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In April of 2009, when she was in country, Hillary was receiving the first-time, courtesy visits of many foreign ministers, her counterparts, from many different countries. One of these was Dr. Taieb Fassi Fihri of Morocco. Here is their short exchange prior to a private bilateral meeting on April 8, 2009.

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

Remarks

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

Date: 04/08/2009 Description: Remarks by Secretary Clinton and Moroccan Foreign Minister Dr. Taieb Fassi Fihri before their meeting. State Dept Photo SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s wonderful to welcome Minister Fihri here today on behalf of Morocco. We are so committed to our relationship and have very high regard for the extraordinary progress that has taken place in Morocco over the last years, and we look forward to deepening and strengthening our relationship.
FOREIGN MINISTER FIHRI: Me, too. I’m very happy to be here and to have the opportunity for this meeting with Madame Secretary. As you know, USA and Morocco have a longstanding relationship, and we will continue to work together to defend peace and stability, mainly in the Middle East, in Africa. And we in Morocco really appreciate the statement made by the President and then Madame Secretary about new dialogue with Muslim countries and also how to reach the peace in the Middle East.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister.
FOREIGN MINISTER FIHRI: Thank you.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, do you have any clarity on the Somali piracy situation?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re deeply concerned and we’re following it very closely. Specifically, we are now focused on this particular act of piracy and the seizure of a ship that carries 21 American citizens. More generally, we think the world must come together to end the scourge of piracy.
I think Morocco was the very first country that recognized us, going back a long time. And we worked together to end piracy off of the coast of Morocco all those years ago, and we’re going to work together to end this kind of criminal activity anywhere on the high seas. Thank you.
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Indeed, Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States of America as a sovereign nation. I learned that from Hillary that day. Morocco recognized the U.S. in 1777. We have been friends with treaties dating back to 1786. We have lived in a global community from birth.  Happy Birthday, U.S.A.!

YES, we have a country! How dare anyone say we do not or that we are not strong with long, durable ties around the globe.  Only the ignorant would believe such a lie.

04-08-09-02

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Prior to attending two galas honoring her this evening,  Hillary Clinton met with King Mohammed VI in New York City today.

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Then she was off to not one but two overlapping events.  Women for Women celebrated their 20th anniversary at the Museum of Natural History on Central Park West and honored her with their 2013 Champion of Peace Award.  The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation presented her with their Global Impact Award at their event at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square.

At Women for Women Sheryl Sandberg introduced her.   Diane Sawyer presented the award  the AIDS event.

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This is nice.

Hillary Clinton and Diane Sawyer step down memory lane

Hillary Clinton and Diane Sawyer took a trip down memory lane Tuesday night at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation’s 25th-anniversary gala. Sawyer — who was presenting the former secretary of state with the Global Impact Award — recalled her time with Clinton at Wellesley College, when they were “young girls with coke-bottle glasses.” “One of us spent a lot of time having an identity crisis — that was me,” Sawyer told the crowd at the Best Buy Theater. “I went to law school and didn’t graduate, and ended up doing the weather in tight skirts and lamentably pointy bras.” Clinton was quick to set the record straight, saying, “Everything Diane said is inaccurate.” The evening also featured dramatic readings from Glaser’s memoir by Mary Steenburgen and former “ER” stars Julianna Margulies and Gloria Reuben, who we’re told became visibly emotional while reading the excerpt. Other guests in the house included Nigel Barker, Willow Bay and Miss Universe Gabriela Isler.

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This post is dedicated to Paul Ryan who, as a Vice Presidential candidate, should have made it his business to inform himself of the entities with which we are acting on the situation in Syria. He misinformed voters during the debate when he said we were dealing with the Syrian situation solely through the U.N. (to which Republicans are highly allergic). I hope Congressman Ryan reads this and learns.

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Travel to Morocco, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates

Press Statement

Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 5, 2012

From December 11-13, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Marrakech, Morocco to participate in a meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People. This latest meeting provides an opportunity to consult with like-minded governments in the region and around the world on how best to continue support for the Syrian opposition and on efforts to end the bloodshed. While in Morocco, she will also meet with King Mohammed VI, as well as senior Moroccan government officials, to discuss bilateral and regional issues.

