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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Background Briefing on the Secretary Clinton’s Upcoming Travel

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Secretary Clinton’s Surprise Visit to Yemen

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

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

 

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

Slideshow of Secretary Clinton in Oman: Part I

 

Slideshow of Secretary Clinton in Oman: Part II

 

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

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

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

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

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

Statement on Tunisia

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

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

 

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

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Statement on Egypt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Obama wanted change now.

Secretary Clinton’s Call to Egyptian Vice President Omar Soliman

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

Secretary Clinton’s Statement on Egypt

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

Hillary proceeded to the Munich Conference.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Odds & Ends from Today’s Press Briefing

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

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

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

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

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

Where Hosni Mubarak Is

About a month later, Hillary visited Tahrir Square.

Secretary Clinton In Tahrir Square

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

 

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

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

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

Hillary Clinton in Egypt: A Background Briefing

 

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

Hillary Clinton with Egyptian FM Mohamed Kamel Amr

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

Hillary Clinton at the Consulate Flag-Raising in Alexandria Egypt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hillary Clinton Gets Royal Treatment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hillary Clinton’s Press Availability in Paris

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

CLINTON

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

Secretary Clinton Lauds Signing of GCC-Brokered Agreement in Yemen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hillary Clinton’s Town Hall in Tunisia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>

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Remarks With Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani After Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
January 11, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, welcome, everyone, and Happy New Year. And it’s especially appropriate that I would start this new year with a meeting between myself and Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, the prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar. It’s always a great pleasure and an important opportunity for us to get together to discuss the issues that are affecting both of us, and I am delighted that we had this chance to do so.Qatar is and remains a very valuable American partner. As we look back on the year just finished, I’m not sure there was any one like it. It was an extraordinary time, and during it, our partnership evolved to address new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities, including the unprecedented joint operations with NATO over the skies of Libya.

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

And of course, we spoke at length about the troubling events unfolding in Syria. I want to commend Qatar and the prime minister particularly for his personal commitment and leadership to rally the Arab world to end Assad’s assault on his own people. Two weeks ago, Arab League monitors arrived in Syria to judge whether the regime was keeping its promise to end the killings, withdraw its troops, release political prisoners, and follow through on the commitments that it had made.

So far, the regime has not done so. It claims to have released some prisoners, but thousands more are still not free. Dozens more are arrested every day. We’ve seen the Syrian army paint its assault vehicles blue to disguise military forces as police to hide from the world the full extent of its crackdown. Just two days ago, 11 of the international monitors were attacked – two were injured – when their convoy came under assault.

But instead of taking responsibility, what we hear from President Assad in his chillingly cynical speech yesterday was only making excuses, blaming foreign countries, conspiracies so vast that now it includes the Syrian opposition, the international community, all international media outlets, the Arab League itself. And I want to commend the Arab League for showing real leadership. I think that it’s clear to both the prime minister and myself that the monitoring mission should not continue indefinitely. We cannot permit President Assad and his regime to have impunity. Syrians deserve a peaceful transition. We are looking to work with the Arab League when the current monitoring mission expires on January 19th. And we look again to the prime minister for his leadership.

So we talked about many things. Those are some of the highlights. But it’s, again, a pleasure to meet with you and to have this chance to exchange views, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER AL THANI: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. First of all, Happy New Year to you and to the ladies and gentlemen here. It’s my pleasure to be here again and I think the talks between us is reflecting the relationship, the strength of, and the depth of the relationship between Qatar and United States. Actually, last year was a hard year, and it seems to me this year will be a hard year in our region. As you know, there is a lot of conflicts in our region and a lot of challenges, and that need that we work as an Arab, and I am happy and glad that the Arab League have taken the lead in how to try to find a solution – not always easy, not always successful, but this is – in the history of the Arab League, this is the first time that we are sending a monitor (inaudible) people.

I could not see, up till now, a successful mission, frankly speaking. I hope it will be successful, but 19th, there will be a report, and this report will be very important for us to make the right judgment. We cannot accept to let the situation as it is in Syria and the people killed by their own governments. I think it’s the Arab responsibility, but also it’s an international responsibility in the end. We hope we solve it in – as we say, in the house of the Arabs, but right now the government not helping us. The Syrian Government’s not helping us. The killing still is – daily killing going on.

Of course, there is the Yemen challenge, which we hope that it finish as been planned. And we have the election next month in the 21st of next month. Of course, the situation and the tension in the Gulf is very important, and we’ve been discussing how we can reduce the tension in the Gulf, and respect each country’s and each jurisdiction for each of us in the region.

The other problem, of course, which it’s – also need an attention from all of us is the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts. And I think this is a very important issue, which we should find a way, especially this year. We are happy that there is kind of start between the Quartet and the Palestinian and the Israelis, but it have to have a result and the Israeli have to stop the settlements so they can allow these talks take their chances to succeed.

But I really thank you very much, Madam Secretary, for this opportunity, and I think this talk is very important for us and for the region.

MS. NULAND: We have time for two questions today. First one from CNN, Elise Labott.

QUESTION: Thank you, Sheikh Hamad. First, on the Taliban, the Taliban has announced their willingness to open an office in Qatar. Can you talk about the next steps?

And, Madam Secretary, is the U.S. ready to release these Guantanamo detainees in exchange for talks with the Taliban?

And on Iran, we’ve seen a series of provocative moves, including a threat to close the Strait of Hormuz. How would you respond to that? Are you discussing alternative oil supplies to countries who rely on Iran?

And Madam Secretary, today Iran accused the United States and Israel of killing one of its nuclear scientists. How do you respond to that?

Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me start with the Taliban office, because I want to put this in context of our larger strategy to support a peaceful, stable, increasingly prosperous and democratic Afghanistan. These are goals that both the United States and Qatar share. As I said when I was in the region last fall, our strategy includes three elements: we have to continue fighting against those who take up arms against Afghans, against NATO-ISAF; we have to talk with those willing to talk to seek a peaceful resolution; and we have to continue to try to build Afghanistan for the future.

With respect to the fight, we have supported the Government of Afghanistan now for more than 10 years. And as we move toward full Afghan transition to security, we are standing with the government and the people of Afghanistan to battle those who continue to use violent means against innocent people. And we are absolutely resolved to defend the interests of Afghanistan and the international community.

