Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

UN Photo/Manuel Elias
Former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, addresses the Group of Friends of Afghanistan meeting at UN Headquarters.
UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Mrs. Clinton delivered the keynote address at the meeting of the Group of Friends of Women in Afghanistan, held barely two weeks after the signing of a peace deal between Washington and the Taliban.

The agreement calls for the insurgent group to participate in intra-Afghan peace talks which were to begin that day. It also covers a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

“Women must be included, and women’s rights respected, as part of any peace negotiation in Afghanistan”, said Mrs. Clinton.

“Women are essential to combating corruption, building economic growth and ensuring the longevity of any agreement that is reached.  If women are sidelined, the prospects for sustainable peace are slim. If society is torn apart and women pushed to the margins, it is more likely that terrorists will find a haven. There can be no sustainable peace without women’s participation and rights”.

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The chapter title is homage to Richard Holbrooke whose book by that title recounted his negotiations to end hostilities in the Balkans, also his objective in his oversight of the Af-Pak region.  Explaining that insurgencies rarely end with the surrender of a side but rather as a result of persistent diplomacy, Hillary states that from the start she insisted that the needs and concerns of Afghan women be taken into account, an issue she raised at the March 2009 Conference on Afghanistan.

Playing Catch-up With Mme. Secretary: The Hague Afghanistan Conference


A major objective in all diplomatic dealings on Afghanistan was the goal of peeling off the less ideological among the Taliban and winning them over to the mainstream government, a controversial policy that Hillary defends staunchly in this chapter.  Referring to statements she made at the London Conference on Afghanistan in January 2010,  she cites the conditions:  abandoning violence, breaking with Al Qaeda, and supporting the constitution. The process is referred to alternately as reconciliation and reintegration.  The links below provide Hillary’s words on this issue as well as on issues concerning the welfare of women and girls in Afghanistan.

Video & Text: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks on Yemen with UK FM Miliband & Yemeni FM Al-Qirbi

Hillary Clinton at Afghanistan – The London Conference 01-28-10

Hillary Clinton’s Remarks at Afghanistan: The London Conference 01-28-10 Video & Text

Hillary Clinton, Busy in London

Reconciliation of non-ideological insurgents remained a strong item on the agenda when she and Robert Gates attended the NATO Summit in Brussels in October 2010.

Secretaries Clinton and Gates in Brussels

Richard Holbrooke reasoned that if Afghanistan and Pakistan could forge relations beneficial to both,  cooperation in battling terrorist activities could be strengthened.  Thus came about a trade agreement signed by both countries in Islamabad in July 2010 which was the inception of “The New Silk Road.”

Hillary Clinton: More Pics from Pakistan

Hillary refers to a roundtable with TV journalists during this trip wherein she explained the necessity for Afghan-Pakistani relations to be strengthened as well as the reconciliation agenda.  It was testy, yet she remained resiliently cheerful and optimistic in her signature way (another reason we love her).

Hillary Clinton’s Roundtable in Pakistan with TV Journalists

Video: Hillary Clinton With Six Pakistani Interviewers At One Time – Holds Her Own! AWESOME!

She mentions that this policy was reinforced at the Lisbon NATO Conference.  She did not speak there.  She attended with President Obama who did the speaking that time around (but there are some amusing photos in the link below).

Hillary Clinton at NATO Lisbon: Saturday Wrap and Slideshow


Early the next month, with the holiday season gearing up,  Richard Holbrooke became ill during a meeting with her at the State Department.  She recounts the painful hours from the time he went to the infirmary in the building through his death at George Washington University Hospital.  It was a devastating blow to her, to the department, to his colleagues, and to people the world over with whom Holbrooke had worked.