She will then travel to Tunis, Tunisia to co-host the 9th Forum for the Future Ministerial with the Government of Tunisia on December 13. This year’s Forum welcomes increased levels of civil society, private sector, and government participation and focuses on the key themes of women’s empowerment, freedom of expression and association, and economic governance and entrepreneurship. Secretary Clinton will also meet with senior Tunisian government officials to discuss progress in the country’s transition to democracy as well as bilateral and regional issues.

Secretary Clinton will conclude her trip in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and participate in the 3rd ministerial meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) on December 14. The centerpiece of the meeting will be the announcement by Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed of the opening of the first-ever International Center of Excellence on Countering Violent Extremism, which the GCTF set in motion at its September 2011 launch. The Center will provide a venue for training, dialogue, collaboration, and research to counter violent extremism in all of its forms and manifestations by bringing together the experts, expertise, and experience that exist in countries around the globe. The Secretary will also meet with senior Emirati government officials to discuss regional and bilateral issues.

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Remarks at the Opening Plenary of the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue

 

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani

Benjamin Franklin Room

Washington, DC

September 13, 2012

 


SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. Well, let me welcome our friends and colleagues from Morocco here to the Benjamin Franklin Room on the eighth floor of the State Department for this very important first session of the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue. Before I begin to address the significance of this Strategic Dialogue and the next step in our long relations with Morocco, I want to say a few words about the events unfolding in the world today.

We are closely watching what is happening in Yemen and elsewhere, and we certainly hope and expect that there will be steps taken to avoid violence and prevent the escalation of protests into violence.

I also want to take a moment to address the video circulating on the internet that has led to these protests in a number of countries. Let me state very clearly – and I hope it is obvious – that the United States Government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. And as you know, we are home to people of all religions, many of whom came to this country seeking the right to exercise their own religion, including, of course, millions of Muslims. And we have the greatest respect for people of faith.

To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage. But as I said yesterday, there is no justification, none at all, for responding to this video with violence. We condemn the violence that has resulted in the strongest terms, and we greatly appreciate that many Muslims in the United States and around the world have spoken out on this issue.

Violence, we believe, has no place in religion and is no way to honor religion. Islam, like other religions, respects the fundamental dignity of human beings, and it is a violation of that fundamental dignity to wage attacks on innocents. As long as there are those who are willing to shed blood and take innocent life in the name of religion, the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace. It is especially wrong for violence to be directed against diplomatic missions. These are places whose very purpose is peaceful: to promote better understanding across countries and cultures. All governments have a responsibility to protect those spaces and people, because to attack an embassy is to attack the idea that we can work together to build understanding and a better future.

Now, I know it is hard for some people to understand why the United States cannot or does not just prevent these kinds of reprehensible videos from ever seeing the light of day. Now, I would note that in today’s world with today’s technologies, that is impossible. But even if it were possible, our country does have a long tradition of free expression which is enshrined in our Constitution and our law, and we do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views no matter how distasteful they may be.

There are, of course, different views around the world about the outer limits of free speech and free expression, but there should be no debate about the simple proposition that violence in response to speech is not acceptable. We all – whether we are leaders in government, leaders in civil society or religious leaders – must draw the line at violence. And any responsible leader should be standing up now and drawing that line.

I wanted to begin with this statement, because, as our Moroccan friends and all of you know, this has been a difficult week at the State Department. I very much appreciate, Minister, the condolences your government expressed to our Embassy in Rabat. And even though that tragedy happened far away in Benghazi, we found a reminder of the deep bounds that connect Morocco to the United States. It was in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco that one of the Americans we lost this week, Ambassador Chris Stevens, fell in love with the region when he served as a Peace Corps volunteer there. That experience set him on a decades-long career of service. So in the memory of fallen friends and colleagues, let us remind ourselves of the many ways in which not just our governments but the people of our two nations have worked together to build a better future.

