Monday, February 28, 2011
Interview with Michele Kelemen of National Public Radio
InterviewHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateGeneva, SwitzerlandFebruary 28, 2011
QUESTION: (In progress) You have targeted sanctions and an arms embargo. What more did you talk about with your partners here about – specifically how to stop this bloodshed?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we spoke at some length with our European colleagues because they have a much greater connection with Libya than we do. They have many more economic relationships. They have many more of the assets of the Qadhafi family that are being located in Europe. So they’re going to be announcing their own sanctions, and I don’t want to jump the gun on them. They get to do that for themselves. But I think it will further increase the pressure.
Part of what we’re trying to do is to send a message to those around him that the cost is getting intolerable, that if you want to get out and end the bloodshed, you need to move now. And I think that would be a powerfully delivered message by the Europeans. And also, we are looking at all other options. The decision made by NATO at the North Atlantic Council a few days ago was to direct the military command, the supreme commander in Europe, to begin prudent planning. And that runs across a full range of potential options. So there’s a lot going on.
QUESTION: A no-fly zone?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s on the list of things that need to be considered. It is, in the view of some, a very cumbersome, not very effective approach. It is, in the view of others, an effort worth making. But the military planners are the ones who have to really get into the details of what assets there are, whose assets they are, what would be an appropriate mix, and the like. So it’s one of the many issues that are being examined.
QUESTION: Sanctions work on, sort of, rational people, but this is Muammar Qadhafi that we’re talking about, “the mad dog of the Middle East,” as President Reagan once put it. So I mean, what’s the end game with him?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s uncertain, which is one of the reasons why much of what we are doing now is not focused only on delivering a message to him. He has family members, he has close regime supporters, he has business supporters; they have to know there’s a price to pay. The longer this goes on, the more bloodshed and violence there is, the more likely that they are going to be at risk – be at risk physically, be at risk financially, be at risk of not having a place to go. So this is a message not only directed at him – and who knows how receptive he is to it – but it is a clear, unmistakable message, but also to the remaining support system that he has.
QUESTION: The Libyan Government, such as it is, was really built around him. What are you worried about in a post-Qadhafi government or a post-Qadhafi scene?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re worried that there isn’t any institutional support for what comes next. Unfortunately, he did a quite thorough job in destroying and discrediting all the institutions that one would expect to see in a state. Look at the difference between Egypt and Libya. The military in Egypt played a very constructive role in navigating through the protests. It is still managing a government. Qadhafi made sure he didn’t have a strong military that had any respect of the people.
So we are very conscious of the uncertainty that lies beyond Qadhafi. If you look at power centers within Libya, you have mostly a tribal base for that. Somebody told me who has studied Libya that if you look at the opposition, there are monarchists, there are tribal leaders, there are Islamists, there are some representatives of a very small civil society. You really don’t have anyone emerging. But there is an effort in the east around Benghazi to try to begin putting together what is called an executive council, and we’ll be certainly along with others reaching out to them to see how we can help.
QUESTION: Libya is by far the bloodiest of all these changes we’ve seen in the Middle East. What other countries are you really worried about now?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that no country is immune, and each country has unique characteristics and is responding in a particular way. As I said in my speech to the Human Rights Council, we see the efforts in Jordan and Bahrain as moving in the right direction. They’re trying to open a dialogue. They’re trying to make reforms. There still is a lot of work to be done, but we support both the King of Bahrain and the King of Jordan. In Yemen, that was already a very fractured society, and what will happen in the future is extremely hard to predict.
One thing the United States knows is that al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula poses a threat to the region, to Europe, to us, and that’s where it’s headquartered, in Yemen. So we think that this is still evolving, and it’s way too soon to predict what the outcomes will be.
QUESTION: Thank you very much for your time.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thanks, Michelle.
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Interview With Kim Ghattas of British Broadcasting Corporation
InterviewHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateGeneva, SwitzerlandFebruary 28, 2011
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I want to start by asking you about the steps you’ve taken towards Libya. You have imposed sanctions, both you and the EU and the UN. You’ve placed an arms embargo on the Libyan leadership. But this doesn’t really stop the violence quickly. How do you protect the Libyan people?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Kim, I think that the unanimous international decision at the Security Council is a step toward ending the violence, because what it does is to send a clear message, not just to Qadhafi, who may or may not be listening, but to the people around him, people who may want to live longer, people who may no want to be pariahs, people who have a stake in ending the violence. So I think that the message of what we are doing is part of an overall international effort to end the violence.
In addition, there will be other steps taken to freeze the assets, to prevent access to those assets, so that Qadhafi can’t use them to perpetuate and escalate the violence, which is something we’re worried about.
QUESTION: So do you think this could take weeks and months?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Unclear what we’re looking at. We know that the situation for Qadhafi is worsening, that he is in control of a smaller part of the country, really now probably only a part of Tripoli. But he still has allies who are not yet turning against him, and we are trying to send very clear messages that that needs to happen.
And I think as I said earlier, we are looking at all forms of action. Nothing is off the table. We want to be prepared in the event that some other steps is necessary.
QUESTION: At what point does military force become necessary?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s a very difficult decision to make for many reasons. First of all, none of the countries with whom I’ve consulted today put that at the top of the list because it’s always fraught with uncertainty. And in a country like Libya, where we don’t have enough information to know exactly what is happening on the ground, it would be particularly difficult.
At the same time, we know that this violence must end. And if we can take action that would expedite its end, we have to consider that.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, the Libyan leadership says there were no aerial bombardments and the deaths that we’re seeing in Libya are a result of fierce fighting between loyalists and rebels, if this is how we want to call them, that it’s 50/50. You’ve spoken about war crimes and the possibility of aerial bombardments. Do you have the evidence?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a very good question, Kim, and that’s why I’m cautious in how we talk about this. We do believe that, according to pilots who chose to disobey orders they were given that certainly the Qadhafi regime tried to direct certain actions from the air against targets on the land. We also have heard of additional accountings concerning limited but unmistakable efforts using helicopters and the like.
But it is unclear at this time, and we don’t want to make any decisions based on anecdotes. What we do know is that most of the violence is on the ground. And frankly, that’s one of the drawbacks of a no-fly zone is, as we learned in Iraq when we ran a no-fly zone in northern Iraq, sometimes absolutely horrible regimes decide that that means it’s open fire on the ground. So this is a much more complicated decision matrix than it might at first appear.
QUESTION: I’m going to try to squeeze in a question and answer in 30 seconds or less from you. Madam Secretary, you’ve said again and again this isn’t about the United States, this is about Arab people rising against their leaders. But it is about the U.S. also. It is about the access you have to oil, to trade routes. It’s going to have an impact on your policy towards Iran. It is about the United States and your national security interests.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s about the international community and our national security and global security interests. The United States gets hardly any of its oil or gas from Libya. Europe does. And so that is a bigger --
QUESTION: I was speaking about the wider Arab world.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the entire Arab region is an area of immense importance, but it’s also one of great potential which has not been realized. And part of what we see happening now is an effort by people themselves in these countries to gain access to the opportunities that the 21st century should offer. We are wholeheartedly in favor of that.