Update on Ambassador Richard Holbrooke

Update on Ambassador Richard Holbrooke

Ambassador Holbrooke Has Passed Away

December 13, 2010 by still4hill

The day he died, there was a holiday party at the State Department.  Holbrooke’s widow, Kati Marton, attended.  Here are Hillary’s remarks.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at Holiday Reception for the Chiefs of Diplomatic Missions to the United States

Secretary Clinton’s Statement on the Passing of Richard Holbrooke

Although she did not, in the book,  include specific references to these next two addresses,  I am including them here as part of the record of the Afghanistan and Af-Pak policy status at that time.

Video – Secretary Clinton’s Remarks: Review of the War in Afghanistan

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Briefing on Afghanistan and Pakistan

The memorial for Richard Holbrooke was held in mid-January 2011.  At the memorial, his friends remembered his great humor and huge personality.

Slideshow: Secretary Clinton at the Holbrooke Inaugural Lecture and the Memorial Service

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the Holbrooke Memorial

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the Launch of the Asia Society’s Series of Richard C. Holbrooke Memorial Addresses

A negotiating office where the U.S. could talk with Taliban representatives opened and quickly closed in Yemen where the Taliban made it appear too official for Karzai’s liking. By the December 2011 conference  in Bonn,  things had turned.  Pakistan did not show up, and Karzai began to distrust U.S.-Taliban negotiations.  The Taliban, in turn,  pulled out distrusting Karzai.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks in Bonn on Afghanistan

Her last official meeting with Karzai as secretary of state was in January 2013 shortly after she returned to D.C.  following  her illness and concussion.  (Not to be nitpicky, but she worked from home and even from the hospital while she was ill, so I did not want to say she returned “to work,”  She had been working all along.)   She hosted Karzai at a private dinner in the James Monroe Room and states that she appealed to his sense of his own legacy at this meeting.

Hillary Clinton with Hamid Karzai

She ends the chapter with a quote from Holbrooke: “The only way to start ending a war is to begin talking.”



Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

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When I posted this in November 2009 at the tail end of Hillary’s busy tour of Asia that month,  everyone was surprised.  Security was so high that the visit was not announced until she was safely on the ground.

Breaking News…Hillary Wheels Down in Afghanistan

There was this 4-column spread photo on the front page of the New York Times.


In chapter 7 Hillary refers to a day at the White House that month when there were three important meetings the last of which, in the Situation Room,  yielded our military roadmap out of Afghanistan.

Sometimes during her State Department tenure, the public schedule would state that she had “No Public Appointments.”  Often I would clarify here that those words did not indicate that she was not working.  They meant that her work that day was not for publication.  She places these meetings three days before Thanksgiving, 2009. That puts it here, and we knew something big was up.

The Busy Monday Continues

We learn some of what went into her thinking as these deliberations proceeded.  Hillary is a Methodist, and very methodical, but she goes through something of a Catholic examination of conscience in this chapter seeking to discover what has worked and what lessons might be found in past miscalculations.

She revisits her past trips to Afghanistan as well as her Iraq War vote and the rationale behind that.  She flat out calls that vote a mistake.  I still think she provided very rigid parameters for the president in her remarks before casting that vote, but this is her call, not mine.  Here are those remarks,  and I believe she explained her position very clearly and did not provide the president an open playing field.

Time to Revisit Hillary Clinton’s Iraq War Vote

We also hear who the players in the Situation Room were and their positions and roles in the deliberations.  No one will be surprised that a great deal of the action centers around Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus.  Once a surge had been agreed upon it was, according to her account, their calculation of the ‘Goldilocks’ number of troops necessary on which the effectiveness of the surge would rest.

As in real life, Richard Holbrooke looms large in this chapter and has enormous impact on policy in the Af-Pak region he accepted to oversee.  It is not only Hillary in Hard Choices who speaks of hostility from the White House staff toward Holbrooke.  Vali Nasr, a member of Holbrooke’s team, and now Dean of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies recounts White House offensives against Holbrooke in his 2013 book, The Dispensable Nation.  Hillary’s account is briefer with less detail, but it does lead to attempts by his adversaries to have Holbrooke fired.  Hillary defends him, and President Obama accepts the defense.


