Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

London mayor and media magnet,  Boris Johnson,  was in New York City today, and Hillary met with him and with Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

The Daily Mail poked some fun at remarks Johnson had made about Hillary in the past.

The mayor had some diplomatic ground to make up at the talks after being reminded of less-than-flattering comments he made about the then senator in a column for The Daily Telegraph in November 2007.

He wrote: ‘She’s got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips, and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital.’

Mr Johnson said it was ‘a measure of the goodness and the generosity of Hillary Clinton’s spirit’ that she agreed to the meeting.

He added: ‘I’m sure that whatever I’ve said in the past will be taken by the Senator who is a very distinguished politician in the light hearted spirit in which it was intended.’

02-11-15-DM-01 Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni shakes hands with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Clinton Foundation in New York

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Remarks With Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata After Their Meeting


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
October 12, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, everyone. I am delighted to welcome back to Washington someone who is very well known here, a friend and a colleague, and his colleagues as well. We last hosted Minister Terzi in February, and he’s back to attend the annual dinner for the National Italian American Foundation, an organization that does so much to strengthen the ties of friendship and fellowship between the people of Italy and the people of the United States.We also took this opportunity to continue an ongoing, never-ending conversation about all of the issues we are working on together and of course our very strong commitment to making a difference in the world and beyond. And on that point, let me congratulate the European Union on its Nobel Peace Prize. Certainly it’s quite remarkable to see how unified and peaceful Europe is in the 21st century, and that did not happen by coincidence. It happened because of the very hard work and dedication of leaders and citizens across Europe. So for us, it’s a great validation as well.

Italy is such a close friend and ally, a critical partner on countless international issues, and we look to Italy to lead on many of those issues. On the conflict in Syria, Italy has been with us every step of the way. In September, the Foreign Minister hosted Syrian opposition groups in Rome to discuss human rights and a peaceful end to the conflict there. We’re working together to strengthen sanctions and the violence inflicted by the Assad regime and encourage a peaceful democratic transition.

We’ve also worked together during the course of the last year with the Monti government on economic reforms in Italy and elsewhere. We really are encouraged by the leadership shown by the Monti government, and Italy’s progress. Our close ties in investment and business really demonstrate that we are in this together, and we will grow together. And as Italy tackles bureaucratic and regulatory barriers to create more growth and opportunity for the Italian people, they will have a partner in the United States.

So again, I thank you, Minister, for your work and for the great leadership you personally have shown and that the Government of Italy is demonstrating day in and day out, and we look forward to continuing our close consultations.

FOREIGN MINISTER TERZI: Thank you, thank you very much Madam Secretary, dear Hillary. Let me say how pleased and honored I am to be received here at the Department of State and to have been able to have important exchanges on main subjects in the international political agenda. But let me say, really, how pleased I am that you mentioned the fact that another commitment that I have tomorrow night is with the most important association of the Italian American organizations, because it brings to me, immediately, to the point that the importance of culture in foreign policy for my country.

We believe in – my government and I am a strong believer of the principle that culture is really a fundamental backbone of Italian foreign policy; probably foreign policy for every country, but especially with Italy, this is particularly true. And that is why I have the opportunity of mentioning during our meeting the program that we have put together for celebrating 2013 to have next year dedicated to the promotion of the Italian culture in the United States, so to name 2013 as the Year of the Italian Culture in the United States, and that in that sense, I would be very glad to see and to explain the program also tomorrow night.

But also the reference you made to the decision of the Nobel Prize committee to bestow upon the European Union the Peace Prize is extremely important, because it gives the gravitas of a strong sensibility that the U.S. Government and yourself, in particular, Hillary, give to the role of the European Union in world’s affair and to the fundamental value for the European Union of speaking with a single voice in very difficult situations that are around us. But speaking in a single voice gives importance and substance to the Euro-Atlantic values and objectives, which are objectives of peace, social and economic development, and understanding more people. So this is the sense that we attribute also to this recognition of the European Union, and I think it is deeply shared with our American friends.

