Posts Tagged ‘Bahrain’

As Hillary’s self-appointed Big Sister,  I love the moderator’s final remark.  I worry that she is working so hard and wonder if she gets a chance to eat.

Manama Dialogue Opening Dinner


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ritz Carlton Hotel
Manama, Bahrain
December 3, 2010

Date: 12/03/2010 Description: Secretary Clinton speaks at the Manama Dialogue during her visit to Manama, Bahrain on Friday, December 3, 2010. © AP Image

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good evening, Your Majesty, Royal Highnesses, Highnesses, ministers, ambassadors, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen: It is a great pleasure for me to join you this year for the seventh annual Manama Dialogue.

And I want to congratulate the International Institute for Strategic Studies for the vision of this Dialogue and for convening what I am sure will be another thought-provoking conference. Every year, this Dialogue makes a valuable contribution to regional security by giving the Gulf states and their partners a chance to discuss urgent challenges, bring new issues to light, and find avenues for common action toward common goals.

I want to thank His Majesty King Hamad and His Royal Highness Salman for hosting us so graciously, and I also thank the foreign minister for meeting with me earlier today. As I have told our gracious host, this is my first trip to Bahrain. It’s one I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, and I can attest that the hospitality is just as warm as promised.

The United States is proud of our partnership with Bahrain, which has flourished for many years. Since we are meeting for a security conference, let me mention just one facet of this partnership. Bahrain is home to our Central Command’s Naval Forces, which in turn includes a number of combined task forces that bring together nations from around the world to address critical security issues facing this region, including terrorism and piracy. These task forces are an example of the kind of transnational military cooperation that makes us all safer, and I thank His Majesty the King for making this work possible.

As I look around this room, I can see that we do hail from countries across most continents. And we have come here because we share a common interest, and that is to work toward achieving lasting and comprehensive security and peace in the Gulf region.

This goal does not belong only to governments. It is an aspiration that lives in the hearts of citizens across the region – from Dubai to Baghdad to Riyadh. Across differences of religion, class, language, and nationality, people of this region, like people everywhere, express the same basic wish: to live free from violence, free from intimidation, free to develop their talents and pursue their dreams in an atmosphere of stability and peace.

It is in our interests to help the people of the Gulf fulfill that vision. And I believe we have the capacity to do so.

The starting point for the United States is our profound commitment to the security, stability, and development of the region. We have enduring stakes here. We have historical friendships here. We have invested blood and treasure to protect those stakes, those friendships, and those vital national security interests. We have acted to reverse aggression – and no one should mistake our resolve in standing by our friends.

When our engagement with this region began decades ago, our relationships were largely rooted in security and trade. Now, they extend much further. We and our Gulf partners are working together on issues including economic development, energy, education, water, and health – the building blocks of stable, thriving societies.

And increasingly, what we are seeing is the opportunity to work with our Gulf partners beyond the region, in fact, on the world stage.

United Arab Emirates is doing cutting-edge work in clean and renewable energy, and is home to the International Renewable Energy Agency, located in Masdar, one of the world’s most sustainable cities. That is a security commitment.

Last year, Saudi Arabia opened the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology, a world-class research and teaching institute for both men and women. That is a security commitment.

Bahrain has become a dynamic banking center, whose sound practices helped it largely to avoid the recent global financial crisis. That is a security commitment.

Oman and the United States are together supporting vital desalination research to help solve the global water crisis. That is a security commitment.

Kuwait is home to lively media and parliamentary debate, which foster one of the region’s most dynamic political cultures. That is a security commitment.

And Qatar is working to improve agricultural productivity in arid regions, to help fight hunger and protect natural resources. That is also a security commitment.

And let me congratulate Qatar on its being named for the World Cup in 2022 – more proof that this region is at the leading edge of important world affairs.

The innovative, forward-leaning work that is happening in these countries, on some of the defining issues of the 21st century, signals a new era in our partnership. You are no longer Gulf partners. You are global partners.

Our engagement with each other is broader and deeper today than ever before. And I have had the great privilege of meeting with many people from the countries represented here in the Gulf who have a personal stake in the success of our efforts. Because their futures will be shaped by what we do today to strengthen Gulf security.

Conflicts that arise here echo across the world. Many of our nations are targeted by the same networks of extremists; when they make headway here, they are emboldened elsewhere. The economic significance of the Gulf means that when your security is threatened, energy supplies, global commerce, and trade flows can be disrupted.

Now, part of being committed to the security of this region means identifying new threats and anticipating future ones, assessing how our defense cooperation can be improved, and addressing the root causes of instability – the political, economic, and social conditions that give rise to unrest and mistrust.

This evening, I’d like to discuss a few core principles that have been critical to maintaining Gulf security thus far and will be critical as we move toward the effort to try to resolve these problems in the 21st century.

The first principle is respect for national sovereignty.

Sovereignty is the foundation of the international system and the cornerstone of peaceful relations between nations. It protects the integrity of borders and territories. It proscribes external intervention in the affairs of another state, in particular forbidding outside support for those who would use violence to achieve their agendas. In short, sovereignty authorizes nations with the sole responsibility for charting their own destinies.

We meet as significant change is underway in one of those nations: Iraq. After years of hard work, Iraq is realizing its goal of becoming a fully sovereign, stable, and self-reliant state. And last month, Iraq’s political leaders agreed to form a government that reflects the results of their election – an inclusive government, with every major community represented, no one excluded or marginalized. Theirs must be a government made in Iraq by Iraqis.

Let me be clear about the position of the United States regarding our relationship with a sovereign Iraq, today and in the future. We are fully committed to working with Iraq as equal partners and equal members of the international community. Together, we will carry out the two agreements that our government and the Government of Iraq reached: our Strategic Framework Agreement, which covers the full range of our bilateral relationship; and our Security Agreement, which covers our security commitments and the drawdown of U.S troops.

The decisions that are charting Iraq’s course today are Iraq’s alone. The people and government of Iraq are in the lead. The speaker is here with us today, and he and the parliament are off to an impressive start. No country should pursue its own interests in Iraq at the expense of Iraq’s unity and sovereignty. And no country should threaten or intimidate or coerce Iraq or political stakeholders in Iraq.

We call on all of our partners in the Gulf region, in fact all countries in the region, to join in protecting the course that Iraqis have elected to take, and furthermore, to play a constructive role in supporting Iraq’s full reintegration into the region. Iraq’s positive engagement with other nations will rise as diplomatic, economic, educational, and cultural ties are reinforced.

These actions are actually in all of our interests, because Iraq’s progress is essential for the long-term peace and prosperity of us all. The brutal regime of Saddam Hussein unsettled the Gulf for years, and the sectarian strife that followed was devastating to Iraq and destabilizing to the region. Now we are seeing the possibility for something new: a future in which Iraq does not pose a threat to regional security, but instead a strength to it.

Also on the matter of sovereignty, let me just mention Lebanon. Because the international community has repeatedly aimed to secure and promote Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, including through multiple UN Security Council resolutions.

The Special Tribunal established by the United Nations represents a statement by the world that the era of political assassination with impunity in Lebanon or anywhere must end. To those who claim that the tribunal will destabilize Lebanon, I would answer: Justice is not a threat to Lebanon’s stability – the attempts to subvert justice by undermining the tribunal are the threat. (Applause.)

The United States joins the international community in supporting a sovereign, independent, and stable Lebanon. The support we provide is transparent and in accordance with our signed agreements with the Government of Lebanon, in accordance with our mutual interests, and in accordance with respect for Lebanon’s sovereignty.

The second principle is security partnership, especially in the face of new and complex threats.

The foremost measure of our partnerships’ success is whether they help protect the people of this region, the United States, and elsewhere from harm. As others have said, the threat of violent extremist groups – both within countries and across borders – and the threat of states that pursue destabilizing actions against their neighbors are among the immediate security challenges facing the region.

Like other modern threats, these challenges call for shared solutions, which require cooperation on every level: political, economical, strategic, and especially among our militaries.

Our security partnerships with countries in the region have broadened and deepened to account for the changing security environment. Last year, General Petraeus spoke at this conference about our increasing cooperation on air and ballistic missile defense, early warning, counter proliferation, developing a common operational picture, and broad-based strategies to counter violent extremism.

This past year has produced even more progress on these fronts. Our cooperation extends beyond the theater. Gulf and Arab countries have been among the most stalwart partners in our shared mission against violent extremist networks in Afghanistan. Our hosts here in Bahrain, the UAE, Jordan, and Egypt all deserve special mention for providing substantial civilian and humanitarian assistance in fields ranging from police training to civil service development, education, to women’s health. And we are grateful that the OIC has offered to host a meeting in Jeddah of the International Contact Group for Afghanistan and Pakistan next year.

But there is so much more that we can do together. Among other things, we seek to strengthen the Gulf Security Dialogue, which represents our primary security coordination mechanism with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The Dialogue is designed to bolster the capabilities of GCC partners to deter and defend against conventional and unconventional threats and improve interoperability with the United States and with each other.

We all know that efforts to deepen cooperation, coordination, and transparency among this region’s militaries would yield broad benefits that extend to the whole range of modern threats. It would become easier to manage incidents at sea. The likelihood of dangerous errors and undue escalations would decrease. The success of joint military operations would rise. In sum, cooperation among countries of the region would not simply helpful, but vital, for no one country can combat the security challenges of the 21st century.

A third, and related, principle is freedom of navigation.

The bounty of natural resources found in and around the Gulf gives this region a special place in the global economy. The Gulf states must be able to ship oil and other goods freely and securely, by land and sea, through the region. It is critical that we work together to protect free and open transit and strengthen maritime security. The U.S. has long stood behind this principle.

All countries, including Iran, should do their part to cooperate in the common defense of the waterways. This is particularly important as we address the serious problem of piracy in the waters off the Horn of Africa. Pirates disrupt vital shipping corridors, kidnap mariners, interfere with the delivery of humanitarian aid. Stopping them requires a comprehensive approach, not only at sea and but also on land, where desperate poverty and failed governments give pirates the room to operate with impunity.