Now with respect to talking to the Taliban, the reality is we never have the luxury of negotiating for peace with our friends. If you’re sitting across a table discussing a peaceful resolution to a conflict, you are sitting across from people who, by definition, you don’t agree with and who you may previously have been across a battlefield from. So we are prepared to support an Afghan-led process of reconciliation, and we will participate in that in support of the Afghans if we believe it holds promise for an end to the conflict.

So we have worked to help establish a reconciliation process and real negotiations, and we have been very grateful for the assistance that the Government of Qatar has provided. I think the positive statements last week from both President Karzai and the Taliban demonstrate that there is support for such discussions for the political office to open in Qatar. And – now nothing has been concluded. We are still in the preliminary stages of testing whether this can be successful. And we remain committed to the red lines that we have consistently laid out, namely that both the Afghan Government and the international community must see the insurgents renounce violence, break with al-Qaida, and support the laws and constitution of Afghanistan, including protecting the rights of women and minorities.

I have made it clear to President Karzai that we will work with him under his leadership. I’ve asked our Special Representative, Ambassador Marc Grossman, to go to Afghanistan next week to continue our consultations with the Afghans, and also to go to Qatar to continue our consultations with our partners in Qatar.

And I think it’s also important to remember, at the same time we’re doing this, we’re trying to continue to build a better future for the Afghans. That’s the idea behind the vision of a New Silk Road. And we’re looking for a lot of regional partners to assist us in doing that. And we have not made any decisions about releasing any Taliban from Guantanamo.

Let me just continue and then turn it over to Sheikh Hamad, who may have to excuse himself because he’s expected at the White House.

I think it’s important to recognize very clearly that the provocative rhetoric coming out of Iran in the last week has been quite concerning. It has caused us and many of our partners in the region and around the world to reach out to the Iranians to impress upon them the provocative and dangerous nature of the threats to close the Strait of Hormuz. This is an international waterway. The United States and others are committed to keeping it open. It’s part of the lifeline that keeps oil and gas moving around the world. And it’s also important to speak as clearly as we can to the Iranians about the dangers of this kind of provocation.

Having said that, I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran. We believe that there has to be an understanding between Iran, its neighbors, and the international community that finds a way forward for it to end its provocative behavior, end its search for nuclear weapons, and rejoin the international community and be a productive member of it.

PRIME MINISTER AL THANI: Well, Iran – I will start from Iran where the Secretary end. Iran is a very important country, very close to us and the border, and we believe that we have to find a way to live together in peaceful way. And for that, I believe that a dialogue is – and political dialogue – is very important to try to sort the problem between Iran and other international communities. But it have to be a serious talk from both sides. It have to be a productive talk with an object how to find a way to get out of this dilemma of the negotiation. But for us, it’s very important that we don’t trigger any tension, military tension, in the region. We are against any military tension. We think that the only best way is, as I mentioned, is to find a serious dialogue, not a dialogue just for a dialogue but a serious dialogue between the parties.

About the office of Taliban, as you know, Qatar is trying to be peaceful messengers or peaceful ambassadors, and we are trying to do this with all our capacity. And that’s part of our policy how to defuse the tension in our region. And Afghanistan is not far from our region, and any opportunity we can help our friends to try to find a mutual ground to start a negotiation and dialogue, we think this is the best opportunity to solve the tension in our region.

As you know, the region passed through a lot of difficulties, a lot of wars. It’s time to find a way to try to solve it. And we really thank Madam Secretary. She is very wise, doing a great job. And I’m not saying this for complimentary, but I think she – we could feel that there is a lot of problem could be solved with his – with her wise policy in the region.

Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Sheikh Hamad. And I think —

QUESTION: Time for one more?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We have one more, and then I’m going to have let the sheikh go.

QUESTION: Sure.

MS. NULAND: Last question to Nadia Charters, MBC.

QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, you talked about the Arab League monitors report. Many expect it to be damning to the Syrian regime. Is the next step the UN Security Council? Will you be able to get a resolution that has teeth more than just rhetoric?

(In Arabic.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m going to let Sheikh Hamad answer that after it’s translated, because we are certainly supportive of the Arab League leadership.

INTERPRETER: The question in Arabic was: Assad has launched accusations against the Arab League that it is receiving orders and taking directions from foreign parties and outside parties. So how can you answer these attacks or these verbal attacks?

PRIME MINISTER AL THANI: Shall I answer in Arabic or in English? In Arabic.

(In Arabic.)

That’s – I should say it in English. Yes, you can.

INTERPRETER: Madam Secretary?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

INTERPRETER: The foreign minister said in Arabic the following: It is important now not to look at who is launching accusations towards whom. It is important now for President Assad to cooperate with the Arab League mission and to cooperate with the Arab thoughts and ideas in order to find a resolution to this issue. He has said that the Arab League has been a six decades of failure, and there are those who also say that the regime in Syria has been four decades of stuff. Therefore, and this is something that the people of Syria and the Arab people will be judging or will judge, whether the successes and the failures.

What is most important now, it’s to stop the killing, to remove all armed presence from the streets, to release all detainees and prisoners, and to provide security for the media. And until now, we have not seen that this has been fulfilled and implemented according to the protocol that was put in place for that. We will have a meeting with the mission, with the Arab League mission, of the observers mission, on the 19th or the 20th of this month, and we will look into the assessment and assessment report that this mission will bring. And we will see whether there will be ways or venues for cooperation and how we will deal forward with that problem. However, what is now obvious today is that attacks are still ongoing and it seems that the Government of Syria is still not ready to change its course.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

PRIME MINISTER AL THANI: Thank you very much.

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Hillary Clinton,  international woman of history,  had a long, very busy day today, and, as you know,  on the heels of this comes a four-day trip over many, many miles to Berlin, Seoul, and Tokyo.  We see her here, at her early morning meeting with Qatari Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.  Then she closed the U.S.-China People-to-People Exchange with Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong. Finally, we see her with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.  She goes from the miniscule emirate to the huge country to the tiny country smoothly,  democratically according each equal importance in their friendship with the U.S.

Her day was not over with these photos.  She went on to a meeting at the White House with the POTUS, an appearance and speech at a Vital Voices function, and finally,  probably just finishing as I type, an address to the U.S.- Islamic World Forum.

Mme. Secretary, Godspeed tomorrow.  We hear that you are going to deliver an important speech in Berlin, and you always represent us so well and make us so proud.   Have a safe and successful journey.  We, here, will be tagging along.