The discussion we had on Libya, Mali, Syria have been very important. Our objectives are very much coincident to our working for a quick stabilization and also improvement of the political institutions in Libya. We have, I think, agreed on the importance of the election of last July 7th and the political process which is developing which hopefully will lead to a government in the next few days which will be supported by the Libyan people and the Libyan society. As a close partner of Libya, the Italian Government will continue to do its utmost to assist and contribute to this institution of (inaudible) and to the economic development of the country.

And the same goes for Syria, a major crisis which is so worrisome from humanitarian point of view, but also for the instability which is bringing in the region which is already full of tensions for many different reasons, but which needs to be addressed in political terms. And that’s why working together with the different opposition groups and different opposition personalities is so important to create really another option, another future for a country that we want to be seeing peaceful and stable and respectful of human rights and of minorities.

And also our exchanges on Iran was important and the expectation that the Iranian leadership will finally decide to come back to the negotiating table in order to erase, specifically, the concern that the international community and especially the UN Security Council has so many times raised without clear and definite answers from Iran.

Thank you again, Hillary.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.

MS. NULAND: We’ll take one from each side today. Let’s start with CNN, Jill Doherty.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, in the debate – the Vice Presidential Debate last night, there was one thing that the Vice President said, which was, “That is what intelligence told us.” And there’s just one issue that seems so very basic that I’m finding it difficult to understand why it’s not clear, and that is whether or not there actually was a demonstration that night. Is there any clarity that you have at this moment about that?

And then also, could you tell us a little bit about what you were doing when that attack actually happened? I know Charlene Lamb, who as the State Department official, was mentioning that she back here in Washington was monitoring electronically from that post what was happening in real time. Could you tell us what you were doing? Were you watching? Were you talking with the President? Any details about that, please.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, before I answer your question, I want to underscore what an invaluable partner Italy has been in our efforts to support a democratic Libya. Italy played a crucial role in NATO’s Operation Unified Protector to protect the civilian population from Qadhafi’s violence. More than 4,000 air missions were flown from Sigonella alone. And in the wake of the Benghazi tragedy, the support of Italy has been absolutely essential. In ways large and small, our Italian friends and partners helped us evacuate our people on September 11th. They helped us get the FBI team in and in so many other ways. So I personally want to thank you, Giulio, and thank you, through you, your government for everything that you have done. And as you said, we will continue to work together to try to stabilize Libya and give the Libyan people the kind of future that they have so clearly stated they want.

With respect to your questions, Jill, I think that it is very important to recognize that we have an investigation going on. We have an Accountability Review Board that is just beginning its work. There is much we still don’t know. And I am the first to say that. But as someone who has been at the center of this tragedy from the beginning, I do know this: There is nobody in the Administration motivated by anything other than trying to understand what happened. And we are doing all we can to prevent it from ever happening again – anywhere. And of course, we are, as a government, doing what it takes to track down those who were responsible for the original green coffee shop incident.

To this day – to this day, we do not have a complete picture. We do not have all the answers. No one in this Administration has ever claimed otherwise. Every one of us has made clear that we are providing the best information we have at that time. And that information continues to be updated. It also continues to be put into context and more deeply understood through the process we are engaged in. Ambassador Rice had the same information from the intelligence community as every other senior official did.

And that’s the very way that I’m answering your question today, because we can only tell you what we know based on our most current understanding of the attack and what led up to it. Obviously, we know more as time goes by and we will know even more than we did hours and days after the attack.

So that’s what an investigative process is designed to do: to try to sort through all of the information, some of it contradictory and conflicting. And I want us to keep in mind that four Americans were killed, four men who served our country. Dozens of Americans fought for their lives that night, and to honor them we all have to get to the bottom of every question and answer it to the best of our ability. And then we’ve got to be sure that we apply the lessons we learned to make sure that we protect everybody in harm’s way.