Several nations in the region have begun to contribute to this effort. Bahrain has deployed a frigate to assist with counter-piracy operations as part of the Combined Task Force dealing with piracy. Yemen is prosecuting pirates in its courts. Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Yemen are among the original participants of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, which has helped encourage the use of best practices by shippers in case of attack. Thanks to this outreach, successful attacks have gone down by 20 percent in the last two years.

At the same time, however, the total number of attacks has gone up. The problem is outpacing the resources we have committed to solving it. So it is urgent that we accelerate our efforts to end this dangerous business by improving maritime security, targeting the finances of pirate networks, prosecuting the criminals, and addressing the conditions on the ground that give rise to piracy in the first place.

The fourth principle is a commitment to human security.

Now, it may be tempting to dismiss this kind of security as soft or insubstantial. But the human dimension is often where the investments we make in military hardware and diplomatic outreach pay off. Because true security is not just the absence of violence. It is also the presence of opportunity. Like the opportunity to receive an education or find a job, to live in a safe environment, to have access to the basics of life – food, water, health care, and housing.

It is also the opportunity to participate in the decisions that shape one’s life and future, and the freedom to develop and express one’s point of view.

All of these aspects of human security depend not only the support of leaders, but also on the contribution of civil society. And no country can afford to dismiss that.

I could not stand here and address this distinguished group without underscoring the importance of women as leaders and participants in the search for and the realization of human security, because when women are deprived of the opportunity to participate as full members of society – when they are denied access to justice and cut off from the civic life of their communities – the impact is felt not only by the women, but by their families and particularly their children.

Human security is particularly urgent in the Gulf. A majority of the population in this part of the world are young people. They are now connected. They now know what is going on across the world through the social networks that they have pioneered, developed, and basically dominate. Whether countries succeed in creating conditions that give them opportunities to live the lives that they are shaping for themselves will have a major impact on the security of the country in which they live.

I know that Yemen is searching particularly for ways to meet the growing needs of their young people. And the United States and others here are working with Yemen to improve economic development and job opportunities. We need broad international involvement for our efforts to succeed in Yemen, and I urge the Gulf Cooperation Council in particular to use its reach and resources to support Yemen’s progress.

We will continue to work on human security in the region. And it is one of the many reasons why President Obama and I are committed to achieving a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. We are working intensively in close consultation with many of the countries represented here to create the conditions for negotiations that can produce the peace that has eluded us for so many years. Negotiations are the only path that will succeed in securing the aspirations of the parties: for the Israelis, security; for the Palestinians, an independent, viable, sovereign state of their own. And I look forward to addressing this critical issue in greater depth during my participation in next week’s Saban Forum.

The fifth and final principle goes to the heart of one of the most complex challenges facing the Gulf and the world as a whole: nuclear nonproliferation.

The position of the international community on this issue is clear. All nations begin with the same rights and responsibilities. They have the right to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. But they must comply with the international safeguards that apply to states in order to prevent the diversion of that technology to destructive and destabilizing military purposes

In this region, we see evidence of real promise on upholding nonproliferation norms. And of course, we see areas of profound international concern.

Last year, for example, the UAE concluded an Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation with the United States, which makes clear that it seeks only the peaceful benefits of nuclear energy, not the capability to produce nuclear weapons. It also adopted the IAEA’s Additional Protocol, which will make its nuclear program transparent and build confidence in the international community that its intentions are entirely peaceful. These steps gave a major boost to the global nonproliferation regime, and they paved the way for UAE to successfully deliver nuclear energy to its citizens.

At this time, I would like to address directly the delegation at this conference from the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I am pleased to have this opportunity for your government and mine to gather here with representatives from other nations to discuss problems of mutual concern and interest.

In Geneva next week, the P-5+1 will meet with representatives from your nation – the first such meeting since October of 2009. (Applause.) We hope that out of this meeting, entered into with good faith, we will see a constructive engagement with respect to your nuclear program.

Nearly two years ago, President Obama extended your government a sincere offer of dialogue. We are still committed to this offer.

But the position of the international community is clear. You have the right to a peaceful nuclear program. But with that right comes a reasonable responsibility: that you follow the treaty you signed, and fully address the world’s concern about your nuclear activities. We urge you to make that choice – for your people, your interests, and our shared security. We urge you to restore the confidence of the international community and live up to your international obligations. Unfortunately, the most recent IAEA report reflected once again that so far Iran has chosen a different path, one that leads to greater international concern, isolation, and pressure.

We know that Iran is home of one of humankind’s great civilizations. The Iranian people are heirs to that tradition with tremendous potential to contribute to the world we are building together. And the world in turn would benefit from the full participation of the Iranian nation in the political, social, and economic life of this region.

We continue to make this offer of engagement with respect for your sovereignty and with regard for your interests – but also with an ironclad commitment to defending global security and the world’s interests in a peaceful and prosperous Gulf region.

The principles of security I’ve briefly discussed tonight are not remote abstractions. They are evident in how our countries treat each other. They guide our interactions and the steps we take to maintain trust. But it is not enough to list them or even to praise them; we have to put them into practice – as individual nations, through our bilateral relationships, and in the regional context.

And that is where regional organizations come in. Around the world, the United States is finding that increasingly nations must work together through regional forums and institutions in order to find ways to expand their own reach and deepen their understanding of the problems we face.

Here in this part of the world, the Gulf Cooperation Council already provides a useful forum for addressing regional issues. It is my hope that the GCC will go further and take on an even greater leadership role, bringing nations together to discuss urgent regional challenges.

I am sure over the next days, you will have conversations about many important topics, but I believe that all of the complexities of our world and the challenges we face come down to this. We all have choices to make. We can choose partnership, or we can choose division. We can face toward the past or turn to the future. We can let the differences between us define us, or we can focus on all that connects us – the common experiences we share, the hopes we have for the future for our children.

We have arrived at this place in our history because, for the most part, when faced with the choice to come together or move apart, we have chosen to come together. And we have made real and meaningful progress. Now, our work is far from finished, but it is well underway.

And on behalf of the United States, I look forward to continuing to work with you to create that more secure, prosperous, and peaceful world we all seek. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, thank you very much for a sweeping, profound, and nuanced set of remarks that established the principles on which security not just in this region, but around the world, can be established, and pointed out the variety of contributions that individual countries can make to that security, and the goals that your government has for reaching out and establishing productive and constructive partnerships with the states in this region and others interested in its security.

You have very kindly agreed to take a few questions, and I’d like to invite anyone who would like to ask a question to raise their hands. I cannot promise to include the dozens who I’m sure will seek the floor, but I will do my best to ensure a variety of commentary. If I don’t identify you, identify yourself, but I see the first, (inaudible), who is actually senior fellow for regional politics at the (inaudible) here in the Kingdom of Bahrain from Kuwait, and then Michael Burns (ph)* to your left. If you could stand, please.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, it’s a great privilege to have you address this (inaudible) Manama Dialogue. (Inaudible) I’d like to ask you the same question I posed to your predecessor, Secretary Rice, on one of her many visits to Kuwait. The past administration prioritized an electoral-based democratic progress as political reform in the region and the results were often problematic for both the U.S. Government and the international community; for example, Hamas’s victory in Palestine. In your opinion, is the current (inaudible) the same line on political reform in the region?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s an excellent question, because I do think there needs to be a much broader definition of what democracy means. Democracy is not only elections. Democracy is building the institutions that will enable a process of electing representatives to deliver results for people and do so by creating an inclusive approach to decision making.

Democracy also requires the protection of minority rights, the independence of the judiciary, a free press, the kinds of institutional changes that have to go hand-in-hand with elections. So we very much support democracy and we are continuing to provide support for organizations and individuals who speak out for and work on behalf of democracy. We are helping – for example, today in Bahrain at my town hall, I heard from a young parliamentarian who had gone to some of the courses that the United States runs to help young people go into politics and what it means not just to win an election, but to serve people.

So clearly, the United States remains committed to democratic process and to the democratic enterprise, because we believe that ultimately, it is the most stable form of government. But we know that different countries have taken different paths, and so we want to emphasize the broad array of actions that can lead to democratization. So elections are part of it, but it is not the only part, and too great an emphasis on it can lead to having one election and no more as people don’t fully invest themselves in what it takes to build the institutions of democracy.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. The next (inaudible), to be (inaudible), if you could come out a little bit so that you’re within the line of sight of the Secretary as you put your question. The microphone’s right behind you.

QUESTION: Thank you. Given the amount of time it took for the Iraqi Government to be formed, what do you think that says about its future stability and policy direction?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have a somewhat different take than perhaps others might have, but democracy is hard work. And people don’t just wake up one day and say we know how to do this. Politics, Max Weber said, was the slow, hard boring of hard boards. I mean, this is hard work. And for the first time, the Iraqis themselves had to bargain with each other, negotiate over future commitments and decisions, and what they came up with was an inclusive government that provided for recognition of the legitimate participation of all elements of their society.

Now, I would hope that the next time there’s an election, forming the government won’t take so long, but it is only fair to say that Belgium and the Netherlands had recent elections and took months to form a government, and they have had a lot more practice in politics than the Iraqis have had. So I think we ought to be very understanding of the difficulties that new democracies face, and to go back to the young woman’s question, really work not only to build the institutions, but embed the attitudes of what it takes to do politics in a democratic system.

Now, the real test is whether this newly formed government will begin delivering results for people, because democracies have to deliver results. The lights have to stay on for longer than three hours a day. There have to be some tangible signs of difference that will reinforce the commitment of the Iraqi people to the political process. So I think they’re off to an encouraging start from what we have seen so far.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible), if you could stand up, I think there’s a microphone right behind you, (inaudible).