At the same time, we know there are many ways that these revolutions of expectation can be hijacked. They can be killed at birth, so to speak. There’s a lot of things that can go wrong. So we are in favor of orderly, peaceful, irreversible transitions that can give people a truly positive democratic outcome. But we’re working to make sure that happens, as opposed to having it go off in a direction that will lead to more autocracy, to ideological extremists, and all of the things that would betray the aspirations of the young people we’ve heard.
QUESTION: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. Thank you for your time.
Remarks At the Conference on Disarmament
RemarksHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateGeneva, SwitzerlandFebruary 28, 2011
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for your leadership and your efforts to make the Conference on Disarmament an effective tool for addressing the critical challenges we face today. I also want to thank the Secretary General for convening this important plenary session and for the opportunity to address you. And I owe a special thanks to our Ambassador Laura Kennedy and the U.S. mission here for their hard work in advancing President Obama’s disarmament agenda.
Nearly 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the world has more than 20,000 nuclear weapons. As I speak to you today, centrifuges around the world are spinning out more enriched uranium, a still significant amount of it to weapons grade. Plutonium is being churned out in reactors and separated from spent fuel in reprocessing plants. The world faces no shortage of ingredients for nuclear bombs. Yet more fissile materials are made every single day.
The question before us today is whether we will – at last – agree to end the dedicated production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons. Halting production is in the interest of every country, and I urge this conference to end the stalemate and open negotiations on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty without further delay.
The FMCT would be an important step toward creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, a vision that President Obama laid out in Prague nearly two years ago, and it would build on the notable progress we have made together these past years.
The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved Resolution 1887 to strengthen the global nonproliferation regime. The United States released our Nuclear Posture Review that reduces the prominence of nuclear weapons in our national defense. We convened a Nuclear Security Summit, where 47 countries agreed to lock down vulnerable nuclear materials over four years, and we joined with other NPT members in a successful Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference.
And of course, the United States and Russia brought the New START Treaty into force. That treaty will cut our deployed strategic warheads to the lowest numbers since the 1950s. It was my great pleasure to exchange the instruments of ratification with Minister Sergey Lavrov in Munich earlier this month. Our two countries are now positioned to discuss further arms control reductions, including nonstrategic and non-deployed nuclear weapons. We must not squander this momentum. We should continue to advance nuclear security by turning now to the negotiation of a verifiable ban on fissile material production for bombs.
The United States has been committed to the Conference on Disarmament as the logical forum for this negotiation. This conference after all produced such landmark treaties as the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, the NPT, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. But the last treaty was completed in 1996. And this conference has been deadlocked ever since. The Program of Work agreed to in May 2009 remains stalled. And one single country – a country that is a friend and partner of the United States – continues to undermine the international consensus in favor of an FMCT.
I know this conference has always cherished the principle of consensus, which ensures that every state can defend its national interests at the negotiating table. But our patience is not infinite. There is no justification for a single nation to abuse the consensus principle and forever thwart the legitimate desire of the 64 other states to get negotiations underway on an agreement that would strengthen our common security. It is clear that there is a wide range of views inside the conference, and these views will have to be accommodated through the process of negotiation. That process will be difficult, and it will take a number of years, and it that is all the more reason to begin negotiations now. If we cannot summon the shared will even to begin negotiations in this body, then the United States is determined to pursue other options. Global nuclear security is too important to allow this matter to drift forever.
The FMCT is critical to our broader agenda. If we are serious about reducing the possibility that fissile material could fall into terrorists’ hands, then we must reduce the amount of such material that is available. For that reason, the United States also supports reducing stocks of separated plutonium and highly enriched uranium and minimizing the future use of highly enriched uranium for civilian purposes. The United States has made significant progress towards those goals – both bilaterally with Russia and multilaterally – and we will continue to make them an important focus of U.S. nuclear diplomacy.
The United States is deeply committed to reducing nuclear weapons and the risk of nuclear proliferation. Our long-term goal, our vision, is a world without nuclear weapons. Now, we understand this will be difficult and it will certainly take time. But we believe it is attainable if we tackle each piece of the problem step by step.
Therefore, I ask each of your nations for support in strengthening global security by taking the next step – beginning negotiations on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. No nation has to agree to the treaty. But it is unacceptable for any nation to prevent other nations from pursuing what such a treaty could look like and what benefits it could produce for the world.
So I hope that we will see action now from this esteemed conference that has meant so much to the world over so many years. This is the forum; you are the leaders who should be making these decisions. It would be unfortunate if that were not to be pursued in terms of this particular treaty. And the United States stands ready to support the beginning of negotiations, to do whatever is necessary to try to accommodate legitimate national interests, and then to reach a resolution and the production of such a treaty, otherwise we believe this is too important a matter to be left in a deadlock forever.
So we thank you for your attention to this critical issue and we look forward to working with you as we continue the work of a Conference on Disarmament. Thank you very much.
Remarks at the Human Rights Council
RemarksHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateGeneva, SwitzerlandFebruary 28, 2011
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. Thank you, Mr. President, and I want to thank the High Commissioner and all my colleagues for their strong words here today, as well as during the special session on Friday.
Today the world’s eyes are fixed on Libya. We have seen Colonel Qadhafi’s security forces open fire on peaceful protestors again and again. They have used heavy weapons on unarmed civilians. Mercenaries and thugs have been turned loose to attack demonstrators. There are reports of soldiers executed for refusing to turn their guns on their fellow citizens, of indiscriminate killings, arbitrary arrests, and torture.
Colonel Qadhafi and those around him must be held accountable for these acts, which violate international legal obligations and common decency. Through their actions, they have lost the legitimacy to govern. And the people of Libya have made themselves clear: It is time for Qadhafi to go – now, without further violence or delay.
The international community is speaking with one voice and our message is unmistakable. These violations of universal rights are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This Council took an important first step toward accountability on Friday by establishing an independent commission of inquiry.
On Saturday in New York, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution imposing an arms embargo on Libya, freezing the assets of key human rights violators and other members of the Qadhafi family, and referring the Libyan case to the International Criminal Court.
Tomorrow, the UN General Assembly should vote to accept the recommendation to suspend the Qadhafi government’s participation here in the Human Rights Council. Governments that turn their guns on their own people have no place in this chamber.
The Arab League deserves our praise as the first multilateral organization to suspend Libya's membership -- despite the fact that Libya was serving as the Arab League Chair. We hope to see our friends in the African Union follow suit.
