Monday, November 30, 2009

Secretary Clinton Speaks on the Eve of International AIDS Day ***Updated with Transcript***

Reuters Pictures
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) speaks about AIDS initiatives of the Obama administration during an event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, November 30, 2009, on the eve of International AIDS day. Watching are Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (L) and U.S. Global AIDS coordinator Eric Goosby.

Remarks On The Administration's Efforts on HIV/AIDS

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
Washington, DC
November 30, 2009

As Valerie Jarrett leaves, I want to thank her for her leadership on this and so many issues here in the White House and in the Administration, and for her personal testimony as to the importance of this issue for her, for President Obama, for all of us.

We are gathered on the eve of World AIDS Day to renew and recommit ourselves. It is obvious to those sitting in this audience, as I look out at you and see people who have been involved in this struggle for a long time, that you know that we have made progress, but we face an unending pandemic, one that spares no one, that unfortunately, disproportionately affects the most vulnerable, and which is the defining health challenge of our times. And we have to address it through a series of broad and cross-cutting global partnerships and a whole-of-government approach. And that is exactly what we are attempting to do.

We know the ravages and complexities of HIV/AIDS here in our own country, and we know, many of us, what it looks like around the world. But we can take some heart in the progress that has been made over the last two decades. Access to antiretroviral treatment in low- and middle-income countries has risen tenfold in the last five years. New HIV infections have fallen by 17 percent over the last eight years. And much of that progress has been due to the concerted efforts of the United States Government and our partners.

I want to applaud President Bush for making a serious commitment to American leadership in combating HIV/AIDS. His administration spearheaded the creation of PEPFAR – the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. And by supporting its implementation and activities, the United States has made the largest effort in history by any nation to combat a single disease. I remember well serving as a senator from New York how there was bipartisan support on behalf of this initiative, and the extraordinary commitment of dollars and technical assistance that backed it up.

PEPFAR has provided lifesaving antiretroviral treatment to over 2 million men, women, and children worldwide, through partnerships with other governments and NGOs. We’ve supported care for more than 10 million people, including 4 million orphans and vulnerable children. And PEPFAR’s efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission have helped nearly 240,000 HIV-positive mothers give birth to children who are HIV-free. So it is clear that our nation’s investments are having an impact. And President Obama is dedicated to enhancing America’s leadership in the fight against global AIDS with PEPFAR serving as the cornerstone of our Global Health Initiative to promote better and more sustainable health outcomes.

Later this week, Ambassador Goosby will present the five-year strategy for the future of PEPFAR outlining the important role that PEPFAR will play in transitioning from emergency response to sustainable health systems that help meet the broad medical needs of people with HIV and the communities in which they live. In its next phase, PEPFAR programs will support a comprehensive, whole-of-government approach in many countries to increase awareness, reduce stigma, and get services to people at earlier stages.

Obviously, our efforts are hampered whenever discrimination or marginalization of certain populations results in less effective outreach and treatment. So we will work not only to ensure access for all who need it, but also to combat discrimination more broadly. We have to stand against any efforts to marginalize and criminalize and penalize members of the LGBT community worldwide. It is an unacceptable step backwards – (applause) – on behalf of human rights. But it is also a step that undermines the effectiveness of efforts to fight the disease worldwide.

We will also redouble our efforts to address the needs of women and girls who are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in many parts of the world. Promoting the health of women strengthens families and communities and has positive spillover effects in areas like poverty reduction and education. Since we know the most effective health programs are integrated with functioning local and national governments, we will work with partner governments to assess capacity, identify gaps, and make customized plans to meet each country’s needs.

Now, that means creating more programs like the ones that Ambassador Goosby and I visited in Africa over the summer. In Angola, for example, our PEPFAR Partnership Framework supports the country’s HIV National Strategic plan to strengthen the health care infrastructure there.

We visited a clinic in South Africa, which we co-sponsor with the South African Government, and heard from patients who not only receive care but also support as they face the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS.

Our investments in PEPFAR, the Global Fund, and overall global health have made a positive difference. And we will continue our support, but we have to do more. We have to make sure that our programs foster conditions that improve people’s lives and, in turn, promote stability, prosperity, and security.

In this time of very tight budgets in our own government and our own people suffering from unemployment, from other kinds of cutbacks in services, we have to do more even here at home. We’ve seen some of the results of the cutbacks that are happening at the state and local level. So while we are talking about our commitment internationally, let’s not forget our fellow citizens who are suffering right now.

And then we also have to make the case to our fellow citizens that our investment in dealing with the pandemic worldwide is in America’s interest. So we are committed to doing so. President Obama is implementing the repeal of the “HIV entry ban,” a longstanding policy that prevented people living with HIV/AIDS from entering our country. The repeal will take effect early in the new year, and will be vigorously enforcing it.

Today, I am pleased to announce that, with the repeal of the ban, the International AIDS Society will hold the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. (Applause.) This conference will draw together an estimated 30,000 researchers, scientists, policymakers, healthcare providers, activists, and others from around the world.

So as we look to 2012, we have to continue to seek a global solution to this global problem. On World AIDS Day, let us renew our commitment to ensuring that those infected and affected by HIV—the woman on treatment who is supporting her family, the child who dropped out of school to care for sick parents, the doctors and nurses without adequate resources— that all those who have joined together to fight this pandemic will someday live in a world where HIV/AIDS can be prevented and treated as a disease of the past.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

Hmmmmmm. I guess THIS was not important enough for the Bureau of Public Affairs to tell us about, either.

