Posts Tagged ‘Arctic Council’

Well, there is a dearth of pictures coming in from Greenland, but this one, again with the cute red coat does show Mme. Secretary standing with Danish FM Lene Espersen with whom she issued the remarks below.

Remarks With Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen After their Meeting


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Hotel Hans Egede
Nuuk, Greenland
May 12, 2011

FOREIGN MINISTER ESPERSEN: Welcome to all of you. Before we take on the Arctic agenda this afternoon, we’ve just had the opportunity to briefly touch base on some of the other international issues that preoccupy us both and where we believe that we have a very valuable cooperation.

On Libya, we agreed that now is not the time to waver, that we have to sustain. The international community must maintain and increase the pressure on Qadhafi and his regime. And we are strongly committed to and actively engaged in the work of the Libya Contact Group, and of course, the efforts to assure a political solution for Libya.

We also agreed that the operation against Usama bin Ladin has created a new boost to international counterterrorism efforts, and we must build on this to further galvanize the broad international cooperation. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me begin by saying how delighted I am to be here in Nuuk at this Arctic Council meeting, the first time that the United States has been represented by the Secretary of State. And I am very grateful to Minister Espersen for her leadership and for the strong partnership that exists between the United States and Denmark.

Before I talk about the meeting we just had and today’s working session of the Arctic Council, I want to say a few words about the situation in Syria. Despite overwhelming international condemnation, the Syrian Government continues to exact brutal reprisals against its own citizens, including, tragically, the deaths of hundreds of Syrians since March. They engage in unlawful detention and torture and the denial of medical care to wounded persons. Now, there may be some who think that this is a sign of strength, but treating one’s own people in this way is, in fact, a sign of remarkable weakness.

President Obama and I have condemned these actions in no uncertain terms, and I do so again today. The recent events in Syria make clear that the country cannot return to the way it was before. Tanks and bullets and clubs will not solve Syria’s political and economic challenges. And relying on Iran as your best friend and your only strategic ally is not a viable way forward. Syria’s future will only be secured by a government that reflects the popular will of all of the people and protects their welfare. President Asad faces increasing isolation, and we will continue to work with our international partners in the EU and elsewhere on additional steps to hold Syria responsible for its gross human rights abuses.

It is such a pleasure for me, in contrast to what we see happening in a place like Syria, to be celebrating the alliance, partnership, and friendship between the United States and Denmark, rooted in our shared democratic values and aspirations. And that is the underpinning of the partnership we have here in the Arctic Council, and our determination to work together on a range of global challenges.

Today, Lene and I had the opportunity on the boat to discuss at length many of the issues that we are working on in this fast-moving world, including in North Africa and Afghanistan. And I thanked the minister for Denmark’s strong support throughout the Maghreb region. In Libya, Denmark was one of the first countries to fly air-to-ground missions, and may I say it is absolutely exemplary in every way, in all of the actions it has undertaken. It is also making substantial contributions in Egypt and Tunisia through its support for vulnerable groups such as young people and women, and its support for political reform, fair elections, rule of law, social dialogue, and civil society.

In Afghanistan, we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder as we work to ensure the smooth transition of security responsibility that was agreed upon at the Lisbon summit. Denmark’s general – generous development assistance is crucial to this effort, and I commended Foreign Minister Espersen for her initiative to improve women’s access to justice in Helmand province.

Now of course, we are here because of our shared concern and commitment to the Arctic. This region faces so many challenges, especially with the harmful effects of climate change on its ecology, natural resources, and the livelihoods of millions of people who are used to living off the land and the seas. And we will be discussing many important matters in our meeting to start just shortly, from mitigating the effects of black carbon, to cooperating on possible oil spills, to search-and-rescue operations. And in all of these discussions, we have benefitted enormously from the wisdom and engagement of the Council’s permanent participants.

