Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hillary Clinton at Annual Reception for Donors to the Diplomatic Reception Rooms

Annual Reception for Donors to the Diplomatic Reception Rooms

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 30, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Marcee. Well, it is a pleasure to welcome all of you here. And I want to thank Marcee, who has done a wonderful job. Her enthusiasm and dedication to this collection is palpable. And I think if you haven’t had a tour led by Marcee, you’re missing a real treat. I want to also – (applause) – thank her staff and all the tour guides and the docents who are here sharing these beautiful objects with the public – 40,000 visitors a year. And it really does just make me so proud that we’re able to share this with the public.
I want to thank the Fine Arts Committee at the Department of State and the Fund for the Endowment of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms. I also want to thank a fellow cabinet member, the Secretary of Agriculture and his wife, Tom and Christie Vilsack who are here. Thank you for coming, Tom. (Applause.)
As we were doing the receiving line, a couple of you said that you’ve been doing this since Clem Conger enlisted you. (Laughter.) Once in, never out. And he is rightly revered as a legend for what he was able to accomplish in these rooms. But the ongoing commitment by so many of you plus the dedicated staff has been equally important.
To be sure that we continue to recognize and respect what it is that these rooms symbolize, I love telling our guests from around the world about each one named for a giant in American history. Every time I set foot in these rooms, I am very proud that we can conduct our diplomacy against such a stunning backdrop of American art and architecture. And we also use these rooms to introduce visitors to the breadth of our history and the scope and variety of the American landscape, from Niagara Falls to the mountains of Yellowstone, to Plymouth Rock, and one of our most recent gifts, the Thomas Cole landscape, that captures the mood and style of our nation in the 19th century.
So as you study each of these fabulous objects, I hope you will share the great joy that I feel in being able to work in this building. It was so touching for me to be here and be able to walk through these rooms and to know that others had come before and that the work of our nation, our values, never ends. And the newest addition to the collection, I’m very happy to say, is a portrait of a woman, Caroline Leroy Webster, and the wife of the great statesman Daniel Webster. And what a fitting reminder that our nation was built not only by great men, but also by great women. (Applause.)
I’m very committed to working with the committee and, of course, Marcee and her staff to build our endowment so that it reaches a point that enables us to not worry about the constant fundraising that is part of keeping these collections and adding to them. I was privileged to do that to help finish off a – an effort actually started by Pat Nixon and continued by successive first ladies. And I recognize some of you were also donors to the White House Endowment Fund.
I know we also have representatives from Blair House, another part of our State Department outreach to visitors from around the world. I cannot thank you enough for your gifts and your ongoing support. But I also particularly appreciate the joy that so many of you expressed as we were shaking hands and greeting one another to be in this room – in these rooms, and to feel that you too are part of American history and, in fact, you are. That’s what’s so unique about this extraordinary country of ours. It’s not only about the people whose portraits are on the wall. Every country has people whose portraits from the past are on walls.
What makes the United States of America unique is how individuals throughout our country’s history have taken responsibility for preserving the past, but imagining and creating an even better future. That’s what we’re going to try to do here in the State Department. And we want to be reminded of the very high bar that we face to make a contribution to our country and to the world similar to what has stood the test of time in history by the men and women represented in these fabulous rooms. Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)
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Hillary Clinton at Senate Appropriations Today

Opening Remarks on the President's FY 2009 War Supplemental Request


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee
Washington, DC
April 30, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Cochran, members of the Committee, former colleagues and friends. I thank you for this opportunity to appear before you. And I also thank you for your stalwart support of the men and women of the State Department and USAID, who serve in critical and often dangerous missions in all corners of the world.
I’m honored to be here with Secretary Gates. I appreciate the partnership that we have developed in the first 100 days of this Administration, and today, on Day 101, I look forward to our further collaboration in the months ahead.

Before turning to the topic of today’s hearing, let me just give you a brief update on how the State Department is supporting the federal government’s response to the H1N1 flu virus.

We have established an influenza monitoring group within our Operations Center. We are tracking how other governments are responding to the threat and what assistance we might offer. We are constantly reviewing and refining our advice to Americans traveling or living abroad.

Our pandemic influenza unit, set up in the last years, is providing valuable expertise. Its director, Ambassador Robert Loftis, is keeping us apprised of their work and their interaction with health agencies and the World Health Organization.

Earlier this week, USAID announced it is giving $5 million to the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization to help detect and contain the disease in Mexico.

We will continue to coordinate closely with the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, the WHO, the CDC, and other agencies. And I’m very cognizant of the role that we all must play in attempting to stem and contain this influenza outbreak.

Senator Gates – Secretary Gates and I are here together because our departments’ missions are aligned and our plans are integrated. The foreign policy of the United States is built on the three Ds: defense, diplomacy, and development. The men and women in our armed forces perform their duties with courage and skill, putting their lives on the line time and time again on behalf of our nation. And in many regions, they serve alongside civilians from the State Department and USAID, as well as other government agencies, like USDA.

We work with the military in two crucial ways. First, civilians complement and build upon our military’s efforts in conflict areas like Iraq and Afghanistan. Second, they use diplomatic and development tools to build more stable and peaceful societies, hopefully to avert or end conflict that is far less costly in lives and dollars than military action.

As you know, the United States is facing serious challenges around the world: two wars; political uncertainty in the Middle East; irresponsible nations, led by Iran and North Korea, with nuclear ambitions; an economic crisis that is pushing more people into poverty; and 21st century threats such as terrorism, climate change, trafficking in drugs and human beings. These challenges require new forms of outreach and cooperation within our own government and then with others as well.

To achieve this, we have launched a new diplomacy powered by partnership, pragmatism, and principle. We are strengthening historic alliances and reaching out to create new ones. And we’re bringing governments, the private sector, and civil society together to find global solutions to global problems.

The 2009 supplemental budget request for the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development is a significant sum, yet our investment in diplomacy and development is only about 6 percent of our total national security budget. For Secretary Gates and myself, it is critically important that we give our civilian workers, as well as our military, the resources they need to do their jobs well.

In Iraq, as we prepare to withdraw our troops, our mission is changing, but it is no less urgent. We must reinforce security gains while supporting the Iraqi Government and people as they strengthen public institutions and promote job creation, and assist those Iraqis who had fled because of violence and want to return home.

Last weekend, I visited Iraq, taking with me – or meeting on the ground, actually, our new ambassador who was confirmed the night before. We visited the leadership. We visited with a cross-section of Iraqis in a town hall setting. And clearly, there are signs of progress. But there is much work that remains. In meeting with Iraqis who are working with our Provincial Reconstruction Teams and our Embassy, I was struck by their courage and determination to reconstruct their country – not just physically, but really through the re-weaving of their society.

We have requested $482 million in the supplemental for our civilian efforts to help Iraq move forward – we want to create a future of stability, sovereignty, and self-reliance – and another $108 million to assist Iraqi refugees.