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, first of all, as a German, I am thrilled that you’re here with us this evening and want to thank you, as John has and (inaudible) constructive, broad-spectrum speech. My question is about the strategic implications of the so-called WikiLeak affair. When (inaudible) was an individual, I traveled and my credit card figures an irregular-appearing transaction, my bank immediately gets in touch with me. This triggers alarms. This is a basic form of cyber security which applies to hundreds of millions of people.

In the case of WikiLeaks, we have had one individual who engaged in a rather strange transaction, that of downloading 252,000 diplomatic telegrams and memoranda. This apparently triggered no alarms, or if it did, they were not listened to. What are we to make of this very basic, massive breach of cyber security of the United States? What lessons should we as non-Americans draw from what has happened? And what lessons are you going to draw, given the scale of the affair?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there are lots of lessons to be learned here, and I appreciate the thrust of your question, because obviously, the United States must learn and apply lessons, but the lessons are ones that all of us in the international community will have to apply as well.

First, just a little background: The decision was made in the Bush Administration to add diplomatic cables to the Defense Department’s network, a special network that was created for that purpose.

And the process was undertaken in order to do a better job of what’s called connecting the dots, because after 9/11 one of the principal criticisms of our government was that information was stovepiped, that the Defense Department knew things that the State Department didn’t know that the White House didn’t know and, as a result, there were signals missed and information not processed. So it was understandable for the Bush Administration to say we need to end the stovepiping and figure out how to have greater awareness, situational awareness, and sharing of information.

The individual that you referred to was a fully cleared military intelligence officer. And I cannot speak for the Defense Department, but I’m sure you would assume, which is correct, that they are conducting, and have been, a very vigorous investigation to determine why no alarm bells went off.

In addition, I directed that we would cease sharing, for whatever period of time it may take, our cables. That stopped as soon as this gentleman was apprehended. And he is clearly going to be prosecuted along with anyone who participated or contributed to the crimes that he committed.

But I do think your point is a very important one. We all have now so much information on networks, and no matter how secure you think a network is or how carefully vetted or polygraphed a person might be who has access to that network, it’s probably impossible to have a completely secure network with so many pieces of information that are flowing in and out 24 hours a day.

We are obviously taking steps as I speak to upgrade and make our confidential information more secure, but I think it is incumbent upon everyone else to take a hard look, because as I said shortly after this unfortunate matter came to light, the attack on the United States’s information system was really an attack on the international community. Because for those of us who are in the diplomacy business, we are working to constantly gather information to put things in context so that we better understand what is going on. And there’s no surprise there.

In fact, some of the analysis that has been done of the information that has been made available through these leaks has basically concluded that there’s not much news, there’s not very much to comment on, there’s no big revelation. It’s the day-to-day work of what diplomats all around the world do. And we need to be sure we can continue to have candid and open conversations.

So I hope that we have fixed and will continue to strengthen our own security systems and that all of us do the same, because I believe that this attack, if left unpunished, will be just the first of many against anyone anywhere who can possibly suborn or convince an individual who has access to the systems to provide information for public release.

MODERATOR: I have just received a communication, and I can have one more question. So I think there’s 14 people who are about to be disappointed. Mark Fitzpatrick (ph)*, if you could ask it? Thank you very much. And I apologize profoundly, and I shall try to compensate during the course of the next day to those I’ve had to leave out. Mark Fitzpatrick (ph),*

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, in your direct address to the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran, I heard nothing but positive words. You spoke of recognition of the right to nuclear energy, of commitment to engagement, respect for sovereignty; it almost sounds as though you’re trying to create the right mood for the talks that will begin in Geneva on Monday. My question, Madam Secretary, is what can we realistically expect to come out of those talks?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I believe that that is largely in the hands of the Iranians. I said nothing different tonight than what I have said on many occasions since the beginning of this Administration. We very much hope that the negotiations in Geneva over the nuclear program will lead to breakthroughs. I wanted to stress again that Iran is entitled to the peaceful use of civil nuclear energy.

But the facts are stubborn and undebatable about the concerns that the international community has expressed, and the fact that the UN-adopted sanctions illustrates the concern, because no one is particularly fond of sanctions. It’s not something that any country or certainly the United Nations or the European Union or others wish to pursue. But it is a diplomatic tool – one of the strongest we have in the toolbox – to send a message that there is a level of concern that must be addressed by Iran. Otherwise, we are left drawing the worst conclusions, and that is a recipe for further destabilizing of this region in ways that would have long-term consequences.

So it is for me – if you are thinking strategically – very much in Iran’s interests to come to these talks in Geneva committed to working out a way to restore the confidence of the international community and to firmly, conclusively reject the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and to understand the strategic calculation at work here. Because if anyone in Iran believes that either acquiring nuclear weapons or the breakout capacity for nuclear weapons will make Iran stronger and more dominant in the region, that is an absolutely wrong calculation. Because it will trigger an arms race that will make the region less stable, more uncertain, and cause serious repercussions far beyond the Gulf.

So I’m hoping and waiting to see the results of the discussions in Geneva, and the United States, as I said, stands ready to continue engagement if there is a sincere effort by Iran to deal with the nuclear program in a way that permits the international community to move forward with Iran.

MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, this has been a profoundly fascinating evening. You’ve provided an extraordinary set of remarks, a wonderfully genuine response to really important questions. We are hugely in your debt for the tremendous food for thought and direct policy prescription that you’ve offered us – to us tonight. You’ve sung for your supper. I think you now deserve to have it. Madam Secretary, thank you very much indeed. (Applause.)

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Well, here is the Townterview with Mme. Secretary’s own words.  I have added emphasis to the words that shook the Hillary-World today as well as to other comments that relate to internet freedom and the WL (I will not type their name anymore) situation as well as her very thoughtful comments about the proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan.  I particularly like that response as a descendant of the French City Councillor to Peter Stuyvesant (yes, there was only one!) under whom, after much argumentation,  it was decided that a Jewish community be allowed to erect a synagogue near the East River.

Townterview Hosted by Bahrain TV


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
National Museum
Manama, Bahrain
December 3, 2010

MODERATOR ONE: Madam Secretary, welcome to Bahrain. It’s an honor to have you here.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, and thank you for hosting this wonderful event. And thanks to all of you for being here at the museum for this discussion. I’m very much looking forward to it. I think that – you may know this is my first trip to your country, but already I am feeling very much at home. So I hope we can have an open and very broad-ranging comprehensive conversation this afternoon and I’m looking forward to it.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Do you believe that (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I do. I am very impressed by the progress that Bahrain is making on all fronts – economically, politically, socially. There is a very comprehensive vision of where the people and the Government of Bahrain are headed. I’ve had an excellent, long discussion with His Majesty the King. I know that there are still challenges as there are in any society. I come from a country that has made a lot of changes over the course of our existence, and we have continued to push the boundaries of opportunity to include more and more people. And I believe that the elections that you held six weeks ago with a very high participation of 67 percent was a really strong signal of the progress that is being made.

So I’m delighted that I can be here to talk about what is being done, what remains to be done, the opportunities that young people see, because really the work that I do every day is for the future of the young people here in this audience and the kind of lives that you will lead. So I’m impressed and supportive of the work that is being done here.

MODERATOR ONE: Madam Secretary, it gives me great pride to first see you, as a leading figure, say these things about our kingdom. But when you compare Bahrain to the rest of the region, with the recent parliamentary elections that we’ve had that have been praised by a number of worldwide figures, how do you see that as contributing – I know you touched upon the parliamentary elections a minute ago, but how do you see that as contributing to our democratization process here in the kingdom?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that the commitment to democracy is paramount and I’ve heard that from a broad range of your leaders and your citizens. There seems to be a strong broadly-held commitment to democracy. Then how each country travels the road of democracy because it’s not a destination; it is a constant journey. We are still perfecting our democracy. And as I look around the world, I see that most democratic countries are still working to improve. So the commitment you’ve made is very promising, but there are a lot of decisions that still will confront you. What is important is that the entire society work together to achieve democratic progress, and I hope that is what will happen over the next years here in Bahrain.

MODERATOR TWO: Maybe you can take a question from our audience if you don’t mind, Madam Secretary.


MODERATOR TWO: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Right here.

MODERATOR TWO: (Off-mike.)


SECRETARY CLINTON: There you are. Back there.

QUESTION: Yes, welcome again to Bahrain. How is Mr. Obama? How is the President? We heard that he had 12 stitches on his lips. Is he okay? Can he talk?

SECRETARY CLINTON: He is in great shape. I have to say the President is a really physically active man and he works out every day, he plays basketball nearly once or twice a week. So yes, he was in a hard-fought basketball game, and the people he was playing with did not care if he was the President if he was on the other team. (Laughter.) And he ended up with an elbow in his mouth that required 12 stitches, but the next day, he was out on the court with his two daughters who are playing basketball at their school, helping them improve their game. So thank you for asking and I will tell him that you did. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR ONE: Send him my regards, please. I have a question here from Miss (inaudible).


MODERATOR ONE: Okay. Stand up, please.



QUESTION: How are you?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m fine, thank you.

QUESTION: It’s very nice to see you here in Bahrain.


QUESTION: I actually just have a question about the current situation now. Obviously, there were some issues with WikiLeaks. I don’t mean to bring up a very sensitive subject, but in the case that Israel does take military action towards Iran, how do you feel – how would the U.S. react in this case? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think – first of all, I think that it is not a surprise to anyone – it’s what we call old news – that many countries, many people in the region and beyond, are worried about the possibility of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. I know that’s a concern here in Bahrain. I know it’s a concern in Saudi Arabia and in the UAE and in Egypt and Jordan and Israel. But it’s also a concern in Europe and it’s a concern in the United States. And it is such a concern that countries all over the world, including China and Russia, supported strong sanctions against Iran in the United Nations to try to send a strong signal from the entire international community that Iran needs to know it cannot violate international rules and obligations and it is entitled, as every country is, to the peaceful use of civil nuclear power, but not to nuclear weapons.

