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

Remarks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you very much.

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

QUESTION: Time for one more?

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

QUESTION: Sure.

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

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

(In Arabic.)

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

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

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

(In Arabic.)

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

INTERPRETER: Madam Secretary?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

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

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

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

PRIME MINISTER AL THANI: Thank you very much.

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Remarks with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ritz Carlton Hotel
Doha, Qatar
January 12, 2011

PRIME MINISTER AL THANI: (In progress, via interpreter) – discuss the bilateral relations and issues of interest between the United States (inaudible). Once again I want to welcome her and give the floor to Her Excellency now.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Prime Minister. And let me express – let me express my pleasure at being back in Doha and to have had this opportunity this evening to have met with both His Excellency the prime minister and with His Highness the Amir. As the prime minister just said, we had very substantive, comprehensive discussions. And I thank also Qatar for hosting this year’s meeting of the Forum for the Future, which I will be attending tomorrow.

In our meetings with my friends here as well as with the Gulf countries in the GCC forum, we discussed a number of issues related to Gulf security and stability. As I outlined in my speech at the Manama Dialogue last month, America’s commitment to the security of the Gulf region is unwavering. We will continue to support our partners, including Qatar, as they work to address threats and create the conditions for long-term peace, prosperity, and human progress.

We also discussed Iran and the threat that its nuclear activity poses to the region and the world. The United States will continue to work with the international community toward a settlement that will hold Iran to its responsibilities to assure that its program is indeed peaceful. When the members of the P-5+1 meet in Istanbul at the end of the month with Iran, they will focus on practical steps that Iran must take to address the international community’s concern. And we urge Iran to come to this meeting prepared for these serious discussions.

I am delighted also that we had an opportunity to cover so many issues, and one in particular stands out because our two countries, as well as all the Gulf countries, share a strong commitment to support the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon. No country should be forced to choose between justice and stability. The Lebanese people deserve both. We were pleased that Prime Minister Hariri met with President Obama in Washington today. In recent hours, we know of the withdrawal of 11 members from the cabinet, and we are consulting closely with concerned parties and nations as the best way forward to support the stability and sovereignty and independence of Lebanon and the needs of the Lebanese people.

We also discussed Sudan, and I especially appreciate the good work that Qatar has done and that the prime minister personally has done as hosting the Darfur peace talks. Qatar has played an instrumental role in urging the Sudanese Government and rebel groups to unite around a diplomatic solution. We share that commitment and are working closely together.

On these and many other issues, Qatar is a trusted leader and a valued friend. The United States is proud of the partnership between our two nations. It has yielded positive results for the people of both of our countries, and we look forward to continuing to work together on the full range of issues that are important to us both. Thank you again, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER AL THANI: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Can we move to the questions, please?

MODERATOR: Jay Solomon from Wall Street Journal, please.

QUESTION: Thank you both. This question is for both foreign ministers.

Secretary Clinton, could you give us bit more of a sense on what the U.S. thinks it can do to support the Lebanese Government, given in the past the U.S. has tried to support Mr. Hariri’s government and Hezbollah has taken to the streets? And do you think there’s a future for the tribunal if the Lebanese Government doesn’t support it?

And for Foreign Minister Al Thani, in 2008, Qatar played a role in mediating in between the Lebanese factions to try to avoid a wider conflict. Does Qatar think there’s a role for the government again to serve as a mediator? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jay, we view what happened today as a transparent effort by those forces inside Lebanon as well as interests outside Lebanon to subvert justice and undermine Lebanon’s stability and progress. When President Obama met with Prime Minister Hariri earlier today, the President commended the prime minister for his leadership in protecting and advancing the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon and for staying focused on the real needs and interests of the Lebanese people.

We believe that the work of the special tribunal must go forward so justice can be served and impunity ended. We believe that the leaders of Lebanon have an ongoing responsibility to serve the interests of their own people, not outside forces. Trying to bring the government down as a way to undermine the special tribunal is an abdication of the responsibility, but it also will not work. This tribunal is a creation of the United Nations and the Security Council. It is supported by many governments, including my own. Its work will continue. And it is important that, as the prime minister and I discussed, we work with the Lebanese Government, the Lebanese people, and our other partners who share our interests in pursuing both stability and justice in Lebanon.

