Posts Tagged ‘Michele Kelemen’

Interview With Michele Kelemen of NPR


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
January 29, 2013



QUESTION: Very good. Well, I do want to talk. We have so much to talk about and not much time, I know. But I want to begin with Benghazi. You’ve talked about Benghazi as one of your lasting regrets. Your review board outlined systemic failures of the State Department, but I wonder whether you also see it as an intelligence failure. I mean, the U.S. was really taken by surprise by this attack, even though, as we now know, there was a large CIA presence in Benghazi at this annex that was – that took mortar fire.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the Accountability Review Board addressed that. Certainly, there was no specific intelligence-based threat that was conveyed to us, but there was an evaluation of the threat environment that we were trying to deal with by helping the Libyans build up their own security. But ultimately, I think we all have to do a better job. The threats have evolved. We’ve seen different kinds of threats affect our military, affect our intelligence community and affect our diplomats. So I think we’ll do our part here in the State Department to try to implement all of the recommendations, and we’ll work with our partners in the government to just make sure that we’re not missing anything going forward.

QUESTION: And in addition to Benghazi, we’ve seen this extremist takeover in northern Mali, this deadly hostage raid in Algeria. There seem to be connections among all of these groups that were involved. So what more does the U.S. have to do to get a handle on this really regional threat?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right. Well, Michele, I think that it’s going to take some time to sort out what these governments are able to do to secure their own borders and protect their own people. The Arab revolutions and the new efforts to build democracies are not well established yet. So we have a multitude of challenges that we’re meeting simultaneously. We’re trying to work with the governments, and some are willing but not capable; some are capable but sometimes less than willing. We have extremist groups that have been driven out of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan and in the safe havens in Pakistan in large measure because of our relentless efforts against them. They have taken up arms again in North Africa and they pose a new threat. And the takeover of the gas facility in Algeria is an example of that.

We have faced all kinds of threats over many years, obviously. It takes a while to calibrate exactly how we’re going to put together the package that we need to respond, but we’re in the midst of doing that with likeminded nations in the region and beyond.

QUESTION: I’d like to turn to Syria because your critics describe Syria as this Administration’s Rwanda. And I wonder how it weighs on you and what more the U.S. could have done to prevent the deaths of now 60,000 people.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s not a historically accurate analogy. Rwanda was particularly dreadful because it was largely unarmed people being slaughtered in huge numbers in a very short period of time, despite the presence of a UN mission in Rwanda. Syria is much more complex, much more riven by geographic and other differences among the population. You have a well-equipped military going after what started out to be largely unarmed, peaceful protestors, now pockets of armed resistance all over the country.

I think the United States has done a great deal. We are responsible for driving through sanctions against Assad that have really limited his capacity to replenish his coffers and to provide funding needed to keep his military machine going. We have helped to stand up an opposition that was notably absent in the beginning of this conflict. It wasn’t like other places where there were preexisting, well-organized entities that stepped into the breach. We’ve had to work on that. We’ve become the biggest provider of humanitarian assistance.

And I think there is a lot of concern, not just by the United States but by other countries as well. I mean, we are certainly not alone in being cautious about what more we can do without causing more death and more destruction, and the unintended consequences of helping to foment an even more deadly civil war. No one is in any way satisfied with what the United States or the entire world community has done, which is why we keep pressing for UN action and keep being disappointed and blocked by the Russians.

QUESTION: The Russians do continue to block meaningful action. Lakhdar Brahimi, the international envoy, talked about how Syria is breaking up before everyone’s eyes. Is there a diplomatic solution, or is this going to be resolved by guys with guns and more radicalized?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I had hope there was. I hammered out an agreement in Geneva last summer, largely negotiating with Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia. I thought it was pretty clear what our next steps would be. And certainly from my perspective, the Russians were unwilling to go forward. We had made it our position that we would not open the door to military action, but we wanted to take political action, economic action through the Security Council. I had reason to believe that we would be going to the Security Council to do that; and unfortunately, once again, the Russians sided with Assad, who knew that if we were able to implement the Geneva agreement that we had negotiated, that that would send a very clear signal that Assad was being isolated even further – a signal to those around him, a signal to his troops, a signal to the region. And I think the Russians decided that they would still support him much to the great loss of the Syrian people.

QUESTION: You spent a lot of your time trying to reset that relationship with Russia. There were some early successes, but now we’re at the point where the Russians won’t even let American families adopt Russian children. How do you – what do you say to John Kerry, your successor, about how to deal with this Russian Government and how to deal with this anti-American mood in Moscow?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we did have some very positive achievements in the first term. The New START Treaty was something that we worked very hard on; working with the Russians to get a Northern Distribution Network route to assist us in Afghanistan; finding common cause on the Iranian sanctions and the North Korean sanctions. That was quite an accomplishment, particularly with respect to Iran, because it wasn’t at all clear when I took office that the Russians would ever join in tough sanctions against Iran.

And on a number of other hotspot and long-term issues, we had made progress. I think we just have to wait and see what the real objectives of the new Russian leadership are. We thought it was self-defeating for them to take the actions they did throwing out USAID, which had been working on everything from preventing tuberculosis to setting up the first mortgage companies in Russia. That really hurts the Russian people. We can take our aid money and go elsewhere and help people who welcome us. I thought it was tragic that they stopped adoptions, especially those that were already in train, particularly for children that will never have the opportunity for a family. They will live in orphanages until they’re adults. We know how challenging and tragic that has been.

So I think we have to make it clear that there are certain actions and policies that the United States will pursue because they are in our interest. And we don’t expect Russia to agree with us on everything, but we need to once again be making common cause. For example, we worked well together in the Arctic Council. We helped to come up with the first policy on search-and-rescue. We worked on an oil spill policy. The Arctic is going to be an area of intense interest. Russia has the longest coastline in the world with the Arctic. We can work together there. President Putin is very interested in wildlife conservation, something that I have elevated because we’re seeing organized crime get into wildlife trafficking. So there are issues we will keep working on, but we’ll also draw lines where we disagree and speak out when we must.

QUESTION: I have a couple more questions and I’m getting a one-minute warning, so let me get through a couple more. We’re sitting in this room surrounded by history. There’s Thomas Jefferson’s desk, the Treaty of Paris. And I wonder how, as you sit here, do you think about your place in history and what you hope will be your lasting legacy in this building?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t think like that. I really get up every day and try to deal with the problems that are in front of me and I don’t really worry about history. That will work itself out over time. I think the last four years have been ultimately quite important for the United States to demonstrate that we were going to once again assume a leadership position that was in concert with our values. That was not how America was viewed when I took this office. I think we have set the table for a lot of the difficult issues to be dealt with. There is nothing fast or easy about diplomacy. I have no illusions about that.

And we have brought to the forefront longer-term issues, whether it’s the implications of technology and the role of the internet, cybersecurity, women’s rights, climate change. I’ve worked on all of these because I wanted to be sure that the United States was at the table looking for a way of structuring the legal international frameworks that are going to have to be put into place.

