Posts Tagged ‘Hosni Mubarak’

“They’re sitting on a powder keg.”  Hillary begins this chapter in January 2011 as she prepped to speak at Forum for the Future, an annual meeting where the rich and powerful of the Arab world convene.  In Morocco in November 2009, early in her tenure at the State Department, but already having set signature issues and standards of engagement, she gently and subtly prodded these leaders toward inclusion of marginalized citizens, particularly women and young people.  I have always thought of that speech as foreshadowing the events that were to come.  I have also always thought that she was clear-eyed due to her outreach to civil society.

Hillary Clinton knew the people and their concerns better than their own leaders had bothered to know them.  When she delivered that Morocco speech, she should have been seen the way an outside consultant is in a corporation.   Had she been, her findings and advice might have been heeded.

… it is results, not rhetoric, that matter in the end. Economic empowerment, education, healthcare, access to energy and to credit, these are the basics that all communities need to thrive. And the United States seeks to pursue these common aspirations through concrete actions. We know that true progress comes from within a society and cannot be imposed from the outside, and we know that change does not happen overnight. So we will not focus our energies on one-time projects, but we will seek to work with all of you in government and in civil society to try to build local capacity and empower local organizations and individuals to create sustainable change…

Earlier this year, I visited an Access classroom in Ramallah. I walked into an enthusiastic discussion of Women’s History Month. These were students who did not come from educated families, but they were students with the same ambition and motivation that we heard described by our colleague, the Palestinian foreign minister, about his own son. We want to create more opportunities for students like these to fulfill their God-given potential.

And this points to a related priority – the empowerment of women. I have said, as some of you know, for many years, and President Obama said it in Cairo, no country can achieve true progress or fulfill its own potential when half of its people are left behind. When little girls are not given the same opportunities for education, we have no idea what we are losing out on because they’re not going to be able to contribute to the growth and the development of their countries…

Our work is based on empowering individuals rather than promoting ideologies; listening and embracing others’ ideas rather than simply imposing our own; and pursuing partnerships that are sustainable and broad-based…

As leaders of countries that have a direct stake and care deeply about all of the final status issues that must be resolved, I would just ask you to think about how we can each demonstrate the commitment that is necessary for us to go forward.

Having adhered to the status quo, these leaders and elder statemen were about to experience what Hillary had seen coming all along: upheaval.

On the cusp of wide-spread revolution with Tunisia already boiling over, Hillary did not want to make a boilerplate speech.  She wanted to be clear, strong, and firm.  If they did not change the way they governed,  change would find them.  She recalls that her predecessor, Condoleeza Rice,  had paved the way in 2005 when she stated that for more than half a century the U.S. had chosen to pursue “stability at the expense of democracy” and had “achieved neither”   Hillary intended to make the case for democracy crystal clear in Doha: resisting change is nothing more than a recipe for unrest and conflict – a petri dish for terrorism.

Secretary Clinton’s Travel to the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar

Background Briefing on the Secretary Clinton’s Upcoming Travel

As she prepared to travel, the Lebanese government became shaky.  She met with Prime Minister Hariri and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in New York prior to departure.

Secretary Clinton and Escort Meet Saudi King Abdullah and Lebanese PM Hariri


The next day she was wheels up for Abu Dhabi.  Protests had spread all over Tunisia fueled, abetted, and broadcast by social media, the 21st century bête noire of despots.   Her first public remarks on the trip were to graduate students at a high-tech institute.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at The Masdar Institute (U.A.E.)

The old strategies for growth and prosperity will no longer work. For too many people in too many places, the status quo today is unsustainable. And the UAE is leading our work and the path we must take into the future. It is putting into practice what it means to be sustainable and laying the groundwork for economic, environmental, and social progress.

From there she proceeded to Yemen which she describes as representative of the warnings she had prepared to voice in Abu Dhabi.

Secretary Clinton’s Surprise Visit to Yemen

She met with the president and he took her on a tour of the Old City of Sanaa where she found the women veiled and the men armed with daggers and Kalashnikovs.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh After Their Meeting


Her next port-of-call was Oman, a monarchy, where she met with Sultan Qaboos.  In the book she offers a review of progressive change since the 1970s so impressive that in 2010 the U.N. Development Programme ranked it the most improved country in human development over that period.

Slideshow of Secretary Clinton in Oman: Part I


Slideshow of Secretary Clinton in Oman: Part II


The Hariri government disintegrated on January 12 while the prime minister was in Washington D.C.

Finally, on the 13th, the speech so carefully prepared.  This is a speech I have posted here several times.  If you have never read it, it is well worth reading.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at Forum for the Future

… in too many places, in too many ways, the region’s foundations are sinking into the sand. The new and dynamic Middle East that I have seen needs firmer ground if it is to take root and grow everywhere. And that goal brings us to this Forum … You can help build a future that your young people will believe in, stay for, and defend …Those who cling to the status quo may be able to hold back the full impact of their countries’ problems for a little while, but not forever … let us face honestly that future. Let us discuss openly what needs to be done. Let us use this time to move beyond rhetoric, to put away plans that are timid and gradual, and make a commitment to keep this region moving in the right direction.

The next day Tunisian strongman,  Zine el Abidine Ben Ali,  fled the country he had ruled with an iron fist for decades.  Having played out on satellite TV and social media, the coup became an incentive in the region for other similarly oppressed populations.

Statement on Tunisia

On January 25, massive protests erupted in Tahrir Square in Cairo.  Calling for “bread, freedom, and dignity,” the crowd grew daily and increasingly became focused on driving Hosni Mubarak from office.  Hillary’s first comments on the Egyptian situation came in the context of a presser with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh


 As we monitor this situation carefully, we call on all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence. We support the universal rights of the Egyptian people, including the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. And we urge the Egyptian authorities not to prevent peaceful protests or block communications, including on social media sites.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Statement on Egypt

Hillary reviews a 20-year history of acquaintance with Mubarak and his wife noting his steadfast support of the Camp David accords as well as the disappointment that human rights were never expanded.

Inside the White House there was disagreement over the appropriate posture to assume.  Young and idealistic staffers were in the corner with the protesters.  Joe Biden and Bob Gates had misgivings about appearing to push out a long-time partner and the signal that would send.  Hillary saw the former point of view, but shared the latter concern.  It was clear, however, that, important as his partnership for peace had been, Mubarak’s autocracy could not continue to be tolerated as events in Tahrir Square spiraled into violent confrontations.

(Hillary refers to this particular interview with David Gregory but does not mention that it was one of five Sunday morning interviews on this subject that morning nor that she then left for Haiti where she submitted to three more interviews that day.  Our amazing girl!)