Also looming large in this chapter, of course, is Hamid Karzai with whom Hillary met on many occasions.   One of these that she singles out as particularly productive occurred during his May 2010 visit to the U.S.

At Dumbarton Oaks: Hillary Clinton & Hamid Karzai

All of this is background to her visit to Afghanistan in November 2009 where she smashed on the tarmac, with all the style, grace, and panache of Helen Mirren smashing on a red carpet,  and attended Karzai’s inauguration.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

The truth is that in the book she does not even talk about most of the following events..  She was there for the inauguration.  There simply was no way that I could look back on that visit without including these events and photos.

Photos of the Day: Secretary Clinton in Afghanistan

Secretary Clinton’s Press Conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul

Secretary Clinton’s Address to U.S. and International Troops in Afghanistan

Photo Gallery: Hillary with Our Troops in Afghanistan

This is the real Hillary!

Hillary at the Embassy and Foreign Ministry in Kabul

 The upshot of all of this was, of course, the Afghanistan surge.  She closes the chapter with a summary of Afghanistan’s progress since 2010 on crucial issues, a hat tip to much-maligned General Eric Shinseki for his (rejected) 2003 recommendations to the Bush administration, and her account of the trip from the White House to West Point where President Obama unrolled the blueprint for departure from Afghanistan before an auditorium packed with cadets who soon would inherit the fight.

Afghanistan Speech: Photos and Text

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

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Gaston Hall at Georgetown University is a familiar environment for Hillary.  As Secretary of State, she spoke there several times.  The deep, burnished woodwork and religious murals always seem to complement her classic beauty which was on full display today.   Current Secretary of State, John Kerry, instructed male students on how they might capture the attention of a woman so awesome.

The program was in two parts.  There were remarks by the three principals followed by a panel discussion led by former Ambassador for Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer wherein questions were addressed to Hillary and Mrs. Bush.

The main theme of the event was twofold:  progress made over the past 10 years in including women and girls in all aspects of Afghan society and maintaining that forward motion after American and international troops pull out and leave Afghanistan to its own resources.  Afghan women were assured by all speakers at this event that neither the United States nor the international community will abandon them and their aspirations.

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Here is a real treat! Hillary tweeted, not once, but twice from this event.  Obviously she thoroughly enjoyed participating in an initiative so close to her heart.



67 & 68 reunited today. Watching program backstage before going out to discuss .



After Kerry spoke, I sat down for Q&A with , my fellow Council co-chair.


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At the moment, Hillary is in DC  receiving the American Patriot Award from the National Defense University Foundation, and we are all very appreciative and proud of her many years of service.

She will remain in DC overnight and participate in a symposium tomorrow morning with Secretary of State John Kerry and former First Lady Laura Bush on the future for Afghan women.  The event will be hosted by Georgetown University and will be livestreamed at 10 a.m. EST.

John Kerry, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush to Discuss Afghan Women’s Future

November 13, 2013 – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former First Lady Laura Bush will convene Friday at Georgetown for a symposium addressing opportunities and solutions for sustaining the significant progress Afghan women and girls have made in the past 10 years.

The “Advancing Afghan Women: Promoting Peace and Progress in Afghanistan” event also will focus on how to work together with Afghans to protect and expand the gains that Afghan women have made over the past 10 years.

“As Afghanistan navigates its transition, the role of Afghan women will be critical to Afghanistan’s future peace, security and stability,” says Melanne Verveer (I’66, G’69), executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) and former U.S. ambassador for global women’s issues. “This event allows representatives from the global community to focus attention on the gains made by Afghan women in the last decade and how to best support Afghans to ensure this trajectory moving forward.”

