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Remarks At GM Plant

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
GM Plant
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
October 23, 2011

Well, please, everyone be seated and good day to you. Thank you for being here and for touring this magnificent, impressive new factory facility. I’m pleased to be here with Foreign Minister Ganiyev and also want to acknowledge Mr. Rosu Pulof, chairman of GM’s Uzbek partner company, and to thank Juergen Spendel, general director of GM, and all of the distinguished guests. I also would like to thank the American Chamber of Commerce in Tashkent and the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC for all of your efforts to promote trade and economic ties between our two countries.

This plant is a joint venture from top to bottom with all of the newest, most advanced technology. It is a collaboration between Uzbek and American companies, and it will serve as a symbol of our friendship and cooperation. We place a priority on shared ventures like this plant. It was designed by Uzbek and American engineers and architects working together. It was built to be environmentally responsible for the local community. In fact, GM’s water purification technology will ensure the water is cleaner when it leaves the factory than when it entered.

GM’s global manufacturing processes will be carried out by skilled Uzbek workers using locally sourced components, ultimately adding over 1,000 new jobs for Uzbeks. And the use of American machinery and technology as well as the revenues created from the annual production of more than 225,000 new power-trained engines will also support jobs in the United States for Americans.

GM’s presence here in Uzbekistan adds to our efforts to build closer economic connections between ourselves and the countries of South and Central Asia. And today, I am proud to announce that the State Department and the nonprofit organization CRDF Global are launching the Central Asian Technology Entrepreneurship Program. This program will help train the next generation of entrepreneurs in Uzbekistan and foster a culture of technology-centered development here and throughout the region. Eight entrepreneurs will each be awarded a $20,000 techno prize, and one of the eight will be selected to travel to Silicon Valley, meet with potential investors, and prepare their technology for the marketplace.

This is a fitting place to launch this prize because Uzbekistan has a proud history of science and innovation. Many noble scientists and scholars were born and worked in this region, even the father of algebra, and your young people are full of talent and energy. Entrepreneurship is a core value for my country, and we want to encourage it here in Uzbekistan. We believe in order to take even a greater advantage of the global marketplace, Uzbekistan needs to continue its reforms in rule of law, democracy, and human rights. And I’d like to congratulate GM Uzbekistan on being named a finalist for the State Department’s 2011 Award for Corporate Excellence.

So thank you very much for this wonderful partnership, and I look forward to hearing about the great results. Thank you all. (Applause.)

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Interview With David Gregory of NBC’s Meet The Press

Interview

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Intercontinental Hotel
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
October 23, 2011

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, welcome back to Meet the Press. I want to start with Iraq and the President’s decision about withdrawal. As you know, Republicans have already piled on, suggesting that the prospect of sectarian violence once U.S. troops leave is real, among them Mitt Romney saying that it unnecessarily endangers the success that the United States has had in Iraq by withdrawing all the forces by the end of the year. How much of a concern is it to you that we face a prospect of civil war once U.S. troops come out?

SECRETARY CLINTON: David, I think that Iraq is a very new democracy, of course, but it has made tremendous strides in taking care of its own security. And let’s put this into some context here. President Obama has said from the beginning that combat troops would leave by the end of this year. That should not surprise anyone. But it’s equally important to remember that this deadline was set by the Bush Administration, so it’s been a bipartisan commitment, but it was on President Obama’s watch to show the leadership to be able to fulfill that commitment.

So we are now going to have a security relationship with Iraq for training and support of their military, similar to what we have around the world from Jordan to Colombia. We will have military trainers and support personnel on the ground at Embassy Baghdad. We will be training Iraqis on using the military equipment that they are buying from the United States. And we think that this is the kind of mature relationship that is very common. So I believe that we are looking to fulfill what it is that the Iraqis requested and that we’re prepared to provide.

QUESTION: But Secretary Clinton, the question is whether you think this criticism is well-founded or not. Do we not endanger recent success in Iraq by not having any residual force? Is there not a legitimate prospect of civil war, which many people fear?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, honestly, I think that they should have raised those issues when President Bush agreed to the agreement to withdraw troops by the end of this year. I feel like this is a debate that is looking backwards instead of forwards.

Now, are the Iraqis all going to get along with each other for the foreseeable future? Well, let’s find out. We know that there will be continuing stresses and threats, as we see in many of the countries that we work. We had a support-and-training mission in Colombia over many years when they were facing tremendous threats from insurgent groups. We know that the violence is not going to automatically end.

But President Obama has shown great leadership in navigating to this point, fulfilling his promise, meeting the obligations that were entered into before he ever came into office. We are providing a support-and-training mission. We will be there on the ground, working with the Iraqis. And I just want to add, David, that no one should miscalculate America’s resolve and commitment to helping support the Iraqi democracy. We have paid too high a price to give the Iraqis this chance, and I hope that Iran and no one else miscalculates that.

QUESTION: Well, and I want to just underline that. There’s a feeling that Iran could try to push Iraq around, particularly in the Shia part of the southern part of Iraq. Are you suggesting that if Iran were to try to take advantage of this moment the U.S. would still have a military commitment, the message to Iran being what?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think Iran should look at the region. We may not be leaving military bases in Iraq, but we have bases elsewhere. We have support and training assets elsewhere. We have a NATO ally in Turkey. The United States is very present in the region.

But let’s also admit that Iran has influence in Iraq; always has, always will. But the Iraqis themselves are a very proud people. They are proud of their nation, they’re proud of their own future prospects. So I don’t think anyone should be mistaken about America’s commitment to the new democracy in Iraq that we have sacrificed so much to help them achieve.

QUESTION: Final point on Iraq: This was cast, as the President talked about this, as a victory for the United States as we withdraw troops. Looking back now, as this war is coming to an end, do you stand by your vote authorizing military force in Iraq as a senator?

SECRETARY CLINTON: David, I honestly don’t think this is a time to be looking back. I think it’s a time to be looking forward. I will leave it to history to debate and argue over the merits and demerits of what the United States did over the last decade. But the fact is that Iraq is now a sovereign nation with democratically elected leadership, with a government that reflects the interests of different groups of Iraqis, and it is very much in America’s interests going forward to make sure that this new democracy flourishes. And we will do everything we can to help make that a fact.

QUESTION: Was the war worth it?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We’re going to have to wait a long time for the Iraqis themselves to answer that question. Freedom, democracy, the opportunities that people now have that were never available under the dictatorships of tyrants like Saddam Hussein or Qadhafi is certainly a new world that everyone finds themselves in. But I’m proud that the United States has stood on the side of those fundamental freedoms that we hold dear.

QUESTION: Let me ask you about the new world in Libya. What would you like to know about the exact circumstances of how Qadhafi was killed?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I would strongly support both a UN investigation that has been called for, and the investigation that the Transitional National Council has said they will conduct. I think it’s important that this new government, this effort to have a democratic Libya, start with the rule of law, start with accountability, stand for unity and reconciliation, make it absolutely clear that everyone who stood with the old regime, as long as they don’t have blood on their hands, should be safe and included in a new Libya.

So I view the investigation on its own merits as important, but also as part of a process that will give Libya the best possible chance to navigate toward a stable, secure, democratic future.

