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When President Obama first asked Hillary Clinton to be secretary of state, she not only declined, she immediately suggested that Richard Holbrooke would be a much better choice.  Like Bill Clinton, who had to propose three times before she would accept marriage, Barack Obama had to ask several times before she accepted the cabinet position.  But she had conditions.  One was that at-risk regions required special attention and needed special advisers.  Holbrooke was brought into the administration as special adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Holbrooke died during Hillary’s tenure at DOS, and his son, David, has made a documentary about his father’s remarkable life and career called The Diplomat.  It premiered tonight on HBO and is excellent.  Both Bill and Hillary Clinton were interviewed extensively along with many who worked with Holbrooke.  I give it five stars. Don’t miss it!  It is a must see!

Read more about this award-winning documentary here at the website >>>>

One of the diplomatic tragedies of Bill Clinton’s administration depicted in this documentary occurred when Holbrooke was attempting to broker peace in the in the Balkans.  A vehicle carrying three members  of our negotiation team rolled off a very dangerous road on the way to Sarajevo.  It tumbled down a mountain, hit a land mine, caught fire, and killed the occupants.

Hillary was asked a question this week in Iowa about our ordinance left over in Laos.

A candidate who knows exactly what’s going on in Laos.

At a campaign stop in Iowa, Hillary got asked an unexpected foreign policy question about unexploded bombs in Laos—leftovers from the Vietnam War.

Hillary’s answer shows exactly what it would mean to have a former secretary of state in the Oval Office.

See the video and hear her response >>>>

The documentary emphasizes Holbrooke’s belief in the lessons of history.  We should remember these going forward.  There is much unfinished business from our engagement in Southeast Asia.  We may call it the Viet Nam War, but it was larger.  Incursions into Cambodia, which Richard Nixon announced saying it was “not an invasion,”and carpet-bombing in Laos are witness to the breadth of the conflict and damage left behind.  Hillary Clinton knows and respects the lessons of Viet Nam.

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Meets with Staff and Families of Embassy Hanoi

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Hanoi, Vietnam
July 11, 2012

Thank you so much, David. Well, that was a long time ago. But who knows where the people out here on this meet and greet line will be in 16 years, David, and I want to thank you for your tireless, dedicated service to our country and all that you’re doing to improve and broaden and deepen our relations with Vietnam and the people of Vietnam.

I remember talking with you last October about how excited you were to be coming to Vietnam, and you put together that video greeting even before you arrived, which reached 20 million Vietnamese viewers. And I know you’re still trying to figure out how you’re going to reach the other 67 million at least. (Laughter.)

But it is exciting to be here on my third visit as Secretary of State. And the reason I keep coming back is because we think that there is an enormous amount of potential in our relationship. And I want to be sure we’re doing everything we can to explore how far we can go. Just yesterday, I think we’ve demonstrated once again we’ve reached a level of engagement that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago. We have two-way trade reaching $22 billion, increasing every year, working on everything from HIV/AIDS to disaster relief to trafficking in persons to recovering the remains of our soldiers. And our military-to-military ties, as evidenced by Secretary Panetta’s very successful visit, are also intensifying. We are working toward a strategic partnership agreement that will give us a framework to deepen and broaden this engagement.
But none of it would be possible without the energy and enthusiasm and the expertise of this team and your colleagues throughout Vietnam. When you launch programs that show farmers how to get more productivity out of their land, you’re helping them not only feed their families but earn more money and continue to rise into the middle class. When you connect Vietnamese companies with American investments, you’re helping to create jobs back home and produce economic growth for both countries. When you talk to students about opportunities to study abroad, you’re helping build bridges between our people, and with very tangible results, because I can remember back in the Clinton Administration, which is when I first met you all those years ago in Tokyo, just 800 Vietnamese were studying in the United States. Today 15,000 are, and we would like to double, triple, quadruple that number in the years ahead.

Now, look, I understand your work is not always easy. There are issues of government control and censorship that you have to work through and over and around every single day. It makes your jobs and your lives more difficult. We raise these issues and concerns in every single meeting that we have with Vietnamese officials and we will continue to raise them, because we happen to believe it’s not only part of American values, it’s universal values. The Declaration of Universal Human Rights is not just for Americans or Westerners. It’s for Asians and Vietnamese and everyone else. So we make the argument that as economic progress continues the opening of political expression and political space, the protection and respect for human rights is absolutely essential.

And I know that where you work has an impact on how you work. Being separated from each other can make it harder to operate as a team, and we’re going to keep working to finalize agreements for a new embassy compound. That is something we’ve been focused on and hopefully someday soon people will be able to work in one state-of-the-art location.

