Tuesday, August 31, 2010
I would be woefully remiss not to post this and dedicate it to our Lilly!
The Slovak Republic's National DayHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateWashington, DCAugust 31, 2010
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of the Slovak Republic as you celebrate the 18th anniversary of your constitution on September 1.
Today, we honor your constitution and your commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy that bind our nations together. In less than 20 years, the Slovak Republic has transformed from a land locked behind the Iron Curtain into a vibrant democracy and a full member of NATO and the European Union. We appreciate the Slovak Republic’s partnership as we defend our shared ideals and advance our common goals around the world, particularly in Afghanistan where our soldiers continue to help the Afghan people build a better, more secure future for their country.
The United States also joins you in mourning and remembering those who tragically lost their lives in Devinska Nova Ves on August 30. We are saddened by this senseless loss of life and extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those who perished and were injured on Monday.
I wish the people of the Slovak Republic a day of safe and peaceful celebration. The United States is honored to be your ally, your partner, and your friend. I look forward to continuing to deepen our relationship as we work together to build a free, stable, and more prosperous world.
Daily Appointments Schedule for August 31, 2010Washington, DCAugust 31, 2010
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
12:30 p.m. Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)
2:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, at the Department of State.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING BILATERAL MEETING)
3:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, at the Department of State.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING BILATERAL MEETING)
4:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with President Jimmy Carter and Dr. John Hardman, CEO of the Carter Center, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)
6:15 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Quartet Representative Tony Blair, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)
7:45 p.m. Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY
Monday, August 30, 2010
Philip J. CrowleyAssistant Secretary
Daily Press BriefingWashington, DCAugust 30, 2010"... Secretary has been working from home, shall we say, taking a few days off last week from her duties here. She’ll return to Washington this evening. And I expect between now and Wednesday, she’ll have a handful of meetings with her counterparts as we prepare for the President’s dinner on Wednesday night and the meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas here at the State Department on Thursday.
I know tomorrow, she will meet with Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit of Egypt and General Soliman, who is the head of the Egyptian Intelligence Services. The two of them regularly interact with the Secretary and George Mitchell on Middle Eastern developments. I would expect she’ll have other meetings that are still being set up. She talked over the weekend with EU Special Representative Tony Blair. He will also be in town this week to participate in the dinner."
According to a Somali source, her Iftar Dinner will be held Tuesday, September 7. It is not going to be an easy week for her, and while I know we will all be happy to see her out and about again, I find it a little sad that her short break is over since it was interspersed with work.Madame Secretary, welcome back. We missed you, and hope you enjoyed your miniscule break. Thank you for all of your hard work.
This was the beginning of an unbelievable time for people like me and Hillary who grew up during the Cold War.
30th Anniversary of the Polish Solidarity MovementHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateWashington, DCAugust 30, 2010When the brave men and women of the Gdansk shipyards stood up against an oppressive regime and demanded their right to form an independent trade union 30 years ago, their courage gave birth to Solidarity. What started as a union of workers became an extraordinary social movement for individual liberty, dignity, and human rights that ignited a democratic revolution. Solidarity’s uncontainable messages of hope and freedom in Poland spread throughout Central Europe and helped speed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
We honor those who stood against tyranny 30 years ago and all who followed in their wake. The heroes of Solidarity knew that the Polish people desired and deserved more from their country, and they laid the foundation for the Poland we see today. Thanks to their valor and their commitment to liberty, Poland is now a key NATO ally, a thriving democracy, and a beacon of hope to many who still suffer oppression. Poland is a leading voice in the Community of Democracies and a valued partner with the United States to advance our shared goals of freedom and human dignity. Poland’s work promoting stability, security, and prosperity in Afghanistan is further evidence of this strong commitment. We thank the people of Poland for your partnership and honor your historic dedication to liberty. On behalf of the people of the United States, I send my warmest regards to the Polish people as you commemorate the 30th anniversary of the birth of the Solidarity movement.
This is NOT from Team Hillary Clinton. Apparently we are not the only ones thinking this way. I wonder how this came to be! At any rate, it is sure to go viral, so I might as well post it before 10 other people send it to me. It will end up here sooner or later. I hope Secretary Clinton is not taking any heat for any of this because she has no control over it. She is not doing it. We are. Her supporters are.
It was taken down, but now it is back!
Daily Appointments Schedule for August 30, 2010Washington, DCAugust 30, 2010
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
Secretary Clinton has no public appointments.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
So! As we have been suffering in relatively low-key silence while she has spent the week literally out of the picture, I think Hillary Clinton has been thinking. She has a great deal to think about right now. Since a Hillary-absence requires a Hillary-fix, it routinely provokes a thematic post on this blog. This one is of Hillary, hand under her pretty chin, listening ... and thinking. Enjoy!
Friday, August 27, 2010
Our best hope is that she returns fresh as a daisy with the bloom of a summer rose on her cheeks. Hillary and flowers go so well together, as the many who present her with them seem to know. So here, for your viewing pleasure, is the Secretary of State, who is blooming so beautifully where she is planted, being showered with flowers. Enjoy!