QUESTION: On Pakistan, this is a very important that you made as part of a U.S. delegation. You sent an unmistakable message, which is that anyone in Pakistan who allows terrorists to operate in safe havens in that country will pay a heavy price. What are the consequences to this already fragile relationship if, in fact, the United States launches another counterterror operation inside Pakistan with U.S. boots on the ground?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, David, first, we did have a very intense, frank, candid, open discussion between the high-level delegation I led with General Dempsey, Director Petraeus, and others, and our counterparts on the Pakistani side. And we stressed two points: Number one, we both have to work to eliminate the threats from safe havens – we on the Afghan side, and we’re upping the tempo of our efforts, and the Pakistanis on their side. And secondly, that we have to stand behind a reconciliation and peace process led by the Afghans.

It’s very important to stress that Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Americans are already facing consequences from the attacks that cross borders and kill innocent people, but the consequences could become even more dire if we do not redouble our efforts to try to increase our security cooperation. We’ve done it in the past by focusing on al-Qaida, and I’m very appreciative of the cooperation that has been given to us by the Pakistanis. Now we have to bring the same high-level security cooperation on these terrorist networks in order to remove them as a threat.

QUESTION: Final question, Secretary Clinton: When you ran for president you posed a fundamental question to against your opponent at the time, now President Obama, which is who’s going to answer that 3:00 a.m. phone call when there’s an international crisis. And as you hear these Republican presidential debates and all the talk about foreign policy, do you think that there’s a threshold that they’re going to have to pass to show a certain amount of competence? And do you think that foreign policy, from what you’ve heard will be a disadvantage for this group of Republican candidates for president?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me begin by saying that President Obama has passed with flying colors every leadership challenge. I mean, look at what he has done, I mean, just to name a few things. I mean, we were looking for bin Ladin for 10 years. It was under President Obama’s leadership that he was finally eliminated. Libya, with the kind of smart leadership that the President showed, demonstrating that American leadership was essential, but it was important to try to bring others also into a coalition of efforts, and the objective was achieved, keeping the promise to withdraw from Iraq but not leave Iraq by having a robust security and training mission accompanied by a very large diplomatic presence.

I could go on and on. I think this President has demonstrated that, in a still very dangerous world, it’s important to have someone at the helm of our country who understands how to manage what is an incredibly complex world now. Yes, we have a lot of threats, but we also have opportunities, and I think President Obama has grasped that and has performed extraordinarily well.

So I don’t know what the other side will do. I’m out of politics, as you know, David. I don’t comment on it. But I think Americans are going to want to know that they have a steady, experienced, smart hand on the tiller of the ship of State, and there’s no doubt that that’s Barack Obama.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

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Interview With Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday

Interview

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Intercontinental Hotel
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
October 23, 2011

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, the U.S. commander in Iraq, General Lloyd Austin, wanted upwards of 15,000 troops in Iraq next year. The White House talked about three to five thousand. So why is President Obama pulling all our troops out?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Chris, I think we should put this into the appropriate historical context. First of all, President Obama said that combat troops would leave Iraq by the end of this year, but before he ever said that, the Bush Administration also committed to withdrawing all troops by the end of this year. So you have a bipartisan commitment to withdraw combat troops, and that was viewed as appropriate, given the development of the Iraqi security forces.

But we always made clear we were open to discussions with the Iraqis if they wanted some kind of continuing presence, and what we’ve agreed to is a support-and-training mission similar to what we have in countries from Jordan to Colombia, and we will be working with the Iraqis. We will also have a very robust diplomatic presence, and we will fulfill what are the requests that the Iraqis have made to us.

QUESTION: But it was the general order of business, why was your State Department negotiating with the Maliki government until a few weeks ago to keep thousands of troops there?

SECRETARY CLINTON: This was an ongoing discussion. It started several years ago, it kept going, and at the end of the day, as in many discussions and negotiations, an agreement was reached that met the needs of both sides. The President has fulfilled the commitment he made to the American people. We have also, under the President’s leadership, fulfilled the commitment requested by the Iraqis. Iraq is a sovereign, independent nation with whom we have very good relations, and we expect to have a continuing strong security relationship for many years to come.

QUESTION: A wide range of foreign policy experts though say that Iraq is not yet ready to have the possibility of sectarian violence or interference from Iran. Former Governor Mitt Romney said this after the announcement of the pullout: “President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won though the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women.” Secretary, how do you respond to that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, we are all very moved by and grateful for the sacrifices of our men and women, those who lost their lives, those who were grievously injured. They will never be forgotten, and what they did should be honored in our country’s history forever.

The point of our involvement in Iraq, stated over and over again by people on both sides of the aisle, was to create the opportunity for the Iraqis to have their own future without the oppression of a dictator like Saddam Hussein. Now you can’t, on the one hand, say you’re all for democracy and sovereignty and independence, where people get to make their own choices, and on the other hand say that when a choice is made that is foreseen by our own government, going back to the Bush Administration and validated by the Obama Administration and the current government in Iraq, that that somehow is not appropriate. Because that is what we were there for – to give the Iraqi people the chance to make their own decisions.

So we have a security presence with a support-and-training mission in Iraq. We have bases in the region with other countries. That’s what you do when you’re dealing with independent, sovereign nations that have a will and a decision of their own.

QUESTION: Secretary, let’s turn if we can to Libya. The UN and human rights groups are calling for an investigation, saying that if, as it appears from the videotape, that Qadhafi was executed, it was a war crime. And you’re also coming under fire for what you said:

(Clip played)

SECRETARY CLINTON: We came, we saw, he died.

QUESTION: Question. Do you regret what you said, Secretary?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No.

QUESTION: And if I may, do you regret what you said, and do you feel Qadhafi was wronged or that he got what was coming to him?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let’s have an investigation. I fully support the United Nations investigation, and I fully support the Transitional National Council’s own call for an independent investigation. I support it on the merits because it’s important to find the facts, and I support it as part of what will be a challenging transition process.

The Transitional National Council today is going to declare the liberation of Libya. They are then going to announce a new government. They need to make it clear that it will be a government to unify the country, to seek reconciliation, to make everyone who supported the former regime – as long as they don’t have blood on their hands – feel safe and included in a new Libya. And so from my perspective, I think such an investigation would be very important to establish accountability, rule of law, and pave the way for the inclusive democratic future that the Libyans tell me they want.

QUESTION: Secretary, do you regret what you said?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not going to comment on that. We didn’t even know what was happening at that time because it was an unconfirmed report.

QUESTION: I have to also ask you about the man who was convicted for Pan Am 103, Megrahi. You talk about the rule of law. Would you like to see him returned to a Scottish prison?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Absolutely. I never thought he should have been released in the first place. And I have raised with the highest leadership of the Transitional National Council, and I will raise again, as soon as they have a government, the United States’ very strong feelings that this man should be returned to prison. That is the only appropriate outcome of what was, in my view, a miscarriage of justice when he was released.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, we have a couple of minutes left, and I’d like to do a lightening round: quick questions, quick answers. You were just in Pakistan, and while you were there, you confirmed the fact that U.S. officials met with the Haqqani Terror Network in August. Do we want to kill them, or do we want to talk with them?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Actually, we’re pursuing both, Chris. We have a policy of fight, talk, and build. We had a meeting at the request of the Pakistanis to gauge whether there was any basis for further talking. Certainly, the attack on our Embassy, the truck bomb attack on one of our border outposts in Afghanistan, gave a strong answer to the contrary. But you don’t make peace with your friends; we know that from long experience.