I want to say a special word of thanks to our locally employed staff. Ambassadors come and go, Secretaries come and go, but the locally employed staff here in Vietnam, like those around the world, are really the memory bank and the experience base for everything that we do, and we are very grateful that you’re part of this team.

So again, let me thank you and let me thank you especially for having to organize and implement three separate trips from me, the Secretary of Defense, and a continuous stream of high-level officials. I know it’s always extra work when that occurs, but we are deeply grateful, because we want to show at a high and visible level the importance we place on this relationship. So again, thank you very much, and let me shake some hands. Thank you, David. (Applause.)

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Remarks at American Chamber of Commerce Reception and Commercial Signings

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Hilton Opera Hotel
Hanoi, Vietnam
July 10, 2012

Well, I am delighted to be here with all of you. It’s great being in Hanoi, a pretty cool place, I think – (laughter) – and to be part of this event, which furthers our important relationships. And thank you very much for the award. I am delighted that I had a chance to receive it in front of such a distinguished audience, and I think it is a great reminder of how important it is that we have the public and the private sector working together on behalf of greater prosperity and progress and opportunity for all of us.

I was delighted to visit with Chamber representatives all over the world at our Global Business Conference in Washington this year, and I’d like to thank Hank Tomlinson for your leadership here in Vietnam. I want to thank Fred Burke for your very kind words and the presentation of the award. I want to thank Madam Nga for being here with us and, of course, recognize our excellent Ambassador David Shear, who has a great team working on behalf of American interests and American businesses.

We are very committed to this relationship between the United States and Vietnam, just as we are to the reenergizing of America’s relationship throughout the Asia Pacific. It’s one of the top priorities of the Obama Administration. The United States is, after all, an enduring Pacific power with Pacific interests, and we intend to be a presence in the Pacific region for the foreseeable future.

Now, a lot has been written about the so-called pivot to Asia. But what hasn’t, perhaps, received enough attention is the breadth of our engagement. It’s not just about security, although that is important. As I explained in a speech I delivered in Mongolia yesterday, it’s also about standing up for democracy and human rights, for the rule of law, for economic ties, boosting trade, and as the Secretary of State, advocating for American businesses.

If we look around this room, or you look at the list of companies represented here, there is no doubt that American business is eager to invest more in Asia. Companies are taking advantage of an improving business climate and setting up shop to serve the needs of Asia’s growing middle class. And part of my job, part of our job in government, is to help open doors for you. At the State Department, we have mounted a serious effort to place economics at the center of American foreign policy. We call it economic statecraft, using diplomacy and tools, like the Export-Import Bank, to advance and promote American economic interests and to harness the powers of the market to advance our strategic goals. And we are particularly focused on developing a global economic order that is open, free, transparent, and fair. So we’re working with partners, both new and longstanding, to establish common rules of the road, so to speak, so everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive.

Now, Vietnam is an excellent case in point for how we can grow together rather than at each other’s expense. When my husband reestablished diplomatic relations in 1995, there was very little American investment in Vietnam. Today, we are the seventh largest foreign investor, and our annual bilateral trade has grown to almost $22 billion. And as we just heard, when my husband, my daughter, and I came to Vietnam in the year 2000, we saw the changes that were happening. There was a great emphasis on improving and advancing economic relations between our countries, and agreements were signed.

So we saw progress then, but in my visit three times as Secretary of State, I’ve already seen in those last three years how our trade partnership has expanded more than 40 percent. The United States is now Vietnam’s largest market for exports, and we are very proud of that. And American companies are poised to help Vietnam take on many of its current challenges, as we just saw with the two signings involving General Electric and the provision of materials and products that will enhance Vietnam’s energy security and independence.

I met with the Prime Minister earlier today, where several members of the U.S. ASEAN business delegation had an opportunity to sit down with him and discuss how there can be steps taken for greater American investment. Now, when we think about investment or we think about deals like we just saw with GE, we’ve got to remember it’s really about people. GE will supply the critical energy that Vietnam needs to fuel its own economic development, which will give greater energy reliability and efficiency to the people of Vietnam. At the same time, these deals translate into jobs for workers at GE’s steam turbine plant in Schenectady, New York and at other sites around the United States. This is a win-win.

We also have companies based in Vietnam, like Imex Pan Pacific and IFB Holdings, that are introducing well known American brands to Asian markets. They’re bringing Gap clothing and Subway sandwiches to cities and towns across Vietnam. That’s good for American companies; it’s good for communities to attract new investments; it’s good for new businesses and the local jobs that go with them. But there is still so much untapped potential. And I told both the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister that we think there is much more that the Government of Vietnam can do to unleash the full power of the private sector.