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Recent Incidents of Violence Against Women in Afghanistan


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 12, 2012

The United States joins the government of Afghanistan in strongly condemning the murder of Najia Sediqi, who was killed in a drive-by shooting Monday morning. As Acting Director of Provincial Women’s Affairs, Najia was one of the many Afghan women who dedicate themselves every single day toward building a brighter future for the people of Afghanistan. The United States will continue to stand side-by-side with women who are carrying on Najia’s fight, the Afghan government and all Afghan people to ensure that the hard-won gains made by women in the recent years are protected and advanced. Senseless violence like this will only threaten the potential for peace.  Our thoughts are with Najia’s family during this difficult time.

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Secretary Clinton Hosts the U.S.-Afghanistan Bilateral Commission


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul
Ben Franklin Room
Washington, DC
October 3, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON:Good morning, and let me welcome all of you to the State Department, to the Benjamin Franklin Room, for the launch of the U.S.-Afghanistan Bilateral Commission.I want to thank my colleague and friend, Foreign Minister Rassoul, and all of our guests from Afghanistan and this distinguished delegation for joining us today. And I want to thank the American delegation, which represents our entire government, for committing to this bilateral commission meeting. We have leaders and experts here from across both the Afghan and American governments. That is a reflection of the breadth and depth of our enduring partnership.

For more than a decade, Americans and Afghans have worked side-by-side to help the Afghan people build a more stable and secure future. We have also fought side-by-side to improve security throughout the country, to strengthen Afghanistan’s democratic institutions, to support its civil society, and to sow the seeds of economic opportunity for the Afghan people.

This has been a tremendous shared effort. It’s also been very challenging. These past few months in particular have presented obstacles and some potential setbacks, and we know that difficult days lie ahead. But despite the challenges, the United States is committed to the people of Afghanistan. And we have made progress together that too often is overlooked in the face of the headlines that talk about some unfortunate incident.

We have worked together to develop the health and education systems of Afghanistan, and we’re now seeing gains in both education and health among the people. We have worked to advance women’s rights that enables women, who have suffered so much over the last 30 years, to contribute to their family, their community, and their country’s future. We have seen a vibrant media develop. We have seen access to electricity brought to parts of Afghanistan that had never experienced that before, and I could go on and on.

And I hope one of the results of this bilateral commission meeting will be to help publicize the positive gains that the Afghan people have experienced over the last decade thanks to their hard work and determination.

Now, as partners, we look to the future. The transition is on track. Every day, Afghans forces are increasingly capable and taking more responsibility for their nation’s security. On the political side, President Karzai has put forward an ambitious reform agenda leading up to elections in 2014. And to prepare for an economic transition as the war winds down, we and our partners in the international community laid the groundwork for unlocking Afghanistan’s economic potential at the Tokyo Conference this summer, where each country represented made commitments in the spirit of mutual accountability.

This Bilateral Commission is beginning its work shortly after the Strategic Partnership Agreement was signed by President Karzai and President Obama in Kabul in May. The Strategic Partnership Agreement and this bilateral commission will help to guide the relationship between Afghanistan and the United States as we move to the next phase of our relationship. It reflects a shared vision and a shared commitment to mutual responsibility and accountability. And it focuses on areas that will be critical to Afghanistan’s future, including in the areas of security, human rights and democracy, institutions and governance, economic development, and regional security and cooperation.

We know it will take time to deliver the results that the people of Afghanistan are working toward, but as President Obama and I have said many times before, the United States has made an enduring commitment to Afghanistan that was forged in sacrifice. Just a short time ago, we reached a grim milestone: 2,000 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan. The American people have invested a great deal in Afghanistan’s future. And even though our role in Afghanistan is changing, this partnership will continue.

So here today, we will discuss specific steps that we can take together to implement the Strategic Partnership Agreement. I am eager to hear the ideas and specific recommendations for how we can make swift, concrete, and measurable progress. One of the things we will talk about today is our plan to begin negotiating the next piece of our bilateral partnership: the Bilateral Security Agreement, which will establish the framework of our future security relationship based on our shared vision of a secure and stable Afghanistan. I am pleased to announce that Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador James Warlick will lead the negotiations for the United States.

