Archive for April 2nd, 2012

FOX News being typically uncooperative, does not seem to have this video posted which may be moot since when they are posted, if memory serves me well,  I find it impossible to embed them.  So here’s a pretty picture instead.


Interview With Wendell Goler of FOX News


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Istanbul Congress Center
Istanbul, Turkey
April 1, 2012


QUESTION: Thank you for talking with us, Madam Secretary.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Always a pleasure.

QUESTION: The U.S. is apparently going beyond providing just humanitarian aid, strictly humanitarian aid, for the Syrian opposition forces. Tell me what we’re providing and why.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are going to be providing what you might call technical or logistical equipment – not arms, not military equipment, but communications equipment. We’ve learned that there’s a great deal of difficulty for the opposition to communicate with one another inside Syria, and from inside to outside to their counterparts who are along the border of Turkey or elsewhere. That will facilitate the safety as well as the movements of the people who are on the inside.

We have some intelligence capacity that we might be able to usefully offer. Now other countries are going to choose to provide different kinds of aid. Today, a group of countries announced that they were going to be funding some of the Free Syrian Army. That’s their choice, but what we think is appropriate for us is to try to facilitate the ability to communicate and to be protected and to know what is happening inside Syria to minimize civilian casualties.

QUESTION: On providing money to basically try and encourage members of the Syrian army to defect, that seems very close to arming the opposition, something the United States didn’t want to do for fear of raising the number of civilian casualties.


QUESTION: Why is it better to encourage defection? It seems like it’s another increase in violence.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think what you’ll find is that many thousands – the numbers vary, some it’s from, like, 10,000 to 40,000 of the soldiers have defected. If you really study the Syrian military movements, they have five brigades. They use two of them because they can’t trust the other three of them. And there have been a number of defections at senior officer levels, generals and colonels, many of whom are now across the border in Turkey kind of setting up headquarters.

So clearly, there needs to be a greater reassurance to those soldiers who defect that if they take their weapons and turn them against the military that continues to ruthlessly assault civilian targets, they’re going to – their family is going to be provided for, there is some safety net for them. I think that’s a sensible approach for those countries that are willing to do that.

QUESTION: Syria’s government says with recent gains by the Syrian army that the battle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad is done and that now it’s a battle to regain stability. Tell me why you think they’re wrong.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think they’re wrong because what they have done is to create enemies of the regime. Where before, they had peaceful protestors and demonstrators who, inspired by the Arab Spring, wanted the chance to choose their own leaders and participate in their society. The resistance that has been put up by poorly armed fighters who often ran out of ammunition, who had nothing but a AK-47 or some other automatic weapon against tanks and mortars, demonstrates that this is a very long-term conflict.

And I also think that from within, the effect of the sanctions – the travel bans, the other kind of pressure that we’re putting on members of the regime, the accountability project that the United States has begun to catalog the atrocities so that people on the inside can look around and think, “Man, I better get out of here before I end up at the International Criminal Court,” because remember, it sometimes takes years. It takes years. But we do end up with a lot of the criminals who committed crimes against humanity or even war crimes eventually having to face justice.

So our reading is that this is not the end of anything. It may not even be the beginning of the end. It’s just the very start of a long-term process that will lead eventually to the removal of Assad.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Prime Minister.


QUESTION: Let me ask you a couple questions about another subject. On Iran, the President says all options are on the table to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Do you feel like it’s your job to make sure it doesn’t come to having to use military action?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m a diplomat. My job is to try to see if there are peaceful ways to resolve difficult problems, and this is a really difficult problem. When the President says all options are on the table, he means it. When he says that our policy is prevention, not containment, he means it. But there are a number of different paths that can get us to the outcome we’re seeking, which is a peaceful resolution of this very difficult challenge. And we appreciate the fact that Iran will return to negotiations with what’s called the P5+1, the five permanent members of the Security Council, plus the European Union and Germany. And we will enter into those negotiations with the hope that there can be a positive resolution, but without any illusions and without any patience for talk without progress.