Domestic and international businesses alike continue to face rules that restrict their activities, and that, in turn, deters investment and slows growth. So we are encouraging the Government of Vietnam to keep on the path of economic and administrative reform to open its markets to greater private investment. And through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we’re working with Vietnam and seven other nations to lower trade barriers throughout the region, as we ensure the highest standards for labor, environmental, and intellectual property protections. Vietnam was an early entrant to the TPP, and we’re hoping we can finalize the agreement this year. And the economic analysis is that of all the countries that will be participating – Australia, Canada, Mexico, others – of all the countries participating in the TPP, Vietnam stands to benefit the most. So we’re hoping to really see this agreement finalized and then watch it take off.

Now, I don’t have to tell you that attracting more foreign business takes more than lowering trade barriers; it also requires an educated workforce prepared to compete for 21st century jobs. So the United States is also partnering with educational institutions and a range of companies and NGOs to help develop a very strong, skilled workforce to meet the growing demand here in Vietnam. For example, two years ago, Intel opened a billion-dollar facility in Ho Chi Minh City that will eventually employ thousands of workers to test the quality of its computer chips. Intel is deeply invested in Vietnam, and they recognize that to continue growing, they need to help improve the engineering skills of their workforce. So they teamed up with Vietnamese technical schools, USAID, and Arizona State University to form a new alliance that trains engineering faculty in practical, project-based instruction techniques.

And Intel has just introduced a new piece of this effort, a scholarship program specifically designed to bridge the gender gap by bringing more women into engineering programs, and I just met the first scholarship recipient, the first of several hundred women who will benefit from this program over the next five years, and I am very excited about what this means for Vietnam and for women in engineering. This reflects a larger effort launched by APEC last year in San Francisco to expand women’s economic participation across the Asia Pacific, especially in science, technology, engineering, and math. So this scholarship program is exactly what we need. And I’ve been talking all day, so excuse me. (Laughter.)

So we’ve come a long way in a short period of time, and that is – excuse me – what economic statecraft is all about. So we want to hear from all of you about what more we can do together. And at the risk of coughing any longer, I just want to say thank you, and let’s get to work. (Laughter and applause.)

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Mme. Secretary’s day at UNGA today was packed with bilaterals.  We see her in these pictures with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati,  Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi,  Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh,  Brunei’s Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah, and  Colombian Foreign Minister Angela Holguin.  It was a productive day, but much too busy for her to make any press statements.   For those who would like details, please see the following links.

Memorandum of Understanding with Ukraine on Nuclear Security Cooperation

Background Briefing on China, Lebanon, and Georgia

Background Briefing: Secretary’s Bilateral Meetings on Colombia, Vietnam, and the Ukraine

Here are the pics.  Enjoy!

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Wow! That is all I can say! This is how the Secretary of State landed in Viet Nam today. I KNOW this impressed the Viet Namese people the way her beautiful embroidered coat impressed the Afghan people.


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As our globetrotting Secretary of State wrapped up her Asia tour today, the solemn mood and muted colors on the tarmac in Hanoi contrasted starkly with the explosion of exuberance and color that we saw in Seoul just a few days ago.   In what was,  I believe, a precedent, the Secretary of State accompanied, on her plane, the repatriated remains of American MIAs from Viet Nam.

These pictures of the repatriation ceremony could be mistaken for black-and-white but for the one splash of color – Old Glory draping the coffin.  A few more guys are coming home with her.  It is a good time to remind everyone:   We were against the illegal war.  We were NEVER against our soldiers!   Welcome home, men, and thank you for your service and sacrifice.

Thank you, Mme. Secretary for your service as well.  This is a fitting ending to your visit to Hanoi.

UPDATE: h/t to Jo Anne Odell at Team Hillary Clinton who found this video. It appears the remains were loaded onto a military transport and the the Secretary’s plane. You can see the emotion on her face. Thanks again, Jo Anne!

Vodpod videos no longer available.
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Hillary Rodham Clinton wrapped up the last day of her fifth trip to Asia as Secretary of State by attending day two of the 17th ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi, Viet Nam and signing the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with participating nations. For those of us old enough to remember the Viet Nam War, these are amazing pictures. Amity, yes. There are other “hot spots” on the planet, but in Southeast Asia, Hillary Clinton has extended her hand, with its perfect nail beds, for a firm handshake as the nations forge agreements to move into this century on very different footing than in the past.

Mme. Secretary, beautiful job! Well done! What beautiful pictures of peace! (Our Secretary of State totally rocks!

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