As we look ahead, we will certainly be aware of the many challenges that remain, but I also want to be aware of the opportunities that we can seize together. And I urge that all of us do our part and to remember the millions of people across Afghanistan and the United States who expect us to accomplish good things together. Let’s deliver strong results for them.

So thank you again for joining us. Thank you for the hard work that we are beginning today. Now, let me turn to the Foreign Minister for his opening remarks.

FOREIGN MINISTER RASSOUL: Your Excellency, Secretary Clinton, dear friends and colleagues, thank you so much for hosting this inaugural meeting of the Afghanistan-United States Bilateral Commission, and thank you for your gracious hospitality.

We meet today against the sad and tragic backdrop of Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues lost in Libya just last month. Let me extend, once again, our deepest and sincerest sympathies to you, Madam Secretary; to your colleagues at the State Department; and to you, to the family and friends of Ambassador Stevens and his three colleagues. Indeed, it’s because of similar enormous sacrifices by the soldier, diplomats, aid workers, and publics of our two nations that have allowed our two countries to lay down the foundation of a strong friendship and a solid partnership, and to continue our best efforts to build a future of common security and peace, dignity, and opportunity for our people.

Today’s meeting is both unique and historic, and I’m honored to be part of it. Founded on shared value, shared interests and mutual respects, and the promise of a future of peace and prosperity, the Strategic Partnership Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States has opened a new chapter in the relationship between our countries.

We approach this partnership from the fundamental premises that serve our national interest, and is potentially linchpin of security and stability in the region. We will continue to make progress in pursuit of our common strategic objectives, and ensuring the safety, security, and prosperity of the Afghan people.
Madam Secretary, 10 years ago, we had just begun emerging from long dark era of war, violence, and destruction. The challenges of restoring security to the lives of the Afghan people and rebuilding Afghanistan into stable and a democratic country seemed overwhelming. Today, nevertheless, we are a proud member of the community of the nations and moving steadily toward a peaceful and self-reliant future. Our partnership has responded to the threats to international peace and security, and has placed Afghanistan on the path towards a secure, democratic, and prosperous future.

I believe this Bilateral Commission will grow into the most key forum for our relation and partnership, and to convene in point for many committed actors in both our government and to expansive dialogue to define and implement coordinated collaborative action in realizing our common interest and shared goals.

As the Joint Steering Committee and Working Group continue to advance cooperation and monitor progress toward various aspect of our partnership accepted for the Strategic Partnership Agreement, let me assure you, Madam Secretary, that Afghanistan is fully committed to building on our shared success of the last decade, delivering results, and taking on the challenges ahead.

There are important priorities before us, all of which are crucial for the long-term security, stability, and prosperity of Afghanistan. We are encouraged by the continued progress of the transition process and the long-term commitment we have from our allies in – to support the Afghan security forces. In this regard, negotiating a comprehensive bilateral security agreement between our countries to the satisfaction of both sides is of paramount importance.

I am pleased to know that the United States has assigned an outstanding diplomat, Ambassador Warlick, to lead the negotiation on the agreement on the behalf of the United States. Ambassador Hakimi, also one of our finest diplomats, will lead the process on our behalf. I wish them both and their teams all the best in this important endeavor.

Moreover, Madam Secretary, we will continue to pursue the peace process vigorously. This is the just and deserving right of the Afghan people and the surest path to ending the cycle of violence in Afghanistan. We recognize the significance of the upcoming election for the future stability of Afghanistan. He will assure – we will ensure that the necessary conditions are in place for building – for holding free, fair, and transparent elections.

As we continue to advance human rights, enhance regional cooperation for peace and prosperity; develop our human and national resources; combat corruption; improve governance; build infrastructure, public health and education; and to fight terrorists and extremism, we will count on the continuing and substantial support of our biggest and most important ally, the United States of America.