So there has to be a plan going forward, and we think that we could arrive at an acceptable resolution that would give the Iranians the right to peaceful nuclear power under verifiable certain conditions, but remove the threat that they are developing nuclear weapons. But we’ll see. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and we’ll start cooking that pudding in a few weeks.

QUESTION: The U.S. and Israel clearly disagree how much time is left before military force would be necessary to keep the Iranians from developing a bomb, but they also disagree on what the effects of using military force would be.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t want to get into the kind of very analytical expert discussions that we’ve been having at the highest levels with the Israelis. I will say this – that I think there is agreement about the status of the Iranian program. I think that, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has said on numerous occasions, Israel reserves the right to defend itself. So they have a view that they have to have great certainty as soon as possible that they will not be threatened. Our position is that we have increased sanctions and pressure on the regime. We’ve kept together the international community. It’s quite remarkable that people are reducing their crude oil imports and going to great lengths to try to comply with American and European sanctions because they want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

So we think that the array of evidence points to the importance of pursuing the diplomatic path at this time.

QUESTION: Did you force Iran’s hand yesterday when you announced that the talks would be held in a couple – few weeks in Istanbul? It’s my understanding they hadn’t actually committed to the talks yet, at least publicly.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’ve gotten lots of private messages from a number of different sources that they were going to go to the talks, and I think we need to start planning for them. I certainly hope that they will follow through on what they’ve told a number of people about their intentions to be serious participants.

QUESTION: I think that’s a yes. Thank you, Madam Secretary.

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Thanks. Good to see you.

QUESTION: And you.

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Secretary Clinton was interviewed in several segments this afternoon on Andrea’s show. This is one of them.

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Interview With Andrea Mitchell of NBC News


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Istanbul Congress Center
Istanbul, Turkey
April 1, 2012

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you have said that there will be serious consequences if Assad does not stop killing his people, but this is the moment of truth. The time for excuses is over. But short of military intervention, what is going to stop this man?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andrea, I see it as a progression that is too slow and it’s very painful to watch the terrible killing continue by the Assad regime. But out of this meeting today, we have agreed on not only more sanctions, but a means of enforcing them. We now have a sanctions committee. That was quite an accomplishment because this group consists of a lot of countries that are really the mainstays of the Syrian economy. We have more humanitarian aid going in. We have an accountability project underway to catalog all of the atrocities that have been done. And we are increasing the various forms of assistance for the Syrian opposition.

In addition, we are supporting Kofi Annan’s process, but we wanted to have a timeline because we don’t want to give Assad the excuse of being able to negotiate with no end.

QUESTION: Isn’t he playing Kofi Annan for time? He says he’s accepting the ceasefire, and more killings take place.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are worried about that, but we know Kofi Annan will be reporting to the Security Council tomorrow. I want to hear firsthand from him. But we do want to support him by making it clear that he does have a timeline that has to be respected.

QUESTION: What about Saudi Arabia and the others who are calling for lethal aid – for weapons to the rebels – and also now creating a multimillion dollar fund which, we are told by conference participants, will be an inducement; they will give the money to the rebel soldiers and that will be an inducement to try to get more defections from Assad’s army. Is that going to work?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s a significant step by a number of nations that are trying to support the opposition in one of the numerous ways that we are all helping. We’re looking at technical assistance, communications assistance. I met with a group of the Syrian National Council opposition, including a young woman who just got out of Homs and told us in wrenching terms what it was like being under bombardment by the Assad regime. And she made it clear communications is a huge problem. The United States has a lot of expertise in that.

QUESTION: You’re providing gear now?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We are going to be working to provide that, and we know that that will be able to get into Syria, which will permit better communications inside Syria and between Syria and supporters outside.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Iran. You seem very skeptical that they are serious about diplomacy. As these talks are going to resume in two weeks, do you really think that they are serious, or are they also playing for time and secretly working on their suspected weapons program while these negotiations then drag on?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s what we’re going to find out. We did welcome their outreach to return to the P5+1 negotiations.

QUESTION: The group of Western allies?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right, the group of – the five permanent members of the Security Council, including the European Union and Germany, but also including China and Russia. And in this arena, China and Russia have been quite productive. They too are quite concerned about Iran continuing a nuclear program and acquiring nuclear weapons. I think President Obama’s policy is absolutely clear. It’s prevention, not containment. We’re going to do everything we can. But we want to pursue a diplomatic resolution. I think that’s the sensible approach to take.