Still hiding! Hope you are having a wonderful rest, Mme. Secretary! We miss you, but you deserve the time off. (Well, we hope you are actually off!)
Daily Appointments Schedule for August 27, 2010Washington, DCAugust 27, 2010
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON:
NO PUBLIC APPOINTMENTS
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Secretary Clinton's Statement on the Allegation of Mass Rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
I actually received this yesterday, but things were a little busy when I did, so I filed it away. Going back through those emails tonight, I found it and want to post it even if it is a little late. It is an important statement. I am glad she released this.
Allegation of Mass Rape in the Democratic Republic of the CongoWashington, DCAugust 25, 2010
The United States is deeply concerned by reports of the mass rape of women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) – an armed, illegal rebel group that has terrorized eastern Congo for over a decade – and elements of the Mai Mai, community-based militia groups in eastern Congo. This horrific attack is yet another example of how sexual violence undermines efforts to achieve and maintain stability in areas torn by conflict but striving for peace.
The United States has repeatedly condemned the epidemic of sexual violence in conflict zones around the world, and we will continue to speak out on this issue for those who cannot speak for themselves. Less than a year ago, I presided over the UN Security Council session where Resolution 1888 (2009) was unanimously adopted, underscoring the importance of preventing and responding to sexual violence as a tactic of war against civilians. Now the international community must build on this action with specific steps to protect local populations against sexual and gender-based violence and bring to justice those who commit such atrocities.
Sexual violence harms more than its immediate victims. It denies and destroys our common dignity, it shreds the fabric that weaves us together as humans, it endangers families and communities, it erodes social and political stability, and it undermines economic progress. These travesties, committed with impunity against innocent civilians who play no role in armed conflict, hold us all back.
When I visited the DRC last year, I learned an old proverb -- “No matter how long the night, the day is sure to come.” In the depths of this dark night of suffering and pain, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. The United States will do everything we can to work with the UN and the DRC government to hold the perpetrators of these acts accountable, and to create a safe environment for women, girls, and all civilians living in the eastern Congo.
Daily Appointments Schedule for August 26, 2010
August 26, 2010
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON:
NO PUBLIC APPOINTMENTS
Awwwww! She is still hiding! I hope she is actually getting some rest.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
For reasons that are mysterious to me, my CNN Hillary News feed consistently feeds stories as much as a year old. Last week, all the stories were about her Africa trip last summer. Today, it served up a very sweet story about last year's CGI, including a link to a video of an interview of Bill Clinton by my new Facebook friend, Anderson Cooper, as well as a link to a video of Bill's tribute to his lovely and accomplished wife.
Since we are in a Hillary drought, and because my post last night was soooo serious and future-oriented, I thought I would post this cute backward glance to provide those in severe Hillary withdrawal with a little succor as well as hope for a repeat performance next month when CGI again rolls into town. To cap it all off, I happen to have on hand an adorable gif by Conanincharge which may or may not play on the main page. If it does not, simply click on it. It will open in a new tab or window and should play just fine. Here's the story.
By Elise Labott
NEW YORK (CNN) -- One of America's pre-eminent political power couples made a rare joint appearance Friday, when Bill and Hillary Clinton took the stage at the former president's Clinton Global Initiative conference.
Bill Clinton says his wife Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the "best public service our family has ever produced."
"Most of what I know about what I do today, I learned from her and she has become the best public servant our family has produced," he added. "I am very proud of her and honored that she came here."
Hillary Clinton, who received a standing ovation, had equally kind words for her husband.
The Clintons posed for a photo-op with State Department officials and executives from General Mills and other organizations, who pledged at the conference to start a program to help farmers around the world.And then, for fans of the former first couple, a rare treat. As she walked off the stage, Bill Clinton drew some more cheers when he gave his wife a kiss.
Here's the charming gif.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Well, here I go diving in head first. I might have let this one slide if I were being bombarded by documents from the State Department and finding pages of pictures of the estimable Hillary Rodham Clinton at Daylfe, but neither of those two things is happening. It is discouragingly Hillary-quiet out there, and this op-ed from the Washington Times raised its gnarled head. I am beyond the ability to resist. So here you go (or I go)! The emphasis and superscripts are mine.
Although sporting, none of the speculation means much at this stage. The size of the expected Democrat debacle in this fall's elections has yet to play out, and that election will set the initial terms for 2012. Mrs. Clinton has no pressing need to change jobs². Meanwhile, the new documentary "We Will Not Be Silenced," detailing alleged fraud involved in Mr. Obama's 2008 nomination, has been gaining more attention in Democratic circles³. If Hillary supporters are going to mount a party coup against the first black president, they will need a better argument than that he is a complete disaster in his job⁴.
¹ The suggestion that Hillary Clinton can be bribed is an insult. Americans are the hardest working people on the globe, and Hillary Clinton is the hardest working public figure I have ever seen. She puts in extensive hours in this post, receives precious little media attention for it, and always shows a cheerful face to the world (except when dealing with tragedy). Worse, the sub-header is a teaser. The question is not even addressed in this op-ed.
² Fair enough! Secretary Clinton is doing a fine job and has no pressing need to change jobs, particularly when the posts suggested represent lateral shifts. (Yes, I consider the Vice Presidency a lateral shift - at most!)