QUESTION: Now, you say you’re not retiring. You say you need to catch up on 20 years of sleep deprivation —

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s true. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: — before you make any decisions on your future. But I wonder, what questions do you need to answer for yourself as you decide whether or not to run again for president?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not even posing those questions. I am really looking forward to stepping off the fast track that I’ve been on. I’ve been out of politics as Secretary of State. I don’t see myself getting back into politics. I want to be involved in philanthropy, advocacy, working on issues like women and girls that I care deeply about. I want to write and speak. I want to work with my husband and my daughter on our mutual foundation interests. So I’m going to have my hands full. I don’t quite know how I’m going to adjust to not having a schedule and a lot of work that is in front of me that is expecting me to respond to minute by minute. But I’m looking forward to that and I have no other plans besides that.

QUESTION: And you look great. How’s your health?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s terrific. I mean, I’m getting very good treatment and getting better, and I’m recovering. It was quite a surprise to me. I’ve been so healthy my entire life. But falling on your head is not something that I hope ever happens to any of your listeners. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Great. Well, thank you so much for your time.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Good to talk with yo

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Typically, these interviews come in multiples, but they arrive sporadically. These are the first to appear. If more come in I will add them to this post.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attends a dinner hosted by Swiss authorities after a meeting of the Action Group for Syria at the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday, June 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Laurent Gillieron, Pool)

Interview With Michele Kelemen of NPR


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Geneva, Switzerland
July 1, 2012

QUESTION: Thank you for joining us here. Kofi Annan called it a serious agreement, this push for a new transitional government, but it seems quite vague. He said that it can include current government officials and opposition figures, as long as there’s mutual consent. But aren’t you worried that this just is a new recipe for more conflict? I mean, how do warring parties come to an agreement on who’s in the government?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the transition plan that we have adopted in this document makes very clear that the Special Envoy will be working to determine who can be in a transitional governing body based on mutual consent, which means people with blood on their hands or jihadi extremists are not going to be at the table.

And I think it’s important to just pause and say – I am familiar, intimately, with a few peace processes, and you do not sit down in the beginning with people that you even want to talk to or see. It was so remarkable this week that Martin McGuinness shook Queen Elizabeth’s hand. He was a commander in the IRA. And so you don’t know how this is going to all play out unless you get started. And my point is: Let’s get started. And we couldn’t get started until we had an agreement of the most interested parties, which of course included Russia and China. We now have such an agreement, and we’re fully behind Kofi Annan’s effort.

QUESTION: You spent a lot of time talking to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov when we were in St. Petersburg. Do you get the sense that the Russians are really ready to lean on Bashar al-Assad? And do you think the Russians have influence with him?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think the answer to the first question is yes, I believe they are ready to lean. They have told me that. They have made clear they have no continuing strategic interest in Assad remaining in power. So I have every reason to believe – both on what I was told by Minister Lavrov yesterday and what he said in our meeting all day today – that they will make the case that there needs to be this transition.

Whether he has influence and leverage to the extent that we would want to see won’t be known until it is tested. But at least now we’re in a position where we can together be pushing the Assad regime and the opposition.

Michele, there are so many terrible things about this violence that has gone on for so long: the fact of the violence, the loss of life, the destruction, the government abusing and killing its own people. But I think today it became very clear that everyone, including Russia and China, is worried about it spreading. So the motivation and the focus today was very clear to me. Now we just have to work to see what we can do with it.

QUESTION: And the fact that Turkey was there, and just had this incident with the Turkish plane being downed, did that influence that aspect of the conversation?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it did. Because in my remarks, for example, at the plenary this morning, I was able to point at Iraq sitting there, I was able to point at Turkey sitting there, mentioned Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the countries in the region that are already dealing with the repercussions of the violence and instability in Syria. And everyone around that table knew that we could – if we didn’t act today and get behind this transition plan – be sitting in six months with a literal war in the region on our hands that was destabilizing country after country. And Turkey was very clear about its worries that that was one of the outcomes if we failed.

QUESTION: But Kofi Annan had very strong words – that history is a somber judge; it will judge us harshly if we prove incapable of taking the right path. How is this crisis weighing on you?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I not only think about it and worry about it, I work on it a lot. I mean, in the last 24 hours, between St. Petersburg and Geneva, it has been the principle focus of all of my efforts. And it’s because I care deeply about the kind of abuses that no people should suffer in the 21st century. That is absolutely one of my highest priorities, is to work as hard as I can to end these kinds of terrible conflicts.

But it’s also because I am very worried that, in the absence of the leading nations that were gathered here today and the others we can bring on board doing everything we can to send a message to both the government and the opposition that they’ve got to begin negotiating about a transition, we will see some really serious and dangerous consequences for the region, for U.S. interests, and in fact, as one of my colleagues said, for the whole world.

QUESTION: Just one quick thing. I mean none of his plan has worked so far, so what makes you think —

SECRETARY CLINTON: I want to be caught trying. I can’t, sitting here today, tell you whether Assad is ready to stop killing his own people. Usually you don’t get to a peace table, negotiate transition, until something happens and those with the guns, on whatever side they are, finally decide that there’s got to be a better way. I mean, we negotiated for more than a year in Yemen. We had former President Ali Abdullah Saleh up to the signing desk three or four times, and he would back off every time. So there’s nobody anywhere that is more aware of all of the problems we have going forward.

But I am 100 percent convinced that we have to begin changing the reality in the minds and on the ground. And having Russia and China sign up to this lengthy list of guidelines and principles will, I believe, give us the opening to do just that.

QUESTION: Thank you so much for your time today.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Michele.


Interview With Indira Lakshmanan of Bloomberg


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Geneva, Switzerland
July 1, 2012

QUESTION: Thank you, Secretary Clinton, so much for making the time. I know it’s been a very long day. (Laughter.) All right. Can we get started? Great.

So today in Geneva this political transition plan that has been endorsed didn’t have the strongest language that the U.S. had hoped for. What makes you think that Russia and China are committed to pulling their support for Assad? What makes you think this is going to work?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I believe it did have strong language. We can always, in any document, worry over and argue over words, but the bottom line is that it pledged to support a transitional governing body whose members can only be put on that body by mutual consent. So as I said in the meeting when we were working together, I don’t think you have to be up on current events to know that no member of the opposition is going to have Assad or anyone else with blood on their hands on the transition body.

So I think the important achievement was to get a unified P-5, plus the permanent members of the Security Council, plus other key actors to really endorse Kofi Annan’s guidelines and principles so that he was empowered. He can now go to the Assad regime and say we have to start talking about a transition and not be met with well, we don’t have to do that, because Russia and China don’t agree with us. And I believe that it was a significant step forward in giving him the tools that he needs to test whether it is possible to mediate this very bloody, violent conflict.

QUESTION: So not everything you had hoped for, but better than it could have been?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I didn’t know that we were going to be able to get anything when we started. There was every reason to believe that we would never get the Russians and the Chinese on board or that we would ever satisfy the legitimate anxieties of the region about what is happening on their doorstep. Turkey, of course, was here today. And I think the fact we did demonstrated a recognition by the Action Group of the high stakes.

I mean, it’s not enough just to wring our hands and make impassioned speeches about how terrible the Assad regime is and how they are deteriorating into a civil war that will have regional consequences. We needed to put some flesh on the bones. And the only way to do that within the existing framework was to empower Kofi Annan. That’s what he was asking for; that’s what he wanted. And I really judge the success by the fact that he believes – and I agree with him – that he now has a stronger hand to play then he did yesterday.