QUESTION: Many women during this period and – or campaign feel that their basic rights are under attack. Women really feel besieged on all sides. They call me, they write to me, you see it yourself. And I was at the Women in the World Conference when you said this: “They want to control how we act. They even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and our own bodies. Yes, it is hard to believe that even here at home, we have to stand up for women’s rights and we have to reject efforts to marginalize any one of us because America has to set an example for the entire world.”


QUESTION: What is happening in this political campaign?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I see it now from the perspective of having traveled so extensively, and we know that where women are marginalized, where they’re demeaned, where their rights are denied, there is the likelihood you will have less democracy, more poverty, greater extremism. The United States is the model. There’s been no place better to be a woman than in 21st century America. So we cannot allow any voices to be given credibility that would undermine the advances that women have made in our country. And I wanted to point out that it’s not only about American women, which of course is our first and foremost concern, but it’s about the example we set, the message we send to women around the world.

QUESTION: When Meryl Streep introduced you at that same conference, she said of you, “It is not a simple job to be a role model; it’s an enormous burden. But that’s what we ask of her.” Are you willing to take that on?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t think of myself that way, but I know that I am considered that in the eyes of many people, and it’s a great honor. It is a burden.

QUESTION: The most popular woman in the world for 10 years in a row.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that – it is a great honor, but it also carries with it a lot of responsibility, which I take very seriously. I feel such a great privilege representing my country, and in the role of Secretary of State, dealing with all of the front burner issues like the two we just talked about, Syria and Iran, but also continuing to advocate for the long-term changes like the fulfillment of women’s rights as unfinished business in this century, which is good for America and good for the world.

QUESTION: There is a lot of unfinished business. You deserve a rest after this journey’s over.


QUESTION: Everyone knows that, and a lot of thanks, but there will come a time and there is a growing expectation that you will run for president and complete the goals that you have for men and women?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andrea, that is —

QUESTION: Why not?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s very flattering, but I’m not at all planning to do that. I have no desire or intention. I want to do the best job I can as the Secretary of State for this President. I want to then take some time to get reconnected to the stuff that makes life worth living – family, friends, the sort of activities that I enjoy. And I’ll do some writing and some speaking and I’m sure I’ll be continuing to advocate on these issues.

QUESTION: And then? Rush Limbaugh, in this campaign, did he go beyond anything that we have previously experienced in the way he attacked a civilian, a young woman who had just spoken up?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I try very hard to stay out of the politics, so let me put the campaign and the implications to one side. That is for others to comment on.

QUESTION: As a woman’s leader?

SECRETARY CLINTON: But as a woman and as someone who can vaguely remember being a young woman —

QUESTION: And as a mother.

SECRETARY CLINTON: — and as a mother of a young woman of that age and generation, I thought the response was very encouraging – the response from the public, the response in particular from women cutting across all kinds of categories, the response from advertisers. So I’ll let that speak for itself. We as a nation have every right – and in fact, I welcome it – to engage in the kind of debate and dialogue that is at the root of who we are as Americans. But let’s not turn it into personal attacks and insults. We’re beyond that. We’re better than that. And people in the public eye have a particular responsibility to avoid it.

QUESTION: Chelsea was on a panel with Sandra Fluke at the 92nd Street Y and she said, “Rush Limbaugh attacked you when you were 30. He attacked me when I was 13.”

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) I read that she said that. Well, I think we need to call people out when they go over the line. They’re entitled to their opinion, but no one is entitled to engage in that kind of verbal assault. Let’s keep it on the issues. If you disagree on the issues, let’s have a vigorous debate – hopefully evidence-based. I would like that to be part of the debate. But that’s fair game. But whether it comes from the right, the left, up, down, wherever it comes from, let’s all ask for a return to civility and the kind of debate that really enables citizens to make better decisions.

STAFF: Andrea, last question.

QUESTION: Madame, Secretary —

STAFF: Sorry.

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) You broke her chain of concentration.