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Forum for the Future: Partnership Dialogue Panel Session


Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ritz Carlton
Doha, Qatar
January 13, 2011

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MR. FOSTER: Good morning. Thank you very much for joining us here, at the seventh Forum for the Future. My name is David Foster, and I will be moderating this discussion involving our panelists here, and of course, a great many of you out here, as well.

For the past five years, it’s been my privilege to work here in Qatar for Al-Jazeera English. And one of our mottos has always been, “Every angle, every side,” which is, effectively, what this is about. It’s about dialogue (inaudible). And we will work our way from this side.

First of all, may I ask, Madam Secretary, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States of America (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, David. I am honored to be here again at the Forum for the Future, especially with so many friends and colleagues from the G8 and from the Middle East.

I am delighted to join with Sheikh Khalid, who is a great colleague of mine in the foreign ministry, and I look forward to hearing from Slaheddine Jourchi, whose work on human rights and democracy in Tunisia I admire — and, of course, it is especially timely today — and Mohamed El-Masry, president of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce.

This is the last stop on a trip that has brought me from Abu Dhabi and Dubai to Yemen, Oman, and now to Doha. On this short, but intense journey, I saw many signs of the potential for a new and innovative Middle East: a solar-powered city rising from the sands of the UAE; civil society leaders in Oman partnering with their government to improve education and create economic opportunities; a young Yemeni woman and a young Yemeni man, both of whom studied abroad and then returned to work for progress in Yemen. And of course, here in Qatar, the home of the 2022 World Cup, we see many examples of a commitment to innovation. Last year I visited Education City, which is connecting Qatar’s young people to the global economy.

So, wherever I go, in my conversations with people from all walks of life—from officials at the highest levels of government to university students, religious leaders, and engaged citizens, one message has consistently emerged: People are deeply proud of this region and what it has accomplished, but they are also profoundly concerned about the trends in many parts of the broader Middle East, and what the future holds.

We all know this region faces serious challenges, even beyond the conflicts that dominate the headlines of the day. And we have a lot of work to do. This forum was designed to be not just an annual meeting where we talk with and at each other, but a launching pad for some of the institutional changes that will deal with the challenges that we all know are present.

For example, a growing majority of this region is under the age of 30. In fact, it is predicted that in just one country, Yemen, the population will double in 30 years. These young people have a hard time finding work. In many places, there are simply not enough jobs. Across the region, one in five young people is unemployed. And in some places, the percentage is far more. While some countries have made great strides in governance, in many others people have grown tired of corrupt institutions and a stagnant political order. They are demanding reform to make their governments more effective, more responsive, and more open. And all this is taking place against a backdrop of depleting resources: water tables are dropping, oil reserves are running out, and too few countries have adopted long-term plans for addressing these problems.

Each country, of course, has its own distinct challenges, and each its own achievements. But in too many places, in too many ways, the region’s foundations are sinking into the sand. The new and dynamic Middle East that I have seen needs firmer ground if it is to take root and grow everywhere. And that goal brings us to this Forum.

I believe that the leaders of this region, in partnership with their people, have the capacity to build that stronger foundation. There are enough models and examples in the region to point to, to make the economic and social reforms that will create jobs, respect the right of diversity to exist, create more economic opportunity, encourage entrepreneurship, give citizens the skills they need to succeed, to make the political reforms that will create the space young people are demanding, to participate in public affairs and have a meaningful role in the decisions that shape their lives.

So to my friends, the leaders of these countries, I would say: You can help build a future that your young people will believe in, stay for, and defend. Some of you are already demonstrating that. But for others it will take new visions, new strategies and new commitments. It is time to see civil society not as a threat, but as a partner. And it is time for the elites in every society to invest in the futures of their own countries.

Those who cling to the status quo may be able to hold back the full impact of their countries’ problems for a little while, but not forever. If leaders don’t offer a positive vision and give young people meaningful ways to contribute, others will fill the vacuum. Extremist elements, terrorist groups, and others who would prey on desperation and poverty are already out there, appealing for allegiance and competing for influence. So this is a critical moment, and this is a test of leadership for all of us.

I am here to pledge my country’s support for those who step up to solve the problems that we and you face. We want to build stronger partnerships with societies that are on the path to long-term stability and progress — business, government and civil society, as represented on this panel, must work together, as in our new regional initiative called Partners for a New Beginning. We know that what happens in this region will have implications far beyond.

Now, America cannot solve these problems. And I know you understand that. But it bears repeating. What we need is a real vision for that future that comes from each of you, from governments that must deliver on their promises, from civil society and business leaders who must build their people up, and of course, from the people themselves.

The Middle East is brimming with talent. It is blessed with resources, enriched by strong traditions of faith and family. This rising generation of young people has the potential to achieve so much, and we need to give them the chance to do so.

So, here at the Forum for the Future, let us face honestly that future. Let us discuss openly what needs to be done. Let us use this time to move beyond rhetoric, to put away plans that are timid and gradual, and make a commitment to keep this region moving in the right direction. People are looking for real leadership in the 21st century, and I think it can be provided, and I know that this is the moment to do so.

Thank you very much.

MR. FOSTER: Madam Secretary, thank you very much indeed. I’m going to ask Sheikh Khalid in just a moment to come up here, but I would just like to say a couple of words first. Before I throw it open to the floor, I think it might be very interesting if I ask a couple of questions of our panelists on some of the issues that they have raised during their opening addresses. So that will be the format that we follow.

So now, let me ask Sheikh Khalid, foreign minister of Bahrain, to come to the podium.

FOREIGN MINISTER KHALID: Co-chairs, His Excellency Sheikh Hamid bin Jasim, prime minister of the state of Qatar, and The Honorable Lawrence Cannon, foreign minister of Canada, I’m delighted to be here today. Madam Secretary, I’m really delighted to be with you on a panel again since the Manama Dialogue. This is the last stop after a marathon for you in the Middle East, and that was also a last stop after a Central Asian sub-zero tour to come to the warm weather of the Gulf. So delighted to be with you, and to my other colleagues, Mr. Aldorshi and Mr. El-Masry.

