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Archive for September, 2011

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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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Public Schedule for September 26, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
September 26, 2011


SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

Secretary Clinton participates in meetings surrounding the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City.

9:45 a.m.  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, in New York City.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)

10:45 a.m.  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, in New York City.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)

11:50 a.m.  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, in New York City.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)

1:00 p.m.  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Colombian Foreign Minister Angela Holguin, in New York City.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)

1:45 p.m.  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, in New York City.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)

2:30 p.m.  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Bruneian Crown Prince al-Mutadee Billah, in New York City.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)

3:15 p.m.  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting and signing ceremony with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Konstatyn Gryshchenko, in New York City.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)

4:00 p.m.  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, in New York City.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)

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Well, this is a post I did not want to put up, but if I had not, someone surely would have called my attention to this story from HuffPo which resurrects the Hillary-Biden switch scenario – at least in part.

Peter D. Rosenstein

Political consultant

D.C. Coffee House Chatter: Hillary for VP

Posted: 9/25/11 06:22 PM ET

Chatter in the coffee houses of Washington, D.C. is about what President Obama can do to win a second term. The chatter is from Democratic supporters of the president who don’t necessarily think his team is following the right path to reelection. It is from Obama Democrats who Hillary’s supporters in 2008 said, “Drank the Kool-Aid.”

On a recent Sunday morning, a very prominent Democratic insider stated unequivocally, “Mark my words, on the podium in Charlotte, NC on the final day of the Democratic Convention, the hands held high will be that of Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.” Everyone within earshot looked at him and asked, “Is this inside information?” He responded with a resounding NO but then stood by his prediction nonetheless.

Read more >>>>

So let me get this straight. The very same Obama supporters who yelled in our faces and called us terrible names in 2008 now want our girl to save their failing, ineffectual boy.  Is that it?  And putting her name on the ballot is supposed to bring back the votes.  Do I have that right?  They are so dedicated to a failed POTUS that rather than replace him with the competent figure on the horizon, they will take her and use her like a band aid on a festering wound.  Is there no extent they will stop at to prop him up?

He  has had more than two-and-a-half years to bring about his change.  There is no hope.   His “style” is to outsource all the hard work.   “Bring me a bill I can sign,”  and then to collapse and fold before Tea Party and GOP demands … in some cases before the demand is even made (putting the social safety nets on the table before the GOP mentioned them).

Why on earth anyone should want him to have a second term to do further damage I cannot fathom.

I can only end this one way:

Hillary 2012!  Top of the Ticket! Yes!  SHE can!

 

 

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In the flurry of UNGA activity,  I have not been updating the blog with posts about the groundswell out here in America calling for Hillary Rodham Clinton to run for the top office in 2012.  There was one major  op-ed making the rounds on the internet this week, and a second, not quite as popular, but worth addressing.

Brett M. Decker, at the Washington Times,  went viral with this from Thursday.

DECKER: Hillary Clinton’s last chance

Obama is vulnerable to a 2012 primary challenge

By Brett M. Decker

The Washington Times

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a joint news conference with Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzberg (not shown) at the State Department in Washington on Thursday, June 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a joint news conference with Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzberg (not shown) at the State Department in Washington on Thursday, June 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The debate in Orlando Thursday night put the spotlight on Republican contenders for president. However, there is another primary race developing behind the scenes that promises to be even more interesting: a rematch between Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Mrs. Clinton would be the stronger candidate in 2012 and is much more likely to keep the White House in Democratic hands.

President Obama is damaged goods. Polling data released by Gallup last week show a shocking 88 percent of Americans believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. Flip that number around and it means a tiny 12 percent are happy with the way things are going under the Obama administration. That’s outside the margin of error but definitely within the margin of stupidity. Numbers so low forewarn of almost certain doom for an incumbent.

