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Attacks in Bulgaria

 

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

Washington, DC

July 18, 2012

 


I was deeply saddened and angered to learn of today’s terrorist attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. The United States condemns in the strongest terms this heinous terrorist attack against innocent civilians. We offer our deepest condolences to the victims and their loved ones. The United States stands ready to offer any assistance necessary, and we will work with our partners in Bulgaria, Israel and elsewhere so that the perpetrators can be apprehended swiftly and brought to justice for this appalling crime.

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Meets with Staff and Families of U.S. Embassy Sofia

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy Sofia
Sofia, Bulgaria
February 5, 2012

 


(In progress.) And so of course I’m not going to cancel, and I’m delighted that I had a chance to be here. And I want to thank not only our American team, but all the locally employed staff who really provided the continuity from ambassador to ambassador and a huge team to help us work together.

Now, I was here in 1998 and I am thrilled to be back. I’m delighted to have Peace Corps volunteers here somewhere. (Applause.) I know they’re not a quiet group. (Laughter.) I expect to get some reaction whenever I run into them. And so 20 years ago, Peace Corps volunteers started arriving to teach English, working here in development. A Fulbright Program commission was established for university exchanges. We’ve given over $600 million in aid to help build schools, fight corruption, (inaudible) civil society. And we see democratic institutions taking root and growing stronger. In fact, starting next year, Peace Corps members will start leaving. And that’s – it’s kind of a bad (inaudible) to this story, because I know that you love serving here. When I asked Jim, “How do you like serving in Bulgaria,” he lit up and talked about how wonderful the country and people were.

But Bulgaria doesn’t need Peace Corps volunteers the way it once did, and it no longer qualifies for U.S. assistance in democracy and government promotion. Because that’s the story we want to sell, that our aid, our people coming, and help in the democratic transition. And Mission Sofia has been a model for innovative, low-cost solutions. I am thrilled about the commitment to green initiatives. Jim told me there’s even a chance that we could get to our goal of a net zero building, which would be an amazing accomplishment.

Your post support unit is a great success and a notable (inaudible), handling financial track factions for aiding posts, and this is our last year (inaudible), had a process over 80,000 value. So you’re putting into action what I call Smart Power 21st Century Statecraft. It is very important, as the State Department and USAID take their rightful place in our national security team (inaudible) events, that we do our jobs in the most effective way possible, using taxpayer dollars in an efficient manner to get results, and you here in Sofia are really helping to lead the way.

(Inaudible.) But I am thrilled that I had a chance to see you, and to thank you, and to really thank you for the work you’re doing on behalf of strengthening and deepening this really important relationship.

Thank you all very much, and I want to shake your hands. (Applause.)

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Remarks With Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov After Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Council of Ministers
Sofia, Bulgaria
February 5, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s an honor to be back in this beautiful country and to have a chance to demonstrate the very strong partnership and friendship between the United States and Bulgaria. I promised the people of Bulgaria that the United States will stand with you, and we have done so. And we are very impressed and proud of the extraordinary progress that has been made and the strong relationship between the Bulgarian and American people and governments.

I would like to thank the prime minister for receiving me today and for the excellent discussions that our two teams have just concluded. I also want to thank the president, whom I met earlier, and the foreign minister, with whom I work on a regular basis throughout the year.

The prime minister and I just had a very productive meeting. It underscored the depth and range of the partnership between us. As NATO allies, Bulgaria and the United States work side by side around the world to address critical issues, from ensuring a successful transition in Afghanistan to keeping the peace in Kosovo, to diversifying and securing our energy supplies, including in the nuclear sector. We are partners in helping to advance Bulgaria’s energy independence and security and in protecting the beautiful Bulgarian environment.

When we demonstrate that technologies are safe, we pursue both goals at once, and we will stand with the Bulgarian people and government as they work to be able to provide affordable energy that meets your needs. I will be sending my special envoy for Eurasian Energy, Ambassador Richard Morningstar, to Bulgaria this week to have expert conversations about how we can be more helpful in protecting your environment and advancing your energy security goals.