Note to: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Daily Appointments Schedule:

The fact that the title "Secretary" contains the word "secret" does not imply that her schedule and activities should be a secret.

Video: Secretary Clinton's Remarks with Australian PM Kevin Rudd

Of course you had to have some kind of ESP to know this was going to happen since the State Department's Bureau of Public Affairs did not post a Daily Schedule today.

Remarks With Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Before Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
November 30, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it is wonderful to welcome such a good friend to the State Department back to Washington. Prime Minister Rudd just had an excellent comprehensive meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office where we discussed a wide range of issues from climate change to Afghanistan. And it is always a personal delight for me to have the chance to engage with the prime minister, who’s one of the real creative thinkers about so many of the issues that we are confronting. And we want to thank you, Prime Minister, and especially to thank the people of Australia for our years of friendship and alliance on so many important matters.

PRIME MINISTER RUDD: Thank you, Secretary of State. And it’s great to be back in Washington, and we did have a good discussion with the President this morning, covering our common challenges in Afghanistan for the future. Australia takes its alliance with the United States very seriously. That’s why we have been with America for a long time in Afghanistan, and why we will be with America for the long haul.

When it comes to climate change, the clock’s ticking for us all when it comes to Copenhagen. And we’re working closely with our American friends to secure the best possible outcome for an important deal for the planet, for our economies, for jobs, for the environment.

But Secretary of State, thank you for having me as your guest here in this marvelous building, the State Department, where I’ve been many times before, but always look forward to the opportunity of coming back.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you, Kevin.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Thank you all very much. Thank you.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Slideshow: Hillary Clinton Looking Up

This is my totally shallow (well maybe not totally) post for the day. Since I hope with all my heart that the Secretary of State is spending one more peaceful day of this holiday weekend at home with her family, and there are only a few new pictures up at Getty of her and Bill at a Broadway show (39 Steps) yesterday, which I will not post since they are watermarked, I will share a slideshow of a characteristic Hillary gesture.

Especially when she is in a house of worship, but on other occasions as well, we see photos of her looking up. Usually she is also smiling. It is touching, charming, thoroughly captivating. I think some of those times, just a hunch, she's talking to her dad. Here are some of those photos.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Clintons: Not monolithic, but it's complicated

In The Clintons aim to keep their worlds from colliding , in Thurday's Washington Post, Mary Beth Sheridan lays out an excellent analysis of how Hillary and Bill Clinton manage to remain professionally untangled even though their international paths criss-cross like fishnet. Hillary supporters and loyalists are accustomed to responding to detractors who alleged that Hillary would simply be like a little wind-up version of Bill were she to occupy the Oval office.

No, the Clintons, even if you want to refer to them as "Billary" (which I do not) are not monolithic. Her stances and his do not necessarily occupy the same square foot, as the late Tim Russert was so talented at digging out. But their paths cross international air routes, especially in regions of their personal special interests like Northern Ireland and Haiti, so keeping their virtual trapezes from crashing takes precision.

Sheridan reports:

'A very tricky area'

The Clintons declined requests for interviews, but their aides emphasize that Secretary Clinton is carrying out the Obama administration's foreign policy and say that their shared priorities are a coincidence. Some lawmakers, however, are wary of potential conflicts. Bill Clinton's charitable foundation has received large contributions in recent years from governments such as Saudi Arabia's, as well as Indian tycoons and prominent supporters of Israel -- presenting what Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) called a "multimillion-dollar minefield of conflicts of interest." In response, the former president agreed to release the foundation's donor list and allow ethics officials to review some foreign pledges; the first annual disclosure of contributions since Hillary Clinton was confirmed is weeks away.

"They need to walk a very careful line; it's a very tricky area. Hopefully that is being heeded, in terms of fundraising, by the Clinton Foundation," said Andy Fisher, a spokesman for Sen. Richard G. Lugar (Ind.), the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee.
Secretary Clinton will be revisiting the Foreign Relations Committee this coming week to testify regarding the new Afghanistan Policy just six weeks short of the first anniversary of her knockout confirmation appearance before that committee last January. She is certain to impress as she did in the past. Also, when the CGI annual report is issued, all of the "i"s are sure to be dotted, and every "t" crossed. Bill does not want, in any way, to interfere with Madame Secretary's important work. (Meanwhile, I know I am not alone in hoping they are spending a loving, relaxing holiday weekend together.)

Read Mary Beth's article here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Video: Secretary Clinton Signs Memorandum of Understanding Re: Climate Change with Indian Delegation

Thanks to Stacy, I did find this!

Hillary Withdrawal Syndrome (HWS)

I am bored and have a bad case of HWS. I am glad she is getting some off-time and rest, so I am not suggesting that the lovely SOS needs to be out there on jaunts and in front of the cameras all the time, but when she is not, this blog dries up a little. So, as a consolation, I am posting some of my favorite pictures of her with Bill, who, I hope, is taking very special care of her this weekend. I am sure he is pampering Madame Secretary.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I was so right!

This is what she she wore - and it is my favorite! Turn around, Hillary! Let us see you from the front! Gorgeous!

Dear Secretary Clinton,

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We all hope you are home and resting and wish you a lovely Thanksgiving with your dear family.

(Parenthetically we also WISH you had posed for at least ONE photo last night at the State Dinner since it seems you might have worn THIS!)

(Parenthetically, I have to say my shallow comment of the day: SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!
Very HOT!)

Anyway, our loss. But we want you to have a looooong restful holiday weekend with the people you love most, and we hope they pamper you as you so richly deserve (of course they will).