QUESTION: Yeah, I just wanted to thank you very much for the interview.


QUESTION: Thank you for being with us today.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Always good to see you, Andrea. You are an inspiration, believe me.

QUESTION: Hardly, but thank you for saying that.

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Interview With Jill Dougherty of CNN


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Istanbul Congress Center
Istanbul, Turkey
April 1, 2012

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you very much for doing this. I want to start with the sanctions, with the pressure. If you look at all of this pressure, something doesn’t seem to be working because Assad is still there, and notably, you don’t have any major defections from the key top leadership, the people who are close to him. Why is that? Could one of the factors be that the United States and others are saying “we don’t want military action, and that could be emboldening him?”

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, I think the sanctions are beginning to have an effect, but we have to do more to implement them, and that’s why we formed a sanctions committee today. And the United States will be working with the Arab countries, the European countries, North African, and others to have them understand the most effective way to implement sanctions. Because, as one of them said to me, “The Americans have a lot of experience in doing sanctions. We don’t.” So we’re making progress.

Also the individual sanctions – the travel bans, the visa bans, the kinds of direct personal sanctions – are beginning to really wake people up. They’re looking around thinking for the rest of my life, I’m only going to be able maybe to go to Iran; that doesn’t sound like a great idea. So we hear a lot from the inside that these sanctions are happening in a timely way. Also, the reserves of the country are being drawn down, marketplaces are not as full of goods as they once were. So this does take time. We’re well aware that time is going by, people are being killed, it just is absolutely horrific what’s happening. But the Istanbul meeting today was quite consequential in terms of the outcomes, and really increasing the enforcement of sanctions was one of the best.

QUESTION: Let’s look at the opposition. A number of them are expats, people who have lived out of the country for years and years. Why should anybody who’s inside Syria right now trust them? And do they actually know the real situation on the ground?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, what’s happening is that the Syrian National Council is expanding. I just met with four representatives, including a young woman who just escaped from Homs. I mean, she is someone who is bearing witness to the horrors of what the Assad regime did to the neighborhoods of her city. And she had very poignant stories of close friends who were tortured and are in hospital, and if they’re discovered as having been in the opposition, will be killed. I mean, it’s a terrible human tragedy, but she is a witness.

So I think, along with the people who started the Syrian National Council, who are in a position to do so – because they had been driven out by the Assads, father and son, over the course of many years – they’re now being joined and, frankly, their credibility is being enhanced by both civilian and military defections. And we think that’s significant.

QUESTION: If you stand back and look at this, you have right now – you talked about those broken promises, the broken promises – if you stand back and look at it, there’s kind of a pattern emerging. And you could say Syria, broken promises by President Assad, you would assert. You have broken promises, you also would assert, from Iran on the nuclear program. And you have North Korea, which also has broken promises.

So in this pattern, what explains that pattern? It’s similar to what I was asking first off, which is: Is there something that this Administration is doing, which is kind of standing back, not being as aggressive as some people might want you to be, that is emboldening them, allowing them to say we’ll just play out the clock?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t think so. I think if you look at what this Administration did, we put together an international coalition – a consensus, really, against both Iran and North Korea that had not existed before with UN Security Council resolutions, very tough sanctions enforcements. But you’re dealing with two regimes that are very difficult to reign in because they have no regard for even their own promises and obligations. With North Korea, that goes back decades. It’s been a constant challenge, and it’s been a process of really trying to prevent them from going too far with their provocative actions that could cause another war in the Korean Peninsula, which – you go to the memorial in Washington and you know what that cost the United States and our allies.

With Iran, we are very carefully building on and then acting on the pressure that we have put in place. We will begin to know, with the resumption of the P-5+1 talks, whether or not there is a deal to be had here. This is something that has to be explored. I think one of the reasons that the Iranians are even coming back to talk is because of the sanctions. But as President Obama has said, all options are on the table. Our policy is not containment with Iran. It is prevention of their getting a nuclear weapon.