Our excellent cooperation has helped to deter, detect, and stop trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials. Our joint counter-narcotic investigations have seized over $3 million in illegal assets. Our law enforcement partnership has led to the arrest of actors conducting international fraud schemes. I want to commend the law enforcement – (inaudible) as well as the government itself – for being a very effective leader in these kinds of efforts, addressing critical problems that affects not just Bulgaria and the region but indeed the world.

Bulgaria’s experience transitioning from communism to democracy, setting up effective institutions and persevering over the last 20 years provides many useful lessons. All one has to do is look at statistics – the lowest unemployment rates, lowest taxation rates, increasing international investment, including American investment. The social and economic development of the country stands as a great model not only within Europe but increasingly abroad to countries attempting to make the transition from authoritarianism and dictatorial rule to democracy and rule by the people.

Bulgaria has taken several steps in the last few years to combat corruption, pursue judicial reform, and uphold the rule of law for all citizens. These are very important steps for any democracy, and it will help Bulgaria continue to strengthen your democratic institutions. The Sofia Platform, which will meet for the third time later this year, is an excellent vehicle for sharing the lessons that you have learned throughout Central Europe and the Middle East. And we thank Bulgaria, thank you, Prime Minister, for your leadership in this area.

Bulgaria has just recently joined the Open Government Partnership that was started by President Obama and is co-chaired with the Brazilians. We will look forward to working with Bulgaria as you implement your action plan to improve government transparency and accountability and also pursue the potential use of e-government, which we are finding around the world is a great tool for bringing government closer to the people. And I think the president told me earlier that 2.2 million Bulgarians are on Facebook, so the technology is already present and putting it to use on behalf of better governance will be one of the issues we discuss when the Open Government Partnership meets in Brasilia later this spring.

I will be also meeting with a group of young Roma leaders and activists, and I applaud the Government of Bulgaria for the important Roma integration strategy, an important step toward full integration of your Roma people.

The relationship between our two countries is broad and deep. Now, President Obama and I are committed to working with the prime minister, the president, the Government of Bulgaria, and the people in making it even stronger and deeper in the years ahead. So it’s a great pleasure to be here, to see for myself even with this short visit the extraordinary progress that you are making. We will continue to stand with you as you move on the path of democracy to consolidate the gains that brought so many benefits to Bulgaria, and we will face together the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Thank you, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER BORISSOV: (In Bulgarian.)

QUESTION: (In Bulgarian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me say how committed the United States is to Bulgaria’s security. We are NATO allies. We take very seriously our Article 5 obligation for collective defense. Bulgaria has been an important, productive partner of NATO, and I did tell the prime minister that Bulgarian troops serving in Afghanistan have a well-deserved reputation for professionalism and bravery. I want to extend condolences for the loss of life and casualties that the Bulgarian troops have suffered.

With respect to security cooperation going forward, we want to make sure that we consult closely with our Bulgarian friends about how the United States and Bulgaria bilaterally and through NATO will make sure that Europe has the best defense in terms of missile defense and other capabilities in order to protect Bulgaria and all of our European allies.

I think that there will be a number of joint military exercises between the United States and Bulgaria this year. We are looking to expand our military cooperation and to do a thorough review about where it stands today and where it needs to be going in the future. I cannot prejudge that review, but the overriding issue for us is that Bulgaria has proven to be a very capable partner for whom we have the greatest respect and to whom we owe our NATO responsibility of providing defense. And we are absolutely committed to (inaudible).

I think we’ve got an American question from Lachlan Carmichael.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) First, now that the Russians have vetoed the resolution on Syria, what’s the next step? The Syrians are calling for a coalition of support. What do you say to that? And then, of course, on Bulgaria, why is it so important that a country like Bulgaria be economically and politically independent from Russia?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, do you want me to go first, Prime Minister? Let me start with Syria. Let me begin by saying that Bulgaria, as you just heard the prime minister express, has been very supportive of the aspirations and rights of the Syrian people, and we are grateful for that.