So what we’re trying to do is gauge who among these groups would be sincere and serious about pursuing an Afghan-led peace process, and it’s very absolutely understood that in order for any process to have a chance to succeed, the United States and Pakistan have to work with Afghanistan. So we responded to a Pakistani request. We’re testing out a lot of different approaches. But we’re going to keep fighting the guys who are fighting and killing Afghans, Americans, and others.

QUESTION: Finally, the President has deployed a hundred special forces to central Africa to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has killed and displaced so many over the last couple of decades. The question I have is: Why intervene in Uganda and Libya, but not in Syria? What’s the foreign policy principle at work there?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say, Chris, that what we’ve seen from President Obama over the last two and a half years, and I think remarkably, with the events of the last six months, is that his kind of smart leadership in a complex world is paying off. He was the one who brought bin Ladin finally down. He was the one who put together a coalition that eventually removed Qadhafi. So I think it’s important that in this very complex, dangerous world, we have somebody in the White House who understands that America has to lead. Our leadership is essential. But we have to look at every situation and make the right decision.

So the two that you mentioned – one, we are not fighting in Uganda. We are sending support, advising intelligence resources to try to rid Africa of this scourge of the Lord’s Resistance Army. It was welcomed by the Ugandans and others. In Syria, we are strongly supporting the change from Asad and also an opposition that only engages in peaceful demonstrations. And you do not have from that opposition, as you had in Libya, a call for any kind of outside intervention.

So I think that what the President has demonstrated in quite uncertain and challenging times is the kind of leadership that not only America, but the world is looking for.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, we’re going to have to leave it there. We want to thank you so much for talking with us, and safe travels.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Chris. Good to talk to you from Uzbekistan.

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Secretary Clinton: October 2011 » Interview With Christiane Amanpour of ABC’s This Week

Interview With Christiane Amanpour of ABC’s This Week

Interview

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Intercontinental Hotel
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
October 23, 2011

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you for joining us. Are you in Herman Cain’s famously designated Beki-Beki-Beki-stan?

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, there’s a zero-zero-zero chance I’m going to comment on Republican politics, but I am in Uzbekistan.

QUESTION: Let to turn to something more serious. You were actually in Libya earlier this week, and this week we all saw the video of the bloodied and dazed Muammar Qadhafi. We saw him now lying in a freezer while Libyans take a look at him. What was your reaction to that video, your gut reaction?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Christiane, obviously no one wants to see any human being in that condition, yet I know what a great relief it was to millions of Libyans that the past was finished, and now they can move into a different future without fear and intimidation and try to make up the lost time of 42 years to develop a country that has so much natural wealth and deserves to have a democracy and prosperity.

QUESTION: Do you think it was obvious that that was going to happen to him, or do you think that he should have been treated any differently?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think everyone would hope that he could have been captured and brought to justice, and I am very pleased that the Transitional National Council has called for an independent investigation along with the United Nations. I fully support that, because I think that the new Libya needs to start with accountability, the rule of law, a sense of unity and reconciliation in order to build an inclusive democracy so people who supported the former regime – unless they do have blood on their hands – should be safe and feel included in this new country.

QUESTION: What about the bomber of Pan Am 104, al-Megrahi, who was freed and brought back to Libya. Do you want to see him recaptured, re-imprisoned, and if so, where? In Libya or in the United States or in Britain or Scotland?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Christiane, I never thought he should have been released in the first place. I’ve raised this with the highest levels of the TNC. I will raise it with the new Libyan government. We want to see him returned to prison, preferably in Scotland where he was serving the sentence, but if not, elsewhere, because we thought it was a miscarriage of justice that he was released from the sentence that had been imposed for the ghastly bombing of Pan Am 103.

QUESTION: Let’s turn to Iraq. President Obama at the end of this week has announced that all troops will be out by the end of the year. It’s well known the military wanted to keep 20 to 30,000 in and that the Iraqi forces, while they’ve made progress, really still need American logistical help. Are you not concerned that some of the gains that have been made are at risk?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Christiane, remember that it was President Bush who set the timetable in motion by agreeing with the Iraqis that all troops would be out by the end of this year. And of course, President Obama promised the American people that the troops would be out by the end of this year.

But we’re always open to discussing with partner countries what their needs are. And as you know, we have a lot of presence in that region. So no, we’re not going to have bases in Iraq, but we have bases elsewhere. We have security relations from Jordan to Colombia. So we’re going to be present in Iraq, supporting the Iraqis, and continually discussing with them what their needs are. And no one should miscalculate our commitment to Iraq, most particularly Iran.

QUESTION: Let’s just move to Afghanistan, where you’ve also just from, and Pakistan. You have confirmed that you’re talking to the Haqqani Network, also you’re trying to get talks with the Taliban. Is the United States prepared and does the United States have the responsibility to make sure that when it leaves, if the Taliban is being brought back in, that it does not commit the same kind of atrocities against the women and others that it did in the past?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me take each piece of that very quickly. We’re going to fight where we need to fight. We will talk if there’s an opportunity to talk. And we will keep building toward a more secure, stable future for Afghanistan. And to that end, we have redlines for any talking or any agreement. With whomever we talk, they have to abide by the following: They must renounce violence, they must renounce any and all ties to al-Qaida, and most importantly, for the future of Afghanistan, they must commit to abide by the laws and constitution of Afghanistan, which protect the rights of ethnic minorities and women.

So I am very clear, as I was on my just recent visit to Afghanistan, that I am not going to support any peace agreement that gives up the hard-won rights of the Afghan people, and in particular, I have a commitment to the women of Afghanistan.

QUESTION: I wonder if you can, finally, just give us what you know about the latest message from the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, which has issued a warning to Americans that it has credible evidence of an imminent terror attacks against terrorists there?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you know, Christiane, we follow this very closely, and it is our responsibility, first and foremost, to take care of Americans everywhere in the world. We’ve been getting threats from al-Shabaab against Americans and Westerners. So it’s a very dangerous, uncertain situation, and we want to be sure that whatever information we have, we immediately present to Americans who live, work, or may be visiting in Kenya.

QUESTION: So al-Shabaab, the al-Qaida offshoot, that’s who’s threatening?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not going to get into specifics, but they’ve been public in their threats. You can look at coverage over the last weeks that they’ve threatened Kenya, they have threatened Westerners. So al-Shabaab remains a very serious threat, which is why we have taken action against them and are supporting further action.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much indeed.

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

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Interview With Candy Crowley of CNN’s State of the Union

Interview

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Intercontinental Hotel
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
October 23, 2011

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you so much for joining us. I want to start with Iraq. And clearly the biggest concern here is that with the exit of U.S. troops Iran will move in where the U.S. is moving out. I want to bring to your attention an interview that CNN’s Fareed Zakaria did with President Ahmadinejad.

(Clip played)

QUESTION: Since there will be a need in Iraq for training and support, will the Iranian Government be providing greater support in that area.

PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD: Again, I think we should have done it sooner, maybe seven or eight years ago.

(End Clip)

QUESTION: Now, I assume the U.S. would not look favorably upon the Iranians training the Iraqi army and police.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Candy, thanks for asking about this, because I do believe there is a lot of questioning, and to me, it is very clear to make three points: First, we are continuing a training mission in Iraq. That has been agreed to. We will have the same kind of training and support mission that we have with many other partner countries around the world. What we will not have are combat troops and bases.

Now that was really a decision put into motion back in the Bush Administration, and President Obama has demonstrated great leadership as he has made it possible for our troops to leave, as was promised and by the end of this year, but leaving behind a training and support mission along with a very robust diplomatic presence also envisioned by the agreements reached back in the Bush Administration.