What WE are thankful for, Madame Secretary, is YOU! I thank God every day that I am living on earth at the same time you are.

The Secretary's Schedule for Today

Daily Appointments Schedule for November 25, 2009

Washington, DC
November 25, 2009


No Public Appointments


12 Noon: Special Press Briefing by Special Envoy for Middle East Peace Senator George Mitchell, State Department Press Briefing Room




Well, we know that does not necessarily mean no appointments but only that, if there ARE appointments, they will not be public. I hope it means she is home or headed there for the holiday!

By the way, Secretary Clinton, looking adorable here. I hope we find some photos from last night! There do not seem to be any out there!

*********Breaking news from CNN is that the Secretary will be back on HillForce One for NATO headquarters next week immediately following the President's announcement of the new Afghanistan strategy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Photos, Video, and Remarks: Secretary Clinton's Luncheon For Prime Minister Singh of India

As you may know from sources OTHER than the State Department, which has been mysteriously and frustratingly tight-lipped about the events of the day, our very vibrant and (shallow comment of the day) adorable Secretary of State hosted a luncheon today for visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his delegation. Here are some charming photos, a video, and a transcript of her remarks.

Remarks at Luncheon for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ben Franklin Room
Washington, DC
November 24, 2009

Please be seated, and welcome to the State Department, to the ceremonial receiving rooms of the 8th floor. And it is a personal delight, as well as a high honor, to have so many of you gathered here, such a distinguished group, for this special occasion.

Prime Minister, Mrs. Kaur, we are so delighted and honored that you could be here and that you are the first official state visitors of the Obama Administration. And it’s a special pleasure to be here with my friends, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden.

When the Vice President and I served together in the United States Senate, one of the many issues on which we shared a common view was the importance of building a strong and sustainable partnership with India. I co-founded and co-chaired the Friends of India Caucus, the first country-focused caucus in the history of the Senate. And Vice President Biden, who was then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was absolutely central to the passage of the landmark civilian nuclear agreement between our nations. He worked for months to craft the compromise that made this agreement possible. And we have seen how it has opened vital new avenues of cooperation between India and the United States.

The Vice President understood early what is now a core tenet of foreign policy in the Obama Administration, that the ability and the commitment of India and the United States to work together will be critical to our successes in both nations in addressing common challenges and achieving shared goals in the 21st century.

As the world’s largest democracy and the world’s oldest democracy, we are poised to collaborate on a number of fronts, from strengthening our security and confronting the threat of violent extremism, to fostering breakthroughs in science and technology, to increasing political, economic, and social opportunities for the world’s women.

India’s emergence as a political and economic leader gives us the chance to widen opportunity in places that have been left out of global progress for so long. And the many ties that connect us, many evidenced here in this room, between families and businesses, universities, cultural institutions, and civil society groups, create so much potential for us to work together to improve the lives of citizens in both our countries.

I am particularly impressed by Prime Minister Singh’s absolute determination to raise the standard of living and provide greater opportunity for the people that he represents. You cannot talk with him for more than 30 seconds without feeling that passion and that commitment. (Applause.)

And I have been privileged to have worked with and followed the affairs of India over a number of years, going back to my time as First Lady, and certainly as senator. But I was especially pleased to return to India this summer as Secretary of State, where Minister Krishna and I announced a new Strategic Dialogue between our countries covering a range of issues, including nonproliferation and counterterrorism, education and development, trade, and agriculture, science and technology, clean energy, and climate, and so much else.

And while I was in India, I had the chance to meet with people from across the spectrum, from university students to agricultural scientists, to women entrepreneurs from rural areas who are transforming their lives. And I was reminded of the extraordinary diversity and energy of India, not unlike that of the United States, another pluralistic, diverse, occasionally raucous democracy that invites the free expression of ideas, elects leaders peacefully through free and open elections, and continues to move forward into the future with momentum.

So we live in exciting times. And President Obama, Vice President Biden, and I are committed to making the most of this promising moment by deepening the areas of cooperation that exist between India and the United States. We will work together to help shape a future that really fulfills the dreams of our people. Both Indians and Americans want a better life. That’s why our people are such hard workers and so committed to a better future for their children. And the Indian American community represented here today has been an absolute engine of progress and change here in our country.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, this is a very auspicious occasion for us. And we work with you to achieve the goals that you have stood for throughout your entire public career. We are grateful for the history and friendship that already unites us, and we are committed to building on that in the years to come. And one of the people who will be leading the way is my friend and colleague, Vice President Joe Biden. (Applause.)

Daily Appointments Schedule: November 24, 2009

THIS is what drives me crazy! THIS is what the State Department sent out AFTER 10 a.m. today:

Daily Appointments Schedule for November 24, 2009
Washington, DC
November 24, 2009

1:00 p.m.
Secretary Clinton and Vice President Biden host a Luncheon for Prime Minister Singh and Mrs. Kaur, at the Department of State.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE FOR REMARKS AT TOP)3:05 p.m. Secretary Clinton signs a Memorandum of Understanding with His Excellency S. M. Krishna, Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India, at the Department of State.

5:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton attends a Bilateral Meeting with Prime Minister Singh, at the Willard Hotel.
Here is Part One of the REAL schedule for today! This took place this morning. You will notice it is not on the schedule sent out by the State Department.

I have lost my patience since I have written them several times about this and get no response.
AP Photo 7 hours ago Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, acknowledges Indian guests as she stands with Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, before President Barack Obama welcomes India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a State Arrival in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Busy Monday Continues

Even as we are blogging (or reading) the Secretary's day is not over. This afternoon she attended the Cabinet meeting, as we see in these photos. (This first picture just grabs my heartstrings.)