Now the challenges in the region are not just environmental. There are other issues at stake. The melting of sea ice, for example, will result in more shipping, fishing, and tourism, and the possibility to develop newly accessible oil and gas reserves. We seek to pursue these opportunities in a smart, sustainable way that preserves the Arctic environment and ecosystem.

So for more than 15 years, the Arctic Council has established itself as the region’s preeminent intergovernmental body, and the United States is committed to this forum. The search-and-rescue agreement, which we co-chaired with Russia and which we will be signing today, is an example of how the Council can work collectively to effect positive change. The United States is an Arctic nation. This region matters greatly to us. That’s why I was delighted to be joined by Senator Lisa Murkowski, who represents Alaska. We know that the decisions we make now are going to have long-lasting ramifications, and we want to make the right decisions.

So again, I thank the minister and I thank Denmark for hosting this very important meeting.

MODERATOR: Thank you. (Inaudible) from (inaudible) TV.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, a question about Syria: Do you think al-Asad has lost his legitimacy as the leader of Syria?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me say that we have watched with great consternation and concern as events have unfolded under his leadership in Syria, and we are working with our international partners to make as strong a case as possible to sanction those who are leading and implementing the policies that are coming from the government.

I think it is – I think it’s fair to say that we’re going to hold the Syrian Government accountable. Now how that happens and what the timeline in – is, is something that we are working on as we speak. But I wanted to make very clear at the outset of this press conference that the United States, along with Denmark and our other colleagues, are going to be looking for ways to increase the pressure.

FOREIGN MINISTER ESPERSEN: Yeah, and I think that we completely agree. We’ve been amongst the countries in the European Union calling for sanctions, and now we’re calling for the Syrian leadership to actually deliver on the promises that they’ve made also on TV about political reforms and national dialogue. And I will say if the Syrian leadership does not deliver on reform, we are prepared to tighten the sanctions against the Syrian regime.

MODERATOR: Washington Post.

QUESTION: Thank you both for speaking with us. Madam Secretary, just a question: One of your goals in coming here is to call attention to important environmental issues, including climate change, but it’s been difficult for U.S. administrations to follow through on some of these ambitions and commitments on things from Law of the Sea to climate. I’m just wondering what assurances you can give the international community now that the U.S. is prepared to go forward and take some concrete action.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Joby, you’re right that it’s been challenging in our political system to take the kinds of actions that we know are dictated by the science and by what we see in front of our eyes. Many of the indigenous people who are here at the Arctic Council meeting can give you very dramatic descriptions of how their land and the sea has changed in their lifetimes. So there is no doubt, except among those who are into denying the facts before their eyes, that climate change is occurring, and it is contributed to by human actions at every level.

I don’t think the Obama Administration, certainly not the President, has given up on continuing to make the case for what the United States can and should do. We were not successful in getting the Senate to pass a comprehensive bill, but as you know, the Administration has increased its attention to regulatory actions that can be taken to improve everything from the gas mileage of cars to the regulation of utility emissions. And we’re going to continue to do that. We’re going to use every single available option that can demonstrate clearly to our own people, first and foremost, and then to the international community that the United States is taking action and will be doing everything we can to make our contribution.


QUESTION: Yes. To both of you, since you’re both cooperating on Libya, we’ve seen an intensification of the bombing raids, particularly against Tripoli. Is there a parallel effort, diplomatic effort, to push Qadhafi out, and how long would that take? Do you have an assessment of how long he might remain in power?

FOREIGN MINISTER ESPERSEN: Well, I think what is the most important thing is actually that when both Secretary Clinton and I were in Rome last week, we decided to have a much better international coordination and actually putting pressure on finding a political solution. One of the things that Colonel Qadhafi has been quite smart at doing has actually been sending all kinds of messengers out, negotiating ceasefires and things like that, only with one purpose, I think, and that is just to prolong everything and to try to make the international society start a quarrel whether we’re doing the right thing or not.