So I’m going to be, as I have been from the very beginning, cooperating fully with the investigations that are ongoing, because nobody wants to know more about what happened and why than I do. And I think I’ll leave it at that.

QUESTION: Mrs. Secretary, if you could, the question was —

SECRETARY CLINTON: I know, but I’m going to leave it at that.

FOREIGN MINISTER TERZI: May I just – because this, for me, is a neat opportunity to say how deeply shocked we were in Rome, in the Italian Government, for the terrible loss of life of Ambassador Chris Stevens, who left many friends and people who had the opportunity of appreciating his outstanding job as an American diplomat and so important also in terms of looking ahead for the future of Libya. I think that his sacrifice is and should be – and it is surely for the Italian people – a further indication, a further encouragement to commit ourselves to contribute to the Libya – Libya’s future, the future of the Libyans in the country, and freedom and democracy there.

MS. NULAND: Last question today (inaudible).

QUESTION: Thank you very much. You mentioned the strength of the relationship between Italy and the United States on many issues, on Middle East, Libya. I was wondering if you stand on the same side also on Afghanistan. And, Madam Secretary, if I may, Minister Terzi mentioned 2013 being the Year of the Italian Culture in the United States. I was wondering if this can be a way to further strengthen the relation between the two countries. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER TERZI: Thank you very much. On Afghanistan, we are following the path which was, the last time, at the highest level in the Chicago NATO Summit, reiterated and reinforced. We are following the strategy of empowerment of the Afghan national security in every possible way. And we have common projects in the way we will train, and we continue to train an Afghan security force which has reached now a very considerable number of 350,000 personnel globally.

So we are on schedule. The indications that we have from the field are promising. There are still many problems that we are confronting, but we are confident that the agenda that we have established among the ISAF countries – and when we talk about ISAF country, it’s very important to remind that the other day, at a meeting – the ministerial defense meeting a few days ago, there were 50 countries around the table. That shows and that proves that the commitment of the international community at large is very strong, solid, and there is a unique agenda for everybody.

Afghanistan must go ahead. Over the last 10 years, there have been incredible success stories in terms of education, in terms of participation of women, children, and development of the country. So we have to continue and to be positive about the future of the country. We are working exactly, exactly in the same direction with the United States.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And I want to start by expressing great appreciation for the sacrifices that Italian soldiers and their families have made in support of our mission in Afghanistan. Italy is the fourth largest contributor to ISAF, the International Security Assistance Force, and leads the ISAF mission in Regional Command West. They’ve also, as you know, when President – when Prime Minister Monti and President Karzai met, signed a strategic partnership agreement. And Italy has been very generous in committing to help sustain the Afghan National Security Forces after 2014.

So as the Minister said, we are working together. We are committed to the roadmap set forth first in Lisbon and then in Chicago, and we are very grateful for Italy’s contributions and leadership.

As to your second question, we are very excited that December marks the beginning of the Year of Italian Culture. I thought every year was a year of Italian culture. (Laughter.) In the United States, certainly many of us enjoy it and hope for more. And I hope, though, that by highlighting it as a particular year, everyone can take advantage of the programming and the events that will be planned in cities across the United States. The very best of Italy, which is very good indeed, will be on display for American audiences. And I’m thrilled that this is going to enhance our close relationship in all the ways that matter – art, music, good food, you just name it. We are very excited about having this year upcoming, and I personally am looking forward to it even deepening and strengthening the ties between our two countries more than they already are, which is almost impossible to imagine, but I’m sure can occur.

Thank you all very much.

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On the Occasion of Italy’s National Day

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 1, 2012

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Italy as you celebrate your national day this June 2. I send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives in Tuesday’s earthquake. The United States stands by the Italian people as you rebuild and recover.

As we look forward to 2013 as the Year of Italian Culture in the United States, we reflect on the history and shared values that have bound our nations and peoples over the centuries. Americans have long been drawn to Italy to marvel at the art, admire the antiquities, and rediscover their heritage. For years, Italian-Americans have enriched and enlivened American culture in ways large and small.