QUESTION: How many troops are we talking about?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I also think it’s important to underscore – well, but let me just finish. It’s also important to underscore that Iran would be badly miscalculating if they did not look at the entire region and all of our presence in many countries in the region, both in bases, in training, with NATO allies like Turkey. So I’m used to the president of Iran saying all kinds of things, but I think it’s important to set the record straight.

QUESTION: Can you tell me how many troops we’re talking about staying there? Is it beyond the usual contingent that is around an embassy? And can you tell me the level of your fear that Iran, whether it’s in supporting troops or not, is going to be an increased presence in Iraq as the U.S. pulls out?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, yes, the support and training mission is in addition to the usual marine contingent, the defense attaché, and other normal relations between our diplomats and our Department of Defense representatives. This will be run out of an office of security cooperation. It will be comparable to what we’ve done in many countries where we handle military sales. The Iraqis are buying military equipment from the United States. And we will be working with them, as we work with Jordanians, Colombians, and others around the world.

And I also would underscore that it is not our only presence in the region. In addition to a very significant diplomatic presence in Iraq, which will carry much of the responsibility for dealing with an independent sovereign democratic Iraq, we have bases in neighboring countries, we have our NATO ally in Turkey, we have a lot of presence in that region. So no one, most particularly Iran, should miscalculate about our continuing commitment to and with the Iraqis going forward.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, 57 percent of Americans said in a recent poll that the war in Iraq was not worth it. Do you think it was?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we can either look backward or we can look forward. I choose to look forward. An enormous amount of sacrifice was made by Americans, most particularly our young men and women in uniform, many of whom lost their lives or suffered grievous injuries, and then of course, I’m particularly proud of our diplomats and the other U.S. Government representatives in Iraq. So we are where we are right now. We have a plan in place.

There’s been an enormous amount of effort in conjunction with the Iraqi Government. The Iraqi Government is looking forward. They’re trying to chart a new course that will give them the kind of independence and sovereignty from everyone, including their big neighbor Iran, and we’re going to support that. It’s very much in America’s interest to do so.

QUESTION: So I’m going to take that as you’d rather not answer that question as to whether it was worth it. Let me move you to Libya, where the UN —

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think I’ll leave it to others to argue.

QUESTION: Okay.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ll leave it to others to argue. My job, President Obama’s leadership, is leading us forward, which is where I think America needs to be.

QUESTION: Okay. Let me move you to Libya where the UN is calling for – wants an investigation as to how Muammar Qadhafi died, the circumstances, who killed him, what he died of. Is the U.S. interested? Is it a matter of consequence to the U.S. how Muammar Qadhafi died?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Of course it is, and we strongly support the UN call and we also strongly support the Transitional National Council of Libya’s call for an independent investigation. Because as Libyans move into the future once again, they need to do so with a sense of unity and reconciliation, they need to hold each other accountable. Those who do not have blood on their hands must be made to feel safe and included regardless of whether or not they supported Qadhafi in the past. So we believe in the rule of law and accountability, and such an investigation would contribute to that.

QUESTION: Will the U.S. put pressure on the transitional government to hold accountable the convicted Pan Am bomber al-Megrahi?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We have certainly raised it in every meeting with the leadership. Now as you know, Candy, there will be, later on Sunday, an announcement of a new government. So once there’s a government in place, we will renew our calls that Megrahi, who should never have been released in the first place, be returned to serve the rest of his sentence for the terrible crime against those passengers on Pan Am 103.

QUESTION: You’ve spoken with members of the transitional government. Has this come up yet?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, absolutely. I’ve raised it a number of times. Now there’s not yet a government. That’s what we’re waiting for, a government to be put in place. The Transitional National Council said they would wait to declare the liberation of Libya until they were sure that Sirte had been taken from the regime loyalists. They would then announce a government. That process begins today.

QUESTION: And finally, let me turn you to Pakistan, where it seems to me the U.S. has spent many, many months warning Pakistan to crack down particularly on the Haqqani Network. We have had folks in the Administration, both publicly and privately, say they believe that the intelligence arm of the Pakistani Government is, in fact, a supporter of the Haqqani Network, which has attacked the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, among other things. Is your patience wearing thing with the Pakistan Government?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you know, I led a very high-level delegation of U.S. officials, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dempsey, now director of the CIA, Dave Petraeus and others, and we had intensive discussions.

And I would make three points: First, the cooperation on security that we have received over the past years from Pakistan has been absolutely essential in our efforts to defeat and disrupt the al-Qaida network. Secondly, the Pakistanis themselves, as you know, have suffered enormously from their military actions against the terrorist networks. And of course, that’s not only been military losses, but civilians to the total of about 30,000 over the last decade.

And finally, we are very clear we need to do two things together. We need to squeeze the terrorist networks, including the Haqqani Network, out of their safe havens, preventing them from being able to plan and carry out attacks across the border. And we have to, on the Afghan side of the border, squeeze and eliminate safe havens of those who move back and forth and who use safe havens in Afghanistan to attack Pakistan. And we have to have a very firm commitment to an Afghan-led reconciliation peace process. We’re about 90, 95 percent in agreement between the United States and Pakistan about the means of our moving toward what are commonly shared goals, and we have a work plan and a real commitment to making sure we are as effective as possible together.

QUESTION: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, thank you so much for your time. Safe travels to you.

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Thank you so much, DOS for sending this late on October 25.  I would have loved to have had this on Sunday when all of this happened!  Am Post-dating it so it shows on the correct day.

Public Schedule for October 23, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
October 23, 2011

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

AM  Secretary Clinton appears on ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley, FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace, and NBC’s Meet the Press with David Gregory in interviews taped from Tashkent. Check your local listings for airtimes.

9:50 a.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clintons holds a roundtable discussion with civil society representatives, in Tashkent.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)

10:25 a.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton meets with the staff and families of Embassy Tashkent, in Tashkent.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

11:00 a.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton visits a Women’s Wellness Center, in Tashkent.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

11:50 a.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton delivers remarks at the General Motors Plant in Tashkent.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

PM  Secretary Clinton returns from foreign travel.

###

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Remarks With Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi After Their Meeting

Press Availability

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Dushanbe, Tajikistan
October 22, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister Zarifi, for that very warm welcome to Tajikistan. It’s my first visit here. The beauty of this country is well renowned, from the glaciers and mountains to the rivers and forests, as is the hospitality of your people. So I am greatly appreciative. And I want to say directly to the people of Tajikistan that the United States values the relationship and friendship between our two countries, and we are committed to a long-term partnership to advance the opportunities and brighten the future for the people of this absolutely beautiful country.

I appreciated, too, the chance to discuss with the foreign minister and President Rahmon a wide range of issues that the foreign minister has just briefly described. We talked about our work to improve Tajikistan’s security, particularly along your border with Afghanistan; to combat drug trafficking, which is threatening every nation in this region; and I want especially to praise Tajikistan for the progress you have made in fighting human trafficking, which was reflected in the latest Trafficking in Persons Report compiled by the United States State Department.

I also want to emphasize that I thanked the president for the critical role Tajikistan has played in the international community’s efforts to bring security and peace to Afghanistan. Tajikistan has been a strong partner, not only to us but to the 48 nations in the international forces. We have worked to defeat al-Qaida, to increase pressure on the Taliban, and to support an Afghan peace process aimed at ending the conflict and bringing wider stability to this region. And I conveyed my thanks on behalf of the United States Government to the president.

