, but be done right, not to be detoured or diverted.

With respect to your question about the negotiations, the Quartet statement that came out last week referenced President Obama’s speech of May, where he clearly said there needs to be negotiations about territory that he said had to be reflective of the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps; there had to be negotiations on security so that there could be an agreement about how you could transition security.

I mean, one of the most important parts of the Camp David Accords was an agreement on security. And it’s one that has, I think, served both Egypt and Israel well to protect your sovereignty, your borders, avoid conflicts. And it was very regrettable about the loss of life of the Egyptian soldiers, which I have expressed to the minister, which is why the security cooperation has to continue. But there has to be similar agreements about security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians.

So I think that the most important terms of reference are there. If there were an agreement on borders, then there would be no more controversy about settlements, because everybody would know what side of the border is for Palestine and what side is for Israel.

So I think that there’s no shortcut to this. We have to urge the parties to put aside their reluctance or their distrust and begin the hard work of negotiating. And Egypt, the United States, the Quartet, everyone will stand prepared to put pressure on both sides to try to move toward a settlement of the outstanding issues.

MS. NULAND: The next question, CNN, Jill Dougherty.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, hello.

SECRETARY CLINTON: How are you?

QUESTION: Good to see you again. This week, Admiral Mullen called the Haqqani Network a veritable arm of Pakistan’s ISI. Do you share that assessment? And of course, Pakistanis are very angry about this. How are you dealing with the blowback on that?

And just a very quick thing on – you’re in the process of deciding whether or not to list the Haqqani Network as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. How far are you down that path?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, first, as you may know, I had a very long meeting with Pakistan’s foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, a week ago Sunday. And we discussed the urgency in the wake of the attack on our Embassy in Kabul and on the NATO-ISAF Headquarters for us to confront the threat posed by the Haqqani Network. It was certainly a threat to the United States, but it was also a threat to Pakistan, to Afghanistan, and to anyone who stands against terrorism.

And I think that you will see a lot of work taking place as we try to determine how best to confront this mutual threat. And it’s important to realize that while it’s not always easy, the United States and Pakistan have vital strategic interests that converge in the fight against terrorism. And Pakistan faces a very real threat. They have suffered far more casualties, civilians and military alike. It is their mosques and markets and police stations and homes that have been bombed and attacked.

And so we are committed to working with Pakistan to confront this threat, and we’ve had a lot of tangible results from our cooperation. I mean, most recently the Pakistanis helped to roll up al-Qaida’s number two. They have been helping us continue to dismantle the al-Qaida network that is inside Pakistan. So I have no argument with anyone who says this is a very difficult and complex relationship, because it is. But I also believe strongly that we have to work together despite those difficulties.

And with respect to the Haqqani Network, we are in the final formal review that has to be undertaken to make a government-wide decision to designate the network as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. But remember, we’ve already designated the key leaders. We have already – I did that some time ago to make it clear that the leaders of this organization fell under the Foreign Terrorist designation. So we’re going to continue to struggle against terrorism, and in particular against those who have taken up safe havens inside Pakistan. And we’re going to continue to work with our Pakistani counterparts to try to root them out and prevent them from attacking Pakistanis, Americans, Afghans, or anyone else.

MS. NULAND: Last question, Al-Ahram (inaudible).

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Al-Ahram newspaper. My question to Secretary Clinton: There is a discussion in Congress now about the U.S. aid to Egypt, and some people, especially now in the Senate, are trying to impose some conditionality on the aid. What’s your – the State Department position on this issue?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We are against conditionality, and I conveyed our position to the minister. We will be working very hard with the Congress to convince the Congress that that is not the best approach to take. We believe that the longstanding relationship between the United States and Egypt is of paramount importance to both of us. We support the democratic transition, and we don’t want to do anything that in any way draws into question our relationship or our support.

We also believe that the army has played a very stabilizing, important role during this period, and you can see what happens when you either don’t have an institution like the institutions that Egypt has, including an army, and you’ve seen what happens when the army is not on the side of the people. Well, Egypt’s strong institutions, longstanding respect for the army, and the role the army played was absolutely critical for the revolution.

So we’re going to make that case very strongly, and I want to be sure that Egyptians know that the Obama Administration opposes conditionality and do not believe that’s in the best interest of our relationship.