QUESTION: So the challenge, as you said, is in the implementation. Now, you’ve publicly criticized Russia for selling arms to the Syrian regime. So if an arms embargo were agreed to, would Russia abide by it? And could the U.S. force its allies – Saudi Arabia and Qatar – to stop arming the opposition?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that’s one of the issues that we’re going to have to be discussing further as we go forward. Clearly, the United States believes that ending the arming of the Assad government is the first order of business. The Russians continue to claim that they are not providing anything that can be used to suppress internal dissent. We beg to differ.

But nevertheless, I think where we are today gives us the basis for going to the UN Security Council to discuss what consequences have to be considered and imposed if after empowering Kofi Annan he comes to the Security Council and reports to us – as he said he will do – that the government’s not cooperating, that other parties are not cooperating, that he’s not making progress. Then I think we will have to act. And I believe we will be building the case as to why the Security Council should take such action.

QUESTION: Well, that’s actually what I wanted to move to. Is the next step proposing a Chapter 7 mandate at the UN Security Council that could mandate sanctions or authorize military force to stop the slaughter? And would China and Russia agree to that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we are going to test first whether we can get the agreement we reached today implemented. And we are certainly going to consider any and all appropriate action through the Security Council as circumstances require. So I don’t want to answer a hypothetical, because we’ve just finished a very long day of very hard negotiations, and the fact that we came out united and determined to empower Kofi Annan has to be given some time to be tested.

But I said – and I said it again in my press avail after the session today – that we, the United States, are perfectly free to propose whatever we believe is necessary in the Security Council, and we will listen closely to Kofi Annan’s reports to us.

QUESTION: Let me just turn for a moment to Iran’s nuclear program. You recently sat for an interview with former Secretary of State James Baker in which he said that at the end of the day, if pressure and talks don’t work, we ought to take them out. You said that the end of the day might be next year. How much time are you giving for diplomacy and sanctions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, what I meant was that we’ve always had a two-track policy. The President’s been very clear on that. The pressure track is our primary focus now, and we believe that the economic sanctions are bringing Iran to the table. They are going to continue to increase and cause economic difficulties for them. But the President has said no option is off the table. We obviously, clearly, prefer that we resolve the international community’s dispute with Iran over their nuclear program through the diplomatic channels that we are pursuing. That is what we’re focused on and that’s what we’re going to do everything we can to make successful.

QUESTION: Last question on Pakistan. It’s been seven months since the accidental attack that killed some Pakistani soldiers and the Pakistanis shut their supply lines. Relations have been frozen since. Why not just apologize and try to move on?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have a number of issues with the Pakistanis that we are continuing to consult with them over. It goes on constantly. It may not be in the headlines, but there is a constant exchange of military and civilian experts. And I want to look at this comprehensively. And there are a number of issues that are important to the United States, and there are issues that are important to Pakistan, but it has to be negotiated in order to resolve any of them. And we’re still in the process of trying to do that.

QUESTION: Is an apology still possible?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not going to get into the specifics, because there are a lot of things we want from them, and they want things from us, and we’re just going to have to see what is possible to get the relationship moving. As I’ve said many times, I think this is a consequential relationship. I think it has great impact on America’s national security interests, on the regional interests. And so we are continuing to work as hard as we can to try to resolve the ongoing differences between us.

QUESTION: Thank you so much, Madam Secretary.


Interview With Jill Dougherty of CNN


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Geneva, Switzerland
July 1, 2012

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much. I know it’s been a very long and intense day.

Let’s begin with that critical point that you’ve talked about so many times, that Assad has to step down, leave. Now, it appears that the Russians won that point. There is no direct demand that Assad go.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, I couldn’t disagree with you more. I think that what the agreement clearly states is that there has to be a transitional governing body that will be constituted of people who are there by the mutual consent of the government and the opposition. Now, unless I am wildly off base, there is no way anyone in the opposition would ever consent to Assad or his inside regime cronies with blood on their hands being on any transitional governing body.
But I said weeks ago that Assad going could be an outcome as well as a precondition, and what was important is that we were on a path with an empowered Special Envoy with the full support of all the P-5 members, including Russia and China, with an approach that absolutely guarantees, if there is a transition that is still the hard work ahead, Assad will not be part of it.

And we’ve had lots of experience in this. I mean, we just went through more than a year with Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, and he kept saying he would go, then he wouldn’t go. And people just kept bearing down and pushing forward and eventually were successful.

But until today, we did not have the kind of roadmap in specifics, with concrete actions, that you could telegraph to Damascus, where I believe they are shocked that Russia and China have signed onto this agreement, which so clearly says goodbye to them in this transition.

QUESTION: But the timing. In other words, this could be down the road; this could be a year from now. What?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, making peace is really hard. And when it happens and how it happens is dependent on so many factors. And what we did today was to make clear that, for the first time, we had agreed-upon approach that satisfied the Russians and the Chinese and the neighbors, who are very anxious, for understandable reasons, about what’s going on in Syria.

Jill, there’s no guarantee that we’re going to be successful. I just hate to say that, because it’s the fact. But I am very grateful that we now have a roadmap that has everybody on board with a clear path towards transition, with a clear set of expectations that have to be fulfilled. And now I believe the internal reality within both the regime and elements of the opposition will begin to move in a direction that, I hope, puts us on an inevitable path.

QUESTION: But how do you get to that transitional body? Because people are fighting.


QUESTION: I mean, isn’t it unrealistic to think that you’re going to get the body that you say will strip him of his power?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, because I just look at history. I look at the conflicts that I’m familiar with. I have to smile thinking about Queen Elizabeth shaking the hand of Martin McGuinness, an IRA commander, just this past week. Whenever you start with a process like this, number one, there’s neither a guarantee as to the outcome nor as to the timing, but you are beginning to change the international calculations of everybody who is a party to the conflict.

And that’s what I think will really give Kofi Annan the support he needs. Because now when he goes to Damascus and he says, “I have been instructed by all Security Council members, including the Russians and the Chinese, to begin talking to you about appointing an empowered interlocutor to meet with me and meet with representatives of the opposition. Who are you going to appoint?” and they’re not going to be able to say, “Well, there’s division in the international community, and there are a lot of people who are on our side.” They are pretty much left with Iran.

QUESTION: Do you really believe that the Russians can convince Assad?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Jill, I think that’s a great question, because one of the points that became clear, both in my long conversations with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last night in St. Petersburg and then in our larger group today – they have committed to trying, but they’ve also admitted that they may or may not have enough leverage to convince not just one man but a family and a regime that their time is over. But what was important was to get them on board to make this effort on their own, using their leverage, and in support of Kofi Annan. And I think it’s a significant step forward in our efforts to try to figure out the least violent, disruptive, destabilizing way to end this conflict and give the Syrian people a chance at a different future.

QUESTION: So if the Russians are supposed to influence Assad, you are supposed to influence the opposition. How do you do that? What do you say to them?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, not just me, but others as well. I mean, we will have an American presence at the meeting of the opposition in Cairo next week. But the Turks, the Qataris, the Arab League, all who were part of our negotiations to reach this agreement today, will all be there. Because what’s the alternative? I mean, what are they going to do? Just continue to have meeting after meeting, or are they going to buckle down to the hard work of choosing someone to – or several people – to represent them in a transitional governing body to engage in the negotiation. And they’re going to have to finally make a decision about what it means to take responsibility for trying to end a conflict and lead a nation.
We went through this in Libya. The Transitional National Council had both members of the Qadhafi regime, who had fairly recently left, along with longtime oppositionists. So we have seen how important it is to have an organizing focus. We now have that. So at the meeting of the opposition in Cairo, they will hear from a number of different voices that you have to make some decisions about how to be part of this process.