We all need to work together on further steps to hold the Qadhafi government accountable, provide humanitarian assistance to those in need, and support the Libyan people as they pursue a transition to democracy. Today, I’ve had the privilege of consulting with a wide range of colleagues here in Geneva and President Obama is meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Washington. We will continue coordinating closely with our allies and partners.
The United States has already imposed travel restrictions and financial sanctions on Qadhafi and senior Libyan officials. We have frozen assets to ensure that they are preserved for the Libyan people. And we have halted our very limited defense trade with Libya. We are working with the United Nations, partners, allies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, and other NGOs to set up a robust humanitarian response to this crisis.
As we move forward on these fronts, we will continue to explore all possible options for action. As we have said, nothing is off the table so long as the Libyan Government continues to threaten and kill Libyans.
Ultimately, the people of Libya themselves will be the ones to chart their own destiny and shape their own new government. They are now braving the dictator’s bullets and putting their lives on the line to enjoy the freedoms that are the birthright of every man, woman, and child on earth. Like their neighbors in Tunisia and Egypt, they are asserting their rights and claiming their future.
Now, while the circumstances in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya are each unique, in every case the demand for change has come from within, with people calling for greater civil liberties, economic opportunities’ and a stake in the governance of their own societies.
And the world has been inspired by their courage and their determination. We see in their struggles a universal yearning for dignity and respect. And they remind us that the power of human dignity is always underestimated until the day it finally prevails.
This moment belongs to the people, particularly the young people, of the Middle East. On behalf of President Obama and the American people, let me say that we are inspired by what you are doing and heartened by what it means for your future. The United States supports orderly, peaceful, and irreversible transitions to real democracies that deliver results for their citizens.
On this our values and interests converge. Because supporting these transitions is not simply a matter of ideals. It is also a strategic imperative. Without meaningful steps toward representative, accountable, and transparent governance and open economies, the gap between people and their leaders will only grow, and instability will deepen. What might have been possible in the 20th century, with new technologies and the power that people now have to connect, is no longer possible.
And to hang on to systems that are unaccountable and that do not respond to the legitimate needs of one’s people poses a danger, not only a danger to leaders but a danger to all of our interests. By contrast, history has shown that democracies tend to be more stable, more peaceful, and ultimately more prosperous.
Democratic change must grow from within. It cannot be implanted from the outside. And let me be among the first of many to say the West certainly does not have all of the answers. The first steps of change have come quickly and dramatically. It is, however, proving tragically difficult in Libya. In other nations, change is likely to be more deliberate and methodical. In all cases, the United States will support citizens and governments as they work for progress.
We are well aware of the challenges that come with these kinds of transitions. You cannot create jobs or economic opportunities overnight. These changes can be chaotic. And in the short term, there will be new voices and political competitions emerging for the first time. And as history has shown, these new births of democracy, of freedom, of human rights, can be derailed by autocrats who use violence, deception, and rigged elections to stay in power or to advance an undemocratic agenda. But like Colonel Qadhafi, leaders who deny their people freedom and opportunity will, in the end, fuel the very instability they fear.
So the process of transition must be protected from anti-democratic influences from wherever they come. Political participation must be open to all people across the spectrum who reject violence, uphold equality, and agree to play by the rules of democracy. Those who refuse should not be allowed to subvert the aspirations of the people. And leaders cannot claim democratic legitimacy if they abandon these principles once they are in power.
Free and fair elections are essential to building and maintaining democracy, but elections alone are not sufficient. Sustainable democracies are built on strong institutions, including an independent judiciary that promotes the rule of law and helps ensure official accountability and transparency, and stands against corruption.
Recent days have underscored the importance of the freedom of expression, whether it’s in the public square, through the press, or on the internet. Brave journalists have broadcast images of repression around the world, and the young people of Tunisia and Egypt have shown everyone what a force for democracy, the open exchange of ideas, can be.
A vibrant civil society is also an indispensable building block of democracy. And not only in the Middle East but around the world, citizen activists and civic organizations are emerging as strong voices for progress. They help develop solutions to tough problems. They hold governments accountable. They empower and protect women and minorities. The United States is committed to broadening our own engagement with civil society, and we urge leader and governments to treat civil society, as partners, not adversaries.
There also must be for transitions to thrive a commitment to make economic opportunity available to all. Human rights, democracy, and development are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing. We have seen how inequity and lack of economic opportunities drive people into the streets. So to earn the confidence of one’s own people, governments have to deliver on the promise of improved lives.
There is no doubt that the most important goal for most people in the world today is a decent life for themselves and their families. At the very least, that must be the goal that we deliver on. It is also particularly important that women and minorities have access to opportunity and participation. Nations cannot flourish if half their population is consigned to the margins or denied their rights. We have seen how women play a vital role in driving social and economic progress when they are accorded their rights and afforded equal opportunity. And in so doing, they lift up not only themselves but their families and their societies.
These are not Western principles or American ideals. They are truly universal, lessons learned by people all over the world who have made the difficult transition to sustainable democracy. And as we look at what’s happening now in the Middle East, of course those changes will be shaped by local circumstances and led by local leaders. And people themselves will determine whether or not the change has worked. But universal principles will be important touchstones along the way.
That is why, as we watch what is happening in Egypt, we hope that there will be a broad array of opposition voices and representatives to ensure that the reform process is inclusive. We want to see concrete steps taken, including enacting constitutional reforms and releasing political detainees and lifting the state of emergency. The United States stands ready to assist, however appropriate, especially through economic assistance that helps promote reform and create greater opportunity.
In Tunisia, we welcome the interim leadership’s efforts to form an inclusive, broad-based government and its desire to hold elections as soon as possible. And we were heartened to hear this morning from Tunisia’s state secretary for foreign affairs that it will welcome the opening of a UN human rights office, and open its doors to all UN special rapporteurs. We are supporting the Tunisian people on this long and difficult road ahead. And as other important partners such as Jordan and Bahrain take steps – sometimes very difficult steps – to open their political space, we will stand behind them and support their efforts because we are convinced that they will help advance all of our shared interests.
But now, there is an alternative vision for the future of the region that only promises more frustration and discord. Extremists and rejectionists across the Middle East argue that they are the ones who champion the rights of the downtrodden. For decades, they have claimed that the only way to achieve change is through violence and conflict. But all they have accomplished is to undermine peace and progress. The success of peaceful protests has discredited the extremists and exposed their bankrupt arguments.
Iran, for example, has consistently pursued policies of violence abroad and tyranny at home. In Tehran, security forces have beaten, detained, and in several recent cases killed peaceful protesters even as Iran’s president has made a show of denouncing the violence in Libya. Iranian authorities have targeted human rights defenders and political activists, ex-government officials and their families, clerics and their children, student leaders and their professors, as well as journalists and bloggers.