As we head toward the conferences in Istanbul and Bonn next month and in December, it will be critical for all nations to support the common goal of a stable, sovereign, independent, prosperous Afghanistan. And Tajikistan is committed to doing so. We know we must deliver on the pledge that the countries of the region made nearly a decade ago when they signed the declaration on good neighborly relations. So we are working to secure commitments from all of Afghanistan’s neighbors to respect Afghan sovereignty and territorial integrity, and support an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation effort.

Closer to home, the president and I also discussed the need to bring more economic opportunities, jobs, and trade to Tajikistan, so more of its young people can find work here rather than having to move abroad. The United States is working with Tajikistan and other countries in Central and South Asia to achieve greater regional economic integration and development. We call this initiative the New Silk Road, and we hope that it will give rise to a network of thriving economic relationships throughout the region. And I so appreciated the president’s enthusiastic support for this vision. Achieving it will require a lot of hard work by all countries, to improve business climates, to change laws and regulations that impede business development or discourage foreign investment, to build modern infrastructure, develop human capital through education and health. And as Tajikistan makes progress in these areas, you can count on the United States for support.

Earlier today, I attended a town hall discussion with Tajiks from across the spectrum of activities from human rights activists to religious leaders to members of the media, women leaders, students, and educators. We had a lively discussion. And it is clear that Tajikistan is home to courageous, dedicated, intelligent, talented people who want to help build their nation’s future. And it is always important for government and leaders to provide the space necessary for these activists to have a voice, to develop their talents, promote their ideas, come together on behalf of their country.

And it is also important to ensure fundamental freedoms, including religious and media freedoms for all people – men, women, young and old. Obviously, the United States, because of our centuries of success as the longest democracy in the world, is convinced that an open and democratic, tolerant society provides a firm foundation for a secure, stable, and prosperous nation. And we encourage the Tajik Government to take concrete steps toward that kind of society right here in Tajikistan.

So again, let me say to President Rahmon, to the foreign minister, and to the people of Tajikistan, thank you for welcoming me so warmly. The United States and Tajikistan are committed to broadening, deepening, and strengthening this important bilateral relationship. Thank you, sir.

FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIFI: Thank you very much, Secretary of State. Now we are going to enjoy your questions.

Please.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) (Inaudible) – Minister of Foreign Affairs Zarifi, how do you assess the current state and the prospect of bilateral cooperation of Tajikistan and the United States of America and your visions on a New Silk Road concept?

FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIFI: Thank you very much. As I mentioned earlier, the bilateral cooperation of Tajikistan with the United States of America (inaudible) back in 1992, and over that years we could succeed in a cooperation in a military security cooperation, human rights and cultural, and we today are – Tajikistan today is an ally of the United States of America in bringing the peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, and we today maintain very fruitful cooperation with the U.S. authorities in economic and social projects in Afghanistan.

There are a number of American companies which are – functional in Tajikistan. And you well know that recent airplanes which we bought from the United States has enriched the port of aviation of Tajikistan, and we today give very positive assessment on our cooperation with the U.S.

QUESTION: Okay. Begging your indulgence, Madam Secretary, I’ve got three baskets here, but I will be extremely brief, and I think you’ll have the opportunity for brevity as well.

One, you mentioned human rights in your comments now. Did you raise any specific issues here, and will you do so in Tashkent? And if you did, what were they? And what concrete steps would you like to see the two governments take?

Two, different – the next basket is: How do you respond to critics that the President’s announcement yesterday on Iraq – the withdrawal of troops from Iraq plays into the hands of Iran?

And the last one is: I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on the death of the Saudi crown prince, and if this – his passing with an uncertain succession should give – should be an object being discussed to speed up the laws of modernization? Thanks.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Matt, let me start with the last question first. On behalf of the American people, I offer my condolences on the horror of his loss to His Majesty King Abdullah and the people of Saudi Arabia. The crown prince was a strong leader and a good friend to the United States over many years as well as a tireless champion for his country. He will be missed. I do not think it’s appropriate to comment on what will be an internal decision by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, except to conclude by saying that our relationship with Saudi Arabia is strong and enduring, and we will look forward to working with the leadership for many years go come.

With respect to human rights, yes, of course I raised issues in my meeting with the president. And in specifics, we raised both press freedom and religious freedom. As I said this morning at the town hall, I believe everyone should have the right to practice his or her religion openly and freely. And therefore, I disagree with restrictions on religious freedom, and shared those concerns, because freedom of worship is a universal, fundamental human right that should be able to exist anywhere, anytime. And I think it’s also a potentially unfortunate step to try to register or legalize religion because it could push legitimate religious expression underground. And that could build up a lot of unrest and discontent. We have seen around the world over many years that if you tell young people or even older people they can’t do something, then they are attracted to do doing it.

So I think you have to look at the consequences. And we do not want to do anything that breeds extremism. We understand completely the concerns by both the Government and citizens here in Tajikistan to avoid the scourge of violent extremism. So we would hope that there would be a re-thinking of any restrictions going forward because we think they can increase sympathy for extremist views, which would in turn threaten the stability and security of the country.

We are also concerned about press freedom. There are specific cases that we have raised and continue to raise through our Embassy and through our interactions from the State Department because we believe journalists should be free to perform their function without fear of reprisals. And therefore, we believe, and I stress, the importance of an independent media and the role that it plays in moving toward establishing and cementing democratic institutions.

With regard to Iraq, as the President said yesterday, this marks a new phase in our relations with Iraq. President Obama promised the Iraqi people and the American people that all our combat troops in Iraq would come home by the end of this year, and they will. That will end the war, and it will open a new chapter in our relationship. And I join President in thanking all those who served so bravely in Iraq, and particularly noting the thousands who lost their lives, to bring this day to fruition. But even as our troops come home, the United States’ commitment to Iraq’s future as a secure, stable, democratic nation remains as strong as ever. At Iraq’s request, we expect to have a significant security training presence at Embassy Baghdad, as we have in many embassies around the world. We expect to have about 1,700 Americans in Iraq committed to our ongoing political, diplomatic, economic, and security partnership. And we expect to have appropriate security for all those Americans who are serving.

As we open this new chapter in a relationship with a sovereign Iraq, to the Iraqis we say America is with you as you take your next steps in your journey to secure your democracy. And to countries in the region, especially Iraq’s neighbors, we want to emphasize that America will stand with our allies and friends, including Iraq, in defense of our common security and interests. And we will have a robust continuing presence throughout the region, which is proof of our ongoing commitment to Iraq and to the future of that region which holds such promise and should be freed from outside interference to continue on a pathway to democracy.

FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIFI: Thank you, Secretary of State. We agreed for four questions. It’s done. (Laughter.) Thank you very much.

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Town Hall with Women, Youth, and Civil Society

Townhall

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ismaili Center
Dushanbe, Tajikistan
October 22, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Please let me tell you how excited I am to be here with you. Sher, thank you for that introduction and for being our moderator today. I wanted to thank the Aga Khan Development Network for supporting this forum and working so hard to create opportunities for the Tajik people and the Dushanbe Ismaili Center. Thanks to you for hosting us in this truly beautiful, impressive building here.