In many ways, the United States looks to Morocco to be a leader and a model. His Majesty King Mohammed deserves great credit for the work you’ve undertaken. In fact, after my visit to Rabat earlier this year, I told my team: “We need to start a Strategic Dialogue with Morocco.” No country has been a friend of the United States longer than Morocco. You were the first nation to recognize us back in 1777. But we’re not satisfied with simply having a friendship that is longstanding. We want one that is dynamic, growing, looking toward the future. So let me highlight a few of the areas we should focus on today.

On political reform, we have all seen remarkable changes taking place across North Africa and the Middle East. I commend Morocco and your government for your efforts to stay ahead of these changes by holding free and fair elections, empowering the elected parliament, taking other steps to ensure that the government reflects the will of the people. Today, our political working group will discuss how the United States can continue to support your efforts to translate commitments into actions. Because as we all know, democracy, real reform, require that people themselves feel the changes in their everyday lives: the courts reformed, the government more open and transparent, universal human rights of all Moroccans – men and women alike – respected.

I’m especially pleased by Morocco’s commitments to take on the deeply troubling problem of child marriage. We know that child brides are less likely to get an education, more likely to face life-threatening problems, particularly around child birth and delivery, which not only shortchanges them but can even rob them and their communities of their lives and talents. So we want to encourage the government and civil society to continue their important work together on this issue.

With regard to the Western Sahara, the United States continues to support efforts to find a peaceful, sustainable, mutually agreed-upon solution. U.S. policy toward the Western Sahara has remained consistent for many years. We have made clear that Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, realistic, and credible, and that it represents a potential approach that could satisfy the aspirations of the people in the Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity. We continue to support the negotiations carried out by the United Nations and hope parties can work toward resolution.

With respect to the economy, our second working group will focus on what more can be done to deliver tangible economic benefits. Morocco’s economy is relatively healthy, but you face the same problem that is now endemic across the world – unemployment is still too high, especially among young people.

That’s why the United States is providing $1.5 million to support an effort to attract foreign investors, foster local economic development, and combat corruption across the region. And I’m pleased to announce that later this year we will hold a Morocco business development conference here in Washington to connect businesses from both countries.

Today, we should discuss ways to build on all of these efforts by increasing bilateral trade, a particular goal of mine since so much trade from Morocco goes to Europe. I’d like to increase the amount of trade coming to the United States, and also to improve economic integration across North Africa, which could greatly benefit Morocco because of Morocco’s stability and Morocco’s very strong economic foundation. The greater integration there is, the greater the benefits for Moroccans.

Third, the attack in Benghazi this week reminds us that security remains a vital issue. Through our work together on the Global Counterterrorism Task Force, the United States and Morocco already share crucial information and best practices, and I thank Morocco for hosting a Global Counterterrorism Task Force workshop on threats in the South Atlantic next month.

We are also collaborating through USAID, the Peace Corps, and other agencies to help provide Moroccan youth with alternatives to criminal and extremist organizations. And so we are partnering to help strengthen Morocco’s criminal justice system and law enforcement.

There will be a lot to discuss in the meeting today. And let me add, the United States greatly appreciates the constructive role Morocco is playing on the UN Security Council, especially your support for the effort to end the violence and bloodshed in Syria and help to usher in a new democratic future for that country. I commend Morocco for offering to host the next ministerial meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People, and we look forward to continuing to work closely together as close partners even after your term on the Security Council has ended.

Finally, our education and cultural ties are reason for much celebration. This year marks the 30th anniversary of our official program to facilitate academic exchanges and other bonds between us. There are more than 5,000 Moroccan alumni of these programs. Two are with us today – Dr. Benjelloun and Dr. Ouaouicha – and we thank them. But among all our work on this front, from preserving Morocco’s historic sites to empowering youth, there’s one area I particularly hope we can focus on today and receive your advice and counsel – namely, interfaith dialogue.

In these tense and turbulent times, it’s more important than ever for people of different faiths to exchange ideas, to build understanding, to promote religious tolerance. It’s one of the great challenges of the 21st century, and it’s one that we must address together.