In Afghanistan, as you know, the President has ordered additional troops. Our mission is very clear: to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy al-Qaida. But bringing stability to that region is not only a military mission; it requires more than a military response. So we have requested $980 million in assistance to focus on rebuilding the agricultural sector, having more political progress, helping the local and provincial leadership deliver services for their people.
As President Obama has consistently maintained, success in Afghanistan depends on success in Pakistan. And we have seen how difficult it is for the government there to make progress as the Taliban and their allies continues to make inroads.
Counterinsurgency training is critical. But of equal importance are diplomacy and development, to work with the Pakistani Government, Pakistani civil society, to try to provide more economic stability and diminish the conditions that feed extremism. That is the intent of the comprehensive strategy laid out by Senator Kerry and Senator Lugar, which President Obama and I have endorsed and which the Senate will be considering in the next days.
With this supplemental request, we are seeking funding of $497 million in assistance for our work in Pakistan, which will support the government’s efforts to stabilize the economy, strengthen law enforcement, alleviate poverty, and help displaced citizens find safe shelter. It will also enable us to begin to keep the pledge we made to Pakistan at the Tokyo Donors Conference earlier this month.
In addition to our work in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, we are committed to help achieve a comprehensive peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and to address the humanitarian needs in Gaza and the West Bank. At Sharm el-Sheikh last month, on behalf of the President, I announced a pledge of $900 million for humanitarian, economic, and security assistance for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people. Our supplemental request is included in that pledge; it is not in addition to it. And it will be implemented with stringent requirements to prevent aid from being diverted into the wrong hands.
Meanwhile, the current economic crisis has put millions of people in danger of falling further into poverty. And we have seen again and again that this can destabilize countries, as well as sparking humanitarian crises. So we have requested $448 million to assist developing countries hardest hit by the global financial crisis. These efforts will be complemented by investments in the supplemental budget for emergency food aid, to counter the destructive effects of the global food crises, to try to help people who are undernourished to succeed in school, participate in their societies. And I’m very pleased that the President has asked the State Department and USAID to lead a government-wide effort to address the challenge of food security.
We also must lead by example when it comes to shared responsibility. So we have included in this request $837 million for United Nations peacekeeping operations, which includes funds to cover assessments previously withheld.
As recently in Haiti, where the UN peacekeeping force, led by the Brazilians, has done an extraordinary job in bringing security and stability to Haiti. It is still fragile, but enormous progress has been made. It is a good investment for us to pay 25 percent of that kind of stability operation instead of being asked to assume it for 100 percent of the cost.
We’re asking also for small investments targeted to specific concerns: international peacekeeping operations and stabilization in Africa; humanitarian needs in Burma; the dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear programs, assuming that they come back to the Six-Party Talks; assistance for Georgia that the prior administration promised and we believe we should fulfill; support for the Lebanese Government, which is facing serious challenges; and funding for critical air mobility support in Mexico as part of the Merida Initiative.
Finally, if the State Department is to pursue an ambitious foreign policy agenda that safeguards our security and advances our interests and really exemplifies our values, we have to have a more agile, effective State Department and USAID. We have to staff those departments well. We have to provide the resources that are needed. We have to hold ourselves accountable. Our supplemental includes $747 million to support State and USAID mission operations around the world.
Secretary Gates and I are also looking at how our departments can collaborate even more effectively. That includes identifying pieces of our shared mission that are now housed at Defense that should move to State.
With the budget support we’ve outlined in this supplemental request, we can do the work that this moment demands of us in regions whose future stability will impact our own.

Secretary Gates and I are committed to working closely together, in an almost unprecedented way, to sort out what the individual responsibilities and missions of Defense and State and USAID should be, but committed to the overall goal of promoting stability and long-term progress, which we believe is in the interest of the United States and which we are prepared to address and take on the challenges and seize the opportunities that confront us at this moment in history.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hillary Clinton: Tribute to Sojourner Truth

Tribute to Sojourner Truth: Unveiling of Bust in Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Emancipation Hall, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC
April 28, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: What a wonderful day it is to be here in Emancipation Hall for this great occasion when Sojourner Truth takes her rightful place alongside the heroes who have helped to shape our nation’s history.

This is an achievement that did not come easily or quickly. It took years of hard work and faith by many people to make this day possible. And what a great honor and pleasure it is to have with us for this extraordinary moment in our nation’s history our First Lady, Michelle Obama.

I want to thank the Speaker for her leadership and also Congressman Boehner and Leader Reid and Senator McConnell, because this was a bipartisan effort. But I especially want to thank my partner in this project from the very beginning when we first co-sponsored the legislation for this extraordinary memorial years ago, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee.

This dream began with C. DeLores Tucker. All of us who knew and admired and loved C. DeLores remember that when she had her mind made up, you could not change it. She saw this through almost to the very end, and I know she is smiling down on us today in celebration and pride. And it is such a great delight to have with us her husband, William “Bill” Tucker. Mr. Tucker, thank you.

All the members of the National Congress of Black Women deserve our thanks, because you raised the money for this memorial. You raised it one dollar and five dollars at a time. It was a true grassroots effort. And you have every reason to be so proud of what you have achieved here.

I also want to take a moment of personal privilege and recognize another one of my heroines, Dr. Dorothy Height, who is here with us. You know, leaders like Dr. Height and E. Faye Williams and Michelle Battle and so many others stand in the footsteps of Sojourner’s legacy. It is all around us today. You heard the bishop. We’re here because of barriers she challenged and fought to tear down and paths she helped to forge and trod alone. So we honor her memory and we pay tribute to her life’s work, and we recommit ourselves to fighting to end injustice and inequality wherever it remains.

One hundred and fifty-eight years ago, hundreds of women and men from across the country gathered in a church in Akron, Ohio to declare a simple but revolutionary idea, that the rights afforded to men, particularly the right to vote, belonged to women too.

Now, in a few minutes, we’re going to hear from one of our great actresses, Cicely Tyson, who will recount those words. But inside that crowded church when this former slave stood to speak, at first, people were not paying attention. Some were kind of rude, if you read the history. But she knew firsthand the cruelties of slavery and oppression and the burden of gender inequality, and she drew vital connections between the two.

On that day in Ohio, she told the crowd of suffragettes that if they cared about women’s rights, they had to fight for the rights of current and former slaves, and that slaves deserved their support, just as the larger society should support the rights of women that they were campaigning for.

She lived for nearly 90 years. She never stopped fighting to extend the rights and protections of our democracy. She preached against capital punishment and advocated for prison reform. She recruited African American troops for the Union Army. She helped to desegregate the streetcars that ran through Washington, and she worked diligently to improve living conditions for freed men and women.

She did not know how to read or write. Her life was from the most humble and improbable circumstances. But she ended up counting President Lincoln and President Grant among her acquaintances. She never, never, despite what she went through, stopped believing in the promise of liberty. She lived long enough to see the end of slavery, but not the establishment of voting rights for women. The 19th Amendment would not be passed until 37 years after her death. But today, she takes her place in this Capitol, and we are the better for it.

Was any person ever better named? Think about it. She is a sojourner of truth, by truth, and for truth. And her words, her example, and her legacy will never perish from this earth, so long as men and women stand up and say loudly and clearly: We hear you echoing down through the years of history, we believe that your journey is not yet over, and we will make the rest of that journey with you. God bless the memory of Sojourner Truth.

# # #

Hillary Clinton on Energy and Climate

Remarks at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Loy Henderson Conference Room
Washington, DC
April 27, 2009