Secretary Clinton’s Interview With David Gregory of NBC’s Meet The Press

Long-term stability rests on responding to the legitimate needs of the Egyptian people, and that is what we want to see happen … peaceful, orderly transition to a democratic regime….

A major issue was the lack of coherence within the popular uprising.  It was leaderless, driven by social media, and the only organized body in the country was the Muslim Brotherhood which, alone, appeared prepared to leap into the void if/when the Mubarak government fell, in which case, Hillary told President Obama,  “it all may work out fine … in 25 years.”

Communications with Egyptian officials were over the phone.  She told Foreign Minister Gheit that elections were going to be necessary. He told her that Mubarak remained defiant and refused to resign.

Hillary rcommended an envoy (Foreign Service verteran Farnk Wisner was chosen) and a package deal for Mubarak.

  1.  End the emergency law of 1981 (still in effect);
  2.  Pledge not to run (in a necessary election);
  3.  Agree not to set up his son Gamal as successor.

The military issued a statement that it would not move on citizens while Mubarak made some concessions, but they were small, not major, and too little too late.

President Obama wanted change now.

Secretary Clinton’s Call to Egyptian Vice President Omar Soliman

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Egyptian Vice President Omar Soliman today to convey that today’s violence was a shocking development after many days of consistently peaceful demonstrations … also underscored the important role that the Egyptian Armed Forces have played in exercising restraint in the face of peaceful demonstrations and expressed concern that all parties recommit themselves to using only peaceful means of assembly.

Secretary Clinton’s Statement on Egypt

Hillary continued talking to FM Aboul Gheit by phone and your heart has to go out to him.  (I always liked him.)  He worried about an Islamist takeover and told Hillary that he wanted his little granddaughters “to grow up to be like their grandmother and like you … This is the fight of my life!”

Hillary proceeded to the Munich Conference.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the Munich Security Conference Plenary Session


How do we offer support to Egypt for its transition to a pluralistic democracy? How do we make sure that there is not greater instability?

… part of what we have to do is to send a consistent message supporting the orderly transition that has begun, urging that it be not only transparent and sincere, but very concrete, so that the Egyptian people and those of us on the outside can measure the progress that is being made.

… it is our hope that this proceeds peacefully, that it proceeds with specific goals being achieved, so that people can see that their voices have been heard, and that there be an election with international observers and with sufficient preparation and performance that it will be viewed as free, fair, and credible when it is finally held.

Video: Secretary Clinton on Events in the Middle East: “The Status Quo is Simply Not Sustainable”

Gheit, meanwhile, submitted to an interview on PBS voicing his government’s (i.e. Mubarak’s) attitude toward commentary from the U.S.

Odds & Ends from Today’s Press Briefing

QUESTION: On Egypt, before we get into the – have you seen the interview that Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit has done with PBS?

MR. CROWLEY: I have not. I’m aware of it. I think our friend and colleague, Margaret Warner, was there today.

QUESTION: Yeah. In that interview he’s pretty angry about what he regards as interference in U.S. – in the U.S. trying to – the Administration trying to dictate to the Egyptian leadership how and when they should do this transition. Do you – what do you make of those comments?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I haven’t seen them, so I’m reluctant to comment specifically. I think from our standpoint, what’s important here is not how we view things. We’re not trying to dictate anything. As we’ve said and emphasized many times, there will be an Egyptian solution and Egyptian actions within this orderly transition. But it’s important that what Egypt does do is seen as credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people. And it’s our view that what they’ve put forward so far does not meet that threshold.

Hosni Mubarak stepped down on February 11 and did not leave the country.  “I will die in Egypt,” he stated.

Where Hosni Mubarak Is

About a month later, Hillary visited Tahrir Square.

Secretary Clinton In Tahrir Square

To see where this revolution happened and all that it has meant to the world is extraordinary for me. It’s just a great reminder of the power of the human spirit and universal desire for human rights and democracy. It’s just thrilling to see where this happened.


She met with students and activists interested to hear their plans.  They had none, were disorganized, argumentative, very inexperienced politically, and showed no interest in organizing a platform.  She asked if they had considered forming a political coalition joining together on behalf of candidates and programs.  She was met with blank stares and left fearing they would just turn the country over to the Muslim Brotherhood which, of course, is exactly what they did.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks Prior to Meeting With Egyptian Prime Minister

Field Marshall Tantawi permitted elections and when Morsi defeated his candidate he allowed the result to stand.  As to the dueling conspiracy theories that the U.S. had helped/hindered the Muslim Brotherhood, she states that “logic never gets in the way of a good conspiracy theory.”

Hillary Clinton in Egypt: A Background Briefing


When she returned to Cairo in July 2012 she found the streets again filled with protesters – against her.  Egyptian police did nothing to help her Diplomatic Security hold the crowds back.  She could hear the anti-American chants 12 floors up in her hotel room.

Hillary Clinton with Egyptian FM Mohamed Kamel Amr

Despite the protests she insisted upon keeping to the itinerary and proceeding to the flag-raising event in Alexandria where, stateside, we heard that her car had been pelted with shoes and tomatoes.  It was a little closer and more unsettling than what we were told.  Her State Department spokesperson, Toria Nuland, was hit in the head with a tomato as they were leaving the event and being escorted very close to the angry crowd.  When Hillary’s door closed, a man pounded a shoe against her window.  No one was injured, thank heaven, but it was not for any assistance from Egyptian security.

Hillary Clinton at the Consulate Flag-Raising in Alexandria Egypt

On my visit to Egypt yesterday and today, I told people I wanted to listen more than talk. I wanted to hear firsthand the concerns, the issues, the aspirations that could be represented to me both by officials as well as citizens.

People want to know and are vigorously debating this among themselves, as you know so well, what this democratic transition occurring in Egypt will be like. Where will it lead?

I have come to Alexandria to reaffirm the strong support of the United States for the Egyptian people and for your democratic future. Yesterday in Cairo, I spoke about the immediate questions that you are facing.

The Egyptian people have every right in this new democracy to look to their leaders to protect the rights of all citizens, to govern in a fair and inclusive manner, and to respect the results of elections.

Earlier today, I met with members of Egypt’s Christian community, with a number of women leaders and advocates, and with young entrepreneurs who want to demonstrate that Egyptian young people are just as innovative and successful as young people anywhere. They have legitimate concerns….

Democracy is not just about reflecting the will of the majority; it is also about protecting the rights of the minority.

The Morsi government failed the inclusion test, was removed by the military a year after that visit, and Egypt continues to lack credible democratic institutions in Hillary’s assessment.


Jordan’s King Abdullah managed to stay ahead of the wave with credible legislative elections and a crackdown on corruption.  One problem for Jordan after the fall of Mubarak was energy.  Natural gas pipelines providing about 80% of Jordan’s energy needs were often attacked and the flow interrupted.    Over a private lunch with the king at the State Department, Hillary suggested working out trade deals with Iraq and Israel.  In 2013  an agreement with Iraq was signed  and another with Israel in 2014.  Crisis averted.


Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, all partners of ours,  are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council initiated by Hillary as secretary of state.   They formed a complex web.

Hillary found negotiating with them over human rights issues most ticklish but provides a lesson in diplomacy when she explains that some issues require a soapbox while others are better addressed privately.  You solve it.  We will say nothing.  It was an effective approach to some issues that arose.  She advocates different responses for different situations.

She (and her entourage ) received a welcome fit for a queen in Saudi Arabia in 2010, but women’s issues there were prickly.

Hillary Clinton Gets Royal Treatment

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks At Dar Al-Hekma College Town Hall (Jeddah)

 I, of course, believe that educating young women is not only morally right, but it is also the most important investment any society can make in order to further and advance the values and the interests of the people. The Egyptian poet, Hafez Ibrahim, said, “A mother is a school. Empower her and you empower a great nation.”

I am a graduate of a women’s college, Wellesley College, outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and I know how rewarding it is to be a member of this kind of community, where young women are the focus of attention, where our interests are identified, recognized, and nurtured, and where the friendships that you make and the lessons that you learn will enrich your lives long after you graduate.

QUESTION: …  does the prospect of Sarah Palin one day becoming president maybe terrify you? (Laughter.)  And if so, would you consider emigrating to Canada or possibly even Russia in the event of this happening?

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, the short answer is no – (laughter) – I will not be emigrating.

This event was under high security by female guards.  One heavily veiled guard approached Huma and asked for a photo.  Hillary asked whether this should be done in a private room.  Yes.  The guard removed her veil before the camera and gave a wide smile.  Click. The veil came down.  “Welcome to Saudi Arabia.”

By the next year, the Arab Spring had spread to the Gulf.  In March 2011 the issue was unrest in Bahrain and UAE and Saudi Arabia had sent security forces over the border without consulting  … anybody.  Yemen was also in turmoil.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With UAE FM Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan

FOREIGN MINISTER ABDULLAH: Well, the Bahrain Government asked us yesterday to look at ways to help them to defuse the tension in Bahrain, and we have already sent roughly around 500 of our police force, who are there. The Saudis are there as well.

The Bahrain crisis and Saudi-UAE intervention was an issue.

Secretary Clinton’s Interviews In Egypt: Andrea Mitchell (NBC), Steve Inskeep (NPR), Kim Ghattas (BBC), Shahira Amin (Nile TV)

QUESTION: So what leverage do you still have on countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia? They’re your allies. You – they – you train their armies. You supply them with weapons. And yet when the Saudis decided to send troops into Bahrain – and I believe Washington made clear it wasn’t pleased about that – they said, “Don’t interfere. This is an internal GCC matter.”

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they are on notice as to what we think. And we will intend to make that very clear publicly and privately, and we will do everything we can to try to move this off the wrong track, which we believe is going to undermine long-term progress in Bahrain, to the right track, which is the political and economic track.


Hillary Clinton’s Press Availability in Paris

I also had the opportunity to engage today with my Arab counterparts, including Foreign Minister Zebari of Iraq representing the presidency of the Arab Summit, Secretary General Amr Moussa of the Arab League, Prime Minister Hamid bin Jasim of Qatar, Sheikh Abdallah bin Zayid of the UAE, Foreign Minister Fassi Fihri of Morocco, and Foreign Minister Judeh of Jordan.

We also had a constructive discussion on Bahrain. We have a decades-long friendship with Bahrain that we expect to continue long into the future. Our goal is a credible political process that can address the legitimate aspirations of all the people of Bahrain, starting with the Crown Prince’s dialogue, which all parties should join.

With all of these partners, we have discussed the urgent humanitarian needs arising from the crisis in Libya. I thanked the Arab leaders for their generous contributions to aid refugees fleeing Qadhafi’s violence, and we agreed that this will be a critical concern in the days ahead. Egypt and Tunisia, in particular, will need all of our support. The United States has made significant pledges of assistance, and we look to all our allies and partners to join us in this work.


Video: Secretary Clinton at the National Democratic Institute’s 2011 Democracy Awards Dinner

Why does America promote democracy one way in some countries and another way in others? Well, the answer starts with a very practical point: situations vary dramatically from country to country. It would be foolish to take a one-size-fits-all approach and barrel forward regardless of circumstances on the ground. Sometimes, as in Libya, we can bring dozens of countries together to protect civilians and help people liberate their country without a single American life lost. In other cases, to achieve that same goal, we would have to act alone, at a much greater cost, with far greater risks, and perhaps even with troops on the ground.

As a country with many complex interests, we’ll always have to walk and chew gum at the same time.


It was more complex, of course than walking and chewing gum. It was more like keeping a dozen plates spinning on sticks, but the different approaches to different situations strategy was effective.

Secretary Clinton Lauds Signing of GCC-Brokered Agreement in Yemen

We urge all parties within Yemen to refrain from violence and to move swiftly to implement the terms of the agreement in good faith and with transparency — including credible presidential elections within 90 days.

Video: Secretary Clinton with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani

Today, Sheikh Hamad and I had a productive and wide-ranging discussion about the path forward. We spoke about the importance of helping Libya complete its transition from an armed revolution to a peaceful, unified, and orderly democracy under the rule of law. We discussed Yemen, where Qatar is working as part of the Gulf Cooperation Council to ensure that all parties honor their commitment to take part in a peaceful transition to democracy. We also spoke about the importance of responding to people’s economic needs. So many of these revolutions and uprisings that we have seen were rooted in the economic grievances that people had – not enough jobs, not jobs that paid an adequate wage for a family, too much corruption, and so much else. And we are working together to assist countries to provide more economic change for their people.

Video: Hillary Clinton at the U.N. Security Council

As Yemen unraveled into violence last year, this Security Council stood behind the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Yemeni stakeholders to find a peaceful solution. In the face of setbacks, we held firm. Now many challenges lie ahead. But last month’s successful presidential election and inauguration were promising steps on the path toward a new, democratic chapter in Yemen’s history.

Hillary ends this chapter in post-revolution Tunisia, now markedly changed, where a question at a town hall with students highlighted an issue that certainly backlit all of our dealings with partners during the turbulence of the Arab Spring: that of trust in the face of compromise.