What happened yesterday at the United Nations was a travesty. Those countries that refuse to support the Arab League plan bear full responsibly for protecting the brutal regime in Damascus. And it is tragic that after all the work that the Security Council did, they had a 13-2 vote.

The 13 of us voting in favor of the Arab League plan were primed to start a process for political engagement that will lead to a transition. We fear that the failure to do so will actually increase the chances for a brutal civil war. Many Syrians, under attack from their own government, are moving to defend themselves, which is to be expected.

So what do we do? Well, faced with a neutered Security Council, we have to redouble our efforts outside of the United Nations with those allies and partners who support the Syrian people’s right to have a better future. We have to increase diplomatic pressure on the Assad regime and work to convince those people around President Assad that he must go, and that there has to be a recognition of that and a new start to try to form a government that will represent all of the people of Syria.

We will work to seek regional and national sanctions against Syria and strengthen the ones we have. They will be implemented to the fullest to dry up the sources of funding and the arms shipments that are keeping the regime’s war machine going. We will work to expose those who are still are funding the regime and sending them weapons that are used against defenseless Syrians, including women and children. And we will work with the friends of a democratic Syria around the world to support the opposition’s peaceful political plans for change. We will work to provide what humanitarian relief we are able to do so.

And over the coming days, I will be consulting closely with our allies and partners in Europe, in the Arab League, and around the world. Because remember, in those 13 votes you had not only Europeans, but you have Arabs, Africans, Latin Americans, South Asians. This was a unified international community seeking an end to the violence. So we will consult – be consulting with the foreign minister here and others – about what we can do to rescue this deteriorating situation before it’s too late.

Do you want to say anything about Syria?

PRIME MINISTER BORISSOV: (In Bulgarian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

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US Secretary of State Hillary Rodam Clinton, centre, poses with Roma professionals and Roma NGO leaders at the US Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, Sunday Feb. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Jim Watson, Pool)

Remarks at a Roundtable With Young Roma Professionals

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Embassy Sofia
Sofia, Bulgaria
February 5, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much. I wish to thank Ambassador Warlick and the Embassy for arranging this meeting, and I am honored to be meeting with so many leaders from Bulgaria’s Roma community. And I think that the men and women around this table remind us of the lessons that history has borne out again and again, that discrimination anywhere, against anyone, diminishes the human dignity of us all, that persistence does eventually win out over prejudice, and that talent only needs the opportunity to thrive.

Americans have learned these lessons over the course of our history. As you may well know, we have had many challenges to include every member of our society, regardless of their race or their ethnicity or any other characteristic that set them apart or made them a member of a minority group, and we are the stronger for it.

Here in Europe, one of the pieces of unfinished business is the full integration of the Roma people into the societies and nations where they reside. For too long, Roma citizens have been marginalized and isolated, prevented from contributing their talents and participating in their societies. This is a critical matter of human rights, and it affects millions of men, women, and children across the continent.

I’m also very troubled to see anti-Roma violence and protests, which in some places are increasing and getting worse. It’s also an error for any society not to fully educate every child, and in too many places Roma children attend subpar, usually segregated, schools. And what is the result of that? Well, then Roma people themselves begin to feel apathetic, uninvolved, and then that continues the cycle, which has to be broken.

So I think that building better understanding between Roma and non-Roma communities is very important. I remember visiting with Roma children at the Faith, Hope, and Love Center during my visit to Bulgaria back in 1998. Seeing their spirit and intelligence shining through the adversity that they had experienced in their young lives was a highlight of my trip. So helping to promote and protect the inalienable human rights of Roma everywhere is a long-standing personal commitment of mine, and it is a stated foreign policy priority of this Administration.

