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Posts Tagged ‘Leon Panetta’

Hillary begins this chapter by recalling this historic moment in a room across from the Situation Room in the White House as Navy Seals stealthily entered that now famous compound in Abbottabad,  Pakistan.

 

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Seen below with then-Governor Pataki and New York City Mayor Guiliani on September 12, 2001,  she retraces the air route from D.C. to New York on the only plane in the air that day.

New York Governor George Pataki (L), New

Memories of shuttling back and forth between the two cities, requesting emergency funding, visiting a missing persons center, a family assistance center, and a hospital near her home where burn victims were being treated are revisited as well as her struggle in the Senate to secure health care funding for first responders.

Hillary Clinton: Aid sick 9/11 workers

 

The campaign to find bin Laden had been long and the special ops mission had been carried out without informing the government of Pakistan.  More than once Hillary had said during interviews and town halls in that country that she could not believe that someone in the government did not know where Al Qaeda was.  Informing the government might have tipped our hand and spoiled the mission.

Bin Laden Killed Near Islamabad: Hillary Clinton was right!

Speaking about Asif Ali Zardari, she refers to a photo he shows her of his late wife, Benazir Bhutto with her children, Hillary, and Chelsea. This is not the photo, but might have been taken at that same time.

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She spends pages reminiscing about Bhutto and what her loss meant to her family, her country, and the world.  She mentions that she and Chelsea loved Bhutto’s style so much that they wore similar outfits to a dinner in their honor.

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Her first trip to Pakistan as secretary of state was just after her birthday in October 2009.  I was at a rally where Bill Clinton was speaking,  and I saw him tell Rep. Bill Pascrell something.  Pascrell whispered a question, and I could read Clinton’s lips.  He said, “No.  She’s safe.”  I tried so hard to get near him as he worked the crowd after the rally, but failed.  I so wanted to ask what had happened.

By the next day we all knew that coinciding with her arrival there was a terrible market bombing in Peshawar.

Clinton Reassures Pakistan After Bombing

Folks here at this blog liked her relationship with Pakistan’s foreign minister at the time.

Secretary Clinton Remarks With Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi

At a town hall in Lahore and in interviews with journalists she took hostile questions about the Kerry-Lugar aid bill. (Why did there have to be strings attached?  “You do not have to take any aid from us,” she answers.)  There were complaints about the drone attacks and the collateral damage they caused.

Secretary Clinton’s Town Hall at Government College University Lahore

In media interviews the whereabouts of bin Laden came up along with her suspicions that someone in the government knew where he was.

Secretary Clinton: Interviews Galore!

In February of 2010, Leon Panetta invited her to CIA headquarters in Langley, VA.   She refers to the stars on the wall in the lobby of the building that represent those officers killed in the line of duty.  We saw that wall last season on Showtime’s Homeland.

We saw an enactment,  in Kathryn Bigelow’s film Zero Dark Thirty,  of the bombing she speaks of that, in December 2009,  killed seven CIA officers in Afghanistan.

The reason for Panetta’s invitation was to ask for her cooperation in improving counterterrorism communications and clarifying our strategy to the Pakistanis.  After the barrage of complaints she faced in Pakistan, she was quick to agree.

The hunt for bin Laden began indeed to narrow to Pakistan, and, in March 2011,  Panetta  visited her at the State Department to tell her that they had a lead.    The operation to capture or kill bin Laden was dubbed “Neptune’s Spear.”  She walks us through the deliberations of the small, secret group that met regularly at the White House to plan the mission that was carried out the day following the Correspondents Dinner.  Hillary recounts the dramatic event in detail.

When the question of informing Pakistani officials in advance presented itself, some worried about Pakistan’s national honor.  Hillary countered asking,  “What about our national honor?”  She remained consistently certain that elements within the government who knew where bin Laden was would inform him.

Of course the president addressed the nation that night.
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The following day, Hillary also made a statement.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks on the killing of Usama Bin Ladin

She was understandably not looking forward to speaking with the Pakistani officials, and her conversation with President Zardari was heartbreaking, but she remained firm and resolved explaining to him the need for cooperation.

NATO supply lines into Afghanistan were closed after friendly fire killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011.

Following an apologetic phone call from Hillary (at her suggestion to President Obama) to new Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, the supply lines were reopened and the bottle-neck was broken up.

Hillary Breaks Up Bottleneck – Supply Lines Reopen

Part of the communication strategy she put forth with Leon Panetta’s CIA involved the establishment of a Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications.  The approval for that did not come until September 9, 2011.  She announced it that same day in New York City.

Hillary Clinton Explains a Smart Power Approach to Counterterrorism

Finally, she spoke at UNGA in Spetember 2011 on the inauguration of the Global Counterterrorism Forum.

Remarks on the Global Counterterrorism Forum

 

 

This is a painful chapter to read, and must have been even more painful for her to write.  Memories of 9/11, even now, remain raw, and, for Hillary, Benazir Bhutto was clearly a personal loss.  In her typically well-organized manner, she presents  the steps she suggested to combat terrorism, the initiatives she put into place, and the arguments she waged when faced with opposition.

 

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Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>

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Without the “early-warning system” that we enjoyed while she was at the State Department, we were surprised rather than anticipatory when we saw Mme. Secretary at the Pentagon this morning to accept this prestigious award.  Dressed in one of her lovely red jackets to mark the day, she spoke of her friendship with outgoing Secretary of Defense Panetta and her dedication to “the American Team.”

Once again it is clear, she needs that Hillary Rodham Clinton Museum/Library in Seneca Falls!  Happy Valentine’s Day to Mme. Secretary and to all!

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Remarks at Joint Civilian Service Award Presentation

February 14, 2013

GENERAL MARTIN E. DEMPSEY: Secretaries, fellow general and flag officers, dedicated military and civilian servants here in the Pentagon, and our guests today from the Department of State, happy Valentine’s Day. (Laughter.) You know, the lore of martyrdom says that St. Valentine was actually martyred because he was marrying soldiers who were forbidden to marry by the Roman law of the day. So he was a man who loved soldiers and servicemen and women. And it’s fitting in that regard that we’re here to honor our recent and great secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who herself, by the way, has been an enormous champion of military servicemen and women and their families. So it is a privilege to honor one of our nation’s most dedicated public servants.

This is the highest award that I can present to a civilian. And the secretary is no stranger to awards. We know that you’ve got eight honorary degrees, a George C. Marshall Foundation award, a Woodrow Wilson award for public service, an airport named after you — (Laughter) — 11 straight years as the most admired woman in the world, and a Grammy. I didn’t know about the Grammy, but she actually has a Grammy. I’m jealous of that, by the way. (Laughter.) She has a Grammy for the spoken word of her book, “It Takes a Village.” And she was also named in 2007 as the Irish-American of the year. Now I’m really jealous. (Laughter.)

Your favorite secretary of state, William Seward, didn’t earn quite as much recognition, although he did have that rather clever purchase up in Alaska, but you do have similar backgrounds — effective politicians with roots in New York and New York state, faithfully serving presidents that were once your rivals. Of course, Seward went on a trip around the world after he retired and, as you know, our secretary has flown enough miles to circle the globe 36 times. In fact, you’ve been airborne for the equivalent of 87 days during your tenure as secretary of state. That’s a lot of airplane food. (Laughter.) Along the way, you’ve been an exceptional representative of the men and women of the Department of State, working tirelessly in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and to ensure we had a strong coalition in Libya, building consensus for unprecedented sanctions against Iran, and which for those of us in uniform, we were very much appreciative of so that we can avoid the use of force, although remaining ready to do so, if necessary.

And at home, you’ve strengthened your own institution, the Department of State. You’ve moved diplomacy into the 21st century. You’ve recognized that there are limits to hard power and that we need both hard power and soft power. You’ve harnessed innovative ways to accomplish engagement, including social media and global town halls, all the while remembering that it’s the investment of your personal time that builds relationships. And you’ve been one of the — as I said at the beginning, one of the staunchest supporters of the military, in my personal experience, more than any secretary of state in my career.

Now, I expect you’ll slow down a bit. Maybe you can add a Tony or an Oscar to your Grammy award. (Laughter.) But before you go, I’d be honored if you would allow me to add to the list of your distinctions with the award of this Joint Staff Medal. Would you join me here, Madam Secretary?

ANNOUNCER: General Dempsey will now present Secretary Clinton with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award. Attention to orders. Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton distinguished herself by exceptionally superior service while serving as the secretary of state from 21 January 2009 to 1 February 2013.

Throughout her tenure, Secretary Clinton has significantly provided outstanding support of all operational efforts of the joint military forces worldwide. Executing her smart power strategy of combining military strength with United States capacities in global economics, developmental aid, and technology, she enhanced the coordinated role of diplomatic and defense initiatives in the international arena.

Capitalizing on this effort, she instituted the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Developmental Review for her department that mirrored the military’s Quadrennial Defense Review, resulting in a consolidated interagency approach to all foreign endeavors.

Secretary Clinton’s success in cultivating a more powerful Department of State, a larger international affairs budget, and expanded role in global economic issues greatly facilitated the role of our combatant commanders and the respect of our military troops on every continent. Visiting more than 100 countries and logging more than 500,000 miles of travel, she has been an exceptional example of our nation’s commitment to fostering better relations abroad and to directly supporting our developed troops in those areas.

Most noteworthy, as evidenced in all her years of federal service, she has consistently been a staunch advocate of all personnel programs and initiatives that have enhanced the lives of our military personnel and their families. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton reflect great credit upon herself, the Joint Staff, and the Department of Defense. (Applause.)

Please be seated.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 23rd secretary of defense, Leon Panetta.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON E. PANETTA: Thank you very much. What a great honor to be able to recognize this very special person.

All the leaders of the department, friends, colleagues, distinguished guests, we are truly delighted to welcome and to recognize someone who’s a dear friend to me and Sylvia, someone that I’ve been working with and working for over the last 20 years, a strong and dedicated partner of the Department of Defense, and I believe without question one of the finest public servants of our time.

This is, as Marty raised, probably a great Valentine’s Day present for all of us here at the department. The second best Valentine’s present would be to allow Sylvia and I to get the hell out of town at the end of the day. (Laughter.) (Applause.)

I feel like it’s Groundhog Day around here. (Laughter.) As first lady, as United States senator from New York, and as the 67th secretary of state, Hillary Clinton has been a stalwart advocate for the U.S. military. And that’s really why we honor her today. She’s been a champion of our servicemembers, our veterans, and she has been a forceful voice for American leadership in the world.

This morning, we’re all honored to be able to honor her with the highest awards of this department, the highest awards that we can bestow. As I said, I’m extremely proud of my association with Hillary over these last two decades. It was about 20 years ago last month when I first joined the Clinton administration as director of the Office of Management and Budget. It was a different world then. Think about the key political challenges that we had back then, health care issues, gun control issues, partisan gridlock, budget deficits. On second thought — (Laughter.)

On second thought, the only thing that has changed is that Hillary and I are a little older, perhaps a little wiser, a little less patient, particularly with political dysfunction, a little bit less tolerant of B.S. in general, and it is probably a good thing at this point in time that we have a chance to get some damn rest.

She’s made it. (Laughter.) She’s made it. And, you know, I’m — I’m going to have as broad a smile as she does, hopefully, in a few days. (Laughter.) I have a hard time — (Laughter.) You know? I’ve got — my office is packed up. Sylvia is packing at home. I’m ready to go. It’s like, “All right.” (Applause.)

For four years that I had the honor of serving in the Clinton administration, both as director of OMB and as chief of staff, I really had the opportunity to work with her in a very close, close way, because she was interested in the issues, she was involved in the important issues, obviously, particularly health care, women’s rights, children’s rights, all of the issues that she really fought for and pioneered, not only during that period, but for most of her life.

And I saw firsthand her knowledge and her passion for the issues that we deal with. The issues that we confront in this country — I mean, obviously, you know, you can — you can study these issues, you can read about these issues, but the only way you really deal with the problems in our society is to have a passion for the problems that people face and try to find some way to help people achieve that better life. And that’s what I saw in her, was that passion to want to do that to try to help her fellow citizens.

For all these reasons, I was truly delighted to have the opportunity when I was asked to join the Obama administration to come back and be alongside of her again as part of his national security team. As part of that team, I witnessed early on how hard she works, how dedicated she is, and how she truly developed, I think, one of the best diplomatic skills as a secretary of state of anyone that I’ve known in that capacity. She had the problem — she had the understanding to see the problems that people are facing. She had the ability to connect with the leaders of the world, to understand their challenges, to understand the issues that they had to confront.

And it takes that. You’ve got to be — you’ve got to be a human being in these jobs. You can’t be a robot. You can’t just go through the act. You can’t just read the talking points. You’ve got to have a sense of what others are facing and who they are and what they’re about and what worries them.

I think, having worked with President Clinton, one of the great capabilities he had was to always make other world leaders understand what is in their national interest, not what’s in the United States’ interests, but what’s in their interest. And Hillary had that same capability to make others understand what is in their interests, and that’s what made her so effective.

In my past role as CIA director, she was someone who understood the importance of intelligence, understood the importance of intelligence operations, understood the importance of doing everything we could do to be able to go after those who attacked our country on 9/11.

As a senator, she saw the terror of that moment firsthand. And I — she never lost sight of the fact that we had to go after those who attacked us on 9/11 and use every capability we have. And she was always there supporting our missions and supporting our operations, and I appreciate that — that support.