So we’re all trying to send that very clear message to Iran. And on Monday, Iran has agreed to meet in Geneva, Switzerland with what are called the P-5+1. Those are the countries that the international community has deputized to work with Iran to try to convince Iran not to go forward with a nuclear weapons program. It is the United States and China and Russia and the United Kingdom, France and Germany, plus the European Union. So we’re hoping that when Iran comes to the meeting in Geneva, it will engage in a very serious discussion.

And I will say this today, I will say it tonight at the Manama Dialogue, I have said it all over the world – the United States is sincere in its efforts to engage with Iran. We would very much like to see Iran take a position as a responsible leader that doesn’t intimidate or threaten or scare its neighbors and others. But the choice is really up to Iran and we’re going to keep working to try to come out with the right decision.

MODERATOR ONE: Excellent. I have a question from the other side. I need to move. Sorry, ma’am.


MODERATOR ONE: Crème de la crème of youths in this gathering, so the questions will be tough, ma’am.



QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi, could you stand up? I can’t see you. I’m sorry.

QUESTION: Hi, I want to start off by saying that, first of all, me, along with, I think, a majority of Bahrain and probably majority of the Arab world, we’re ardent Obama supporters. So we’re very glad to see him there in the White House.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I will tell him.

QUESTION: And my question is regarding the mosque, the controversy, and – the mosque near Ground —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Near Ground Zero, right.

QUESTION: What is your stance on that? And did you expect that there would be so much controversy regarding the mosque?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I was, for eight years, a senator from New York. And any of you – have you – how many of you have been to New York City? Oh, good, good, and the rest of you need to come.

New York City represents the entire world. I mean, everyone from everywhere lives in New York City, and New York City has figured out a way to enable people to get along, work together, live near one another, and peacefully resolve their disputes. So I have never particularly been concerned that New York City wasn’t capable of making this decision, because New York City is certainly capable of it. And they will do so in accordance with the laws and procedures that the city has. I don’t know what the decision will be, but it’s a city that recognizes the strength of diversity and respects it.

And so the controversy, in my view, is something that is not going to affect whatever the final decision the city makes. And I am confident that the right decision will be made and that – it’s a little-known fact, but if you took a map of what is that area of downtown New York and you put a mark by every mosque that was near what is called Ground Zero – because of course, that’s where we were attacked and we take it very personally and seriously – there are a number of mosques in that area already.

So, I mean, people who don’t know about New York City, people who are emotional about what is still a very painful experience in our country, certainly are free to express their opinions. But that’s not how municipal decisions are made. They’re made on is this the right land use, do they have the right permits, and that’s how this will be made. And it’s not going to be controversial; it’ll be decided one way or the other.

MODERATOR TWO: We’ll take a question here. Madam Secretary, I’m personally an optimist and I sense through what you said about (inaudible) that you’re an optimist (inaudible) the future of this country.

During the past 10 years, there has been a huge increase in the numbers of the NGOs, an increase in the number of publications. There has been the empowerment of women; three women have reached the cabinet. There have been major changes. And you mentioned that there could be still some challenges that we could be facing. What are these challenges? How can we face them since we are a young democracy? Yet despite all the challenges we have had, we have managed to reach where we are today.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And you’re right to look at it optimistically. I learned earlier today that there are 526 NGOs in Bahrain, and it’s a small country and that’s a significant number. So the space for civil society, for activists who wish to express an opinion, and so long as they do so peacefully and civilly, should be expanded because there’s a lot of merit in having different voices at the table of any society. Defense of human rights, making sure that the judiciary is independent and the rule of law is followed – and I know there are trials going on now and I believe that the rules obviously will be and should be followed.

The point about democracy that many people who are just beginning to practice it often overlook is that democracy is not just about elections. Elections are a critical, necessary part – how they’re conducted, how legitimate they are. And on that basis, the elections you had six weeks ago, as I said, are widely admired. And then there are all the other elements of democracy, because protecting minority rights, ensuring that people have the full range of freedoms as long as, again, they exercise them responsibly.

So getting the right balance is what I know you are seeking. And it is not easy; it is hard to do this. If it were easy, people could just snap their fingers. But that’s not the way it works. You have to balance traditions that you value and that you want to keep with modernizing and developing to the full extent of your intellectual and human capital. So there’s a real opportunity here, but there is also, inevitably, a tension. We face that in our own country, because of course, I know more about the United States than I know about the real substance of Bahrain, the society and the political structure. But in my own country, we’re constantly having to balance.

The internet is an incredible invention that came out of scientific work done in the United States over a period of years, and then basically given to the world, where now it connects every one of us, from the poorest to the richest. What a great invention. But you can say or do so many things on the internet that are harmful. We have young people in America who are being bullied on the internet, and people say untrue or unkind things about them. And we’ve had some young people kill themselves because they’ve been so embarrassed and so humiliated by accusations that were made. Well, what do you do? How do you deal with that? I mean, we want a free and open internet, but you don’t want it to be a vehicle for sending falsehoods around the world and saying things about people that are so hurtful that it leads to such terrible outcomes.

These are the kinds of issues as just an example that societies have to be balancing all the time. So democracy is not, as I said, a destination. You don’t get there and take a deep breath and say, “Okay, we’re here, we can rest now.” Because technology doesn’t rest, human nature doesn’t rest; things keep changing all the time. So you have to ask yourselves how do we keep this balance between what we value about our traditions, making sure that we maintain those, and at the same time moving toward greater openness and democratization.

MODERATOR ONE: Madam Secretary, you just said that technological progress – or democracy in other words, is a – could be turned against itself if used negatively. Madam Secretary, we see that sometimes western media portrays this region of the world negatively more often than not, and hence creating a thin line between, let’s say, the freedom of the press and stereotyping basically. This, in turn, propagates a negative stereotype within the American society. What can you do as your role in the U.S. Government to fix this?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that’s a really important question, Mohammed, and one of the reasons I’m here is because I am concerned about that. I’m concerned about stereotyping. I’m concerned about it in respect to your region, but I’m also concerned about how the United States is stereotyped.

And I think that the media – if you think about media, you – and certainly the press often takes things and blows them up, makes them bigger than they might be. I have often said about my country based on the television shows that traveled around the world the last 20 years that you probably think that every man is a wrestler and every woman walks around in a bikini. I mean, it’s a terrible stereotype and people worry, “Well, what goes on in America?” And if you don’t get out and see our people and meet our people and go across our country, which I’ve learned today many of your leaders, including His Majesty, have done and the crown prince have done – you would be dealing with stereotypes. So similarly, images of the Gulf or the Middle East or the Arab world can also lend themselves to stereotypes.

So what’s to be done about that? Well, I think it’s important for us to have a much broader array of media images and discussions and programs so that you get a much more comprehensive view of each other. I am a strong supporter of more exchange programs, more – and I was delighted to see so many hands go up of people who have been to New York. And I hope you go to other places in the United States. And I hope more Americans – and of course, Americans have come to Bahrain for many years. You have hosted the Fifth Fleet. So we’ve had thousands of sailors and their families, and that’s one of the reasons why Bahrain is viewed so favorably in the United States, because people have personal experience.

But that’s not true with other parts of the region or the world. It is important that we all work harder to keep a more open mind. And one of the great challenges in the 21st century is despite our differences, which actually make life more interesting when you think about it – how boring would it be if there was only one kind of person who looked exactly the same as everyone else in all of the culture and the religion and everything was the same – so we’ve been blessed. We’ve been blessed with this richness of human diversity.

But we also, at the same time, as we recognize and even celebrate that, have to keep searching for our common humanity. We have to be able to relate to and empathize with others. And that takes good upbringing. That takes parents and family members who teach you to be proud of yourself and proud of who you are and proud of where you came from, but also sympathetic to and understanding of the other.

And I worry that in a fast-paced world, like the ones that most of the young people exist in today, that’s harder and harder. You think about all of the social networking that goes on, and it’s wonderful because you can stay in touch with so many people. But if you’re only staying in touch with people who already believe what you believe, see the world that you see, understand as you understand, then we can actually become more isolated instead of more open. So it’s a difficult moment in history, because the opportunities are just limitless for greater understanding and cooperation, but there’s also a sense that people in the face of all this face-paced change and this flood of information may feel more comfortable just shrinking their world and not venturing beyond it except in superficial ways. So I’m hoping that one of the things we can do is more exchanges, more openness, more real connections, so that people can appreciate each other better.

QUESTION: I’d like to go back to a point that you had made, Madam Secretary, about the freedom of expression and the press. We keep on debating whether there should be responsible freedom of expression, or should the freedom of expression be so extreme that anyone can say anything and publish anything they’d like to publish. Sometimes this could backfire at society. Do you believe in responsible freedom of expression or extreme freedom of expression?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I believe in responsible freedom of expression. Now, I don’t believe that should be used as an excuse of limiting legitimate freedom of expression. But it goes back to the example I gave. The difference between a child on a playground being bullied and being able to run home and have his mother or father say, “All right, here’s how you deal with that,” and having the bullying be known around the world is extreme. Just think about everyone in the world knowing you’ve been accused of something, whether it’s true or not. We’ve had a lot of gay young people who have killed themselves because their schoolmates, their fellow students, have said – told the world, going onto the internet, “John is gay. Mary is gay.” And they were so humiliated and unable to cope with it that they killed themselves.

Well, so how do we deal with this? And that’s why I think that the press itself has to have internal discipline about checking and being careful about what is published. And the public has to try to get that right balance again, walk that line between responsible freedom of expression and not let a government or a corporation or a rogue individual abuse it. So when our Constitution was passed, we had the First Amendment to guarantee the freedom of expression. But as smart as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin and John Adams and all the founders of our country were, they could have never imagined the internet.