Today, I am proud to announce that the United States will join the Decade of Roma Inclusion as an official observer. This commitment is admirable by European governments, and it will help improve opportunities for Roma to participate in the political, social, economic, and cultural lives of their communities. Bulgaria is a founding member of this initiative, so I’m very pleased that I could announce the United States joining this effort here in Sofia.

I also want to commend the Government of Bulgaria for their Roma integration strategy and urge that they work together with the Roma communities and other people of interest to implement the plans that have been adopted.

Now, there’s a moral reason why supporting the rights of the Roma people is the right thing to do, but there’s also, in today’s 21st century economy, economic reasons. Countries that don’t fully integrate women or minorities of any kind will not have the economic growth in GDP that is possible and will face the loss of human potential.

So I’m looking forward to hearing from our guests today, to hear of their experience and their ideas about what we together can do that will really put into action the commitment that I wish to make clear today to Roma people, to civil society groups, and to governments working on this issue across Europe, that the United States is very concerned and interested and will stand with you as a partner.

Thank you very much.

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When she attended the inauguration of Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff a year ago New Year’s Day, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria invited both Rouseff and HRC to visit in October of last year.  Perhaps Rouseff went, but HRC did not.  I believe this will be her first trip there as SOS.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle arrive for a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Secretary Clinton to Travel to Germany and Bulgaria

Press Statement

Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 27, 2012

 


On February 3-5, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Germany and Bulgaria. In Munich, Germany, Secretary Clinton will participate in the 48th Munich Security Conference. This annual event brings together global leaders to discuss common security challenges. In her address to the Conference, the Secretary will reaffirm the fundamental importance of the transatlantic relationship and Europe’s role as an essential partner in addressing global security challenges.

While in Munich the Secretary will also hold bilateral meetings with her European and other counterparts.

The Secretary will travel to Sofia, Bulgaria, February 5, to meet with senior Bulgarian officials and discuss a range of issues, including democratic transitions in the Middle East, our ongoing support for Afghanistan, energy security and our bilateral cooperation in international law enforcement.

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Bulgaria’s National Day

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 1, 2011

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Bulgaria as you celebrate the 133rd anniversary of your independence this March 3.

The United States and Bulgaria are close allies, based on mutual respect and shared values. We are working together to promote freedom and democracy around the world. Your work to build a more peaceful and prosperous future for the Afghan people, and in helping your neighbors fully integrate into Euro-Atlantic institutions demonstrates your commitment to a safer, more secure world.

Bulgaria has led by example at home, striving to create strong institutions, enforce the rule of law and uphold democratic transitions. Your progress in building a vibrant democracy as a responsible member of the transatlantic community over the past two decades has given hope to so many countries in your region and around the world.

I wish all Bulgarians a happy Independence Day celebration and look forward to continuing our work together towards a more peaceful and prosperous world.

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Remarks With Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov After Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
October 5, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon and it’s a great pleasure for me to welcome the foreign minister of Bulgaria. Bulgaria is not only a NATO ally and a member of the European Union, but a close partner on a range of – on the important challenges and opportunities that we face together. And I have been impressed in my work with the foreign minister to just observe how – what a comprehensive understanding he has on behalf of his government as we sort out some of the very difficult threats, challenges, and opportunities that we face together.

So, Foreign Minister, welcome.

FOREIGN MINISTER MLADENOV: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Hello from me as well, and it’s – I’m very happy to be here at the State Department. This is not our first opportunity to talk. I hope that today will cover the full range of our partnership, both in terms of our domestic agenda in Bulgaria for which we received full support from the U.S. Administration on judicial reform, fight against crime and corruption, and a number of other issues, but also to talk about our partnership in the Balkans where we have a lot of unfinished business to do. And the work that our brave men and women are doing in Afghanistan, a mission that is vital to the security not just to our two countries.

And I would like to finish with a more personal note by thanking Secretary Clinton for your excellent work in pushing through the Membership Action Plan for Bosnia, something that we worked very closely with in Tallinn, and I think it opens up great opportunities for the rest of the region.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.