Last week, the United States imposed new sanctions on Iranian officials for serious human rights abuses. Here at the Human Rights Council, we are proud to be working with Sweden and other partners to establish a special rapporteur on Iran. Its mandate would be to investigate and report on abuses in Iran, and to speak out when the government there does not meet its human rights obligations. Iranian human rights advocates have demanded this step to raise international pressure on their government.
This will be a seminal moment for this Council, and a test of our ability to work together to advance the goals that it represents. Indeed, every member of this Council should ask him or herself a simple question: Why do people have the right to live free from fear in Tripoli but not Tehran? The denial of human dignity in Iran is an outrage that deserves the condemnation of all who speak out for freedom and justice.
The Human Rights Council was founded because the international community has a responsibility to protect universal rights and to hold violators accountable, both in fast-breaking emergencies such as Libya and Cote d’Ivoire, and in slow motion tragedies of chronic abuse, such as Burma and North Korea. We saw this Council at its best on Friday, when it took decisive action on Libya. We saw it in December’s Special Session on Cote d’Ivoire, where the situation is increasingly dire and there’s been a large spike in violence. We must continue sending a strong message to Laurent Gbagbo that his actions are unacceptable, and the international community must keep up the pressure.
Last fall, this Council also took the important decision to create a Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Assembly and Association, and we have likewise seen a strengthening in the Council’s approach to freedom of expression. But too often, still, we are not seeing a serious enough response, to use this institution to advance human rights. Sometimes, the Council does not act, and its integrity is undermined because it defers to regional relations, diplomatic niceties, and cynical politics. Membership on this Council should be earned through respect for human rights. That is the standard laid out by the General Assembly. This Council’s predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, lost its credibility in part because Libya was allowed to serve as its president. It should not take bloodshed for us to agree that such regimes have no place here.
And I must add, the structural bias against Israel – including a standing agenda item for Israel, whereas all other countries are treated under a common item – is wrong. And it undermines the important work we are trying to do together. As member states, we can take this Council in a better, stronger direction.
In 2009, the United States joined the Human Rights Council because President Obama and I believed we could make a difference by working with you on the inside rather than standing on the outside merely as a critic. And over the past 18 months, we have worked together. We’ve reached across regional lines in an attempt to overcome what hobbles this country[i] more than anything else, our divisions as member states. The unity of purpose we have forged with respect to Libya offers us an opportunity to continue that progress.
As we look ahead, and as the Council completes a review of its own operations, we hope to help set a new agenda, based on three principles. First, the Council must have the capacity to respond to emergencies in real time. And it must demonstrate clearly that it possesses the will to address gross abuses, hold violators accountable, and work with governments, citizens, and civil society organizations genuinely committed to reform.
Second, the Council must apply a single standard to all countries based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It cannot continue to single out and devote disproportionate attention to any one country.
And third, the Council needs to abandon tired rhetorical debates and focus instead on making tangible improvements in people’s lives.
For example, in this session we have an opportunity to move beyond a decade-long debate over whether insults to religion should be banned or criminalized. It is time to overcome the false divide that pits religious sensitivities against freedom of expression and pursue a new approach based on concrete steps to fight intolerance wherever it occurs.
Together, we can and must help this Council live up to its mission and ensure that it plays a constructive role in the days and months ahead. We will face new problems and new challenges, but if we have a firm foundation rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we will chart a study course.
Make no mistake, this popular wave for reform is spreading, not receding. Each country is unique, but many of the concerns that drove people into the streets and squares of the Middle East are shared by citizens in other parts of the world. Too many governments are hobbled by corruption and fearful of change. Too many young people cannot find jobs or opportunities. Their prospects are shaped more by who they know than by what they know or what they can dream. But it is not my mother’s or even my world any more. What has happened with new technologies of the 21st century means that young people know everything that is going on everywhere, and they no longer will tolerate a status quo that blocks their aspirations.
Young people in the Middle East have inspired millions around the world, and we celebrate what some are rightly calling the Arab Spring. This is a hopeful season for all humanity because the cause of human rights and human dignity belongs to us all.
So for leaders on every continent, the choice becomes clearer day by day: Embrace your people’s aspirations, have confidence in their potential, help them seize it, or they will lose confidence in you.
Those of you who were here on Friday, and many of us watching on our television screens saw the Libyan representative renounce Qadhafi’s violent rule. He said, “Young people in my country today are with their blood writing a new chapter in the history of struggle and resistance. We in the Libyan mission have categorically decided to serve as representatives of the Libyan people and their free will.”
This is the call we should heed. This is a time for action. Now is the opportunity for us to support all who are willing to stand up on behalf of the rights we claim to cherish. So let us do that and let us do it with the sounds of the young people from the streets of Tripoli to the markets of Tunis and the squares of Cairo echoing in our ears. Thank you very much.
[i] council more than…
Public Schedule for February 28, 2011
February 28, 2011
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel in Geneva, Switzerland. Click here for more information.
8:45 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Rudd, in Geneva, Switzerland.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)
9:30 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, in Geneva, Switzerland.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)
10:45 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, in Geneva, Switzerland.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)
11:00 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and French European Affairs Minister Laurent Wauquiez, in Geneva, Switzerland.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)
1:00 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu, in Geneva, Switzerland.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)
2:10 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Tunisian Secretary of State Radhouane Nouicer, in Geneva, Switzerland.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)
2:30 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in Geneva, Switzerland.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)
3:30 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton delivers remarks to the Conference on Disarmament in the Disarmament Chamber, at Palais des Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY UN)
4:00 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, in Geneva, Switzerland.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)
5:20 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a press availability, in Geneva, Switzerland.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)
6:25 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with the staff and families from Mission Geneva, in Geneva, Switzerland.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)
PM Secretary Clinton returns from foreign travel.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Briefing on Plane Before Departure for Geneva, Switzerland
Special BriefingHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateAndrews Air Force BaseWashington, DCFebruary 27, 2011
SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me start by saying as strongly as I can that the United States and the American people support the aspirations and rights of the Libyan people. They are clearly sending as strong a message as they are capable of doing that it is time for Qadhafi to go. We think he must go as soon as possible without further bloodshed and violence.
We are also very conscious of the actions that have been taken against the Libyan people by the Qadhafi regime. And the Security Council resolution passed unanimously yesterday makes clear there will be accountability for crimes against humanity and war crimes and other atrocities that are being perpetrated against the Libyan people, including a referral to the International Criminal Court. And I want to underscore this unanimous message from the Security Council to those who are around Qadhafi that you will be held accountable for the actions that are being taken and have been taken against your own people.
The Security Council resolution yesterday was part of a concerted effort that the United States has been lining up and implementing over the last days, both for unilateral and multilateral action. And we will continue to pursue steps aggressively that we believe will make a difference. Obviously, the Security Council resolution, which was passed in record time and included countries that are often reluctant to empower the international community to take such actions, sends a strong, unmistakable signal. The specifics that go to targeted sanctions and arms embargo and other measures are exactly what we have been looking toward and wanting to achieve in this period.