So how do you take what is a good principle and a fundamental value and move it into the 21st century? It’s similar to being a woman in my country. When my country was founded, women couldn’t vote, women didn’t have rights to property, women were not allowed to serve in positions like the one I’m in now. But the fundamental principles concerning freedom were eventually applied, because otherwise it didn’t add up; it didn’t make sense. And so I think that we all have to be asking ourselves how do you make responsible progress in ways that enhance our common humanity, respect the human rights of every person, and give us a chance to have a more coherent society? And the answers are hard, but we have to be asking.

MODERATOR TWO: (Inaudible) do you have any question?

MODERATOR ONE: Many questions actually. We’ll have quick questions and hopefully quick answers, ma’am, if it’s possible. Let’s have a guy and then a girl. Yes. Your name, please? Could you please stand up?

QUESTION: Matar Ibrahim. I’m a member of the parliament.


QUESTION: I got the opportunity to enter the exchange program, (inaudible) the program, Leaders for Democracy. And it has a good impact on my election in the last period. It was a great opportunity to enter such a program. Thanks for the Department of State for what they are paying and the programs for me be – it is very useful for us, and I think we should see in parallel progress in the foreign affair policy in the United States.

My question is related to the declines in many areas. When Bahrain was chosen as a strategic ally to United States, we were in the thick in term of many areas, in term of civil society, in term of human rights, in term of democracy. A lot of declines happened in the last period, and you are aware about all these things. Many people are arrested, lawyers and human rights activists. Sometime we feel that there is no, let’s say, red lines or constraints between United States and their allies. The situation was perfect, but now it is changed.

So my question is: Do you review the policies of your allies from time to time, and how can we see our relation with United States as an opportunity for, let’s say, a growth for the democracy? Sometime look, for example, for the Fifth Fleet here in Bahrain as a obligation for the progress, and we’d like to see it as a support for the change here in Bahrain. Thanks a lot.

MODERATOR ONE: I think you hijacked the mike. I think you did. Seriously, I mean, next time we need just one-minute question. And I’m —

SECRETARY CLINTON: And I’ll try to be quick in my answer too.


SECRETARY CLINTON: First of all, thank you for the positive words about the MEPI program. That’s one of the initiatives that we support out of the State Department to help educate and train young people in Bahrain and elsewhere in the Middle East to run for parliament, to start new businesses, to be active in their society. So I am delighted to hear that you think it was worthwhile.

I think it is absolutely clear that the United States is constantly reviewing not only our allies, but our relations with every country. And we issue several reports. We issue a human rights report, we issue a religious freedom report, we issue a human trafficking report and other reports where we express concerns about other nations. And since I became Secretary of State, we’ve also been reviewing ourselves, because I think it’s only fair if we’re going to review other countries that we review the progress or problems in the United States.

And I know when you’re in the midst of societies that are as dynamic as Bahrain is, with so many changes happening, that it’s easy to be very focused internally and see the glass as half empty. I see the glass as half full. I think the changes that are happening in Bahrain are much greater than what I see in many other countries in the region and beyond.

Now, I’m not saying – as I’ve said many times already this afternoon, nothing is perfect, nothing is done, there’s a lot of work that still lies ahead. And people in the parliament are going to bear some of the responsibility for being able to navigate toward positive outcomes. And yes, I mean, people are arrested and people should have due process, and there should be the rule of law, and people should have good defense counsel. We believe in all of that and we say all of that. But on the other hand, the election was widely validated because it was free and fair and had high participation. So you have to look at the entire picture. And maybe we have the perspective because we’re looking at the entire world all the time to see how much progress you’ve made. And we encourage additional progress, which is why we have programs like MEPI.

QUESTION: Can I ask you something?


MODERATOR ONE: (Inaudible.) One more question from this part, and then I’ll go to the other side. (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) My name is (inaudible). I just have one quick question because I’m so curious. I’m sure most of you agree that one of Bahrain’s biggest assets is strong, courageous women. So what I was wondering – I’m sure you know about all of our women empowerment achievements here in Bahrain. And I’m curious to know what are the challenges that American women face currently? I’m sure that they went through a lot during history and that’s what brought you, like, here today. So I was wondering what type of challenges they face. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you for asking that, because that’s another part of the answer to the young parliamentarian’s question. The role of women in Bahrain has advanced much more than in many places in the region and beyond. Women are playing an active role in your government, in your professions, in your business community, the academic world, the not-for-profit, NGO world. And I learned today that 47 percent of the women – or 47 percent of the positions in government and civil service are women. So that is an amazing accomplishment in a relatively short period of time. And I’ve met with some of the courageous pioneers here in Bahrain, and I am deeply impressed by what they have done to open doors for the young women I see sitting in front of me, who will have the opportunity to pursue their own particular dreams.

In our country, we have made tremendous progress. In my own lifetime we have, and I’m very grateful for that. There still remain challenges, as there do in any society. One of them is nothing to do with laws or with barriers, but how women balance family and work. If you are, as I am, very proud and happy that I have been able to combine work and family and raising my daughter, you have to admit that it’s challenging, and it’s something that each person has to work out for herself within her family. And we don’t have very much support for working women, not enough in my view. We don’t have enough support for maternal leave and the kinds of things that some of the European countries do. So we still make it hard on women to go into the work force and feel that they can be good at work but then doing the most important job, which is raising your children in a responsible and positive way. But there still are lots of people who are working even to change that.

So we make progress, but I’m not here to tell you that we have all the answers, because I don’t know any society in the world that does. And part of what I hope is that we can support each other as everyone makes these changes and tries to improve.

MODERATOR TWO: Madam Secretary, do you believe – we just had a question from a member of parliament, and it’s nice to see a young man in our parliament. Men and women above the age of 30 are allowed to enter as candidates. Do you believe that this in itself is a very good sign? Do you believe that what’s happened lately with Bahrain’s parliamentary elections when the biggest political opposition party won 18 seats, do you believe that the society should look at this in a very positive way? Especially when opposition gets to occupy that many number of seats in the parliament, doesn’t it reflect integrity?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I believe it does. I mean, I think you’ve got to recognize, again, that in many places in this region, there are no elections of any real validity or legitimacy. There are no opposition parties or candidates or office holders. And so what you have done with this election and many of the other changes that have gone on is to make a commitment to democracy that is paying off.

Now, elections, as I said, are just the beginning, and whether you’re in the majority or you’re in the opposition, you have to compromise in a parliament. Nobody gets his or her own way a hundred percent of the time in a democracy. And that sometimes is frustrating to people. People who believe that they have all the answers, that they hold the truth, that it’s their way or no way, find it difficult to function within a democratic system, and particularly in a parliament.

So I think the elections were a very important milestone. Now, of course, it’s getting the parliament to function, getting people to talk to each other across lines that otherwise divide you, trying to get some common objectives that will advance the well-being of the people – that’s what is expected when you’re in the parliament, to make a positive contribution.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, it is more than safe to say that your achievements so far have been remarkable. It’s a great honor for me to sit here across the table from you and I’m still shaking, actually. But I must ask this question. Where do you see yourself after your term as Secretary of State? Are you planning to run for president once again?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no. I am not. And I had – I’ve had a fascinating and rewarding public career. I started as a young lawyer in an NGO called the Children’s Defense Fund, where I advocated and represented in court abused and neglected children, children who weren’t able to go to school because they were blind or deaf or paralyzed.

So I started off as an advocate and I started organizations. I chaired an organization called the Legal Services Corporation to provide attorneys for poor people so they could defend their rights in our courts. And of course, I practiced law, I was a law professor. I had the great privilege when my husband was governor of Arkansas, one of our poorest states, of leading a campaign to reform and improve our schools. And then when he was president, I was very active on a whole range of issues, including healthcare and what to do with children who were abandoned by their families or taken away from abusive families and how to give them better family situations. And then I had eight years as a senator and now, I’ll start my third year as Secretary of State next year.

And I think I’ll serve as Secretary of State as my last public position and then probably go back to advocacy work, particularly on behalf of women and children, and particularly around the world. Because if you look at what is still happening to women in many parts of the world, it is tragic and terrible and the women here, who – as I look at you, who are educated and have the options and choices in your own lives, I feel very lucky because of my parents and then my education and the opportunities I’ve had. So I would like to continue working to improve lives for others as well.

MODERATOR ONE: Back to the floor.

SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s Mohammed back there.



MODERATOR ONE: Yeah, one question from you. Yeah. Your name, please?

QUESTION: My name is (inaudible) and I was an alumni of University of Arkansas.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh my goodness. Hello.

QUESTION: Hello. My question is – Madam Secretary, is at 2000, you were elected the senator of the state of New York, and previously you were the First Lady. So how was the transition from being the First Lady to a public office or serving?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a wonderful question. When were you at the University of Arkansas?

QUESTION: I graduated in 2006, I had the honor of meeting Mr. Bill Clinton at Arkansas in 2006.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Excellent, excellent. Well, I enjoyed greatly both opportunities. Being the First Lady of the United States is not a job; there’s no job description. You are in the position because your husband has been elected President, and your primary responsibility is to support your husband in the hardest job that one can imagine. I know the young lady back there who said the very nice thing about President Obama, but every president, if you watch what they look like when they came into office, you can see their hair turn white.

QUESTION: He looks younger.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I mean, it’s because it’s such a hard job. And so I spent a lot of my time doing things that my husband had asked me to do or recommended that would further his vision for our country. And I got to travel around the world and I did a lot of work on behalf of women. I started an organization called Vital Voices and I know there is at least one Vital Voice award winner here – yes, there you are.

And so then when I ran for the senate, that’s a very defined job. I mean, first of all, you have to get elected on your own. People have to decide they’re going to vote for you not because of who you’re married to or where you’re from, but because of what you stand for. And I was very honored to be elected. And then the job itself is a demanding one which includes representing your constituents and New York is a big state – it’s not just New York City; it’s also farmland and beautiful countryside. And so the jobs were very different. But I’m a lucky person. I’m very grateful and I’m very blessed that I’ve had these experiences.