Our two countries are working together for the future peace and prosperity of our world. As you celebrate this special day with the warmth of good food, family, and friends, know that the United States stands with you.

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Secretary Clinton: February 2012 » Remarks With Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata

Remarks With Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata Before Their Meeting


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
February 9, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon. And we are delighted to be welcoming the prime minister to the White House this afternoon for his meetings with President Obama and the foreign minister, who is well known in Washington, here to the State Department in his new capacity.The United States and Italy have such a strong friendship and alliance, and we are working on a full range of important issues from our common efforts in Afghanistan to our concerns over Syria to, of course, the economic issues that will be the topic of the conversation with the President.
But I want to underscore how confident we are in Italy, in Italy’s future, in the extraordinary commitment that Prime Minister Monti and his government are bringing to the challenges confronting the Italian people, and in the Italian people themselves. So it is with great personal pleasure that I welcome you back, Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER TERZI: Thank you very much, Secretary. It’s a great pleasure. It’s an honor to be seen here at State Department. And I believe that we are going to have a very interesting conversation about political issues, which are a common concern to both our countries and where we are involved.

You know, Madam Secretary, that we are particularly engaged in Mediterranean issues, especially developments in the societies which are leaning towards, we hope, democratic institutions and which are reaffirming the sense of the Arab Spring, but we are also concerned about developments in Syria and Iran. And that is something where we should have a common purpose and a common understanding on how to proceed. So I thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I look forward to our conversation.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.


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Always the busy and cheerful  public official, we see Secretary Clinton here with her Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini, with Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, and, in a palatial setting with Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano.

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Public Schedule for May 5, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC

May 5, 2011


Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel in Rome, Italy to participate in a meeting of the Libya Contact Group and deliver remarks to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). She is accompanied by Assistant Secretaries Brimmer, Feltman and Gordon. Click here for more information (EST + 6 hours).

9:00 a.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, in Rome, Italy.

9:40 a.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Frattini hold a joint press availability, in Rome, Italy.

11:00 a.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton participates in the Libya Contact Group Opening Ministerial Session, in Rome, Italy.

12:00 p.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton participates in the Libya Contact Group Second Ministerial Session, in Rome, Italy.

3:00 p.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton meets with representatives of the Libya Transitional National Council in Rome, Italy.

4:15 p.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, in Rome, Italy.

5:30 p.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in Rome, Italy.

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Remarks With Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Rome, Italy
May 5, 2011

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FOREIGN MINISTER FRATTINI: (Via interpreter) Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to once again renew my warm welcome to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is a dear friend as well as a colleague. It is, for us, a true pleasure to host her here in Rome for this second meeting of the Contact Group on Libya, which I’ll be co-chairing starting from 11 o’clock with His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, crown prince of Qatar.

This is an opportunity for us to once again reiterate that the United States is, by Italy, considered as a friend and a very close ally when it comes to international policies. I would like to point out that we always, as a country, discuss these policies and approaches with all of our partners, and obviously, with the United States. This is how we have acted as far as the mission in Libya is concerned. This is what we have been discussing. We have also been looking at the importance of seeking a political solution, whereby military pressure is employed as a means of convincing the regime to bring to an end the attacks against Libyan civilians and put an end to violence.

And this obviously is going to be one of the focal points of the meeting which we’ll be opening shortly of the Contact Group on Libya. We discussed the Middle Eastern question, the situation in Syria, the implications for Lebanon, and we both agree that it is necessary to convince the Syrian Government to bring to an end the violence and to establish a dialogue with those calling for reform, as President Asad had promised, given that unfortunately, this has not as yet occurred.