And what’s very important is that the Libya Contact Group and the international society remains committed to stay in until the job has been done, protecting the civilians and, of course, making sure that the UN special envoy Al-Khatib is supported a hundred percent in his very important job, trying to negotiate a political solution and a ceasefire. And I think that’s actually the best we can do, not having different countries negotiating with Qadhafi but having one person coordinating and negotiating, so that he knows that now the pressure is on him.

And I think that’s the most important thing, and I’ve spent any opportunity I have to say, because the Danish airplanes are doing a lot at the moment, to say that we are living up a hundred percent to the UN Security Council Resolution 1973. We are there to protect the civilians. And if it takes us to bomb military buildings and other things, we will continue to do that in order to protect the civilians. So we’re very committed on that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can only echo what the minister said, because she was very eloquent in describing what is the international consensus. And I think out of our meeting in Rome, we were even more determined to keep the military pressure on and to intensify our diplomatic and political efforts. They are proceeding as we can with a lot of consultation. The UN has a major role to play, but there are also other contacts that will be undertaken to make clear to Qadhafi and those around him that we’re persistent and we’re patient and we’re determined.

And I would just end by once again thanking and applauding the efforts of Denmark. Denmark is just an extraordinary country in every way, and its commitment to its international obligations, as evidenced not only in this operation under the UN Security Council but in its generosity of foreign assistance and in so many other areas it sets a very high standard.

MODERATOR: We have time to do one final question from T2.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, would you please give advice to your Danish colleague, being a woman in a man’s world as a foreign minister? (Laughter) Is it an advantage sometimes, actually?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think she doesn’t need any advice from me. She’s been a minister twice before in interior and justice where she, by every measure, was a great success. And now she is handling the foreign ministry obligations at a time when Denmark, like the United States, is facing a very fast-changing world. And I am a great fan of Lene’s. I think that she represents Denmark exceptionally well, and I also know that, like many young women – and I can say this because I’m not and she is – (laughter) – she has family responsibilities, she has two young children, and like so many women in Denmark and the United States and elsewhere, she is a highly responsible person in balancing both her family responsibilities and her obligations to her country. So I don’t think she needs any advice from me. I think she’s doing very well.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Let’s end here.

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So far this is the only picture I have found, but I had to post it. Love this cheerful red coat! Mme. Secretary looks enchanting!

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Public Schedule for May 12, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
May 12, 2011


Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel in Nuuk, Greenland to attend the Seventh Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council. Secretary Clinton is accompanied by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Assistant Secretary Jones. Click here for more information. (EDT + 2 hours)

9:00 a.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton and her counterparts take a boat tour of the Fjord, in Nuuk, Greenland.

11:00 a.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton meets with Alaskan indigenous group representatives participating in the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, in Nuuk, Greenland.

11:15 a.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen, in Nuuk, Greenland.

12:15 p.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton attends a working lunch with Arctic Council Delegates, in Nuuk, Greenland.

2:00 p.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton participates in the Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council, in Nuuk, Greenland.

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Public Schedule for May 11, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
May 11, 2011

9:20 a.m. 
Secretary Clinton delivers remarks at the 41st Washington Conference on the Americas, co-hosted by the U.S. Department of State and Council of the Americas, at the Department of State.

Click here for more information.

AM  Secretary Clinton departs for foreign travel in Nuuk, Greenland to attend the Seventh Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council. Secretary Clinton is accompanied by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Assistant Secretary Jones. Click here for more information.

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Having been negligent about posting here, I now find myself having to catch-up with a whole long trip the intrepid, indomitable and inexhaustible Secretary of State has been on Since March 31. Barely had her feet hit the ground in D.C. after her Mexican excursion, when she once again mounted the “Big Blue Plane” and took off for Europe. Here’s her journey.

She touched down in Amsterdam for a Conference on Afghanistan at The Hague. Here we see her with Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen.


Of course she spoke.