PRIME MINISTER AL THANI: If I may add, as you know, the stability of Lebanon becomes priority for us in Qatar, and I think for all our friends in the region and the United States. We know the tribunal and the stability of Lebanon – both of them is important for Lebanon. And I think now – I said yesterday when I had a press conference with the Prime Minister Erdogan that we have to think how to solve this problem in peaceful through responsible dialogue between the Lebanese. The Lebanese by themselves, they can help themselves. And I think our interference or our help is to help them to talk together and to try to reach a solution together. I think we have enough problem in the region that this problem we have to take care about it in a way to solve it, not to complicate it. And we are working by each minute and hour to do so.

MODERATOR: (In Arabic.)

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Our official stance is to support the effort that Qatar has been leading to bring the conflicting parties together. We know that the government in Khartoum had decided to try to move some of the discussions to Khartoum. I don’t think anyone objects to that so long as progress is made. Under Qatar’s leadership, there was a clear message that expectations were set and responsibility was expected, and people were being pushed to resolve the ongoing conflict in Darfur.

So I am certainly supportive of the efforts to date. If there are additional steps that could be taken, I am sure the prime minister would be the first to support those. We want to see a resolution. A lot of people had given up on whether or not there could ever be a resolution in Darfur. Qatar kept working at it and never gave up, and I think that deserves a lot of appreciation from the international community.

MODERATOR: (In Arabic.)

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, the United States supported the efforts that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia undertook to try to create a climate and arrive at understandings that would persuade Syria to be supportive of Lebanese sovereignty and independence and to work toward an outcome that would promote both justice and stability. You would have to ask the parties as to why that did not succeed. But we certainly were supportive of the effort, and unfortunately there was not a positive response to all of the Saudi efforts.

But I think let’s keep our eye on what’s really going on here. When the current government entered into their positions, all parties agreed to support the tribunal, including Hezbollah. And the work of the tribunal has been carried out over a number of years. We know that from news reports from the tribunal, they are on the verge of issuing indictments. And this is a matter that should be allowed to proceed as previously agreed to. And I would only add that this not only about the tragic assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri, but many other people died and were injured as well. So it’s not only to seek justice for a former leader whose murder should not be allowed to go unaccountable, but what about all the other families and all the other people who came from across Lebanon?

So this really goes to a very important point, which is that Lebanon needs now to rally behind its own interests. The Lebanese people need to get beyond political parties. And it’s not political parties that would be put on trial; it’s individuals who would either be found guilty or innocent of having plotted and carried out such a horrific crime.

PRIME MINISTER AL THANI: (In Arabic.)

MODERATOR: Mark Landler from New York Times.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, we’ve been talking just now about the Saudi/Syrian initiative, but there’s another school of thought on the role Syria played in Lebanon with some evidence that they have tried to undermine the Hariri government. Senior officials have talked about removing authority from the government, and other American officials have been very critical of Syria.

At this moment, would you tell us a bit more about how you view the role Syria is playing and has played? And what message would you have for Syria, a country that the Administration has now been trying to engage with for nearly two years?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Mark, I think that there’s a long and complicated history between Syria and Lebanon that many of you know and some of you have not only followed, but lived. It is our hope, and as Sheikh Hamad just said, our commitment to try to work with all the parties to determine what is a peaceful way forward. We don’t think it is, at this moment, useful to be pointing fingers or blaming or going about the business of recriminations about what did or didn’t happen and who did or did not do what. We have to deal with the reality as we see it today.

And I think it’s in everyone’s interest, whether it be different elements within Lebanon or Syria or any of the neighbors and many of us who care deeply about what happens to the Lebanese people, to come together around some very simple principles. Lebanon is a sovereign, independent nation. The Lebanese people need to be empowered in order to solve their own issues without outside interference or without threats from within Lebanon. And countries like the two of ours stand ready to help, to facilitate, to support such a process. It’s happened before, as has already been referenced, but we think it’s imperative that everyone try to play a responsible and positive role. And that is certainly the goal of the United States over the next days and weeks.