Date: 04/27/2009 Location: Washington, DC Description: Secretary Clinton stands at podium, addressing the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate. State Dept Photo
Thank you, Todd. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Well, I’m delighted to welcome all of you to the State Department for this very consequential meeting. As I look around the table, I think I have met in bilateral forums with all of the countries here, if not in multilateral forums, over the last nearly 100 days. And at each and every one of those meetings, global warming, climate change, clean energy, a low-carbon future has been part of our discussions. And I’m very pleased to welcome the personal representatives of 17 major economies, the United Nations, and observer nations to this first preparatory meeting of the major economies on energy and climate.
I think it’s significant that this discussion is taking place here at the State Department, because the crisis of climate change exists at the nexus of diplomacy, national security and development. It is an environmental issue, a health issue, an economic issue, an energy issue, and a security issue. It is a threat that is global in scope, but also local and national in impact. I’m delighted that our Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern, will be working with you, as will Mike Froman, who sits at that nexus in the White House between the National Security Council and the National Economic Council.
You know the details or you would not be here. There is much going on in the world today that challenges us, and it is remarkable that each of your nations has committed to this because we know that climate change threatens lives and livelihoods. Desertification and rising sea levels generate increased competition for food, water and resources. But we also have seen increasingly the dangers that these transpose to the stability of societies and governments. We see how this can breed conflict, unrest and forced migration. So no issue we face today has broader long-term consequences or greater potential to alter the world for future generations.
So this morning, I would like to underscore four main points. First, the science is unambiguous and the logic that flows from it is inescapable. Climate change is a clear and present danger to our world that demands immediate attention. Second, the United States is fully engaged and ready to lead and determined to make up for lost time, both at home and abroad. The President and his entire Administration are committed to addressing this issue and we will act.
Third, the economies represented here today have a special responsibility to pull together and work toward a successful outcome of the UN climate negotiations later in the year in Copenhagen, and I’m delighted that Denmark could join us because they are going to host this very important meeting. And the Major Economies Forum provides a vehicle to help us get prepared to be successful at that meeting.
And fourth, all of us participating today must cooperate in developing meaningful proposals to move the process forward. New policy and new technologies are needed to resolve this crisis, and they won’t materialize by themselves. They will happen because we will set forth an action plan in individual countries, in regions, and globally. It took a lot of work by a lot of people to create the problem of climate change over the last centuries. And it will take our very best efforts to counter it.
First, I want for the American audience principally, but also for international audiences, to underscore what I said here just a few weeks ago when we had the meeting of the Antarctic consultative group. Some of the countries were represented here. The science is conclusive. The evidence and impact is getting more dramatic every year. Facts on the ground are outstripping worst-case scenario models that were developed only a few years ago. Ice sheets are shrinking. Sea levels are rising. Oceans are becoming more acidic, threatening coral and other life forms. So the imperative is clear. We are called to act, and future generations will judge us as to whether we do or not.
Second, the United States is no longer absent without leave. President Obama and I and our Administration are making climate change a central focus of our foreign policy. We are, as Todd has often said, back in the game. We don’t doubt the urgency or the magnitude of the problem. This forum is not intended to divert attention from working towards solutions, but to assist us in creating those solutions. And we are moving quickly. On April 17th, in a decisive break with past policy, our Environmental Protection Agency announced its finding, that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions threaten public health and welfare. This move will open the door for more robust tailpipe emission regulations.
President Obama has proposed a broad, market-based cap on carbon pollution that would include a mandatory national target through the year 2050, when emissions would be cut by 80 percent. A market-based cap will encourage game-changing private investments in clean energy and improvements in efficiency, streamlining our regulatory process, stimulating new jobs and growth, and setting us on the road to a low-carbon economy. We, with our stimulus package of just a few months ago and our continuing emphasis will make significant, direct investments in clean energy technology and energy efficiency. And our EPA is paving the way for more stringent auto emission standards.
Now, we are well aware that some see the economic crisis as an excuse to delay action. We see it in an exactly opposite way, as an opportunity to move toward a low carbon future. So we work on that internally and we look forward to working with all of you.
We believe that the $80 billion in President Obama’s recovering plan, which includes funding and loans for clean energy development, targets to double our country’s supply of renewable energy over the next three years. And we also are working very hard on programs to make homes and buildings more energy efficient. We think this is something that all countries can do in this immediate economic crisis to make this a green recovery, and some of you are far ahead in doing that. We are also reengaged in the UN framework convention negotiations and looking forward to working throughout this year.
Third, as major economies, we are responsible for the majority of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. We may be at different stages of development and we certainly may have different causes of the emissions that we are responsible for, but we think coming together and working to address this crisis is comparable to the G-20 nations addressing the global economic crisis. That is why I want to assure you that the United States will work tirelessly toward a successful outcome of the UN Framework Convention negotiations.
There is no sense in negotiating an agreement if it will have no practical impact in reducing emissions to safer levels. The math of accumulating emissions is clear. So we all have to do our part, and we need to be creative and think hard about what will work in order for us to achieve the outcomes we hope for.
It is going to be both a national and local responsibility, as well as a global one. I believe that this forum can promote a creative dialogue and a sense of shared purpose. Of course, each economy represented here is different. And some, like mine, is responsible for past emissions, some responsible for quickly growing present emissions. But people everywhere have a legitimate aspiration for a higher standard of living. As I have told my counterparts from China and India, we want your economies to grow. We want people to have a higher standard of living. We just hope we can work together in a way to avoid the mistakes that we made that have created a large part of the problem that we face today.
And it will be harder, not easier, if we fail to meet the challenge of climate change for all countries, particularly developing countries, to continue the growth rates that they need to sustain the increase in standard of living that they’re looking for.
And finally, I would hope that we could develop through this mechanism concrete initiatives that leaders of the major economies can consider when they meet in Italy in July. We have to come up with specific recommendations. Breakthroughs can and should come from anywhere and everywhere. That’s why creative diplomacy and genuine collaboration is called for. And I think proposals for transformational technological changes, creating markets for such changes, subsidizing them on a declining basis so that we can get those new technologies into the market, whatever combination of incentive and mandatory requirements that will accomplish this change in the short run, should be considered.
Being good stewards as we must be of this fragile planet that we inherit together, requires us to be pragmatic, not dogmatic. We have to be willing to embrace change, not just repeat tired dogma. And I think we have to be ready to do whatever it takes and whatever the earth demands to succeed in addressing this common danger to our future.
I remember many years ago, as a young woman, seeing the first pictures that came back from space of earth, and looking at that blue and green orb as it spun on its axis, and I remember being so struck about how it was this place of light and life in what appeared to be just darkness and no life, so far as we knew. We now bear the responsibility in this generation, and the United States is ready to do our part. We are ready to listen and learn and to participate as a partner and also as a leader at this critical juncture. We want to be sure that that fragile planet we inhabit continues to provide for the greatest opportunities for our children and generations to come. But in order to do that, we have a historic responsibility to come together and actually create a new history.
So I appreciate your coming. I look forward to the reports of your deliberations. And I urge all of us to do what we know we must do to put our world on the right track to deal with this crisis. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

Hillary Clinton With Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo Yong Boon

Remarks With Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo Yong Boon Before Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 27, 2009

Date: 04/27/2009 Location: Washington, DC Description: Secretary Clinton speaks to Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo before their meeting. State Dept Photo SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are very pleased to have Minister Yeo here with us on behalf of Singapore, a nation that we have very close and constructive relationships with, a nation that is right at the core of global commerce, and I think was just named for the 21st year in a row the best port. So we know that it’s a critical part of the global economy. And I also want to thank you and your government for your efforts on behalf of the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the medical and other work that you have provided in Afghanistan.
We have a big agenda before us, and I’m looking forward to our meeting.
FOREIGN MINISTER YEO: Thank you very much, Secretary Clinton, for welcoming me to the State Department. Delighted to be back here and delighted to be calling on you in your capacity as Secretary of State. Bilateral relations between Singapore and the U.S. are excellent. We have a free trade agreement which was negotiated in ’03, a strategic framework – a security framework agreement which was concluded in ’05. Singapore armed forces work with the U.S. armed services in Iraq and in Afghanistan and the Gulf of Aden.
I am here today to discuss how to take our relations to a higher level. We appreciate it very much, Madame Secretary, your visit to East Asia, your first – on your first overseas visit. Your visit to the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta was much appreciated. We look forward to welcoming you back in July for the ASEAN Regional Forum.
FOREIGN MINISTER YEO: And we are also looking forward to the visit of President Obama for the ASEAN – for APEC Economic Ministers Meeting in Singapore in November this year.
FOREIGN MINISTER YEO: Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We are looking forward to all of that as well. Thank you so much, Minister.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, how are you advising Americans in terms of travel to Mexico?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We have put up on our website information and urging caution with those who are planning to travel. We are coordinating very closely with the Centers for Disease Control, with the Department of Homeland Security. We are taking this very seriously and working also with the World Health Organization and other countries to try to develop a strategy to prevent the spread of this form of swine flu.
We do believe that our efforts are developed and prepared to confront this wherever it might occur inside our own country, and enhanced cooperation across boundaries will be very important. And we obviously have offered help and assistance to the Government of Mexico to make sure that they have the resources and the technical expertise that they might need if they so request.
Thank you.

Hillary Clinton at Operation Step-it Up

Remarks at "Operation Step-it Up" and Career Gear Event


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
George C. Marshall Conference Center
Washington, DC
April 27, 2009