I’m really delighted to be here in such distinguished company, and I look forward to an open and constructive discussion on how we can advance and develop the partnership between governments and civil society in the BMENA region. I greatly appreciate the work of the civil society partners from the region, and in particular, the detailed discussion that took place at the regional preparatory workshops and national seminars. The outcomes of these sessions demonstrate the seriousness with which civil society is engaging in this process. And on behalf of the BMENA governments, I want to underline that we, too, are committed to an ongoing, open, and productive dialogue.

Without question, genuine engagement and partnership with civil society across the region is essential to our progress. In this context, the civil society recommendations from November’s meeting in Ottawa are helpful in shaping how we work together moving forward. They reflect the principles underlying our dialogue and the desire of civil society to participate actively and constructively in this process. Underlying these recommendations, I believe, is the recognition that it is essential for BMENA countries to engage all parts of society in the development process and to harness the energies and talents of every citizen in advancing both personal and national interests.

This is a reorganization that is fully shared by BMENA governments and are, for example, co-pillars, core pillars, of my country’s development strategy. Since 2001, our nongovernmental sector has seen dramatic growth, and in particular, since 2006, the number of civil society groups has grown from 275 to over 526, including some 50 trade unions, an increase of 36 percent in just over four years. And we have with us here attending this forum, from Bahrain, the Bahrain Human Rights Society, the Bahrain Women’s Association, the Bahrain Women’s Union, and the Bahrain Transparency Society.

The government provides technical, financial and logistical support to the NGO sector in cooperation with international organizations such as the United Nations Development Program and including measures to build the capacity of civil society organizations through training programs, workshops, and advice and assistance in applying for grants.

We have also set up an NGO fund to provide grants for social partnership, which engage third-party private funding for development projects. Fund members include the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, national banks and companies, and the Ministry of Social Development. In 2001 – in 2010, some 56 NGOs benefited from funding for social partnership schemes.

This flourishing of civil society has been underpinned by the guarantees in Bahrain’s constitution and laws of rights such as the freedom of assembly, freedom to demonstrate, and the freedom to open public expression and debate. And these guarantees have also ensured the continued progress and consolidation of our democracy and democratic institutions, enabling political institutions to hold political meetings, campaign for public support, select candidates, and act as parliamentary blocs. Furthermore, we are committed to freedom of expression, but we recognize also the potential – the harm that inflammatory information can have on inciting divisions between people and disrupting social harmony. It is important that this fundamental right is exercised constructively and responsibly.

So the democratic process is continuing its progress in the kingdom of Bahrain, and we are committed to strengthening this development, upholding the rule of law, and working towards the goals and principle of our Economic Vision 2030 as a means of providing a sustainable, competitive, and fair future for Bahrain and all its citizens.

I want to mediate on the rule of law and our commitment to it. The rule of law helps the democratic process thrive. It protects and promotes not only the rights of the individual, but also the participation of civil society. If civil society feels that the law needs to be reformed, then the democratic process will ensure that proper avenues exist for such forums to be publicly debated, discussed, and effected.

I can assure everyone here today and all of those who have participated in the G-8 BMENA process that the governments of this region want to work toward practical and achievable outcomes that give effect to these principles. We therefore welcome the civil society recommendations as a basis for serious and constructive discussions with a view to reaching a consensus on how we can move forward in practical terms and strengthen the ongoing dialogue and cooperation between governments and civil society.

What is apparent is that we must invest in our youth. Demographically, we are a young region, and therefore, it is today’s young people who are the key to our prosperous future. We must continue to invest in progressive education and provide job opportunities through programs of economic diversification and expansion. Speaking personally, I am particularly interested in how governments and NGOs can work together to support and promote science, technology and innovation, and to foster a culture of entrepreneurship and enterprise. Economic growth and development has to be the foundation of our region’s future progress, without which other development will be unsustainable.

I’m optimistic that greater interregional cooperation, both between governments and with the civil society, can be coupled with initiatives for projects with the G-8 countries to promote an indigenous and self-sufficient culture of innovation and enterprise that can power the region forward in the years ahead.

In conclusion, I look forward to open and productive discussions both today and in the future, and want to underline, once again, the commitment and good faith of the BMENA governments towards our cooperation with the G-8, as well as in our dealings with the civil society as part of that process. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

MR. FOSTER: Sheikh Khalid, thank you very much indeed. I would like to call from (inaudible) from Tunisia, from the (inaudible) center there to reflect upon perhaps a message that you’ve heard here and also events that we’ve seen in your country in the course of the last two or three weeks. Thank you very much indeed.

PARTICIPANT: (In Arabic.) (Applause.)

MR. FOSTER: (Inaudible), thank you very much indeed. And now, may I ask our fourth panelist here, Mohamed El Masry from the Egyptian Chamber of Commerce, to address the distinguished guests.

MR. EL MASRY: (In Arabic.) (Applause.)

MR. FOSTER: Thank you very much, indeed. Now we know what’s really important, don’t we? Before I throw this open to the floor, I’d just like to ask the panelists myself a few questions, and then perhaps at the end if there’s another couple of minutes, I can bring some more points up.

Mrs. Clinton, your address was very hard-hitting, I thought. You seemed a little bit frustrated at the speed of change in some countries, encouraged by it in others. But let me ask you this: Why do you think there is, as Mr. Aldorshi said, perhaps strategic resistance to change and partnership in some countries in this part of the world?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think there are different reasons in countries as to why they are reluctant to open their economy, as Mr. El Masry just said – a much more open trading system, a more open and accessible entry into the business sector. I think there’s a mistaken belief that by protecting one’s economy, you somehow protect jobs. And in the 21st century, that is absolutely untrue. So one thing we have to do – and I very much appreciated what Mr. El Masry said, as a leader of the business community in Egypt – is to encourage as much openness as possible economically.

Secondly, I think that Mr. Jourchi made a very good point: In too many countries, civil society is viewed as a threat or an enemy to the state, as opposed to a partner. I’ve been involved in civil society most of my life, and there are certainly exceptions, but in general, what civil society tries to do is make their society stronger, meet the needs of people that government cannot meet alone, and prove that they are good citizens as activists within their own culture.

Thirdly, I think corruption is a major problem. And in the 21st century, where information is so readily available, people know now maybe what they did not know 10, 20, 30 years ago, that much of a government’s wealth is going to a few instead of the many in too many countries. And I’ve never understood why people in either the economic or political elite do not understand that corruption is a cancer and it eats away not only at the heart of a country by depriving the people of access to resources that come from the sweat of the efforts of the people, but that it is short-sighted.