Remarks at The International Conference on Afghanistan


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
The Hague, Netherlands
March 31, 2009

Thank you very much, Minister Verhagen, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Special Representative Kai Eide, President Karzai, Minister Spanta, friends and colleagues, I want to thank all of you, and especially the United Nations and the Government of the Netherlands for hosting us. I also want to acknowledge the extraordinary contribution of the government and people of the Netherlands to the mission in Afghanistan.
And I want to also acknowledge President Karzai, who fills a critical leadership role in his nation, and whose government helped to shape the shared comprehensive and workable strategy that we are discussing today.
We are here to help the people of Afghanistan prevail against a ruthless enemy who poses a common threat to us all. Afghanistan has always been a crossroads of civilization, and today we find our fate converging in those plains and mountains that are so far and yet so near in this interconnected world to all of us.

Thanks to the efforts of the international community, the perpetrators of the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11 – attacks which killed citizens from more than 90 countries – were driven from Afghanistan, and the Afghan people made a promising start toward a more secure future. But since those first hopeful moments, our collective inability to implement a clear and sustained strategy has allowed violent extremists to regain a foothold in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, and to make the area a nerve center for efforts to spread violence from London to Mumbai.

The range of countries and institutions represented here is a universal recognition that what happens in Afghanistan matters to us all. Our failure to bring peace and progress would be a setback not only to the people of Afghanistan, but to the entire enterprise of collective action in the interest of collective security. Our success, on the other hand, will not only benefit Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region, but also the blueprint for a new diplomacy powered by partnership and premised on shared interests.

So as we recommit ourselves to meet our common challenge with a new strategy, new energy, and new resources, let us be guided by an ancient Afghan proverb, “patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

The plan I outline today is the product of intensive consultations with nations that have donated troops and support; Afghanistan’s neighbors and international institutions that play a vital role in Afghanistan’s future. The results of these consultations are clear: Our strategy must address the challenge in Afghanistan and Pakistan; it must integrate military and civilian activities and support them with vigorous international diplomacy; and it must rest on the simple premise that while we can and will help, Afghanistan’s future ultimately rests with the Afghan people and their elected government. Security is the essential first step; without it, all else fails. Afghanistan’s army and police will have to take the lead, supported by the International Security Assistance Force.

President Obama has announced that the United States will deploy 17,000 more soldiers and 4,000 additional military trainers to help build up Afghan security forces. The international community will also have to help. We should provide every army and police unit in Afghanistan with an international partner that can provide training and help build capacity. Our collective goal should be standing up an army of at least 134,000 soldiers and a police force of at least 82,000 officers by 2011. These steps will provide the people of Afghanistan with an opportunity to fight and win their own battle for their nation’s future.

We must also help Afghans strengthen their economy and institutions. They know how to rebuild their country, but they need the raw material of progress – roads, public institutions, schools, hospitals, irrigation, and agriculture. The United States is supporting the Government of Afghanistan’s National Development Strategy, the National Solidarity Program, and other initiatives that help Afghans improve their lives and strengthen their own communities.

In consultation with the Afghan Government, we have also identified agriculture – which comprises 70 percent of Afghanistan’s economy – as the key for development. In the 1970s, Afghans exported food to their neighbors. They were often called the garden of Central Asia. Today, this sector lags far behind, and its problems feed the deadly malignancy of the narcotics trade. The United States is focusing its efforts on rural development in provinces near the Afghan-Pakistan border, and we hope that others gathered here will heed the United Nations’ and Afghan Government’s call for help throughout the country with job creation, technical expertise, vocational training, and investments in roads, electrical transmission lines, education, healthcare, and so much else.

As we work with the Afghan people to supply these building blocks of development, we must demand accountability from ourselves and from the Afghan Government. Corruption is a cancer as dangerous to long-term success as the Taliban or al-Qaida. A government that cannot deliver accountable services for its people is a terrorist’s best recruiting tool.