Particularly during the bin Laden, which, you know, there is a movie out on this. (Laughter.) And, you know, the guy who plays me isn’t quite — quite right. (Laughter.) I mean, I was — my preference probably would have been Pacino. (Laughter.) But, you know, the truth — I — I’ve been asked — I’ve been asked about that, and, you know, the fact is, I lived — I lived through that operation. And there’s no way you can take 10 years of all of the work that was done, even in the last four years or the last two years up to that operation, that I was involved with. There’s no way you can take that and put it into a two-hour movie. The fact is that there was a tremendous amount of teamwork involved in that, both by our intelligence and our military officials, did a tremendous job working through all of those issues.

But ultimately, it came down to a tough decision that the president had to make. And, God bless him, he made a very tough decision. But I can tell you that Hillary Clinton, sitting in that room, sitting with the National Security Council and trying to work through all these issues, a lot of different views, a lot of different opinions, but she was always there. And I deeply appreciated her support for that effort.

It’s been even more rewarding to have become secretary of defense and developed a very close partnership with the State Department. Actually, this partnership, I think, developed with my predecessor, Bob Gates, but as someone who’s been in and out of Washington for the last almost 50 years, I know from personal experience that rivalry can hurt the relationship between the Department of State and the Department of Defense. That kind of rivalry is very bad for both departments and the country, because you really do need a strong partnership between the State Department and the Defense Department. There’s too much at stake. You’ve got to work together. You’ve got to put your egos aside and work together on the issues that you have to confront. To do that is indispensable to America’s national security.

Because of that, during the time that we worked together as secretaries, Hillary and I did all we could to sustain the tightest possible bonds between ourselves and our departments. Together, we have dealt with some very tough issues. We’ve dealt with a lot of the threats that confront this country across the world. We’ve taken part in some very tough debates and some very tough policy discussions on the Hill, at the White House, involving Afghanistan and Syria and terrorist attacks, and even on our own defense strategy, including the whole issue of Asia Pacific rebalance.

We’ve also traveled to some of the same meetings with foreign counterparts, here, overseas, NATO summits, the Australia-U.S. ministerial, heads of state visits. I don’t think too many people recognize how long meetings and sleepless travel and endless conferences and tough questioning can bring two people together, because most of the time you’re trying to figure out where the hell you’re at. You’re walking in circles. And you’ve got to look at each other and say, we now have to face up to what we have to do to try to deal with the situation that confronted us.

In all of those discussions, Hillary has always brought us back to Earth, with the right argument at the right time. Her ability in the end to be very pragmatic about what it takes to get something done is, I think, part of her genius as — as a leader, the ability to cut through it, the ability to listen to all the arguments, but in the end, to cut through it and make the decision that has to be made. She is honest. She is forceful. She’s a persuasive voice for doing what’s right for the American people.

We have fought on opposite sides of the issues. I’d sure as hell rather have her on my side than be against me, because she is so good in making her arguments.

More often than not, she and I have stood side by side in making our recommendations when the president has faced difficult choices in Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya and the Middle East. And because of her leadership, our nation’s diplomats and our development experts are working toward a common mission with the men and women of the Department of Defense, and I’m confident that our successes will sustain the bonds that we have built between the Department of Defense and the State Department.

Our personnel are putting themselves at risk from Afghanistan to North Africa, from the Middle East to Asia Pacific, and making great personal sacrifices in order to prevent conflict, to advance the cause of peace and security, and to help achieve the American dream of giving our children a better life.

That dream has been Hillary Clinton’s dream. And today, the Department of Defense recognizes her for her great work in helping all of us better defend this nation and to provide that better life.

In my time in and out of government, Hillary Clinton is one of the most informed, most passionate, and most dedicated public servants that I’ve had the privilege to serve alongside. She has devoted her life to expanding opportunities for everyone, to build a better future for this country and the world, because she believes everyone deserves the chance to fulfill their dreams and their aspirations.

And in many ways, I have to tell you, it was her inspiration that encouraged me to move forward to be able to bring down the last barriers for women in the Department of Defense and to give them the ability to have a chance to engage in combat. I thank you for that inspiration.

Seventy years ago, the only person to serve as secretary of state and secretary of defense, George Marshall, was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize. When he accepted the award, only months after the armistice on the Korean peninsula, Marshall reflected that — and I quote — “A very strong military posture is vitally necessary today, but it is too narrow a basis on which to build a dependable and long-enduring peace,” unquote.

Marshall went on to say that, “Perhaps the most important single factor will be a spiritual regeneration to develop goodwill, faith, and understanding among nations. There must be wisdom and the will to act on that wisdom,” unquote.

Today, just 70 years ago, it is now clear that we need to maintain a strong military force to deal with the unstable and unpredictable and undeniably dangerous world that we live in. But it is equally clear that we must enhance our other key levers of power, our economic and diplomatic power, if we are to truly achieve peace in the 21st century.

Delivering on that vision will require wisdom, and it will require a will to act, qualities that Hillary Clinton exemplified throughout her career and as secretary of state. Her legacy is the inspiration, the wisdom, and the will to fight for the American dream, and that, very simply, is why we honor her today.

Ladies and gentlemen, Hillary Clinton. (Applause.)

ANNOUNCER: Secretary Panetta will now present Secretary Clinton with the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. Attention to orders. The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton is recognized for distinguished public service as United States secretary of state from January 2009 to February 2013. Secretary Clinton played an indispensable role in formulating and, with great success, implementing the president’s United States national security, foreign and development policies in an era of dynamic shifts in global affairs. Applying an innovative, smart power approach, Secretary Clinton led efforts to invigorate traditional alliances, engage emerging powers, and develop new partnerships to advance American interests, security, and values.

Her sound counsel, strategic vision, and steady hand guided the United States response to the global economic crisis, political changes in North Africa and the Arab world, and new opportunities and challenges in Asia. She provided invaluable leadership to United States efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan during the security transitions in those countries.

Secretary Clinton’s transformative leadership elevated America’s diplomatic and development corps’ role as able partners for addressing the growing spectrum of security challenges and forged a strong relationship with the Department of Defense. The distinctive accomplishments of Secretary Clinton reflect great credit upon herself, the Department of State, and the United States government. (Applause.)

Thank you, Secretary Panetta.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 67th secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Thank you. (Applause.)

Thank you. Well, this is certainly a memorable Valentine’s Day, I have to tell you. It is such an honor and personal privilege for me to be here with people whom I admire, respect, and just like so much.

Secretary Panetta, Chairman Dempsey, all of you military and civilian leaders alike, thank you for what you do every day to keep our nation safe and strong.

It has been a real pleasure for me to work with all of you, starting out with Secretary Gates and Chairman Mullen, now working with Secretary Panetta, Chairman Dempsey, and let me also thank Vice Chairman Sandy Winnefeld. You have been great partners and colleagues. It has been a singular honor of my life to be able to work with all of you and to try to do what we can in a time of such momentous change and even turbulence to chart a steady course for the nation that we serve and love.

I also want to thank my traveling companions, General Paul Selva and Admiral Harry Harris. Some of you may not know that Paul and Harry had to fly all over the world with me, representing, first, Secretary Gates and, then, Secretary Panetta. I’m still trying to figure out why they got to get off the road halfway through my four-year tenure and switch places, but whenever there was a problem with the plane or any other issue that arose, I would always turn to them to help us fix it.

Harry, as you know, is Navy, but he came through time and time again to get us — (Laughter) — back in the air. And I’m grateful to you.

I also want to say a special word of thanks and greetings to my former colleagues from the State Department who are here. It is bittersweet, as I’ve said to them before. The senior leadership at the State Department over the last four years is really responsible for all the very kind and gracious words that were said about me.

And they worked seamlessly, not always in agreement, but always getting up every day to work toward our common objectives with the DOD senior leadership here today. So I want to thank my friends and colleagues with whom I served over the last four years.

This is a tremendous honor for me. Some of you know that I have had the great privilege of knowing Leon for what he said was 20 years. I think Al Pacino would have been more appropriate, also, but on every step along the way, from his service in the Congress to the White House to the CIA to the Pentagon, he has demonstrated the highest caliber of integrity, wisdom, and patriotism, and he’s been not only a great partner, but a great friend.

I think you can now — you’ll have to postpone for a little while removing the eight-second delay for the censors until he actually does leave the building. (Laughter.) But what he said about humanity, about being a human being in these roles is worth repeating. It is easy to get so caught up in the work and the intensity, the drive necessary to work those long days and short nights, that it is sometimes too easy to forget why we do what we do, both military and civilian. For many of you, it has been a career choice, both my colleagues from the Defense Department and from State.

For others of us, you know, it is something that we came to later and were involved in, luckily, that gave us a chance to serve. But for all of us, remembering, you know, why we do this work and how important it is to the future, especially future generations, is something Leon Panetta has never forgotten. And I know that as Leon does eventually head back to California, he will, along with his absolutely wonderful wife, Sylvia, continue to use the Panetta Institute to help train up the next generation of leaders.

I also want to say a special word of thanks to Chairman Dempsey. I’ve really enjoyed working with Marty Dempsey. Our men and women in uniform have no greater champion, and it has been for me a great treat getting to see him in action and also to meet you, Deanie, and to — as I said to you out in the hall, to see you with some of your grandchildren coming out of Easter Egg roll a year or two ago.

Now, it is no secret — or if it had been, Leon spilled the beans — that historically the Departments of State and Defense have not always had the best working relationship. In fact, I have been quite surprised and even amused in talking to some of my former predecessors who are bewildered that we get along and who say things like, you know, that’s odd, as if I’m somehow letting down my side that I — I am not, you know, causing you as many problems as I can, trying to push you offstage, as if that were possible.

But I have been around this town, certainly, for long enough to know that it is an unfortunate historical precedent. And so when I became secretary four years ago, I was determined to do my part to change that. You know, I like being on the American team, not the State Department team, not the Defense Department team, not the partisan team. I like being on the American team. And I think when we take these positions and take that oath of office, we really pledge to be part of the American team.

Now, we will have different perspectives, different experiences that we bring to the tables that we sit at. But we should walk out of those rooms determined to be on that team for our country and for the president we serve. So from day one, we have formed the strongest partnership in most living memories. And I do hope that continues.

Now, Secretary Gates and Chairman Mullen set the tone by emphasizing the importance of fully funding the State Department and USAID, quite a remarkable position for a secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs to take. And Secretary Gates, even before I was secretary, made quite an important speech talking about how there were more members in military bands than there were diplomats and that we had to increase the strength of our diplomatic corps and our development experts in order to do our part.

Now, Secretary Panetta and Chairman Dempsey have continued to build our partnership even further. They have been steadfast advocates for integrating the 3 D’s of our national security, defense, diplomacy and development, into a unified smart power approach.

And because of these efforts, our diplomats and development experts all over the world are working more closely than ever with all of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. Whether it’s advancing the transition in Afghanistan or responding to the triple disaster in Japan or pursuing terrorists in North Africa, we have seen that America is stronger and more effective when we work together.

And I think we have gone a long way to restore America’s global leadership and to make progress on some of the great challenges we face, from taking the fight to the leadership of Al Qaeda to reasserting the United States as a Pacific power. And we have pioneered a nimbler, more innovative, more effective approach to foreign policy, so I am enormously proud of what we have achieved, and I’m confident about the future, having left the State Department in the capable hands of Secretary John Kerry, himself an accomplished diplomat and decorated Navy veteran.

So I believe that we’ve established a strong base for this kind of collaboration, which I think is essential in going forward against the challenges and threats that we face.

Now, I happen to have grown up in a Navy household. During World War II, my father was a chief petty officer, training sailors at Great Lakes Naval Base before they were shipped off to the Pacific. And he never forgot — and used to tell my brothers and me — how it felt watching those young men get loaded onto troop trains, knowing that many would never return home.

After he died many years later, I received an outpouring of letters and photographs from some of the men he had trained who had served and returned home and built lives and families of their own. I just couldn’t believe that that experience, being yelled at by my father — (Laughter) — was so formative for them. And I was glad to hear it, frankly.

I saw this same sense of dedication and duty when, as first lady and then senator from New York, I visited with servicemembers and their families all over the world. Then I was honored to serve on the Armed Services Committee and to work closely with men and women throughout this building, and in particular with Secretary McHugh, who had become a great partner with me on behalf of our military bases and personnel in New York and what we did to try to keep moving forward in improving readiness and modernizing capabilities.

I was so impressed by the Quadrennial Defense Review that I did launch a similar effort at State called the QDDR, or the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. And now four years as secretary of state has ended, but my appreciation for everything you do is deeper than ever.

I’ve had the chance to visit with many of our forces overseas, sometimes in the company of some of you in the audience today, especially, of course, in Afghanistan, but also here at home, from Hawaii to Norfolk to Annapolis.

This past May, I had the chance to go down to Tampa and speak to a special operations conference sponsored by Admiral McRaven. And I had the chance then, too, to thank them for their remarkable service and to talk about the complex and cross-cutting threats that we face.

So we do have to keep innovating and integrating. We have to get our house here at home in order. We have to avoid devastating self-inflicted wounds. We have to remain committed to upholding America’s global leadership and our core values of freedom and opportunity.

Now, Leon and I have both seen this as we travel the world. American leadership remains respected and required. There is no real precedent in history for the role we play or the responsibility we have shouldered. There is also no alternative.

But I often remind myself that our global leadership is not our birthright. It has to be earned by each successive generation, staying true to our values and living up to the best traditions of our nation. Secretaries and presidents come and go, but this responsibility remains constant. It truly must be our North Star.

So in the years ahead, we will be looking to all of you and to your successors to carry this mission of American leadership forwards, to keep our nation strong, free and exceptional.

So thank you for this tremendous honor that has been bestowed on me by the chairman and also the honor by the secretary. I thank you all for your service, and I thank both of you and others of you here today for your friendship. Let’s wish our country godspeed. And please extend to all with whom you serve my deepest gratitude, not as a retired public official, but as an American citizen.