Thank you.

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Public Schedule for September 28, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
September 28, 2011

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

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

10:15 a.m.  Secretary Clinton chairs a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board Meeting, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

2:30 p.m.  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, at the Department of State.
(JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE AT APPROXIMATELY 3:20 P.M.)

5:15 p.m.  Secretary Clinton meets with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)

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I have long said that Bill Clinton is  a lucky guy because he got not only the smartest girl in the class, but the most beautiful and compassionate as well.  Apparently, his prom queen is also the most popular!  Not just the most popular girl, the most popular person!   Lucky Bill, because, Mr. President, she loves you.  And the nation loves her!  (They love you,  too.  You know that, right?)

This little excursion into the media has nothing to do with a Hillary run, and  a great deal to do with the work our Mme. Secretary does which we track as closely as possible here. Her poll numbers simply continue to rise like a helium balloon.  I heard recently that there is a helium shortage.  I think that could be because all of the helium is attached to the person known as Hillary Rodham Clinton. For three long years plus many of us have been chanting “Rise, Hillary, rise!”  Well ladies, and gents, Hillary has long been rising. She is now at 69% approval. If she goes much higher, she just might float right through that glass ceiling … whether she intends to or not!

*Goes to work attaching glass cutters to the top of the balloon – assisted by Washington Monument rappellers*

… Hillary Clinton Remains America’s Most Popular National Figure

Zeke Miller| Sep. 27, 2011, 12:32 PM

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s approval rating is at an all-time high — even better than when she was the nation’s First Lady — with 69 percent of Americans holding a favorable view of her, compared to 26 percent who do not.

Clinton’s popularity eclipses even First Lady Michelle Obama, who has a 65 percent favorability rating.

Top of the charts … our girl!

 

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Joint Press Availability with Portuguese Foreign Minister Paulo Portas After Their Meeting

Press Availability

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
September 27, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon, everyone. And let me begin by welcoming the foreign minister and his delegation here to the State Department. This is his first visit as foreign minister, but he has been here many times, and we’re always glad to welcome you back to Washington.

I was in Lisbon last when Portugal hosted several major meetings, including the NATO Summit and the U.S.-EU Summit. It was an extremely productive visit, and I must say that our bilateral relationship is very strong. Portugal has been a friend and an ally to the United States, and we greatly appreciate all the work that we do together around the world on key issues, and today the foreign minister and I discussed a number of those.

We discussed the economic challenges now facing Portugal and Europe. And I want to say very clearly that the Portuguese people and the Government of Portugal have demonstrated impressive resolve in putting aside political differences to implement difficult austerity measures that are helping to stabilize the Portuguese economy, but also to set it up for long-term economic success. As I expressed to the foreign minister, the United States will stand with Portugal as it continues to make economic reforms that return Portugal to a path of growth and sustainable opportunity for the Portugal – Portuguese people.

But even during this time of economic challenge, Portugal has continued to work with the United States and NATO ISAF to help stabilize and secure Afghanistan. Portuguese troops serve in Afghanistan, helping to train and mentor Afghan security forces, a high priority for our mutual mission there.

Portugal has also played a key diplomatic role in North Africa and the Middle East during the democratic transitions of the Arab Awakening. As head of the UN Libya Sanctions Committee, and as a member of the UN Security Council, Portugal has overseen the release of more than $16 billion in frozen assets to help fund UN and humanitarian activity in Libya and to allow the Transitional National Council to provide basic security and public services to the Libyan people.

And with respect to Syria, Portugal has worked diligently with its EU partners to roll out the seventh round of EU sanctions this past week. And we both hope that this strong message will compel Asad and his regime to change course and cease killing and detaining Syrians who wish to have a better life.

On these and many other critical issues of global security, prosperity, and peace, Portugal is a leader and a valued partner. And let me express my appreciation to the foreign minister for the work that he has done personally and to the work that his government has undertaken. I met him in Istanbul about two weeks after he took office. He was thrown into the midst of everything as we were meeting with the Libya Contact Group, and we’ve had a number of occasions since to trade impressions and look at what we needed to be doing together. And it’s a pleasure to have you here.

