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Posts Tagged ‘Secretary of Defense’

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

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

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

Remarks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECRETARY CLINTON: Defense Minister.

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

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

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

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

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

MS. NULAND: Scott starts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MS. NULAND: Thank you very much.

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

Remarks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MODERATOR: (Inaudible) Defense Minister (inaudible).

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

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

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

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Minister.

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

Remarks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secretary del Rosario.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Secretary Panetta.

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

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

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

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

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

SECRETARY CLINTON: Secretary Gazmin.

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

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

Thank you and good afternoon.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

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

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

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

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

QUESTION: And those people who have gone missing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MS. NULAND: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

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Wolf Blitzer, posted with vodpod

Interview With Wolf Blitzer of CNN

Remarks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECRETARY PANETTA: He is the leader of Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Do you trust him?

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

QUESTION: Does that mean you trust him, though?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION: But bin Ladin is dead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION: Are you encouraged by the first round?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION: Are these crimes against humanity?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION: The argument is that Libya –

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

QUESTION: If it does, would NATO take action?

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION: How much time do they have?

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

QUESTION: Like Russia and China?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION: And what would you do?

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

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

SECRETARY PANETTA: That’s right.

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

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

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

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

QUESTION: What are the others?

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION: Are you ready to meet with him?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECRETARY CLINTON: Are we?

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

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

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

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

QUESTION: I disagree.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, well —

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

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s more than unlikely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION: Except in the United States.

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

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

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

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

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

QUESTION: It’s an easy question –

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

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

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

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

SECRETARY PANETTA: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Those were great pictures.

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

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

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

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

SECRETARY PANETTA: Thank you.

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

QUESTION: Thanks.

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Once again among Time‘s “most influential,”  our Hillary is riding a rising tide of popularity.  This year’s tribute was penned by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a close collaborator of hers during their shared tenure with the administration.

Hillary Clinton

Diplomat
By Robert Gates Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2012
Diana Walker for TIME

Tough. Indefatigable. Patient. Smart. Knowledgeable. Superior political instincts. Funny. Loyal team player. Finds opportunities in crises and challenges. Skilled global advocate for American interests and American values. That is my job description for U.S. Secretary of State. Fortunately, the job has been filled for the past three-plus years by someone who has all those qualities: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In a world that is ever more complex, turbulent and dangerous, Secretary Clinton, 64, has made a singular contribution to strengthening this country’s relationships with allies, partners and friends; rallying other countries to join us in dealing with challenges to the global order, from Libya and Iran to the South China Sea; and reaching out to people in scores of countries to demonstrate that America cares about them.

Read more >>>>

We did not really need Time to tell us how influential Mme. Secretary is, but the recognition is always appreciated.

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