It also opens the door for humanitarian relief, which is going to be essential – the numbers of people fleeing across the borders, particularly into Tunisia and Egypt, where those two countries are facing huge humanitarian demands, plus internally displaced people.
There’s also a strong message in the Security Council resolution to countries in the region: You must stop mercenaries, you must stop those who may be going to Libya either at the behest or opportunistically to engage in violence or other criminal acts. And we will be working closely with those neighboring countries to ensure that they do so.
This change that is sweeping across the region is coming from inside societies. It is not coming from the outside. But each country is different, and each country must deal with the demands of their own people and pursue paths that will lead toward change.
The United States supports those who are pursuing the path of reform. In particular, His Majesty King Hamad of Bahrain and His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan are engaged in meaningful outreach and efforts to try to bring about the change that will be in line with the needs of the people of their countries. So this is a period of great historical challenge and opportunity, and the United States will be pursuing actions and policies that we believe are in the best interests of the United States and also in the best interests of the region and the world.
I’ll be glad to take a few questions.
QUESTION: What do you hope to achieve at the Human Rights Council in Geneva? What is the purpose?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there are a number of reasons why this is turning into a significant meeting. I will be meeting with many of my counterparts from Europe and beyond to discuss ways that we can better coordinate and organize in meeting the expectations laid down by the Security Council, and thinking through how we can respond to the needs of the Libyan people not only in a humanitarian way but in a political and civil response as they try to sort through how they’re going to organize themselves post-Qadhafi.
I will also be speaking at the Human Rights Council. We made a determination in this Administration to join the Human Rights Council. I think it’s proven to be a good decision because we’ve been able to influence a number of actions that we otherwise would have been on the outside looking in. There are a number of issues on that agenda that we will be working on. I will also go to the Conference on Disarmament because we continue to press for further action in accordance with President Obama’s Prague agenda. So it will be a very busy, exhausting day, but a very fruitful one for me to be there.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, there’s reports that there’s – the former justice minister has set up his interim government in Benghazi. Has the U.S. had any contact with them? Do you think that’s a viable sort of bridging mechanism?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are just at the beginning of what will follow Qadhafi. First we have to see the end of his regime with no further violence and bloodshed, which is a big challenge in front of all of us. But we’ve been reaching out to many different Libyans who are attempting to organize in the east and as the revolution moves westward there as well. I think it’s way too soon to tell how this is going to play out, but we’re going to be ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States.
QUESTION: Now that President Obama has said that he should leave, have there been talks with other countries about where he would go? Who would take him?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we want him to leave and we want him to end his regime and call off the mercenaries and those troops that remain loyal to him. How he manages that is obviously up to him and to his family. But we have consistently in many conversations over the last week sent messages, and along with partners in the region and beyond have made it clear we expect him to leave. But we’re not involved in any kind of negotiation with him over that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
One Foreign Minister who will probably not be meeting with her is France's Michèle Alliot-Marie who offered to resign today according to WaPo. She came under fire for coming down on the wrong side of the Tunisian revolution suggesting France send riot police to put down the protests. As you probably know, Tunisia is a former French colony. This was not a popular idea.
France: Troubled foreign minister offers to resign
The Associated Press
Sunday, February 27, 2011; 12:04 PM
PARIS -- The office of France's foreign minister says she has sent a letter to President Nicolas Sarkozy offering her resignation.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Holding the Qadhafi Government Accountable
Press StatementHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateWashington, DCFebruary 26, 2011
The United States strongly condemns the ongoing violence and human rights violations committed by the government of Libya against its own people. As President Obama said, these actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. They must stop.
We are moving quickly on a series of steps to hold the Libyan government accountable for its violation of human rights and to mobilize a strong response from the international community.
Last night the United States took action to limit the ability of senior officials of the Qadhafi regime to travel. As Secretary of State, I signed an order directing the Department to revoke U.S. visas held by these officials, others responsible for human rights violations in Libya, and their immediate family members. As a matter of policy, new visa applications will be denied.
This step followed President Obama’s Executive Order freezing assets and imposing financial sanctions on members of the regime responsible for abuses against their own people and the suspension of the very limited defense trade we have had with Libya, including pending sales of spare military parts and other licenses allowing private companies to sell military equipment there.
The United States is also working with our friends and partners to mobilize a strong and unified response from the international community to hold accountable the perpetrators of these unacceptable violations of universal human rights. This afternoon I continued close consultations with our European allies, including EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. Negotiations are underway at the United Nations Security Council on a resolution that would impose new sanctions and restrictions. On Monday, I will meet with a number of counterparts in Geneva and address the UN Human Rights Council, which on Friday recommended suspending Libya's membership. We are also working with partners to determine how to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need. Consistent with the President's guidance, we will continue to look at the full range of options to hold the Libyan government accountable and support the Libyan people.
We have always said that the Qadhafi government's future is a matter for the Libyan people to decide, and they have made themselves clear. When a leader’s only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now. Moammar Qadhafi has lost the confidence of his people and he should go without further bloodshed and violence. The Libyan people deserve a government that is responsive to their aspirations and that protects their universally recognized human rights.
Press StatementPhilip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public AffairsWashington, DC
February 26, 2011
The State Department’s obligation to U.S. citizens overseas is paramount. As the situation in Libya deteriorated we kept American citizens informed, issuing numerous messages advising them of the potential danger and ultimately, on Feb 20, advising them to depart while commercial flights were still available. When we planned assisted evacuations, we contacted hundreds of Americans in Libya to inform them directly of the details of our evacuation arrangements. Prior to departure from Tripoli, Embassy staff checked the airfield and its environs to ensure that we left behind no one who wished to depart Libya.
Throughout the crisis, we held daily conference calls with crisis management centers from the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand plus the EU to coordinate our efforts to help our citizens depart. Through these means, we assisted Americans in departing on Dutch, British, Canadian, Turkish and other government sponsored evacuations. We led conference calls with companies doing business in Libya to ensure that they coordinated their efforts to evacuate employees and pooled their resources. We insisted that the government of Libya recognize these private efforts as equivalent to government sponsored evacuations. Our efforts to assist Americans in these ways will not cease now that we have suspended operations.
We are unaware of large pockets of Americans who wished to evacuate but did not. However, we are aware that there may be Americans still in Libya that may need assistance departing the country. In order to help, our taskforce will remain up and running to make sure that if there are any Americans remaining, we can assist them.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Secretary Clinton's Comments on the Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the Situation in Libya
Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the Situation in Libya
Press StatementHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateWashington, DCFebruary 25, 2011
The United States welcomes today’s action by the UN Human Rights Council condemning human rights violations and violence committed by the Libyan government against its own people, and we strongly support the Council’s establishment of an independent commission of inquiry to investigate these violations with a view towards ensuring that those responsible are held accountable. The Council also recommended suspending Libya’s membership and our Mission at the United Nations in New York is working with partners in the General Assembly to build support for a resolution to do so.