Thank you all. (Applause.)

-END-

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Here is a plethora of great photos from yesterday.  In some of these, Mme. Secretary at a wreath-laying ceremony with her counterpart,  Bob Carr and with Secretary Panetta and his counterpart, Stephen Smith. In others, they are participating in a press briefing.  Some are from the reception she attended with Colin Barnett.

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Remarks With Australian Foreign Minister Robert Carr, Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
State Reception Center
Perth, Australia
November 14, 2012

FOREIGN MINISTER CARR: Ladies and gentlemen, it was Dr. Johnson who said, “Keep your friendships in good repair.” And in that spirit, AUSMIN concluded in its meeting today, very much in the spirit of business as usual, steady as she goes, no new strategic content or announcements but a matter of consolidation. If I draw your attention to page seven of the communique, you’ll see reference to implementation of decisions that were announced last year, the U.S. force posture initiatives in Australia that were welcomed by President – Prime Minister Gillard when President Obama announced them in 2011. We welcomed the success of the first rotation of U.S. Marine Corps personnel to Northern Australia and look forward to the next rotation in 2013.

The deepening of our defense cooperation through these initiatives is, as we see it, a natural evolution of our existing longstanding cooperation, maintaining and supporting long-term peace and stability in the Asia Pacific. We discussed potential opportunities for additional naval cooperation in a range of locations, including HMAS Stirling. All these possible areas of cooperation would require substantial further study and additional decisions by both cabinets.

We spoke about the South China Sea, and you’ll see references to that in the communique. We’re united in seeking a peaceful resolution of the territorial disputes. We share a common interest with other members of the international community in the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, freedom of navigation, and unimpeded lawful commerce. We don’t take sides on the competing territorial claims.

We made comment to China’s rise. We want to continue to build positive, cooperative, comprehensive relations with China, and that means through strong economic engagement and encouraging progress on human rights. There was no language of containment in this, but we both welcome China’s role as a responsible member of the international community.

I thank, again, our U.S. colleagues for their engagement in East Asia, their involvement in the East Asia Summit, for their involvement in Southeast Asia through the ASEAN Regional Forum. We thank them for the number of visits they’ve given the region, their focus – the focus they’ve (inaudible) on the region in which Australia exists and prospers. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me begin by thanking Foreign Minister Carr and Defense Minister Smith for hosting these productive sessions today and last night here in Perth. We couldn’t ask for better partners. Our alliance is an anchor of peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific and around the world, forged in war but flourishing in peace. And it has bipartisan support in both our countries under Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Laborites.

We hold these four-way meetings every year because our diplomatic, economic, and security relationships are inseparable. That approach drives America’s engagement across the Asia Pacific and Australia’s strategy as well, as laid out in the government’s new white paper. But if you look at what we’re doing – and Minister Carr gave a brief overview – it’s quite extensive.

From the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Islands, American and Australian navies protect the sea lanes through which much of the world’s trade passes, and increasingly our cyber security experts collaborate to keep our networks safe and online commerce flowing freely. Our diplomats work side by side at regional organizations to address shared security challenges and hammer out new economic agreements, and we congratulate Australia upon becoming a new nonpermanent member of the Security Council. Our growing trade across the region, including our work together to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership, binds our countries together, increases stability, and promotes security.

Today, Secretary Panetta and I congratulated our counterparts on a major new achievement that exemplifies this integrated approach, Parliament approving the new U.S.-Australian Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty, and we will move forward together to implement it. This agreement will boost trade, help our companies collaborate more closely, and spur innovation. It’s a definite win-win.

We touched on many issues of regional and global importance. On Iran, we agreed on maintaining unity in the international community to prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons. I commended Australia’s efforts to implement tough sanctions on Iran.

And secondly Syria, we agreed today that the formation of the new Syrian Opposition Coalition is an important step forward and will help us better target our assistance. Today, I am pleased to announce that the United States is providing an additional $30 million in humanitarian assistance to help get much-needed food to hungry people inside Syria and to refugees who have fled to Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq, which brings our total humanitarian assistance to $200 million.

Third, in Afghanistan, we honor the service and sacrifice of our Australian allies. We are on track to transition full responsibility for security to the Afghan Government in 2014, and we are also focused on the economic and political transitions.

Fourth, we are preparing for the upcoming East Asia Summit, working together on a shared regional agenda, including supporting the process that ASEAN and China have begun on developing a comprehensive code of conduct for the South China Sea, supporting continued reforms in Burma, and pushing for the peaceful, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

So as you can see, there is a lot to do, but we could not be doing it with partners in whom we have more trust and confidence. The length of our agenda reflects the strength of our alliance, our partnership, and friendship. So again let me thank the Foreign Minister and the Defense Minister for their hospitality and partnership.

DEFENSE MINISTER SMITH: I’ll be very pleased to join with Foreign Minister Carr to welcome Secretary of State Clinton and Defense Secretary Panetta to Australia, and obviously particularly pleased to welcome both secretaries to Perth. In addition to the very productive conversations last night and today, both Secretaries have had the opportunity to see the lights of Perth, the University of Western Australia, Matilda Bay, Kings Park, and subsequently later stopping in Cottesloe. And Leon and I also had the opportunity yesterday of visiting the SAS Regiment in Swanbourne to pay our respects and regards to the very fine work done by the SAS, not just in Afghanistan but over a long period of time.

As Foreign Minister Carr has said, this is very much a consolidation AUSMIN, a business-as-usual AUSMIN. In terms of the global force posture review initiatives that we have been dealing with the United States since the Melbourne AUSMIN in 2010, we’ve been very pleased with the progress and assessment of the 250 Marine rotations through the Northern Territory. That went very well this year, including the potential for regional humanitarian assistance and a vast array of exercises, particularly warmly welcomed by Indonesian President SBY Yudhoyono. We’ll have the same number in rotation next year. We’ve commissioned an economic and social assessment study to see the potential to raise to 1,100 over the year 2014 with the ultimate ambition of 2,500 over the next five to six years.

We’ve started a conversation on enhanced aviation and aerial access to our Northern Territory airfields. That conversation has begun. And we also started a conversation on the potential for enhanced naval access to HMAS Stirling, our Indian Ocean port, but also to other naval ports. We’ve commissioned a study, a joint study. As I’ve made the point publicly in recent days, we see that very much as (inaudible) and a number of years away. The importance of HMAS Stirling as an Indian Ocean port will rise and increase as India rises in strategic influence in the Indian Ocean and the Indian Ocean Rim also rises.

There are a couple of announcements so far as our cooperation on space is concerned. We first began a conversation about space as early, from memory, as the 2008 AUSMIN. The 2010 AUSMIN in Melbourne, Secretary Gates and I signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on space surveillance. We drew attention then to the particular problem of space debris. Satellite communications are very important, not just from a national security point of view but also fundamentally from a commercial and social point of view. There is now so much debris in space that being acutely aware of space debris is very important to all nation-states, and we’re announcing today that the United States will transfer a C-Band radar from the – from Antigua, from memory, to Australia. We’ll set that up in the northwest of Western Australia at our Exmouth facility, and that will add considerably to the surveillance of space debris in our part of the world.

We’re also in discussions about the possibility of transferring from New Mexico to Australia a space surveillance telescope for use for the same purpose. And we’re in discussion about the best location of that, but again, the expectation is that that would be in Western Australia, to the midwest or the northwest.

That, I think, reflects the fact that we’re making in the modern Perth a modern Western Australia, which has benefited from very substantial United States investments so far as minerals and other resources are concerned.

Australia’s analysis continues to be that the alliance has served us very well for over 60 years and that the presence of the United States in the Asia Pacific has been a force for stability, prosperity, and investment, and we see that continuing. And the focus as we’ve seen on the Indian Ocean, the Indian Ocean Rim, also adds to the importance of viewing our part of the world not just as the Asia Pacific but also the Indo Pacific.

We’re also dealing now under the alliance with modern issues: cyber, very important; space, I’ve referred to that. These are the modern challenges and the modern issues which we now deal with on a regular basis in AUSMIN on an annual basis.

Secretary Panetta and I have also had conversations about Afghanistan and the post 2014 transition presence in Afghanistan, and I, again, very much welcome and appreciate his very strong and kind remarks about the contributions Australian Defense Force personnel have made in Afghanistan in the fine tradition of the Australian Defense Force working closely with the United States counterpart since World War II.

SECRETARY PANETTA: I’d like to – would like to join Secretary Clinton in thanking our two excellent hosts, Minister Carr and Minister Smith, for their hospitality here in Perth. Minister Smith is not only the Defense Minister for Australia, he’s also the head of the Chamber of Commerce for Perth. (Laughter.) (Inaudible.)

The range of discussions that we’ve engaged in have discussed global, regional, and alliance issues, and it once again confirms for me that the United States has no closer ally than Australia. That reality has been demonstrated again and again and again on distant battlefields of Afghanistan, where Australian troops have fought and bled alongside American troops for more than a decade. On behalf of a very grateful nation, I want to express again my deepest appreciation to the Australian Government and to the Australian people for the sacrifices that they’ve made in our joint efforts in Afghanistan. When one of your own is killed on the battlefield, I make it a point to pick up the phone and call the Defense Minister to indicate my deepest sympathies for that loss, because your loss is our loss as well.

The important steps we’ve agreed to here in Perth to increase cooperation between our two nations will do much to ensure that this very strong alliance remains an instrument of peace and prosperity for Americans, for Australians, and for all people who reside in this important region of the world.

To that end, the Memorandum of Understanding that we signed to relocate the C-Band radar to Australia and the discussions that we’ve had on relocating an Advanced Space Surveillance Telescope and a Combined Communications Gateway that will bring together terminals that will provide information, additional information on space issues – all of that represents a major leap forward in bilateral space cooperation and an important new frontier in the United States rebalance to the Asia Pacific region.

We also took stock of the successful deployment of the first U.S. Marine Corps detachment to Darwin as well as increased U.S. Air Force rotations throughout Northern Australia. We agreed to continue to build on that success, and we will. We also agreed to move forward with all due deliberate speed in the further implementation of this important initiative that fosters great cooperation between our forces.

As all of you know, part of our new defense strategy, we’ve made clear that one of our key focuses is to rebalance to the Pacific. We simply would not be able to do that effectively without allies like Australia.

So let me, once again, thank our Australian hosts for a very successful series of meetings and for their generous hospitality. I am confident that the alliance that we share between the United States and Australia will usher in a more secure and a more prosperous future.

Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER CARR: Thank you, Secretary of Defense Panetta. The first question is from Ian (inaudible) of Perth News Limited.

QUESTION: My question is to Secretary Panetta. Now sir, would you like to see an ongoing role for Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014? And, if so, what might that role be? And part three of my question, were defense budget cuts discussed during your meeting today, and are you concerned that (inaudible) might slow down (inaudible)?

SECRETARY PANETTA: First of all, Minister Smith did indicate an interest in the potential for a Special Forces presence in the – what we call the enduring presence – in the post-2014 period in Afghanistan. And I believe that that is worth considering. One of the missions that we are going to have to deal with in the post-2014 Afghanistan is the counterterrorism mission, the ability to continue to target al-Qaida, to target those that would continue to try to conduct terrorism against that country. And, therefore, I think as we design that post-2014 presence, I think we ought to consider the role not only of Australia, but other countries, in providing the kind of Special Forces capability that I think would be very important for the future security of Afghanistan.

With regards to budget issues, obviously both of our countries are facing budget constrictions. And there’s no question that we have to take those into consideration as we design what the future is with regards to our defense forces. We’re certainly doing that in the United States, and I know that Minister Smith is doing that with regards to Australia. We understand the constrictions we’re dealing with. But I remain fully confident that, in light of what we’re confronting, that we have the capability to maintain a strong national defense for both of our countries and that we will be able to meet the threats that confront us, not only in this part of the world, but elsewhere, as well.

FOREIGN MINISTER CARR: Question from Bob Burns, Associated Press.

QUESTION: Secretary Panetta, I have a question for you about the General Allen matter, and, if I could direct the last bit of it toward Secretary Clinton, if I might.

Mr. Secretary, in the last day or so, there’ve been suggestions that you may have overreacted to this matter, based on what, so far, has been quite vague descriptions. For example, overreacted by holding his nomination and also by launching the IG investigation. For example, the Defense Department has said that his emails might have been “inappropriate.” Can you explain what “inappropriate” means in this case?

And, for Secretary Clinton, you mentioned in your opening remarks that the situation in Afghanistan is on track. Could you offer any thoughts on whether this matter, the Allen matter, could damage U.S. credibility in Afghanistan? Thank you.

SECRETARY PANETTA: As you know, after receiving information from the FBI on Sunday regarding the emails, I felt it was important, and my responsibility as Secretary of Defense, to refer the matter on General Allen to the Department’s Inspector General so that the Inspector General could determine the facts here. No one should leap to any conclusions. No one should leap to any conclusions here.

General Allen is doing an excellent job at ISAF in leading those forces. He certainly has my continued confidence to lead our forces and to continue the fight. But his nomination has been put on hold, as a prudent measure, until we determine what the facts are. And we will.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And General Allen is a distinguished Marine and commander who’s been an important part of the NATO ISAF mission in Afghanistan. I don’t have anything to add to what Secretary Panetta has said about how this matter is being addressed. We have been in touch with our NATO ISAF allies. The course in Afghanistan is set. We know what the transition requires of us. We are proceeding with that transition, and will do so on time.

QUESTION: (Off mike.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s been a lot of conversation, as you might expect, Bob, but no concern whatsoever being expressed to us, because the mission has been set forth. It is being carried out.