Hillary Clinton’s Town Hall in Tunisia

QUESTION:  I think that there exists among many young people in Tunisia across the region a deep feeling of mistrust towards the West in general and the United States in particular. And many observers partly explain the surge of extremism in the region and in Tunisia by this skepticism. And even among the mainstream of moderate and pro-Western youth, there is a sense of despair and fatalism when it comes to the possibility of building a real and lasting partnership that is based on mutual interests. So is the United States aware of this issue? And how do you think we can address it?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. I can speak for both President Obama and myself. We are aware of it. We regret it. We feel that it doesn’t reflect the values or the policy of the United States. And there are several reasons as we understand them. Some people say, well, you supported the prior regimes in these countries. Well, those were the governments. If you’re a government, who do you deal with? You deal with the governments that are in place. And yes, we did. We dealt with the governments that were in place, just like we deal with the governments elsewhere.

I will be the first to say we, like any country in the world, have made mistakes. I will be the first to say that. We’ve made a lot of mistakes. But I think if you look at the entire historical record, the entire historical record shows we’ve been on the side of freedom, we’ve been on the side of human rights, we’ve been on the side of free markets and economic empowerment. And that is where the bulk of the evidence, in my view, rests.

You said you were a lawyer? (Laughter.) I used to be one. (Laughter.) So I think we can make a very strong case, and that’s what we’re doing, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m here, to do it in person.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participates in a Town Hall meeting at the Baron d' Erlanger Palace in Carthage, Tunisia, February 25, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed (TUNISIA - Tags: POLITICS)

This chapter demonstrates a great deal about how Hillary Clinton thinks and approaches problems and conflicts.  Versatility, flexibility,  the ability to multitask are key.  No single situation is clone of another, therefore one-size-fits-all approaches are doomed to fail.  In any conflict of any kind, true settlement will never fully satisfy either side.  Compromise, the ability to effect it and to accept it are also key.

These are the lenses through which Hillary Clinton looks at issues.  This point of view informs her path.  She places her camp chair in the center and surveilles the theater of operations with an eye to finding solutions that mutually benefit the parties.   This is what makes accusations of extremism about her nonsense.  She never puts that chair in an extreme spot.  She knows you do not get the clearest view from there.


Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>



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As we watch history unroll, and with a quiet State Department today (I do not mean to imply nothing is going on.  Probably too much is going on behind the scenes for them to be making public statements until after the White House press briefing), I thought I would re-post part of what I put up back in September before the rolling Quartet meetings on and in the Middle East (Where Hillary Clinton is going). According to various news sources, Hosni Mubarack left Cairo and and is thought to have fled to Sharm El-Sheikh at some point today.

This map shows where Sharm El-Sheikh is located on the Red Sea at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula.

In the original Sharm El-Sheikh post I had written this:

Located at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula between Mount Sinai and the Red Sea, Sharm el Sheikh is known as the City of Peace due to the many peace conferences it has hosted and making it a perfect spot for these talks to resume.  The Sinai itself  has been contested territory through the latter half of the 20th century having gone from Egyptian to Israeli hands and back a few times.  As it is solidly Egyptian now,  Sinai provides Egypt entrée to the list of countries that occupy more than one continent spanning the northeast corner of Africa into Asia.

Today is a new independence day,  a new national day for the people of Egypt, and the whole world watches as their peaceful demonstrations have given way to rule by the people.   Those of us who follow the work of our magnificent Secretary of State know how hard she has been working behind the scenes to midwife the birth of this new democracy.

When the going gets tough, Hillary Clinton works quietly and diligently without any fanfare,  but I want to say here that I know how hard the work was, what a toll it took on her, and how proud I am to have her speaking for all of us on this historic day.  Thank you, Madame Secretary, for a job well done!

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Thank you, Hal Boedeker!

Hillary Clinton to discuss Egypt on five Sunday shows

ABC, CBS, CNN, Face the Nation, Fox News Channel, Meet the Press, NBC, State of the Union, This Week, WESH, WFTV, WKMG, WOFL — posted by halboedeker on January, 29 2011 11:28 AM

The crisis in Egypt has the Sunday morning programs revising their guest lineups.Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit five Sunday morning programs:

***”State of the Union starts at 9 a.m on CNN.

***”Fox News Sunday” starts at 9 a.m. on WOFL-Channel 35.

***NBC’s “Meet the Press” begins at 9 a.m. on WESH-Channel 2.

***CBS’ “Face the Nation” begins at 10:30 a.m. on WKMG-Channel 6.

***ABC’s “This Week” starts at 11 a.m. on WFTV-Channel 9.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.


Remarks With Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Presidential Palace
Cairo, Egypt
November 4, 2009

FOREIGN MINISTER GHEIT: (Via interpreter) I would like to welcome the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We had – she has had – just finished now a meeting with President Mubarak, a meeting that lasted more than an hour. We also met with Secretary Clinton yesterday evening, myself personally, as well as Omar Suleiman (inaudible). These were two-hour – that was a two-hour meeting of very intensive work. Our consultations between the U.S. and Egypt touched on the issue of the situation in Palestine, the effort for peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and how we can put back the negotiations on track.

We have also talked about the regional issues, such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and Lebanon. And also our consultations between the two countries are productive, are frank, candid, and are clear. And we have a good understanding of all the issues. Each side put forth his own vision. And we also report our vision of the Egypt vision for the peace – for pushing peace forward, and our consultations keep on being productive.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. It is a pleasure for me to be here with my counterpart Foreign Minister Gheit. He and I have had numerous meetings and telephone conversations ever since I assumed the position of Secretary of State. As he has just said, we’ve had a very productive, comprehensive meeting last night with the foreign minister and with General Suleiman, and then, we had a constructive and very positive meeting with President Mubarak.

The United States sees Egypt as an essential partner, not only in the Middle East, but on global and regional issues, as well. And we are committed to working with Egypt to strengthen and deepen our cooperation and our partnership on these vital matters.

Our main focus today with President Mubarak was, of course, on Middle East peace efforts. I emphasized to the president that President Obama, Special Envoy Mitchell who is here with me today, and I are all deeply and personally committed to achieving a two-state solution and comprehensive peace between Israelis, Palestinians, and all of their Arab neighbors. It is a commitment that brought us to the region this week and to Cairo specifically last night and today. We are working hard to help the parties come together in negotiations that can yield progress toward our shared objectives. And we regard Egypt and other Arab neighbors as critical partners in helping to move this effort forward. I assured the president, the minister, and the general that the United States shares their deep concerns about the people of Gaza.

As I said in Marrakech two days ago, I believe we can find a way through the difficult and tangled history that too often prevents us from making progress for a comprehensive peace and a two-state solution. We can maintain an allegiance to the past, but we cannot change the past. No matter what we say about it, it is behind us. So we must follow the (inaudible) that has been put forward by President Obama and help shape a future that will be vastly better for the children of both Palestinians and Israelis.