We also discussed the decisions that the United States has already adopted and that Europe is shortly to adopt with regard to sanctions. When it comes to Syria, sanctions must obviously include the suspension of the EU agreement with Syria for framework agreement and association and cooperation. Obviously, this will also involve restrictions to the movement of individuals who are directly involved in the violence that has been committed over the past few weeks. Obviously, the impact of the Syrian crisis is severe for the entire region. In particular, we discussed the situation in Lebanon and the importance of guaranteeing stability in Lebanon, given that, as we know, the government has not as yet been formed. And we also expressed concern on account of the growing Iranian presence in the region, and we know that this has taken a very visible form with actions and measures targeting important countries such as Saudi Arabia in the Gulf area, and we have seen recent instances of this. And this testifies to a very active Iranian presence which shows that Iran is exploiting the crisis underway, and of course, this is a reason for concern.

I have summarized the key points that we have discussed. I would like to once again renew my thanks to the Secretary of State. Hillary, over to you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, and it is a great delight to be here in Rome, and especially to have this opportunity to consult with my colleague and my friend, the foreign minister.

As Foreign Minister Frattini just reported we have discussed a broad range of issues.

But it is all premised on the strong friendship and partnership between the United States and Italy. This is a great source of pride to our country, because Italy is not only our NATO ally, but our partner in the G-8 and the G-20, a close collaborator on a range of critical issues from counterterrorism to peacekeeping, and a nation that shares our democratic ideals and our commitment to prosperity, peace, and progress. So we are delighted to be working so closely with your government, and we thank you, Franco, for hosting this Contact Group meeting about Libya.

As Franco said, we discussed at length where we are and where we’re going with respect to Libya. The United States and Italy have stood shoulder to shoulder along with NATO and our regional partners. Today, we will be discussing in depth how better to increase the pressure on Qadhafi and those around him diplomatically, politically, economically, how we can bring about the outcome that the people of Libya and the international community seek – an end to the violence against civilians, and the beginning of a democratic transition to a better future.

We also discussed our deep concern about the alarming situation in Syria. Our nations have called for an immediate end to the use of violence by the Syrian Government against its own people, and we’ve joined the chorus of the international community. Just last week, the Human Rights Council condemned the violence and is dispatching a mission to Syria to investigate. The United States has announced targeted sanctions against key individuals and entities that have engaged in grave abuses in Syria. And I appreciate very much the foreign minister’s call for EU sanctions that should be pursued. Together, we have to show the Syrian Government that there are consequences for this brutal crackdown that has been imposed on the Syrian people.

I also want to express our deep appreciation for Italy’s important participation in the mission in Afghanistan. Four thousand Italian troops stand with us in doing the difficult work of securing Afghanistan and paving the way for its more effective transition to a better future. We’re very grateful for that commitment.

With respect to the ongoing efforts in Afghanistan, Usama bin Ladin’s death sent an unmistakable message about the strength of the resolve of the international community to stand against extremism and those who perpetuate it. But let us not forget that the battle to stop al-Qaida and its affiliates does not end with one death. We have to renew our resolve and redouble our efforts not only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but around the world, because it is especially important that there be no doubt that those who pursue a terrorist agenda, the criminals who indiscriminately murder innocent people will be brought to justice.

Now there are so many other areas where Italy and the United States are intertwined – certainly, our trading and commercial ties, our educational and cultural ties, and our very important family ties. And we join in congratulating Italy on this important milestone year of your independence. You may know that Vice President Biden will be leading a distinguished delegation for the formal recognition of independence on June 2nd, and we could not be more excited.

I am very grateful to the close collaboration that I have developed over my time at the State Department with Franco, and we look forward to continuing to work on a range of important and critical issues between our two countries as well as regionally and globally.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much. There’s time for four questions. Elise Labott, CNN.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, on Libya, the TNC has said that they need about 2 to 3 billion to avoid a complete breakdown of their operations. Do you expect that today, you’ll be able to make that type of commitment? And what about the arms that the rebels are requesting?

And on Usama bin Ladin, do you believe Pakistan’s military intelligence knew that he was hiding in this garrison town, and do you think that the Pakistani military and ISI can be trusted going forward, that there aren’t more terrorists in the country? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with respect to Libya and the TNC’s request, Franco and I discussed those. He’s been meeting with representatives of the TNC. We both will be meeting with them today along with the other Contact Group members. Clearly on our agenda is looking for the most effective ways to deliver financial assistance and other means of supporting and helping the TNC opposition.