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Mark Whittington’s contribution at Yahoo requires a few disclaimers, however.  For one thing,  given the current situation,  he sets his parameters a bit too narrowly.  This effort is not about saving the Democrats.  I do not know any Hillary supporters who give a fig about what happens to the Democratic Party after what they engineered in 2008.  It is about saving the country and scaffolding the middle class that was built by and on Democratic Party principles and legislation.

Can Hillary Clinton Save the Democrats?

Mark Whittington Mark Whittington, Yahoo! Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Politico reports an unfolding story of the rise of Clinton nostalgia among Democrats. This is coupled with the continuing death spiral of President Barack Obama’s approval numbers, even among his liberal base.

Read more >>>>

My main gripe about Whittington’s piece comes at the end.

In any event, Clinton has not demonstrated even the slightest desire to run for president. Her tenure as Secretary of State has proven frustrating. The mauling she got at the hands of Obama in 2008 seems to have scared her off of any future attempts of electoral politics. So if the Democrats expect for someone to save them from what’s surely coming, they will have to look elsewhere.

1. No one – and I mean NO ONE – is expecting the Secretary of State to mount a challenge against the president in whose administration she currently serves.  That is absurd political suicide.

2. The word “scared” does not belong in any sentence with “Hillary Clinton” or any pronoun referring to her in the text.  If there is a fearless, courageous member of this administration, it is Hillary Clinton.  Nothing scares her!   We fear for her when she travels to dangerous places or makes bold statements that  could incite actions harmful to her person,  but Hillary fears no one and nothing … except the dismantling of the social structures that have made this country great.  That, I think,  might strike some fear in her – enough to consider running if the trainee-in-chief decides to call it a term.

What are we ordinary Americans saying?  We Hillary supporters?  I want to end tonight, not with a post from the media, but with an eloquent comment from a Facebook friend who supports an HRC run.  My friend Allyn speaks for so many of us.

We just have to keep reminding people, make sure that people stay focused on what is really important…not the jeremiads from the Oval Office, not the stupid gotcha debates on FOX news, not the polls, not Michelle Obama’s wardrobe or Sarah Palin’s reality TV shows. The stakes are too high, and what Barack Obama, Rick Perry, and Sarah Palin are banking on is that people continue to slumber like the president, and accept things as they are…The problem is that we haven’t four more years to waste playing games. The moment is made for Hillary, even more than in 2008….everything she prophesied in that campaign has come true, and the very definition of leadership is to be able to anticipate what is coming and prepare your people for it. The futures of millions truly hang in the balance …. it really is quite possibly the most consequential election of our lifetime, and the only person suited for the moment, the only person able to rise to this challenge and put the country on a different path is Hillary Clinton. We just have to keep reminding people, because forgetting carries a serious, irredeemable price.

He is correct. She is the only one equipped for this task.

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I waited on Thursday and Friday for a few pics or a video of this,  but there is nothing but the text,  important in that it illustrates Mme. Secretary’s unwavering support of the democratic revolution in Tunisa.  Here is a picture of HRC,  who had a very busy week with another on tap.

Thank you, Mme. Secretary for all of your diligent work!  You are amazing!

 

Remarks With Tunisian Foreign Minister Mouldi Kefi at Signing Ceremony

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
New York, New York
September 22, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: I wanted to just say a very few words about how important this is to the United States. In the last year, the people of Tunisia have stood up and demanded their universal rights. And by doing so, they have changed the course of history. In just one month, Tunisians will exercise their newly-enshrined democratic rights and vote for a constitutional assembly.

Now when I visited Tunisia, the one thing everyone wanted to know is: What could the United States do to help the young men and women who courageously went into the streets to realize a better economic and political future? Beginning just days after the revolution, the United States began to deliver $40 million in assistance for Tunisia’s democratic transition. We have supported the Tunisian people’s efforts toward responsive, accountable government and helped to prepare for free, fair, and competitive elections.