But I think that’s an interesting point on a larger plane, because most of us will live longer than our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents. We will have a chance to do different things in our life. So what is the best way to be prepared? Well, obviously, it starts in the home with what kind of upbringing you have, what kind of character, what kind of moral values you’re given. And then your education; how well-prepared you are to deal with new opportunities and new challenges. It’s not so much what life throws at you; it’s how you respond, because every one of us has difficulties that we live through, and they can either knock you down and you don’t get up or they knock you down and you get up stronger.

So for me, I’ve had a life that has been filled with all kinds of opportunities and my fair share of challenges, but I’m a very lucky person.

MODERATOR TWO: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, I think we’re running out of time.

MODERATOR ONE: More questions here.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay. Here comes Mohammed.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Mohammed, you’re like the Oprah of Manama, look at you. (Laughter.) I love it.


QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, good afternoon. My question to you is regarding U.S. foreign policy. Given the refusal of the current Israeli Government to renew a moratorium on the construction of settlements, a move that was considered essential by the Obama Administration to engaging in peace talks with the Palestinians, I mean, where would you say this leaves the future of the peace process? And would you be – is the Obama Administration considering taking steps to ensure that this might happen?

MODERATOR ONE: What’s your name?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I appreciate your raising it, because both President Obama and I are absolutely committed to doing everything that we can to bring about a two-state solution. It is our analysis and assessment that the only way to reach that that is sustainable, lasting, permanent is for the parties to negotiate. The parties have negotiated over matters in the past. They had very constructive, face-to-face discussions during September, and I was privileged to be present in a very, very small setting with just President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu and Senator Mitchell and myself.

So I know and believe that they are both sincere, that they are both committed. They both have internal and external political problems that we have to help them resolve. So we are working very hard to do that, and the United States is prepared to play a very active role. But ultimately, whether it’s the United States or the Arab Peace Initiative that 56 Muslim countries signed up to, or the European Union, or anybody else, only the parties can make these hard decisions.

And so what are we doing? Well, we are doing two things. We are trying to deal with Israel’s legitimate security concerns, because – well, here’s their perspective, and this is what I mean about always despite differences trying to say, “Okay, suppose I were in that other person’s shoes.” They feel like they’ve pulled their troops out of Lebanon, and Hezbollah got 40,000 rockets pointed at them. Then they pulled out of Gaza and they left all of the industry that they had, and then Hamas came in and started firing rockets.

So they have a legitimate concern. The concern is, if we pull out of the West Bank, how do we maintain security? The Palestinians have a legitimate concern about how do we get the support we need to build the institutions of the state and how do we try to demonstrate to everyone around the world we are ready for statehood? So we’ve been helping both. We’ve been helping the Israelis think through all their security challenges. We’ve been – we’ve become the biggest single donor to the Palestinians as they build the institutions of their state.

But I believe that there has been more substantive progress and actually thinking through the consequences of a two-state solution in the last months than at any time before. So do I wish we could do it tomorrow? Absolutely. I mean, wouldn’t we all like to do it tomorrow and have it something that the world could celebrate? But it’s hard. So we’re going to keep at it. We are not, in any way, discouraged by the difficulties that are presented. And I think we’ll continue to see some real intense efforts on both sides.

MODERATOR TWO: Well, Secretary, I’m sure that you have a very busy schedule today. We would like to conclude our gathering and our meeting here with you with one final question: Where do you see Bahrain in the next 20 years?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think where Bahrain is in the next 20 years is up to all of you. It’s up to students and parliamentarians, it’s up to members of the Royal Family, it’s up to people who are starting businesses, it’s up to all of you. I will tell you where I hope you are.

I hope that you are as positive and optimistic and results-oriented as I see you are today. I hope you have made even more progress on the path of democracy. I hope you are in a region where your neighbors all get along with each other and that there is a commitment to a peaceful future for everyone. I hope that the brain power that resides here in Bahrain is put to work on solving scientific and research problems and creating new job opportunities so that everyone here has a chance to make a contribution. I hope that parliament is among the best in the world and people actually solving problems and not just engaging in politics and rhetoric, but really coming together to figure out what to do with each other. And I hope that the United States and Bahrain remain, as we have been for decades now, close friends and partners.

We stand very strongly behind you. We have a security agreement, which we fully support. We have a free trade agreement, which we don’t have many of around the world, and we have with you. We have exchange programs. And I hope it only gets deeper and broader every single year. And I hope to come back to Bahrain many times in the future. Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)

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Remarks With Foreign Minister Al Khalifa After their Meeting


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Manama, Bahrain
December 3, 2010

FOREIGN MINISTER AL KHALIFA: (U.S. Embassy interpretation) Ladies and gentlemen, guests, good morning.

I am delighted to welcome U.S. Secretary of State Mrs. Hillary Clinton and express my pleasure to have her in the Kingdom of Bahrain. On this occasion, I would like to commend the historical relations that tie our two friendly countries; relations that have been reinforced by the directives and leadership of His Majesty King Hamad bin isa Al-Khalifa and His Excellency President of the United States of America Barak Obama. I am pleased that this visit is a historical opportunity for us to work on developing the good ties between our two friendly countries on all levels to serve our joint interests.

Immediately after this press conference, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa will meet with Her Excellency the Secretary and during the meeting he will reaffirm the strength of the ties of our two friendly countries. The Secretary will also meet with a group of promising Bahraini youth and will address the opening ceremony of Manama Dialogue this evening.

I have the pleasure to work together with Her Excellency the Secretary for our joint interests and enhancing our historical ties. In this context, I would like to inform you that during our bilateral meeting that we have just had, we tackled many issues of mutual interest and we exchanged positive views on those issue.

The Kingdom of Bahrain and the United States of America have long standing cooperation with historical roots that go back for decades. This cooperation aims to reinforce peace, stability and security in the Arabian Gulf region. We hope to increase this cooperation and move it to new horizons.

During my meeting with Her Excellency the Secretary, I welcomed the support of the United States to the municipal and legislative elections in the Kingdom and at the same time I expressed our appreciation to the United States’ positive stance towards the success of the democratic process in the Kingdom.

On another note, I reiterated our interest about the meeting that will be held in Geneva between 1+5 group and Iran and we reiterated the importance of continuing the diplomatic negotiations between the two parties taking in consideration the right to peaceful nuclear energy program with the commitment of full transparency and safety standards.

As for the peace process in the Middle East, we discussed how to reach a comprehensive peace in the region. I hailed the pivotal role of the United States to facilitate the direct negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli parties. On the other hand, we see the importance of continuing to support and enhance the Arab peace initiative as it is considered an important vision for peace in the region. We believe that through the actual commitment towards negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli parties, an agreement could be reached to end this conflict and enable the Palestinian party to have its own viable independent state according to June 1967 borders in return for guaranteed security to Israel.

We affirmed the importance of the unity and stability of brotherly Iraq in light of the formation of the new Iraqi government especially that Iraq is a dear Arab country to us and an important element of security and stability in our vital region.

We also discussed Yemen and affirmed the importance of working with this brotherly country to empower it to confront terrorism. We hailed the efforts of a group of Yemen’s friends who discussed the challenges that face Yemen and gathered international support to overcome those challenges.

We share with our friends in the United States many views on many different issues that we face. This is being reinforced by the friendly atmosphere that we see during our serious talks with American officials. We look forward to continued joint work between us for the interest of our two friendly countries and their peoples and to live in peace and stability in the Gulf and Middle East regions.

Your Excellency, Madam Secretary, I thank you and appreciate this visit and I always welcome you to the Kingdom of Bahrain. (End U.S. Embassy interpretation.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister. And it is a great personal pleasure for me to be here in Bahrain, both for a bilateral visit and consultation, as well as participating in the Manama Dialogue tonight. I am also very excited about the chance to meet with young people, and to have a dialogue with them, as well, this afternoon. I look forward to meeting with His Majesty, King Hamad, as well as the Crown Prince.

This is my first visit, long overdue, something that I have anticipated for a long time. And I want to start by congratulating the government and people of this beautiful country on the parliamentary and municipal elections that were held six weeks ago. The fact that so many citizens voted was a strong demonstration of their resolve to take part in their public life.

And as we know, the challenges of democratic governance do not end with elections. But I am impressed by the commitment that the government has to the democratic path that Bahrain is walking on. It takes time; we know that from our own experience. There are obstacles and difficulties along the way. But America will continue working with you to promote a vigorous civil society, and to ensure that democracy, human rights, and civil liberties are protected by the rule of law, because we view Bahrain as a model partner for not only the United States, but for so many countries that are looking to see the way that Bahrain decides about its future.

We often say that you are a country that punches above your weight, Your Excellency. And our nations cooperate closely across a range of issues. We work together to support entrepreneurs. Our scientists collaborate. Our students, and so many others, have developed close ties between our two people. And the sailors of our ships’ fleets have lived and worked alongside you for decades, as part of our close security partnership.

So, as the foreign minister said, we had a very productive discussion about the challenges facing Bahrain and the region. We share a positive vision for the future of the Gulf and the larger Middle East. We both seek a region where countries can conduct their affairs free of threats or intimidation, where people of different faiths and confessions can coexist peacefully and enjoy the same rights, and where citizens are free to develop their God-given talents in an atmosphere of stability, peace, and prosperity.

We also spoke about the principles underlying this vision, of commitment to solving problems peacefully through partnership and diplomacy, respect for national sovereignty, adherence to international norms, including the freedom of navigation and nuclear non-proliferation, empowering individuals across the region by driving economic development and protecting the rights of all.

We know that Bahrain, like their Gulf neighbors, are working to build a strong region where not only individual countries can progress, but where the entire region can, as well. And I intend to discuss these issues in some depth tonight at the dialogue, and I am very grateful, as always, for the foreign minister’s insight.

We also discussed some of the key concerns, how best to pursue our shared goal of a two-state solution and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. As I have said before, this is not easy. If it were, it would have been done by now. But the United States is working intensively to create the conditions that will permit the parties to negotiate their way forward to a final resolution.