QUESTION: There are some people who say that the Russians want to play this out, that they look at the election schedule in the United States, November there’s an election, they realize that there’s little appetite either in Washington or practically any other capital for military action, and so they’re just playing it out, banking on the fact that nobody is going to really take any type of strong military step. What do you say to that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’d say that if we were talking a week ago, based on what we were hearing from the Russians, from the very highest levels, from President Putin on down, we would never have even had the meeting in Geneva, they would not have come under any circumstances, and they would not have participated in reaching the agreement that we reached today. So what happened?

I think they have begun to realize that they are trying to ride two horses at the same time, so to speak. They are constantly saying we have no love lost for Assad, we don’t have any stake in him staying, but we are afraid of the violence and what will come after. So the argument I have made to them consistently is that their failure to be part of the solution is the surest way to ensure we have a civil war with sectarian conflict that spills over the borders.

And I can’t speak for them. I can’t put myself into their internal discussions. But I believe, based on my lengthy conversation last night and our discussions today, they’ve decided to get on one horse, and it’s the horse that would back a transition plan that Kofi Annan would be empowered to implement.

QUESTION: Okay. Could I ask you a quick question on Egypt? President – incoming President Morsi wants to ask the United States to extradite Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman from the World Trade Center attack in 1993 on the basis of – humanitarian basis. What would the U.S. do in that case?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s very clear that he was given due process. He was tried and convicted for his participation in terrorist activities, most particularly the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. The evidence is very clear and convincing, and he was sentenced to life in prison, and we have every reason to back the process and the sentence that he received and will do so.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you very much.


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Interview With Michele Kelemen of NPR


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
New Delhi, India
May 8, 2012

QUESTION: It’s been quite a trip.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, yes it has.

QUESTION: And if you don’t mind, I want to kind of go back to the beginning and talk about the situation with the Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng. How soon do you expect him to be able to be in the United States?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Michele, he is still in the hospital receiving medical treatment, some of which was discovered to being necessary by our Embassy doctors. We remain in close contact with him. He has been meeting with the Chinese Government to prepare the necessary arrangements to be able to come to the United States to pursue his studies. And on our end, we’ve gone to the point of getting all of our arrangements finished. So I think we’re certainly making progress, but I’m not going to put any timeline on it.

QUESTION: You and your staff took a lot of heat back in Washington for how you handled it, but you also seem to have taken a lot of risks for him. And I wonder if you can tell us a little bit about what it was like talking to the Chinese, first, about when he wanted to stay in the country and live a normal life, and then going back to them and asking them when he changed his mind and said he wanted to come to the U.S.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Michele, I know you’ll understand my reticence to go into any retrospectives until we finally welcome Mr. Chen to the United States. I want to see him safely arrive and begin his studies, and I think there’ll be plenty of time to talk about the details. But I’m very proud of the extraordinary professionalism and commitment of our diplomats, both in Washington and Beijing.

QUESTION: And do you see a shift in how the Chinese are approaching this issue?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not going to comment on what the Chinese are doing. I think it’s clear from our following this closely and from Mr. Chen himself that they are pursuing the necessary actions in order to give him the documents that he requires.

QUESTION: And how worried are you about a run on U.S. – the U.S. Embassy?

SECRETARY CLINTON: This was an extraordinary case under exceptional circumstances, and I do not anticipate anything like this in the future.

QUESTION: I noticed in public, in China, when you talked about human rights issues, it was – you talked about it, but in a very measured sort of way, whereas when we were in Bangladesh, you were much more forceful and specific about disappearances of opposition figures, murder of a labor activist. Why the difference in tone? Is there a different way of dealing with these issues?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the issues are the same no matter where they are in the world and we raise them no matter where they are happening. But I’ve been engaged in an intensive, ongoing dialogue with the Chinese on human rights and every other issue that is of significance to us both for the entire time of my tenure as Secretary of State, but actually going back to 1995. I’ve been to China numerous times. This is only the second time I’ve been to Bangladesh; I don’t have the opportunity to engage on a regular basis with either their government or their people. And so certainly, the need to cover a lot of ground very quickly during the visit there, I think is an apparent and necessary reaction.

Also, we raise all of these issues through our embassies, through other high officials of the United States, going to countries on a regular basis, through our annual human rights report. So I don’t think it’s anything other than this is a constant part of our dialogue. In some cases, it’s perhaps viewed as more intense than others, but the commitment remains the same.

QUESTION: And what are you telling the Chinese now about the future for Chen’s family, the network of people that have supported him?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not going to go into those conversations. I – let’s take this one day at a time, and we hope to be welcoming Mr. Chen to the United States to pursue the studies that he wishes to do.

QUESTION: When you were in China, you talked about how an established power like the U.S. is working with this rising power of China; the same is true here in India. But here, you have a democracy, more of a natural partner for the U.S., yet India still doesn’t see eye to eye with the U.S. on some of its policies, like Syria or Iran. How are you working through that with them on this trip?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t know any two nations that see eye to eye on everything, whether they’re democracies or authoritarian. And part of diplomacy – part of what I do all day, every day – is working with counterparts to try to make progress in areas where we agree, try to narrow the areas of disagreement, and bridge them in some way. And India is the largest democracy in the world. It is, by its own self description, contentious, argumentative, dynamic, and they have to balance out 1.3 billion opinions, because people actually get to vote and they get their voices heard and they have a very strong tradition of engagement domestically. So I’m not surprised that there would be debates within their society and political system just like there are within ours.

QUESTION: But do you feel like you made some progress with them on, for instance, the issue of Iran?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as I just said in a press conference, they have certainly made progress in reducing their imports of crude oil from Iran. Their refineries are cutting back. And they share our goal. Their goal is our goal, which is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And I’m convinced that Iran never would have come to the table for the serious negotiations that we are pursuing within the P-5+1 context had it not been for the tough sanctions.

On the other hand, if you’re an Indian politician or an Indian business owner or an Indian citizen, who is desperate to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and get them electricity and keep the lights on, this is a hard decision for them because they have been historically looking to Iran for a significant percentage of their oil.

So I always try to put myself in the other person’s shoes and say okay, if – we don’t get oil from Iran, so it’s no skin off our nose as Americans. We want everybody to come together and try to convince Iran to make the right decision. Some countries in Europe that were very dependent upon Iranian oil have found substitutes. Japan has made significant progress, and India is working toward that too, looking for affordable, reliable supplies. But you have to understand where other countries are coming from, and the point that I have made, not just to the Indians but to many other countries, is the United States is leading an international effort to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon or prevent its potential nuclear weaponization from being the cause of conflict, which would be really bad for anybody who gets any oil from the Middle East. So you have to balance all of that. And it’s a calculus that countries make, kind of like people.

QUESTION: Does India have any sort of role to play in passing messages to Iran —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Absolutely. And we know they have. I mean, we’ve asked them to; they have been conveying their concern about Iran’s behavior. They just had Iranian agents try to kill an Israeli diplomat – kind of reminiscent of what we’ve discovered when Iranians were trying to kill the ambassador from Saudi Arabia to Washington. So they – they’re investigating that crime. They have put themselves on the line to get Iran back into the P-5+1. They have made it very clear, publicly and privately, that Iran is not in any way entitled to a nuclear weapon. So they’re very much on the same page we are and they are working through this very difficult issue regarding oil. They’re making progress.