So we have a lot of work to do, Minister, but our friendship runs long and deep, and as the treaty our nations signed in 1786 says, and I quote, “Trusting in God, it will remain permanent.” I’m confident that we will continue to solve problems and produce results that make our nations stronger, more peaceful, more secure, more prosperous, and also contribute to doing the same for the world.

So again, let me welcome you, Minister. It’s been a great pleasure for me to get to know you, to work with you, to be your colleague bilaterally, regionally, and globally, and also welcome your distinguished delegation.

Thank you. (Applause.)

FOREIGN MINISTER AL-OTHMANI: I would like to express my sincere condolences of the American people and the government for the death of the U.S. Ambassador in Libya and the other diplomats. We condemn this act of violence and we share the sorrow of their families and the American people.

(Via interpreter) Madam Secretary, honored, distinguished audience, I would like to thank Madam Secretary for the clear positions and frank positions that she expressed today. And these are positions that indicate that you have a balanced and prudent policy. And I would like to confirm that yesterday, with instructions from His Majesty King Mohammed VI, there was a clear message from Morocco issued by the Moroccan Government that condemned the attack that took place on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, and also condemned the killing of diplomats – of American diplomats, innocent diplomats who work – who should be protected because they’re ambassadors and diplomats.

Also, once again, would like to reiterate Morocco’s clear position against violence and against any confrontation as a way to solve problems and settle conflicts. Morocco has always been – has always stressed peace and security, while also maintaining the positions of each person, but solving problems through dialogue and conviction, but within the framework of peace and stability.

At the same time, I would like to thank Madam Secretary for her clear position vis-a-vis the video that attacks the Prophet and also for her position against this insult, and I would like to say that the Kingdom of Morocco also has the same position. We say all prophets should be respected and should not be attacked or insulted. We respect Prophet Moses and Jesus and Muhammad and all prophets because they are symbols for humanity, for the entire humanity, and insulting them is an insult to millions of human beings who respect them and hold them in high esteem. And any kind of insult would only provoke hate and conflict between people. And we live in a world that is tired of conflict. It’s tired of hate. And it needs policies that promote peace and security.

I would also like to extend my sincere appreciation and thanks to Madam Secretary for her special attention and personal attention that she paid to hold this first session of Strategic Dialogue. I am pleased and honored to be here with Madam Secretary in opening this dialogue. And as you indicated, the relationship between Morocco and the U.S. are historic, and they go back to centuries ago, and there are protocols of friendship that go back to the first protocol signed in 1787, and is still in effect and also it’s been succeeded by numerous agreements. And since that time, the two countries, Morocco and the U.S., have continued to be partners in several – on several issues and problems within the framework of engagement and direct dialogue, and also within the framework of working to establish the principles of sovereignty and abiding by international legitimacy, and also peaceful resolution to conflict within international law and convention of the UN and also within the framework of respect for human rights.

We have also referred to these issues in the strategic relationship during the latest visit that His Majesty paid to Washington, in which he called for – and I quote – His Majesty said that we should provide the right environment to promote a strategic partnership in the Mediterranean and also that within its European context and our signing of the memorandum of understanding is only a confirmation of this mutual desire for consultation between the two countries. It’s also within the framework of renewed partnership in order to exchange opinions and views about issues of priority in our relations and also to better coordinate our positions vis-a-vis international issues of mutual concern.

This diversity and wealth of our relationship will allow us to dedicate today four committees, four working committees, to address political, economic, security, and educational issues between us and also to activate the results and the decisions that would result as a result of these meetings and our distinguished relationship and Morocco’s balanced participation in the Mediterranean dialogue for the – for NATO and its active contribution to the UN efforts to maintain peace and – international peace and security, and also mutual cooperation between our two countries within the framework of the Security Coordination Committee makes Morocco a partner – a credible partner – in our Strategic Dialogue with the U.S.