Well, I am delighted to be here. I want to thank Under Secretary Pat Kennedy for helping us host all of you today, and I want to also commend Louis Henderson and Darlene Young and the wonderful team that is part of Team 20 to have really spearheaded this effort.
Operation Step-it-Up is an example of the ways in which we can tap into the leadership skills of our employees and build good, strong, interagency cooperation and contribute to helping a lot of others as well. So I’m very proud that the State Department is able to host this event.
I have a longstanding interest in adoption and foster care issues dating back many, many years. My own mother actually was sort of informally fostered after her teenage parents couldn’t take care of her and her grandparents were similarly unable. And so she went to work in a home with a family taking care of their children, but the mother of that family was especially sensitive, so she made it possible for my mother to finish her work in the morning, getting the children of the house out to school, and then go to high school. So she actually was able to graduate from high school, which was an extraordinary accomplishment. And I wonder what would have happened to her if she hadn’t had that support.
In the years that I’ve been a lawyer and a child advocate and worked in organizations like the Children’s Defense Fund, I have tried to support positive changes in the foster care system and the adoption system, trying to find permanent, loving homes for children. But very often, it’s not possible to find family support or the community support that young people really deserve, especially those aging out of foster care. And this is an issue that I paid particular attention to when I was honored to be First Lady and then during the years in the Senate. I often had young people who had been in the foster care system interning in the First Lady’s office and in the Senate office, and I know that Mr. Henderson has been deeply involved in working on behalf of programs designed to assist young people when they do age out of foster care.
Little things can make such a difference, and what you’re doing today to really help young people kind of navigate the employment world is so significant. And I don’t know about you, but I certainly worried about what to wear on my first job interviews. And so the whole idea of trying to help young people make a good first impression, providing these suits that will help young adults transitioning out of the foster care system – when I started working on the aging out of foster care issues, most states had a regulation that when you graduated from high school or turned 18, whichever came first, you were no longer in the foster care system. And so social workers would literally show up at foster homes and group homes and hand these young people a black garbage bag and tell them to put their possessions in this bag and then they were on their own.
And for some of the young people that I have gotten to know over the years, it was just a shocking experience, particularly for those halfway through their senior year in high school. And they lived with friends’ parents. One young woman who I got to know just went from home to home, and from airport to airport, to bus station to bus station, just trying to find a place to spend the night so she could graduate from high school. She had already been accepted into a college, but she had to graduate from high school. And many other real hardships that these young people have had to endure.
So I’m impressed and grateful that our federal employees are participating in the Executive Leadership Program, and it didn’t stop just with an idea; you have followed through on it. And I know it’s going to make a difference. No matter what job we’re in or what level of government our position may be, I think we’re all public servants. And as public servants, I think we have a responsibility and an opportunity to give back. Operation Step-it-Up will give a lot of real-time help to young people who so desperately deserve it.
One of the young men who served as an intern in my office when I was a senator was someone who had been in and out of many foster homes. Luckily, when he was about 15, got into a situation with an adult who really made an investment, as he would tell you, no matter how difficult he was, stayed with him, got him through high school. Then he went on to college. He was an intern for me a couple of years while he was in college. And now he’s in law school, and I’ve often talked with him about what it’s been like for him. And he said, “Well, you know, you just have to imagine that it’s like you’re dropped into an island culture where you really don’t know the cues, you don’t know what it’s like to go to somebody’s home for Thanksgiving dinner because you really haven’t had that opportunity. You don’t know what it’s like to have a parent encouraging you or a grandparent who stays in your life.”
And what you’re trying to do here through this program sends a very strong signal that we may not know, those of us fortunate enough to have families that have stood with us and supported us. But I watched my own mother struggle with what it was like to become an adult pretty much on her own and then to have her own family, and to try to apply the lessons that she saw in that space of time when she was working in someone else’s home who took the time to try to foster and mentor her.
So I couldn’t be more delighted to be here to support this, and I’m very proud of particularly our State Department employees, but really all our federal employees for taking this on. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hillary Clinton's Trip to Iraq: The Back Story in Kuwait

Her public schedule for April 24 said she had no public appointments.  She was, in fact in the air headed for Kuwait - news that never broke for security reasons.  She arrived in the evening to the obvious delight of her Kuwaiti counterpart, Ambassador Ali Al-Sammak,  who met her at the airport with U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait Deborah K. Jones.  She met with Kuwaiti Deputy Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs Shaykh Dr. Mohammad Al Sabah, spent the night in Kuwait, and left the next morning in a military transport for Baghdad.

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HIllary Clinton With Lebanese President Michel Sleiman

Remarks After Meeting With Lebanese President Michel Sleiman


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Beirut, Lebanon
April 26, 2009

Date: 04/26/2009 Description: Secretary Clinton with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman. State Dept Photo SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me begin by saying how pleased I am to be here in Lebanon on a beautiful day. I appreciated the opportunity that I had to meet with the president, with the minister, and other members of the government. I am grateful for this chance to deliver a letter to President Sleiman from President Obama, expressing the Obama administration's strong support for a free, sovereign, and independent Lebanon.
And it is important that I stress this special bond that exists between the United States and Lebanon. My country has been enriched by the contributions of many Lebanese Americans. And, even more than that, we have been enriched by a diversity of communities. I know how diverse Lebanon is, and I know that that diversity is a source of strength as it is in my own country.
Over the past several years, Lebanon has gone through many challenges. And I want to commend the many courageous citizens from all different groups who have worked to build an independent and democratic nation. The parliamentary elections that are coming up in June will mark another milestone.
We believe strongly that the people of Lebanon must be able to choose their own representatives in open and fair elections without the specter of violence and intimidation, and certainly free of outside interference. And we join the international community in supporting the Lebanese government's efforts to achieve that goal. We will continue to support the voices of moderation in Lebanon and the responsible institutions of the Lebanese state that they are working to build. Our ongoing support for the Lebanese armed forces remains a pillar of our bilateral cooperation.
The United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that the Lebanese armed forces is the only legitimate armed force in Lebanon, the only force that is accountable to all of the Lebanese people. And I want to commend the Lebanese armed forces for its efforts to defend Lebanon's borders to fight terrorism and fully implement Security Council Resolution 1701.
I also am here to pledge our continuing support for the special tribunal for Lebanon. I will go from here to pay a call of respect at the memorial of former Prime Minister Hariri. There needs to be an absolute end to an era of impunity for political assassinations in Lebanon. It cannot, must not, be used as a bargaining chip. When I visit former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's memorial, I will honor his memory, and pay my respects to all those who have been killed while defending Lebanon's sovereignty and independence.
The guiding principles from the Cedar Revolution that followed his death, sovereignty and freedom for the Lebanese people, is a core value that we respect and will honor and work to translate into a perpetual reality.
I believe that Lebanon has a key role to play in the long-term efforts to build lasting peace and stability in this region. And President Obama and I and the administration that I represent, as well as the government and people of the United States look forward to ongoing partnership and cooperation.
Thank you very much, and I will happy to take your questions.
QUESTION: You mentioned the forces of moderation and your visit happens two months before the elections and on the very anniversary day of the Syrian withdrawal. I was wondering, coming here today, if you intend to express your support for the current majority.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I intend to express my support and President Obama's support for the people of Lebanon, and for a free, independent, and sovereign Lebanon, and for elections that will be free of any intimidation and outside interference, so that the people of Lebanon are able to peacefully make their decisions in these upcoming elections.
QUESTION: How can you (inaudible) is going to deal with the new Lebanese government in case the opposition or Hezbollah wins the election?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am not going to speculate on the outcome of your election. That is for the people of Lebanon to decide. The Lebanese people have a lot at stake in this election. And I know how seriously all of the candidates are campaigning throughout the country.
But we certainly hope that the election will be free of intimidation and outside interference, and that the results of the election will continue a moderate, positive direction that will benefit all the people of Lebanon. That is our hope. We want to see a strong, independent, free, and sovereign Lebanon. And we believe that this election will be, obviously, an important milestone on that path.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, welcome to Lebanon. (Inaudible) on this question. I know you don't want to speculate about the results of the elections, but it does look likely that Syria’s allies, including Hezbollah, will make a strong come-back. How will that affect your support for the Lebanese army that you just discussed, you said it was a pillar of cooperation between the two countries? Would you re-evaluate that cooperation with the Lebanese army?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Kim, first let me say that it's a great delight to have you with me on this trip. As some of you know, Kim is Lebanese, and has been so excited about coming back to a country that she loves, and I am pleased that I could be the reason she got to come back at this particular time.
I don't want to speculate about the outcome of the elections. Obviously, as an outsider, which is all that I am, and representing our President and our government, we hope that the election is free and fair of intimidation, we hope that the people of Lebanon make a decision that will continue the progress that we have seen over the last several years.
It won't surprise you to hear that I think moderation is important in the affairs of states, because that gives people from all backgrounds, and all different beliefs and convictions, an opportunity to participate. So that is up to the Lebanese people to decide, but we certainly look forward to working with and cooperating with the next Lebanese government.
QUESTION: Any settlement with Syria - that Lebanon could be paying the price for – especially regarding the international tribunal and why you don’t meeting (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with respect to my schedule, this was a very short trip, because of the necessity that I have to turn around and get back to Washington after having been in Iraq and Kuwait. But I really was here to send a very strong signal of our support for the free, fair elections, and of the state of Lebanon, symbolized by the president. And, therefore, I met with the president. I was very honored to be received by him and other ministers in the government of Lebanon.
I hope to return. I told the president that I feel very unhappy that I could come for such a short period of time. It's like seeing this great banquet laid out, and all I am permitted to do is eat a tiny little appetizer. Because I have heard so much about this beautiful country, I have so many Lebanese-American friends that have told me about the beauty of Lebanon and the hospitality of the people. So I do hope to come back and spend more time here.
With respect to Syria, we are heartened by the exchange of ambassadors that was agreed to between Lebanon and Syria. Obviously we think it's important that Lebanon have good relations with their neighbors, including Syria, but that Lebanon is an independent, free, sovereign nation. And there is nothing that we will do in any way that would undermine Lebanon's sovereignty. We don't have a right to do that, and we don't believe that would be the right thing to do.
So, I want to assure any Lebanese citizens, that the United States will never make any deal with Syria that sells out Lebanon and the Lebanese people. You have been through too much, and it is only right that you are given a chance to make your own decisions, however they turn out, amongst the people who call Lebanon home, who love this country, who are committed to it, who have stayed here and done what you can to navigate through these difficult years. It's a complicated neighborhood you live in, and you have a right to have your own future. And we believe that very strongly.
Thank you very much.