FOREIGN MINISTER CARR: Ashleigh Gillon, Sky News.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, on China, you’ve written this communique that you’d like to see China exhibit greater military transparency, and you encourage that. How will that happen? And considering Chinese state media reacted negatively to the Northern Territory troop announcement, do you expect China will get uncomfortable with the United States having an increased presence in the Indian Ocean? And on that front, what exactly is America’s wish list when it comes to (inaudible) and increased access to those northern airbases? Do you have a timeframe on that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me state the obvious, that the United States and Australia have been close allies and friends for decades, and we have not only security ties, but commercial ties, personal ties, cultural ties. And our relationship between the two of us is among the strongest of any two countries in the world.

By the same token, we both recognize that increased cooperation from China is mutually beneficial. So this is not a zero-sum competition. Rather, it is up to the United States and Australia to lead the way in demonstrating that the strong relationship between us can also help foster strong, healthy relations with China, because the entire region will benefit from a peaceful rise of China. And, as I’ve said many times, we welcome a strong and prosperous China that plays a constructive and greater role in world affairs.

But we also want to see China act in fair and transparent ways that respect international norms and standards, follows international law, protects the fundamental freedoms and human rights of its people and all people. And the Pacific is big enough for all of us. And we stand to benefit from increased cooperation across the Asia Pacific region, as long as there is a level playing field and everybody knows what the rules are and everybody is held to the same standards.

With respect to specific questions, I think that the ministers, particularly Minister Smith and Minister Panetta, have addressed those questions. But we are very comfortable that our relationship is a positive one that should contribute to greater peace and prosperity in the region. And we want all nations to be part of that.

FOREIGN MINISTER CARR: I would just add that there is no news in this communique that will surprise China or any other nation in the region.

Next question, David Brunnstrom, Reuters.

QUESTION: Can you hear me, ma’am?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, please. On Syria, I was just wondering if there is any point at which the United States could follow France in fully recognizing the Syrian coalition. I would also (inaudible) perhaps in the future, to provide lethal aid. Are there any conditions on that?

And on the Burma, I wonder if I could ask whether concerns have eased to the extent that the United States can consider lifting more sanctions, or they’re still worried, for example, about thier links with North Korea and also on the Rohingyan issue. There are reports that there have been organized killings of Rohingyas. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: First, with respect to Syria, we congratulate and welcome the new Syrian Opposition Coalition on the progress that they have made in Doha to broaden and unify the opposition leadership to make it a more effective, representative body that will truly reflect the aspirations of the Syrian people and have credibility with those inside Syria who are doing the fighting and demonstrating, the dying, and dealing with the continuing assault from the Assad regime. We have long called for this kind of organization. The United States was deeply involved in the work that went on leading up to and at Doha.

Now we want to see that momentum maintained. Specifically, we urge them to finalize the organizational arrangements to support the commitments that they made in Doha, and to begin influencing events on the ground in Syria. As the Syrian opposition takes these steps and demonstrates its effectiveness in advancing the cause of a unified, democratic, pluralistic Syria, we will be prepared to work with them to deliver assistance to the Syrian people. So good beginning, highly welcomed by us and others, and we want to see the steps taken that have been promised. And we stand ready to assist this new opposition in standing itself up and representing the Syrian people to the regime and the international community.

Regarding Burma, I very much look forward to returning with President Obama. When I first visited Nay Pyi Taw and Rangoon last December, we pledged that the United States would respond to positive reform steps that were taken by the government with steps of our own. And the President’s visit next week speaks to how far we have come in this action-for-action approach that we outlined. We have matched the reforms taken by having full diplomatic relations, exchanging ambassadors, allowing new U.S. investment in Burma, as well as the export of U.S. financial services, and supporting assistance from the international financial institutions.

And let me say that Australia has been an indispensable and strong partner in this process. The reforms have a long way to go. The future is not certain. But we are making progress, and we want to see that progress continue. The President will have the opportunity to discuss the path forward in detail. And, of course, one of the items on the agenda will be the ongoing conflict in Rakhine State. We’ve condemned that violence. We’ve called for calm and a meaningful dialogue to address the legitimate needs that are at the base of these underlying issues. And certainly we expect the Burmese authorities to ensure the security and safety of all the people in the area, and to act expeditiously, both to stop violence and investigate it, and bring those responsible to justice.

So we have a lot to talk about when we visit with the President. We’re looking forward to it.

FOREIGN MINISTER CARR: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

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We are lucky to have a wealth of photos available from today in Perth Australia.  We see Mme. Secretary with Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Bob Carr coming out of the Perth Airport, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Australian Minister for Defense Stephen Smith.

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Remarks With Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan and Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-Jin After Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea Kim Sung-Hwan, Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Korea Kim Kwan-Jin
Thomas Jefferson Room
Washington, DC
June 14, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me welcome all of you, particularly our Korean friends, to the Thomas Jefferson Room here in the State Department. Today, Secretary Panetta and I hosted the second session of the U.S.-Republic of Korea Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultation, what we call our 2+2 meeting. And it is a great pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Kim and Defense Minister Kim to Washington as we continue to find ways to strengthen the global alliance and cooperation between our countries.

Today we discussed how our partnership has advanced in the three years since our two presidents set forth their joint vision for the alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States. We are combating piracy together in the Indian Ocean, investing in sustainable development in Africa, promoting democracy and the rule of law and human rights around the world. It would be difficult to list all the ways we are working together.

We touched on how we are deepening our economic cooperation. Just a few months ago, the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement officially entered into force, and it is already creating jobs and opportunities on both sides of the Pacific.

It is fitting that today is the Global Economic Statecraft Day at the State Department, because around the world in all of our embassies we are highlighting economic cooperation. And our relationship with the Republic of Korea is a textbook example of how our economic statecraft agenda can boost growth and create jobs.

As Korea has developed into an economic powerhouse, it has also steadily assumed greater responsibilities as a global leader. Today, it is an anchor of stability in the Asia Pacific and a go-to partner for the United States.

On the security side of our dialogue, we reaffirmed our commitment to the strategic alliance between our countries. Secretary Panetta will speak to our military cooperation, but I want to emphasize that the United States stands shoulder to shoulder with the Republic of Korea, and we will meet all of our security commitments. As part of this, we discussed further enhancements of our missile defense and ways to improve the interoperability of our systems.

Today we also agreed to expand our security cooperation to cover the increasing number of threats from cyberspace. I am pleased to announce that the United States and Korea will launch a bilateral dialogue on cyber issues. Working together, we can improve the security of our government, military, and commercial infrastructure, and better protect against cyber attacks.

With regard to North Korea, our message remains unchanged. North Korea must comply with its international obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874. It must abandon its nuclear weapons and all existing nuclear programs, including programs for uranium enrichment. And it must finally put the welfare of its own people first and respect the rights of its own citizens. Only under these circumstances will North Korea be able to end its isolation from the international community and alleviate the suffering of its people.

So again let me thank the ministers for our excellent discussions. And let me thank the Korean people for the friendship between our countries that continues to grow.

And now let me turn it over to Foreign Minister Kim.

FOREIGN MINISTER KIM: (Via interpreter) Let me first thank Secretary Clinton and Secretary Panetta for inviting Minister Kim and I to the ROK-U.S. 2+2 ministerial meeting. This meeting was first held for the first time in 2000 in Seoul. That was 60 years since the Korean War. And I am pleased that we held today the second 2+2 ministerial meeting this time in Washington. We took note that a number of alliance issues are proceeding as planned, and we had our agreement in that this will contribute to a greater combined defense system.

And we also agreed that should North Korea provoke again, then that we will show a very decisive response to such provocation. But we also shared our view that the road to dialogue and cooperation is open should North Korea stop its provocation and show a genuine change in its attitude by taking concrete measures.

Also, in order to enhance deterrence against North Korea’s potential provocation using nuclear and conventional forces, we decided to develop more effective and concrete (inaudible) policies. We also agreed to promote bilateral cooperation regarding North Korea, just as Secretary Clinton just mentioned, against cyber security threats, and will in this regard launch a whole-of-government consultative body.

We are concerned the human rights situation, the quality of life of the North Korean people, have reached a serious level and urge the North Korean Government to respect the human rights of its people and to improve their living condition.

The Republic of Korea welcomes the U.S. policy that places emphasis on the Asia Pacific. We agree that the increased U.S. role within the Asia Pacific region will greatly contribute to peace and stability in this region. We welcome the efforts of the Government of Myanmar to advance democracy and improve human rights and continue supporting such efforts.

Today’s meeting was very productive and meaningful in that it allowed us to review the current status of the alliance. And we also agreed to discuss a way forward for our strategic cooperation. We’ll continue to hold this 2+2 ministerial meeting in the future.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Secretary Clinton, Ministers, I was very pleased to be able to participate in this very important 2+2 meeting. I want to commend Secretary Clinton for her leadership in guiding us through this discussion, and also thank both ministers for their participation.

I’ve been very fortunate over the past year, since becoming Secretary of Defense, to have developed a very strong working relationship with my Korean counterparts. I’ve been – I made a visit to Korea last fall, and we have had a series of consultations such as this 2+2. I just returned, as many of you know, from a two-week trip to the Asia Pacific region, where I met with Minister Kim at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. And at the time, I made clear that the United States has made an enduring commitment to the security and prosperity of the Asia Pacific region, including the Korean Peninsula.

I also made clear that our military will rebalance towards the Asia Pacific region as part of our new defense strategy. As part of that strategy, even though the U.S. military will be smaller in the future, we will maintain a strong force presence in Korea which reflects the importance that we attach to that relationship and to the security mission that we are both involved with.

The United States and the Republic of Korea face many common security challenges in the Asia Pacific region and around the world, and today, we affirmed our commitment to forging a common strategic approach to addressing those challenges. I’m very pleased that we are progressing on our schedule to achieve the goals that we outlined in our Strategic Alliance 2015 base plan. We remain on track to transition operational control by December 2015 in accordance with the base plan timeline.

As the Strategic Alliance 2015 initiative proceeds, we will continue to consult closely with the Republic of Korea in order to ensure that the steps that we are taking are mutually beneficial and strengthen our alliance. During our meeting, we also discussed ways that we can further strengthen our alliance, including greater cooperation in the area of cyber security. To that end, we are making our bilateral military exercises more realistic through the introduction of cyber and network elements.

Another way to strengthen and modernize our alliance is by expanding our ongoing trilateral collaboration with Japan. On my trip to Asia, I was pleased to participate in a trilateral discussion that included the Republic of Korea and Japan, because this kind of security cooperation helps strengthen regional security and provides the additional deterrent with respect to North Korea. I’d like to thank the ministers again for their commitment to this alliance, and I look forward to hosting Minister Kim in Washington for the 44th Security Consultative Meeting in October. This alliance has stood the test of time, and today, we affirmed that it will remain an essential force for security and for prosperity in the 21st century.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Defense Minister.

DEFENSE MINISTER KIM: (Via interpreter) Today’s 2+2 ministerial meeting was held at a strategically critical moment amid continuing provocation threats from North Korea and volatile security environment in North Korea, a time which calls for a proactive alliance response.

Through today’s meeting, the two countries confirmed once again that the ROK-U.S. alliance is more solid than ever, and made it very clear that the alliance will strongly and consistently respond to any North Korean provocation, in particular regarding North Korean nuclear and missile threat. The ROK and the U.S. agreed to strengthen policy coordination to reaffirm the strong U.S. commitment to provide extended deterrents and to develop extended deterrent policies in an effective and substantial way. We also agreed to strengthen alliance capability against North Korea’s increasing asymmetric threats such as cyber threats like the DDoS attack and GPS jammings.

Furthermore, the two countries confirmed that the 2015 transition of operational control and the building of a new combined defense system are progressing as planned. We also confirmed that they were – ROK military will acquire the critical – military capabilities needed to lead the combined defense, and the U.S. military will provide bridging and engineering capabilities.

The two countries also confirmed that USFK bases relocation projects such as YRP and LPP are well underway and agreed to work to ensure that these projects are completed in time. We assess that combined exercises in the West Sea and Northwest Islands deter North Korean provocation and greatly contribute to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula. We agreed to continue these exercises under close bilateral coordination.

Next year marks the 60th anniversary of the ROK-U.S. alliance which was born in 1953 with the signing of the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty. In the past six decades, the two countries worked to ensure a perfect security of the peninsula and have developed the alliance into the most successful alliance in history. In the future, the two countries will expand and deepen the scope and level of defense cooperation from the Korean Peninsula, and to the regional and global security issues, will continue evolving the alliance into the best alliance in the world for the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, and of the world. Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Scott starts.

QUESTION: Can we do it the reverse? I’m sorry. Scott and I always do this, get it a little confused. But in any case, thank you, Madam Secretary. I’d like to start out with Egypt, please. What is your reaction to dissolving parliament? Is this a step backwards?

And then also on Syria: For the second day in the media and the news, we’re talking about the weapons and the helicopters. By making this such a high-profile issue – and by pinning your strategy of shaming the Russians, are you running the risk of allowing Moscow to define what happens or doesn’t happen in Syria? In other words, I guess, where is the American strategy?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with regard to Egypt, we are obviously monitoring the situation. We are engaged with Cairo about the implications of today’s court decision. So I won’t comment on the specifics until we know more.

But that said, throughout this process, the United States has stood in support of the aspirations of the Egyptian people for a peaceful, credible, and permanent democratic transition. Now ultimately, it is up to the Egyptian people to determine their own future. And we expect that this weekend’s presidential election will be held in an atmosphere that is conducive to it being peaceful, fair, and free. And in keeping with the commitments that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces made to the Egyptian people, we expect to see a full transfer of power to a democratically elected, civilian government.