Morocco, as you mentioned – as Madam Secretary mentioned – was in the lead since a decade ago to join, based on a deep conviction, to also engage in a series of daring reform, and these have been crowned with the adoption of a new constitution that dedicates its determination to move forward in building democracy and also establishing the rule of law. The changes in the entire Arab region and also in the North Africa and the – last year reflect the aspirations of their people to democracy and human rights, and also this has dedicated Morocco’s conviction to move forward in this direction that it has chosen earlier.

At the political level, I would like to point out or refer to four different portfolios. The first one is Morocco’s deep engagement in building the Maghreb Union as a strategic choice that is entrenched in the constitution as a priority for Moroccan foreign policy. And this we seek to achieve in coordination with our partnership in the region by strengthening our mutual relations and also through building a Maghreb – a democratic Maghreb Union, a prosperous one that respects human rights and also its own peoples.

The second issue is the security issue on the – in the Sahel region and the Sahara, and I would like to point out that Morocco is deeply engaged and heavily engaged in working with various partners, whether private nonprofit organizations or even civil society organization, and also countries in the region and international partners to establish peace and security in the Sahara and the Sahel regions using – through the peace and security mechanisms and also using political mechanisms. Therefore, Morocco is attempting to coordinate at the highest level with neighboring countries, and also with West Africa – African nations, and the Maghreb Union because maintaining security in the region is – maintaining also tribal security and the security of the Mediterranean. And this directly impacts international peace and security.

The third issue is the Western Sahara issue. Maghreb – Morocco has bravely submitted a proposal for self-rule, and it considers it to be base for negotiations to reach a final agreement to this long-lasting conflict.

And I would like to extend to you, Madam Secretary, my deepest thanks for your clear position that you repeatedly reiterated, and you once again confirmed it today, considering the self-rule solution to be a realistic solution and a serious one. And Morocco is open to implement UN resolutions in participating with sincere credibility in negotiations that would lead to such a final resolution.

Finally, the Syrian problem. You notice that Madam Secretary also noted that Morocco’s direct involvement and its sincere commitment to the partnership and also coordination with various parts and locally and internationally to put an end to this nightmare – to this horrific nightmare that the Syrian people – our brotherly Syrian people is facing. And we are committed to continue on this path of cooperation to put an end to the violence that the Syrian people are experiencing. And in this regard, Morocco will be hosting the upcoming meeting for the Friends of Syria meetings next October, and I wish that you would honor us with your participation.

The Strategic Dialogue that brings us together today is not just political and not just economic. Morocco is like any other countries in the region, has economic problems, and our major partners in Europe are also facing recessions, and this affects Morocco directly. For that reason, we are delighted to have this dialogue today on economic issues so that we can deepen our economic cooperation between the two countries and also attract more American investments in Morocco. And we would like to learn what concerns U.S. investors have so that we can address them and discuss them, and also find ways to attract these investments to Morocco.

We also would like to have a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries – more successful and more balanced, and this could also – so that it can open avenues for Morocco to benefit from it. As I said before, Morocco is committed to effectively contribute to the entire region to maintain peace and security, and therefore a discussion of issues related to the economic problems is very vital to this.

Finally, we have the educational discussions and also a dialogue between civilizations. And then this has been led by His Majesty, as Prince of the Faithful, and he’s been sponsoring dialogue between various cultures. And Morocco has always been a meeting place for all civilizations, and we are very delighted to be part of this discussion as well.

Giving us today, the – today marking the onset of this U.S.-Moroccan dialogue that we started today with the signing of Memorandum of Understanding is a very important step in our mutual relationship, and it’s a very important turning point in our strategic relationship, and reflects the determination of His Majesty and also President – Morocco – President Obama, to further enhance and development this relationship. And we will do our utmost best to enrich the strategic relationship for the interests – best interests of all – both our people.

And you will find in Morocco a credible partner, and thank you very much. (Applause.)

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Launch of the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue

Notice to the Press

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 12, 2012

 


 

Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation for Morocco Saad-Eddine Al-Otmani will launch the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue with opening remarks at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 13.