Sunday in Lebanon

Hillary spent Sunday in Lebanon.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Lebanese parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri as they visit the tomb of his father, slain former premier Rafiq Hariri (picture), in Beirut on April 26, 2009. Clinton made an unannounced visit to Lebanon as the country readies for parliamentary elections that could see the militant group Hezbollah and its allies emerge victorious. Clinton's hours-long trip is seen as a bid to bolster the current pro-US majority in parliament ahead of the June 7 vote.

A handout picture released by the Lebanese photo agency Dalati and Nohra shows US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signing the guestbook during a visit to the tomb of Lebanon's slain former premier Rafiq Hariri (picture) in Beirut on April 26, 2009. Clinton made an unannounced visit to Lebanon as the country readies for parliamentary elections that could see the militant group Hezbollah and its allies emerge victorious. Clinton's hours-long trip is seen as a bid to bolster the current pro-US majority in parliament ahead of the June 7 vote.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hillary Clinton's Meet and Greet with Embassy Baghdad Employees and Troops

Meet and Greet at Embassy Baghdad with Employees and U.S. Troops

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Embassy Baghdad
Baghdad, Iraq
April 25, 2009

Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you all. Well, I apologize for being so delayed, but we’ve had a great day and I know a lot of you here this evening were the reason we did. The work you’ve been doing and the specific commitment to making this visit so successful is something that really speaks for itself. I’m very, very grateful to each and every one of you, and I must say you have certainly earned a wheels-up party when we’re out of here tonight.

I want to thank Lieutenant General Helmick for representing General Odierno, and more than that, for training the Iraqi security forces, which is part of his set of responsibilities. I also want to just acknowledge Jim Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State, who will be working with our new ambassador and all of you, to deal with the range of issues that we have to tackle. I am here for my fourth trip. I first came in 2003 and then I came back in ’05 and then I came back in ’07. And here I am once again, this time as Secretary of State.
I am both heartened by the progress that many of you have contributed to. I want to thank Pat on behalf of everyone here. She did a great job as DCM until we could finally get the Senate to agree that maybe it was important to have an ambassador in Iraq. And I want to introduce to you your new Ambassador, Chris Hill. You should know that as soon as he was confirmed – I think he was confirmed Tuesday night, late – he packed up everything and hitched a ride to Baghdad. And he was anxious to start this job, which is such a critical one for our own security and certainly for the security and future of the Iraqi people.
I also want to acknowledge former Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who did a magnificent job here. Both Ambassadors Crocker and Hill are among the very best that our Diplomatic Corps has to offer. Ambassador Hill has been in conflict situations in Kosovo. He was part of the Dayton Peace Accord negotiations in Bosnia. He served in Poland and South Korea. He was ambassador in Macedonia during the Kosovo war there. So he is no stranger to the kind of challenges that we are facing as we try to help this transition that the Iraqis are undertaking to a stable, sovereign, self-reliant nation.
Being here in my new role, I have to tell you how very proud I am of you. President Obama was here just a short while ago and gave the same message to both our military and civilian forces. We see this as a real partnership. We are now moving into a period where we will be drawing down our combat troops and we’re going to have to be ramping up our diplomatic and development efforts.
I see diplomacy, development and defense as each supporting the core components of American foreign policy: to protect our nation, to advance our interests, and to represent our best values, which is the greatest case we have to make to those who might wonder whether a future of democracy is in their best interests.
Whether you’re from State or USAID or one of the other many agencies represented here, or you’re from our military, you have taken on one of the toughest and most tasking assignments that you could have ever been given. And I want to be very clear, while our strategy has shifted with the SOFA agreement and our commitment to drawing down, we are still committed to the Iraqi people and the future of the Iraqi nation.
I have said that the cornerstone of our foreign policy is smart power with using the best of our hard assets, with what is sometimes called “soft,” but I think either is a misnomer. Many of you in the military have done a lot of diplomatic and development work over the last several years. And a lot of you in the Diplomatic Corps or USAID have done a lot of very hard work, trying to figure out how we could be successful partnering with the military. And I see lots of signs of progress and achievement.
Much has been said about the elections that Iraq has already had. But three successful elections, including this most recent one with provincial elections, is a significant achievement, and that could never have happened without you and your predecessors. So today was an opportunity for me to follow up on the President’s visit and to have in-depth conversations with a variety of Iraqi leaders, as well as a briefing from General Odierno, whom I first met on my very first visit when he was commanding the 4th ID.
And we also tried something a little different, an Iraqi town hall. And I have to tell you, it’s not much different than a town hall in Iowa or New York or somewhere in the States. Lots of hands, lots of questions, and good ones too. It was an opportunity for me to hear directly from Iraqis, and I learned a lot, and it underscored the challenges that we face. So our commitment has not waned; we’re just going to be executing it with some different emphases and priorities. We’re still committed to security because nothing can happen in the absence of it.
I believe, as General Odierno told me this morning, that the tragic attacks of the last few days have not fundamentally altered the security situation. But we have to stay alert and vigilant and we have to continue helping to prepare the Iraqi security forces to be able to prevent and deter the suicide attacks by either explosive belts or exploding vehicles. But I am very confident that we’re going to rise to the challenge. We’re going to be putting real meat on the bones of the strategic framework agreement, which as you know, was adopted at the same time as SOFA – didn’t get as much attention, but now it’s the primary focus of our efforts. Because we have to translate into reality what we mean when we talk about economic assistance and good governance and rule of law, and many of the other services and changes that we would like to be part of.
It is such a high honor for me to serve as Secretary of State. I’ve been blessed over the last years in the positions and honors that I have been able to hold on behalf of our country. And it gives me an enormous thrill to be getting off a plane representing our President, our government, and our nation. But what really touches me is to look out at all of you, away from your families, gone from home for many months, in many cases, committed to your mission, determined to succeed. That’s what is best about our country. We’re here because we see a better future for another people, but we also see the connection between our children’s future and the future of the Iraqi children.
This world has shrunk. It is so interconnected now. There isn’t any place we can walk away from without possibly seeing consequences we’d rather not. So I want you to know that in this beautiful new embassy, that took a very long time to build – (laugher) – are some of the smartest and best people that you’ll find serving America, not just anywhere today, but anywhere in our history. We just have to make sure we deliver. And we’re going to do everything we can to give you the tools and the resources to make that happen.
But it has to be a two-way street. You know, I started a website on the State Department larger web pages to solicit your ideas. If you have a good idea about something we should do differently or better, don’t keep it to yourself and don’t just complain to the people that you work with. Let us know, because we don’t have any time to waste. We need the best practices possible and we need to change direction if we’re going down the wrong way. So I encourage you to let the ambassador know and log onto the site to let us know because we’re going to be on this 24/7. And hopefully, we’ll be back here time and time again and see even more benchmarks and measures of success that we can attribute to the hard work of this team.
Thank you all very much and God bless you. (Applause.)

Hillary Clinton With Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari

Remarks With Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Baghdad, Iraq
April 25, 2009