There can be no going back on the democratic transition called for by the Egyptian people. The decisions on specific issues, of course, belong to the Egyptian people and their elected leaders. And they’ve made it clear that they want a president, a parliament, and a constitutional order that will reflect their will and advance their aspirations for political and economic reform. And that is exactly what they deserve to have.

Let me also note that we are concerned about recent decrees issued by the SCAF. Even if they are temporary, they appear to expand the power of the military to detain civilians and to roll back civil liberties.

Now regarding Syria, I spoke extensively about Syria yesterday. Our consultations with the United Nations, our allies and partners, and the Syrian opposition continue on the best way forward. Today, my deputy, Bill Burns, had a constructive meeting in Kabul with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. We don’t see eye to eye on all of the issues, but our discussions continue. And President Obama will see President Putin during the G-20 in Mexico.

We’re also intensifying our work with Special Envoy Kofi Annan on a viable post-Assad transition strategy. And I look forward to talking to him in the days ahead about setting parameters for the conference that he and I have discussed and that he is discussing with many international partners. Our work with the Syrian opposition also continues. Ambassador Ford is in Istanbul today for a conference with the opposition that Turkey is hosting.

So we’re working on multiple fronts. I think our strategy is very clear. We want to see an end to the violence, and we want to see the full implementation of Kofi Annan’s plans, including the political transition so that the people of Syria have the same opportunity that the people of the Republic of Korea or the United States have to choose their own leaders and to build their own future. And the work is urgent, because as you know, the Syrian Government continues to attack its own people, and the bloodshed has not ceased. And we have to do everything we can to end the violence and create a framework for a transition.

MS. NULAND: Next question: Kang Eui-Young from Yonhap News, please.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Thank you for the opportunity to give you question. I’m – name is Kang from the Yonhap News Agency. My question is for Minister – Defense Minister Kim. It is written in this statement that you have decided to develop a comprehensive alliance approach towards the missile defense. I want to know what this means. If you are referring to the missile defense, are you intending to build a Korea air missile defense or are you saying that you will be integrated into a U.S.-led missile defense? Could you elaborate on what missile defense system you are envisioning? You mention comprehensive alliance defense system. What – how does this build into the U.S.-led assistance?

DEFENSE MINISTER KIM: (Via interpreter) The position of the ROK military regarding the missile defense is this given the terrain of the Korean Peninsula. The most effective approach is a low-tier defense. And how will this be linked to the U.S. missile defense system? This is of the analysis – the studies that are being conducted right now. That’s what I mean by saying an effective combined air defense system.

QUESTION: Secretary Panetta, is the United States expanding intelligence gathering across Africa using small, unarmed, turbo-prop aircraft disguised as private planes, as reported by The Washington Post?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, I’m not going to discuss classified operations in that region, other than to say that we make an effort to work with all of the nations in that region to confront common threats and common challenges. And we have closely consulted and closely worked with our partners to develop approaches that make sure that the nations of that very important region do not confront the kind of serious threats that could jeopardize their peace and prosperity.

MODERATOR: Today’s last question will be from Ju Young Jim of SBS.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Reporter from the SBS, Ju. This is a question for Defense Minister Kim and Secretary Panetta. Right now, the Korean media is dealing – covering very extensively about the range extension of the Korean ballistic missiles and that the ROK side is insisting on 800 kilometer whereas the U.S. is insisting on 500 kilometer, where although the countries have agreed on the payload. Senator Carl Levin said that he is positive when it comes to the range extension. Has this issue been discussed at the 2+2, and will the two countries be able to show a concrete outcome by the end of the year?

One additional question is – this one is for Secretary Clinton. Kim Jong-un, the new leader, he has taken over his father, deceased father, and is now already six month as the new leader. How do you assess his leadership so far?

DEFENSE MINISTER KIM: (Via interpreter) Let me first address this range extension issue. This is still being discussed on the working level. This issue was not dealt at today’s 2+2 ministerial meeting.

SECRETARY PANETTA: In consultation and negotiations with the Republic of Korea with regards to this area, I think we’re making good progress. And our hope is that we can arrive at an agreeable solution soon.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Regarding the new leader in North Korea, I believe leaders are judged by what they do to help their people have better lives, whether they create stability and security, prosperity, opportunity. And this new young leader has a choice to make, and we are hoping that he will make a choice that benefits all of his people.

And we also believe strongly that North Korea will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which will only continue to isolate the country and provide no real opportunity for engagement and work toward a better future. And so we hope that the new leadership in Pyongyang will live up to its agreements, will not engage in threats and provocations, will put the North Korean people first. Rather than spending money on implements of war, feed your people, provide education and healthcare, and lift your people out of poverty and isolation.

This young man, should he make a choice that would help bring North Korea into the 21st century, could go down in history as a transformative leader. Or he can continue the model of the past and eventually North Korea will change, because at some point people cannot live under such oppressive conditions – starving to death, being put into gulags, and having their basic human rights denied. So we’re hoping that he will chart a different course for his people.

MS. NULAND: Thank you very much.

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Remarks at the U.S.-Korea Ministerial Dialogue 2+2 Meetings

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea Kim Sung-Hwan, Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Korea Kim Kwan-Ji
Thomas Jefferson Room
Washington, DC
June 14, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much and let me welcome you to the plenary session of the second U.S.-Republic of Korea Ministerial 2+2 with the foreign ministers and defense ministers of both of our countries. It’s a real pleasure to have you here for this occasion. The relationship between our two countries has never been stronger.

In the three years that we have been working to implement our joint vision for the alliance between our nations, we have reached several milestones. Last October, we hosted President Lee in this room for the first state visit by a Korean president to the United States in over a decade. During that visit, we also celebrated the passage of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which has already begun to spur job creation and greater economic opportunity in both our nations.

At the same time, Korea has taken on a rising global profile. In the past few years, Korea hosted the G-20 showcasing its economic power; the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, which I was very pleased to attend; the Nuclear Security Summit, highlighting its leadership on global security; and now the World Expo in Yeosu, building ties between the Korean people and visitors from around the world.

So it’s clear that on many of the pressing issues of the 21st Century, the world is looking to Korea, and Korea has shouldered and welcomed its new and growing responsibilities. We share an unshakable partnership and we continue to seek new opportunities to strengthen our cooperation. We’ve enjoyed unprecedented coordination on a number of bilateral, regional, and global issues.

And most importantly, we consult closely and regularly on developments in North Korea. We continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Republic of Korea allies in the face of threats and provocations. And I look forward to continuing these consultations today.

Finally, I’d like to note that we are not only building our institutional ties through dialogues like this, we are also building connections between our people. This year we inaugurated our diplomatic exchange program between the United States State Department and the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. And we have enjoyed hosting Kim Jae-shin. She’s become an invaluable member of our team enhancing our work with her insight and building connections between our offices. We would keep her forever if we could, Minister. And Minister Kim, I hope you will feel similarly when we send our first exchange officer to work with you later this year.

So thanks again to both Foreign Minister Kim and Defense Minister Kim. Thanks to Ambassador Choi for his presence here in Washington and working on our relationship year round. And thanks to my colleagues from the State and Defense Departments. We look forward to a productive discussion. And on that note, let me turn it over to Foreign Minister Kim.

FOREIGN MINISTER KIM: (Via interpreter) Secretary Clinton, Secretary Panetta, about two years ago the ROK and the U.S. held a 2+2 ministerial meeting for the first time. And now that we are holding this meeting the second time, I am very pleased.

Just as Secretary Clinton commented just a while ago, during the past year there have been great changes in the Republic of Korea, as well as the world as a whole, in keeping pace with the changes in the security environment. It is very significant that we are here today to review the changes that we need to continue making based on a very solid trust between our two leaders.

During the past four years we have laid very strong foundations for our alliance. Despite the continuing North Korean threat, the sinking of Cheonan warship, or with the shelling of the Yeonpyeong Islands, or the long-range missile launch, and we have shown an almost perfect cooperation. We’ve also handled some very complex alliance issues such as the OPCON transition or the base relocation.

And the Free Trade Agreement that entered into effect earlier this year has increased the scope of our alliance into the economic sector. Now we must ensure that we are not complacent with the achievement we’ve made thus far and try to move out into the world as an alliance under the slogan of a global Korea, that the Republic of Korea will continue to contribute to global issues, and we’ll continue to cooperate with the United States in this regard.

Hopefully this meeting will not only strengthen our alliance and send clear message to North Korea, but also try to seek what we can contribute to the region and the world as a whole. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Minister Kim. Secretary Panetta?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Thank you very much, Secretary Clinton. I would also like to join in welcoming Minister Kim and Defense Minister Kim to this second 2+2 ministers meeting dialogue.

We greatly appreciate the opportunity to assess the ongoing efforts of the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea, particularly as we continue to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.

I want to extend my sincere and solemn appreciation for the shared sacrifice of our two nations’ veterans of the Korean War. It’s through their sacrifice and it’s through their commitment, and it’s through their continuing service that our men and women in uniform truly put their lives on the line in order to protect both of our countries. We are privileged to sit here today because of their efforts, and we embrace as always a very strong and enduring friendship.

As we face the many security challenges and opportunities on the horizon on the peninsula regionally and globally, we must forge a common strategic approach and address these issues collectively, rooted in friendship and in mutual interest.

One of the things that we have done at the Defense Department is to enact a new defense strategy that has made clear the importance of rebalancing to the Asia Pacific region. One of the cornerstones to our ability to effectively implement that strategy is the close partnership and relationship that we have with the Republic of Korea. That’s why it’s so important for us to come together, to meet to discuss our common views on the shared security challenges that we face, and to forge a common strategic approach to those challenges.

Thank you for your friendship and most importantly thank you for this historic alliance.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible) Defense Minister (inaudible).

DEFENSE MINISTER KIM: (Via interpreter) We are holding today here in Washington our second 2+2 ministerial meeting. And this is a very significant event. I want to first thank the U.S. side for hosting such a wonderful event. The current ROK-U.S. relationship, just as our two leaders named it last October, a partnership for peace and prosperity, is developing into a multi-dimension strategic alliance which address not only the security issues of the Korean Peninsula but moves out into the Asia Pacific and into the world. A recent poll show that over 80 percent of the ROK public believe that the alliance is contributing to the security of the ROK peninsula, of the Korean Peninsula, which is contributing also for the peace and stability of the region.

Especially in the defense area, the two countries have managed very stably the situation in the Korean Peninsula following the death of Kim Jong-il through a very close policy and military cooperation, especially the intelligence sharing and the combined crisis management system that we operated before and after North Korean long-range missile launch shows that we are very much prepared to counter North Korean threats. And we are going over – beyond these cooperations by addressing regional and global cooperation to show that we are indeed becoming multi-dimension strategic alliance.

Through our historic 2+2 meeting today, we want to reconfirm our will and our commitment for the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula as well as this region and the world as a whole, and demonstrate to the world the solidness of our alliance.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Minister.

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Remarks With Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, and Philippines Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin After Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 30, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON:Good afternoon. It is such a pleasure for me to welcome our colleagues from the Philippines, Secretary del Rosario and Secretary Gazmin. And I am always happy to welcome my longtime friend and colleague, Secretary Panetta.Today we held the first ever 2+2 meeting between the United States and the Philippines, a testament to our shared commitment to write a new chapter in the partnership between our two countries. With the growing security and economic importance of the Asia Pacific, the United States is actively working to strengthen our alliances, build new partnerships, and engage more systematically in the region’s multilateral institutions.

At the heart of this strategy is our effort to deepen and broaden our alliance with our friend and treaty ally, the Philippines. This alliance is rooted not just in a deep history of shared democratic values but in a wide range of mutual concerns. And today we had a chance to cover a number of them.

First we discussed our bilateral military cooperation. Our alliance has helped keep both of our countries secure for more than 60 years, and it has been a bulwark of peace and stability in Asia. Today the United States reaffirms our commitment and obligations under the mutual defense treaty.

We also discussed steps we are taking to ensure that our countries are fully capable of addressing both the challenges and the opportunities posed in the region in the 21st century. We need to continue working together to counter violent extremism, to work on addressing natural disasters, maritime security, and transnational crime.

We also discussed the evolving regional security situation. We both share deep concerns about the developments on the Korean Peninsula and events in the South China Sea, including recent tensions surrounding the Scarborough Shoal. In this context, the United States has been clear and consistent. While we do not take sides on the competing sovereignty claims to land features in the South China Sea, as a Pacific power we have a national interest in freedom of navigation, the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, and the unimpeded, lawful commerce across our sea lanes. The United States supports a collaborative diplomatic process by all those involved for resolving the various disputes that they encounter. We oppose the threat or use of force by any party to advance its claims. And we will remain in close contact with our ally, the Philippines. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the foreign secretary as we approach the ASEAN Regional Forum in July.

Finally, we discussed the maturing economic relationship between our countries as well as our shared commitment to enhanced development, trade, and investment. We would like to see the Philippines join the Trans Pacific Partnership trade community. The foreign secretary raised the Philippines’ interest in seeking passage of the Save our Industries Act, and we have conveyed that message to the United States Congress. And of course, I complimented the Philippines and the Aquino government on the progress with our Partnership for Growth and the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact.

So once again, colleagues and friends, we appreciate your participating in this first ever 2+2, and we look forward to our future cooperation.

Secretary del Rosario.

SECRETARY DEL ROSARIO: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. I am honored to be here. Today marks a milestone in the alliance and strategic partnership of the Philippines and the United States. For the first time, we held our 2+2 consultations at the ministerial level. Our consultations were timely. Discussions on key issues of common interest to us were conducted within the context of our respective domestic concerns as well as the challenges and opportunities which coexist in the Asia Pacific region. The 2+2 consultations paved the way for us to revisit the bilateral engagement between the Philippines and the United States. It opened an avenue for us to consider ways of fine-tuning our relations as we adapt to changing circumstances both in our region and the world at large. Thus, the focal points of our consultations were how best to keep our alliance relevant and responsive to each other’s needs.