At this moment she is a key player in the President's War Council meeting on Afghanistan in the Situation Room.

Tomorrow she will be taking part in formalities and festivities surrounding the visit of Prime Minister Singh of India.

On another note, Richard Holbrooke gave an extensive briefing today on Secretary Clinton's trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Read it here....

Secretary Clinton's Remarks with Bulgrian Foreign Minister Rumiana Zheleva

Back at the State Department after two long treks, the Secretary of State met today with the Foreign Minister of Bulgaria. Here are their remarks.

Remarks With Bulgarian Foreign Minister Rumiana Zheleva After their Meeting

Treaty Room
Washington, DC
November 23, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. And it’s a particular delight for me to welcome the Bulgarian delegation and especially Foreign Minister Zheleva, who has come to this position with a great background in academia and a great commitment to democracy. And it’s such a historic time for Europe and for the Euro-Atlantic alliance.

This year we are commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain. And that helped put Bulgaria on the path toward democracy and a market economy, both of which were reaffirmed in their recent elections. There was no way to know in 1989 how this would work out. But the transition, which has not always been easy, has made it possible for so many millions of people in Central and Eastern Europe to really have a place in charting their own future and making a claim to a better future, and I am very impressed by the remarkable progress that has been made.

We are also especially pleased that Bulgaria is a member of NATO and part of an alliance that is the most successful in history on behalf of collective security and rooted in mutual respect. We understand how intertwined our futures happen to be.

Today Bulgarian and American troops serve side by side as part of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. We are greatly appreciative of the service of your soldiers and their sacrifice. And we know, too, that our bilateral relationship is one of strategic importance. We are committed to working bilaterally, as well as within NATO, and through the European Union, and with the important emphasis on all of the issues that are significant to both of us.

Today the foreign minister and I discussed how we can broaden and deepen our partnership. I commended Bulgaria’s efforts to root out corruption, to hold people accountable, to end impunity for public officials. I also congratulated the foreign minister on Bulgaria’s efforts to bring greater transparency to the energy sector. Our special envoy for Eurasian Energy Richard Morningstar will be going back for his second trip to Bulgaria in about 10 days.

We talked about some of the economic challenges and the commercial ties that we wish to deepen. There is just so much that we see for a positive relationship between the United States and Bulgaria. So I want again to thank the foreign minister for her leadership and for her friendship and the friendship of the Bulgarian people, and I look forward to working with you in the future.

FOREIGN MINISTER ZHELEVA: Thank you, Madame Secretary. Today, I had a very constructive meeting with Madame Secretary Clinton. Thank you for that. Once again, I reaffirmed our commitment to our strategic partnership with the United States, and our determination to work together on global and regional security, as well as energy-related issues.

I described the significant commitment we are making to the fight against terrorism, and the role played by our brave troops in Afghanistan. I furthermore informed the Secretary about the efforts and the successes of our new government led by Prime Minister Borissov during the first hundred days in office. In particular, I elaborated on our efforts to overcome the dual challenge of organized crime and corruption.

During the meeting, we furthermore discussed regional challenges and the role played by Bulgaria in NATO and in the European Union. That role, as I pointed out to the Secretary, aims to enhance regional security and cooperation, and is contributing to the further strengthening of our transatlantic alliance. We have a very positive and interesting meeting, and I am very grateful for the support given to Bulgaria by the Madame Secretary. Thank you once again.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister.


MR. KELLY: The first question to Lachlan Carmichael from AFP.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, since we have an opportunity to talk to you, perhaps on another subject, Iraq? There’s a prospect of the electoral law being vetoed again. What kind of concerns do you have about that? And do you have any – can you use your influence to help get it passed, iron out the differences among the factions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Lachlan, we support the Iraqi Government’s efforts to pass an election law so that they can proceed with planned elections. We know that there are some continuing concerns as expressed by the vice president that have to be addressed. We will continue working with all of the parties. Our Ambassador, Chris Hill, on the ground has been deeply involved in doing so already.

This morning, I met and heard a report about the way forward. There are a number of ideas that we will be presenting. There’s an interim period because the Council of Representatives will not be meeting for a number of days that we think provide the opportunity for all the parties to come together, and with the help of not just the United States, but UNAMI and others to work out these continuing differences.

We believe on balance that there will be elections. They might slip by some period of time until this is worked out, because at some point the law has to be in place for the planning to begin, and so there necessarily needs to be a period of time in which the planning can occur. But we have every reason to believe that elections will be held, which will be another milestone on the journey that Iraqis are taking toward full and comprehensive democracy.


MODERATOR: Second question, (inaudible).

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, my question is for you. What are Bulgaria’s chances to be included in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program by the end of next year? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we discussed that. I must say your foreign minister was extremely strong and even passionate about the issue, and we share the concern. I told her that I would personally support efforts to have Bulgaria enter into the Visa Waiver Program as soon as the standards are met. We value Bulgaria as a close partner. The criteria for the program are established by countries, by – excuse me, the criteria for the program is established by Congress. Every country has to meet the same criteria. There’s no greater or lesser burden on Bulgaria than any other country.

And we offered to assist Bulgaria in doing what it must in order to qualify, because we encourage and welcome Bulgarians to come to the United States for business, for pleasure, for family reasons, because we want to not just have a good government-to-government relationship, but a good people-to-people relationship. So we’re going to do everything we can to assist Bulgaria in meeting the criteria.

MR. KELLY: Next question to Andy Quinn from Reuters.