You can make a lot of money in a non-corrupt system if you are working hard, and that’s what should be encouraged, because finally, what has to happen is that awareness of the need for more meritocracy, more reward of people no matter where they start in society who are willing to work hard, be that small business owner, that entrepreneur, that hardworking student, and not see the best of your people in too many places leave in order to find a better opportunity. So there are many sources of the lack of movement, the lack of reform, the resistance, David, but those are some.

MR. FOSTER: Thank you very much indeed. Sheikh Khalid, since the first Forum For The Future – we’re talking about 2004, I believe – how much of a change do you think you’ve seen in your society?

FOREIGN MINISTER KHALID: Thank you. Well, the change started since 2000 – since 1999, actually. So we’re talking about almost 11 years now or slightly more of change and reforms. So we’ve seen a lot. We’ve seen a country going from a simple – simply run by government decree to a very thriving country that has its parliament and has its open media, compared to what we had before. And as I’ve said in my remarks, the number of NGOs, real NGOs and trade unions in Bahrain, have grown dramatically and especially in the last four years. So yes, there is real change and there is a real accountability of the government.

MR. FOSTER: But is there a downside to this, from your point of view?

FOREIGN MINISTER KHALID: No downside at all. If there was a downside, it is maybe how the society is taking change, how is it with all the different forces. This is a region of the world that is not necessarily like many other regions, so people could think differently along different lines, and not necessarily along this – be careful – not necessarily along conservative or liberal lines, but maybe along religious, tribal or sectarian lines. So the resistance is there. The hiccups are there. But it’s never a screeching halt, it’s never a U-turn. Maybe a bump in the road, but we’re moving forward.

MR. FOSTER: Thank you very much. Mr. Aldorshi, a few nights ago on Al Jazeera, I did a program taking a look at some of the problems in your country, in Algeria, comparing those with the situation in Egypt and basically across the top of North Africa. Are you surprised, as a representative of civil society, how little open support there are appears to have been from blocs such as the European Union and perhaps the United States?

PARTICIPANT: (In Arabic.)

MR. FOSTER: Is that understandable?

PARTICIPANT: Excuse me?

MR. FOSTER: I’m sorry. I was asking you. I mean, you talk about, effectively, a pragmatism on behalf of those countries who would otherwise perhaps sort of wade in with something, perhaps standing back.? Is that understandable that they would do that?

PARTICIPANT: (In Arabic.)

MR. FOSTER: Thank you very much, indeed. And Mohamed El Masry, we talk about here the need for change within institutions and that business would welcome seeing those changes. But is it not a fact that given the economic conditions of the world over the last three to four years, business itself needs to change?

MR. EL MASRY: (In Arabic.)

MR. FOSTER: Thank you very much, indeed. From me for the moment, that’s pretty much it. I will now try my very best to be as fair to the audience here as possible. And I believe just to kick it off, we’d like to go Alistair Burt from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Mr. Burt.

MR. BURT: Shukran. Your Excellencies and distinguished guests, on all our behalf, I’d like to thank His Excellency Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabir Al-Thani for his government’s generous hospitality in hosting the Forum and the Honorable Lawrence Cannon for the work Canada has done with Qatar as co-chairs in preparing this event with more structured discussion between civil society and government, all related to the initiative which the United Kingdom has supported since its inception. And my question relates to issues which have been raised by Their Excellencies the Secretary of State and Sheikh Khalid.

The British Government is setting out a foreign policy which promotes universal values of political freedom and economic liberalism. We all face challenges in a globally connected and rapidly changing world, and recent events illustrate such pressures. We believe those challenges are more effectively met with a firm base of political and social participation, accountable effective governments enjoying legitimacy where citizens can express their views freely without fear of reprisal or punishment, where citizens are equipped for employment, have access to jobs and economic opportunity and can make a significant contribution, and where citizens enjoy equal access to good services, to religious tolerance, and justice, and feel protected by the law. All these elements, we believe, form the foundation of the most stable and prosperous countries of the world.

And I say this knowing that all governments face internal challenge and pressure for change. Each has their own history and sense of progression to reach this stage, and all must own that change themselves. The United Kingdom is committed to partnerships throughout the region in pursuance of these common objectives because good governance and active civil participation and a well-developed private sector will help deliver our shared interest – a prosperous, stable, broader Middle East and North Africa region.

And lastly – and this is the point in my intervention – we should not neglect the fact – and this has been mentioned recently in your questions – that modern means of communication and the freer access to information is a wave that will not be rolled back and will increase the pressure for transparency upon us all, a wave that both worries and excites in equal measure.

So my question to the panel is this: Bearing in mind the challenges and opportunities created by the impact of modern communications technology – and as all – we all reach for our BlackBerrys and mobile phones in the last 24 and next 24 hours – what is the panel’s vision of the contribution that this can make to human development in the region over the next 20 years? And how can G-8 and BMENA make a distinctive contribution to such vision looking at this as a particular theme?

MR. FOSTER: Mr. Burt, thank you very much, indeed. I believe your questions were put to the two foreign ministers from Bahrain and from the United States. And can I just add at this point, when you talk about information technology, that some of the pictures that have been made available via the internet of events in Tunisia and Algeria during the course of the last three weeks have thrown a spotlight on those countries that four or five years ago would not have been possible. Mrs. Clinton, can I ask for your response about it?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that the question really poses both a great opportunity and a challenge for governments and societies because I agree completely that there is no turning back the tide of information and interconnectedness that has been brought to us by new technologies. So our response has to be: How do we best keep that free exchange of information going and look for ways to use the technologies to further goals like open information, assistance for employment search, acquisition of skills, and so much else. So I would just make three quick points and tell you what we’re trying to do.

We believe strongly in what in what we call 21st century statecraft, which is trying to empower people in countries to use these technologies on behalf of civil society, to highlight and hold accountable oppressive and corrupt government officials, and to find common ground that will give voice to those who are standing for democracy, freedom, and human rights, and against extremism, terrorism, and violence. So we have reached out and helped oppositions keep information flowing as we did during and after the Iranian election. We all saw the results of the Iranian Government cracking down so drastically on peaceful protest and even the killing of innocent protesters, young people in the streets. So we will, on the United States’ behalf, continue to provide such information.