QUESTION: But there is that “All options are on the table” that continues to be the mantra, but nothing happens.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, but Jill, I don’t think you want to rush to some of the options that are on the table. I think it’s very important and it’s a requirement of responsible leadership that you exhaust every diplomatic pathway. That is what we are doing. We are very clear about that. We want to have a peaceful resolution. We want Iran to begin to reenter the international community, to stop threatening their neighbors. As you know, I was in Riyadh yesterday. They’re not only worried about the nuclear program; they’re worried about Iran destabilizing countries, they’re worried about it exporting terrorism. And we’re going to test all of that just as hard as we can. I can’t, sitting here today, exactly predict to you what the outcome will be, except I know that we have to keep trying the diplomatic route, knowing that our policy is clear about no nuclear weapons.

QUESTION: And speaking of Iran, are you nervous that Israel will, on its own, take some action, but leave it to the United States to finish that action?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think Israel understands why we think it’s important to pursue the diplomatic route as far as we possibly can in a timely way. We’re not going to enter into endless talks that never see any kind of outcome. But we do want, with the full backing of the international community – because remember the P-5+1 include China and Russia. And they are on record publicly as saying they don’t want to see Iran with a nuclear weapon. So I think Israel understands that there is a necessity for us to pursue the P-5+1, and we have certainly made it clear that – to them that all options are on the table, and we would be pursuing the diplomatic option.

QUESTION: I want to turn the corner to Russia. I was just there covering the election, in fact. And you have these interesting comments coming out from a candidate for president, Mr. Romney, who says that Russia is the biggest – the worst geopolitical foe the United States has. I don’t – let’s – I know you don’t like to talk politics.


QUESTION: But what do you think of that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, without getting into the political campaign, because that’s for others to comment on, I think if you take a look at the world today, we have a lot of problems that are not leftovers from the past, but are of the moment. We’ve just been talking about one, namely Iran. And in many of the areas where we are working to solve problems, Russia has been an ally. They’re in the P-5+1 talks with us, they have worked with us in Afghanistan and have been very helpful in the Northern Distribution Network and in other ways. So I think it’s somewhat dated to be looking backwards instead of being realistic about where we agree, where we don’t agree, but looking for ways to bridge the disagreements and then to maximize the cooperation.

QUESTION: Mr. Putin, soon to be President Putin again, accused you personally of sending some type of signal to the Russians to bring them out onto the streets.


QUESTION: And now, you have the United States – this Administration – pushing to release, I think, it is $50 million in democracy support funds, which is guaranteed, of course, not to go over well in Moscow. Why shouldn’t they look at this money and say that the United States – that maybe Hillary Clinton wants to send another signal? In other words, you’re stirring up trouble.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have to say I was a little perplexed that I would be imputed such power that a mere signal, a mere word, would cause thousands of people to turn out. In fact, I think the demonstrators in the street got it right. They laughed at that. I mean, they knew why there were there. They want democracy, they want freedom, they want a voice in their affairs, and we all support that. And we hope that in the years to come, there will be greater openness in Russia. The Russian people are so smart. You lived there. You know what incredibly talented people, well educated, the ability to really help shape the 21st century – stop the brain drain. Create an environment in which Russians are made to feel that they can build their own country, make a real stake in the future there. And that has nothing to do with us. It has to do everything with the Russian people themselves.

And we in the United States believe that every country would be better off if there were greater freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, because I think we represent that. We have had a great run, and I want it always to continue. I want the United States always to represent these values and to live them. And therefore, we’re going to continue to promote them around the world.

QUESTION: Quick question on Pakistan. The United States apparently is agreeing to a different way of using drones, a very controversial issue. When that happens, could that be to the detriment of the national security of the United States?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, I’m not going to comment on any intelligence matter. That would not be appropriate. But I can assure you that the Obama Administration will not enter into any agreement that would be to the detriment of the national security of our country. I think this President has demonstrated conclusively that he’s ready to take the tough decisions when America’s security is at stake.

QUESTION: One last question. You were just in Burma not too long ago, historic elections. What are your thoughts as you look at that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m very hopeful for the people. The early reports are mostly positive. We want to see these elections conducted in a free, fair manner that is validated by the international community, and we want to see continuing progress. I was very touched by the visit that I made and the commitments that I received from members of the government who were quite sincere in their desire to move their country forward.