³ The documentary is not new! It is two years old. Until the esteemed Hillary Clinton chose to accept the post of Secretary of State, there was a link on this blog to that documentary. I removed the link when I decided to excise all of the post-primary posts that harbored bitterness as my hero moved forward with the new administration. I rededicated this blog to keeping a record of her tenure at State. But "We Will Not Be Silenced" was accessible from this blog for at least four (perhaps more) months in 2008 . The videographers had a terrible time trying to find distributors who would touch this documentary. I hope readers have a chance to see it.
⁴ If a disastrous performance as president is not a reason to re-think the top slot in the next election, I would like to know what on earth is! The market for existing houses fell 27% last month! When does this administration begin to own anything in this still-failing economy? Where is the executive order to stop DADT discharges? Where are the jobs? Why are food stamps and medicare being looted to fund further spending that does not help the economy in these hard times?
Just in case you are thinking that switching to a Republican candidate will alleviate any of the problems we face, remember that it was their policies that got us here, and a weak president does not know how to get us out. The Republicans will be worse. They will raid Social Security, which is already frozen, under this president and this Congress for next year. No, electing Republicans (again) will not help. There is a better choice for the Democratic Party. They should get on their knees and PRAY that if they ask nicely, she will accept.
Uruguay's Independence DayHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateWashington, DC
August 24, 2010
A video message is available here: http://www.state.gov/video/?videoid=588268558001A Spanish version is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgayZZ-d6Ac
Happy Independence Day, Uruguay. On August 25th, the United States joins you in celebrating your many accomplishments this past year, and in honoring your leadership in our region and across the world.During my visit to Montevideo in March, I had the privilege of meeting with your President and discussing the many ways in which our nations are working together to address common challenges. And I certainly got a taste of Uruguayan warmth and hospitality, and of the friendship that exists between our peoples. The United States is proud of our partnership with Uruguay – a partnership deeply rooted in our common commitment to democratic ideals and individual freedoms. Uruguay’s elections earlier this year, and your success in forming a unified government, are models of democratic pluralism that can and should be emulated around the world.
Your country is a leader in advancing peace and social justice, both at home and abroad. And you have made important contributions to the ongoing recovery efforts in Haiti, and to peacekeeping missions all across the globe.
I wish all of you a safe and happy Independence Day celebration. We look forward to continuing the close relationship between our countries in the coming years, and expanding our cooperation into new areas as we work together toward a safer, more peaceful, more prosperous world.
Daily Appointments Schedule for August 24, 2010Washington, DCAugust 24, 2010
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON:
NO PUBLIC APPOINTMENTS
Monday, August 23, 2010
The Irish love Hillary and everything she does. They would elect her to any office she wanted if they could. Americans would do well to take a closer look at Hillary Clinton and everything she does. We have a treasure in her, and we should take serious note. This conference, in fact, should be resonating in the media right now with this massive egg recall going on. As usual, though, I have to go to the Irish Press to know what my own Secretary of State is doing. Shameful!
MINISTER FOR Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin and US secretary of state Hillary Clinton are to co-host an international hunger conference in New York next month to which up to 190 nations have been invited.
Ukraine's Independence DayHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateWashington, DC
August 23, 2010
I had the privilege of visiting Ukraine in July. I met with your President, Foreign Minister, university students, so many others eager to share their ideas and talents with your country. It is a testament to the determination, persistence, and spirit of the Ukrainian people that your country has made such remarkable progress in a short time. The United States is proud to be your partner. We know you will continue working with the same energy and diligence to protect and strengthen your democratic institutions, advance civil society, promote transparent markets to lay the basis for a future of stability and prosperity.
In the coming year, our Strategic Partnership will enhance cooperation between our countries across a broad range of issues were we are already working -- trade, investment, economic growth, energy cooperation, political dialogue, the rule of law, regional security, and territorial integrity. We will also explore ways to expand our people-to-people exchanges.
The United States has stood by Ukraine and the people of Ukraine since Independence, and we will continue to support you as you work to achieve the full benefits of democracy and all of the blessings that go with it.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Well, Hillary is in the news this weekend on a variety of fronts, so I thought I would share some of what I see along with editorial comments. (This picture has nothing to do with these stories. I just found it and know some readers will enjoy this picture from Thursday with Pakistan's FM Qureshi.)
First, a story completely new to me about Senator Jon Kyl (R - AZ) blocking the nomination of Raul Yzaguirre for ambassador to the Dominican Republic, a country crucial to land operations in the Haiti relief effort. Once again The Party of NO rears its ferocious head. Anybody who thinks Secretary Clinton has not pushed hard on these Iran sanctions (his reason for NO) must have been living under a rock for the past year plus. You can read the story here. Kyl stymies ambassador nod over Iran
Speaking of living under a rock or on some other rock far from the sun, it was yesterday when I encountered the silly op-ed by David Ignatius dated today in the Washington Post. Where to begin on this one? I guess here.