These steps underscore the international community's profound concern about the abuses in Libya, and we urge all nations to speak with one voice in support of universal human rights. That includes an immediate end to Libyan government violence against the Libyan people and support for the universal rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and self-determination. The Libyan people should be able to determine their own destiny.
Today’s vote must be followed by sustained commitment and consistent action, and I will discuss this challenge with my colleagues at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.
Two of Secretary Clinton's signature issues, women and technology, dovetail to receive the State Department green light with this amazing expedition!
Women's Technology Delegation Travels to Liberia and Sierra Leone
Media NoteOffice of the SpokesmanWashington, DCFebruary 25, 2011
Eight leading women innovators and entrepreneurs will travel to Liberia and Sierra Leone as part of a women’s technology delegation coordinated and led by the Department of State. The delegation will travel to Liberia from Sunday, February 27th to March 2nd and to Sierra Leone from March 2nd to March 4th. This will be the first all-women technology delegation to travel on behalf of the State Department and to travel to West Africa. While in West Africa, the group will explore how technology can increase opportunities for women and girls.
The delegation includes a mix of private sector, academia, civil society, and entrepreneurs from across the U.S. During their visit to Liberia and Sierra Leone, they will focus on advancing Secretary Clinton’s mWomen initiative, which seeks to increase the number of mobile phones in the hands of women and girls. Through a series of site visits and meetings, the delegation will build partnerships and brainstorm ideas that can allow women and girls to better network and communicate and provide better access to education, health care, and economic opportunities through access to technology and tech-based tools.
Liberia and Sierra Leone both have challenges facing women and girls. Both post conflict countries are recently emerging from wars with prevalent gender-based violence. Liberia and Sierra Leone are now positioned to lead change and build better futures for women and girls, particularly with Liberia having the first female President in Africa. This delegation travels at a critical time when technology can make transformative advances as these countries grow.
Secretary Clinton has embraced technology and innovation in our foreign policy through 21st Century Statecraft. This approach is rooted in the idea that just as connection technologies have changed our economic, social, and cultural lives – they should also change the way we implement U.S. diplomacy and development.
You can follow the delegation’s travels by following them on Twitter using #mwomen and #womenstechdel.
The Suspension of United States Embassy Operations in Libya
Special BriefingPatrick F. Kennedy
Under Secretary for ManagementJanet Sanderson
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern AffairsWashington, DCFebruary 25, 2011
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. As was just announced in the White House press briefing, given current security conditions in Libya, coupled with our inability to guarantee fully the safety and security of our diplomatic personnel in the country, the Department of State has temporarily withdrawn Embassy personnel from Tripoli and suspended all Embassy operations effective today. The safety of the American community remains paramount to the Department, and we will continue to provide assistance to the greatest extent possible through other missions.
And today, we are gratified that the ferry was able to depart Libya and has arrived in Valletta, Malta, as well as the departure from Tripoli of one last charter that carried our remaining diplomatic personnel from the mission as well as other American citizens and third-country nationals.
But two of the hardest working people through the last several days – actually, probably the last several weeks – are Under Secretary for Management Pat Kennedy and Deputy Assistant Secretary Janet Sanderson from our NEA Bureau. And we thought we would bring them down just to kind of review what it means now to have our operations in Libya suspended. We still have diplomatic relations with Libya and will continue to discuss ongoing events with the Libyan leadership, but to go through a few of the mechanics of how we got to this point, obviously, Pat has been central in terms of the logistics of moving American citizens out of harm’s way. Janet has been involved in all of the interagency meetings and conversing every day with our DCM, who has done a brilliant job; our chargé d'affaires, who has done a brilliant job, in Tripoli.
But, Pat, Janet, thanks for coming down.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Thank you. As you may be aware, one of the major responsibilities of the State Department is to ensure assistance to American citizens if at all possible. Since the 15th of February we’ve issued over 10 warning notices of various kinds to American citizens and starting on the 20th we announced to the community that we had authorized the departure of family members, and then on the 21st we increased that by ordering the departure of all family members and non-emergency personnel. A number of American citizens have departed via commercial means or via charters arranged by their companies or via assistance, mutual assistance, so to speak, provided by other governments. When the – even though flights were operating, the airport was somewhat chaotic with the large numbers of people there, and therefore the U.S. moved and put a chartered ferry boat with a 600-person capacity into the port on Wednesday morning.
During the course of the day on Wednesday, we loaded about 250-270 people, about half American, half third-country nationals. We had planned to sail from the port that evening. There were 15- to 18-foot waves, which made sailing unsafe, and so we held the ferry over yesterday. And the waves did not abate and we loaded about another dozen or so individuals onto the ferry yesterday, and again planning to sail last night, again could not. Finally, after long consultations with the – with U.S. Armed Forces weather experts, we knew that the weather would break probably this morning, and so again loaded another few people onto the ferry who presented themselves this morning, and the ferry departed.
At the same time, we also announced yesterday to the American community that we would be making a charter aircraft available today. We brought the charter aircraft in, loaded the remaining official American employees on it and about another dozen or so American citizens and a number of third-country nationals as well. And that aircraft has now departed. As P.J. has said, we have now suspended operations at the Embassy. Again, as P.J. has said, that does not mean that diplomatic relations are broken. We will continue to carry on work with the Government of Libya. And Janet can address that in more detail.
But essentially, we moved to get out as many American citizens as we could and who presented themselves at the Embassy. We will continue to work to assist American citizens. The Bureau of Consular Affairs has a 7 by 24-hour by 365-day-a-week capability. If any additional American citizens are in need of assistance, they can contact or their family members or others can contact the State Department, and we will see what we can do. But we have put in, as I said, the last charter flight that we intend to at this time. And we do know that the airport, in spite of it being overcrowded still, is moving some commercial planes in and out.
MS. SANDERSON: Thank you, Pat. In addition to the responsibilities we have to the American community and to our own mission on the ground, obviously one of the things that the Department has been doing in the last week to 10 days is a full court press in terms of trying to develop a set of options for the President and for his decision makers with regard to the continuing and indeed intensifying violence on the ground, violence against the Libyan people, and what seems to us to be increasing problems with the regime and with the way it is handling its governance of the country.
You’ve seen, of course, that the Secretary of State has made a number of calls to her counterparts around the world in the last couple of days. Those calls are continuing. She has consulted with African foreign ministers, European foreign ministers, and others who are interested in the fate of Libya. The Secretary has echoed what the President has said – we’re shocked and appalled by what we have seen on the ground in Libya. We hold the Libyan Government accountable for its actions and the actions of its military and other security forces as these atrocities are being perpetrated. We are deeply concerned about the fate of the Libyan people and we are looking at a variety of options – a toolkit, if you will, in addition to sanctions, unilateral – the ones that were announced this morning, or this afternoon, rather, by the White House. But in conjunction with our friends and likeminded allies in the area, we’re looking at other options and, of course, there is the multilateral track.