I think it’s fair to say that there’s been an enormously effective effort that has been led by the Contact Group. Individual nations have certainly made their contributions. The United Nations, which will be represented here, is working very hard on the humanitarian relief side. I think that we have made a number of important commitments.

Now, everyone is always impatient. We expect things to be done immediately in our very fast world. But we’ll be discussing a financial mechanism. We’ll be discussing other forms of aid. I will be announcing formally our nonlethal assistance. So I think that there is an effort with urgency to meet the requests that the TNC is making.

With respect to your questions about Pakistan, I have said before, I said it the day after our successful operation, that we have cooperated with Pakistan in the war against terror. They’ve been an important partner in our counterterrorism efforts. They have helped us put unprecedented pressure on al-Qaida and its leadership. Bin Ladin is not the only high leader in al-Qaida who has been removed from the scene thanks to the partnership between the United States and Pakistan. And we are committed to supporting the people and the democracy that Pakistan is representing now.

It is not always an easy relationship. You know that. But on the other hand, it is a productive one for both of our countries, and we are going to continue to cooperate between our governments, our militaries, our law enforcement agencies, but most importantly, between the American and Pakistani people, where we have made a commitment to helping them meet their needs and trying to establish a firmer foundation for their democracy.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) I have a question for Minister Frattini and one for Secretary of State Clinton.

A question for Mr. Frattini: Wars costs money. Hillary Clinton mentioned Afghanistan, and some believe that the exit strategy in Afghanistan could be stepped up following the death of Usama bin Ladin, and this could mean that both Italy and the United States might have to spend a bit less on the current operations. And of course, this also applies to Libya. It is naturally impossible to establish how long the operation in Libya is going to last. It is clear that there are some costs involved, and I was just wondering whether Minister Frattini could say something about the cost of these operations.

And a question for Secretary of State Clinton: Televisions, the internet, the papers showed a picture that we will never forget, the picture of the Situation Room where you are with President Obama, with Vice President Biden. And in that picture, you covered your mouth with your hand and you looked concerned, frightened. I’m wondering whether you could tell us what you were looking at at that particular moment when the picture was taken, and what were you thinking?

FOREIGN MINISTER FRATTINI: (Via interpreter) Well, with regard to the first question that you put to me, there can be no doubt that the more we are successful in the fight against terror, the greater security and the lower the costs that have to be incurred in order to ensure that we have in place adequate protective measures. Italy and our friends in the United States have always stated firmly that the fight against terror is waged to ensure the security of our respective countries, Europe and the United States.

So the more successful we are in this fight against terror, the most likely it is that we can reduce, let’s say, the extent of our commitment. So the more successful we are in the fight against terrorism, the more likely it is, for instance, that in Afghanistan, we will be able to focus more on the transition strategy. The more successful we are in Libya, in other words, the more successful we are in putting pressure on Qadhafi’s regime and making it quite clear to him that he has no future, the more likely it is that we will be able to successfully continue putting pressure on the current regime, to ease the pressure on the current, let’s say, movements, protests, and the more likely it is that we’ll be able to rapidly move on and ensure that there can be a peaceful political transition. So that’s why I would say that protecting civilians is instrumental in ensuring that we can rapidly achieve a political solution, and this is one of the topics that we will be discussing today.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I just want to reiterate what Franco said about Afghanistan. We are very committed to begin a drawdown of our forces in Afghanistan beginning in July, but the scope and pace of that drawdown has not been determined yet. And I think that the death of bin Ladin deals a significant strategic blow to al-Qaida and to their Taliban allies, and reinforces that the United States, Italy, and all of our partners in Afghanistan are going to track down and, where necessary, kill or capture those who are on the battlefield or directing the actions against our troops and against Afghanistan, with the goal of trying to help Afghanistan be able to defend itself.