I know how difficult it is. I know that there are some who don’t agree with it, who will try to undermine it. That seems to be human nature everywhere in the world. But if this election goes as well as it is reported to have from the early reports, that will be a significant step. And I promised, when I was there meeting with leaders in Nay Pyi Taw, that the United States would match action for action. And we will do that.

QUESTION: Well, thank you very much Madam Secretary.


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Interview With Clarissa Ward of CBS News


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Istanbul Congress Center
Istanbul, Turkey
April 1, 2012

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you so much for —


QUESTION: — taking the time to talk with us. I wanted to begin by talking about former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s six-point plan. During the week since Bashar al-Assad claimed to accept the plan, there’s been no let-up in the violence, and I just wanted to ask you, at what point do we say that this plan has been a failure? What is the deadline?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Clarissa – excuse me, let me start over again – Clarissa, let me say that the plan is a good plan. It’s getting it implemented, as you point out, which is the real challenge. And we’re going to hear from Kofi Annan to the Security Council tomorrow, so we’ll get a firsthand report. But as you saw coming out of this conference, there does need to be a timeline. We cannot permit Assad and his regime and his allies to allow what is a good faith negotiating process by a very expert, experienced negotiator to be used as an excuse for continuing the killing. We think Assad must go. The killing must stop. The sooner we get into a process that ends up there, the better. And I think former Secretary General Annan understands that.

QUESTION: But how do you enforce that timeline?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s self-enforced. I think he has to be the one who says, within a relatively short period of time, we’re not getting any results, I was given promises, they’re not kept. Because then we would go back to the Security Council. Now, what will Russia and China say? Kofi Annan has gone to Moscow, he’s gone to Beijing, he’s met with them. They support his plan. They have urged publicly that Assad follow the plan. So if we have to go back to the Security Council to get authority that would enable us to do more to help the Syrians really withstand this kind of terrible assault and get the aid that they need to get the humanitarian assistance they require, I think we’ll be in a stronger position than we would if he hadn’t had a chance to go and try to negotiate.

QUESTION: So one of the primary functions of the Friends of Syria is to provide support for the opposition, but up to this point, we still don’t see any real coordination and communication among the different both armed and political opposition groups inside Syria. How much of a frustration is that for you as you go through this process?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m encouraged by what we heard today, and I met privately with representatives of the Syrian National Council. They are making progress. They have unified around a compact, a national pact, about what they want to see in a new Syria, which is important, because then that sets the parameters for the kind of opposition that will be under their umbrella. They have reached out and included a much more diverse group of Syrians than when I met with them in Tunis or the first time in Geneva. They’re making progress. This is quite difficult, but I am encouraged.

What they need is what we are now offering. We are offering assistance to them, and it’s a variety of different sorts of assistance. The United States will be offering – in addition to significant humanitarian aid – will be offering technical and logistical support. You mentioned communications. They have a great deal of difficulty communicating inside Syria. You were there. You know how hard it is. We think we have some assets that we can get in there which we would try to do that will enable them to have better communication. So everyone’s looking to see what they can provide that is value-added for the opposition.

QUESTION: But no clear leader has emerged who can articulate what the opposition’s political vision for their country is.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that leaders have emerged who have played a very important role, and I thought the presentation by Professor Ghalioun was good today in how he set forth what their objectives were. But in this kind of fast-moving event, more people will come to the forefront. I met a very impressive young woman who just left Homs who is now active in the Syrian National Council. She looks to me to be an up-and-coming leader.

So I don’t think we can sit here today and say who is the leader, but by assisting the Syrian National Council, we are assisting the leadership, and there will be leaders within the civilian side of that, and there will be leaders within the military side.