I don’t have a lot of details for you right now. We are having those consultations. They’re ongoing. But I think the important thing to take away is that the international community is speaking with one voice about what is happening in Libya. We are all concerned and shocked, and we are looking at ways to try and not only change the behavior of the government, but also hold it accountable for what is happening on the ground.
The Secretary will go to the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva in – on Sunday, I think she departs. The meeting is on Monday. And the President dispatched Under Secretary for Political Affairs Bill Burns to Europe. He is now there for consultations with some of our closest European allies about what’s next.
Obviously, let me say something about the state of diplomatic relations between the United States and Libya. Let me underscore what Pat has said. Our Embassy is not closed. We have suspended operations. We still continue to reach out to the Libyans where appropriate, both directly and through third parties. The Libyan Embassy here is up and running. We have been – we have not been informed in any change of the status of the ambassador. I will be meeting with representatives of the Libyan Embassy shortly after this meeting to convey our decision about the suspension of diplomatic activities of our mission on the ground in Libya, but the relationship remains and we do have channels of communication to speak directly to the Libyan Government about the very grave concern we have about the evolving situation on the ground.
QUESTION: A couple of things logistically. One, when the flight – in terms of the Embassy being temporarily closed, does that mean that they took the flag with them, the last people out, or is that still up and running?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: No. No, the --
QUESTION: Up and flying, rather?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Yes, the flag is still flying.
QUESTION: All right.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: The Embassy is not closed; operations are suspended.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Relations are not broken.
QUESTION: How many official Americans were on that plane, the last one out?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: The last – there were 19 official Americans on the plane.
QUESTION: And about a dozen private, you said?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: About a dozen private American citizens and nine foreign nationals.
QUESTION: All right. And then --
MR. CROWLEY: Thirteen to be exact.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Thirteen.
MR. CROWLEY: Forty-one total on the –
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Forty-one total.
QUESTION: And then the last thing – and who is the protecting power? Who has agreed to become the protecting power?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: That is still being worked out.
QUESTION: So there is no protecting power yet?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: There is – no protecting power has yet been named.
QUESTION: Who have you approached?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: That’s a matter of --
QUESTION: And the question would be –
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: That’s a matter for diplomatic discussions, Matt. We’ll be back to you on that one.
QUESTION: What countries are you aware of that intend to keep their embassies open in this fluid situation?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: In a fluid situation, we will give you an answer when we have one.
QUESTION: All right. So right now, you can’t advise Americans who are still in Libya there’s no one that you can tell to go to now? There --
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: They can contact the State Department via email. They can contact the State Department via phone, and the Bureau of Consular Affairs will do what it can to assist them.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Jill.
QUESTION: Why are you not suspending relations – diplomatic relations – with Libya? Wouldn’t that be a far stronger sign?
MS. SANDERSON: Well, as I think the Secretary and the President have said, we’re looking at a range of options as we try and figure out a way to deal with this situation. I mean, obviously, everything is on the table, as the President said, so I don’t want to prejudge what’s going to happen down the road. But at this point, we felt it was most appropriate to suspend operations.
MR. CROWLEY: Michel.
QUESTION: What was the main concern that pushed the State Department to evacuate all the officials from Tripoli?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: I think the situation, the chaos in the streets, the gunfire at night, beginning in the last couple of days, even gunfire during the day, we will be – we will execute always due prudence when we engage in diplomatic activities. We’re there to represent the United States, we’re there to advance our economic interest, we’re there to assist and protect American citizens. But when the situation becomes significantly insecure, it is at that point prudent to continue our diplomatic activities with a country via other means.
MR. CROWLEY: Kirit.
QUESTION: Can I ask whether there is anybody left at that Embassy, any sort of security personnel or anything like that, and also whether there were any notifications provided to the Libyans prior to everybody leaving the country? I had heard there might have been something yesterday. I don’t know if that was true or not.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: There are – yes, we have – our locally engaged staff is still on duty at our compound.
QUESTION: Sorry, sir. What is that? I’m – for – in non-diplomatic speak, “locally engaged staff,” what do you mean?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Our Libyan employees are still – were still – we did not break diplomatic relations. Our Libyan employees are still on the payroll and are still at the – working at the chancery.
QUESTION: Okay. And are there any sort of – any American security personnel?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: No, there are no – all American official employees were withdrawn today.
QUESTION: Okay. And then on the notification question, whether there was anything done yesterday?
MS. SANDERSON: Under Secretary Burns had a conversation with the Libyan foreign minister this morning, where Mr. Burns shared this information with him. And as I said, I’m going to be meeting with a representative of the Libyan Embassy this afternoon to formally give them the dip note – the diplomatic note.
QUESTION: The Libyan employees that are still working, are any of them security?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Yes. I mean, we have both local, national security guards and employees – Libyan employees who work in other sections of the Embassy.
QUESTION: Okay. And then also, how – are you aware of any American citizens that are still in Libya trying to get out who have contacted you? I mean, at this point, are you saying that you’ve gotten out all the Americans who were there who needed help getting out?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: No, we can never say that. As you know, or maybe you don’t know, there is no requirement that an American citizen register at an embassy when he or she travels. We – it’s free travel. We certainly encourage American citizens to register at an embassy. And the multiple warning notices, the 10 that we put out in the – since the 15th of February, have encouraged individuals to register. But many of those individuals may have left on commercial flights, they may have left on flights – we know of at least one who left on a Dutch flight. A number of other Americans left on a British warship out of Benghazi. And so since we don’t have that kind of travel control on American citizens, I can’t say we started with X and these many left and these – and these many, therefore, are remaining behind.
But as we said earlier, if American citizens are in need of assistance, there is material that – how they can reach us, both via telephone and on the website.
QUESTION: And then if I could just ask you one more: Given how difficult it was – I know it was largely weather – but given how difficult it was to get Americans out of Libya, in retrospect, would you have ordered a departure earlier than you did, earlier than the 21st?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: No, I don’t believe so. The – we measured the situation on the ground very, very carefully. We consider our ability to continue to operate fully, and then as the situation deteriorates it is a multi-stage process. You first potentially go to an authorized departure for family members, and then you authorize the departure of non-emergency personnel. We jumped that step and went to the ordered departure of all family members and non-emergency personnel.