And I am delighted, to look out and see this large audience of people who are working to improve the lives of your fellow citizens and create a better future for your country. And I’m grateful to you because each and every one of you is helping to build a more prosperous, democratic future for Tajikistan. And it is exciting for me to see men and women gather together to make it here, and the future must include all citizens. A vibrant society that supports inclusive opportunity, prosperity, and rights for everyone knows that you will be more successful. And I’m also pleased to see so many young people because building that future is really all about you.

So I’m here mostly to listen. This is my first trip to Tajikistan. I have long looked forward to coming here. And I want to hear your views, your opinions and suggestions about the future of your country and the wider region. I know that Tajikistan is at a critical moment in its history. The effects of post-Soviet rule can still be felt. But there is such a feeling of hope and progress. And this year, with the help of several Tajik NGOs and the International Organization on Migration, I saw a very impressive report about the efforts of stopping the traffickers who have forced women and children to work in the cotton fields (inaudible). I’m also told that rural projects are exercising their right to own land and choose which crops to grow. And farmers may include supply chains and connections to capital end markets.

And more people in rural communities have access to safe drinking water. Pregnant women and families with young children are receiving better healthcare, and the polio outbreak from last year has subsided. We are very pleased and proud to support you in all of these and other efforts. Since establishing diplomatic relations in 1992, the United States has provided nearly $1 billion in assistance. But we know very well that it’s not what comes from the outside, but what comes from the inside – what comes from the hearts and minds and hard work of the people themselves. And we strongly support the right of Tajik citizens to receive a decent education, to own land, to enjoy a free and independent media, participate equally in the political process, and enjoy all of the universal rights that should be available to any man or woman. And we strongly believe that fundamental freedoms, including religious freedom, should be protected for all people, young and old, men and women.

So I’m looking forward to our meeting here today, I’m looking forward to meeting with the president and government officials later today. We want to talk in both settings about the future and what kinds of actions are necessary so that Tajikistan will have that better future which you deserve. We want some help increasing economic opportunity here in Tajikistan so that so many of your people do not have to leave home to find work, that there can be a flourishing economy right here.

Now we know that won’t happen overnight. Barriers to trade have to come down, more investment must be attracted. So the United States is supporting what we are calling the New Silk Road, a network of transit and trade connections to open up new markets for raw materials and energy and agricultural products that can be traded among all nations in the region. For example, we’re working with the Aga Khan Development Network to support clear energy to build an integrated energy grid along the Tajik-Afghan border. We want to spur growth, create jobs, invigorate the private sector, and fully integrate Tajikistan into the South and Central Asian economy.

In order to take advantage of these opportunities, there does need to be changes in the laws – changes to attract investment, a strong commitment to human rights and rule of law, to tackle corruption and abuse, to establish an independent judiciary, and other steps that will truly benefit the people of your country. And of course, women have to be at the table, part of the solution. And we know that women, because of the very heavy migration of men out of your country seeking work, we know that women represent more than half the population here in Tajikistan. And so we fully support women’s full participation. So I want you to know that you can count on America’s support as you take on all of these challenges, and we will try to be a good partner and a good friend.

So now, let me join Sher and start hearing from all of you. Thank you very much for being here. (Applause.)

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) I know that you were in Istanbul this week. I know that we share our – both of our common languages and culture, and we have varied interests (inaudible). What is next for (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that that is a question that everyone in the region wants to know the answer to, and I would start by saying I think what happens next depends, yes, of course, on the Afghans, but it also depends upon the region as a whole. We are working with Afghanistan to transition security so that as troops from the United States and 48 other countries leave Afghanistan, the Afghans themselves will slowly but steadily take on the responsibility of defending and protecting their country. The United States is working on a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan so that they know we’re not leaving and abandoning them, that we won’t have an enduring presence in Afghanistan. We are working to help promote an Afghan-led peace process. There will be many of the insurgents and the fighters who wish to reintegrate into society, but there will be others who won’t, and we now need to begin to sort out who is who in that process.

But the idea that I briefly mentioned of a New Silk Road is very important to Afghanistan because instead of Afghanistan being the crossroads for terrorism and insurgency and so much pain and suffering over 30 years, we want Afghanistan to be at the crossroads of economic opportunities going north and south and east and west, which is why it’s so critical to more fully integrate the autonomies of the countries in this region in South and Central Asia.

I think you know very well that Afghanistan has historically been a place where many different countries and nationalities have vied for power and influence because of the strategic location. And the Afghan people have paid a terrible price, but their neighbors have also suffered from the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. So we’re looking for the support of the governments and the people in the region to try to promote those Afghans who want peace, security, stability. And that can come apart – come across over time if we have a plan.

So for example, there will be a regional meeting in Istanbul in about a week, 10 days, to bring the entire region together to start planning what is the region going to do to try to prevent the conflict from continuing or spilling over borders. So this is a big task ahead of us, but you’re right to ask it because it is key to the kind of progress that can be made not only there, but here and elsewhere.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. (In Russian and Tajik)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: May I ask and perhaps share an email, what kind of internet access you currently have?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Does that make sense everybody? I think the question is really whether there can be a good dialogue between the government and NGOs, and whether there can be freedom of expression and opinion by the people of the country, particularly young people, because you referenced the activities of the so-called Arab Spring, and young people were certainly in the forefront.

Well, I can only tell you that I believe strongly that NGOs that are responsible and committed to the forum can play an important role and should be permitted to do so in every society. What is often unfortunate is that governments worry that NGOs have other agendas, that they are funded by outside interests, that they are truly trying to undermine or subvert the stability, the peace, the future of the country. And I think that that is a missed opportunity, so I would like to encourage the government here, as I do whenever I travel around the world, to have a dialogue with the NGO community. There are a lot of very experienced, accomplished people who care deeply about fixing education or healthcare or the environment or protected human rights, and they should have the opportunity to be heard.

But I know that that is an evolutionary process. It will take time. But I will certainly raise this with high government officials because I think that you’re at a critical moment in history, and I think Tajikistan needs all of the engagement and intelligence of all of its citizens, particularly its young people. And so I will certainly make that point.

MODERATOR: Next question.

QUESTION: (Inaudible?)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me start by saying that the United States strongly objected to the events in Andijan that we were very much on record, that we made our views known, and that we have had ongoing discussions with the Government of Uzbekistan that I will continue when I go there tonight – raising issues of human rights, of rule of law, the kind of fundamental freedoms that the United States strongly supports.

You quoted President Kennedy, and you will recall that when he was president, as with all of our presidents, they met with and tried to work with the Soviet Union despite very strong disagreements about policy, because we believe it is important to try to continue to exercise whatever influence we can on behalf of people who themselves may not have a voice. So when I go to speak with many leaders around the world – because you know there are many countries that have taken severe actions against the rights of their citizens in history; this is nothing new – but today, everybody knows about it. There is no way to keep it secret. It will be on the internet. When President Asad in Syria sends his security forces to kill peaceful demonstrators, they can’t hide that anymore.

So whether it is in this region or elsewhere, we do everything possible to make a strong case for those who cannot get in the doors and talk to their leaders. And I can assure you that we have raised all of the human rights issues in Uzbekistan and elsewhere. But we have also learned over the years that after a while, after you’ve made your strong objections, if you have no contact, you have no influence. And other countries will feel that vacuum who do not care about human rights, who do not care about fundamental freedoms. So despite the challenge, I would rather be having meetings raising these uncomfortable issues, pressing for change, than to be totally outside and let others come in that only want commercial, political, and other advantages.