QUESTION: We were recently inside Syria in the north in the city of Idlib, and the rebels who we were staying with now tell us that they have no ammunition left, they have no money left, and that their only recourse for self defense is to build IEDs or bombs. Obviously, there is a host of very complex issues associated with arming the opposition, or rebel groups specifically, but are you not concerned that if no support comes from the outside, that this could really devolve into a very bloody, ugly insurgency, and that if we aren’t the ones to provide that help, other non-state actors like extremist groups such as al-Qaida might be the ones to fill that void?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that’s why you heard today that a group of nations will be providing assistance for the fighters, and that is a decision that is being welcomed by the Syrian National Council. The United States will be doing other kinds of assistance. Other countries will as well. So we have evolved from trying to get our arms around what is an incredibly complex issue with a just nascent opposition that has now become much more solidified with a lot of doubts inside Syria itself from people who were either afraid of the Assad regime or afraid of what might come after to a much clearer picture, where we are now, I think, proceeding on a path that is going to have some positive returns.

QUESTION: Do you see any signs that Bashar al-Assad is starting to crack, that his regime is starting to feel the pressure, that conferences like this one are really having some kind of an impact?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, today, we heard from a deputy oil minister who defected, and certainly, his presentation to the large group suggested that, because the pressure that is being put on those who are still allied with the regime from outside and inside is increasing – the sanctions, the travel bans, the kinds of reputational loss, the fears that people are having, because as you are engaged in this kind of terrible authoritarian crackdown, people get paranoid and they start worrying about the guy sitting next to them. We do see those kinds of cracks. We think that the defections from the military are in the thousands. We know that there are perhaps two dozen high officers —

QUESTION: But there haven’t been more defections in the way that we saw in Libya from Assad’s inner circle.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, partly because when there were a couple of defections, the regime has cracked down and was basically holding families hostage. In fact, the man who spoke to us today, his family had gotten out ahead in Jordan, so he was free to leave. But that is an unsustainable position. You cannot turn the whole country into a giant prison. People are not going to put up with that after a while. So we think that there are cracks. I can’t put a timeframe on it, but we think that that is beginning to happen.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you so much for your time.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Great to talk to you.

QUESTION: Likewise.


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U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and Turkey's FM Davutoglu shake hands before a meeting in Istanbul

Intervention to the Friends of the Syrian People


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
As Prepared
Istanbul, Turkey
April 1, 2012

I want to thank Prime Minister Erdogan, Foreign Minister Davutoglu and the people of Turkey for hosting us today. Turkey has shown steadfast leadership throughout this crisis. I also want to recognize the continuing contributions of the Arab League and in particular the work of Secretary General Elaraby and the chair of the Syria committee, Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim. To all my colleagues, and to all our friends and partners around the world, thank you for standing by the Syrian people.

We meet at an urgent moment for Syria and the region. Faced with a united international community and persistent popular opposition, Bashar al-Assad pledged to implement Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s initial six point plan. He promised to pull his regime’s forces back and silence its heavy weapons, allow peaceful demonstrations and access for humanitarian aid and journalists, and begin a political transition.

Nearly a week has gone by, and we have to conclude that the regime is adding to its long list of broken promises.

Rather than pull back, Assad’s troops have launched new assaults on Syrian cities and towns, including in the Idlib and Aleppo provinces. Rather than allowing access for humanitarian aid, security forces have tightened their siege of residential neighborhoods in Homs and elsewhere. And rather than beginning a political transition, the regime has crushed dozens of peaceful protests.

The world must judge Assad by what he does, not by what he says. And we cannot sit back and wait any longer. Yesterday in Riyadh, I joined with the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to call for an immediate end to the killing in Syria and to urge Joint Special Envoy Annan to set a timeline for next steps. We look forward to hearing his views on the way forward when he addresses the United Nations Security Council tomorrow.

Here in Istanbul, we must take steps of our own to ratchet up pressure on the regime, provide humanitarian relief to people in need, and support the opposition as it works toward an inclusive, democratic and orderly transition that preserves the integrity and institutions of the Syrian state.

First, pressure. On Friday, the United States announced new sanctions against three more senior regime officials: Minister of Defense Rajiha, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army Adanov and Head of Presidential Security Shalish. A growing list of Syria’s worst human rights offenders are learning that they cannot escape the consequences of their actions. I am pleased that the Friends of the Syrian People have agreed to form a sanctions working group, to coordinate and expand our national sanctions and strengthen enforcement. Together we must further isolate this regime, cut off its funds, and squeeze its ability to wage war on its own people.