We reaffirmed our shared obligations under our mutual defense treaty and underscored the necessity of ensuring that our alliance remains robust, agile, and responsive. We committed to jointly explore modalities by which the President could build a minimum credible defense posture and agreed to prioritize high-value and high-impact joint military exercises and training to meet our common objectives, including maritime security.

Moreover, we reaffirmed our common interest in maintaining freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce and transit of peoples, as well as a rules-based multilateral, peaceful approach in resolving competing claims in maritime areas within the framework of international law, including UNCLOS.

In the field of economic and development cooperation, we agreed to accelerate the implementation of the Partnership for Growth, which aims to establish an inclusive growth path for the Philippines as well as the Millennium Challenge Compact to reduce poverty in our country.

The Philippines and the United States shall endeavor to increase bilateral trade and investment as well as tourism exchanges. We agreed to continue discussions on Philippine interest to eventually join the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. In the area of good governance, we shall promote the establishment of a national justice information system for the Philippines. We will also work to sustain our partnership in combating human trafficking.

In the multilateral arena, we both expressed support for efforts to increase cooperation in the ASEAN, in APEC, and in the East Asia Summit. Beyond doubt, the combined action of the Philippines and the U.S. in promoting converting interests and shared objectives would propel our alliance and strategic partnership towards a higher trajectory at a faster velocity.

Our just-concluded 2+2 consultations is the latest impetus in sustaining this positive momentum. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Secretary Panetta.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Good afternoon. I’d like to join Secretary Clinton in saying what a great pleasure it was to host Secretary del Rosario and Secretary Gazmin for one of the first 2 by 2 meetings here in Washington with the Philippines. I look forward to hosting Secretary Gazmin for dinner at the Pentagon this evening.

We had a very successful meeting today with our Filipino counterparts, and we discussed a number of ways our governments can work more closely together to strengthen the importance alliance that we have to deepen our engagements and to find shared solutions to the joint security goals that we share.
Our two nations have forged deep and abiding ties through shared sacrifice and common purpose. Seventy years ago this month, American and Filipino soldiers fought and bled together shoulder to shoulder during the opening battles of World War II at Corregidor and Bataan. Through dark days, and many of those dark days fought together, our forces joined again in 1944 to begin the hard-fought battle to liberate the Philippines. We honor that legacy with our renewed commitment to this U.S.-Philippine alliance.

Ours is an alliance and a friendship built on historic ties, common democratic values, and a shared desire to provide our two peoples a prosperous and more secure future. I want to emphasize how deeply the U.S. values this great partnership and the importance of the Mutual Defense Treaty that remains the cornerstone of our security relationship. Working together, our forces successfully are countering terrorist groups in the southern Philippines. We are improving the Philippines maritime presence and capabilities with the transfer of a second high-endurance cutter this year. We are working to expand and improve joint ISR programs and our ability to counter cyber attacks. And I’m pleased to see the close cooperation being built between our forces through training and exercises such as the recently completed exercise Balikatan in 2012.

The new U.S. defense strategy that we rolled out earlier this year recognized that one of the important regions of the world that we must focus on and that America’s future security depends on is the Asia Pacific region. As a resident Pacific power, the United States is committed to a rule-based regional order that promotes viable and vibrant trade and the freedom of navigation. We are enhancing our defense cooperation and expanding security partnerships throughout the region in order to sustain peace and stability, and we are committed to continuing our robust, stabilizing presence in that region.

I look forward to sitting down later today with Secretary Gazmin to discuss, among other things, how we can deepen our engagement in ways that enhance this very important alliance and that promote our common vision of regional security in a very important Asia Pacific region. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Secretary Gazmin.

SECRETARY GAZMIN: Good afternoon. Today’s meeting was a manifestation of the mutual desire of the Philippines and the U.S. to further deepen our strategic partnership. After watching our alliance endure through the years, we deem it crucial to prepare for the security challenges of today and tomorrow.
This is why we decided to hold the first 2+2 meeting, to be able to exchange views on how to formulate adoptive and responsive strategic policies. We have reached a critical juncture in our alliance, where our concerns in both traditional and nontraditional aspects of our security have become much more intertwined. While we are sustaining the gains for successful efforts in various areas of cooperation, we need to intensify our mutual trust to uphold maritime security and the freedom of navigation and thereby contribute to the peace and stability of the region.
Meanwhile, the effects of natural disasters have become too disastrous and thus necessitate greater cooperation for expedient and effective response. We look forward to working together and consult one another on how to improve the capability to uphold maritime security and institutionalize efficient humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

Keeping these two objectives in mind, we look forward in working as reliable allies that contribute to the peace and stability in the region. We are also mindful that our efforts to further our alliance need to be in full consideration of our respective national laws and political context.

Thank you and good afternoon.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: We’ll take two from each side today. We’ll start with NBC, Andrea Mitchell.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, thank you. I know you can’t get into the specifics of the Chen Guangcheng case, but the whole world is watching. And already Mitt Romney has said that any serious U.S. policy towards China has to confront the facts of the lack of political freedoms and other human rights abuses. So can we be sure that your interests, America’s interests in these talks in strategic issues such as Iran and Syria and North Korea and trade will not take precedence over human rights? And what are your concerns about all the activists who have now gone missing and the fate of Mr. Chen’s family?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andrea, I look forward to traveling to China this evening. We will be going to Beijing for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. We have a full range of issues that covers all of the political and economic matters that are of concern to our nations and our people. I’m not going to address the specific case at this time, but I just want to put it in a broader context.

The U.S.-China relationship is important. It’s important not only to President Obama and me, but it’s important to the people of the United States and the world, and we’ve worked hard to build an effective, constructive, comprehensive relationship that allows us to find ways to work together. Now a constructive relationship includes talking very frankly about those areas where we do not agree, including human rights. That is the spirit that is guiding me as I take off for Beijing tonight, and I can certainly guarantee that we will be discussing every matter, including human rights, that is pending between us.

QUESTION: And those people who have gone missing?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I have nothing to add to what I’ve said at this time. I have a full agenda of many issues of great concern to us, including human rights and the freedom and free movement of people inside China who have a right to exercise those freedoms under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

MS. NULAND: Next question, Jose (inaudible).

QUESTION: Mr. del Rosario, the standoff at the Scarborough Shoal is into its fourth week now. Did you get an unequivocal assurance from the U.S. it will come to the aid of the Philippines if shots are fired? And what was the type or form?

Also, short of shots being fired, how do you see the endgame of Scarborough being played out if China cannot be persuaded diplomatically to withdraw its vessels from the area?

SECRETARY DEL ROSARIO: Those are several questions rolled into one, my friend, but let me begin from your last question. We do have a three-track approach to endeavoring to solve the problem that we currently have with China in the Scarborough Shoal. It encompasses three tracks.

The first track is the political track. We are pursuing the ASEAN as a framework for a solution to this problem through a code of conduct that we are trying to put together and ultimately approve. Hopefully that will quiet the situation.

Secondly, we are pursuing a legal track, and the legal track involves our pursuing a dispute settlement mechanism under UNCLOS. There are five of them. We think that we can avail of one or two of those mechanisms, even without the presence of China.

Thirdly, we are pursuing a diplomatic approach, such as the one that we are undertaking, which is to have consultations with China in an attempt to defuse the situation.

In terms of U.S. commitment, I think the U.S. has been very clear that they do not get involved in territorial disputes, but that they are firm in terms of taking a position for a – towards a peaceful settlement of the disputes in the South China Sea towards a multilateral approach and towards the use of a rules-based regime in accordance with international law, specifically UNCLOS. They have expressed that they will honor their obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty.

MS. NULAND: Next, Cami McCormick from CBS News.

QUESTION: Secretary Panetta, this is for you. White House Counterterrorism official John Brennan today spoke openly for the first time about drones. He said the – President Obama wanted more transparency on this issue and more openness. As former CIA director and now Defense Secretary, I’m wondering, is there some national security benefit to talking about this now? Why was the decision made? And what are your thoughts on it?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I’m going to let the speech speak for itself. All I’ll say is that this country has engaged in a number of operations, both covert and overt, to go after al-Qaida and our terrorist allies – or their terrorist allies. And we have been very successful at weakening al-Qaida as a result of that. This is a group that attacked this country on 9/11, and we have made clear that we are going to do everything we can to defend this country, using every means possible. And the means we use are those that we feel are most effective to go after al-Qaida.

MS. NULAND: The last question today, (inaudible) Times.

QUESTION: My question is for Secretary Gazmin. Secretary, in light of the current Chinese-Philippines standoff in Scarborough Shoal, what kind of assistance have you asked to bolster Manila’s ability to patrol its waters and to deter what you call intrusions?

SECRETARY GAZMIN: Thank you for the question. The assistance we have sought is to help us bring the case to international legal bodies, so that the approach is the legal rules-based approach in resolving the issue in the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea.

MS. NULAND: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

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Interview With Wolf Blitzer of CNN

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
NATO Headquarters
Brussels, Belgium
April 19, 2012

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Mr. Secretary, thanks very much for joining us.

SECRETARY CLINTON: We’re glad to be here with you.

QUESTION: Let’s talk about Afghanistan briefly – $2 billion a week in U.S. taxpayer dollars being spent to maintain that troop level, the assistance to the Afghan people. Is this money well spent right now, $100 billion a year for another two-and-a-half years?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, Wolf, we are in a transition, and as we transition, the Afghan security forces are stepping up to protect their own people. And as we saw over the weekend with those deplorable attacks, luckily they were not successful. And that was because the Afghan security forces, which our soldiers and others of the NATO-ISAF alliance have been training and mentoring. So I think that if you look, as we do, at the progress that has been made on the security side but also in other indicators – health and education and the economy – there is definite progress. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, but we are on the way to fulfilling the commitment that President Obama made about moving toward the 2014 deadline for the end of combat operations.

QUESTION: So this is money well spent, hundreds of billions of additional dollars? Is that what you’re saying?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think you can certainly find fault with any kind of war, and this has been a war. You can go back and look at any of the wars that the United States has fought. But if you consider why we’re there and the fact that, thank goodness, we’ve not been attacked again since 9/11, and we have dismantled al-Qaida thanks to a lot of great work when Leon was at the CIA before going to the Defense Department, I think there’s no doubt that America is more secure, Afghanistan is more secure, but we’re not resting on our laurels. We’re looking forward to what kind of relationship we all will have, NATO and the United States, after 2014 to help Afghanistan continue on this path.

QUESTION: You trust Afghan President, Mr. Secretary, Hamid Karzai?

SECRETARY PANETTA: He is the leader of Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Do you trust him?

SECRETARY PANETTA: (Inaudible.) I mean, I’ve sat down with him. I talk with him. We talk very frankly with each other. And he is the leader and he is the person we have to deal with.

QUESTION: Does that mean you trust him, though?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, I mean, certainly you trust the leaders that you have to deal with, but you always kind of watch your back at the same time.

QUESTION: That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement of the leader of Afghanistan.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, it’s true for any leader we deal with.

QUESTION: This one has said awful things about the United States.

SECRETARY PANETTA: No, I understand. And obviously, that’s been a concern. But at the same time, we have had the ability to directly relate to him when it comes to some of the major issues that we’ve had to —

QUESTION: When you served in Congress, you were on the budget committee, as I well remember. Hundred billion dollars, you know what that kind of money can spend in the United States during these tough economic times, and the American public is increasingly frustrated when they see this money is being spent in Afghanistan rather than in the United States.

SECRETARY PANETTA: I understand what you’re saying, Wolf, but you know what? The whole purpose of this is to protect the American people. That’s what this war is about.

QUESTION: But bin Ladin is dead.

SECRETARY PANETTA: I know, but the reality is that the attack on the United States on 9/11 was planned from where? It was planned from Afghanistan. And our mission there is to make sure that we have an Afghanistan that can secure and govern itself and it never again can become a safe haven for terrorists who would plan attacks on our country. That’s what this war is all about.

QUESTION: But you know that U.S. intelligence officials have told Congress there are more al-Qaida operatives in Somalia right now than in Afghanistan.

SECRETARY PANETTA: The danger is this, that if we don’t succeed in Afghanistan, then there is the real probability that the Taliban will come back, establish the same kind of safe havens that they have in the past. And who will be the first people to take advantage of it? Al-Qaida. That’s what we have to protect against.

QUESTION: Are we asking too much of these American troops who spend three, four, five tours of duty? And now these reports – posing once again with dead bodies of Taliban fighters, urinating on dead bodies, burning Qu’rans. One American soldier starts killing 17 Afghan civilians, including children. Is the stress too much to bear right now on these troops?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, there’s – look, there’s no question we’ve been 10 years at war. And obviously, 10 years of war takes a toll on people and families. But the reality is that the vast majority of our men and women in uniform have performed according to the highest standards that we expect of them. And for every one incident that we sometimes read about and the kind of atrocious behavior that we all condemn, there are a hundred incidents where our people have helped Afghans or they have performed courageously in battle.

So I’ve been there a number of times, as has the Secretary. I’ve got to tell you that I am always impressed by the quality of our people that are fighting the battle on behalf of the United States.