Secondly, we think that technology can be used to help equip people with skills for the 21st century global economy, something that Mr. El Masry highlighted. We can use distance learning. We can teach English or other skills that people might need to enhance their economic well-being.

And finally, we are using technology to combat poverty and food security by helping to empower small farmers and women and others. One quick example from Africa is we ran a contest on internet applications with young people in African countries and we had a very positive response. Technology used in Kenya helped to monitor the last constitutional election, so we avoided the bloodshed that flowed from the prior election; applications to help pregnant women get better information so that their children are born healthy; applications to let small farmers get access to prices and weather; those are just some of the examples that we’re going to be continuing to develop in the United States as we pursue 21st century statecraft using technology.

MR. FOSTER: But may I just ask you this: Would there ever be a situation in which a government might not wish to see information about itself advertised on the World Wide Web?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, we’ve had that experience, Dave, as you know. (Laughter.)

MR. FOSTER: And what do you do about it, then?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you do a better job protecting confidential information, which we intend to do. And there’s a difference between the open exchange that the internet promotes and, frankly, the theft of confidential information which is what we faced. So we draw that line, and we feel very comfortable with it.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Sheikh Khalid.

FOREIGN MINISTER KHALID: Well, the issue of technology, I see it going beyond the partnership between the G-8 and the BMENA region. It’s really a partnership that started globally with – first of all, with the satellite TV watching – being able to watch American channels here in the Gulf, live programs like the Today Show on NBC or Al Jazeera is another very good example. And today, it’s a partnership more correctly between people like Steve Jobs and Liz Stone and the whole world instead of the foreign ministers sitting here together trying to forge a partnership between them.

So the issue of social media is important, it’s serious, and it’s getting everybody together here, whether they are government representatives or people who are students or in the private sector. I can name a few here inside this room who are with me active on Twitter – the foreign minister of Jordan, Mr. Amr Musa, who is not here in the room. They are all active talking to people. So we need to really emphasize on being part of this whole network. Staying out of it, not being part of it, is really not necessarily very helpful for the future. We need to listen to the people, see what they think. They are all connected, whether here in Qatar, in Bahrain, in Saudi Arabia, in Egypt, in Tunisia, and everywhere. They are all connected in their own way.

So we will have to be part of it, listen to them, and answer their questions. Thank you very much.

MR. FOSTER: Thank you very much, indeed. Let me bring in somebody from the business sector here, because I think it would be interesting to bring our other two panelists into it at this stage. Sir.

PARTICIPANT: (In Arabic.)

MR. FOSTER: Thank you. Thank you very much, indeed. This was a question addressed to G-8, and Mrs. Clinton is the only person on the panel qualified to answer on that basis. Perhaps you would care to address that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you. Again, this is a subject worthy of a long and comprehensive answer, but I will try to be brief but pointed.

I think that, again, there are five different actions that need to be taken that the G-8 would strongly support. First, you referenced the reform of the laws of countries. There are still too many restrictions on the right to do business, the opportunities that can be made available for people to do business in too many of the countries in the BMENA region. So there needs to be internal reform. The G-8 is certainly more than ready to work with any country to provide the benefit of our own experience and, speaking for the United States, the benefit of the experience we have from working with countries around the world about how to liberalize their economies and create more economic opportunity bubbling up.

Second, I would once again reference corruption. It is a costly, frustrating process to open and run a business in many of the countries in the BMENA area. You know this better than I do. Trying to get a permit, you have to pass money through so many different hands. Trying to open up, you have to pay people off. Trying to stay open, you have to pay people off. Trying to export your goods, you have to pay people off. So by the time you finish paying everybody off, it’s not a very profitable venture. So there needs to be a concerted, constant chorus from the business community to end the corruption, to make your businesses more profitable and productive.

Number three, it is important to demonstrate that there is a rule of law, good governance, respect for contracts in order to create an investment climate that attracts business and keeps them there. I think that many of the businesses in my country want to, and many do, already invest in the countries of the BMENA region. But they would tell you that there are some countries they love to invest in because they feel that they are welcomed, they are supported, and there are other countries where it is a very challenging experience to do so.

Number four, it is hard to have the kind of economic climate that is needed without making some of the social reforms that are required. Put aside the critical issue of political freedoms, human rights, and democracy that we have been discussing. Focus on social conditions. If you do not have an educated workforce, it is very hard to grow the economy to the extent that it should grow. Some of the countries in BMENA have done an excellent job expanding universal education, some have not. Unless one is committed to creating an educated workforce, it will be very difficult to grow the economies to the extent that it is necessary.

And finally, there has to be respect for the various sectors of the population so that business opportunities are available to religious, tribal, sectarian minorities, business opportunities are available to women, so that the entire society is empowered to pursue their economic well-being. We started an initiative last year under President Obama’s leadership, the entrepreneurial partnerships that we are forming with primarily BMENA and other Muslim-majority countries in the world because we think there is so much economic potential that should be unleashed. We stand ready to provide mentoring, technical assistance, even credit where appropriate. But the long-term benefits of this economic activity, which you can see by going to some of the countries in BMENA, will not be realized unless countries pursue a plan that at least takes into account those five points.

MR. FOSTER: Mr. Romas, would you like to intervene?

PARTICIPANT: (In Arabic.)

MR. FOSTER: Thank you very much indeed, and I apologize, sir. I can’t throw it open to debate all the way around. We got to get in as many people as possible, but thank you very much for your question.

I think it’s fascinating standing here and seeing so many people representing civil society, human rights organizations, when perhaps 10, 15 years ago, it just wouldn’t have happened. So let’s bring in somebody from that side of the room with a question for the panel.

QUESTION: Thank you. (In Arabic.)

PARTICIPANT: (In Arabic.)

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

PARTICIPANT: (In Arabic.)

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that it’s important that we use the Forum For The Future to try to bring about some institutional change by creating ongoing efforts between the annual meetings. We have the one institution that was created, but we need more, and I know that there will be a proposal for us to consider about creating some ongoing institutions.

Let’s take, for example, what we’ve been discussing – the economic arena. I think it would be very useful to have a Forum For The Future institution that provides best practices, provides suggested legislative reforms, provides models for training. There’s a lot that we could do if we built on the very good points that have been made by both gentlemen from Qatar who asked me a question, by Mr. El Masry, and others.