I also appreciate Bahrain’s support for the work of President Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad, and the Palestinian Authority, who are building the institutions necessary for a viable, independent state that can provide security, law and order, and essential services to the Palestinian people. They need support from all of us. And that is part of what we are attempting to do by creating the conditions for peace, and helping the Palestinian people realize their legitimate aspirations. And we have consistently commended the Arab peace initiative, which was a far-sighted visionary statement of what can be achieved if we work together.

We obviously talked about Iran, and our hope that Iran will pursue a different path in dealing with its neighbors and, in fact, I would add, in dealing with its own people. We continue to hold open that possibility, and will look for a specific way to try to increase our coordination and cooperation, if Iran is willing to do so.

As we deepen our bilateral ties, and pursue important regional and global issues, we must continue to build the structures of cooperation that sustain security and prosperity in the Gulf. The United States has been proud to be a partner of Bahrain for many years. We look forward to continuing our close and productive cooperation, partnership, and friendship with the government and the people of this wonderful country. Thank you, Your Excellency.


QUESTION: Welcome to Bahrain, Mrs. Clinton. My name is Rein Halifa (ph) from (inaudible) Newspaper. And my question is would you agree that U.S. capacity to influence (inaudible) democracy, human rights, and good governance has been greatly limited during this period? And thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Actually, no. I believe that we are seeing significant progress across this region and globally, as countries embrace a democratic future. We recognize that countries start at different points. They travel their own paths. But we are heartened by the commitment to enhance opportunities for men and women to create the infrastructure for economic development, as well as political development. The recent elections here in Bahrain we think are not only significant for this country, but send a broader message, regionally and globally.

So, we are encouraged by the progress that we see. We have watched with great attention the development of a government in Iraq that is an inclusive government representing the entire population. We will work very closely with our partners in the Gulf, and with the GCC, to encourage Iraq to stay on the path of democracy, and to produce a government that actually delivers results for the Iraqi people.

We have also expressed our concerns about any erosion of stability, security, or human rights, and that includes the very important challenges facing Lebanon and others in the region. So we see progress. It may be slower than what many would like, but we think it is steady and needs to continue to have the encouragement and support of the United States.

QUESTION: Good morning. My name is Mohammed Fadar (ph) from France-Presse. My question is to Secretary Clinton. In order to contain the damages which have been caused by all these leaks through WikiLeaks, what are you going to tell your allies, especially those in those parts which touches your allies exactly? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, we have very clearly stated that this action was illegal and regrettable, that we have close and important relationships that will not be affected, or certainly not damaged, but that the United States will continue to engage in the important diplomatic work that I am doing here, bilaterally, and more broadly tonight.

And I think that many people who are experienced in diplomacy, as many of the diplomats here in Bahrain are, know that many of these alleged statements are taken out of context. But most importantly, they do not represent the policy of the United States. The policy of the United States is made in Washington. The President and I are very clear about the direction that the United States is taking in supporting our partners, and that will continue.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Mr. Minister, for you a question first. In these recently disclosed cables, the King of Bahrain is quoted as telling General David Petraeus that the Iranian nuclear program “must be stopped; the danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.”

I wanted to ask you, first, whether that does reflect Bahrain’s policy. And, if so, are you concerned that the publication of these feelings, as well as those of some of your neighbors, could have a destabilizing effect on the region and on your relationship with Iran?

And then, for Madam Secretary, as you just said, much of the discussion of WikiLeaks has focused on the negative, disruptive side of it. But I am wondering whether there is perhaps one positive that comes out of it, as reflects on Iran. Does the demonstration of this depth of concern about Iran make it easier for the United States and other countries to build up and sustain a common front of pressure on the Iranian regime? Thank you very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL KHALIFA: Thank you. Also, I would echo Madam Secretary for not wanting to comment on the content of those documents. These documents are the property of the United States Government, and they have been leaked in a way that is considered illegal. But let me state our policy, and see if whatever in that context would reflect it or not.

Of course we are not — we don’t see a cause of concern, and we don’t see that there is a problem with whatever said in there in any way, and our policy. What has been mentioned, though, is our policy: We do believe that every country in the Middle East has the right for nuclear power for peaceful use. We say it publicly, we say it privately, we say it in meetings, in press conferences, everywhere. And when it comes to taking that power, to developing it into a cycle for weapon grade, that is something that we can never accept, and we can never live with in this region. We have said it to all, we have said it to Iran, and we have heard it from all. So we don’t see any contradiction, we don’t see anything that is contrary to what we have said in the past. But again, I would not comment directly on the — what’s the content of the documents, themselves.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as His Excellency has made clear, the policy of the United States is reflected in the policies of every country in this region, but for Iran. There is international concern, as reflected in the United Nations action, to adopt sanctions against Iran, that Iran should not and cannot be permitted to develop nuclear weapons because of the destabilizing proliferation effects of such a decision.

So, I think it is fair to say that there is no debate in the international community. And perhaps the Iranians, with their return to the talks in Geneva starting Monday, will engage seriously with the international community on what is a concern shared by nations on every continent, but most particularly right here, in the region. Because, obviously, if you’re the neighbor of a country that is pursuing nuclear weapons, that is viewed in a much more threatening way than if you’re a concerned country many thousands of miles away. But the concern is the same, and we hope that Iran will respond in kind to that concern.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I am Salman Bebe (ph), managing editor of Daily Tribune. Madam Secretary, if you were in the White House today, what difference you have made to the U.S. economy as it relates to security concerns in the Gulf?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am very often in the White House, as the Secretary of State. (Laughter.) And I am very supportive of the difficult decisions that President Obama has made.

I think when history is written — which sometimes takes some perspective — it will be concluded that the President took necessary tough decisions to stabilize not only the American economy, but the global economy, that created some political opposition, but which were the right actions to take. And I have no doubt about that. And the same on the security side.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL KHALIFA: We are taking one more question. We are pressed for time; I am very sorry about that.

QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, there was a meeting at the IAEA yesterday, not only on Iran, but also about North Korea. And according to your ambassador to the IAEA, it is likely that there is more than one uranium enrichment facility in this country. I wonder if you can give us further details on this. And also, how will this affect your meeting with your counterparts on Monday? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Christophe, I think it’s important to add, as you just have, that the concern about states developing nuclear weapons includes North Korea. And just as the neighbors in this region are very focused on Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the neighbors in northeast Asia are equally concerned about what North Korea is doing. So, we are going to be meeting on Monday in Washington with the foreign ministers of both South Korea and Japan, to review the approach we should be taking. We have obviously reached out to China and Russia and others who have a direct concern about North Korea’s behavior.

But we are all concerned about these two countries. And I think it’s important to recognize it’s not directed at the people of either country; it is a concern about decisions being made by the leaders of these countries that puts at risk the peace and stability of two regions of the world. And I want Iranians and North Koreans to understand that, as His Excellency said, we do not object to the peaceful use of nuclear power for generating energy. Every country is entitled to that. What we object to is a pursuit of nuclear weapons that can be used to threaten and intimidate their neighbors and beyond. That is unacceptable, and it is destabilizing. And it, unfortunately, will spark arms races in both regions that will make both regions even more dangerous. That’s why we must stop it.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL KHALIFA: Thank you. I apologize for not being able to take more questions, we are pressed for time. Thank you very much.

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Once again I do not have much except a few photos to start the day, but how better to begin a TGIF than this sunny looking lady?

This from AP:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a press conference Friday, Dec. 3, 2010, in Manama, Bahrain. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton held out hope Friday that Iran will show in talks next week a willingness to prove the peaceful intentions of its nuclear program, and Bahrain’s top diplomat declared that the Middle East “can never live with” a nuclear-armed Iran.


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Remarks With Bahraini Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Muhammad bin Mubarak Al Khalifa Before Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
November 17, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m delighted that the deputy prime minister can be here at the State Department. We are very close to Bahrain and they’ve been wonderful partners and friends. I’m looking forward to my visit there, just in a short time from now in early December, and looking forward to our meeting.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AL KHALIFA: And I am very glad to meet Madam Secretary and – who assured me that Bahrain relation with United States always in the best (inaudible) and we always trying to enhance it, and especially the free trade agreement (inaudible) in 2006. I think our relations, economic (inaudible) on the (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you so much, sir. Thank you very much.


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Bahrain says no plans to ban BlackBerry services

There are new developments in the negotiations over BlackBerry security in the United Arab Emirates and other countries, as the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton comments on the issue.


The Associated Press
Sunday, August 8, 2010; 4:38 PM

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Bahrain’s foreign minister said Sunday the country has no plans to follow its Persian Gulf neighbors in banning some BlackBerry services because security fears do not outweigh the technological benefits.

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I could not embed the video, but you should be able to navigate to it.

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I wish there were a video of this, but I have not found one.

Remarks With Bahraini Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa After Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
February 3, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. I am delighted once again to meet with the foreign minister of a very valued partner of the United States, Bahrain. Our two nations a enjoy a time-tested relationship based on mutual interest and mutual respect. And our meeting today was another opportunity for us to discuss many of our common concerns.

We are working together as partners to spur economic recovery and create new opportunities for our people. As part of the broader engagement between the United States and countries such as Bahrain and Muslim communities across the world, we have launched efforts to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic diversification, and Bahrain is a prime example. We often point to this country as a premier banking and investment center, playing a vital role in the region and the world’s economic future.

We greatly appreciate the hospitality that Bahrain shows our Navy and its contributions to regional security and stability. We work closely together on challenges such as piracy and violent extremism that threaten peace-loving people across the world.

On the topic of regional security, let me also note the concerns raised by Iran’s refusal to engage with the international community on its nuclear program, which continues to violate IAEA and Security Council requirements. We have pursued a policy of consultation and engagement. We’ve worked with partners in the Gulf and through the United Nations with other countries to offer Iran a clear choice between isolation and meeting its international obligations. Iran’s response to our efforts has been inadequate and we have begun considering further appropriate measures that might convince Iran to reconsider its nuclear program and engage with the international community.