The United States will also work with international partners to establish an accountability clearinghouse to support and train Syrian citizens working to document atrocities, identify perpetrators, and safeguard evidence for future investigations and prosecutions.

Our message must be clear to those who give the orders and those who carry them out: Stop killing your fellow citizens or you will face serious consequences. Your countrymen will not forget, and neither will the international community.

Turning to the humanitarian effort, the United States is expanding our commitment to help the people of Syria. This week in Washington, I met with the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross and we discussed the urgent needs, especially in the communities suffering under relentless shelling.

In Tunis, I pledged $10 million to fund makeshift field hospitals, train emergency medical staff, and get clean water, food, blankets, heaters, and hygiene kits to civilians who desperately need them, including displaced people. Despite the regime’s efforts to deny access, that aid is starting to get through. So in March we added $2 million to our commitment, and today I am announcing more than $12 million for the Syrian people – for a total of nearly $25 million.

But we know that no amount of aid will be enough if the regime continues its military campaign, targets relief workers, blocks supplies, restricts freedom of movement, and disrupts medical services. So the United States fully supports the UN’s diplomatic effort to secure safe and unfettered access for humanitarian workers and supplies, including a daily, two-hour ceasefire — beginning immediately — to allow aid to get in and wounded civilians to get out. And I want to thank the governments of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq for keeping their borders open and serving as generous hosts to Syrians in great need.

The third track is supporting the opposition as it plans for an inclusive, democratic transition.

Here in Istanbul, the Syrian National Council and a wide range of opposition groups are uniting around a common vision for a free, democratic and pluralist Syria that protects the rights of all citizens and all communities. It is a roadmap for saving the state and its institutions from Assad’s death spiral. And it is worthy of support from the international community and Syrians from every background.

Turning this vision into reality will not be easy, but it is essential. Assad must go and Syrians must choose their own path. Citizens across the country are already laying the groundwork. Peaceful protests continue to swell, with citizens marching in the streets of Syrian cities and towns, demanding dignity and freedom. The regime has done everything it can to prevent peaceful political organizing, and activists and opposition members have been jailed, tortured, and killed. And yet, local councils have emerged all across the country. They are organizing civil resistance and providing basic governance, services and humanitarian relief, even as the shells rain down around them.

To support civil opposition groups as they walk this difficult path, the United States is going beyond humanitarian aid and providing additional assistance, including communications equipment that will help activists organize, evade attacks by the regime, and connect to the outside world – and we are discussing with our international partners how best to expand this support.

In the unlikely event that the Assad regime reverses course and begins to implement the six-point plan, then Kofi Annan will work with the opposition to take steps of its own. But in the meantime, Syrians will continue to defend themselves. And they must continue building momentum toward a new Syria: free, unified, and at peace.

Now that they have a unified vision for transition, it will be crucial for the opposition to translate it into a political action plan to win support among all of Syria’s communities. We’ve seen here in Istanbul that disparate opposition factions can come together. Despite the dangers they face, the next step is to take their case across Syria, to lead a national conversation about how to achieve the future Syrians want and deserve. That’s how the opposition will demonstrate beyond any doubt that they hold the moral high ground, strip away Assad’s remaining support, and expose the regime’s hypocrisy.

So this is where we find ourselves today: Kofi Annan has given us a plan to begin resolving this crisis. Bashar al-Assad has so far refused to honor his pledge to implement it. The time for excuses is over.

President Medvedev calls this the “last chance” for Syria. I call it a moment of truth.

Together we must hasten the day that peace and freedom come to Syria. That solution cannot come fast enough, and we grieve for every lost day and every lost life.

We are committed to this effort and we are confident that the people of Syria will take control of their own destiny. Let us be worthy of this challenge and move ahead with clear eyes and firm determination.

Thank you.

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Public Schedule for April 2, 2012

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
April 2, 2012




11:15 a.m. Secretary Clinton attends the North American Leaders’ Summit, at the White House.

12:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton hosts a foreign ministers’ luncheon in honor of the North American Leaders’ Summit, at the White House.

2:25 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with State Department and USAID Franklin Fellows, at the Department of State.

3:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with President Obama, at the White House

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