Today, Tunisians are looking for new investments, increased transparency, greater access to global and regional markets, and new assistance for their entrepreneurs. That is why we are launching the U.S.-Tunisia Joint Political and Economic Partnership, which is a foundation for our relationship that will not only support the short-term needs of the Tunisian people, but also their long-term economic aspirations. Tunisia is open for business, and we want people to know that, and I particularly want American business to know that.

Also, the Millennium Challenge Corporation is examining Tunisia’s eligibility for a threshold program, which would help Tunisia design and undertake a democratic reform program with an aim toward economic reform. Through our Overseas Private Investment Corporation, we are working to boost franchising and lending to small and medium-sized businesses.

Now, the United States and Tunisia have a long history of partnership and collaboration. In fact, only two years after the United States declared our independence, we signed our first agreement of friendship, cooperation, and trade. Since then, we have traded, collaborated, and built bonds of friendship between us. This signing is another step forward in our long relationship, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the minister and the government, as we proudly stand with Tunisia at this critical time in your history, and do all we can to assist you in realizing a future of peace, progress, and opportunity.

Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER KEFI: Thank you very much. Well, I think I have nothing to add to what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. True, our relationship goes back 200 years ago, and as you mentioned, Secretary of State, Tunisia was among the first countries to recognize the young, independent state of the United States.

What happened in Tunisia on the 14th of January is almost the same as what the fathers from the independence did to this country, from George Washington, to Jefferson, to Adams, to Benjamin Franklin, when they wrote the Constitution. We the People, our hope, our wish, is that tomorrow the new constitution of Tunisia, a democratic, free, independent country, will be also We the People. And we (inaudible) from the American long democracy.

Our political relations are very good, and I’m glad the Secretary of State mentioned this first partnership – political and economic partnership we are signing, the new Tunisia, the first country is the United States, and we are grateful for that, Secretary of State. We hope we build on this document and we see more American businessmen coming to Tunisia. Tunisia is open and ready for business. And after the number of high officials from the United States, your congressmen who came, and even some major CEOs who already went to Tunisia, we hope that we put more flesh on the bone, and that our bilateral relationship on the economic, cultural, (inaudible) investment, trade will be boosted by this document we signed together.

We are glad we are now sharing the same values of freedom, democracy, and we are glad to be part of this elite like the United States.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, if you could update us on your work on the Middle East – how were your meetings last night, was there any progress with your meetings with Abbas and Netanyahu, and also is the Quartet any closer to coming to a statement?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me say this. I think it is important to note that regardless of what happens tomorrow in the United Nations, we remain focused on the day after. And I was encouraged to hear from both the leadership of the Palestinians and the Israeli Government their continuing commitment to direct negotiations. They both recognize that there has to be a resolution of the outstanding issues to produce a functioning Palestinian state that fulfills the aspirations of the Palestinian people, and there have to be agreements that provide Israel with the security that it seeks living side-by-side with the new Palestinian state.

So I am – as I have been, I remain committed to working with the parties to obtain the goal that the United States supports; that is, a two-state solution. And as President Obama said yesterday in his speech, we will leave no effort or stone unturned in our commitment to achieving that.

Thank you all very much.

QUESTION: How about on a Quartet statement, Madam Secretary? Is there any progress on that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We’re continuing to work as hard as we can on everything, Arshad.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

Video: Secretary Clinton at the High-Level Mee…, posted with vodpod

Remarks At UN High-Level Meeting on Somalia

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United Nations
New York City
September 23, 2011

Thank you very much, Secretary General. Thanks also to African Union Chairman Ping and to Prime Minister Abdullahi for your remarks. And to all of our colleagues, I have to say I sit through a lot of these meetings, as we all do, but I thought the remarks from Kenya, Burundi, and Uganda were especially substantive, very helpful, and help us all to focus our attention on the decisions that have to be made.