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Back at the State Department after two long treks, the Secretary of State met today with the Foreign Minister of Bulgaria. Here are their remarks.

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Remarks With Bulgarian Foreign Minister Rumiana Zheleva After their Meeting

Treaty Room
Washington, DC
November 23, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. And it’s a particular delight for me to welcome the Bulgarian delegation and especially Foreign Minister Zheleva, who has come to this position with a great background in academia and a great commitment to democracy. And it’s such a historic time for Europe and for the Euro-Atlantic alliance.

This year we are commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain. And that helped put Bulgaria on the path toward democracy and a market economy, both of which were reaffirmed in their recent elections. There was no way to know in 1989 how this would work out. But the transition, which has not always been easy, has made it possible for so many millions of people in Central and Eastern Europe to really have a place in charting their own future and making a claim to a better future, and I am very impressed by the remarkable progress that has been made.

We are also especially pleased that Bulgaria is a member of NATO and part of an alliance that is the most successful in history on behalf of collective security and rooted in mutual respect. We understand how intertwined our futures happen to be.

Today Bulgarian and American troops serve side by side as part of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. We are greatly appreciative of the service of your soldiers and their sacrifice. And we know, too, that our bilateral relationship is one of strategic importance. We are committed to working bilaterally, as well as within NATO, and through the European Union, and with the important emphasis on all of the issues that are significant to both of us.

Today the foreign minister and I discussed how we can broaden and deepen our partnership. I commended Bulgaria’s efforts to root out corruption, to hold people accountable, to end impunity for public officials. I also congratulated the foreign minister on Bulgaria’s efforts to bring greater transparency to the energy sector. Our special envoy for Eurasian Energy Richard Morningstar will be going back for his second trip to Bulgaria in about 10 days.

We talked about some of the economic challenges and the commercial ties that we wish to deepen. There is just so much that we see for a positive relationship between the United States and Bulgaria. So I want again to thank the foreign minister for her leadership and for her friendship and the friendship of the Bulgarian people, and I look forward to working with you in the future.

FOREIGN MINISTER ZHELEVA: Thank you, Madame Secretary. Today, I had a very constructive meeting with Madame Secretary Clinton. Thank you for that. Once again, I reaffirmed our commitment to our strategic partnership with the United States, and our determination to work together on global and regional security, as well as energy-related issues.

I described the significant commitment we are making to the fight against terrorism, and the role played by our brave troops in Afghanistan. I furthermore informed the Secretary about the efforts and the successes of our new government led by Prime Minister Borissov during the first hundred days in office. In particular, I elaborated on our efforts to overcome the dual challenge of organized crime and corruption.

During the meeting, we furthermore discussed regional challenges and the role played by Bulgaria in NATO and in the European Union. That role, as I pointed out to the Secretary, aims to enhance regional security and cooperation, and is contributing to the further strengthening of our transatlantic alliance. We have a very positive and interesting meeting, and I am very grateful for the support given to Bulgaria by the Madame Secretary. Thank you once again.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER ZHELEVA: Thank you.

MR. KELLY: The first question to Lachlan Carmichael from AFP.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, since we have an opportunity to talk to you, perhaps on another subject, Iraq? There’s a prospect of the electoral law being vetoed again. What kind of concerns do you have about that? And do you have any – can you use your influence to help get it passed, iron out the differences among the factions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Lachlan, we support the Iraqi Government’s efforts to pass an election law so that they can proceed with planned elections. We know that there are some continuing concerns as expressed by the vice president that have to be addressed. We will continue working with all of the parties. Our Ambassador, Chris Hill, on the ground has been deeply involved in doing so already.

This morning, I met and heard a report about the way forward. There are a number of ideas that we will be presenting. There’s an interim period because the Council of Representatives will not be meeting for a number of days that we think provide the opportunity for all the parties to come together, and with the help of not just the United States, but UNAMI and others to work out these continuing differences.