I came to Sharm el-Sheikh shortly after becoming Secretary of State and expressed that deep commitment in a very personal and public way. So as we work together on this critical issue, we are also cooperating in a spirit of mutual respect to build a better future for the people of Egypt. As part of that effort, President Obama and I are committed to realizing the vision of the Cairo speech: education, human development, economic partnership, the promotion of human rights. We support the efforts of civil society, political parties, and minority communities, and we support improvements in the lives of everyday Egyptians.

I also expressed our gratitude for Egypt’s leadership on regional and global issues. We discussed the threat that Iran poses to regional stability, including the nuclear file. As President Obama has said, it is time for the Iranian Government to decide what kind of future it seeks. And we have made very clear to them that patience does have its limits. We also consulted on matters ranging from Afghanistan to Yemen, and in particular, on our shared support for the formation of a strong, sovereign government in Lebanon that can advance the aspirations of all of the Lebanese people. So Mr. Minister, thank you again. Thank you also to President Mubarak for a very good and fruitful discussion. And I look forward to the continuing good work that we can do together.

FOREIGN MINISTER GHEIT: Thank you very much, Secretary. We will answer two questions – one from the Egyptian side and one from the American side, if there will be any questions from the Americans. So you will make the selection from (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no, you have to choose.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you choose me? (Laughter.)


QUESTION: Yes, thank you. Thank you. Madame Secretary, my question is President Obama’s lecture in the Cairo University gives us some hope that you are backing the position that Israel has to stop settlements. What is the reasons for this change in the position that (inaudible) through the hard work? And a second point, if I can.


QUESTION: What’s your view concerning the Egyptian ideas of having the paper of guarantees given to the Palestinians concerning a deadline for the negotiations? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, and thank you for asking. First, I want to start by saying our policy on settlements has not changed. And I want to say it again, our policy on settlement activity has not changed. We do not accept the legitimacy of settlement activity. And we have a very firm belief that ending all settlement activity, current and future, would be preferable, and that is what we have put forth, and that is what we have continued to support.

What we have received from the Israelis to halt all new settlement activity – and I’ll repeat that again, too – to halt all new settlement activities and to end the expropriation of land, and to issue no permits or approvals, is unprecedented. It is not what we would prefer, because we would like to see everything ended forever. But it is something that I think shows at least a positive movement toward the final status issues being addressed. Just as when the Palestinians made progress on security, I stand and say that is a positive step, even though some may not believe it, I think it’s a positive step, and I say that.

So what we’re looking at here is a recognition that getting into the final status negotiations will allow us to bring an end to settlement activity because we will be moving toward the Palestinian state that I and many others have long advocated and worked for. So I think that that perhaps clarifies where we are on this, and I appreciate your question.

Secondly, on the paper of guarantees, we discussed in great detail what is a productive way forward. And there are some ideas that we’ve received from our Egyptian counterparts that we are going to be taking back today to the President and to the White House, and we very much appreciate the suggestions that they have put forward to us.

QUESTION: And make the choice of the American (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ll delegate that to Colonel Crowley. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Hi, I’m Andy Quinn from Reuters. First thing, a quick follow-up to the previous question, and this is a question for Mr. Aboul Gheit: Secretary Clinton has just described the U.S. policy as unchanged on settlements. After your discussions today and yesterday evening, are you persuaded that the U.S. still backs a freeze on Israeli settlement activity, or do you feel that there’s some backtracking going on?

And the second question is for both of you: The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to condemn the Goldstone report which goes before the United Nations General Assembly shortly. To what extent do you believe that the Goldstone report has become an impediment to the resumption of peace talks?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’ll start because he’s an American – (laughter) – and then I’ll let Ahmed finish.

We believe that it is important to focus on the long-term aspirations of the Palestinian people. I have said this before, and you will not be surprised to hear me say it again, it is very painful to me personally, that with Egypt’s help when my husband was President, we came so close. And the last meeting in Taba laid out what would have been a path toward a Palestinian state that would be operating today. So I carry with me a personal conviction that nothing can be allowed to interfere with our determination and our resolve and our commitment to move this forward.

So yes, are there impediments along the way? You mentioned one; there are many others. But we cannot let anything deter us. In talking with President Mubarak, we were reminiscing about some of the hard decisions that we have seen that had to be faced in this area over the past years, and of course, he has so many years of experience. And he was telling us about how even at the very end of the Camp David agreement that ended the difficulties between Israel and Egypt, there were still people who wanted to change it, derail it, and prevent it.

So this is something that, when you are doing the work we are doing, the foreign minister and I, you have to stay focused on what is the ultimate outcome you are seeking, and I think we share that commitment. We want to see a Palestinian state. We want to see Israel living in security. We want to see the Palestinian people given a chance to chart their own destiny. So we’re not going to let anything deter us or prevent us from working as hard as we possibly can, going forward.

FOREIGN MINISTER GHEIT: May I answer? I will respond in Arabic after your permission, for the benefit of the Egyptian and Arab news media, and then we would have a translation. (Speaking in Arabic.) She will be translating, and I think I spoke at length. (Laughter.)

(Via interpreter) About the U.S. position towards the settlements, we have listened with great interest to the reaction of the U.S. Secretary of State yesterday and today about the concessions or the status, if you will, that there has been a sort of backtracking from the side – from the U.S. side. We talked about this very clearly and very candidly. We listened to the U.S. vision. The United States holds on – is committed to its vision that there is no legitimacy to settlement, that the United States rejects settlements. And we also listened that Israel has not been responsive to the desires of the United States, that it rests opposed to them. The United States has not changed its position of rejecting settlements and the settlement activities. And the United States is calling on the resumption of negotiations.

So now I give you the answer that you gave them about our – the Egyptian answer. We feel that Israel is hindering the process. Israel is putting conditions for the – in order to benefit – to continue the settlement activities even and – if these settlement activities will be limited. Therefore, the United States and Secretary Clinton feel that there has been a progress nevertheless by – about the issue of freezing the settlements, even if it’s not fully complete. And here, we feel that we need to focus on the end of the course. We have listened to the U.S. position that we also – and it has been conveyed to us we need to focus on the end of the road and on the road. We should not waste time. The United States is —

QUESTION: What is the end game?

FOREIGN MINISTER GHEIT: (Via interpreter) And the U.S. is committed to see the negotiations move forward on clear basis.

Now about your second segment of the question about the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Congress calling – not considering the Goldstone report, I’ll tell you this: This report is at the UN General Assembly. It’s been under discussion. There will be a resolution issued in a few hours about it. And we will move forward on this particular course. Nevertheless, and I can tell you that Egypt or the broader international community had anything to do with the views of the members of congress, as also I can tell you that members – some members of congress have also said that this report needs further deep studying and examination, and that there should be an extra effort, as this report has taken a lot of time to be (inaudible) and should not be thrown out of the window.