QUESTION: Hi, Madame Secretary. I have a double-barreled question about Afghanistan. I hope you will allow it. A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai said they’re considering inviting some members of the Taliban to take part in this loya jirga that they’re talking about. I’m wondering if they’ve run that idea past you and what you might think of it.

And secondly, the White House has announced a meeting tonight on Afghan policy. I’m wondering if you have any special expectations for this meeting and how many more you might think we’ll be seeing before the President rolls out his policy.

And for the foreign minister, I’d like to know what if – what Bulgaria is hoping to see in the U.S. policy on Afghanistan. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andy, first of all, the issue of how to reintegrate members of the Taliban who renounce violence, renounce ties with al-Qaida, are committed to participating peacefully in the political life of Afghanistan is something that has been discussed at length, both within the Afghan Government, within our own government, and between our governments. And obviously, we are going to ask questions about how it proceeds, but the general idea of exploring this is one that we have been open to.

With respect to the outcome of any such discussions, however, we have urged caution and real standards that are expected to be met by anyone who is engaged in these conversations, so that whatever process there is can actually further the stability and the peace of Afghanistan, not undermine it.

Regarding the meeting tonight, I will not preempt the President in any comments on the meeting. It is, as you pointed out, a meeting with his principal advisors on national security and will be focused on the issues leading up to the decision that he will be making and announcing with respect to Afghanistan.

FOREIGN MINISTER ZHELEVA: So, thank you for the question. And being both member of the European Union and NATO, my country is very much interested to contributing the process of developing Afghanistan on both tracks, military as well as civilian track. And my country is among the partners of NATO, of the coalition. We have a high contribution, so – to this coalition and to the efforts of the international community. That is why we are looking very much, and we appreciate the important role of United States in both – so from one side in enhancing the European Union-U.S. relations on this issue, and on the other side also within the NATO.

And what we hope to see is, of course, a more coordinated approach, more coordinated efforts of all the partners. And we will contribute and we will do our part, of course, as a member of – as I already mentioned, NATO and European Union, because this is very important issue, so – to contribute to the democratization process in Afghanistan.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much for that, Foreign Minister.

MODERATOR: Next question Nikola Miladinov, Bulgarian National Radio.

QUESTION: Hello, Madame Secretary. Let’s continue a bit about Afghanistan because Madame Zheleva said that we will do our part. So will the United States ask Bulgaria for further increasing of its military presence in Afghanistan and sending more troops? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me start by saying that Minister Zheleva was absolutely right in describing the commitment that we have seen from Bulgaria to this NATO mission, and we greatly appreciate Bulgaria’s contributions to the multinational effort in Afghanistan. And we know also that Bulgaria made contributions and sacrifices in Iraq as well.

We believe we face a common threat and a common enemy that goes to the heart of what collective defense means in the 21st century. And I have been quite impressed by the understanding that the new members of NATO, primarily from Central and Eastern Europe, have exhibited with their understanding and their willingness to participate.

The Bulgarian troops have served with distinction. I’ve heard that time and time again. And we regularly work with them to determine what contributions are appropriate for them to make. We cannot put ourselves in the position of the Bulgarian Government and the Bulgarian people. We obviously value this relationship, both on a bilateral as well as a multilateral basis, and we’re going to work with our friends in Bulgaria going forward to learn what kind of contributions on both the military and the civilian side are possible, which is what the minister said, and I appreciate her explanation and her commitment.

MR. KELLY: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all. Always good to see you., Rumiana Zheleva See, none of the people who are here were on my long, never-ending trip. (Laughter.) I think everybody else is still recovering.

QUESTION: I’m the only one standing. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, my goodness. Thank you all very much, and thanks to our friends from the Bulgarian press as well.

I wonder from whom that last "question" emanated! LOLOL!!! But the SOS is still standing! As usual.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Photos: Secretary Clinton's Month of Travel

These two trips were packed together with only two days home in between. Just posting about them was pretty intense, and the dazzling SOS came through the whole thing glowing as usual. Here's a look back at almost a month of diplomatic travel.

Afghanistan 11/18-11/19

Beijing 11/17

Shanghai 11/16

Singapore APEC 11/14-11/15

Phlippines 11/12-11/13

Singapore APEC 11/11

Berlin 11/8-11/10

Morocco 11/1-11/3

Israel 10/31

Abu Dhabi 10/30

Pakistan 10/27-10/29

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Slideshow: Hillary with Our Troops in Afghanistan

This one is very special, and the pictures speak for themselves. I wanted to make sure I captured every one in case anybody reading this knows anybody in the pictures.

God bless you guys and gals! Come home safe!

Slideshow: Hillary at the Embassy and Foreign Ministry in Kabul

The lovely SOS spent part of the day at the U.S. Embassy, as we saw on a video in a prior post. She also spent time among a host of Foreign Ministers in a conference at the Afghan Foreign Ministry today. Here are some images. Hillary's face is nothing if not a graphic of what is going on inside her heart and mind. I love some of these facial expressions.

The Secretary's Busy Day in Kabul

Well! In addition to the remark on video in the two previous posts, our extraordinary SOS made some remarks at a Civil-Military briefing.

Remarks at Civil-Military Integration Briefing

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Embassy Kabul
Kabul, Afghanistan
November 19, 2009

Terrific. Well, first let me thank you all. I’m sorry that my schedule didn’t permit me to get to Bagram to actually have this meeting, but thanks for coming down. I really appreciate the opportunity to hear firsthand from all of you.