We believe on balance that there will be elections. They might slip by some period of time until this is worked out, because at some point the law has to be in place for the planning to begin, and so there necessarily needs to be a period of time in which the planning can occur. But we have every reason to believe that elections will be held, which will be another milestone on the journey that Iraqis are taking toward full and comprehensive democracy.

QUESTION: Thanks.

MODERATOR: Second question, (inaudible).

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, my question is for you. What are Bulgaria’s chances to be included in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program by the end of next year? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we discussed that. I must say your foreign minister was extremely strong and even passionate about the issue, and we share the concern. I told her that I would personally support efforts to have Bulgaria enter into the Visa Waiver Program as soon as the standards are met. We value Bulgaria as a close partner. The criteria for the program are established by countries, by – excuse me, the criteria for the program is established by Congress. Every country has to meet the same criteria. There’s no greater or lesser burden on Bulgaria than any other country.

And we offered to assist Bulgaria in doing what it must in order to qualify, because we encourage and welcome Bulgarians to come to the United States for business, for pleasure, for family reasons, because we want to not just have a good government-to-government relationship, but a good people-to-people relationship. So we’re going to do everything we can to assist Bulgaria in meeting the criteria.

MR. KELLY: Next question to Andy Quinn from Reuters.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi, Andy.

QUESTION: Hi, Madame Secretary. I have a double-barreled question about Afghanistan. I hope you will allow it. A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai said they’re considering inviting some members of the Taliban to take part in this loya jirga that they’re talking about. I’m wondering if they’ve run that idea past you and what you might think of it.

And secondly, the White House has announced a meeting tonight on Afghan policy. I’m wondering if you have any special expectations for this meeting and how many more you might think we’ll be seeing before the President rolls out his policy.

And for the foreign minister, I’d like to know what if – what Bulgaria is hoping to see in the U.S. policy on Afghanistan. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andy, first of all, the issue of how to reintegrate members of the Taliban who renounce violence, renounce ties with al-Qaida, are committed to participating peacefully in the political life of Afghanistan is something that has been discussed at length, both within the Afghan Government, within our own government, and between our governments. And obviously, we are going to ask questions about how it proceeds, but the general idea of exploring this is one that we have been open to.

With respect to the outcome of any such discussions, however, we have urged caution and real standards that are expected to be met by anyone who is engaged in these conversations, so that whatever process there is can actually further the stability and the peace of Afghanistan, not undermine it.

Regarding the meeting tonight, I will not preempt the President in any comments on the meeting. It is, as you pointed out, a meeting with his principal advisors on national security and will be focused on the issues leading up to the decision that he will be making and announcing with respect to Afghanistan.

FOREIGN MINISTER ZHELEVA: So, thank you for the question. And being both member of the European Union and NATO, my country is very much interested to contributing the process of developing Afghanistan on both tracks, military as well as civilian track. And my country is among the partners of NATO, of the coalition. We have a high contribution, so – to this coalition and to the efforts of the international community. That is why we are looking very much, and we appreciate the important role of United States in both – so from one side in enhancing the European Union-U.S. relations on this issue, and on the other side also within the NATO.

And what we hope to see is, of course, a more coordinated approach, more coordinated efforts of all the partners. And we will contribute and we will do our part, of course, as a member of – as I already mentioned, NATO and European Union, because this is very important issue, so – to contribute to the democratization process in Afghanistan.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much for that, Foreign Minister.

MODERATOR: Next question Nikola Miladinov, Bulgarian National Radio.

QUESTION: Hello, Madame Secretary. Let’s continue a bit about Afghanistan because Madame Zheleva said that we will do our part. So will the United States ask Bulgaria for further increasing of its military presence in Afghanistan and sending more troops? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me start by saying that Minister Zheleva was absolutely right in describing the commitment that we have seen from Bulgaria to this NATO mission, and we greatly appreciate Bulgaria’s contributions to the multinational effort in Afghanistan. And we know also that Bulgaria made contributions and sacrifices in Iraq as well.