FOREIGN MINISTER PORTAS: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER PORTAS: Portugal and the United States are old and very good friends. This visit reinforced our cooperation. In addition, it’s a pleasure to meet again Secretary Clinton, who’s a distinguished stateswoman. We had an overview over major global issues as well on the – our bilateral relationship. Allow me to highlight some of those issues.

First, I explained to Secretary Clinton what Portugal is overcoming – is doing – what Portugal is doing to overcome its economic and financial constraints. We are a very specific case, and our attitude as country – as a nation, as a government is as follows: to meet our goals on the fiscal consideration and economic reform, to honor our commitments to the international institutions, to fulfill the program with the European Union and the IMF. In the end of this very tough program, Portugal will be a success story. And we want Portugal seen in the international scene as unique story: Portugal delivers. Portugal honors its word and is making a tremendous effort to recover its autonomy.

We also spoke about Middle East and Palestine issue. As you know, Portugal is standing for a European consensual position. We believe in a two-state solution and we care about the security of everybody, namely the security of Israel. The Quartet’s statement was a very relevant one. The Quartet’s statement must be seen as a good framework to go to a table of negotiations. Both parties, both leaders must prepare their peoples to negotiations. To negotiate is to compromise. They must do their job on this issue.

So as you know, we don’t believe in recognition without negotiations, but we think that negotiations are the way, the right way, to peace and a two-state solution where the Palestinians have the state they deserve and the Israelis the security they deserve.

Those were, namely, some of the issues we were talking about. And thank you very much, Hillary. It’s really a pleasure. Thank you much – very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you very much.

MS. NULAND: We have time for two questions today. The first one on the American side, Andy Quinn.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, hi. Good afternoon. Madam Secretary, were you surprised by Israel’s announcement today that it had approved 1,100 new settlement units for the West Bank? Does the timing of this announcement so soon after the Quartet urged both sides against provocative acts disturb you at all? And what is your message to the Palestinians who say it is precisely this kind of activity which makes resuming negotiations impossible?

And for the minister, if I heard you right, you just said that you, as Portugal, believe that there should be no recognition without negotiation. Are we to understand that Portugal would vote against recognizing Palestinian statehood if a vote was taken at the Security Council?

Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well Andy, first, let me say that we believe that this morning’s announcement by the Government of Israel approving the construction of 1,100 housing units in East Jerusalem is counterproductive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties.

As you know, we have long urged both sides to avoid any kind of action which could undermine trust, including, and perhaps most particularly in Jerusalem, any action that could be viewed as provocative by either side. And we’ve been here before over many years, as you know, and I think it only reinforces what the foreign minister was saying: Our focus must remain on working to convince the parties to return to direct negotiations, because in the absence of direct negotiations, nothing changes on the ground. If there are negotiations that delineate borders, questions of where anybody builds are settled. But in the absence of such negotiations, there are going to continue to be perceptions on both sides that the other side is not willing to negotiate. So that’s why the Quartet, of which, as you know, the United States is one of four members, called on Friday for a return to negotiations and set forth a timetable, and that is what we would like to see happen.

FOREIGN MINISTER PORTAS: Answering you, let me say as follows: after the declaration of the Quartet, you have a real chance to negotiations. And when you have a real chance to negotiations, you avoid hostile measure to negotiations. That means the settlements decision is not a good one.

The second point, I would love to – I would like to express is another one: you have the declarations of the Quartet. The Quartet is specifying that in 30 days, Israelis and Palestinians should be at table. This is my scenario: Negotiations to solve everything that must be solved. So I think it is the chance of a negotiation, and the chance is given by United Nations, European Union, United States, and Russia, who are the members of the Quartet, who are the key story in this moment.

Obviously, if there is a chance for negotiations, if there is a will to negotiations, as my prime minister said in the General Assembly, we could consider an upgrade of the Palestinian position in the United Nations as a sign of goodwill to negotiate. But, I repeat, the chance all the world and the Israelis and Palestinians they first have now is to become members of a negotiation, parts of a negotiation towards a peace treaty. And this is what interest to the world.

MS. NULAND: Last question, Paula Santos, SIC TV.