QUESTION: This trip seemed pretty hard on your staff. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, I’ve noticed.

QUESTION: Was it tough on you or is this – are these trips just routine for you at this point?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have the most amazing, dedicated staff. I hope they’re not listening because I don’t want it to go to their heads, but they literally work around the clock. And while I’m out there at a press conference or making a speech, they’re busily trying to figure out what’s happening, what’s about to happen, and what we could do about it. They work hard on every trip. This was probably a little higher visibility than some of the trips, but – maybe right up there with others. But we’re out there doing the best we can every day to further American values and protect our security and make it clear that American leadership is alive and well.

QUESTION: Are you going to miss this?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Sure. I’m going to miss a lot of it because it’s an incredible rush to represent the United States of America – walk down that stair from the plane, get into those meetings, do the hard negotiatings that we have to do on a lot of important issues. It’s been the most extraordinary experience and privilege that I could ever imagine. But it’s, in my view, time to move on.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for your time.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Good to talk to you.

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Here are two more interviews Mme. Secretary did in Morocco.

Interview With Samira Sitail of 2M


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Sofitel Hotel
Rabat, Morocco
February 26, 2012


QUESTION: Madam Secretary, good evening.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good evening to you.

QUESTION: And thank you for accepting our invitation.


QUESTION: You’ve been in Morocco several times.


QUESTION: It’s a country you are familiar with.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And a country I love. Yes. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: You came the first time, I think, as a first lady.


QUESTION: And then as a U.S. chief diplomat.


QUESTION: Geostrategically speaking, where does Morocco stand in the U.S. foreign policy today?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We have a strategic partnership with Morocco that we highly value. As I think you may remember, Morocco was the very first country to recognize our young republic, back in 1777. So ever since then, all these years, we’ve had a close relationship, and we cooperate on a full range of issues – economic issues, security issues, a lot of people to people and cultural exchanges. We have a very high regard for Morocco.

QUESTION: Your last visit dates back, I think, two years ago, in 2009. In the meantime, many changes have taken place. Maybe we can say that the most of which the constitutional reform.


QUESTION: That was initiated by His Majesty King Mohammed VI. As soon as it was introduced, you held the reform, referring to it as a model. What definition would you give that Moroccan model?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think the way that His Majesty the King and the people of Morocco responded showed great political maturity, and it was a successful transition to a new constitution, to elections that were held and hailed as successful, and now to a new government that is very much in keeping with the democratic trends but within a stable, functioning society and country. So we look at that and we compare it to what is happening elsewhere in the region and around the world, and it is quite admired in the United States.

QUESTION: Speaking of which, there is, of course, a very strong relationship between the two countries, but over and beyond that, do you think we can really boost further especially economic relationship between the two countries? There is, of course, the free trade agreement, the Millennium Challenge Account, but what else?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we are building some additional relationships. We started a program called Partnerships for a New Beginning, where we reached out to countries in the Maghreb, and beyond all the way to Indonesia, Muslim majority countries, and we said, “What more can we do to help create a culture of entrepreneurship and small businesses?”

QUESTION: That’s it.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And the group that was formed here in Morocco of leading businessmen and women has been among our most successful in the world. They just hosted a big conference in Marrakech last month. More than 400 businesspeople and young entrepreneurs came from elsewhere in the region. And Morocco is showing the way, looking at how we incentivize, particularly, young people because there’s what’s called this youth bulge of so many people under 30. And we want to make sure they’re educated and that they have employment opportunities. And I know that’s a particular emphasis of His Majesty the King, of the new elected government, and of the business community here. And we want to be partners.

QUESTION: I remember the – President Obama memorably formulated a new agenda, let’s talk about Africa. He formulated a new agenda for Africa, in light of which do you think the U.S. policy in Africa is about to bring once again economic and human development, or is your concern – your primary concern – to achieve security for the region?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it has to be both because it’s very hard to develop an economy, to attract investors, to start businesses, if you don’t have security. You have to have security that is going to create an environment where people are free to send their children to school, start businesses, do what we would like to see them do. The Millennium Challenge Account, which you mentioned, is a very competitive effort. Morocco competed and won, and I have to tell you many of your neighbors are constantly saying, “We want one.” I said, “Well, we didn’t give it to Morocco. Morocco earned it.” And so what we’ve been doing in the entire continent is setting forth that agenda that President Obama set forth to help stimulate economic growth and more trade and investment. Everybody wants a free trade agreement, and they say, well, Morocco has one. I say they earned it.

QUESTION: Who’s the next?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. That’s right. So I think we look to Morocco quite often as an example of how you create a climate in which businesses are welcomed, investors are attracted, people have jobs because of that. And that’s what we’re trying to do in other countries throughout the continent.

QUESTION: Still on the same theme of security, the American Administration aims to very well that no security is possible or achievable in the region unless there is a final settlement to the Sahara countries. In this regard, Morocco put forward a proposal for autonomy which was very soon – which the international community very soon (inaudible) by U.S. Administration. So where does the U.S. State Department stand today on this issue?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, where we’ve always stood.

QUESTION: In that particular moment?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. And where we have always stood. We continue to support the UN process. We believe that is the appropriate vehicle. We continue to believe the autonomy proposal is credible. So we encourage the parties to make progress together, and that’s been my consistent position for many years.

QUESTION: But you know, Madam Secretary, Algeria was – through its dealings, is standing in the way of building an economically and politically strong Maghreb in the region. You were yesterday in Algeria. You think we can today believe in the sincerity of Algerian Government in that moment?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I was impressed by the conviction expressed to me that Algeria wants to find a way to move beyond the present situation. There will still be negotiations in the UN over the Western Sahara. But Algeria and Morocco, I hope will open their border, I hope will encourage trade, commerce, exchanges, cooperate on security, because both countries face some common threats coming from the south. So I was strongly urging that. I will be reporting that to the Moroccan Government as well because I would like to see – where there are areas of disagreement – the United States has areas of disagreement with many of our friends, partners, allies around the world. So we work on that area of disagreement, but then we try to expand the area of agreement so that it doesn’t become the only issue, the disagreement, that we’re worried about.

QUESTION: You were just talking about the security and terrorism in this part of the world. Coming back – so coming back to security, and the Sahara region particularly, it turns out today that al-Qaida in the region is posing serious threats to stability. To what extent does U.S. Administration take seriously those threats on the stability of this region?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We take them very seriously because we think that terrorists and extremists are spoilers. They disrupt economies, they destroy lives, they destabilize communities, countries, and regions, if they are permitted to do so. So we have worked very closely with the countries of the Maghreb to establish a security relationship, to share information, to cooperate wherever possible, because we are well aware that our friends such as our Moroccan friends are successful. And that, unfortunately, is often a target for the terrorists because they don’t want people to live lives that are of their own making, having a successful woman like you sitting in this chair —

QUESTION: Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: — in front of the camera. And so we want to help you preserve your way of life, your economic progress, your constitutional changes. And therefore, we have to work against the terrorist threat.