"...Obama is different. He truly doesn't seem to relish politics, in the raw, mix-it-up sense. Most of all, he isn't needy for public attention in the way our most neurotic and gifted politicians have been --"
Really? David, have you noted that the current POTUS, for weeks has been out of town fund-raising, campaigning (allegedly for Democratic party candidates, but, if you listen, it sure sounds like he is campaigning for himself), that is when he is not on vacation. Then there is this.
An interesting example of the administration's ability to shrink large political personalities is Richard Holbrooke, the special coordinator for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Holbrooke's garrulous style is utterly different from Obama's, and the White House appeared to be on the verge of dumping him early this year when the secretary of state is said to have intervened. Holbrooke has been on a short leash -- not making trouble, but not as effective as he might be.
Anybody listening to Holbrooke knows that his complete loyalty and deference is to Hillary Clinton whom he finds brilliant to work with. Switch THIS horse mid-course? I don't think so. He is effective and has the utmost respect for the chain of command.
Finally, *sigh* he ends with this.
Maybe Obama, the anti-politician, really doesn't care if he gets reelected, so long as he's doing what he thinks is right. Somehow, I can't imagine this breakthrough president stepping aside to write law-review articles. But to stand a chance in 2012, he's going to need someone to light a fire under him, someone who can play politics fiercely -- and also can bring in some new voters.
Surely it's obvious that I am describing Obama's second-term masterstroke: Vice President Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Oh, David, David, David! Let him! Let him not be re-elected! And take the "Vice" off that title. It is about time we recognize that Hillary Clinton, who is fierce on so many levels would probably not, in the second slot, be able to save the ticket. No! Her place is at the Top of the Ticket. It is that or the Democrats can wave bye-bye to the Oval Office which is not, as we are seeing, a playpen.
Finally, we have this by Gil Hoffman in today's Jerusalem Post. Likud: Talks are a huge achievement. Here are a few highlights.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s announcement on Friday that diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would resume on September 2 evoked conflicting reactions from inside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party.
An official Likud statement released by the head of the party’s reaction team, MK Ophir Akunis, called the American announcement on talks without preconditions a huge achievement for Israel.
This guy promises to be trouble.
MK Danny Danon heard the announcement about the planned summit in the United States, where he is seeking support from Jewish leaders and Republican politicians to oppose territorial concessions in the diplomatic process. Danon intended to start a campaign when the freeze is set to end on September 26, but he said he would have to advance his efforts.
A couple of my favs, however, are, as always, right behind our girl.
Labor chairman Ehud Barak released a statement expressing satisfaction with the beginning of the talks, which he pushed forward in many talks with American officials.
“Israel wants peace with security,” Barak said. “Both sides will have to make courageous decisions in order to reach an agreement.”
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni also praised the restart of the diplomatic process. Her associates said she had pushed for a year and a half for talks to begin at the point where her own negotiations with the Palestinians (when she was foreign minister) ended due to the national election in February 2009.
“She is happy that the talks will cover all the core issues of the conflict,” a Livni associate said.
I saw a story that the lovely Secretary of State is co-hosting a birthday party for a particular former POTUS today on Long Island. Cheers! Happy Birthday (again)! I hope they have a great time and dance their shoes off!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
The Clintons know the importance of setting in forming public image. President Clinton interrupted his vacations to deal with crises when they came up. In August 1998, he returned to the White House from Martha's Vineyard in order to announce missile strikes against terrorist bases in Sudan and Afghanistan in retaliation for bombings of our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. He knew the importance of that image coming from the Oval Office.
In the pictures below, we see Secretary Clinton speaking on Monday at Johns Hopkins University about the Global Health Initiative (while the POTUS was away from D.C. campaigning). She flew to New York to make a speech about the Pakistan floods at the U.N. General Assembly late Thursday afternoon. Now one would think (I did) that being in New York late on a Thursday, she might make a long weekend of it and stay there, which is why I was surprised when the schedule for Friday had her back in D.C. for a "brief statement." Those pictures of her with George Mitchell are from that event. Did she fly back to D.C. to make this brief statement? Yes, she did.
(Video courtesy of Team Hillary Clinton)The media is spinning the Presidential vacation as a "working vacation" and the NBC take is that he gave the task of making the announcement about the Middle East talks to Hillary. Maybe he did. I think the message is a bigger one, though, since he has taken multiple vacations, and she just goes home to Chappaqua on weekends when she is not traveling . She has not had a vacation in more than a year. She even passed up a chance at a long weekend, cheerfully, to go back to the State Department and stand on that dais with P.J. Crowley and George Mitchell to make this announcement. It could have been teleconferenced from New York. She chose not to. She could have recorded it in advance, but she did not. She flew back down to D.C., walked out on the dais with P.J. and Mitchell with all the energy, cheer, and friendly humor with the press, and made this administration look heroic and very classy, even while the POTUS relaxed on the Vineyard. Well, he can afford to relax. The government is safe in her pretty hands.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Video: Secretary Clinton & Special Envoy Mitchell Brief the Press on the Middle East ***UPDATED w/ Text***
Briefing on Middle East Peace ProcessHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateGeorge Mitchell
Special Envoy for Middle East PeaceWashington, DC
August 20, 2010
MR. CROWLEY: Good morning and welcome to the Department of State. We have Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here along with our Special Envoy George Mitchell to tell you about the most recent developments in our pursuit of Middle East peace. The Secretary will begin with a brief statement. George Mitchell will stay behind to answer your questions. And we are joined today by your colleagues in the White House Press Corps up in Martha’s Vineyard and we’ll be sharing the – they’ll be sharing the Q&A duties with you.