After this opening session, Senior U.S. and Moroccan officials will continue discussions in four working groups focused on political, economic, security, and educational and cultural affairs. The day’s events will conclude with a closing session led by Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and Minister Delegate Youssef Amrani.

 

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Remarks With Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani Before Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
March 15, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: I am delighted to welcome the Moroccan foreign minister here. I was recently in Morocco, where we had an excellent set of consultations. The bilateral relationship between Morocco and the United States, which goes back to the very beginning of our country, is a strong and durable one.And today, the minister and I will continue our discussion as to how we can work together even more on strengthening the Moroccan economy, on expanding our cooperation, on security, on other important issues, as well as discussing regional and global matters. Morocco has shown great leadership at the United Nations Security Council.

And Minister, again, it is for me both a personal pleasure and an honor to welcome you here at the State Department.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL-OTHMANI: Thank you very much. (Via interpreter.) I’m very pleased to be here today to consolidate relations between the two countries, which are strong to begin with. We are keen for Morocco to play its role at the regional and international level in the coming period.

And we are interested in developing political and economic relations with the U.S. in the upcoming period. And as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, we will do our utmost best to ensure that peace and security prevail not just in North Africa, but in the region and the world as a whole.

And I would like to thank the Secretary for her welcome here and also for the visit that she gave to our country. And you’re most welcome once more in Morocco.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister. (Laughter.) Thank you all.

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Remarks With Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani After Their Meeting

Remarks

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

 


FOREIGN MINISTER AL-OTHMANI: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister, for the warm words and the gracious welcome. It is wonderful to be back in Rabat. So much has changed since my last visit to Morocco two years ago, but what has not changed is our commitment to our partnership and friendship, which goes back to 1777 when Morocco became the very first country to recognize our new nation. And the United States and Morocco have been allies and partners ever since. We collaborate on everything from trade and economic development to joint military exercises and counterterrorism efforts. So we had a long agenda today, and I would very much look forward to continuing our conversation in Washington when the minister is able to come.

I want to say a few words about two issues in particular that are of great concern to the American and Moroccan people. First, Syria. I thank the foreign minister for the important role that Morocco has played, first within the Arab League and second within the Security Council. Morocco is in a unique position to help shape the international community’s efforts, and it is imperative that we continue working today. I visited with the minister first in London about Syria. And then in Tunis, we attended together the Friends of Syria meeting.

And I want to reiterate my message to those Syrians who still support Assad, especially members of the Syrian military and business community: The longer you support the regime’s campaign of violence against your brothers and sisters, the more it will stain your honor. If you refuse, however, to prop up the regime or take part in attacks on your fellow citizens, your countrymen and women will hail you as heroes. Assad would have the Syrian people believe that it is only terrorists and extremists standing against the regime, but that is wrong. So many Syrians are suffering under this relentless shelling. All Syrians should be working together to seek a better future. That is what we hope for the Syrian people. That is what Morocco has led us in the international community in trying to achieve.

There are three areas where concrete action is needed: providing immediate humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, increasing the pressure on the regime to assault its own brutal assault – to stop its brutal assault on its own people, and helping to prepare for a democratic transition. And I look forward to working closely with the foreign minister on all of these issues in the days ahead.

And what’s so exciting about being here in Morocco is that Morocco stands as an example, as a model of what can be achieved. Moroccans are strengthening their own democracy. Young people are having a say in their own future. His Majesty King Mohammed VI has begun the process of reform. We see women’s rights protected and expanded, a more transparent and accountable government, establishing the Arab world’s very first truth commission on human rights.

So Mr. Minister, on behalf of my government, let me congratulate your government and His Majesty on the successful constitutional referendum and parliamentary elections that occurred during this momentous last year. The Moroccan constitution provides for an independent judiciary. It contains new protections for freedom of thought, expression, and other universal rights. I was just briefed by the new speaker of the parliament, who advised me that Morocco now has more women in public office than any other Arab country. And frankly, the percentage is as good as we have in our own country in terms of women’s representation in the parliament.