QUESTION: But in concrete terms, how can you encourage, how can you help build this Maghreb which is now necessary for this region?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, one is encourage Morocco and Algeria —


SECRETARY CLINTON: — to cooperate more, because you two have so much that you have to do together against the terrorist threat. And the other is what we continue to do. We have joint programs, we have all kinds of cooperation that we offer, and we’re going to do whatever we can to help protect you and the Maghreb.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, let’s talk about the Palestinian issue. Two questions: Is a cause for grave concern to arrive public opinions, and perception around your support, the support of the United States to Israel, is, I would say, (inaudible) bad. If you were to be persuasive, what would you say on that issue?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we should be judged by the very consistent, strong actions we have taken to try to create a two-state solution. It’s something that started with my husband, and I was deeply involved. I was the first high-level American who called for a Palestinian state back in the 1990s. It certainly has continued on both the Republican and the Democratic side in our country. It’s frustrating. I have every reason to understand how frustrating it is because I am often sitting across from a Palestinian leader or an Israeli leader or an Arab leader or a European leader, all of us trying to figure out how we’re going to accomplish it. But I want people here in Morocco to know we are absolutely committed. We believe in the aspirations of the Palestinian people and their right to have a state of their own.

QUESTION: I said earlier that you were in Nigeria, but before that, you were in Tunisia for – you took part in the meeting of the Friends of Syria. You stated that the Syrian regime will pay the price, the higher price, if it continues to ignore the voice of international community. In concrete terms, what do you mean by pay the higher price?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think the regime will fall. I think that – I am not a fortuneteller. I cannot tell you when that will happen. But the Syrian army, which is largely a conscript army, is not going to continue to carry out these brutal assaults on the Syrian people. At some point, the defections will build, there will finally be created enough momentum against the regime from not only the security forces but business leaders, minorities who are worried about what’s happening. So it will happen. It’s just a question of when, and I wish it would happen sooner instead of later so that the killing could stop.

QUESTION: But how do you think you can lead (inaudible) to give up while Moscow and Beijing continue to (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s a very unfortunate situation because Moscow in particular, with its long history with Assad, the family, and the regime, it’s got an opportunity to try to help resolve the crisis. And instead, they stood in the way of the international consensus to do so. But I think even they are starting to get worried. I mean, these terrible pictures coming out of Homs are just heartbreaking, and people all over the world, including inside Russia and elsewhere, are seeing them.

So I do think that the pressure is building, the sanctions are beginning to really affect the economy within Syria, whether people can get what they need in the market. So I wish that this would end as soon as possible to stop the suffering, but the international community is resolved to keep the pressure on, to try to get humanitarian assistance in, and to keep helping the Syrian opposition build itself up so that it has credibility to be able to stand against Assad.

QUESTION: Mrs. Clinton, my last question, maybe you will answer – this is the issue that you are most sensitive, but I’m going to ask you – my last question is not intended for the Secretary of State, of course, but for the American citizen, for the woman you are, for the – Chelsea’s mother. You are – such qualities you enjoy once you go back home, relieved from – of your official obligations, responsibilities. Out of the crises and conflicts going on all around the world, which is the most sensitive to you at that precise moment? Which one?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, right now, Syria. That just is heartbreaking to see the deaths and the brutality. But that’s happening in many other places in the world; it’s just not on a television set.


SECRETARY CLINTON: If you go to the Eastern Congo and you meet, as I have, women and children who have been brutalized by militias, or you visit with the survivors of terrible terrorist attacks in Spain or Indonesia, I mean, as a mother – you’re a mother – you ask yourself – all you want is for the world to be more peaceful and your children to grow up and become what God meant them to be, to use their talents to make the world a better place. And it’s distressing and somewhat troubling that here we are in the 21st century, and instead of sitting down and resolving disputes peacefully, people are still using guns or machetes or bombs, and so it’s the level of violence, it’s the unfortunate consequences of that, that really undermine the human community that I remain focused on and will continue to work to try to prevent.

QUESTION: What is, for you, the biggest change in United States before and after September 11? You lived the two periods, as a first lady —


QUESTION: — and then as Secretary of State. What is the biggest change in United States?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the understanding that the United States was attacked. We’ve never been attacked like that, at least since the War of 1812 when the British attacked us. That was a long time ago. But this was such a terrible event in the consciousness of Americans. And I think it’s made Americans more vigilant, more careful about the dangers that exist in the world.

QUESTION: To finish on a cheerful note, Madam Secretary, you are best remembered in Morocco’s mind as a first lady dressed in Moroccan gown, kaftan, while greeting His Majesty King Mohammed VI in the White House. In my memory, the kaftan was red. I don’t know if I’m right, but I think it was red. My question is: Have you bought any more Moroccan gown or kaftans since then?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I certainly do. White and gold —

QUESTION: How many do you have (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have probably three fancy ones —


SECRETARY CLINTON: — and I have about five plain everyday ones. I find them so comfortable to wear, and the fancy ones are so beautiful that I really delight in wearing them.

QUESTION: Well, thank you, Madam Secretary, to have taken the time to enlighten us on those issues, all important. Thank you and good evening.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good evening. Thank you.

# # #

Interview With Michele Kelemen of NPR


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Sofitel Hotel
Rabat, Morocco
February 26, 2012

QUESTION: You got a busy day here and there’s a lot to talk about. (Laughter.) I’d like, first of all, to ask you what did you tell the Egyptian foreign minister about these cases against democracy promoters? Would you ever let these Americans appear in a courtroom in Cairo?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Michele, obviously we’ve been working on this ever since December, when we learned of the actions against not only American NGOs but NGOs from other countries as well. And we have been engaging at the highest levels of the Egyptian Government.

Our two concerns were, number one, to try to understand what the issues were, since both we and the Egyptian Government believed that our NGOs had been invited to help assist in ensuring that the elections were done in a credible way, which they were. But then also, we know that, ever since the Mubarak regime, there are a wealth of laws that are difficult to follow, even if you are intending to do so, which, of course, we were. And our NGOs kept trying to register so they could be viewed as legally entitled to operate within Egypt. So there was a lot of confusion, and the confusion was at all levels of the Egyptian Government as to what this all meant. So we have been engaging persistently and we hope that this matter will be resolved.

QUESTION: And how many Americans are now sheltering at the Embassy?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I – the exact account, maybe, I think, 16, 17.

QUESTION: Turning to Syria, Syrian tanks have been battering Homs. There’s no sign of aid getting in. What do you and the Friends of Syria do now?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think, as I’ve said, we have to continue to consult with those who truly are Friends of the Syrian People, which of course, includes the United States and the many governments and organizations that gathered in Tunis on Friday. We are doing everything we can to facilitate humanitarian aid. It was distressing to hear that the Syrian Red Crescent and the ICRC, after many hours of negotiation just yesterday, were not permitted to go back into Homs. We are looking to set up and stage areas for getting humanitarian aid in. Secondly, we continue to ratchet up the pressure. It is an increasingly isolated regime. And third, we push for a democratic transition by working with and trying to build up the opposition so they can be an alternative.

QUESTION: But activists say you need, really, humanitarian corridors. You need to get aid in and people out. How do you do that without some sort of outside intervention?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you know, Michele, many of the people in the Syrian opposition have been quite vocal in their objection to any outside interference. And many of the countries that gathered on Friday are also quite vocal. What we tried to do in the Security Council was to get international support and legitimacy for the Arab League peace plan in order to have some leverage with the Assad regime. And unfortunately, Russia and China vetoed it.

So it’s a distressing and difficult situation. It’s not the first that the world has seen, unfortunately, but we remain engaged at every possible opening to accomplish our three objectives.