But we’ll start with Secretary Clinton.
QUESTION: I don’t like that idea. They’re in Martha’s Vineyard. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I will appoint a negotiator to deal with that. (Laughter.)
Since the beginning of this Administration, we have worked with the Israelis and Palestinians and our international partners to advance the cause of comprehensive peace in the Middle East, including a two-state solution which ensures security and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians. The President and I are encouraged by the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas and fully share their commitment to the goal of two states – Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
After proximity talks and consultations with both sides, on behalf of the United States Government, I’ve invited Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas to meet on September 2nd in Washington, D.C. to re-launch direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues, which we believe can be completed within one year.
President Obama has invited President Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan to attend in view of their critical role in this effort. Their continued leadership and commitment to peace will be essential to our success. The President will hold bilateral meetings with the four leaders followed by a dinner with them on September 1st. The Quartet Representative Tony Blair has also been invited to the dinner in view of his important work to help Palestinians build the institutions of their future state, an effort which must continue during the negotiations. I’ve invited Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to join me here at the State Department on the following day for a trilateral meeting to re-launch direct negotiations.
As we move forward, it is important that actions by all sides help to advance our effort, not hinder it. There have been difficulties in the past; there will be difficulties ahead. Without a doubt, we will hit more obstacles. The enemies of peace will keep trying to defeat us and to derail these talks. But I ask the parties to persevere, to keep moving forward even through difficult times, and to continue working to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region.
As we have said before, these negotiations should take place without preconditions and be characterized by good faith and a commitment to their success, which will bring a better future to all of the people of the region.
George. Thank you all.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, are you traveling to Pakistan (inaudible) concern, Madam? Thank you, Madam.
MR. MITCHELL: I’ll be pleased to respond to any of your questions.
QUESTION: As tempted as I am to ask you about Roger Clemens, I’d rather – or P.J. perhaps. (Laughter.)
MR. CROWLEY: I predicted that.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what was the turning point here? What was it that got the – that overcame the final snags to get them to come back to direct talks?
MR. MITCHELL: We believe it’s the recognition by the parties themselves, by their leaders – Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas – that the best outcome is an agreement which results in two states living side by side in peace and security, and that the only way that can be achieved is through direct negotiations between the parties in which the United States will be an active and sustained participant, and with the full support of our many friends and allies around the world, including, of course, specifically, the Quartet.
QUESTION: But what was it that got them to – I mean, you’ve been trying to do this for months now.
MR. MITCHELL: Yeah.
QUESTION: And why – so why – how is it that today, you’ve gotten to this point, whereas three days ago, you weren’t at this point?
MR. MITCHELL: Yeah. I think it’s the cumulative result of the efforts made over that time and the recognition by the parties that this is the right time. We will be active participants and there is broad support, as you know, by members of the Quartet and others around the world. But in the end, these decisions will be made by the parties themselves.
MR. CROWLEY: And (inaudible) Senator Mitchell ---
QUESTION: Senator Mitchell, could you --
MR. MITCHELL: I’ll let – why don’t I let P.J. --
QUESTION: Could you talk about the sequencing of the talks? Will they discuss territory, refugees, or Jerusalem first, or will this all be in parallel?
MR. MITCHELL: All permanent status issues will be on the table. It will be for the parties themselves to decide the manner by which they should be addressed.
QUESTION: Senator Mitchell --
QUESTION: Yes. Madam Secretary mentioned without doubt there will be more – without doubt, there will be more obstacles. What will these obstacles be? What are the main sticking points that are going to be going forward?
MR. MITCHELL: We are all well aware that there remains mistrust between the parties, a residue of hostility developed over many decades of conflict, many previous efforts that have been made to resolve the conflict that had not succeeded, all of which takes a very heavy toll on both societies and their leaders. In addition, we all know that, as with all societies, there are differences of opinion on both sides on how best to proceed, and as a result, this conflict has remained unresolved over many decades and through many efforts. We don’t expect all of those differences to disappear when talks begin. Indeed, we expect that they will be presented, debated, discussed, and that differences are not going to be resolved immediately.
But we do believe that peace in the Middle East, comprehensive peace, including, but not limited to, an end to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, is very much in the interests of Israelis and Palestinians, of all people in the region; it’s in the national security interests of the United States, and therefore, we are going to continue to pursue that objective with patience, perseverance, and determination. We know that will be difficult. We know, as the Secretary said, there will be obstacles. But we’re going to proceed, as I said, with patience, perseverance, and determination.
MR. CROWLEY: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Senator Mitchell, sir, the Palestinians, the Israelis, and the United States have been down that road many times before. Now, what is in your opinion, sir, this time around that engenders – or should engender hope and optimism to get these talks into its intended end? And what kind of incentive did you offer President Abbas to entice him into the direct talks?