So we must work with bodies such as Afghanistan’s Independent Directorate of Local Governance to ensure that the government at all levels is responsible and transparent. The international community, gathered here, can help by providing auditors and governance experts and training a new generation of civil servants and administrators.

To earn the trust of the Afghan people, the Afghan Government must be legitimate and respected. This requires a successful election in August – one that is open, free, and fair. That can only happen with strong support from the international community. I am, therefore, pleased to announce today that to advance that goal, the United States is committing $40 million to help fund Afghanistan’s upcoming elections.

We must also support efforts by the Government of Afghanistan to separate the extremists of al-Qaida and the Taliban from those who joined their ranks not out of conviction, but out of desperation. This is, in fact, the case for a majority of those fighting with the Taliban. They should be offered an honorable form of reconciliation and reintegration into a peaceful society if they are willing to abandon violence, break with al-Qaida, and support the constitution.

Just as these problems cannot be solved without the Afghan people, they cannot be solved without the help of Afghanistan’s neighbors. Trafficking in narcotics, the spread of violent extremism, economic stagnation, water management, electrification, and irrigation are regional challenges that require regional solutions.

The United Nations has a central role in this effort to coordinate with the Government of Afghanistan and neighbors in the region to make sure that programs are properly prioritized and well focused. We are committed to working with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Special Representative Kai Eide to achieve that goal. The United States Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, will lead American efforts as we move forward, and we welcome the appointment of special representatives by other countries.

If we are to succeed, we will need the help of all the nations present here. As President Obama has pointed out, “the world cannot afford the price that will come due if Afghanistan slides back into chaos.” While there is great temptation to retreat inward in these difficult economic times, it is precisely at such moments that we must redouble our effort. And as we make commitments and contributions, we must ensure they are flexible enough to respond to immediate needs and evolving opportunities. And we all must be willing to coordinate those efforts together.
The challenge we face is difficult, but the opportunity is clear if we move away from the past. All too often in the past seven years, our efforts have been undermanned, under-resourced and underfunded. This goal is achievable. We know we have made progress where we have made adequate investment and worked together.

The status of Afghanistan’s army, the lives of women and girls, the country’s education and health systems are far better today than they were in 2001. So if all of us represented here work with the government and people of Afghanistan, we will help not only to secure their future, but ours as well.
Now the principal focus of our discussions today is on Afghanistan, but we cannot hope to succeed if those who seek to reestablish a haven for violence and extremism operate from sanctuaries just across the border. For this reason, our partnership with Pakistan is critical. Together, we all must give Pakistan the tools it needs to fight extremists within its borders.
The Obama Administration has made a strong commitment through our support for legislation called the Kerry-Lugar assistance program. And in a few weeks, we will have a chance to join together in Tokyo for a meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan to provide the support that the Pakistani Government and people need. I urge the nations here today in support of Afghanistan to join us in Tokyo on April 17th to help the people of Pakistan.

This effort has already required great sacrifice and it will require more. But in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we face a common threat, a common enemy, and a common task. So let us use today, this conference, to renew and reinvigorate our commitment and our involvement, and to lay a firm foundation for a safer region and a safer world. It is in the interests of all of the people who we represent as we sit around this conference table here in The Hague, and for the kind of world that we wish to help create.
Thank you very much.

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Remarks With Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
The Hague, Netherlands
March 31, 2009