QUESTION: But there’s – there was a lot of talk about – and controversy about whether you arm the opposition, help them get arms. Is there anything the U.S. can do short of that, I mean, logistical support for the Free Syrian Army, satellite images to help them set up these humanitarian corridors?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they don’t have tanks and they don’t have artillery. So I know there’s a lot of frustration, and I share it. This is a deeply, deeply distressing set of events. But you have one of the most highly militarized, best-defended countries on earth, because, of course, they spent an enormous amount of money with their Iranian and Russian friends so equipping themselves. And even if you were to somehow smuggle in automatic weapons of some kind, you’re not going to be very successful against tanks. And so the dilemma is how do we try to help people defend themselves? How do we push the Russians, Chinese, and others, who are, in effect, defending and deflecting for the Assad regime, to realize that this is undermining not only Assad’s legitimacy but theirs as well?

QUESTION: You, in fact, called the Russians despicable on this trip.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, not personally, but in terms of actions, I think continuing to arm a government that is turning its heavy weapons against their own citizens – I mean, there are a lot of words to describe that.

QUESTION: I want you to take a step back a bit and just to look at this political earthquake in the Arab world, as your Turkish counterpart likes to call it. How have you been adjusting to this new environment, and particularly the rise of political Islam, Islamist groups?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, look, I believe in freedom, and I believe in democracy, and I believe in self-determination, and I also believe in human rights and freedom and speech and freedom of religion. And so what we are supporting are – in countries that have every right to have self-determination and to set up their own democracies – the path that they’re on, and at the same time reminding Egyptians and Libyans and Tunisians and others that democracy is not one election one time. It is building institutions. It is carefully nurturing and tending the attitudes, what we call the habits of the heart, from our own early experience, a phrase of de Tocqueville.

And that’s difficult. It’s difficult for any political party or leadership. Everybody wants to believe that they’re best for their country and their people. But it’s important that the United States, which supports the aspirations of all people everywhere, also stand up for the values and principles that make democracy workable over the long term.

QUESTION: You spoke in Tunisia and Algeria about the need for moderate voices. And I wonder if you worry – if you’re worried that they’re being drowned out, that this – these changes across the region are becoming particularly violent. And what does that mean for U.S. interests?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Actually, I am not worried about where we are speaking today, here in the Maghreb. I mean, we’re in Morocco, which has had a very good election that led to new leadership taking place. I’m looking forward to working with them. I was just in Algeria, where they are planning for elections in May. And of course, you were with me in Tunis, where an Islamic-based party was elected but is in government in a coalition with parties representing other parts of view. That’s the way it should be in a democracy, because no matter who you are or where you live, there’s not unanimity of thought or feeling or political philosophy.

So I’m not expressing concern so much as speaking out about what we hope to see, because we’re judging these new governments no only what they say but what they do. And certainly in Tunisia, they are saying all the rights things. They are saying that they will protect women’s rights, that – they are saying that they will protect human rights. And now we want to see that actually take place.

But there is one element, which I am concerned about, and that is how people who were oppressed for so long – and particularly those who are of Islamic persuasion – are so well organized, because they had to be, it was a matter of survival, whereas many other voices in the society, the voices of business leaders, the voices of academia, the voices of young people are not politically organized. So wherever I go, I encourage those who are also hoping to reap the benefits of freedom and democracy to get involved in politics. I mean, politics is no easy game, as I know as well as anyone. But if you’re not at the table, then how can you blame people for pursuing certain programs that you may not agree with?

QUESTION: And you said you’re getting off the high wire of American politics after this job – (laughter) – so is there one thing that you really want to get done in this region before you leave office? You have a few months left. (Laughter.) Or is it just going to be putting out fires?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’ve always said from the very beginning that we do the emergencies, which are the responding to the fires right now; we do the important, which are trying to make sure that the fires don’t get out of control; and then we are looking at the long term. So it’s a constant panoply of all of these challenges.
But in particular, with respect to the Arab Spring, the coming of democracy of the Arab world, I want to see it take root. And, of course, I want to see it understand that elections are not the end, they’re the beginning, that you have to build institutions, you have to have an independent judiciary, you have to have a free press, you have to protect the rights of all minorities, religious, ethnic, you have to certainly empower and protect the rights of women. And this is at the beginning. We’re watching something unfold that is probably a generational enterprise.

So I’m encouraged in many regards by what I’ve seen in Tunisia, what I see in Morocco. The jury is out on Egypt. We’re waiting to see how that will actually be implemented. But the United States will help those who are truly invested in democracy that is not based on elevating some voices over others, imposing philosophical or religious beliefs on others, but truly having the free flow of ideas within a political culture that takes hold in these countries.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you very much for your time.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Michele.


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Interview With Kim Ghattas of BBC


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Rangoon, Burma
December 2, 2011

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you very much for talking to the BBC.


QUESTION: As usual, we’re very delighted to be here with you in Burma. It’s very special for the BBC to be in the country.

I wanted to start by asking you about your meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi. You’ve said that she is an inspiration to you. She has talked about the fact that she’s read your book. What was it like? What did it feel like when you finally came face to face?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Kim, it felt very familiar, and perhaps because I certainly have followed her over the years and have communicated with her directly and indirectly. So it was like seeing a friend you hadn’t seen for a very long time even though it was our first meeting. And it was also incredibly emotional and gratifying to see her free from the many years of house arrest and to see her once again leading her party and standing for elections in this new democratic process they are trying to put into place. So it was, for me, a great honor and a delight to spend time with her.

QUESTION: She sounded quite positive, cautiously so perhaps, but positive about the path towards reform that this country seems to be embarking on. Are you on the same page?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s important for those of us on the outside, whether we’re in government or in an NGO or a human rights activist, to appreciate how it looks from the inside. And certainly, her perspective is there are signs of change, that there is a rhetorical commitment to reform. I think it’s very wise of her to take advantage of that, to do everything she can to support it because, as in any transition, as this one could very well be, there are those who are pushing reform, and there are those who are dead set against it, and then there are probably the most people in the middle trying to gauge which way they should jump. So anything that can be done which legitimates the reformist tendencies should be, in her view, and I agree with this, validated and encouraged. But at the same time, you have to see continuing actions. It’s not enough just to give a speech or to do a few things. There has to be a momentum behind reform, and we’re waiting and watching for that.

QUESTION: You’re obviously coordinating quite closely with Aung San Suu Kyi in terms of America’s own engagement, reengagement with Burma. Do you run the risk that you’re basing your whole policy just on one person?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course we’re not. We are closely coordinating with her, but with many others. We’ve had high-level visits to Burma for nearly two and a half years, because when I became Secretary of State, I said we needed a Burma review, that I wasn’t satisfied with what our policy had produced, which was, frankly, not very much.

And in the course of the last two and a half years, we’ve had more than 20 high-level visits. And whether it’s our Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell or our Special Representative Derek Mitchell, they’ve met people across society – a lot of the representatives of the ethnic nationalities, a lot of civil society members, a lot of government members. So we’ve had a good sense of where people were.

So, yes, of course, it was critical that we closely coordinated with Aung San Suu Kyi, but she was not the only person we were working with. And uniformly led by her, we were encouraged to engage. And as she said publicly, she appreciated what the United States was doing, and we all hope that it can continue.