PRIME MINISTER AL THANI: Thank you very much.

 

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

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Emiri Diwan
Doha, Qatar
February 14, 2010

PRIME MINISTER SHEIKH HAMAD BIN JASSIM AL THANI (Via translator) In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful, in the name of God we welcome Secretary of State of the United States, Ms. Hillary Clinton. She has met in a long meeting with His Highness, the Emir, and this was a very positive meeting to consult and discuss issues of mutual interest for both countries, and also regional interests as well as all the region nearby.

Of course, we discussed important issues such as Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, the Palestinian cause, and the issue with Iran. And I think that the meeting was useful and important for both sides.

As you know, Qatar and USA have enjoyed long and strong relationships. And with the Administration of President Obama, these relations have been renewed in a bigger and stronger way. And we went back to their old track, and we are happy for this because we consider the United States as an important partner for us in Qatar.

Once again, I welcome Her Highness, the Secretary of State, and I give her the floor.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Your Excellency. I appreciate greatly the very warm hospitality that the Emir provided me in the meeting that we just concluded, and I am very pleased to be here with the prime minister, with whom I have had the pleasure of meeting on a number of occasions in the past year, as Secretary of State. I am very happy to be here for this important forum.

Both the Prime Minister and I will be addressing the forum in just a few minutes. We will then be answering questions from the audience. And we will cover, I am sure, many of the very important issues that we just discussed together.

The friendship between our two countries is very important, and one that we are going to see the results of our mutual efforts on so many issues, from the work here that we are doing at the forum to promote better understanding and dialogue, to the work that Qatar is doing in food security, which dovetails with one of our principal initiatives, to the important matters here in the region, which we discussed at length.

So, again, Prime Minister, thanks to you and to the Emir for a very useful and productive discussion.

PRIME MINISTER SHEIKH HAMAD BIN JASSIM AL THANI (Via translator) We take only two questions, because we will answer questions in the conference.

MODERATOR: (Via translator) So, Mr. Hatham from Al Jazeera channel.

QUESTION: (Via translator) Good evening, Your Excellencies. Two of — for Madam Secretary of State — two of your assistants said to news agencies that your visit is to obtain support for putting pressure on Iran. And has Turkey done something in this regard?

Another question to the Prime Minister. Have you received an answer from the letter of guarantees you asked for — the peace process?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say that there are many reasons for my visit here to Qatar. We have a broad range of issues to discuss. Certainly, we talked in depth about Iran. The Emir has a lot of very well-developed and informed opinions about Iran that he shared with me.

We made it clear that we want to, as we have from the beginning of President Obama’s term, engage with Iran. And President Obama has consistently said that he is willing to do so. Unfortunately, that has not been received positively by the Iranians.

We have always had a dual track policy, because we believe that it is important for the stability and the peace of the region that Iran not acquire nuclear weapons. They are going to have to make a decision as to which direction they will go. And we are going to continue to work with our friends and partners in the region, as well as countries around the world, to send a clear message to the Iranians, and to take action in the Security Council that sends that message that we do not believe that Iran should be a nuclear weapons power. We believe they do have a right to peaceful nuclear power, and we stand ready to engage with them. But we are going to have to move forward in the absence of any positive response.

PRIME MINISTER SHEIKH HAMAD BIN JASSIM AL THANI (Via translator) As for the letter of guarantees, as you know, this was by demand from Arab countries, and Qatar presented itself with the United States. And it was that we needed a document that clarifies what is the United States’ concept, and the way it sees the peace process, and what is it, what we call in English, the “end game?”

Because we, in Qatar, we don’t think we or the United States want to only to speak about work for the process of peace. No. That’s why we were very clear. Nevertheless, there are different Arab points of view. We have explained this in our statement made by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

And now they are speaking about talks. We don’t — proximity talks — and we don’t mind this. And this, if accepted by the specialized committee in the Arab League, in a way that the concept would be clear what is meant by proximity talks, (inaudible), and I think a discussion is going now between (inaudible) and George Mitchell about this subject.

I thank you, and I think we are late. We are very late. In fact, we must head to the conference. If you have other questions, work on them during the conference. Thank you.

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