FOREIGN MINISTER ZEBARI: (Via interpreter.) Thank you very much. I would like to welcome – the best and warmest welcome to U.S. Secretary of State Secretary Hillary Clinton during his visit – her visit here in Baghdad. This is the first visit that she conducts in her current capacity as Secretary of State, but this is also her fourth visit to Iraq. I also would like to seize the opportunity to extend a warm welcome to the new U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, who presented his credentials yesterday, Ambassador Chris Hill who is with us today.
Today, we have conducted a series of talks and discussions with Secretary Clinton. I can summarize those talks as useful and fruitful. We covered a wide range of issues related to Iraq and regional issues, as well as Iraq’s relation with the region and the world. Secretary Clinton also conducted a series of very important meetings with the president of Iraq, as well as with the prime minister of Iraq. After – in a while she will be meeting also with the vice president of Iraq. In addition, to the officials meetings, the Secretary also had meetings with other ordinary Iraqi citizens this morning. The purpose and the objective behind this visit is for the Secretary to listen to various Iraqi leadership and to assess also the political, security, and economic situation, especially after the improvement in the security situation.
The Secretary’s message today to all of us was a very assuring message that the United States will continue to support the efforts of the Iraqi Government and the enhancement of Iraqi security and stability and will work with all of us to add additional gains in the area of democracy.
We are going through a very important transitional period, also in relationship to the U.S.-Iraqi relation and the transition of the Iraqi – for the relationship gradually between the United States and Iraq from a security and military relationship into a normal bilateral relationship that will focus on development and prosperity. But there is no doubt that there are serious security and economic challenges that are facing Iraq. Therefore, we will continue to rely on the continuation of U.S. commitment and support to both the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi people to enable them to face those challenges.
We also reaffirmed to the Secretary the Iraqi Government’s commitment to the SOFA agreement and to the withdrawal according to the timetable, and also to activate the strategic framework agreement between the two countries and enhancing cooperation and working together.
Once again, (inaudible), good to have you here, Madame Secretary, in Baghdad. We are delighted to have you here. We are delighted to have you visit here with us and convening this press conference at the headquarters of the Iraqi foreign ministers.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Minister Zebari, for your hospitality and for a series of excellent meetings today. I’m happy to be back in Baghdad and proud to have introduced my friend and our new Ambassador Chris Hill.
It is encouraging to both see and hear about the progress that is being made in Iraq, and that came through to me not only in my official meetings with the foreign minister, the prime minister, and the president, but also with the special representative of the secretary general of the United Nations. The special representative briefed me about the work that the UN is doing, including the recently concluded report on disputed internal borders.
I especially appreciated the chance to meet with Iraqis, including a group of women who were both war widows and who were helping widows and their children. I also participated in an historic town hall meeting with Iraqi citizens representing a broad cross-section of Iraqi society. At every stop, I have emphasized President Obama’s message that our strategy working with you may be in a new phase, but we pledge our full and continuing commitment to Iraq and the Iraqi people.
We are committed to seeing an Iraq that is sovereign, stable, and self-reliant, and fully integrated into the region. We are working toward an orderly transition of responsibility from the American military to the Iraqi security forces, and we continue to help train and equip these forces so they will take the lead in safeguarding their country.
Like President Obama, I condemn these violent recent efforts to disrupt the progress that Iraq is making. My heart and America’s sympathy go out to the people who have died and the families who have suffered. This violence has only reinforced the Iraqi people’s determination to seek a better future for their country. Their response and the response of Iraqi’s leaders has been united and firm.
The end of the United States’ combat presence in Iraq by 2011 will mark the beginning of a new phase in our country’s relationship. As we draw down militarily, we will deepen our civilian cooperation in accordance with the strategic framework agreement. We will work on development and diplomatic initiatives and a regional agenda that includes border security and refugees.
The Iraqi people have withstood challenges of the most vicious and violent sort from those who would have torn their society apart, and Iraqis from everywhere have made tremendous sacrifices. The United States has also shared in those sacrifices. But we are proud of the progress that the Iraqi people have made. I said today that the Iraqi people are known for intelligence, hard work, and courage. And we will stand with you as you build a future worthy of all of the children in Iraq.
Thank you, minister.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) We will take a question from the Arab media.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) My question goes to the Iraqi foreign minister and the question is about the latest UN Security Council Resolution 1859 and regarding getting Iraq out of Chapter 7.
FOREIGN MINISTER ZEBARI: (Via interpreter.) Yes, we have discussed this issue with Secretary Clinton and the accompanying delegation. Next June, UN Security Council resolution will review all UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq and Chapter 7.
We – the foreign minister – we have done an intensive inventory about all those UN Security Council resolutions that were imposed on Iraq, and they go back to 1990. And also the general secretary of the ministry reviewed – of the UN reviewed all the same UN resolutions that were imposed on Iraq under Chapter 7. Of course, there are resolutions that were compelling, and Iraq must carry out. Of course, there are also other UN resolutions that are no longer applicable. Some of those that were related to the various sanctions that were imposed on Iraq, some of them were related to the inspection regime that was imposed on Iraq, some of them related to oil for food. All of those were no longer applicable, but they will go through with the final review process. Of course, this process is going to be a tedious process. We will go through the reviewing process and we will work very hard. A lot of work is ahead of us, but we have to do that in order to free our country from the Chapter 7 obligations.
MODERATOR: Next, Arshad Mohammed.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei today has said – blamed the United States for recent suicide bombings in Iraq in which Iranian citizens died. What is your reaction to that accusation and does it bode well for the kind of engagement that President Obama hopes to bring about with Iran? And are you aware of the reports that North Korea has resumed reprocessing plutonium? And if so, what is your comment on that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not aware of the Supreme Leader’s comments. But I must say that it is disappointing for anyone to make such a claim, since it is clearly traced to the al-Qaida remnants and other violent groups who wish to disrupt the progress of Iran – of Iraq. The United States and Iraq are partners in that progress, and we are going to continue to be partners and do all that we can to support the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi people in this important work of standing up a stable, sovereign, and self-reliant Iraq. And we hope that all of Iraq’s neighbors will assist Iraq in achieving its goals.
And with respect to North Korea, we continue, along with our partners in the Six-Party Talks, to press North Korea to return to the obligations which it assumed. We were very pleased by the strong statement that came out of the United Nations last week, and we are working to implement that statement and we hope that we’ll be able to resume discussions with North Korea that will lead to their assuming responsibility for denuclearizing the Peninsula.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) The question is to the foreign minister. What is your comment about the question that was posed by (inaudible) about the statement came out of Ayatollah Khamenei about the U.S. responsibility behind the latest bombings in Iraq? And also what’s your comment about what General Petraeus said about one of the suiciders came -- who was Tunisian national came to Iraq through a neighboring country?
FOREIGN MINISTER ZEBARI: (Via interpreter.) I’m not aware of that particular statement, but our experience with various terrorists, as well as suicide bombers, those who are basically – blow up themselves. We are not aware that any Americans participated in anything similar to that in the past. Regarding those terrorists who come to Iraq from the outside, either based on a jihadi ideology or based on certain religious ideology, they come from a variety of countries. Some of them come from Saudi Arabia, some other Gulf States, some of them come from North African countries. So I can see that some of them come from different nationalities, either Tunisians or Morocco. We have enough intelligence information at the hands of the Iraqi Government, that there are (inaudible) of those suiciders who come from North African countries.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I have one more question. I have to take two from my (inaudible).
QUESTION: Thank you. My question is for both Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Zebari. And first, I’d like to know, based on what you learned from your briefing from General Odierno and Iraqi officials today, based on the recent deadly attacks, will it still be possible to withdraw U.S. troops as planned from cities by the end of June?
And secondly, with the planned release of dozens of photos showing prisoner abuse by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, what are your concerns about that fueling anti-American sentiment and violence here in Iraq? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ll take those. General Odierno briefed me and members of my delegation this morning. And his view is my view, that these are tragic and terrible events, but they do not reflect any diversion from the security progress that has been made. They are certainly regrettable and horrible in terms of loss of life. But the reaction from the Iraqi people and the Iraqi leaders was firm and united in rejecting that violence, and refusing to allow it to set Iraqi against Iraqi, which is obviously one of its intended goals.
And with respect to any matters that are going on in the United States, I think we’ll wait and see what happens. I don’t want to be prejudging or commenting on anything until it does happen. But I think the strong relationship that the United States and Iraq have in our partnership on all levels is in a very positive framework and will become more so as we work together on specific issues and find solutions to the problems that confront Iraq as they make this very courageous transition into security and stability and sovereignty and self-reliance, and that’s what we’re going to be focused on. Thank you very much.
FOREIGN MINISTER ZEBARI: Just add to what Secretary Clinton has said actually on this issue, on this question. I personally don’t believe that these deadly attacks was (inaudible) government determination to pursue its plans to (inaudible) the country. Yes, we have, indeed, certain timeline for withdrawal from the population center and the city centers. But we are doing our utmost, and we are coordinating very closely with the multinational forces to ensure that there is no vacuum when that happens, and that security is viable to certain extent. But this ultimately would be an Iraqi responsibility.
As for the aim of this attacks, actually, if you look back most of them were Iranian (inaudible) innocent, soft targets that have been targeted by these terrorists in Diyala and (inaudible). And our condolences also to go to their families and to the government. And we are doing our utmost really to protect them and to ensure that they carry out their religious duty as it should be.
Thank you very much.