QUESTION: (Inaudible), Madam Secretary. Recently, President Obama said that the United States would help Portugal and Greece in which the crisis – the financial crisis is concerned. I’d like to know if you agree that Portugal and Greece are – stand on the same line in this crisis. And I also can – would like to remember you – President Obama’s words from yesterday, when he said that the Europe – the crisis in Europe is scaring the world, and that he believed that the political leaders in Europe have not taken the measures good enough to deal with the crisis. I’d like to know if you are scared with the crisis too.

And for the Portuguese minister, I’d like to ask your comment on these words of President Obama, and I would like to know specifically if you think it’s fair to say that the world is being frightened in any way, scared with the crisis in Europe.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as I said, we discussed these issues today, and we applaud Portugal’s actions. In fact, my information is that approximately 85 percent of the Portuguese Parliament approved the prime minister’s program for the next four years. That is a resounding show of support under difficult circumstances that included a package of austerity measures that actually went beyond what the IMF and the EU had demanded in the original agreement.

So we know that these are difficult decisions for governments to make, and we encourage countries to continue reform measures that will bring about renewed growth and improve competitiveness for the future. But as I said in my opening statement and as I repeat today, we think that Portugal is on the right track. Portugal has been given a very positive report in August by the so-called troika – the IMF, the EU, the ECB – following its first quarterly review. So it has already taken steps that has put it on the right path.

Other countries and governments are still working to take such paths, and we expect European leaders to continue to ensure that the response to this crisis is strong, flexible, and most importantly, effective. The United States, through our Treasury officials and State Department officials, have been in close touch with our European counterparts to discuss these matters.

So I think that, of course, it’s a challenging time, and it does raise concerns on the part of everybody, first and foremost the Europeans themselves. But no one should doubt that we have the ability to get through this, and I personally have confidence in our partners to make the tough decisions that will enable them to weather this crisis, and that it will add to a renewed level of economic recovery and activity around the world.

We’re facing a lot of the same challenges here in the United States, and I’ve heard European leaders say, “What is the United States doing?” Are we going to be able to return to growth, which is the engine that really propels the global economy forward. And we strongly support the common sense effective efforts that we see being taken here under President Obama and in Europe by various leaders. We just want to make clear that we have to continue down this path. There are no shortcuts. And it’s not going to be easy, but it will, in my view, result in a return to economic prosperity in the future if we’re willing to do now what is required of us.

FOREIGN MINISTER PORTAS: Let me tell you that’s why it’s so relevant to tell the Portuguese story in a detailed way to everybody who counts in the world. Portuguese is different story because of the attitude that we have as a country, as a nation, and as a government. And that attitude is to fulfill the program, to honor our word, to accomplish our commitments to the international community, and that means credibility. Tough efforts, but we know the goal is a better society, a better economy, and we’ll win this battle against the debt. We’ll win this battle against the debt.

The second point I would answer you is about economic transatlantic relations. We have in Europe a strong transatlantic link with the United States. In the past, we win huge battles against terrible enemies. We can win together the battle for a better economy, for jobs creation, and economic growth. We can reinforce our cooperation. My view is together – we can do it together, and I think we’ll do it.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all.

FOREIGN MINISTER PORTAS: Thank you very much.

 

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Public Schedule for September 27, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
September 27, 2011

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

10:00 a.m.  Secretary Clinton attends a meeting at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)

2:00 p.m.  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Portuguese Foreign Minister Paulo Portas, at the Department of State.
(JOINT PRESS AVAILABILITY FOLLOWING BILATERAL MEETING AT APPROXIMATELY 2:35 P.M.)

3:00 p.m.  Secretary Clinton meets with the Sino-U.S. Business Partnership, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

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The picture, alas, is not from today but from another signing back in February. If a video should appear, I will post it here.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko shakes hands as they exchange documents during a signing ceremony at the State Department Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Signing Ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding With Ukraine on Nuclear Security Cooperation

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Remarks With Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko
Waldorf=Astoria
New York, New York
September 26, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: If I could, let me just say a word about the importance of what we have just done together. It is, for me, a great pleasure to welcome my colleague, the foreign minister of Ukraine, as we take yet another step in the strategic partnership between our nations. And in particular today, we are advancing our shared interests in making the world safer and more secure.