So it’s a balancing act, but we try on an ongoing basis to get our message across and give heart to people inside countries that there are those outside who care about what is happening to them and are advocating for change on their behalf.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I will certainly do that because we care deeply about it. I cannot promise you that there will be some immediate change. You know that change in many of these situations takes time and effort, but I will certainly raise those issues, as I have before.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that both Russia and the United States have interests in Central Asia. Obviously, you have a long history with Russia and you know that there are many important relationships that continue to this day that are going to be important in the future. The United States believes that we also have a role to play in Central Asia. We strongly support the trend toward greater openness, democratization, free market economies, because what we have found over many, many years everywhere in the world is that there are certain ingredients that, if in place, are more likely to benefit the people than other choices about how to organize the government and the economy.

So we are clearly trying to convey our strong support for the reforms that many of you represent. In Afghanistan, the relationship between Russia and the United States is very positive. Russia has been quite helpful in the last several years, certainly since I’ve been Secretary of State, in supporting the efforts of the NATO international forces to be able to move supplies into and out of Afghanistan from the north. Russia has been an active participant in the many meetings that have been held about the future of Afghanistan. So I think Russia is playing a positive role and cooperating certainly with us, with the Afghans and others, to try to find a way to bring this conflict to a close.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you are accurate in pointing out that after 9/11, our visa process became much more difficult – I fully recognize that – for students and workers, professionals, and others. It has, I think, gotten somewhat better because our security measures have improved. But it is still a problem and we are working very hard to try to streamline it. This is a question I get asked all over the world, from Brazil to China to Tajikistan. So I’m well aware of the challenge, and I can assure you of trying to make it better.

I also very much appreciate your question about Afghan women. I met with a group of Afghan women when I was in Kabul, women that I’ve known now for 10 years, have worked with in Afghanistan, in the United States, around the world on behalf of improving the lives of Afghan women. I wanted to meet with them to assure them personally I would do everything I can to make sure that no one turns the clock back on them; that they will have the right to go to school, which the Taliban denied them; they will have the right to work, which the Taliban denied them; they will have the right to have healthcare, which the Taliban denied them. Because I think it’s absolutely essential; there cannot be a peace that sacrifices the rights of women. You will not have a sustainable peace and it would be wrong.

Now I cannot predict to you what any government of any country will do in five years, 10 years, or 20 years. But certainly, any government that comes about, has any process that the United States is part of must agree to renounce violence, renounce al-Qaida, and abide by the laws and constitution of Afghanistan, including the protections for ethnic minorities such as Tajiks and Uzbeks and (inaudible) and others, and the rights of women.

So that is our redline. We are absolutely clear on that. But eventually, the future of Afghanistan will be in the hands of Afghans, and what we are hoping is that the changes that have begun will strengthen the institutions enough and provide a base for many elements within Afghan society to stand up for their rights and not be intimidating and not permit any reversal of the gains that have been made. But your question is one that I think about all the time, because we cannot afford to let that happen in good conscience.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I am very pleased you had a chance to go to the United States because the United States, from its very beginning, has respected and honored religion. But we have a separation between religion and our state. So from the very beginning, we have said that the state cannot establish a religion. And we believe strongly that true religion, true faith and beliefs, should come from the inside, not imposed from the outside. And so if you’re imposing them from the outside, you have to use state power to do that. And we do not believe in that.

So the problem for many societies in transition who have a predominant religion in their society, which they respect and cherish because it is their national tradition, a particular religious orientation, is how to make sure you do not impose religion but you create space so that religion can operate. I think this is one of the biggest challenges facing many democracies in transition and many Muslim-majority countries, because there’s a new opportunity to try to define what one means by democracy, civil society, and human rights, including the right to have your own religion.

I believe that everyone is entitled to practice their faith, but no one is entitled to impose their faith on someone else. So how do you balance those two very strong principles? That’s what you have to work out in this country and so many other countries.

Religion has caused so many wars over so many centuries. I’m a Christian, and we’ve had so many wars, until recent times. If you were one kind of Christian you were fighting against another kind of Christian. I worked for many years to help resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland. It was between two different kinds of Christians. It wasn’t anybody else; it was Catholics and Protestants. And yet they were fighting each other and they were living in different neighborhoods and they were rejecting the rights of one or the other to have full citizenship. And it took years, but finally that conflict has been resolved.

But I see that all over the world now. Look what’s happening in Egypt: 10 percent of Egyptians are Coptic Christians. They’ve lived in Egypt for thousands of years. And now there are different kinds of pressures on them. In Pakistan, you have different sects of Muslims killing each other. In Iraq, you have Sunni and Shia. So I mean, you go around the world and you say to yourself something that should connect you to God should not cause you to try to kill, intimidate, coerce, or oppress your neighbor. I mean, that is fundamental to every religion. And yet we have seen historically that’s not what has happened.

So your question is a very important one. There should be freedom of religion but no coercion or oppression. And those who are religious should respect the rights of other religions and, in our country, even those who have no religion. And I can only hope that you can work out that balance. I know that there is a lot of concern in Tajikistan about certain people coming and saying that their way is the only way, and if you don’t do what we say, if you don’t dress the way we dress, if you don’t pray the way we pray, then you’re not religious. And I understand that. It’s a very serious threat.

But you don’t want that to happen, but you also don’t want to deny the right for people to be religious. So those of you who are religious, who care about the important role that religion can play in an individual’s life and in a society, I hope will continue to study how you can have religion without coercion, or you can have an openness like what you saw in my country where – I live in New York. I think we have every religion that is practiced anywhere on earth in New York. And sometimes there’s a little bit of friction and you rub up against people, but generally, millions of people worship on Friday, worship on Saturday, worship on Sunday, in the way that they have been raised or chose to believe. And that’s what I would hope for everyone.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the short answer is yes. But on a serious note, I would say that it’s very important for men and women to respect one another and to support one another and to encourage each other to live up to his or her God-given potential. And I am very fortunate in having a husband who strongly supports my work, strongly supports the work of our daughter, as her husband now does. And I am aware that in too many places in too many parts of the world, that is not the case, that women are not given the respect or the rights – because you need both – that they should have.

So I’m hoping that – I met a number of very active, dynamic Tajik women before I came in who have been part of economic and social meetings in Bishkek and elsewhere. And I’m hoping that every society will move toward recognizing that you can make so much more progress if the entire population is included. And if you leave half of your population out, you cannot make the economic, political, and social progress that you should be able to.

So on an individual level, it’s important to have that support. And on a national level, it’s important to have that support. And I would hope that would be the case here in Tajikistan as well as elsewhere.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I don’t know the specifics of what you’re referring to, but I know that Russia sells a lot of fuel to NATO. So I think there might be something in that. And I think it’s important that you do seek out greater foreign investment to diversify your economy. And I would say that there are several things you’ll have to do, which is to: open up the economy; make sure your laws are protecting contract rights so that international firms feel comfortable and safe investing in Tajikistan; tackle corruption, because that’s a big tax on any business whether it’s inside or outside or from outside the country; and look to have a concerted effort to reach out to international businesses so that more people know what we have to offer here.

And I think that certainly our Embassy can provide any of the NGOs who are working on economic development our assessment of what it would take to attract investment and what it would take to attract an ExImBank investment. We will certainly convey the interest you’ve expressed to the Export-Import Bank, and they can work with our Embassy to explain what they look for and what they would need to see before they could make such investment.