And I am very pleased that we’ve made progress. I know we still have a long way to go, but the story that needs to be told is the kind of committed service that is being shown in this integrated civilian-military effort. And I’m really grateful to each and every one of you. I want to hear from you. That’s what I’d like to spend time doing.

In addition she gave two Interviews. The picture is not from an interview. It's just cute.

Interview With Mujahid Jawad of Radio Azadi

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Embassy Kabul
Kabul, Afganistan
November 19, 2009

QUESTION: Your Excellency Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, first thank you very much for giving time to Radio Azadi. My first question is: The international community, especially the United States, urges Hamid Karzai not to include warlords in Afghan Government. But on the other hand, you are meanwhile supporting the peace talks with Taliban, who are also armed militants.

Don’t you think the international community rejects one type of warlords and accept another kind of warlords?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think what was important about today was President Karzai’s speech outlining a vision for Afghanistan in the future, where he’d like to see the country at the end of his second term. But it was also very specific about what needed to be done for the people of Afghanistan.

I had the opportunity to meet with a number of your ministers. I met with four last night who gave me very detailed accounts of what they’re doing in agriculture and education and finance and intelligence. And I think that the quality of the people in the government is really quite positive. And I know that there are all kinds of international commentary about who’s in the government and who is not in the government.

We’ve made it clear that we want to see capable people. We want to see people devoted to the people of Afghanistan who can improve their lives. So I think that if the president continues to utilize the talents of the kind of people that I met with last night, I think we will be able to work together very effectively.

With respect to the question about any political resolution regarding the Taliban, that’s really up to the people of Afghanistan. But I think it is important to make sure that anyone who would be invited back into society gives up violence. There should be the end of any kind of armed capacity outside the military and the police, which is why we are committed to helping build a professional, disciplined army and police force for your country.

QUESTION: Yeah, thank you. But just – I want to have a short follow-up. If there is a wide infusion of warlords in the new cabinet, so will the United States support still the new government?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there are warlords and there are warlords. There are people who are called back who fought on behalf of the people of Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, who fought against al-Qaida and the Taliban and their allies. And there are people who had very serious breaches of human rights and mistreatment of people during war, which is always difficult to look back on and figure out how to judge.

So I have made it clear, as have others, that we would far prefer that the president have people in the cabinet with professional skills, with experience and expertise who can actually do the work that is required. And I think he understands that and he is certainly giving me the strong impression that that’s what he intends to do.

QUESTION: Thank you. And one of the main concern during Hamid Karzai’s previous term was the wide range of civilian casualties. There are American forces in Afghanistan, and this, in fact, caused it to have a negative impact on Karzai’s government credibility among Afghans. Will America put any new measures to prevent from these casualties in Karzai’s – this new term?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. In fact, we’ve already begun to do that. I share the concern and regret about civilian casualties. And under the new rules of engagement that General McChrystal has put into place, not only the United States, but all of the allies plus the Afghan military will do everything they possibly can to avoid civilian casualties. It is not always possible. There are unfortunate, tragic circumstances. But I think in the last months, under General McChrystal’s leadership, there has been a decrease, a notable decrease.

QUESTION: Thank you. President Obama gave Hamid Karzai the deadline of six months to eradicate corruption, but many Afghan experts believe that it would be difficult for Karzai to meet the deadline. So if Karzai failed, what will be your country’s reaction?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I was pleased to hear what President Karzai said today about corruption, and in fact, it produced spontaneous applause in the audience when he made such a strong statement against corruption and impunity, when he set forth some of the steps that he intends to take requiring government officials to list all of their assets, creating a major crimes tribunal, reinvigorating the anticorruption commission. These are all very positive steps.

I think that that demonstrates good faith on President Karzai’s part, and so he’s taking those actions and I think that is exactly what President Obama wanted to see.

QUESTION: Thank you. Your Administration has been reportedly pressing the Pakistani military to move against the Mullah Omar-led Taliban and the Quetta Shura and the Hakani network in North Waziristan. Do you now see the Pakistani military moving against these networks after it is claiming victory against the Taliban in South Waziristan tribal region?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I know that the Pakistani military is working very hard in South Waziristan, and they do have to have priorities as to how they will spend their resources and their troops. But we will continue to press them to go after all of the extremists in Pakistan, some of whom target Pakistan, some of whom, as you know, target Afghanistan. And we think there has to be an effort to root out the extremists in Pakistan who threaten Afghanistan.

So that is the message that I took to Pakistan when I was there a few weeks ago. It’s the message that I continue to stress with our friends in Pakistan. Because we know that there is a cross-border fertilization of extremism and terrorism. Afghanistan cannot get control over its territory and defeat the Taliban if they can go across the border into Pakistan as a safe haven. And similarly, Pakistan cannot root out the people that threaten them and their government if they can seek refuge across the border in Afghanistan.

So that’s why we look at Afghanistan and Pakistan together when it comes to this fight against terrorism.

QUESTION: Yeah, thank you. And my last question: There are reports in the media that U.S. is negotiating specific benchmarks with Afghanistan and Pakistan to pave the way for the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan. Can you speculate on these benchmarks?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t think that they’re benchmarks that are as you describe them. I think what we’re trying to do is create some measurements that can determine whether we’re succeeding. I had a long discussion with the minister of defense, Minister Wardak. He’s very pleased at how much better integrated the Afghan military is with ISAF and the troops under the ISAF command. There’s more sharing of intelligence. There are more joint missions, more joint training.