QUESTION: She said that she will run in the parliamentary by-elections that are coming in the next few months. Do you think that she runs the risks of being absorbed by the system? Is it perhaps better for her to continue leading the call for reform from the outside?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, that’s her decision, and I totally respect what she has decided. And I think from her perspective, it’s important to validate the political process. And the only way to do that is to ensure there is as much participation as possible. Her deciding to run sends a very important signal to others as well that this is worth doing. Because if all the people who have a deep, abiding commitment to democracy decided it was better to stay on the sidelines – because after all, getting involved in politics anywhere is a messy business, as I know from my own experience – then you would leave that to perhaps those whose commitment to reform and democracy are not as deep as they should be.

I think as a member – an elected member of parliament, she would have an important role to play, because she’s the one who has read deeply and thought deeply about how do you actually do this. And when I was meeting with members and leaders of the parliament, it was very clear they’re seeking advice. They wanted all kinds of ideas about how do you run an elected body. And so I think she is following through on what she believes to be her responsibility to the future.

QUESTION: Did you give her political advice about how to run?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, she, I think, is more than capable of doing that on her own, but we did discuss how challenging the political process can be.

QUESTION: Now, you had other meetings here in the country up in the capital in Nay Pyi Taw. You met with the country’s civilian president, Thein Sein. He’s a former junta leader. What were your impressions of him? Because you did come here to try to gauge his intentions. Is he really serious about reforming? What were your impressions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that certainly what I heard from him and what I heard from all of the leaders that I met with in Nay Pyi Taw was a stated commitment to continue the reform process. That’s obviously a first and important step, but it can’t end there; there has to be a series of actions that create a momentum toward democracy that cannot be reversed or undermined.

And I had the impression in speaking with all of the leaders that they’re well aware of the tensions within their own government about how far to go, how fast to go. That’s not unusual. But what I was reminded of is that we have experience in Latin America and in Asia, even in Africa, where military leaders transition into civilian leaders, and then create a democratic process which is left for those who come after them. That’s the hope that I think we all share.

QUESTION: Well, when you, let’s say, looked into his eyes, did you see a real intention for reform?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t speculate on matters like that. I judge people by their actions, and there have been some promising actions, but there needs to be a lot more.

QUESTION: Because indeed, as you said, there are those who are perhaps sitting on the fence, and you’re hoping that your visit will encourage the reformers, reinforce their hands, but also encourage others to join the camp of the reformers. That is the hope. The risk, of course, is that your visit might give legitimacy to a government that is desperately seeking it, and then when you leave, who knows what might happen on the ground. Are you worried about that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can’t predict what’s going to happen, but I think it certainly is important for the United States to be on the side of democratic reform, and when there is such an opening, as we see here, to demonstrate what the engagement might lead to on behalf of investment in the country and the like.

I was struck by how everyone I met with from civil society representing the ethnic nationalities were all so welcoming of engagement. I mean, people who – and it’s not just whom I met, but the stories and reports I’ve received from all of my team, people who had just gotten out of prison who said, “Thank you so much for engaging.” Well, how can we have less of a willingness to try to move this forward than the people inside the country who have suffered because of the repression? So I think it certainly is the right thing to do, but we’re not making any long-term commitment. This is a first date, not a marriage, and we’ll see where it leads.

QUESTION: So where are we going next? North Korea? Cuba?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I think that if they ever had a leader who did things like begin releasing political prisoners and – on a wide scale and set up a system for elections and the like, then we’d think about it. But right now, we’re focused on what we could see happening here.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you very much for talking to the BBC.


QUESTION: Thank you.

Interview With Michele Kelemen of NPR


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Rangoon, Burma
December 2, 2011

QUESTION: I want to ask you first about just being at the house, Aung San Suu Kyi’s house, where she spent so much time under house arrest. How did it feel for you?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, in one way, it was familiar to me because I had seen pictures of it over so many years, and friends of mine who have had a chance to visit with her have, of course, described the house. On the other hand, it was an overwhelming personal experience for me, because I’ve admired her for so long, and to see where she was unjustly imprisoned, where she had her unfortunate experience of really spending a lot of time alone, which was difficult, but also gave her the chance to think deeply about what she hoped to see for her country.

Last night at dinner, I was talking to her about my long conversation with Nelson Mandela and how he, looking back, had realized that all those very lonely days and nights in prison for him helped him really summon the strength that he – and of course, I feel the same way about her, that she sacrificed so much. And now, she has perhaps another chance to try to see the democracy that she’s believed in and struggled for and sacrificed for come to reality.

QUESTION: She’s now making this transition from democracy activist to politician, running for elections. Have you given her some advice on what politics is all about?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I think she certainly understands that it’s a rough-and-tumble experience, no matter where one is. But we did talk about the difficulties of not only standing for election, but being elected and having to make compromises. And that would be true in any political process. Democracy really has to be constantly oiled by compromise, and a lot of people think that somehow is less than principled. But if you look at it from a historic perspective, people come into elective offices with many different experiences and ideologies, and you have to work together. She’s fully aware of all of that, but I think it will still be something quite new and challenging for her.

QUESTION: She’s really been guiding, in a way, this step-by-step U.S. rapprochement with Myanmar, and I wonder if you think – did she give you a sense that you guys have gone far enough or did she want you to do more, for instance, exchange ambassadors?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think she has been very helpful to us as we have designed our engagement, but continues to support the approach we’re taking, as she said publicly in her house today. And we’ve been very clear that we have to see further steps by the government in order to move again. And she has expressed her confidence in how we are proceeding. Obviously, we both want to see significant steps taken by the government, starting with the release of all political prisoners, before we are able to do any more.

But it’s also the testing of the sincerity and seriousness of the new leadership, which is important for her to know, because they are not releasing prisoners for us. They’re releasing it for their own internal decision-making, because they want to be on this path. So that’s helped her a lot about how they intend to proceed, which is on an important piece of information.

QUESTION: Now you’ve met Thein Sein, the president. She seemed to have confidence enough in him, but do you think he can deliver? I mean, he has a government that has a lot of people in that don’t like what he’s doing.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can’t speak for her. She is the one who has to make her own assessments. But we’re going to be watching. That’s – our measurement is what actually happens – not what is promised or not what is intended, but whether it’s delivered. And we discussed at some length, when I met with him at Nay Pyi Taw, what the next steps needed to be. And there are a lot of small steps that have to be taken that are of significance, but – releasing all of the prisoners, setting a date for the elections, and ensuring that they are free, fair, and credible, having a really comprehensive, well-designed effort to resolve the ethnic conflicts – those are three very big steps that we think have to be taken before we can further engage on a range of issues that we’d be willing to discuss.

QUESTION: I just have to ask you one question about Nay Pyi Taw. What were your impressions about this place? I mean, here in Rangoon, it’s a lively city, but up there, it’s just nobody there. Are you worried that they’re just too isolated from reality?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t know about that. But it’s like a lot of these capital cities that get built in green space areas far from where they used to be. I’ve seen it in several countries around the world, and it always gives you a surreal impression, like is this a set; is it going to be here when I come back tomorrow? But they obviously invested a lot of money and effort in designing their government buildings. They’re looking to host a series of events of regional significance there over the next few years. So as for the business of the government, apparently it’s going to be done, but it’s not a bustling, lively city like Rangoon is, for sure.

QUESTION: So you think Aung San Suu Kyi will manage to live there or work there?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I think she is disciplined, determined, and they say that – nice meeting with me, (inaudible) when we get there.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for your time.


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