Hillary Clinton's Town Hall in Baghdad

Town Hall with PRT Leaders and Iraqi Partners


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Baghdad, Iraq
April 25, 2009

Date: 04/25/2009 Description: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a Town Hall meeting in Baghdad, Iraq. State Dept Photo MODERATOR: Salaam Alaykum. Thank you all for joining us here today. On behalf of my colleagues in the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Baghdad province, it is my great honor and privilege to introduce to you today the Ambassador of the United States to the Republic of Iraq, Christopher Hill.
AMBASSADOR HILL: Salaam Alaykum. (Applause.) It’s really great to be here, and you’re going to see a lot of me in the future, so I don’t think there’s a need to see a lot of me right now. But it is my great pleasure, indeed my great honor to introduce the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who has arrived here this morning and is going through quite a schedule today of many, many events, and we are just very honored that she’s here. Secretary Clinton. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. I am pleased to be here with all of you today and very excited about this opportunity to hear from you. I’m pleased that Ambassador Hill is now here in Baghdad ready to work to further and deepen our cooperation on a range of important issues.
I wanted to come today to repeat the commitment that President Obama and I and our government have to the people and nation of Iraq, and to assure you that as we make this transition, that the United States will stand with the people of Iraq and look for ways to create a close and important relationship for the future.
So what I would like to do is to really turn this over to the audience. I know we have Iraqis from many different parts of the country with many different experiences. We have members of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams. I thank John Bass for being here with me today. And as we move together into the future, we will do a better job if we talk to one another and if we listen to each other and then decide how we can solve problems together.
So I will invite you to raise your hands if you have a question or a comment, a good idea that you would like to share with me, and Pauline will be calling on people. Who would like to be first? I saw a hand go up right there.
QUESTION: William Worda (ph), activist in media and human rights. Following the situation in United State, we know that the new Administration in – of USA now engaged in the internal issues, especially economy. And it’s – looks like to us that the situation of Iraq is not so important or it’s not in the same level of importance for the new Administration.
I would like to ask whether this policy is a kind of reprieve or a kind of making another policy different for Iraq?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me answer. I think what we’ll do, Gamal, is if the question is in Arabic, you can translate it. Otherwise, I’ll answer it in English and that way, we’ll get more questions.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me assure you and repeat what President Obama said. We are committed to Iraq. We want to see a stable, sovereign, self-reliant Iraq. But we know we’re coming into office when there is a transition underway. The prior administration agreed to withdraw our troops and we support that. We want to do it in a responsible and careful way. And we also want to expand our work with the people and Government of Iraq in other areas of concern to help the government, to help the rule of law, to help the civil society. And so we are very committed, but the nature of our commitment may look somewhat different because we’re going to be withdrawing our combat troops over the next few years.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) One of the basic rules of cementing the basis and the principles of democracy is that democracy relies heavily on education. And in order to really have an effective democracy, you really have to reform your educational system. Iraq after the change is really facing a very serious and large problem. This is the problem of illiteracy and ignorance. We have a lot of young Iraqis who are really suffering from illiteracy. Through our own association of culture for everyone, we have young people at the age of 17 or 18 – they are still going through illiteracy programs.
The number of children who are leaving schools, they exceed 3 million Iraqi child. My question is: How can international organizations and other bodies put together a national program to help Iraq get out of this problem and this dilemma?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s an excellent question. How many of you agree with the questioner that we need a plan for Iraq’s education system going forward? Is this a problem?
Well, what I would like to offer is cooperation with the government, the Ministry of Education, universities and other experts so that we can work with you and hear what you think you need and offer help as appropriate. We do not want to tell you what kind of education system you should have. What we can offer is to bring information about what works in many places around the world so that you can have the benefit of that to make your own plans going forward, and I will make sure we do that.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) The first part – we are very delighted to have the – you, Madame Secretary, as well as the new American Ambassador in Iraq. We’re delighted to have both of you here.
Madame Secretary, I represent Iraqi tribes, and in Iraqi tribal societies, agriculture is the main source of life, and we do have a serious problem with the shortage of water. This is affecting the agriculture, it’s affecting our way of life, and my question to you: What is the United States – will be prepared to do in order to help us with the shortage of water to continue our agriculture life?
The – also, when it comes to the various machineries that are used by Iraqi farmers, it’s really old technology, and there is a need to really modernize the various machinery that is used in the agriculture production. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: You’ve raised two very important points. And I think both with water and better agricultural production, we can provide some expertise and some support for not only the Iraqi Government in Baghdad, but the provincial governments around Iraq so that they can work more quickly to try to help on the water and on the agricultural technology.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) First of all, I would like to welcome you, Madame Secretary, here. I work as an editor-in-chief of an Iraqi newspaper. The United States made a decision to topple down the previous regime in Iraq and now, there is a new way of democracy in Iraq. We strongly believe that true freedom and true democracy will not exist unless Iraqi women will enjoy true freedom and true democracy.
My question to you, Madame Secretary, is this: What is it that you are going to provide Iraqi women in order to empower them, in order to advance them? Especially that you represent the Democratic Party in the United States that seized power. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. I believe strongly that supporting and empowering women is good for families, it’s good for communities, and it’s good for countries. I know here in Iraq that women have voted in very large numbers in the elections, and that women have committed to supporting this new democracy through their votes and their actions. And so I believe that Iraq will be much stronger if women are educated and empowered to participate on behalf of themselves and their families, particularly their children, as Iraq makes a new future.
Before coming to this town hall, I met with a group of war widows who are struggling to support themselves and their children. And they asked me to talk with the Iraqi Government about helping women, particularly widows, have more opportunities, more jobs, and more support so that they can take better care of themselves.
So I will strongly urge not only the Iraqi Government, but the Iraqi people to be sure that women are given the rights and support they need not only to make better lives for themselves, but to help their country. When I met with the women and looked around the room, I could not tell what group they came from or what their background was. They were all united in the loss of a husband and the difficulties they faced for their children. And I think it’s important for the United States to be a strong partner with Iraqi women, and I intend to do that.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Nanjamee Ketchu (ph), (inaudible). I will ask my question in Arabic because I want everybody to understand. (Speaking in Arabic.)
(Via interpreter.) Madame Secretary, I am a citizen of Iraq. I’m an Iraqi, but I’m also (inaudible) and a Syrian. And there is a great deal of injustice that was given to us, even calling us as a minority. There is an injustice that lies right there because of our ethnic and religious differences. My people, they are still being forced to migrate and move their areas, some of them even forced to leave Iraq altogether and go outside.
Despite what it is called, as democracy in Iraq, these people are still, under pressure, forced to leave their homes and their communities. My question is: What kind of plans do you have in order to return those people, either those who were forced to migrate from one part of Iraq to another, to go back to their original places, or those who were forced to leave Iraq altogether to come back?
Unfortunately, some international organization, and through the UN, they are actually embracing the idea of encouraging those people to leave Iraq altogether instead of bringing them here and keeping them here. It’s a very unfortunate thing. We strongly believe that we – this is our land, this is our country, and we are a full partner in this country.
My question is: What plans do you have in order to restore the rights of those and the security of those people, and also to be treated as equal citizens, all of us as first-class citizens?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that’s a very important question, not just about your own personal concerns, but how Iraq will come together as one people and one nation with differences. I come from a country where there’s every difference in the world. People who do not get along in Iraq move to the United States and live down the street from each other. I would hope that for Iraq, given the intelligence and the work ethic and the courage of the Iraqi people that all Iraqis will be welcomed and put to work to help build a better future for your country.
I just want to add one thing. I know how hard this will be. My own country has struggled for many years with all kinds of divisions. And yet, as you know, we have just elected an African American president, someone who is leading all Americans, not just one group or another group. I believe that Iraq could be one of the strongest countries not just in the region, but in the world if there is a way to work together. And our government will work with the Iraqi Government to help bring people back to the country, because you want as many talented, hardworking people to be here, to be the doctors and the lawyers and the teachers and the farmers and the business leaders. That will help all Iraqis. So I’m going to work hard to see that we support helping people return and feel good about living in a new democratic Iraq.
QUESTION: Leyla Abdul Latif (ph), former minister for – of labor and social affair. (Speaking in Arabic.)
(Via interpreter.) Madame Secretary, my name is Leyla Abdul Latif (ph), former minister of social affairs. I believe that as – respect and in gratitude to the martyrs and those who lost their lives on both sides, from the American side and from the Iraqi side, it is crucial to protect the democratic achievements and the constitution of Iraq. I believe one of the most important elements to do so is to focus on the economic elements and the support and the economic support for both women and young Iraqis, especially those who are unemployed and in search of an opportunity.