MR. MITCHELL: I don’t want to repeat everything I said in response to prior questions, but I will say that I believe that it is very much in the interest of people in both societies that there be an end to this conflict enabling both to live in peace and security. And I believe that their leaders believe and understand that, and therefore, notwithstanding the many difficulties that they face – and we recognize those difficulties – this is the best course for them.
On the question of past efforts in failing and succeeding, I’ll return, if I might, to my experience in Northern Ireland. I chaired three separate sets of discussions in Northern Ireland, spanning a period overall of five years. The main negotiation lasted for 22 months. During that time, the effort was repeatedly branded a failure. I was asked at least dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times when I was leaving because the effort had failed.
And of course, if the objective is to achieve a peace agreement, until you do achieve one, you have failed to do so. In a sense, in Northern Ireland, we had about 700 days of failure and one day of success. And we approach this task with the same determination to succeed notwithstanding the difficulties and notwithstanding the inability to get a final result so far, including past efforts. But past efforts at peace that did not succeed cannot deter us from trying again, because the cause is noble and just and right for all concerned.
MR. CROWLEY: Let’s take Michele and then Kirit and then we’ll go up to Martha’s Vineyard and come back.
QUESTION: I wanted to get a sense of this timeline, this 12 months that the Secretary talked about. Do you see that as a deadline or is that – or is it looser than that? And also, just following up on this other question. I mean, what makes this peace process any different from all other peace processes?
MR. MITCHELL: We will only know the answer to your second question when it is completed. But I believe that, as I said in response to the previous question, that the cause is so important, so right, so just, that our continued effort is the right thing to do, and we are going to pursue it with determination. I believe that the two leaders themselves, President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu, are sincere and serious and believe that it can be done, and we will do everything humanly possible to help them see that it is done.
With respect to your first question, Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a public appearance in this country on his most recent visit to Washington that he believed it could be done within a year. President Abbas has expressed similar sentiments to me, and I hold strongly to that belief, having now been involved for some time in the region. So, we believe it can be done within a year and that is our objective.
QUESTION: But it’s not a deadline then?
MR. CROWLEY: Kirit, one more and then we’ll go up to Martha’s Vineyard.
QUESTION: It took you about nine months to get to the point where these guys were willing to sit down and talk to each other. What makes you think that you can get them to agree to peace in one year? At what point during this process is the U.S. willing to put its own ideas on the table to help move this forward? And after the initial set of talks here in D.C., where do you expect the talks to take place?
MR. MITCHELL: I’ll take your questions in reverse order. One of the subjects to be discussed in the meeting on September 1st and 2nd, and also in preparatory meetings that have been occurring on a regular basis and will continue between now and then, will be the timing and location of subsequent meetings, and we certainly expect some of those meetings to occur in the region.
With respect to the timing and nature, how long it took to get here and how long will it take to get in, I don’t think one is a necessary determinant of the other. It’s – I liken it to the first time I owned a house and had it painted. It took the painters seemingly forever to prime the building and the walls. I kept asking myself, “When are they going to start painting? We’re paying by the hour and we want some progress.” (Laughter.) And after this seemingly endless priming, they painted it very quickly.
Now, I don’t want to suggest one year is quickly, but I don’t think that events leading up to the negotiations are themselves decisive in terms of the negotiations themselves. We believe that the statements by the prime minister regarding within one year are credible and appropriate. We believe that President Abbas shares a similar view, as do we. And that’s what we’re going to pursue.
QUESTION: And at what point does the U.S. put its own ideas on the table in this process?
MR. MITCHELL: We will be active and sustained partners, although we recognize that this is a bilateral negotiation and we have indicated to both parties that, as necessary and appropriate, we will offer bridging proposals. But I repeat: This is a direct bilateral negotiation between the parties with our assistance and with the assistance of our friends and allies. And although nobody has asked it, I do want to take a moment to acknowledge and recognize the enormous support and assistance we have received from many of our friends and allies: Egypt, under President Mubarak; Jordan, under King Abdullah; many of the other Arab states; the other members of the Quartet; the United Nations under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has been extremely helpful in this process; the European Union, with Lady Ashton as the foreign minister; and the – Russia, with Foreign Minister Lavrov, have all been active and very helpful along with other European states.
So it’s important to understand that while the United States is playing an important and active and sustained role, we do so with full participation, full input, full consultation, full discussion, and we hope full support, from a wide variety of allies whose efforts have been extremely important getting us to this phase and will be extremely important in reaching a conclusion.
MR. CROWLEY: Operator, we’ll go to take two or three questions from White House press corps.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our first question comes from Philip Hartley with Washington Today. Please ask one question.
QUESTION: Good morning. Actually, it’s two; I apologize. Have all the invited parties accepted the United States’ invitation to weigh in next month? And the Secretary had mentioned references to peace in the world, and as an envoy of peace, I wanted to know what your thoughts are on whether the proposed mosque be built at the Ground Zero site.
MR. MITCHELL: I’m sorry, I didn’t understand.
MR. CROWLEY: We’re not here to talk about that latter subject. We’ll take the next question. What was the question?