We can also do the same when it comes to the pressing problem of young people. 2011 is declared by the United Nations to be the year of youth. I think it would be especially important, perhaps, for the United Nations to study the challenges that the growing youth population in the BMENA region posed to governments, to economies that could be addressed through some specific actions. So the United States will certainly support these kinds of institutional efforts coming out of the Forum and will be an advocate for looking for ways that we can provide information that governments and civil society and the private sector can use to improve conditions in their own country.

MR. FOSTER: Thank you very much indeed. I would say that it’s not just the right and left, as where I stand, that we would like to see involved in this discussion, but also all of the representatives of the governments who have come here for this Forum. So if you could think about something that you’d like to address to the panel.

There was a second gentleman over there with the civil society who I know is expecting to ask a question. Has your point been made or would you like to ask a question? I think the message we got from the chair was that it should be brief.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

MODERATOR: Thank you very much indeed. Let me bring Mr. Aldorshi here, because with firsthand experience, I – the question I would like to put to you is: Do you find that civil societies, those that have sprung up in the last five to six years, are accepted, are tolerated, or are they, by and large, encouraged?

PARTICIPANT: (In Arabic.)

MR. FOSTER: Mrs. Clinton, how do you change that approach? I’m sorry to catch you while you’re just about to have a drink.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that that point is a fair point, because this Forum was intended to create an opportunity for civil society and government to meet together, work toward common goals, and implement plans to achieve those goals. And I think that in some places, as Sheikh Khalid said, we’ve seen a lot of progress, but in other places, we have not. So how do we continue the progress where it’s occurring and try to stimulate progress where it is not? And that’s a very difficult question.

Let me go back to the gentleman from Yemen, because I was just in Yemen. I met with the president and the government. I met with a very vigorous, dynamic group of about 200 civil society leaders. I met with leaders of the opposition. And it struck me that there is not the level of cooperation that there needs to be to improve the lives of the Yemeni people and to put Yemen on a firmer foundation going forward.

Now, the United States, other members of the G-8, neighbors in the region, I think, have been working to try to persuade the Government of Yemen to take more steps to open up the political process to engage in meaningful dialogue with dissident groups, to invest in the education and well-being of their people. And it is, for me, a high priority to try to make that case. But at the end of the day, there has to be a willingness on the part of the government and the people to work together toward a common goal. And I’m not sure that any forum or any kind of meeting can produce that. It has to be encouraged constantly and come from both the top and the bottom.

I left Yemen. I went to Oman. And certainly, in Oman, as the foreign minister and His Majesty can attest to, the social conditions, the emphasis on development, the changes in people’s lives over the last four decades have been quite remarkable.

We have a free trade agreement with Oman. We can reward countries that are making the changes and the investments, even if they take a long time, if we see a path that they are following. But if a leadership will not pursue such a path of development, it is very hard for anyone on the outside to make that happen.

And I would just end by this point. It is – I think it is worth continuing the effort that the Forum For The Future represents, even though I acknowledge the frustration in many places that progress is not faster. But we need the voices and the encouragement of the leaders, not just in government, but in business, in academia, in other walks of life, to be speaking with a common voice about why these changes are important.

It will improve the lives of people, it will increase economic output, it will provide a repudiation of extremism, because in many of these countries, as we know in Yemen, there is a lot of conflict going on. And there is a real effort by al-Qaida to fill vacuums. And those vacuums will either be filled by smart leadership or by alternatives that are not in the best interests of people like us, whether we’re in civil society, diplomacy, or business.

So, I think we have to keep working at it, even though we don’t have immediate results in every place we would like to see.

MODERATOR: Sheikh?

FOREIGN MINISTER KHALID: I would like to go back to the fifth Forum for the Future in Abu Dhabi that was held two years ago, when then the attendee from the United States was Under Secretary Negroponte. And he said, I remember very well during a dinner, that he hoped that the Forum For The Future would continue. At that moment, the Forum For The Future was really in doubt. Its future was really in doubt. And we thank you, Madam Secretary, for holding the next one with us in Marrakesh. And here we are here in Doha, and we understand it will continue in the future in the BMENA region.

One of the most important things that we have – I don’t want to say “started,” but I want to say “honed our skills in” is our partnership with the civil society. And it’s a developing process. It’s ever-evolving, whether here or anywhere else in the world. So, yes, we are committed to it.

But my colleague here, Mr. Aldorshi, mentioned that now there is a – kind of a split in the views of the civil society. Some say we should continue, some say we should not. This split did not happen now. The split happened from the second Forum For The Future which took place in Bahrain. We had – and my Bahraini colleagues from the civil society know that very well – we were requested to arrange for a parallel Forum For The Future for the civil society.

At that second one, right after Morocco, when it came to Bahrain, we did not hesitate to accept that offer and facilities for that one. But – so the idea of having trust, it didn’t come after five years, or didn’t get enough time, but it came very early in the process. Thank you.

MR. FOSTER: Thank you very much, indeed. We’ve probably got about another six or seven minutes left. I would say to the representatives of the government – we’ve heard from Mr. Burt, but we’ve not heard from anybody else – you possibly have another five minutes in which to make your views known. And if you disagree with anything you’ve heard from the panel, now would be the perfect opportunity to raise your hand so that I can get your attention.

But let’s go back to the business sector again.

MR. HAMOD: As-Salāmu `Alaykum, (In Arabic.) My name is David Hamod. I serve as the president of the U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce. And on behalf of all of the private sector folks here, I want to extend our thanks for the extraordinary hospitality of the Qatari people.

I come before you today as a proud American of Arab descent, and I respectfully suggest that those of us who are born and raised in the G-8 nations have a special role to play in promoting mutual respect, cooperation, and business relations between the G-8 nations and the BMENA countries.

My question, Mr. Moderator: What steps can governments take to gain a better understanding of the needs of the business community? Specifically, how do we work together to promote entrepreneurship and small, medium-sized enterprises which play such an essential role in the growth of productive jobs in our countries? How do we work together to develop educational systems at the primary, secondary, and higher education level that will allow our students to gain practical education knowledge and skills for the workplace? And how do we work together to eliminate those barriers to trade and investment, including visas, that are preventing our business communities from working together more closely for the mutual benefit of our respective peoples? Thank you.

MR. FOSTER: Mr. El Masry, perhaps you could give us the 1-2-3 of what you think the most important first steps are.