Ridding the world of nuclear weapons is a priority for both of our countries. And at last year’s Nuclear Security Summit, both President Yanukovych and President Obama vowed to work together to prevent proliferation and to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials. And in fact, President Yanukovych announced Ukraine’s decision to get rid of all of its stocks of highly enriched uranium by March 2012, when the next Nuclear Security Summit will convene.

The United States matched that old commitment from Ukraine with commitments of our own. We are providing Ukraine with financial and technical assistance to modernize its civil nuclear research facilities. We are helping convert those facilities so they operate on safer low enrichment uranium fuel. The United States is also building a state-of-the-art neutron source facility in Ukraine, where scientists will be able to expand their nuclear research and produce more than 50 different medical isotopes to treat cancer and other diseases. At present, these are isotopes that Ukraine must import from other countries today. The United States is committed to meet all agreed milestones for construction of the neutron source facility by March 2012 and to provide a fully operational facility by 2014.

The Memorandum of Understanding we’ve just signed formalizes our intent to fully implement the commitments our presidents made last year. I think it’s fair to say we’ve already made significant progress. Ukraine has already removed a substantial portion of its highly enriched uranium, and the United States has made progress on the neutron source facility project, and we expect to break ground in Ukraine soon. This deal is a win-win for both countries and both peoples. It provides tangible benefits for the people of Ukraine, and it makes the world safer for all people.

On another note, this year marks the 20th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence, and it gives us an opportunity to reflect on another key aspect of the strategic partnership between our nations, our joint commitment to democracy and shared values. It’s not been easy to build a strong democracy from the aftermath of the Soviet collapse, but Ukraine has made significant gains. As we know, democracies are built on checks and balances, fair and impartial institutions, judicial independence, sound election laws, and an independent media and civil society.

We believe Ukraine is on its way to achieving these goals, and we urge it to continue to press forward. We are very committed to democratic progress continuing in Ukraine. And therefore, it is vital that the government avoid any actions that could undermine democracy or the rule of law or political participation and competition. We believe that Ukraine stands at the cusp of achieving a stable, functioning democracy that will advance its prosperity and security, that will strengthen its relations with its partners and neighbors, and provide greater opportunities for Ukrainian citizens.

I enjoy working with the foreign minister and his government, and I look forward, on behalf of the United States, to continuing our work together. Thank you very much, Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER GRYSHCHENKO: Thank you. If I may, a couple of words. I fully share what my colleague, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has just stated. We are working together to relieve Ukraine of the burden of having highly enriched uranium in the time when low enriched uranium is really an answer to many of the issues, to many of the challenges that Ukraine as a nation faces in the area of nuclear safety, future of nuclear energy, medical uses of isotopes, and many other areas of use of peaceful atom.

Today, we have signed a document that provides for practicalities, which clearly stipulates the obligations of each party, and we have full confidence in ability of both Ukraine and the United States to meet the stated goals and timelines.

On the issues of overall political dialogue and cooperation between two nations, I would like to stress that for us, United States has been for the last 20 years and will continue to be a major strategic partner in this global economy and in the politics of the world, where much of the risks happen or appear unexpectedly and need to have quick response from international community. The Ukraine has been active in so many of the problems where our role was crucial. The events in Cote d’Ivoire is just one example where, far from our borders, we were able to play a pivotal role in bringing peace and security to this African nation. But Ukraine is also participating in almost all peacekeeping operations led by United Nations, but also by NATO, among other institutions.

We believe that democratic developments in our country need to be based on an understanding that democracy brings with itself full responsibility of those who are elected or appointed to high positions in government. We believe that listening to the people, interacting with them, is important for our own future and our own success. In that respect, we are open and continue dialogue with the United States based on our common understanding of values and a future which should unite us in bringing the world to – closer to these standards for all.

Thank you.

 

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Mme. Secretary’s day at UNGA today was packed with bilaterals.  We see her in these pictures with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati,  Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi,  Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh,  Brunei’s Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah, and  Colombian Foreign Minister Angela Holguin.  It was a productive day, but much too busy for her to make any press statements.   For those who would like details, please see the following links.

Memorandum of Understanding with Ukraine on Nuclear Security Cooperation

Background Briefing on China, Lebanon, and Georgia

Background Briefing: Secretary’s Bilateral Meetings on Colombia, Vietnam, and the Ukraine

Here are the pics.  Enjoy!

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