QUESTION: Wait --
QUESTION: The first part was --
MR. CROWLEY: Have they accepted.
MR. MITCHELL: What was the first question?
MR. CROWLEY: Have they accepted the invitation?
MR. MITCHELL: We have been in consultation with both. We expect to hear from them shortly, but it will be their decisions on whether to accept.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take the next question, Operator.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Jonathan Broder with Congressional Quarterly.
QUESTION: Yeah. Do both parties have to ask for the U.S. to step in with its bridging proposals, or is it enough for one party to ask for that bridging proposal?
MR. MITCHELL: We’re getting a little bit ahead of the game now to be speculating on what may or may not occur well into the process. As I stated earlier, this is a direct bilateral negotiation with the active and sustained support of the United States. And we will make bridging proposals at such time as we deem necessary and appropriate. But I don’t want anyone to have the impression that we are somehow going to supplant or displace the roles of the parties themselves, nor do we have any view other than that this must, in the end, be an agreement by the parties themselves.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take one more, Operator, then we’ll come back here to this.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Ron Kampeas with JTA.
QUESTION: Thank you. One technical question and then a real question. On September the 2nd – is that – are they actually – are you actually launching direct talks on September the 2nd, or are the leaders getting together with the Secretary to discuss the re-launching of direct talks? And the other thing: What role, if any, does Hamas have in this process?
MR. MITCHELL: The first question is yes, we are launching direct negotiations beginning on September 2nd. And the second question is: None.
QUESTION: Senator, is re-launching the direct negotiations without preconditions means that we are re-launching the direct negotiations without terms and references?
MR. MITCHELL: Only the parties can determine terms of reference and basis for negotiations, and they will do so when they meet and discuss these matters. As you know, both we and the Quartet have previously said that the negotiations should be without preconditions.
QUESTION: Thank you. Can you tell us whether they’re going to start from scratch, or will they build on what talks that – during the Olmert period? And the second question is whether Israel is expected to continue the freeze. Do you think that they’ll continue the freeze? Do you think the Palestinians will continue their boycott of settler goods?
MR. MITCHELL: The parties themselves will determine the basis on which they will proceed in the discussions, in response to your first question. In response to the second, our position on settlements is well-known and remains unchanged. We’ve always made clear that the parties should promote an environment that is conducive to negotiations. And as the Secretary said in her statement a few moments ago, it’s important that actions by all sides help to advance our effort, not hinder it.
MR. CROWLEY: Charlie.
QUESTION: Senator, just to follow up on that and a previous question, your position is well-known on settlements, but the Israelis, when they’ve chosen to, have ignored it and gone ahead with settlement construction as they’ve seen fit to do. Do you have any understanding from them that they will not do that this time?
And referring to the earlier question on Hamas and your quick answer that they will have no role, how do you get around the fact, even in the best of all circumstances that you negotiate an agreement, how do you get around the fact that Hamas is playing a huge role in Gaza?
MR. MITCHELL: With respect to the first question, let’s be clear that the declaration of the moratorium itself last November was a significant action, which has had a significant effect on new housing construction starts in the West Bank. And as I said, our position on settlements is well-known, remains unchanged, and we expect both parties to promote an environment conducive to negotiations.
With respect to Hamas, let’s be clear. Hamas won a legislative election. They acknowledge the continued executive authority of President Abbas and his team, and it is entirely appropriate that we negotiate with the executive head of that government. When Democrats regained control of the Congress in 2006, that didn’t end President Bush’s tenure as president, and others who wanted to negotiate with the United States negotiated with the legally elected and then-chief of our executive branch of government. And that is the situation here.
QUESTION: So you expect Hamas to accept any decision made by President Abbas at these negotiations?
MR. MITCHELL: It is not for me to make decisions for others.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take one more here, then we’ll go back up to the phones.
QUESTION: Senator Mitchell, is it your understanding that this would be a shelf agreement, something to take effect at a later date when political conditions in the Palestinian territories allow, or is it your understanding that this is something that would take effect in a very short period after it was agreed?
MR. MITCHELL: That’s obviously subject to the results of the negotiations. We are not creating limitations or restraints upon what the parties may agree to. Our hope is that there will be an agreement that will end the conflict for all time and will result in the establishment of a viable, democratic, and independent state of Palestine living side by side in peace and security with Israel.
MR. CROWLEY: Operator, we’ll take one or two more from the phones.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question on the phone is Margaret Talev with McClatchy newspapers.
QUESTION: Hi, thanks for taking our questions. The Palestinian press has reported that the U.S. put the harshest pressure to date on the Palestinians to get them into the talks. What I want to know is why did the U.S. feel that this was the time, in the Palestinians’ view, to bully the Palestinians into talking, considering the politics of the Israeli administration right now?
MR. MITCHELL: The United States position has been well-known from the time that this administration entered office. We have and we do favor direct negotiation between the parties to resolve the conflict and to produce an agreement that results in two states living side by side in peace and security. We have encouraged the two parties to enter into such negotiations and they have now agreed. And we are – we believe it’s the right thing to do, we think that both of the leaders believe it’s the right thing to do, and we believe it’s in the best interests of the people they represent.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take one more, Operator, from the phone.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Susan Garraty with News Talk Radio.