QUESTION: Let’s talk about Iran. As you know, these talks with the Iranians are continuing. Another meeting is scheduled for May 23rd. The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, says – and I’m quoting now, when he heard about the – there’ll be another round on May 23rd, he said, “My initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie.” A freebie.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that is not accurate because what came out of the first meeting was a commitment to a second meeting with a work plan between the two meetings. We are really getting down to testing whether or not there is a willingness on the part of the Iranians to reach some kind of negotiated resolution —

QUESTION: Are you encouraged by the first round?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I believe that the first round was positive because, from our assessment, after having no contact for 15 months, the Iranians came back to the table at a time when sanctions are really continuing to put a lot of pressure on the Iranian Government and are willing to talk about their nuclear program, which is an important, positive step.

Now we have a long way to go, and this has got to be very clearly laid out as to what the international community expects, what is acceptable, of course, to the United States since we are at the table with the P-5+1. But there is a chance – and I don’t want to oversell it – that between now and the second meeting, we will hammer out what the international community, represented by the so-called P-5+1, requires of Iran and what Iran is willing to do.

QUESTION: And if they do take these measures, will you encourage the alliance to slow down on these economic sanctions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can’t answer that because it’s so hypothetical right now. I believe in very clear action for action. We have to see what the Iranians are willing to do, then we have to make sure they do it, and then we have to reciprocate. That’s what a negotiation is all about. And right now, we are still in the testing stage.

QUESTION: If they don’t do what you want them to do, the Iranians, are you – and you’re the Defense Secretary – ready to use military force to destroy their nuclear capabilities?

SECRETARY PANETTA: As the President has pointed out, and as I’ve pointed out, we are prepared with all options on the table if we have to respond.

QUESTION: And is there a plan in place? Because I know the Pentagon; I used to cover the Pentagon. There are always contingency plans for everything. Do you have a specific contingency plan to do that?

SECRETARY PANETTA: One of the things I found out as Secretary of Defense is we do one hell of a lot of planning on everything.

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)

SECRETARY PANETTA: So I can assure you that there are plans to deal with –

QUESTION: And if you have to do it, will it succeed? Are you convinced it would succeed?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I don’t think there’s any question that if we have to implement that plan, it will be successful.

QUESTION: On Syria, is President Bashar al-Assad, according to your opinion, Madam Secretary, a war criminal?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not going to get into the labeling, Wolf, because what I’m doing now is trying to see whether or not he is going to implement Kofi Annan’s plan. And I don’t think it’s useful to do anything other than focus on the six points of the plan. Right now, it doesn’t appear, once again, that he is going to follow through on what he has pledged to the international community he will do.

We are still working to see about getting monitors in to be able to have an independent source of information coming out to the Security Council. I will be going to Paris tomorrow afternoon to meet with like-minded nations at an ad hoc meeting to take stock of where we are. But it was significant that the Security Council endorsed Kofi Annan’s six-point plan, the Syrian Government said they would abide by it, and yet we still see shelling going on in Homs and Idlib and other places.

QUESTION: Are these crimes against humanity?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think what we want to do is begin an accountability project to gather evidence. We really don’t want to be labeling what we see, which are clearly disproportionate use of force, human rights abuses, absolutely merciless shelling with heavy weaponry into unarmed civilian areas, even shelling across borders now into Turkey and Lebanon, as happened last week. We’re interested in stopping the behavior, but at the same time we do want to see evidence collected so that there could be in the future accountability for these actions.

QUESTION: It sounds like the answer is yes. You do believe these are crimes.

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I don’t want you to put words – don’t put words in my mouth. We’re not making those kinds of charges or claims. Our goal right now is if the Assad regime were to say okay, we agree we’re going to everything that Kofi Annan asks us to do, that would be our focus, not some future maybe unlikely outcome in terms of criminal accountability. What I’m interested in is let’s stop the violence; let’s start the political transition.

QUESTION: Senator McCain says the U.S. should take the military lead in arming the rebels, maybe even going forward with a no-fly zone. Here’s the question. We’re at NATO headquarters, Mr. Secretary. Is NATO impotent in Syria right now?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I don’t think so. I think that NATO, frankly, has shown that it can take on the challenges.

QUESTION: In Libya, it did. But in Syria, it’s not doing anything.

SECRETARY PANETTA: And it did a great job. And it shows that when the international community comes together and decides to take action, that we can take action that achieves the result —

QUESTION: The argument is that Libya –

SECRETARY PANETTA: In this situation, the international community, Wolf, has not made that decision.

QUESTION: If it does, would NATO take action?

SECRETARY PANETTA: If the international community makes the decision that we have to take further steps, we’ll be prepared to do that.

QUESTION: A no-fly zone, arming the rebels, all of that?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I mean, obviously, that’ll – that would have to be discussed as part of what our plan is required in order to achieve the mission —

QUESTION: Any chance China and Russia will go forward with what they did in Libya and allow such a resolution to go forward at the UN Security Council?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, right now that’s a longshot. There doesn’t seem to be any willingness on their part to go further than where we are right now. But this is a fast-changing situation. And countries have a lot of relationships. We know that there are relationships, certainly, with Syria. There are also relationships with Turkey, there are relationships with the Gulf, there are relationships with European countries – all of whom are very worried about what will happen if Syria either/or both descends into civil war or causes a larger regional conflict.

So I don’t think we are even – I don’t think we’re halfway through this story yet, Wolf. We’re going to see a lot happen over the next few weeks. And it truly is up to the Assad regime. They’re the ones who hold it in their power to end the violence and begin the political transition.

QUESTION: How much time do they have?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I mean, they’re running out of time because they’ve made so many promises which they’ve never kept. So their credibility, even with those countries that support them —

QUESTION: Like Russia and China?

SECRETARY CLINTON: — like Russia and China, is beginning to fray.

QUESTION: North Korea. Mitt Romney says the Obama Administration’s, in his words, “incompetence” emboldened the North Korean regime and undermined the security of the United States and its allies. Do you want to respond to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee?

SECRETARY PANETTA: No, not necessarily. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, he makes a serious charge: incompetence.

SECRETARY PANETTA: No, I think it’s pretty clear that this Administration took a firm stand with regards to the provocative behavior that North Korea engaged in. We made clear that they should not do it. We condemned that action. Even though it was not successful and it was a failure, the fact is it was provocative. And we have made very clear to them that they should not take any additional provocative actions. I think that was a clear, strong message that not only our country but the world said to North Korea. And that’s the way, frankly, the United States ought to (inaudible).

QUESTION: If they do an underground nuclear test, for example, what would you do?

SECRETARY PANETTA: That would be, again, another provocation —

QUESTION: And what would you do?

SECRETARY PANETTA: And it would worsen our relationship. I’m not going to get into how we would respond to that, but clearly we are prepared at the Defense Department for any contingency.

QUESTION: There’s still 30,000 U.S. troops along that demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

SECRETARY PANETTA: That’s right.

QUESTION: A million North Korean troops, almost a million South Korean troops, nuclear arms – this is a very dangerous part of the world.

SECRETARY PANETTA: No question we’re within an inch of war almost every day in that part of the world, and we just have to be very careful about what we say and what we do.

QUESTION: Does that keep you up at night more than any other issue?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, unfortunately these days, there’s a hell of lot that keeps me awake. But that’s one of the ones at the top of the list.

QUESTION: What are the others?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, obviously Iran, Syria, the whole issue of turmoil in the Middle East, the whole issue of cyber war, the whole issue of weapons of mass destruction, rising powers – I mean, all of those things are threats that the United States faces in today’s world.

QUESTION: You’ve got a lot of issues over there. What do you think of this new young leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un? Not even 30 years old yet.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we really are waiting and watching to see whether he can be the kind of leader that the North Korean people need. I mean, if he just follows in the footsteps of his father, we don’t expect much other than the kind of provocative behavior and the deep failure of the political and economic elite to take care of their own people. But he is someone who has lived outside of North Korea, apparently, from what we know. We believe that he may have some hope that the conditions in North Korea can change.

But again, we’re going to watch and wait. He gave a speech the other day that was analyzed as being some of the old, same old stuff and some possible new approach. But it’s too early.

QUESTION: When I was in Pyongyang in December of 2010, I was amazed that I could see CNN International in my hotel. They watch CNNI very closely. If you had a chance to speak to Kim Jung-un, even a sentence or two, what would you say to him?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I would say that as a young man with your future ahead of you, be the kind of leader that can now move North Korea into the modern world, into the 21st century; educate your people; open up your system; allow the talents of the North Korean people to be realized; move away from a failed economic system that has kept so many of your people in starvation; be the kind of leader who will be remembered for the millennia as the person who moved North Korea on a path of reform; and you have the opportunity to do that.

QUESTION: Are you ready to meet with him?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, under circumstances that don’t exist today. The United States, as you know, was willing to try and reach out to him, which we did. We had several high-level meetings. We agreed to provide some food aid in return for their ending some of their uranium enrichment and missile development. And then they do what has been already termed by Leon and the rest of the world as a provocative action.

So it’s hard for us to tell right now. Is this the way it will be with this new leader, or does he feel like he has to earn his own credibility in order to have a new path for North Korea? Too soon to tell.

QUESTION: The story of these military personnel in Cartagena, it’s a shocking story, I know. I mean, I can only imagine when you heard about the prostitutes and Secret Service agents and U.S. military personnel, I can only imagine, Mr. Secretary, what went through your mind. But tell us what went through your mind.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, I don’t usually use those words in public. It was very disturbing. And the reason it was disturbing is that whether it takes place in Colombia or any other country or in the United States, we expect that our people behave according to the highest standards of conduct. That obviously didn’t happen here, and as a result we’re investigating the matter. And as a result of that investigation, we’ll hold these people accountable.

QUESTION: Diplomatic fallout for this incident? It’s unfortunate, obviously.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I don’t think so much diplomatic fallout as the unfortunate fact that it certainly ate up a lot of the coverage of the summit, which was a meaningful get-together, only happens once every three years, an opportunity to showcase Colombia. Think about how much Colombia has changed. And the United States, with our Plan Colombia support, has really been at the forefront of helping Colombia emerge as a real dynamo in the region.

As Leon said, there’ll be investigations both in the military and the Secret Service. I’ve had Secret Service protection for more than 20 years, and I’ve only seen the very best, the professionalism, the dedication of the men and women who have been around me and my family.

QUESTION: When we were in Cairo a year ago, I asked you a few political questions. We’re in a political season, as you well know, in the United States.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Are we?

QUESTION: I don’t know if you’ve heard about it.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, and I don’t know about these things anymore.

QUESTION: All right. Let’s go through the questions that I’m sure you’ve been asked, but I’m going to ask them again. If the President of the United States says, “Madam Secretary, I need you on the ticket this year in order to beat Romney,” are you ready to run as his vice presidential nominee?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That is not going to happen. That’s like saying if the Olympic Committee calls you up and said are you ready to run the marathon, would you accept? Well, it’s not going to happen.

QUESTION: I disagree.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, well —

QUESTION: I think it’s – it’s unlikely, I will say that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s more than unlikely.

QUESTION: But if he sees in July that he is going down, he doesn’t want to be a one-term president.

SECRETARY CLINTON: But Leon and I are in this awkward position, because we were – we’ve both been in politics and now we’re in two jobs that are out of politics for all the right reasons. So I don’t comment on politics anymore. But I’m very confident about the outcome of this election. And as I’ve said many times, I think Joe Biden, who is a dear friend of ours, has served our country and served the President very well. So I’m out of politics, but I am very supportive of the team that we have in the White House going forward.

QUESTION: But you would do whatever it takes to help the President get re-elected? You don’t want to see him be a one-term president, and you certainly don’t want to see Romney name one or two Supreme Court justices in four years.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I could just imagine your poor mother. “Why? Why, mother? Why, mother? Why, Mother?” (Laughter.) No, honestly, it is not going to happen, so I’m not going to speculate on something that I know is not going to be happening.

QUESTION: Let’s try this one. (Laugher.) I asked my Twitter followers for a question for the Secretary of State. Shelly tweeted this: “Has Hillary seen the movie The Iron Lady about Margaret Thatcher, and it is time for a female president of the United States of America?” And then she writes, “My answer is yes.” Is it time for a female – like you, for example – in 2016 to run for president of the United States? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me depersonalize it, take it away from me. Of course I believe it’s time for a woman to be president. I was just in Brazil with the extraordinary Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil, at the Summit of the Americas. We had three presidents, two prime ministers of countries in our hemisphere. We just saw a woman succeed to the presidency in Malawi. It’s happening in the world, and obviously —

QUESTION: Except in the United States.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it will. I just hope I’m still around when it does. I want to mark my ballot.

QUESTION: Well, let me ask the Secretary of Defense. If she runs in 2016 —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Here it comes, here it comes. You’re out of politics, remember? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: If she runs, will you support her in 2016, if she runs? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, let’s not (inaudible). (Laughter.)

QUESTION: It’s an easy question –

SECRETARY PANETTA: Are you kidding me? (Laughter.) You want her to run in 2016. She’s a great leader. She’s been a great leader and she will be a great leader in the future.

QUESTION: They really want you, and a lot of Democrats and others, they would like you to run in 2016. I just see you smiling. So you can go ahead and announce your —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Look, I am honored. That is not in the future for me. But obviously I’m hoping that I’ll get to cast my vote for a woman running for president of our country.

QUESTION: Did you see those pictures of her drinking a little beer? Have you seen those, Mr. Secretary? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY PANETTA: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Those were great pictures.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we were having a good time celebrating the birthday of one of my colleagues. And I sometimes forget that everybody is now a potential reporter or photographer, but it was a lot of fun. We had a very good time just enjoying beautiful Cartagena.

QUESTION: I love that picture of you texting at the summit. You’ve seen that one too, right?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, I have seen that, too. Yes, that actually was very funny, and a lot of the back and forth of the kinds of inventive dialogue was very funny. I’ve gotten a lot of comments about that.