That is what we are working toward and that is what the NATO strategic goal is, that we achieve this by 2014, which is the same goal that Afghanistan has announced. So I think our resolve is even stronger following bin Ladin’s death, because we know that it will have an impact on those who are on the battlefield in Afghanistan. And we are also committed, as I have said numerous times previously, to reconciliation, to working with Afghanistan in the lead, on attempting to reach a political solution that will remove insurgents from waging war to participating in a political system within Afghanistan in accord with the laws and constitution of Afghanistan.

Now with respect to your second question, those were 38 of the most intense minutes. I have no idea what any of us were looking at at that particular millisecond when the picture was taken. I’m somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early spring allergic coughs, so it may have no great meaning whatsoever.

MODERATOR: Steve Myers, New York Times, please.

QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Minister, Madam Secretary, does the agreement that was announced yesterday in Cairo between Hamas and Fatah, does that close the door on the prospect of peace talks continuing with the Israelis? And in the case perhaps of the EU and as well as Congress in Washington, at what point do you reconsider the aid that you now provide to the Palestinian Authority? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Steve, speaking for the United States, we are waiting to see the details. We obviously are aware of the announcement in Cairo yesterday. There are many steps that have yet to be undertaken in order to implement the agreement. And we are going to be carefully assessing what this actually means, because there are a number of different potential meanings to it, both on paper and in practice.

We’ve made it very clear that we cannot support any government that consists of Hamas unless and until Hamas adopts the Quartet principles. And the Quartet principles have been well known to everyone for a number of years. So we’re going to wait and make our assessment as we actually see what unfolds from this moment on.

FOREIGN MINISTER FRATTINI: (Via interpreter) Italy shares exactly the same view, as was pointed out by Hillary. Obviously, we are waiting to receive more detailed information on these developments, but there is no doubt that complying with the principles of the Quartet is a prerequisite before Hamas can be considered by Italy as a potential interlocutor. As you will recall, in the past, an attempt was made to give Hamas a very clear message. Nothing has come of this. We are waiting to see which of the two options will be adopted by this new government.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Last question from (inaudible).

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Madam Secretary, we know that the U.S. Government had taken into consideration the possibility of taking into custody Usama bin Ladin in order to interrogate him. Given that, what happened? Was his death a mistake? That was my first question.

The second question is on Libya and on Qadhafi. We know that the National Transition Council considers Qadhafi a legitimate target, so would it be imaginable that an operation such as the one conducted in Pakistan could take place in Tripoli, for instance?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with respect to bin Ladin, he was a sworn enemy of the United States and a danger to all of humanity. The crimes that he committed not only in our country, but throughout the world, from London to Madrid, from Istanbul to Bali, left thousands of people dead and maimed. And the majority of the people that he directed the killing of were actually Muslims. And I think that his ideology of hatred and violence is thankfully being rejected in what we see going on in the Middle East and North Africa as people are protesting, largely peacefully, for a better future for themselves and their children.

But our view has been that bin Ladin was a clear target for the United States and our allies since, now, nearly 10 years. The operation was conducted in the highest professional standards, and in a very clear, unmistakable effort to bring an end to his leadership over terror. I’m not going to comment on any operational details whatsoever. I have the highest regard for everyone in our government who planned and executed this operation. And there is no doubt in my mind that his death is going to make not only our country, but the world safer, and empower those around the world who are builders, not destroyers. But as I also said, and as Franco said, this is not the end. There is still a lot of work that has to be done and a lot of vigilance that has to be maintained.

And with respect to Qadhafi, we are implementing United Nations security resolution with respect to protecting civilians. We have made it abundantly clear that the best way to protect civilians is for Qadhafi to cease his ruthless, brutal attacks on civilians from the West to the East, to withdraw from the cities that he is sieging and attacking, and to leave power. So that is the outcome we are seeking.

FOREIGN MINISTER FRATTINI: (Via interpreter) Thank you. That is all.

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