The United States and Bahrain both seek stability in the Middle East. We share a goal of realizing a two-state solution and promoting comprehensive peace. And we appreciate Bahrain’s interest in fulfilling the promise of the Arab Peace Initiative. That is a tangible demonstration of a commitment to a better future for all of the region’s people.

The United States is working with the Israelis, the Palestinians, and our Arab partners to re-launch meaningful negotiations as soon as possible and without preconditions. We believe that through good faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.

We recognize as well that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue to Israelis and Palestinians, to Jews, Muslims, and Christians everywhere. And we believe it is possible to reach an outcome that both realizes the aspirations of all parties for Jerusalem, and safeguards its status for the future.

So again, on so many issues, only a couple of which I’ve mentioned here, it is such a pleasure meeting with and working with the foreign minister. And our partnership, sir, is a real commitment to the kind of future that we want for our two countries. So thank you again.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL KHALIFA: Thank you. Thank you, Madam Secretary. Good afternoon, everybody. It’s wonderful to be back in Washington, D.C., and to meet once again with my dear friend, the Honorable Secretary of State Ms. Hillary Clinton. This meeting gave us the opportunity to discuss a whole range of issues of mutual interest and concern in a typically warm and friendly American atmosphere.

The Kingdom of Bahrain and the United States of America share a historic, deep-rooted, and multifaceted relationship. We appreciate the pivotal role the United States plays in upholding the security and stability of such a vital region to the whole world. In this context and against this backdrop, we explored ways and means to further enhance our evolving partnership, a partnership that serves our common interest of regional security and stability, and where every step taken, where every step taken to defend the region is a positive, collaborative measure built on a history of joint defense cooperation that spans several decades for the benefit of the region at large.

The Kingdom of Bahrain has always called for a region free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. To that end, we believe that the current situation surrounding the Iranian nuclear file should be resolved in a peaceful manner, in accordance with the Security Council resolutions and in complete adherence to the rules and regulation of the IAEA in a fully transparent manner. Furthermore, we discussed how the Gulf region could benefit from the use of nuclear power for peaceful civilian purposes in a safe, secure, and efficient manner.

We also reaffirmed our commitment to a durable and lasting peace in the Middle East. Bahrain appreciates the leadership of the United States on this issue and its commitment to achieve a peace based on a two-state solution that will bring all countries in the region to a mutually beneficial peace accord. It is imperative that we explore every option there is and not limit ourselves to what we have today, while at the same time working closely with the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas to realize a capable and effective Palestinian state.

On Yemen, we discussed our participation in the London conference which was held last week and explored ways to assist Yemen in overcoming the numerous challenges it faces in order to be able to confront the most salient threats of extremism and terrorism.

Finally, Madam Secretary, while I express my sincere appreciation to you personally and to your very able team, I would like to commend your efforts, continued commitment to your allies and partners; your candid thoughts are on so many important matters. I look forward to continuing our constructive cooperation. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir.


QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, in your opening statement, you described Iran’s responses to date as inadequate. Looking at what Iranian President Ahmadinejad said yesterday, both about the nuclear file and about the detained Americans in Iran, do you regard his – do you see no reason, not a scintilla of a suggestion, that his comments about a willingness to turn over Iranian low-enriched uranium might actually be genuine? Do you think this is just a ploy, the way Iran has often made conciliatory gestures when it sees sanctions coming down the track?

And on the hikers, can you absolutely rule out any possibility of a trade, swap, exchange – any kind of a quid pro quo under which Iran and the United States would mutually release citizens in their custody?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you know, Arshad, the IAEA made a good faith offer regarding the Tehran research reactor. Iran initially accepted the arrangement but has not followed through and, in fact, seemed to move toward rejecting it. The deal is still on the table. If Iran wishes to accept it, we look forward to hearing about it from the IAEA because that’s the appropriate venue for them to file an official response.

With respect to the hikers and other American citizens detained inside Iran, it is hard to know what the Iranian president meant from these press reports of his comments. As we’ve said before, if the Iranian Government has questions about any Iranian citizen in the United States, there are official channels that Iran can utilize in addressing any concerns it might have, namely through the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington.

And as we have said repeatedly, we call on Iran to release all the American citizens that they have currently detained. We believe they are being unjustly detained and they should be released without further delay. We also are very committed to making it clear to the Iranians that they should do so on humanitarian grounds, since the detentions of our citizens is baseless. So there are no negotiations taking place between the United States and Iran. We believe they should unilaterally release our detained citizens.

QUESTION: Do you think it was a ploy to (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not going to characterize it.

MODERATOR: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Thank you. If I can stay on Iran, Secretary, there have been recent reports in recent days regarding CENTCOM and American military support for your allies in the region, for anti-missile systems specifically. What kind of assurances can you give your allies? And is this also in reaction to the Iranians not yet going for the negotiation option?

And Shaikh Khalid, if I may, also on Iran, what do you hope the next weeks and months will bring? The tensions continue to surmount in the region. How concerned are you about this, and are you looking for assurances from the U.S.?

Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as the foreign minister said in his remarks, we have a long history of joint defense cooperation. Bahrain is a very valued ally and partner. That goes back many years. There’s nothing new about that. We will continue to work with Bahrain to ensure that they have the defense capabilities that they need. And we highly appreciate the hosting of the Navy, which, of course, is one symbol of America’s commitment to our allies and friends in the Gulf.

Certainly, we have to be cognizant of the changing atmosphere in the Gulf and the actions that Iran has taken, and its refusal to abide by the obligations of the Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

So we will work with our allies and our friends, and we will continue to send a strong message to Iran that they have an opportunity to truly act in a way that builds confidence and not raise concerns within the region.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL KHALIFA: Yeah. Regarding whether we need new assurances or – from the United States, the answer is no. We are partners, we are allies for decades, now working together. And the presence of the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, the cooperation over many matters over the last decades to safeguard the region and to ensure stability and security is a testament to that. So the United States commitments to its allies and partners is evident, it’s clear, and it’s been continuing, built on a very clear history together. So we’re not seeing anything new, nobody’s sabre-rattling here, nobody is being belligerent to anyone in the region. It’s just a purely defensive measure for the benefit of the whole world, for the region being so important to the whole world.

MODERATOR: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Hi, Madam Secretary.


QUESTION: A question: We’ve heard you speak about trafficking today. With that in mind, I’d like to ask you about the 10 Americans in Haiti. With all that we’ve learned about them so far, can you say that what they were up to was anything short of trafficking, attempting to bring these children across a border without paperwork? And what do you think the next steps will be here? Would you like to see them released?

Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, trafficking of human beings, particularly of children, is a problem across the world. And it’s something that every nation should be addressing. The Haitian nation acted to protect children who were being removed from their country without appropriate documentation. We have worked with the Haitian Government over the last two and a half weeks, three weeks, to help facilitate and transport children who are properly documented as having an adoptive family or guardianship awaiting them.

So we know how to do this in the right way. And it was unfortunate that, whatever the motivation, that this group of Americans took matters into their own hands. As you know, they have been charged with breaking the laws of Haiti. And we are engaged in discussions with the Haitian Government about the appropriate disposition of their cases. They’ve been granted consular access. We are providing them the services that any American citizen who is detained is entitled to, and we will be working through the questions that the Haitian Government has and that – and looking for the best way forward on this.

But I would just end by underscoring that trafficking in human beings is a form of modern slavery, it is an abuse of the human dignity and the autonomy of individuals, and it’s particularly egregious when it takes children and either puts them into bonded trade or sells them for adoption or abuses them in other ways. So we take this very seriously.

MODERATOR: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, there has been talk about a – about proximity talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, and I just wanted to see if you could give us any more details. Are these talks going to take place in the United States? Are they going to on the level of principals or teams? And are they going to start with the assumption that it’s 1967 borders plus land swaps or not, because we haven’t heard you speak about this – the proximity talks. (Inaudible.)

(In Arabic.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Want to go first?


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you know, Senator Mitchell has been engaged in intense conversations, both in the region and elsewhere, with European and Arab partners. On the whole question of relaunching negotiations. And I’m not going to preempt any announcement that might come from the parties because when they’re ready to make such a statement, they will. But of course, we believe that the 1967 borders, with swaps, should be the focus of the negotiations over borders. We’ve made clear that we think that all of the main issues have to be on the table and the parties have to work through them and come to resolution. And we would like to see that start soon and move as quickly as possible forward.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: When there’s an announcement, there’ll be an announcement.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL KHALIFA: Should I answer you in English, if I may? Or you want —

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)



SECRETARY CLINTON: I only have one language. He has at least two.



FOREIGN MINISTER AL KHALIFA: The question was whether when I mentioned that nobody is being belligerent here from our side and then there is the Iranian reaction, so what do we read into it? Is it a new threat? That’s your question, yeah?

Well, the point is we did not threaten anybody. The measures have been there for decades. I say it again. And it’s being developed, it’s being upgraded, new technology is coming in. So there’s nothing that we are taking the level of the weaponry to that it will threaten somebody in our neighborhood. But we expect Iran not to see it as a measure being taken against it. This is a measure to protect. It’s not a measure to attack. It’s a measure to protect the interests of the whole world. We all know how vital the Gulf region is to the whole world and how vital the waterways out of the Gulf are for everybody. So to just leave it like that, to the elements, is something that we should not expect to do. So it’s something we should do as a diligent move to protect our interest – everybody’s interest.

QUESTION: What about an arms war?


QUESTION: Aren’t you worried about an arms war in the region?

FOREIGN MINISTER AL KHALIFA: Of course, if things are interpreted wrongly, there will be an arms race. But things – we should put things in perspective that this is only a defensive measure and should not call for an arms race in the region.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL KHALIFA: Thank you very much. Thank you.

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