I believe paying an attention to the unemployed also will benefit Iraq from a security point of view. I believe it is crucial for a woman to be truly liberated, and among the most important forms of liberation – to liberate her economically as well as to give her her rights.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I want to just underscore what she said. Iraqis need more jobs. And part of that will come if the economy around the world improves, because unfortunately, the price of oil is down and the economy is down. But it will also happen if we free up the economy so that more people can actually get jobs and we can bring more investment into Iraq to put people to work. But I share your concern about young people, young men and young women who do not have any work. And I think we have to try to come up with a plan that will permit Iraq to create more jobs as the economy picks back up again.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) In the name of God, the Merciful, Compassionate, my name is Kasam (ph) Al Hurishi (ph). Madame Secretary, I work with an organization that deals with orphans as well as Iraqi detainees who were released from jail as a result of not committing any crimes, but they were in detention for a number of years in various jails.
We are working with those people, and I’m here referring to the detainees who did not commit any crimes, who were not convicted of any crimes either against the Iraqi people or against the U.S. And through my organization, we are working on embracing those young people, trying to provide them with a variety of different training programs, either in computers or in sewing for women. We are trying to provide them with an opportunity to be integrated once again into the society, and not to put them in a vulnerable position where they could be recruited again to join either criminal groups or work with terrorist organizations.
Some international relief organizations are working and putting together some training programs. We have more than 500 people who went through those training programs, but frankly, they have very little budget to cover this type of training for those recently released from jail, especially that we have always to remember that these were innocent people. They were not there because they have committed any kind of crimes.
My question is: Is there any other – any projects, any ideas, any ways to support those people and incorporate them back again into the society?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a very important question, because as you know, there are thousands of Iraqis who have been detained. And as the questioner said, many of them were swept up in operations to try to make the country safer, but they aren’t hard-core criminals. And what we have to do is separate out the people who are criminals and terrorists from everybody else, and then when they come out of detention, there has to be a plan to help them, as you say, reintegrate into society.
It’s a very important question. I do not have an answer at this moment, but I applaud you for the work you’re doing. And I will work with our new ambassador and with our people in Washington to come up with a plan and to support organizations like yours that are doing the work of helping these young people find a place back in Iraqi society.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Madame Secretary, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you in Iraq as well as welcoming Ambassador Hill, and I wish you all success in your diplomatic mission here in Baghdad. I also would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who organized this town hall meeting and those who called on us to come here. We are very appreciative of all of this.
Madame Secretary, you know that economy and politics are basically two sides of the same coin. Political stability would lead to economic stability and vice versa. We know that American diplomacy is going through a different approach of opening new channels with some countries in the region, although some of those countries still insist on their old views and their old opinions.
On the issue of economics, in order for economy to thrive, it really needs a fertile ground. We still have security threats and explosions taking place. What we are really asking for is the – for the American Government to support the Iraqi Government in order to have that peace and stability and security, as well as economic prosperity.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And you have our commitment to do that. There are so many hands. (Laughter.) How many more questions can we take? You know what this means? I have to come back. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh my goodness, it’s just – there’s too many good questions. We’re going to take one more question because I have to go meet the prime minister, but may I – okay, we’ll take two questions. We’ll take one from this side – all right, we’ll take three real quick questions. (Laughter.) But they have to be short, short questions. Okay, we’ll take one from here, we’ll take --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay, one from here and then this man back there. Okay, we’ll take – all right. So that’s it. But here, let me say this: If you will – if you have questions that you wanted to ask, if you will write them down, and if we could, Pauline, get some cards so that if you wanted to ask a question, we’ll write them down, we’ll get them translated.
SECRETARY CLINTON: What? Oh, I’m going to be doing a press event later after the – after my visit with the foreign minister. So if you want to come to the press event, I will have you also talk to Pauline. But I have to take these three quick questions, so please make the questions short. Okay.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) give the jobs to the private sector.
STAFF: A chance for the private sector.
SECRETARY CLINTON: A chance for the private sector, I believe that. We’ll create more jobs that way. Okay.
QUESTION: I am speaking practically.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Practically, exactly. I’ve been told the Iraqis are practical people. Is that right?
QUESTION: First of all, may I speak in English (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, go ahead and speak in English.
QUESTION: Okay. My name is Sarah and I’m 18 years old. First of all, it’s an – very honor to me and to every Iraqi in here, I’m sure, to have you in Iraq, of course. My English might be a little misleading.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Your English is better than my Arabic. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Thank you. I’m flattered. My question is: Madame Secretary, for being, you know, a role model to every woman in this world and through the great accomplishments you have made and – what sort of advice you want to give me as an ambitious young woman who is looking forward to being – to obtain the positive – the position you have obtained and to – and hoping to leave this enormous impact that you have left to all the women around the world? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you’re much too kind. But first of all, it is very important for everyone to get an education. It is particularly important for girls and women to get an education. So I strongly encourage you to continue with your education, and that’s – that was our first question. We will do more on education.
Secondly, it’s important that the voices of young people be heard inside Iraq as you are making all of these changes, because, most – many of us in this room, most of our lives are behind us, not in front of us. But for the young people of Iraq, they deserve the kind of future that we can work for. I think it’s important that your voices be heard in that process.
And finally, for young women particularly, as I said earlier, Iraq will become much richer and stronger and more influential if it uses half the population’s talents in politics, in business, in the professions, everywhere in society. So I hope that you will stay committed to your country, and that you will help other young people to stay committed, because Iraq needs all of its young people, including those who should come home and be welcomed home to participate in building Iraq.
I think we’ll go ahead, Gamal, without translation, so I can get all of these questions in. Yes, yes.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Madame Secretary, I would like to welcome you, welcome the ambassador here and thank you for your time. I work basically with NGOs, and I believe that through NGOs, we have direct contact with all segments of the Iraqi society – women organizations, farmers, women in the rural society, handicapped people, children, all of that. We were getting some support from various international organizations that were supporting our work from the U.S. Some of them were Republicans. Others were belonging to the Democratic Party.
Now, we sense that organization that belonged to the Republican Party in the U.S. are going back and they are not continuing their efforts. And we see shortage in terms of American organization and international organization that’s supporting our work. My question: Is it possible to increase the number of American organization who can support NGOs in Iraq?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I will try to do that, and I will talk to my Republican friends as well as my Democratic friends. One of the reasons I wanted to come to Iraq within the first 100 days of our Administration was to hear for myself any ideas and suggestions. And I will try to get more groups to support NGOs here in Iraq.
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: And I called on this young man, he was – we haven’t gone back before, so here comes the microphone.
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
QUESTION: Thank you. (In Arabic.)
QUESTION: Okay. (Via interpreter.) Madame Secretary, my name is Samuel Russim (ph). I’ve been a journalist for 19 years. Everybody knows that the United States intends to withdraw its forces from Iraq. And frankly, some people are afraid and concerned what will happen as a result of that withdrawal. I know that we will hear from the U.S. side that the United States will prepare the Iraqi army and the Iraqi forces and security forces in order to fill the gap. But frankly, there are so many people here and so many citizens who do not have enough trust and confidence in the Iraqi forces.
Is it true that you really got entangled in this Iraq issue? And how – what could you do in order to really stop this misgiving and doubts that exists in the minds of some Iraqis about lack of confidence and trust in their own security forces and armed forces? The other part of the question: Do you support the return of some of the former Baathists who can come into the Iraqi society and government and contribute?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the last question is really for the Iraqi people to decide. And that depends upon how you view your efforts to bring your society together. There is nothing more important than to have a united Iraq. And that goes to your question. The more united Iraq is, the more you will trust the security services. The security services have to earn your trust, but the people have to demand it.
Now, we will be working closely with the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi security forces as we withdraw our combat troops. But we need to be sure that all of you are supporting a strong nonsectarian security force. And we will work to try to help make that happen, but I think that the ultimate answer is what the people of Iraq demand. And what I have seen over the last several years is a very strong desire on the part of most Iraqis to have a united, secure, stable, peaceful Iraq. That is our goal. We’re not going to tell you how to resolve internal political issues. You have to decide that. But we will continue to work very, very hard to give you the tools to make sure that you have a secure country.
Now, we are passing out cards for you to write your questions on, and I will get all of those questions, and we will answer them through the Embassy. But I want to thank you for taking your time to come and share your thoughts. And anytime I come to Iraq, we will do this again, because clearly, we did not have enough time.
QUESTION: Is that a promise?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a promise, it is. When I come next to Iraq, we will do it again, and I hope that – (applause) – I hope that we see continued progress. I have to go now to meet with government officials. But I will tell all the government officials what I have heard here today, because this is the message: Let’s solve our problems together.
And thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)