STAFF: Another – two questions, as the Secretary has agreed.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) My question is addressed to Secretary of State Clinton and those who go to the region see that isolating, separating wall, look that the Palestinian areas and the – some territories in the West Bank, some large chunks of it is in the West Bank. In those areas, it is forbidden for the Palestinians to build anything. The Israelis continue on a daily basis to confiscate land.

So talking also about the greater Jerusalem picture, knowing that this would – there is a split between the north and the south of the city, what would be the shape of the Palestinian state in the U.S. opinion? And would it have a lot of antiquity – would it be an impact to shape, or also can we say that it would look like the Native American entity or status within the United States?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can repeat to you what President Obama said in his speech at the United Nations and what he said here in Cairo – that the United States believes that we need a state that is based on the territory that has been occupied since 1967. And we believe that that is the appropriate approach. It is what has been discussed when my husband was president with Yasser Arafat, and it is what has been discussed between the Israelis and the Palestinians and the Bush Administration when President Abbas has been there.

I think that there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that moving toward a state that reflects the aspirations and the rights of the Palestinian people must include all of the issues that have both been discussed and mentioned by President Obama, and that includes Jerusalem. And I would only repeat that (inaudible) such an emotional issue for me. We would not be having this discussion if we had reached a deal, because as you remember, the parameters that were laid out would have recognized a state on the ’67 borders with some swapping of land agreeable to both sides, and it would have also established the capital for the Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, and it would have created a shared responsibility with international support to protect the holy places that are holy to all three major religions of Abraham.

So we want to assure you that our goal is a real state with real sovereignty with the kind of borders that will enable the people of Palestine to make decisions about where they live and what they do on their own. And it is important to us, and we know that it is vitally important to the people of the region and particularly, most especially, the Palestinians and the Israelis.

FOREIGN MINISTER GHEIT: May I follow up on what the Secretary has just stated?

(Via interpreter) Here, this position that was just stated by Secretary Clinton – we say that we approve it and we are in agreement totally with it. We support it fully, we support fully this U.S. position because it reflects a conviction that – of a Palestinian state that is capable, that will be on all of the territories that were occupied in 1967 and that will be a hundred percent of those territories, because a hundred percent of those territories goes to the Palestinians despite the (inaudible) that would happen.

And with this, also East Jerusalem is for the Palestinians. With this, this is clear and with this such position, we support the U.S. fully.

STAFF: Finally, Robert Burns from AP.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary?


QUESTION: Over to your question of your trip —


QUESTION: Looking back over the past eight or nine days – somehow it seems longer than that. (Laughter.) You’ve dealt with a wide range of the major issues affecting the entire region, from Pakistan and Afghanistan to the Middle East and North Africa. I wonder if you could give us an assessment of areas in which you feel you made some advancements and areas where you fell short or stumbled?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, I think I only made advancements – (laughter) – and I happen to believe that, not just responding to your question. I think that the level and intensity of the discussions that I have taken part in over the last days, starting in Pakistan, have certainly been productive, constructive, and helped to clarify the approach that the United States is taking and is committed to taking in all of the different settings that I was part of.

I think that in talking about this with President Mubarak earlier, every issue that we touched on during this trip is complicated and difficult. Each requires patience, perseverance, and determination to see them through. There are – if these were easy questions with simple answers, I would not have made this trip. I know how challenging they are. We have some of the best people in the United States with Ambassador Holbrooke and Senator Mitchell working on these complicated matters.

But it is important to recognize that after a period of time in which the United States’s position was rejected, or was certainly questioned, what we are doing is very carefully and consistently rebuilding those bonds, creating those partnerships, finding common ground so that we and our international partners will be able to make progress.

And so I feel very satisfied by what we accomplished on this trip in every one of our settings. I am not someone who is in any way affected by difficulty, who is living in a world apart from the real world in which we inhabit where it takes just an enormous amount of effort to get to where we are headed. The two-state solution is one of the most difficult. We know that from years of efforts. But I have a great team. I have a lot of confidence in the team of people working on these matters. And we have a president who is 100 percent committed. And so I think that’s exactly the combination that we need.

STAFF: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, what happens now? How far or close are we toward the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian talks, if you (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We are working hard to see that happen.

QUESTION: Weeks, months?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not going to make predictions. One of the things that President Mubarak and I were talking about is how we have to be so focused on what we’re doing, but we also have to try, the best we can, to answer questions. So I will say we’re working hard to get there.

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There are no press releases yet, but there are a few media takes on this extension of her trip.

Short-Term Fixes Sought in Mideast

Clinton: U.S. Wants Israel Settlement Halted ‘Forever’

Clinton says Egypt key in Mideast talks

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As I mentioned in a post yesterday, the news broke about this time last night that, although the Secretary was supposed to be on her way home right now for a full schedule tomorrow, instead she is on her way to Egypt, her trip extended by one day, for a meeting with President Mubarak. President Clinton has alluded to Mid-East negotiations as walking a tight-rope, and now it is, like The Flying Wallendas, another Clinton up there on the high wire.

On her plane to Egypt, P.J. Crowley, Bureau of Public Affairs, gave a press briefing outlining the agenda, and the issues.

Briefing En Route Cairo
Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
Cairo, Egypt
November 3, 2009

MR. CROWLEY: Just to kind of give you a little bit of a sense of when we land in Cairo, George Mitchell will just have flown over from Amman, Jordan. He’ll come on the airplane, and the Secretary and he will spend a few minutes comparing notes on what each has done since we last saw them Saturday night. George stayed in Jerusalem, had some additional meetings with Israeli officials on Monday, and then traveled over to Amman and – for meetings with Jordanian officials.

From our standpoint, Egypt has a 30-year history of direct involvement in peace in the Middle East going back to the historic treaty of 1979. So from the Secretary’s point of view, given that Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit was not able to come to the Forum for the Future – he was hosting some Iraqi officials in Cairo – that we thought it was just very important that before leaving the region that we touch base with one of the key players in the peace effort.

So the Secretary will first meet with General Suleiman, the national security advisor to President Mubarak. He has been focused on the reconciliation effort among the Palestinians, and he’ll have the opportunity to update us on his efforts. Then the meeting will be joined by Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit, and then they’ll have dinner, and then tomorrow morning before we depart Cairo for home, the Secretary will meet with President Mubarak and I think there’ll be a press availability for all of you before we head back to the States.

QUESTION: Sorry. You were talking about the meetings that Senator Mitchell had. Can you tell us who all he met with? I understand King Abdullah. Did he meet with Abu Mazen again? And what happened differently than in the meeting with – in Abu Dhabi with the Secretary?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware that he met with Abu Mazen. I believe he did meet with King Abdullah. I have not gotten a readout, to be honest with you, on what they discussed.