That’s a good benchmark. That’s the kind of benchmark we’re looking at, because what we want to see is how can we determine that we’re making progress on the path that President Karzai outlined today, where your military will have what it needs to begin to take responsibility for much of the country moving toward the primary responsibility for all of the country.

Now, the United States wants to have a long-term relationship with Afghanistan. But we don’t see it as always primarily a military relationship, where we are putting our troops in to do combat. We see over time the professionalization of the Afghan military so that we would provide advice and training, certain kinds of support that you might not have on your own. But we also have a big civilian commitment. We have tripled the number of civilians who are doing development work, who are working with your government to build capacity within in your government.

That, to us, is equally important, and we want to be there for the long term to help Afghanistan increase the educational system, improve the healthcare system, see agriculture resume the rightful place that it used to have in Afghanistan where so many people know that it was the garden district of Central Asia with the orchards and the exports. And there’s a lot of good promise that we see in Afghanistan, and we want to be a good friend and a partner to help you achieve that.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Yeah.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. It’s great to talk to you.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. It was very nice meeting you.

Interview With Kim Ghattas of BBC

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy Kabul
Kabul, Afghanistan
November 19, 2009

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you’ve just attended the inauguration of President Hamid Karzai for his second term. Now, you and your allies, including the British, have made very clear that you didn’t want to see cronies, you didn’t want to see warlords in the government, and yet, there they were sitting in the front row.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think what was significant about today is the speech that President Karzai gave outlining the way forward for his government and for his people. It was both visionary in the sense that it painted a picture of what he’d like to see in Afghanistan by the end of his second term, and it was very specific about how he was going to tackle corruption, how they were going to build up their military forces and begin to defend their own country. I thought it was a very positive, comprehensive path forward. And I think the ministers who I have been meeting with over the last day are very impressive.

I’ve had briefings from the ministers of agriculture and education and finance and intelligence. And the picture in Afghanistan is much more positive than we often give it credit for. A lot of good things are happening. Seven million children, including 40 percent girls, are in school. When President Karzai took office, there were a million and they were all boys. So there’s a lot that has been accomplished. Are there still problems, challenges? As in any society, particularly one that went through 30 years of such dreadful warfare, of course. But I think that today was a very positive transition moment, and there’s a window of opportunity for the Karzai administration.

QUESTION: You mentioned a few ministers who impressed you. Are you suggesting that perhaps your approach could be to work with the ministers that you like and try to ignore those that you have a problem with?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that there are a lot of ministers who are very professional and have a clear set of objectives that they are attempting to achieve. They’re the majority; they are the ones that we do work with mostly. We will continue to do so. We are working with our international allies to build up those ministries that we think have the most direct impact on both the security and the well-being of the people of Afghanistan. And there are a lot of opportunities here for us to pursue. So I am coming away from my meetings yesterday, the events today, more meetings, and the inaugural speech, encouraged, very realistic about the challenges ahead, but nevertheless, I think that we have an opportunity here to work well together.

QUESTION: You have made clear to Hamid Karzai and his government that they need to, in essence, clean up their act. But what if they don’t? I mean, is it a you should do this or else? I mean, what sort of leverage do you have? I mean, he knows that American troops aren’t simply going to pack up and leave because you and President Barack Obama have said the fight that American soldiers are fighting here are in America’s national interest.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Kim, I think that we are going to work hard to make progress together. There’s always consequences. We know that. They know that. We have impressed that upon them. But given the attitude of the people in the government with whom I met, the resolution and determination that they exhibited, let’s try to make progress together. And I don’t want to predict anything not succeeding. I’d rather work as hard as I can, along with others, to make it to succeed.

QUESTION: Well, what sort of consequences would those be? You’ve mentioned for the first time a few days ago that aid would not continue to flow to Afghanistan if there wasn’t an accountable government. Is that a realistic approach? I mean, withholding aid would undermine your dual strategy here, civilian and military.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we hope it never comes to that. But from the beginning of this Administration, I worked with our Special Representative Ambassador Holbrooke to do two things: create a certification process where we could certify those agencies of the government that we thought were functioning well and could do even better with the appropriate support and resources; and over time, to begin increasing our financial aid for them, so that we are really empowering and creating the capacity that the government needs to deliver services. And we’ve made real progress there. We’ve gone from 10 percent of the aid being directed to the agencies of government to 20 percent. We’re on a path to 40 percent, something that President Karzai mentioned in his speech. But it’s through a very rigorous analysis of who we can really count on to spend that money the way we intend it to be spent.

QUESTION: There’s some suggestion that you would consider working more with partners at the local level in districts, provincial governors, to make sure that the cash doesn’t flow into the hands of corrupt ministers, for example. Is that something that you are considering?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, in fact, I discussed that with President Karzai last night, that we believe that in a country such as Afghanistan, power does need to be decentralized, that much of what happens in people’s daily lives happens not from the central government in Kabul, but from their local district leader, their local tribal elder or chief. So yes, we are going to work with our allies, with the Karzai government, to try to increase the capacity of local governance as well.

But we think that’s a reinforcing strategy. Because just as we have decentralized power in the United States, where certain responsibilities are expected from the local government compared to the national government, when President Karzai talked about the emphasis that will be placed on building up the national security force, both the military and the police, that is a responsibility here in Kabul. But when the agriculture minister spoke to me yesterday about enhancing agricultural productivity, that’s going to be carried out at the local level. So I think it’s that kind of analysis that will lead us to better direct the aid that we send.