I would like to see Tajikistan attract much more foreign investment than you have thus far. And I think you’re going to have to deal with some of the internal legal and regulatory changes that are necessary. But there is a lot of incentive for you to do that, because then you could diversify your economy. So I would hope that that could be on the agenda with one of the NGOs here.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: That was a popular question. (Laugher.) First let me say I am aware of your energy challenges in the winter. You apparently have a surplus of electricity in the summer when your hydro power is at full capacity; but obviously, in the winter hydro power is not as efficient, so therefore you have shortages in winter. And I know that since the 1970s, Tajikistan has been looking at this very large dam project. And the World Bank is currently doing two studies to try to reach an independent judgment, uninfluenced by any of your neighbors, as to whether this is the right best investment for Tajikistan.

I don’t know how the studies are going to come out by the World Bank. I am not, by any means, an expert in dam building or hydro power. But I will say this: That what we have seen in the last several years is that a lot of major dam projects around the world that have been in blueprints and not yet built for many years are not being built. Why? Because what was an efficient way to produce power in the 1970s or ‘80s is no longer so efficient. And therefore, looking at different ways of producing power, more decentralized, diversified power sources, is what many countries are now doing.

And so again, when the World Bank comes out with its study, it is not going to be a final word for your government, but I think the government should pay attention to what the World Bank says because this is a huge project. If it’s not doing to deliver what you need, then you should look at the expert advice from independent sources about what would work. There are other energy opportunities that I think experts have talked about in Tajikistan and there are ways of storing energy and producing energy that are more efficient with today’s technology than a large dam. So I don’t know, as I said, what the outcome is going to be. But it is important to have an independent assessment.

And the final thing I would say is that there are lots of really accomplished independent experts in the world today who are working with many countries. Because a lot of the big projects of the past are no longer efficient, and so we don’t want countries like Tajikistan or anywhere else to follow a path that in five or ten years you find out isn’t delivering what you need it to deliver.

So I will leave it at that. We’ll wait to see what the World Bank has to say, because I think they’re the – they’re doing a very thorough study, from what I’m told. But I think you should separate out the opposition to the project from Uzbekistan. Sometimes people do things just because your neighbor doesn’t want you to do it. (Laughter.) Your neighbor says, “Don’t cut down that tree.” You go and cut down the tree because you don’t like your neighbor. And then you wake up the next morning thinking, you know, I liked that tree, I’m sorry it’s gone.

So I would just urge you not to make a decision because somebody you don’t like doesn’t like it. I would make a decision based on what’s best for Tajikistan. And that’s the smartest way to don’t get mad, get even. Right? So I would hope that’s what your country does. (Applause.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think you’re asking for more seminars and personal development kind of programs, and we’ll certainly talk to our Embassy about doing that. I think you’re right that fundamental change often has to come on an individual basis and from within, but I see it as both a bottom-up individual process and a top-down social-governmental process. Because if you don’t have a government that respects the individual and wants to unleash those powers within the individual so that you can pursue your business interests and your political interests or whatever, then you may not get the full benefit from the individual effort.

So I think you have to have both an emphasis on the individual training, as you’ve pointed out, and enabling from societies and from the government. It is not just the government. I mean, it’s in society – and I’ll go back to women – if in society certain groups of people within society believe that girls shouldn’t be educated or women shouldn’t be allowed to vote or participate, then no matter how well developed an individual is, that person is barred from participating. So it has to be bottom-up, top-down to create that really broad field of opportunity for everybody.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I haven’t yet had my meetings with the government. I came here first because I wanted to hear from you, and I will carry many of your concerns and questions with me when I go to meet with the government.

I think your second question is obviously important to me, because I think that women should be given the opportunity to serve in government as officials, as ministers. Many of you probably may remember, I ran for president because I think women should compete for all positions in the political system of their countries. And we had a very hard-fought election, and President Obama defeated me, but I then was proud to go to work for him when he asked me to serve in this government.

So I think that it is – it should be a question of personal choice. Most men and most women are never going to be involved in politics; it doesn’t appeal to them, they’re not interested in it, they don’t think that it’s their best use. But if you do want to participate in government and politics, you should be chosen on your merit, you should be selected because you have something to contribute, you’re a hard worker, you have some technical expertise, you’re a well-organized person. And that should be equally true for men and women.

So I would hope that more women will find it possible to participate in the government here and throughout the region. Everywhere I go in the region, I raise this issue. Yesterday, I had a long meeting in Pakistan with the new woman foreign minister, a young woman, well-qualified, very impressive. And here she is in a country where that’s not always expected. But it was – Pakistan had had a woman prime minister, it was India that had a woman prime minister, it’s Bangladesh which now has a woman prime minister.

So I think that there are many reasons why women should be given a chance to participate and be judged on whether or not they do a good job, just like a man would be.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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She looks so tiny on the gangway.  So much brilliance, beauty, and power in such a tiny package!

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Not much in the way of press releases coming out of Tajikistan, so far, but we do have these beautiful pictures!  We see Mme. Secretary with President Emomali Rahmon at a luncheon and with Prime Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi at a presser.  There was a traditional dance performance during the luncheon.  That is the picture with the fabulous blue costumes.  What a pretty country!

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Here are her remarks to the embassy staff and families.  I hope to high heaven that we get at least one picture with the children.  From the remarks, it seems she was in her element!

Meeting With Staff and Families of Embassy Dushanbe

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Dushanbe, Tajikistan
October 22, 2011

Thank you so much, Ambassador. Thank you. Wow, it is wonderful to see you here and to have a chance to thank you in person for everything that you do every single day to further and deepen the relationship between our two countries. And I want to thank you, Ambassador. I know that you have served here before, and I am delighted that we could send a Tajik-speaking ambassador back to Tajikistan.

And I want to thank you all for doing everything you’ve done to organize this trip, to make it efficient and hopefully very successful, because we want to convey a strong – a sense of friendship and partnership to the government and people of Tajikistan. I want to also thank DCM Sarah Penhune for her work and for leading a lot of the incredible efforts on my trip and elsewhere.

And in addition to thanking all of the Americans, I want to thank all of our local staff, because you’re really the backbone and the memory of this Embassy and this mission here. I know very well that the entire operation could not function without you. Secretaries of State and ambassadors and consul general and Foreign Service officers, we come and go, but you stay here and help to cement the positive relationship between our two people.

I know that you’ve accomplished an enormous amount since the Embassy opened and the American staff were able to return. And it’s particularly important that you’re here, because Tajikistan is at a critical moment in its history. And we’re hoping to make contributions that will give the people of the country a better future. And you’re doing that. Earlier this year with USAID, you helped connect farmers in remote regions with seed merchants from here in the city. You’re working with NGOs to help – or I guess, what do we call them – public organizations to make the connections to how people learn how to start businesses and acquire trades. You’ve rehabilitated water systems that will provide clean drinking water to thousands of people. You’ve worked with over 500 teachers on new ways of reaching students. And all of it is done against the backdrop of a country that is still dealing with the after-effects of war.

The most wonderful thing for me is to see all of these children here and young people. I am so happy that this is now a family post and that your families can be here with you and experience the culture and learn about the history of this country and the region.

So I want to thank the family members and others who are with us, and I want to have a chance, I hope, to maybe take a picture with all of the children. Because what the work we do every single day is really all about is what happens to our children – American children, Tajik children, our children everywhere.

So give yourselves a big round of applause for the excellent work that you’re doing and thank you for all the efforts on this trip. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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