And we will pursue all these priorities with special attentions to the continued promotion of the rights of Afghan women and girls in increasing their always significant role in the social, political, economic, and cultural life of our society.

May I take this opportunity to thank all those from the United States and Afghanistan committed to a solid and strong Strategic Partnership between Afghanistan and the United States, and to your determined effort and hard work. The challenges before us are great, but so too the promise of our partnership. So let us make the most of this opportunity and build on this strong foundation of our partnership to secure and better future.

Thank you very much, Madam.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister.


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Report to Congress on the Haqqani Network


Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

Washington, DC

September 7, 2012


Today, I have sent a report to Congress saying that the Haqqani Network meets the statutory criteria of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). This action meets the requirements of the Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-168). Based on that assessment, I notified Congress of my intent to designate the Haqqani Network as an FTO under the INA. I also intend to designate the organization as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under Executive Order 13224.

The consequences of these designations include a prohibition against knowingly providing material support or resources to, or engaging in other transactions with, the Haqqani Network, and the freezing of all property and interests in property of the organization that are in the United States, or come within the United States, or the control of U.S. persons. These actions follow a series of other steps that the U.S. government already has taken against the Haqqanis. The Department of State previously designated key Haqqani Network leaders under E.O. 13224, and the Department of the Treasury has designated other militants with ties to the Haqqanis under the same authority. We also continue our robust campaign of diplomatic, military, and intelligence pressure on the network, demonstrating the United States’ resolve to degrade the organization’s ability to execute violent attacks.

I take this action in the context of our overall strategy in Afghanistan, the five lines of effort that President Obama laid out when he was in Afghanistan in May: increasing the capacity of Afghan security forces to fight insurgents; transitioning to Afghan security lead; building an enduring partnership with Afghanistan; pursuing Afghan-led reconciliation; and putting together an international consensus to support peace and stability in the region. We will continue to work with both Afghanistan and Pakistan to move these efforts forward and build a more peaceful and secure future.

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Here is a reminder that 99+% of her job is not just international “Dancing with the Stars.” Her personnel serve in dangerous places … places she has never hesitated to visit herself.   That is the part of her job that somehow gets ignored in the media.  Condolences to the families of those who died serving.

Death of USAID Officer in Afghanistan

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
August 9, 2012

The United States strongly condemns the suicide attack yesterday in Kunar province, Afghanistan, that killed USAID Foreign Service Officer Ragaei Abdelfattah, three ISAF service members and an Afghan civilian, and injured a State Department Foreign Service officer. On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I have sent my deepest condolences to Ragaei’s family and to the entire U.S. Mission in Afghanistan.

Ragaei’s work over the last year was critical to our efforts to support Afghanistan’s political, economic, and security transitions and was an example of the highest standards of service. Over the last 15 months — partnering with local officials — he worked in eastern Afghanistan to help establish new schools and health clinics, and deliver electricity to the citizens of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces. Ragaei was so committed to our mission and to the people of Afghanistan that he volunteered to serve a second year.

With the work of people such as Ragaei, the civilian surge we launched in Afghanistan in 2009 has made a tremendous impact, strengthening the capacity of the Afghan Government and laying a foundation for long-term sustainable development. Though we are shocked and saddened by this loss and will miss Ragaei, our efforts will continue.

I send my thanks to our Diplomatic Security and military colleagues who work hard to ensure that our civilians in the field can get out each and every day to work side-by-side with our Afghan partners. Yesterday’s tragic incident is a reminder of our shared mission and shared sacrifice. It strengthens our resolve to continue working with the Afghan people to build their economy, democratic institutions, rule of law, and security so that Afghanistan can stand on its own as a stable, secure, and increasingly prosperous country.

I also want to send my appreciation today to all of my State Department and USAID colleagues around the world who work every day in challenging environments to advance U.S. interests and promote freedom and prosperity.