QUESTION: P.J., this may seem obvious, but can we – do you – the totality of what the Secretary is saying recently about how positive it is for Israel to offer a halt to settlements and no more expropriations, can we deduce from that that part of what’s going on here is she’s asking the Palestinians to drop the precondition and to consider what Israel has done as important and something that they can sell as a freeze to their public and get on with the peace talks? Is that what she’s doing?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me start from a different place and come back to that. As we’ve said throughout the trip, there’s clearly a gap between the two parties. We’ve been encouraging for several weeks now for negotiations to begin as soon as possible. That remains our hope. So on the standpoint, we’re simply trying to chip away at this gap. And as she has said yesterday and today, any steps that we feel narrow this gap and move the parties forward to a negotiation we see as a positive development.

So certainly, she – in her meeting with President Abbas the other day, she suggested very directly that, in our view, his best interest is to get to negotiations as soon as possible. And obviously, in her meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, while their offer falls short of what we had suggested, obviously that is, in her view – the word again – unprecedented. And so – but certainly, we’ll have the opportunity with President Mubarak to compare notes on – he’s a very adroit reader of the parties. He’s had his own interaction. President Mubarak has a very good working relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

QUESTION: Just as a follow, so is it too strong for us to report that she’s become an advocate for them dropping the precondition?

MR. CROWLEY: Let me get there a different way. We do not think that there should be preconditions to negotiations, and we do not think – and we believe that it – that both parties will be best served by getting into negotiations as quickly as possible. But we do understand how the settlement issue is important to the Palestinians. It’s important to the Israelis. It’s important to others in the region. And what we’re trying to do, what we were doing in our consultations with various leaders in Morocco is to try to just figure out what is the best way forward. How can we help move the parties towards the start of negotiations? So I wouldn’t – I just wouldn’t say it as directly as that, but our view is, on the one hand, there should be no preconditions. On the other hand, we want to see negotiations start as quickly as possible, and we’re just simply trying to see how we can move the two closer to where they feel comfortable with making that decision.

QUESTION: Two questions. One, the Palestinians say that it’s not a precondition that they’re putting to restart the talks. They’re simply saying Israel has to fulfill its obligations under the Roadmap, and if they can’t even do that, why should we sit down to talk to them? But another question is you’ve said several times that you’re looking at creative ideas to kickstart this process. Can you tell us a little bit more? I mean, what is the way around this issue of settlement freeze? It’s – neither side is really budging enough to satisfy the other.

MR. CROWLEY: I suppose I would just say this will take political courage on both sides. These are very difficult issues. As the Secretary has reflected at various times, they’ve been close before and for whatever reason, or a combination of circumstances, they’ve just never been able to get over the finish line. So this is a – I mean, there are specific technical issues involved here. They’re well known. But this is also a political challenge, and so it does take what kind of confidence-building measures can we establish that, whether or not they’re perfect – and the Secretary has said again today in the interviews – we can’t – in this process, you can’t afford to make perfect an obstacle to the very good. So if you take absolute positions, then it’s unlikely that negotiations are going to start. We feel very strongly that both parties are best served by getting to negotiation, putting all of these issues on the table. And if you get to an agreement, then you’ve solved – you have, in fact, solved these various issues, including settlements, including borders, including refugees, and obviously including Jerusalem.

So I’m not sure I can answer it any – in a different way, but to the extent that we can take steps, encourage them to take steps that then give them confidence, provide some momentum to this effort that gets them to a point where they might say it’s not everything we were looking for, but it’s enough, there’s enough of an investment or they’re beginning to have enough confidence that the dynamic will begin to – they’ll see the dynamic as constructive. So we’ll be looking at a variety of ways that increase the interaction between the parties in some form, find ways that they can begin to address the issues. If we can do that, then we think that at some point baby steps then create a momentum of their own and the effort can pick up steam. So we recognized coming into the region that things have stalled, and we’re just looking – keep looking to see how we can begin to create some forward momentum again.

QUESTION: P.J., you mentioned that General Suleiman will be – is focusing a lot on this issue of Palestinian reconciliation and unity government. Does – do you have any particular message that you will be giving him on that issue?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think so. We have a fairly clear stated position, which is we look for whatever combination of circumstances make negotiation more feasible and success more likely. Clearly, you have a situation now where you have a divided Palestine between the West Bank and Gaza. There’s a – obviously, the president, Abu Mazen, has requested of his electoral body to evaluate whether elections are even feasible at this point in time given the situation on the West Bank and Gaza. And I think they’re due to report back to him sometime in the next couple of weeks.

A national – a government of national unity, we feel would be clearly more effective. But obviously, that government would – has to be guided by the well-established Quartet principles fundamentally including recognizing Israel’s right to exist. But – so we will be comparing notes with General Suleiman on where the reconciliation process stands, and then charting out how that fits into some of the other pieces of the puzzle that we currently see.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask – I mean, given all the difficulties over the Goldstone report which you have talked about, plus the – on both sides, and the challenges that are coming up with the planned Palestinian election, tell us what is the real feasibility of anything happening before January, and to what extent is it taking all of your effort to simply just keep this alive?

QUESTION: Why not wait?

QUESTION: Yeah, and that’s the other question. Why not wait, as Jay said?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the Palestinian Authority that sorts themselves out of it because it’s so fluid?

QUESTION: It’s its life support.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, on the first question, I don’t want to get ahead of the Palestinian electoral bodies. I mean, they’re evaluating the feasibility of elections under the current circumstances. They could come back and say, look, Hamas refuses to even hold it in Gaza. So let’s wait and see. That’s a pretty effective body. Let’s wait and see what their determination is.

On the other issue, Jay, I just think those who are experienced in these issues, waiting is never a good thing. I mean, we always carry a sense of urgency into the Middle East because if there’s a vacuum, there are lots of spoilers very willing to take advantage of that vacuum. Sometimes the effort has an impact in and of itself. As you – it does give people a sense of hope that there’s something better out there. In the absence of that hope, we too often in the past have seen events spiral into violence. And so with so much unresolved, we just think that this is part of the commitment that the Obama Administration made that they would tackle this issue on day one. And so this is just – this is a continuation of that because we just think that without this effort, it’s likely that things will go from difficult to worse.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. CROWLEY: There is value in having a process, even though sometimes it will advance more rapidly and sometimes it will advance at a snail’s pace.

QUESTION: I was just wondering – I mean, Middle East peace talks have taken place often over the last few years, and most people agree that both parties know what the final settlement is going to look like, what the deal is really going to look like. It’s just about making it happen and crossing that finish line. Has the time come for Washington to say to put a deal on the table, say okay guys, come to the table, this is what we’re going to negotiate, just come and sit down, enough of all this going back and forth about settlements and et cetera, et cetera?