QUESTION: Hello, Senator Mitchell. You harkened back to the Northern Ireland peace process, and as you certainly recall, the President then played a very intimate role in that. Considering that many Americans themselves are even confused about President Obama’s religious affiliation, do you feel like the people of the Middle East on both sides of this issue will see President Obama as an honest broker and someone that they can actually reach out to in that same intimate fashion?
MR. MITCHELL: Yes, I do believe that they do and will continue to regard President Obama in that fashion. I will say that from the outset, both he and the Secretary of State have played an important, indeed critical, role in this effort. Both are deeply involved on a regular basis and deeply, personally committed to the cause of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. I think that is not only widely recognized throughout the region and the world, but very much appreciated, and in particular, throughout the region.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take a couple of wrap-ups. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes. Senator Mitchell.
MR. CROWLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: The total settlement freeze never happened, so I was wondering, how can these talks be considered authentic in the region when that demand was never met?
MR. MITCHELL: We believe that there is a basis for proceeding and achieving a successful result, and we’re going to pursue that. We do not take the position that if you don’t get everything you want the first time you ask for it, you pack up your bags and go home. If that had been the standard applied in South Africa, there would never have been peace there; in Northern Ireland, there would never have been peace there; in Bosnia, there would never have been peace there.
It takes patience, persistence, a willingness to go back again and again, to not take the first no as a final no, to not take the 50th no as the final no or the 100th no. We are patient, we are persevering, and we are determined, and we believe there is a basis for concluding a peace agreement in the region, and that’s what we’re going to pursue.
MR. CROWLEY: Samir.
QUESTION: Senator, do you understand that – you expect Abbas to accept entering these talks without preconditions?
MR. MITCHELL: Both the United States and the Quartet have said that we believe there should be direct talks without preconditions. And we also have said many times that we think that these talks should be conducted in a positive atmosphere in which the parties refrain from taking any steps that are not conducive to making progress in the discussions, that negotiate seriously and in good faith. And in all of these respects, we think that there is a basis for making progress.
QUESTION: So the talks won’t be based on the Quartet statement of March 19?
MR. MITCHELL: The parties are the only ones who can determine what the basis of their discussions are, and that is the case.
QUESTION: Yes, thank you. Senator, so many Palestinians, as you know, and Arabs believe peace with the actual Israeli Government is practically impossible because of its nature, past statement regarding refugees, Jerusalem, et cetera. Aren’t you concerned that by setting this one-year deadline, you’ll probably be raising expectations just like a la Camp David and all what happened after that?
MR. MITCHELL: The reality is, of course, that there are some in both societies who do not believe that the other side is serious, who do not trust the other side, who do not wish to proceed with the other side. And if we accept the premise that because some in one or both societies hold these views that we cannot proceed, then of course, what we are doing is consigning all of those people to never-ending conflict, never-ending difficulties. We simply don’t believe that’s a proper basis for any country, and certainly not ours, the United States, on which to base its policy.
We believe that the best course of action is the direct negotiations that result in a peace agreement ending this conflict and resulting in two states living side by side in peace and security. We believe the only way to achieve that is through direct negotiations. We believe that if those negotiations are conducted seriously and in good faith, they can produce such an agreement within 12 months. And that is our objective. We acknowledge, we recognize, as you have just stated, that there are many who don’t believe that, many who don’t want that, many who will act to prevent that.
But their lack of belief, their contrary views, their contrary actions cannot serve to prevent us from trying to deal with this conflict, nor can it prevent the leaders of those countries who both recognize that the interests of their people, the future of their societies rests upon resolving this conflict and achieving the kind of peace and stability and security from which they will all benefit.
MR. CROWLEY: Last question, Mark Landler.
QUESTION: Senator, this Administration believed from the early days that its Middle East strategy and its Iran strategy were linked in the sense that if you could make progress in one, you might help make progress in another and vice versa. You now are moving into a period of less engagement and more confrontation with Iran. I’m wondering whether you think that is an added hurdle to a peace agreement or is it something that could actually help in the sense that the Israelis may feel that the U.S. is going to be tough on Iran and it allays their fears somewhat in that regard.
MR. MITCHELL: That extends somewhat beyond the area of my involvement in this process, and so I would defer for a more full and thoughtful answer to those who are directly engaged on the broader issues. I will simply say that if you look at the Middle East and review its history over just the past half century, never mind several millennia, you will conclude that there is no really, quote, “right time” to do this, that there always have been and always will be issues external to the immediate parties that have an effect upon what is occurring.
And in my judgment, what is occurring in the – throughout the region, not just in Iran but in other areas, all add compelling, cumulative evidence to the need to act with respect to this conflict. That is to say, whether or not the circumstance you describe produces the result you describe, it still remains a compelling argument that it is very much in the national security interest of the United States, in terms of dealing with other conflicts, to assist, to do all we can with the help and support of our allies, to bring about a resolution of this conflict. It helps in so many ways, and most importantly, it’s the best thing for the Palestinian people and for the people of Israel. And it is in our national security interest and in that of others.
Thank you all very much. It’s been a pleasure to be with you.