And I also want to congratulate the Somali leaders and the international partners gathered today by signing the roadmap for ending the transition in Somalia. You have taken a crucial step toward building a stable, prosperous future for the Somali people. And we have an opportunity today because of the withdrawal of al-Shabaab forces from most parts of Mogadishu. That has created a welcome shift in momentum, and that allows the Transitional Federal Government an unexpected opportunity to show Somalis that you can deliver security and basic services and lay the foundation for a stable, funcitoning government. That is what we want to see for the people of Somalia.

The political instabilty, the limited rule of law, the security threats have tragically affected Somalis for many years, and today it has an added tragic consequence because it has prevented many Somalis from getting acess to aid during the drought and famine. Fully one-third of all Somalis are now displaced in their own country or in countries bordering Somalia. And I thank the bordering countries for their generosity and hospitality under very difficult circumstances.

But al-Shabaab’s efforts to block NGO access to the most vulnerable areas of Somalia and its limitations on the delivery of life-sustaining humanitarian assistance has exacerbated this crisis. As the famine persists and al-Shabaab continues to deny Somalis access to life-saving assistance, the TFG and the international community have to work even harder together.

The U.S. has provided more than $600 million in this crisis response, including approximately 102 million directly for Somalia to increase access to clean water, sanitation, heath, and of course, food. And I am pleased that the United States today will be contributing an additional $42 million for the region with $30 million specifically for the people of Somalia.

But we have to send a message to al-Shabaab. And we and all of our partners, including the Arab League and the OIC, must continue to call on al-Shabaab to allow unfettered access. I honestly do not understand what is in it for them, what possible ideological or political motive can compel them to see women and children die because they cannot get access to help.

But it’s not only that we as the international community have an obligation to assist in this crisis. We have an obligation to support Somali efforts to develop a politically stable government. And I am encouraged that such a broad range of partners has comitted to fulfill the goals of the roadmap and its four prioirty tasks to be accomplished by August. These are ambitious but necessary goals.

By securing Mogadishu, we can create the conditions for the TFG and other international actors to improvide basic services. So I join in the request that I already heard to help strengthen and expand the number of AMISOM troops on the ground within the current mandate and to purchase equipment and uniforms and support training.

Secondly, we want to put the process toward a constitution to protect the rights of all Somalis, a timelie for parliamentary reforms and credible elections for the president and speaker of the parliament in August 2012.

Third, we will continue to call for all Somalis to renounce violence, lay down their arms, and to continue this good work with regional leaders to try to create a culture in which such violence is not tolerated.

And finally, we wish to assist in promoting better goverance by fighting corruption and increasing transparency that in turn will give Somali people confidence in their officials and public institutions.

I think it’s important that we be absolutely clear. Somalis have suffered for too long. And we see the success of those Somalis who have been forced out of their homes who are living in countries around this table. They are doctors and nurses. They are business leaders. They are hard-working people. We are proud to have many Somali Americans in the United States.

But they have a right to have a country that is safe and secure and where they can have opportunities for themselves and their children. Time may be running out. If we don’t do this right now, given the fact that AMISOM has been successful in opening up the space in Mogadishu, if Somali leaders do not follow the roadmap that has been negotiated by Africans for Africans, then I don’t know that the international community will be here next year and the year after with support. It is now up to Somalis. We have created the space. It’s not been easy. And as the secretary general has said, many, many Somalis, but also soldiers from Burundi and Uganda and elsewhere have died to give the Somali people this opportunity.

So there’s a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we can build a stable, legitimate government that delivers for its people. And the United States stands ready to suport in achieving that goal. Thank you. (Applause.)

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Remarks on Middle East Peace

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
New York City, New York
September 23, 2011

Hello, everyone. The United States is very pleased that the Quartet was able to issue a statement today with a concrete and detailed proposal to begin negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians without delay or preconditions.

The Quartet proposal represents the firm conviction of the international community that a just and lasting peace can only come through negotiations between the parties. Therefore, we urge both parties to take advantage of this opportunity to get back to talks, and the United States pledges our support as the parties themselves take the important next steps for a two-state solution, which is what all of us are hoping to achieve.

Thank you very much.

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