MR. CROWLEY: We have constructed this phase to have discussions with the parties to see what they might be able to put forward together with other countries in the region and to see if that combination of confidence-building measures would get the parties to negotiation. That’s still where we are. And as the President said, as the Secretary reported to the President a couple of weeks ago, there has been some progress, but clearly, at this point, not enough. I think that’s part of why the Secretary is here. She wanted to look Prime Minister Netanyahu in the eye, face to face. She wanted to look President Abbas in the eye, face to face. She wanted to talk directly to key players in the region, as she will President Mubarak tomorrow morning. And then based on these discussions, we’ll say is there still potential in this current structure or do we need to look at other alternatives. They are available. But I think for the moment, we will – we’re going to keep on this path as long as we think it has promise.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) I’m sorry, so you’re actually opening up the possibility that she’s going to – that the result of this analysis and these consultations might be that there is not hope in this particular way you’re doing it now, that there might be a better way to do it? So I didn’t realize you were even thinking of maybe scrapping this (inaudible).

MR. CROWLEY: Let’s not leap ahead of ourselves. I mean, we’re still on the path we’ve been on for several months, dealing directly with the Palestinians, the Israelis, working the various countries in the region. We think we’ve pocketed some actions that countries are willing to take if the parties get to negotiation. We want to see the parties get to negotiation as quickly as possible. And if this particular path we don’t think can get there, then we’ll look at other opportunities.

I mean, clearly, as the Secretary said, we believe the only way to solve these issues is through a negotiation. And only through a negotiation will you get to the aspirations of the two sides – security on the one hand and a state on the other hand. The United States has in the past put forward its ideas to the parties. But I don’t want to – we’re on this current path. I don’t want to project too far ahead.

QUESTION: P.J., it’s pretty clear what you’re asking the Palestinians is to drop the demand for a freeze. Are you making an analogous demand to the Israelis? What are you asking them to do or to sacrifice, specifically right now, to get to negotiations? And – well, let’s just leave it at that.

MR. CROWLEY: I think I’ll defer and not do the negotiation in public. I mean, that’s one of the reasons George Mitchell stayed behind is to continue the conversation with the Israel side on the ideas that they have put forward and to see what else might be there. And we’ve had the same – similar conversations with various leaders in the region. But we think we’ve closed the gap some in these last few days coming up. And – but that gap is still there, so there’s still more work to be done.

QUESTION: Can you just give us a readout on her bilat with the Libyan and give us the spelling of his name?

MR. CROWLEY: Hold on a second. All right. We’ll branch off a little bit. She did two bilaterals this morning. The first was with Foreign Minister Frattini of Italy. They talked about three subjects – the situation in Afghanistan, the Middle East peace, and Iran.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)


QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me – the vast majority of the discussion was on Afghanistan. Obviously, the Italians have some efforts that they’re already doing, and they kind of traded ideas on what the international community can do specifically on building different kinds of capacity within Afghanistan as the new government takes office, things like the rule of law. The Secretary obviously mentioned the importance of security forces, judges, and so forth. So it’s just simply now you’re beginning to get – we are in that transition period where – now it’s – and as – I mean, you heard from the Secretary in terms of raising our expectations in terms of the performance of the Afghan Government.

I won’t speak for the Italian Government, but they were also just trading some ideas on how the international community can be supportive of a Palestinian Authority from a – in terms of helping build further technical capacity within the PA in support of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad.

On Iran, I think it was mostly the Secretary just reporting on our view of the current situation, and quite honestly, it tracked, in fact, very directly to what she said to you all last night.

And then she met with Foreign Minister Musa Kusa — M-u-s-a, K-u-s-a – who’s a – he’s a graduate of Michigan State University. At one point, he said, Spartans and gave a thumbs up.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Wasn’t Musa Kusa indicted for terrorism at one point? Can you check, because was the intelligence chief before he became the foreign minister?

QUESTION: I thought he was indicted for killing Americans.

QUESTION: Were you going to tell us about this? Can I have the next question?


QUESTION: Why was this not on the schedule and why was there no photo opportunity of this?

MR. CROWLEY: The short answer is it happened almost – let me back up. I mean, we had a limited time and we had a number of potential candidates for bilats. And in some cases, there were a couple countries that we were looking at bilats. And for example, and – but the Secretary was able to have pull-asides during the GCC meeting, for example. I mean, Libya is a country that we are – we have an emerging relationship with. And we think it’s best to continue talking to them and seeing where we can continue to advance the relationship.

And that – but I mean, it was something that – this was just a – kind of like a target of opportunity where the ministers found themselves with a similar hole and they got pulled into a room and sat for about 15 minutes.

QUESTION: Did they discuss the Lockerbie bomber’s recent release back home?

MR. CROWLEY: I was in the meeting; that did not come up. They —

QUESTION: She didn’t bring it up? I mean, you guys – excuse me, sorry. I mean, you and Ian were having to brief for about 10 days straight to us. Every single day we were asking you – hammering you guys with questions about the seeming welcome parade that he got and how upset people were about that, and you guys kept saying how upset the U.S. was about that. She didn’t bring that up when she had an opportunity?

MR. CROWLEY: We didn’t bring up the tent either. (Laughter.) Sorry.

QUESTION: The tent’s a little bit less of foreign policy issue.

MR. CROWLEY: No, the – I mean, Libya has a perspective on the region. They have been very helpful and integrally involved in developments in Sudan, so we did talk about Sudan, talked about Darfur. There has been cooperation from the countries on counterterrorism. And they continue to talk about advancing our relationship. But it was about a 10- or 15-minute meeting.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Sorry, you just said it was only 10 or 15 minutes. Was that the first time (inaudible)?

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll check.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. CROWLEY: Yes, that’s the first time that they’ve met.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Is the Secretary talking with the President by phone during this?

MR. CROWLEY: We’re staying in close contact with the White House throughout this, but I can’t say that she has talked to the President. But I’ll double check that.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. CROWLEY: I think – I don’t think so, other than the press conference.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. CROWLEY: Tonight, I think, you go relax in the hotel, and we go to dinner. But we’ll see you in the morning. Okay.

But just to close the loop, obviously, while the issue of Megrahi did not come up, we – our views on that have not changed and our view – the Libyans understand our concerns very, very well. The Libyans understand our concern about Megrahi very, very well.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. CROWLEY: It did not come up

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Our favorite Turbo-Secretary of State was multitasking in Zurich!  According to this AP report, she also spoke with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak while she was there.

Clinton talks to Mubarak; US envoy busy in Mideast


ZURICH — U.S. officials are keeping in touch with Mideast leaders in hopes of getting the faltering peace process back on track.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday. She was in Zurich, where Turkey and Armenia signed an accord to establish diplomatic relations.

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