FOREIGN MINISTER VERHAGEN: Madame Secretary, ladies and gentlemen, I want to extend a warm welcome to Secretary Clinton for her visit to the Netherlands, especially because we want to celebrate this year, 400 years of friendship between our two countries. Maybe not in a big tent we are today, but in a place big enough to host all the delegations, all the people who are involved in the future of Afghanistan, and who know that we have a stake in the future of Afghanistan.
The United States and the Netherlands and over 80 other countries and organizations are today meeting in The Hague. We have serious choices to make today. In recent years, NATO and its partners have reduced the threat of terrorists who once found a free haven in Afghanistan and planned attacks on peaceful citizens all over the world. But our work in Afghanistan is still far from done. And Secretary Clinton and I discussed our analyses of the situation and the possible ways forward. And the Netherlands welcomes the outcome of the policy review conducted by the United States.
As the review makes clear, Afghanistan and the region cannot be made safe by military force alone. Diplomacy and development are equally important. Afghan citizens as well as our own citizens need to know what our strategy will be. And I hope today in The Hague, we will start working on a new deal for Afghanistan, a common contract, a new Afghan bond. Achieving respect for human rights, good governance, and social and economic progress are equally important. And I’m sure that the United States and the Netherlands agree that such an Afghan bond must reflect a comprehensive and integrated approach.
In the province of Uruzgan in the south of the country, Dutch diplomats, development workers and military, together with our allies, are learning to do just that. And although the situation is far from irreversible, the number of security incidents is stable and development is picking up. So the Netherlands very much welcomes the American commitment to the training of the Afghan army and police, because this will enable the international community to proceed from implementing to assisting.
In the end, the Afghan people themselves have to be able to provide security and to lead the development of their country. And this conference proves the international community as a whole stays and is wanting to stay committed to the Afghan people.
Madame Secretary, thank you very much and I hope that we will have a very fruitful conference today.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you so much, Minister, and I am confident that this conference will make a great difference. And I am very grateful to you personally and to the Dutch Government for making this conference possible in such a short period of time. It was less than a month ago that we first discussed this together in Brussels. And once again, the Dutch Government is at the forefront of the work done on behalf of the global community, and I appreciate that.
You know, as the minister said, Dutch troops are leading the effort in Afghanistan. In Uruzgan Province, as the minister referenced, the success of the policies implemented by the Dutch forces is remarkable. At the center of our efforts is a courageous military commitment by the Dutch people and their government, and it has proven results. It is not a surprise that the three Ds that the Dutch have pursued in their mission in Afghanistan – defense, diplomacy and development – are ones that I personally believe is exactly the right framework.
More than 80 nations and organizations have been brought together here in The Hague. And this conference is critical to our way forward. The Dutch people have played a vital role in advancing security and spreading opportunity far beyond your borders. And this time in particular, our commitment going forward in Afghanistan has great consequences for all of our people, all free people, all people who share the values that the Dutch and the Americans share. I will be speaking later at the conference about the Obama Administration’s strategy for Afghanistan. It is based on collaboration and consultation with our friends and partners.
I looked to the Netherlands not only because of the work that has been done in Afghanistan, but the unsurpassed commitment to fighting poverty and promoting development worldwide. The Netherlands has been a key ally for many decades. The fact that this country is the sixth most generous contributor to international development assistance says volumes about the values of the Dutch people. We will continue to seek your advice and your ideas, your guidance as we work together.
Now the ties between our two countries have a long history. This year, we celebrate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s legendary voyage which took him from Amsterdam to New Amsterdam. And it marked the beginning of a great chapter in American history and American and Dutch cooperation. I know that the people of New Amsterdam, Minister, a city that is very dear to my heart, have already begun to celebrate this anniversary. I look forward to welcoming you to the United States in a few weeks, where I hope that we can bring even greater attention to the ties that join us and to the values that extend beyond time. And I look forward to many centuries of friendship and partnership between the American and Dutch people.
Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary (inaudible) after 2010, what do you think can be the role for the Netherlands after that period?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that is, of course, up to the Dutch Government and the Dutch people. But I think the people of the Netherlands should know, certainly from my perspective, the extraordinary contribution and leadership that your mission in Afghanistan has provided. We understand very well the sacrifices, the individual sacrifices as well as the collective ones that such a mission demonstrates. But it has been extraordinarily successful. And in fact, our strategic review is building on many of the ideas and the principles that were brought to bear by the Dutch in Afghanistan. But of course, any decision in the future is up to the people of the Netherlands and their government.
Thank you.

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