But Morocco understands, as does the United States, that democratic reform takes constant effort and unending attention. It has to lead to the institutionalizing of democratic habits and practices, and of course to tangible improvements for the Moroccan people. And we stand with the government and people of Morocco as they continue this absolutely historic effort.

Let me close with a word about the Western Sahara. The United States continues to support efforts to find a peaceful, sustainable, mutually agreed upon solution to that conflict. U.S. policy toward the Western Sahara has remained constant for many years. We have made clear that Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, realistic, and credible, and that it represents a potential approach that could satisfy the aspirations of the people in the Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity. And we continue to support the negotiations carried out by the United Nations, and encourage all parties to work toward a resolution.

So again, Minister, thank you for hosting me and my delegation here today, and I look forward to working closely with you as we continue to move our countries toward even more productive partnership and friendship. Thank you, sir.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL-OTHMANI: Thank you. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. Our policy on Western Sahara has not changed. We continue to (inaudible) efforts to find a peaceful, sustainable, and mutually agreed solution to the conflict that respects the fundamental human rights of all parties. We commend the UN envoy, Mr. Ross, for his continued leadership of the negotiating process. And we know that Morocco’s newly elected and appointed government leaders are fully engaged in pushing this process forward to an effective resolution. And as I said in my remarks, we think Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, credible, and realistic.

And we also are pleased to see positive actions like Morocco and Algeria’s biannual intergovernmental meetings. They are a step in the right direction. We want to see both countries expand cooperation and constructive dialogue. That is the message I delivered in Algeria at the highest levels of the Algerian Government. I shared that with the meetings I had today here in Morocco because I think it’s, in today’s world, very much in the interests of Morocco and Algeria to work together on as many areas of agreement as possible. It’s good for the two countries, it’s good for the Maghreb, it would be good for economic development, it would be good for security, so we want to see that kind of continued progress between Algeria and Morocco.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) questions for you, Mrs. Secretary of State. First one is: What’s going to be of the Moroccan prisoners that are still held in Guantanamo Bay? And the second one is: Do you think that the political changes that Morocco has undergone in the recent months meet the United States’s criteria of democracy and political reforms?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as to the first question, we remain in constant consultation with the government officials here in Morocco, and we are continuing to discuss that matter with them.

In regard to your second question, we are very pleased at the progress we have seen in Morocco. We applaud the millions of Moroccans who participated in last November’s parliamentary elections. It was exciting to see Moroccan men and women take part in this democratic process. And we are ready to work, as I enjoyed today, with the new government, with the new parliament, because there’s no denying Morocco has made significant progress along the path of democratic reform, and not only with an election, because after all, one election is not democracy. It takes a lot of hard work to establish a democracy. But the significant constitutional reform that has gone on under the leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI has led to the voters of Morocco approving a constitutional referendum. And the building blocks are all in place.

We understand. We’ve been at the business of democracy for 236 years. And we know how hard it is, and it does not happen overnight. It takes time and it takes the participation of every Moroccan. It doesn’t end when the votes are counted. It doesn’t end when the winners are announced, it’s not a spectator sport – for some, but not for others. Everyone has to be involved, and we think that the Moroccan experience is a very good model for others who are also seeking to have their own democratic reforms.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, if I may. The – as you know, the trial of the foreign and Egyptian NGOs (inaudible) apparently, and was postponed for two months. What happens to the Americans who have been at the Embassy now for several weeks? And more broadly, what does it say about the political transition underway in Egypt, about relations with the United States, and the question of American military aid? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Steve, we are evaluating the outcomes of the legal proceedings today. We’ll have more to say after we have finished that analysis and gathered as much information as possible, because you’re right, it was a challenging procedure. But I will wait to comment further until I am fully briefed and have reached my own understanding of what was and was not decided today.

QUESTION: I have two final questions. First question is that (inaudible) in London and Tunisia and Algeria (inaudible), and what’s going (inaudible) from this region to bring (inaudible) back to Syria? And the second question is: What kind of (inaudible) could you (inaudible)? And the last one is: What (inaudible) U.S. presume to (inaudible) and bring more (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, those are three good questions. (Laughter.) With respect to the first question, Morocco and the United States are already cooperating very closely together, as we have done on many issues between ourselves but now are doing in the Security Council. Morocco provided the leadership for the resolution that was presented. Morocco has done a great deal to reach out and consult with other countries about the way forward. So we are working very closely together, and I think the minister and I are committed to looking for solutions.