We believe we face a common threat and a common enemy that goes to the heart of what collective defense means in the 21st century. And I have been quite impressed by the understanding that the new members of NATO, primarily from Central and Eastern Europe, have exhibited with their understanding and their willingness to participate.

The Bulgarian troops have served with distinction. I’ve heard that time and time again. And we regularly work with them to determine what contributions are appropriate for them to make. We cannot put ourselves in the position of the Bulgarian Government and the Bulgarian people. We obviously value this relationship, both on a bilateral as well as a multilateral basis, and we’re going to work with our friends in Bulgaria going forward to learn what kind of contributions on both the military and the civilian side are possible, which is what the minister said, and I appreciate her explanation and her commitment.

MR. KELLY: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all. Always good to see you., Rumiana Zheleva See, none of the people who are here were on my long, never-ending trip. (Laughter.) I think everybody else is still recovering.

QUESTION: I’m the only one standing. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, my goodness. Thank you all very much, and thanks to our friends from the Bulgarian press as well.

I wonder from whom that last “question” emanated! LOLOL!!! But the SOS is still standing! As usual.

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Remarks With Panamanian Foreign Minister Samuel Lewis Navarro Before Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 8, 2009

Date: 04/08/2009 Description: Remarks by Secretary Clinton and Panamanian Foreign Minister Samuel Lewis Navarro before their meeting.  State Dept Photo SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon. Today, I’m very privileged to be meeting with First Vice President of Panama Sam Lewis, and I want to express how pleased we are to have you here and have this opportunity to discuss a range of important issues that not only matter to our two countries, but to the broader region.
FOREIGN MINISTER NAVARRO: Thank you very much. I want to thank the Secretary of State, Secretary Clinton, for this opportunity. As you’ve mentioned, we’ll discuss both bilateral and hemispheric issues, especially in light of the upcoming Summit of the Americas. Panama and the United States have enjoyed a very special relationship, historically, which has helped us tackle very – many issues in the past. And we are sure that that is what will continue to happen. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you so much.
FOREIGN MINISTER NAVARRO: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, why is now the time to invite Iran to engage in direct relations?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the – you’re referring to the P-5+1 meeting. And as we speak, Under Secretary Bill Burns is now participating in the P-5+1 as a full participant, not just as an observer. And obviously, we believe that, you know, pursuing very careful engagement on a range of issues that affect our interests and the interests of the world with Iran makes sense, and there’s nothing more important than trying to convince Iran to cease its efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon.

 

Remarks With Moroccan Foreign Minister Dr. Taieb Fassi Fihri Before Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 8, 2009

Date: 04/08/2009 Description: Remarks by Secretary Clinton and Moroccan Foreign Minister Dr. Taieb Fassi Fihri before their meeting.  State Dept Photo SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s wonderful to welcome Minister Fihri here today on behalf of Morocco. We are so committed to our relationship and have very high regard for the extraordinary progress that has taken place in Morocco over the last years, and we look forward to deepening and strengthening our relationship.
FOREIGN MINISTER FIHRI: Me, too. I’m very happy to be here and to have the opportunity for this meeting with Madame Secretary. As you know, USA and Morocco have a longstanding relationship, and we will continue to work together to defend peace and stability, mainly in the Middle East, in Africa. And we in Morocco really appreciate the statement made by the President and then Madame Secretary about new dialogue with Muslim countries and also how to reach the peace in the Middle East.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister.
FOREIGN MINISTER FIHRI: Thank you.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, do you have any clarity on the Somali piracy situation?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re deeply concerned and we’re following it very closely. Specifically, we are now focused on this particular act of piracy and the seizure of a ship that carries 21 American citizens. More generally, we think the world must come together to end the scourge of piracy.
I think Morocco was the very first country that recognized us, going back a long time. And we worked together to end piracy off of the coast of Morocco all those years ago, and we’re going to work together to end this kind of criminal activity anywhere on the high seas. Thank you.
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Remarks With Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr Before Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 8, 2009