QUESTION: I know you don’t want to discuss troop numbers, but I think one thing that everybody can agree on is that there will be more troops sent to Afghanistan. Do you feel comfortable after the conversations you’ve had here over the last two days, your meetings with President Karzai, do you feel comfortable sending more American troops to Afghanistan? Do you think it’s worth it?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t want to preempt the President and what he will announce when he announces his decision. But I do believe that, as I said before, we have a national security interest in going after the syndicate of terror that al-Qaida has helped to pull together, which includes elements of the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban. It is a direct threat to the United States, to our allies, our interests, our values. And we are determined to defeat al-Qaida.

Yet at the same time, we know we will be more successful in that effort if we help to build up the capacity of the Afghan Government and people to defend themselves. So it’s a not an either/or, it is a both/and. We are in Afghanistan originally, and still today, because of our being attacked on 9/11. But we want to have a long-term relationship with Afghanistan that is not solely defined by our military commitment. Because the more democratic, more stable, more prosperous Afghanistan becomes, the less likely it would ever again be a haven for terrorism. So this is a complicated calculation, but I think it’s the right one to look at.

QUESTION: What does success look like in Afghanistan in your eyes?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the realization of the promise put forth in President Karzai’s speech today: a country able to defend itself; a country with economic opportunities where children are being educated, where the main industry in the country, namely agriculture, is more productive and creating greater incomes for people.

It was clear today in the speech that the president has a vision of where he wants to lead the country, and it was reassuring to people. It was exciting because it was such a statement of resolve. But the proof is in the pudding. Now we’ve got to work and make it happen. He knows that. His ministers know that. We’ve been meeting and talking with our counterparts from the other countries that supply troops and supply economic assistance of all kinds to say, look, how are we going to do a better job? It’s not just what we’re demanding of the Afghan Government and leadership. How do we better coordinate the donors? How do we really get everybody integrated into the military and defense and security strategy? How do we avoid duplication of efforts? There’s a lot of questions we have to be better at answering, and we’re going to take on that effort.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) one of the grievances that is often aired both here in Afghanistan and in Pakistan is that the U.S. has not always been exactly the most reliable of allies.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as I said in Pakistan and I would repeat it here in Afghanistan, there is some truth to that concern that people have expressed to me in both countries. And I’m sure if I were in their shoes, I would feel the same way. That’s why I think it’s important that we define our relationship with Afghanistan on a long-term basis that is not primarily or exclusively military. Yes, we have a troop commitment. The President increased it last spring. He is looking at how he can best go forward now. And we want to make sure that any young man or woman from our country who we send to Afghanistan has the maximum chance of succeeding at the mission that we ask. But we’re also dramatically increasing our civilian presence. I just greeted some of the civilians who had lost their colleagues in a terrible incident about two weeks ago. And there are so many people who have come to Afghanistan as part of our civilian efforts in tripling the numbers this year.

So we want to have as clear an understanding of the civilian-military integrated strategy that we’re pursuing that we believe dovetails with the needs that the people and Government of Afghanistan have.

QUESTION: Karzai – President Karzai has been in and out of favor in Washington. He’s had stormy exchanges with some American officials. You seem to have a very good rapport with him. What has it been like to sit down with him over dinner? You had a very long conversation one-on-one with him as well. Are you appealing to him to think of his legacy? I mean, what are you discussing?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re discussing the challenges that he faces as the president of Afghanistan. I’ve known him for about seven years, a little over seven years, I guess. I’ve met with him numerous times here in Afghanistan, in the United States, at international conferences. I’ve always tried to listen to him to hear what’s really on his mind, his concerns, the way he views the problems that he faces, and then to be responsive but also to offer a perspective that perhaps is useful.

I think it’s clear that he really has turned his attention in a very focused way to what his legacy will be. He and his family have given 300 years of service to Afghanistan. He comes from a position of honor within the Pashtun culture in Kandahar. And he’s a real patriot, and he wants to be the leader who has ushered Afghanistan into the modern age, into a secure, democratic future.

Sometimes it’s easier to say that than to do it, and I understand that. I’m sympathetic, maybe because I’ve been in politics. It doesn't look as easy as it might from the outside as an expert or an academic or a diplomat or a bureaucrat might see it. There are so many tradeoffs in politics. I mean, you – in order to get things done, you often have to make compromises that are not very pleasant. And yet, you keep in mind always the larger goal. And I think President Karzai has a very large vision indeed of what he wants to see happen in Afghanistan in the next five years, and the really strong foundation he wants to lay for the future.

QUESTION: I want to finish with just one more question about the regional approach to stabilizing Afghanistan, because it is – the solution here is regional, and it involves Pakistan and it involves India. And there’s been a lot of talk about Pakistan, but not so much anymore recently about India. Are you looking at tackling the Kashmir problem to try to help Pakistan really move its focus to the border with Afghanistan?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’ve encouraged both countries to resume a dialogue that they were engaged in which came to a halt and yet holds a lot of promise. They had made progress, I’m told, in sorting through some of the longstanding difficulties they face, and most particularly the status of Kashmir. But it’s clear that any solution has to come from the two countries themselves.

QUESTION: You’re not pushing?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are encouraging them to get back into dialogue. We think that is important. But with respect to any resolution, that’s up to them.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you very much for your time.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Nice to talk to you, as always.

QUESTION: Thank you.


And also she was on the front page of today's New York Times BIG TIME! Big photo! Four-column spread!

Clinton Presses Karzai on Eve of Inauguration

Obama Demands Results From Afghan Reforms

It seems she was so busy that I was bombarded with all these great pictures and transcripts, but I had no time to catch up until now. I will go back and collect more as soon as I have a little time. Especially pictures with the troops.