MR. EL MASRY: Yes, thank you. (In Arabic.)

PARTICIPANT: (In Arabic.)

MR. FOSTER: Thank you. Thank you very much, indeed. We are coming towards (applause) – we are approaching the end of what I think has been a fascinating session.

I, personally, and I think on behalf of a number of people here, would like to address one final such query to you, Mrs. Clinton. And that is: When you talk about tolerance and prosperity, there will be those in this room who associate that with the Middle East peace process, and your efforts to try and bring about a solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And they will say, “How can the Secretary of State come here, talk about intransigence, backsliding, broken promises, when you cannot persuade Israel to stop building in the West Bank and Jerusalem?”

Can you explain to those people who have that concern, why should we listen to the United States? Can you explain to them why you cannot stop Israel doing that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Israel is a sovereign country. It makes its own decisions. We can’t stop a lot of countries from doing things we disagree with and that we speak out against. We see it all over the world. The United States bears a disproportionate amount of the burden for trying to maintain peace and security and prosperity across the globe. I wish there were a way we could tell a lot of countries what they should do, because there are a lot of countries doing things that are not in the best interests of their own people, their neighbors, or the world.

So, I think that the question needs to be addressed by asking ourselves what more can we do to help the Palestinian people continue their state-building efforts, which is a very positive development of the last several years under the leadership of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. And the United States is now the largest single donor to the Palestinians to help them with the state-building efforts.

The World Bank issued a report earlier, several months ago, saying that if the Palestinians continue on the pace they are on, they will be ready for statehood. I think that’s a very important commitment that all the countries represented around here ought to be supporting. And the Palestinians especially need the continuing support of their neighbors and Arab — fellow Arab countries.

We also have to convince the Israelis that a complete move toward a two-state solution will not endanger their security. Any leader in this room knows that you often make decisions based on your own experience and history. And when the Israelis pulled out of Lebanon, they got Hezbollah and 40,000 rockets. And when they pulled out of Gaza, they got Hamas and about 20,000 rockets. So it’s easy to say, “Well, this is what somebody else should do,” but you’ve got to figure out a way to make it possible for people to undertake the hard work of the negotiations that are necessary to achieve a two-state solution.

So, we have spent a lot of time, and will continue to spend a lot of time, working to build enough confidence on both sides that they can make decisions that will, by necessity, be compromises. There is no solution to any dispute I am aware of anywhere in the world where, if it’s going to be a peaceful resolution with a lasting outcome, there are not compromises that have to be made. So, I would hope that all the BMENA countries will work toward creating a climate where both the Palestinians and the Israelis will be able to do so.

MR. FOSTER: Thank you. Thank you very much, indeed. May I thank our panelists, Mr. El Masry, Mr. Aldorshi, Sheikh Khalifa, Mrs. Clinton. It’s been a very fascinating hour-and-a-half, and I thank you very much, indeed, for your time. And thank you, too, all of you, for contributing to this session. Thank – may peace be upon you, and thank you for inviting me. (Applause.)

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This was Mme. Secretary’s final event on this trip. Her language can be so picturesque.  That sentence I emphasized is an example.  Where does she get these images?

Secretary Clinton Meets With Staff of Embassy Doha

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Doha, Qatar
January 13, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress) the embassy family. I also want to thank Mirembe for your work and your support on this trip into in particular.

I think that we are very fortunate to have such an extraordinary team here in Doha. There is a lot that happens here. It may be a small country, but it punches way above its weight. And, therefore, we need some of our best people here, working on behalf of the relationship between the United States and Qatar.

I was just told that next month we’ll be saying good-bye to Mahmoud Kandathil (ph), who is retiring after 37 years of service. Where is he? (Applause.) Thank you. Now, I’ve been told, Mahmoud, that you were one of the first Foreign Service nationals to serve here, and that when you started all those years ago, you met a new young officer, brand new to Doha, named Joseph LeBaron. So you two go way back, and I thank you for everything you’ve done for this embassy, and on behalf of the relationship between our two countries.

I’m at the end of a short but intense trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, to Yemen, Oman, and now here. And I had the privilege of meeting not only with government leaders, but representatives of civil society and everyday citizens. And the question really is: How can we build a better future? How can we work more closely and effectively with the United States? And every day you are helping to answer that question.

I know some of you are working to expand scientific cooperation between researchers from our two countries. Others of you are working on expanding educational opportunities. Others, still, working to enhance bilateral security. Still others, working to strengthen trade between our countries. More than 120 American companies already operate in Qatar. Two-way trade with the United States has nearly tripled since 2003, and it even grew 40 percent, despite the global recession.

So, we are looking to you to continue this very important work that you’re doing. And I hope you’ll think about new ways we can do it even better*. I appreciate the extraordinary commitments that you make, who serve far from home. I know it is sometimes under difficult circumstances. I want to thank not only our State Department and USAID family of Foreign Service and Civil Service officers, but all the representatives of the United States Government, not only civilians and military, who cooperate well together here to forward America’s interests and values.

I know that this is a tremendous opportunity, with everything going on in this country, and I especially thank our locally engaged staff, like Mahmoud (ph). We know we couldn’t operate without you. Secretaries and ambassadors come and go, but the locally engaged staff stays and does the hard work, day to day, promoting, broadening, and strengthening our relationship.

So, before the planes* fly away, we are going to have a chance — I’d like to say hello to all of you. If you kind of just — I will start down there, and just come on up, and I will meet as many of you as I can before I head to the airport.

Thank you all very, very much.

(Applause.)

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Public Schedule for January 13, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
January 13, 2011

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel in Doha, Qatar (EST + 9 hours). Assistant Secretary Feltman and Ambassador Melanne Verveer accompany the Secretary. Click here for more information.

9:30 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with civil society leaders, in Doha, Qatar.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)

10:00 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton participates in the opening session of the Seventh Forum for the Future, in Doha, Qatar.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

10:45 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton delivers remarks at the Forum for the Future: Partnership Dialogue Panel, in Doha, Qatar.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

12:40 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with the staff and families of Embassy Doha, in Doha, Qatar.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

PM Secretary Clinton returns from foreign travel.

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Busy day for a busy lady!  We see her arrival from Oman earlier in the day, her participation in a ministerial conference, a press conference with the Qarari Prime Minister, and a bilateral with Egyptian Foreign Minister Gheit.

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