Date: 04/08/2009 Description: Remarks by Secretary Clinton and Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr before their meeting. State Dept Photo SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am very pleased to welcome Defense Minister Murr from Lebanon to the State Department. He has been in Washington for the last several days speaking with a number of officials. It is very important that the United States stand firmly and strongly on behalf of Lebanese democracy. We are very supportive of what the Lebanese Government is doing in its efforts to make sure that the upcoming elections are free and fair.
And we are very encouraged by the efforts that the Lebanese Government has been making to comply with international obligations and to continue to make progress on a whole range of issues which I’m looking forward to discussing with the defense minister.
DEFENSE MINISTER MURR: Thank you. I want to thank Mrs. Clinton for receiving me, for the backup that the State of Department and the U.S. Administration is giving to Lebanon, to the Government of Lebanon, and to the Lebanese army. And I hope that for the next coming time, the U.S. policy – and this is what I heard, and I can confirm it today – the U.S. policy will remain the same concerning Lebanon. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.
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Remarks With Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivailo Kalfin Before Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 8, 2009

Date: 04/08/2009 Description: Remarks by Secretary Clinton and Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivailo Kalfin before their meeting. State Dept Photo SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. I’ve had the great pleasure of getting to know the minister over the last few weeks at the various meetings we have attended together. And now we have this opportunity to have an in-depth discussion about the issues that are of great concern to Bulgaria and the United States, not only between our two countries, but regionally and globally. So, thank you for being here.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER KALFIN: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. It’s my pleasure to be here and to reconfirm the interest of Bulgaria for what we have been doing for the last years to base our relationship on a very long-term strategic basis and again discussing broad bilateral issues. We are allies in a number of international operations. We are sharing very same values in terms of promoting democracy, human rights protection. And I would like to continue this excellent tradition we have in the past to start a very new era (inaudible) cooperation with the new Administration. Thank you very much for hosting me and for being able to do that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir. You’re welcome.
FOREIGN MINISTER KALFIN: Thank you.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, one question (inaudible) from Bulgaria?
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, Roxana Saberi (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We are deeply concerned by the news that we’re hearing. We have asked the Swiss, who, as you know, are our protectorate in Iran, to obtain the most accurate, up-to-date information. I will, as will the rest of the Department, continue to follow this very closely. And we wish for her speedy release and return to her family.
FOREIGN MINISTER KALFIN: Thank you.
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Remarks With Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith Before Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 8, 2009

Date: 04/08/2009 Description: Remarks by Secretary Clinton and Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith before their meeting. State Dept Photo SECRETARY CLINTON: Hello, everyone. Well, I am very pleased that we’re going to have a bilateral meeting this afternoon with the minister. And then tomorrow, we’ll have our Australian-U.S. ministerial meeting which will cover, in depth, a wide range of both bilateral, regional, and global issues. But we have few better friends in the world than Australia. And it is such a joy to work with the Australian Government. We have a lot of common values and common interests and common causes that we pursue.
So, Mr. Minister, thank you for being here.
FOREIGN MINISTER SMITH: Well, Madame Secretary, thanks very much. It’s great to be back in Washington. I’m very pleased to conduct a formal bilateral meeting with you and very pleased that tomorrow we do the AUSMIN meeting with our respective defense colleagues. The AUSMIN meeting underpins the alliance. It’s an alliance that’s served us very well for over 60 years. It’s an indispensible part of our strategic security and defense arrangements. And you’re quite right; we see our alliance as a growing asset where we deal not just with bilateral and regional matters, but with global issues as well.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Exactly. Well, thank you very much.
FOREIGN MINISTER SMITH: So I’m very pleased to be here.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all.
FOREIGN MINISTER SMITH: Thank you.
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