QUESTION: Of course you have. Well, thank you so much to both of you for joining us. On behalf of all of our viewers in the United States and around the world, good luck to you, whatever you decide to do down the road. Mr. Secretary, you’ve got a lot on your agenda. Both of you have a lot on your agenda. We’re all counting on you to get the job done. Thanks very much.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Wolf. It’s great to talk to you. Appreciate it.

QUESTION: Thanks.

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NATO, posted with vodpod

Remarks With Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
NATO Headquarters
Brussels, Belgium
April 18, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. I’m very pleased to join Secretary Panetta and our defense and foreign minister colleagues here in Brussels for this meeting, the joint ministerial of NATO, to prepare for the upcoming NATO summit in my birthplace, Chicago. The main focus of our conversations today was Afghanistan, which I will focus on tomorrow at the meeting of our ISAF partners. But let me say how grateful the United States is for the solidarity and steadfastness of our NATO allies and ISAF partners.

As difficult a week as this has been in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan, the big picture is clear. The transition is on track, the Afghans are increasingly standing up for their own security and future, and NATO remains united in our support for the Lisbon timetable, and an enduring commitment to Afghanistan. The attacks in Kabul this week show us that while the threat remains real, the transition can work. The response by the Afghan National Security forces were fast and effective, and the attacks failed. Not long ago, this kind of response by Afghans themselves would not have been possible. So the Afghans are proving themselves increasingly ready to take control of their own future.

Now by their nature, transitions of any kind are challenging. There will be setbacks and hard days. But clear progress is happening, and today, NATO reaffirmed our commitment to stand with the Afghans to defend stability and security, to protect the gains of the last decade, and to prevent there ever being a return of al-Qaida or other extremists operating out of the Afghan territory.

Both Secretary Panetta and I were impressed by how united the NATO allies are in supporting the Lisbon timetable. We are on track to meet the December 2014 deadline for completing the security transition. Already 50 percent of the Afghan people are secured primarily by Afghan forces, and by this spring, it will be 75 percent. Today, we worked on the three initiatives for the Chicago summit next month.

First, we will agree on the next phase of transition to support our 2014 goals. Second, we want to be ready to define NATO’s enduring relationship with Afghanistan after 2014. And third, we are prepared to work with the Afghans to ensure that the Afghan National Security force is fully funded. NATO is united behind all these goals, so we are looking forward to a very productive summit in Chicago.

But let’s keep in mind that the transition and NATO’s mission are part of a larger enterprise, one that also has political and economic dimensions. Afghanistan’s neighbors have a central role to play in that larger enterprise along with the international community. Our common approach was sharpened when the international community met in Istanbul and Bonn last year, and will be carried forward when we meet again in Chicago, Kabul, and Tokyo this year.

So beyond NATO, many nations are invested in Afghanistan’s future and are providing support for the Afghans to attain self reliance, stability, and further their democratic future. They have to protect, however, as they go through this transition, their hard-fought political and economic and human rights progress. Incidents like the one we heard of yesterday when 150 Afghan girls became sick after the water at their school was poisoned, reminds us that there are people who would destroy Afghanistan’s long-term future in order to restrict the rights of women and girls. Human rights protections for religious and ethnic minorities are also still fragile. Universal human rights are critical to Afghanistan’s security and prosperity, and we will continue to make them a priority.

While NATO has worked very hard to assist the people of Afghanistan, NATO has also been changed by this experience. The alliance is now a leading force for security, not just in the Atlantic region, but globally. We are steadily deepening and broadening the partnerships NATO has with dozens of countries around the world, and our partners are adding valuable capability, legitimacy, and political support to NATO’s operations and missions from the Mediterranean and Libya to Kosovo and Afghanistan.

So we believe we are building a stronger, more flexible, more dynamic alliance enriched by partners from every continent and prepared to meet the security challenges of our time. With that, let me turn the floor to Secretary Panetta.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Thank you. Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure to join Secretary Clinton here in Brussels. We had a very good series of meetings today with our NATO defense and foreign minister counterparts. Much of our discussion focused on our shared effort in Afghanistan, and what came out of these meetings was a strong commitment to sticking to the plan and the strategy that has been laid out by General Allen, and finishing the job in Afghanistan. Allies and partners have a very clear vision and a very clear message. Our strategy is right, our strategy is working, and if we stick to it, we can achieve the mission of establishing an Afghanistan that can secure and govern itself, and never again become a safe haven for terrorists to plan attacks on our country or any other country.

All of us are committed to the goals that were set out in the Lisbon framework, including continuing the transition to full Afghan security leadership by the end of 2014. We know there will be continuing challenges, and we saw some of those challenges over this last weekend. This is a war. There will be losses, there will be casualties, there will be incidents of the kind that we have seen in the last few days. But we must not allow any of that to undermine our commitment to our strategy.

The fact is, with regards to the events that took place over the weekend, we saw Afghan security forces do what we have trained them to do. They responded quickly, professionally, and with great courage, rendering ineffective those largely symbolic attacks that we saw in and around Kabul.

General Allen said he visited an Afghan special operations commando who had been wounded in the insurgent attacks and asked him if he could do anything for him. The Afghan commando’s response was, and I quote, “I just want to get back out there with my brother soldiers,” unquote. That short phrase speaks volumes. As General Allen has made clear, history proves that insurgencies are best and ultimately defeated not by foreign troops but by indigenous security forces, forces that know the ground, that know the territory, that know the culture, that know the neighborhood. When the Afghans do their job, we are doing our job. When the Afghans win, we win.

And the Afghans are making progress. They are in the lead now in areas that encompass more than 50 percent of the population in Afghanistan. When the third tranche of areas are transferred, we will have 75 percent of the population under Afghan governance and security. They have been in the lead for counterterrorism night operations since December. And now, thanks to a memorandum of understanding that was recently signed, all of these operations will fall under the authority of Afghan law. In less than six months’ time, Afghan security forces will take full leadership of detention operations, thanks again to another agreement that was signed recognizing Afghan sovereignty.

As I’ve said, 2011 was a real turning point. It was the first time in five years that we saw a drop in the number of enemy attacks. Over the past 12 weeks, enemy attacks continue to decrease compared to the same period in 2011. Taliban has been weakened, Afghan army operations are progressing, and the reality is that the transition to Afghan security and governance is continuing and progressing.

We see other signs that we are seriously degrading the insurgency. By January 2011, 600 Taliban had integrated into the society. This month, that number topped 4,000. We intend to build on this success. We’re committed to an enduring presence in Afghanistan post-2014 and a continuing effort to train, advise, and assist the ANSF in protecting the Afghan people and denying terrorists a safe haven. We cannot and we will not abandon Afghanistan. The key to our enduring partnership is continued international support. We cannot shortchange the security that must be provided by the Afghan forces now and in the future.

Today, I will also discuss with my NATO counterparts the steps needed to ensure that the alliance has the right military capabilities for the future. Across the board, allies are making important commitments to smart defense, with opportunities for new capabilities in ISR, missile defense, and air-to-air refueling. While significant progress has been made, important work lies ahead. The NATO we build is not only the force of today; it must be the force of 2020.

I’m pleased to announce that earlier today, along with Czech Defense Minister Vondra, I signed the Reciprocal Defense Procurement Agreement with the Czech Republic. The agreement reaffirms the importance and vitality of the U.S.-Czech defense relationship and enhances our cooperative security relationship. And as you know, this is the last high-level meeting before the Chicago summit in May. I think Secretary Clinton and I will take back to President Obama the results of these discussions. And I believe we have helped lay the groundwork for a very successful summit, and most importantly, for a strong and enduring NATO alliance.

MS. NULAND: We’ll take three today. Let’s start with Reuters. Arshad Mohammed, please.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I’m sure that you will have seen that the violence – the government violence continues in Syria. Homs continues to be shelled, I think almost every day since the ceasefire ostensibly took effect. And the Syrian foreign minister has pushed back against the kind of mission that Kofi Annan would like to insert, saying that it should be no more than 250 monitors, they don’t need their own helicopters and mobility, and they should be from friendly countries.

Given this, is it now time for the United States to look harder at whatever kinds of pressure can be brought to bear against the Assad government? And specifically, are you giving any more thought to rethinking your previous opposition to others arming the rebels? And are you giving any more thought to trying to get the Arabs to impose a more forceful sanctions regime on Syria?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Arshad, first of all, Syria was a subject of conversation among many of our allies today. Every country in NATO is watching the situation with concern. I don’t want to prejudge what does or does not happen with the observers. The first tranche of the UN monitors is just beginning to deploy. It is, obviously, quite concerning that while we are deploying these monitors pursuant to a Security Council resolution that confirms our commitment to Kofi Annan’s six-point plan, the guns of the Assad regime are once again firing in Homs, Idlib, and elsewhere, and Syrians continue to die. So we are certainly cognizant of the very challenging road ahead. We are all here, united in favor of Kofi Annan’s plan and his urgent call for a robust monitoring force.

But we are at a crucial turning point. Either we succeed in pushing forward with Kofi Annan’s plan in accordance with the Security Council direction, with the help of monitors steadily broadening and deepening a zone of non-conflict and peace, or we see Assad squandering his last chance before additional measures have to be considered.

Now, we will continue to increase the pressure on Assad. I spoke with several ministers about the need to tighten sanctions, tighten pressure on the regime, on those who support the regime. And we also are going to continue pressing for a political solution, which remains the goal of Kofi Annan’s plan and the understandable goal of anyone who wants to see a peaceful transition occur in Syria.

I also would add that I’ve only spoken for the United States. The United States is not providing lethal arms, but as I’ve said before, the United States is providing communications and logistics and other support for the opposition. And we will continue to do everything we can to assist the opposition to be perceived as – and in reality become – the alternative voice for the Syrian people’s future.

And make no mistake about it; this conflict is taking place right on NATO’s border. We saw, just last week, the shelling across the borders into Turkey and into Lebanon. Our NATO ally, Turkey, has already suffered the effects of not only the influx of refugees that it is very generously housing, but also having two people killed on their side of the border because of Syrian artillery.

So we will remain in very close touch as events unfold. I look forward to continuing our consultations tomorrow at the ad-hoc group meeting that will be hosted by Foreign Minister Juppe in Paris.

But as I have reiterated, we will judge the Assad regime by their actions, not their words. We have been working to try to reach consensus in the Security Council, which we did in support of Kofi Annan’s six-point plan. The burden has shifted, not only to the Assad regime, but to those who support it to be forced to explain why, after time and time again stating that they will end the violence, the violence continues. So obviously, this is going to be a very high priority for all of us going forward.

QUESTION: Is it okay for others to arm any rebels?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not speaking for anyone but the United States of America.

MODERATOR: The next question will be from Anne Gearan of the Associated Press.

QUESTION: Yes. To both of you, please, could I ask you to comment on publication today of photos purportedly showing U.S. troops posing with the corpses of Taliban militants? What did you think when you heard about this? What did you think when you saw the photos? And doesn’t this sort of undermine all the progress that you claim and the strategy you laid out just a moment ago?

Secondly, if I could ask each of you to respond to President Karzai’s remark yesterday that he would like a firm written commitment of 2 billion a year from the United States for security forces. Should he be concerned that you’re going to renege on that promise? And why doesn’t he just take your word for it?

SECRETARY PANETTA: With regards to the photos, I strongly condemned what we see in those photos, as has General Allen. That behavior that was depicted in those photos absolutely violates both our regulations, and more importantly, our core values. This is not who we are, and it’s certainly not who we represent when it comes to the great majority of men and women in uniform who are serving there.

I expect that the matter will be fully investigated. That investigation has already begun. This is a matter that goes back, I believe, to 2010, but it needs to be fully investigated, and that investigation, as I understand, is already underway. And wherever those facts lead, we will take the appropriate action. If rules and regulations were found to have been violated, then those individuals will be held accountable.

Let me also say this: This is war. And I know that war is ugly and it’s violent. And I know that young people sometimes caught up in the moment make some very foolish decisions. I am not excusing that. That’s – I’m not excusing that behavior. But neither do I want these images to bring further injury to our people or to our relationship with the Afghan people. We had urged the L.A. Times not to run those photos, and the reason for that is those kinds of photos are used by the enemy to incite violence, and lives have been lost as a result of the publication of similar photos in the past, so we regret that they were published. But having said that, again, that behavior is unacceptable, and it will be fully investigated.

With regards to President Karzai’s comment, we – as both the Secretary of State and I know from our own experience, you have to deal with Congress when it comes to what funds are going to be provided. And we don’t, nor do – we do not have the power to lock in money for the Afghans or anybody else.

QUESTION: Did you apologize on behalf of the United States for those photos or the actions depicted in them in your meetings today?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I was not asked about it, but obviously, my apology is on behalf of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Government.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MODERATOR: And the final question will come from Petro Dekurning of NRC Handelsblad, a Dutch newspaper.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, the secretary general told us that some allies already came up with contributions for the Afghan army after 2014. Are you satisfied with this? And while this was not a pledging conference, what do you expect? What amounts do you expect from the allies to come up with? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we were very encouraged by the commitment from the NATO allies to the funding of the Afghan National Security Forces. We believe that we are on the path to ensuring that these security forces, which, as Leon has just said, made such progress because of our training and mentoring over the last few years, will have the resources necessary to protect the Afghan state and the Afghan people. So I’m going to let individual countries make their own announcements.

But as we move forward toward the NATO summit, one of the goals is to ensure that NATO has an enduring relationship with Afghanistan, and in many ways, not just in terms of financial commitments, but in other ways as well. A lot of the member countries are stepping up and talking about what they intend to do. And similarly, tomorrow, we expect to hear from a number of our ISAF partners about their continuing commitment as well. So I think both Leon and I were encouraged and believe we’re making progress.

MS. NULAND: Thank you very much.

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