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Hillary Clinton had such a busy day in Japan on Sunday that last night I collected more than 100 pictures from her various events and then had to wait for the press releases to come through.  Most intriguing was a short series of pictures from an historical trilateral meeting with the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Hina Rabbani Khar,  and Afghanistan, Zalmai Rassoul.  As you know,  Hillary’s carefully worded apology to Pakistan this week finally permitted NATO land access once again at the border between the two countries –  a border that had been closed to NATO forces since November of last year.  What caught me about these pictures is her obvious delight in a trilateral agreement.  For our top diplomat agreement is what it is all about.  This particular agreement made history. What is amazing is that huge as this was, it was just one of many events in her busy day.  Here are the pictures.

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Here is their statement.

Joint Statement by U.S. Secretary of State Clinton, Afghanistan Foreign Minister Rassoul, and Pakistan Foreign Minister Khar at the First Ministerial-level Core Group Trilateral Meeting

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 8, 2012

Capitalizing on the opportunity afforded by the Tokyo Conference – which represents the culmination of a period of intensive engagement between Afghanistan and the international community – we convened the first ministerial-level Core Group meeting today. We reaffirmed that the purpose of the Core Group is to enhance cooperation between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States to support an Afghan peace and reconciliation process, and further affirmed that:

Afghanistan should be a peaceful, secure, stable, and prosperous nation living in a peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous region supported by enduring partnerships with the international community. Great effort and sacrifice by the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and the international community has decimated al-Qaida’s core leadership in the region, reducing the threat to international peace and security that led the international community to intervene in Afghanistan in 2001. Afghanistan should never again be a safe-haven from which al-Qaida or other terrorist groups threaten international peace and security.

As agreed at Istanbul and Bonn in 2011, and reaffirmed at Chicago and Tokyo in 2012, the surest way to lasting peace and security for Afghanistan and the broader region is through an Afghan political process of peace and reconciliation for Afghanistan. This process should be supported by Afghanistan’s neighbors and by the international community.

After 30 years of war, all Afghans should be able to live together in peace. Only Afghans can determine how they live together, how the future of their country must be shaped, and how their country should relate to the region and beyond.

We are committed to work together to support an inclusive Afghan peace process through which individuals and groups break ties with international terrorism, renounce violence, and abide by Afghanistan’s constitution, including its protections for the rights of all Afghan women and men. As the international community reaffirmed at Bonn and again at Tokyo, these are the necessary outcomes of any negotiation.

Foreign Minister Rassoul welcomed Pakistan’s and the United States’ support for Afghan peace efforts, noting especially former Prime Minister Gilani’s February 2012 statement expressing Pakistan’s support for Afghan reconciliation and calling on the Afghan Taliban and related groups to participate in an intra-Afghan process for reconciliation and peace.

To build further momentum, we reaffirmed the importance of pursuing multiple channels and contacts with the armed opposition. Pakistan and Afghanistan committed to take full advantage of upcoming bilateral exchanges, including Pakistani Prime Minister Ashraf’s forthcoming visit to Kabul and High Peace Council Chairman Rabbani’s planned visit to Islamabad. These visits should determine and implement additional concrete steps to advance Afghan reconciliation. We also welcomed and encouraged additional progress on regional confidence-building through the Istanbul Process, since enhanced cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbors on issues such as narcotics, refugees, and regional trade will help create an environment for long-term stability and prosperity.

We welcomed the broad international support for an Afghan peace process, reaffirmed here in Tokyo, and emphasized that the upcoming opening of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly provides additional opportunities to support and advance Afghan peace efforts.

We reiterate our call for the armed opposition to abandon violence and enter a dialogue with the Afghan government. We call on all parties to devote their energy to realizing this vision, respond in the same spirit, and commit to support an Afghan political process that will result in lasting peace, security, stability, and prosperity for Afghanistan and the region.

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