Secondly, we’ve discussed at length security in the Maghreb and the Sahara, because we know that it’s difficult to develop the way you wish to and have the kind of future that people in Morocco deserve if you don’t have security. And so we already cooperate very closely, and we’re looking to expand that cooperation. And we also believe we have to bring in more countries to be part of the discussion – the Maghreb countries, the (inaudible) countries. So we’ve been discussing ways we might do that.

And finally on business and economic relations, everywhere I go in the region and beyond, people ask me if they could have a free trade agreement like Morocco and if they can have a Millennium Challenge grant like Morocco. And I tell everyone, we did not give that to Morocco; Morocco earned it. Morocco demonstrated what it takes to be in a free trade agreement and to meet the very high standards of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. So we discussed – the minister and I together and over lunch ways that he and I, along with other officials and under the work of the prime minister here and President Obama in our country, encourage more investment and more business in Morocco. And we will take steps to try to do that.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I just want to follow up on Steve’s question, briefly. One is, do you know where the Americans are, or where are they, why were they not in the courtroom this morning? And does your answer to his question mean that there is no – there’s not yet any implication for the American assistance, that you are going to (inaudible) – that this decision to adjourn does not put that in jeopardy?

Then in Syria, I’d just like get your thoughts on – why is this so difficult? If it’s raining, you put up and umbrella. Why is – here you have a situation in which civilians are being killed. There is no shield or protection being offered to them.

And then lastly, on Afghanistan —

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)

QUESTION: This not a good –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Why don’t we throw in Latin America and – (laughter).

QUESTION: Honestly.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Honestly (inaudible).

QUESTION: Well, I was only going to ask you two. Anyway, Afghanistan, it’s been a bad week. There’s another incident today in which some military trainers were injured. What is this – isn’t this a – hasn’t this (inaudible) the entire view as mission there? And how concerned are you about how things go forward? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, if I can even remember all of your questions, I’ll try to answer them briefly. With respect to Egypt, I’m not going to add to what I’ve already answered because this is a fluid situation and there are a lot of moving parts that have to fully understand before I go any further than I have.

With respect to Syria, we have a very strong international group of friends of the Syrian people, and we understand how challenging the situation is when you have a government willing to shell their own people with heavy artillery, use tanks against their own cities, destroy homes, refuse to let the humanitarian workers in to remove bodies, to provide medical care. These are the kinds of terrible actions that deserve the condemnation of every country in the world. And we are consulting closely with those who are looking for ways of alleviating the suffering, first and foremost; of increasing the pressure on Assad and the people around him, because we continue to believe that those around Assad are quite concerned about the brutal attacks going on. We’re appealing to members of the Syrian army to put the people of their country first before a family or a political party. And we are pushing hard for a plan that would lead to a political transition. We welcome the help of those who are supporting the Syrian regime. We think that it would be appropriate for them to use whatever influence they have to at least get the humanitarian assistance in.

And finally on Afghanistan, Matt, look, we deeply regret the incident that has led to these protests. We are condemning it in the strongest possible terms, but we also believe that the violence must stop and the hard work of trying to build a more peaceful, prosperous, secure Afghanistan must continue.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: We certainly did discuss people to people relations because we believe strongly that the relationship between the American and the Moroccan people is the bedrock of our relationship. Government officials like myself come and go, but the underlying relationship between our people is what is enduring for now 235 years. So we want to increase people to people exchanges, business exchanges. There’s an excellent new program that we are very impressed by that we helped to start along with Moroccan business and government leaders to encourage entrepreneurship among Moroccans, particularly young people.

So there is a full range of such exchanges. Our ambassador and our Embassy have such a list. But we’re always looking for new ideas, and I would welcome any that any Moroccan might have.

Thank you.

 

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