So we – each situation is calibrated against the political environment, the security environment, and U.S. national interest.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: There has been some criticism because here we had this ferry that was stuck there for three days because of weather problems, and yet the British and some other countries, apparently, were able to evacuate their citizens while our American citizens were trapped aboard that ferry. So was this a case where we didn’t have the assets in place that we needed? Were we caught short, or what was the issue?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: No, I don’t think so. For example, a Canadian aircraft went in today and left empty because of the chaos at the airport. We sent the ferry in deliberately because we gauged, starting on Tuesday, that the situation at the airport was becoming sufficiently chaotic that we were worried about moving people through the airport.
Therefore, we decided to use another means of transportation, having excluded overland transportation to the West. We thought because the ferry terminal is a different location, it was a little bit easier to obtain space there. We had cooperation from the Government of Libya in doing that, so we put the ferry in with every intention of taking it out. The weather turned bad. I wouldn’t describe the people as trapped on the ferry boat.
This is not a ferry boat like the Staten Island Ferry. It is a – it’s a Mediterranean ferry with enclosed cabins, food, shelter, and restroom facilities. Would I have liked it to be able to sail that first day? Absolutely. When we send an evacuation ship in, we send it in to get people out. But the determination was made that the weather was unsafe, and so we decided to hold the ferry until the weather cleared.
QUESTION: Having grown up on Staten Island, I will bypass – (laughter) – the slander that you just committed. (Laughter.)
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Having lived in New York for four years, I’ve also traveled on the Staten Island Ferry.
QUESTION: But the RAF got in and out, didn’t they?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: The RAF got in and out and --
QUESTION: While other people were –
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: And the Canadians got a plane in and were not able to get anyone loaded.
QUESTION: Hold on. All the Americans on the ferry are safe in Malta, right? Nothing bad happened to them while they were stuck for however many hours, right?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: That’s correct.
QUESTION: So – all right. I guess I just don’t understand what the problem is. Sorry, can I just ask – (laughter) – can I --
MR. CROWLEY: Without getting – without stepping on the Pentagon’s toes, we also had some military assets over the horizon that, if the situation was concerning in any way, we had options available. But as Pat said, we did get cooperation from every element of this operation except for the weather. And we did not feel at any time that the people on the ferry were in any other danger than anyone who was currently in Tripoli at the moment.
QUESTION: And can you just say when your coordination with military – the United States military and those assets began? If we can say that the crisis more or less erupted on February 15 –
MR. CROWLEY: Well, from the moment that we’ve had high-level meetings on the situation in Libya, the military has been fully involved in this process. So the coordination has been true of Egypt, true of Bahrain, true of Libya. And --
MR. CROWLEY: Tunisia. So this is how we function as a government.
QUESTION: Can you pinpoint when it was that the decision to suspend operations was made? Was it yesterday, after Qadhafi’s rant?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, this is something that we have been evaluating --
QUESTION: Yeah. But at some point, someone had to sign off on something. When was that signoff?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think this had been the recommendation of these experts. But the real question was today was the day where all the pieces fell into place, where we were able to move the ferry out. We weren’t going to take this action as long as the ferry was there. We got permission today to bring in the charter.
QUESTION: I understand that. The triggers were the ferry and the plane leaving.
MR. CROWLEY: Correct.
QUESTION: I understand. When was the decision made that once those triggers were pulled, that those were going to be the triggers for the closure of the Embassy or the suspension of operations?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, that decision was made today, based on the fact that we could actually accomplish this.
QUESTION: Well, but you had to know at some point beforehand that you were going – you had to tell your diplomats who were remaining in Libya, get to this plane because we’re going to – we’re shutting you down.
MR. CROWLEY: But this has been something that has been a daily conversation throughout --
QUESTION: When was that decision made?
MR. CROWLEY: -- throughout this --
QUESTION: When was the decision made for you to – for all those diplomats to show up at the airfield to get on this plane?
MR. CROWLEY: Today.
QUESTION: That was made this morning?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we had put the plans in place before today, but we gave the decision to execute today.
QUESTION: I understand that. But when was the – are you trying to tell me that the decision to – the decision to shut down the Embassy was made when the White House announced it? No.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: No. I mean --
QUESTION: When was it made?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: The decision to shut down was made when we were sure that we could get all official Americans out and as many American citizens as we were able to assemble and transport.
QUESTION: Okay. When was that? Because if Bill Burns talked to Moussa Koussa this morning to tell him, obviously the decision was made before perhaps the plane even landed or perhaps the ferry even left.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Right.
QUESTION: So when was the decision made? Was it yesterday? Was it last night? Was it overnight? Was it –
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: I don't want to parse things, but I think we can say the decision was made yesterday that, should all the pieces fall into place, we would move today.
QUESTION: Okay. All right then.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: If the – if all the pieces hadn’t fallen into place today --
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: -- we might have moved tomorrow.
QUESTION: Okay. Understood.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Or, if the situation had all of the sudden reversed itself --
QUESTION: Right. It never would have been made.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: It never would have been made.
QUESTION: Right. I understand that.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: So there is --
QUESTION: You just answered my question.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Okay.
QUESTION: But was that – but when – yesterday, when you decided that if all the pieces fell into place, was that after Qadhafi’s speech?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: I – thank you. (Laughter.) Actually, I don't know. I don't think – I don't know that that was a factor. I think we were just – we looked at the totality of the situation and made the decision.
QUESTION: And who made the decision?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Decisions like that are made by the – to withdraw personnel are made by the Secretary of State.
QUESTION: When do you expect to resume operations in the Embassy?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: When the – we would resume American operation at the Embassy when the security situation permits it.
QUESTION: Can I ask about remaining pockets of Americans who may be outside of Tripoli, for example, who may want to leave? I understand that there were some that had been identified at oil installations, for example, other parts of the country. Can you give us a sense of the size of those pockets and how they plan on leaving?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: We’ve been in contact – our task force, which has a heavy component from the Bureau of Consular Affairs Office of Citizen Services – were in contact with the oil company and other businesses. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security has the Overseas Security Advisory Council, which is also a part of this effort. So we’re in contact with the American companies we know to be there. And American companies we didn’t know to be there are in contact with us, and many of them are making arrangements to reach those pockets of individuals, some of whom have been – who were brought in to Tripoli and subsequently have left. Others were brought in to Benghazi, including a number of them who left on the – a British naval vessel late yesterday.
QUESTION: Okay, that – I just want to follow up real quickly. Just of the ones that are left, I mean, that we – can you give us a sense of how many you’re talking about, if it’s dozens, hundreds --
MS. SANDERSON: Well, perhaps if I could elaborate on that answer, we have a task force that’s worked very closely with similar task forces in capitals around the world, and between us and our friends, particularly in Europe, we’ve been able to sort of trade off, for want of a better term. So, actually, a number of the people in oil fields that we had identified over the last 96 hours have either moved and got on the charter today or, more likely, were evacuated out by their companies who get flights in, or by friendly nations who have offered us seats. According to the last thing the task force told me – and we can certainly check and make sure that’s correct – they believe that there are no significant pockets of Americans in the oil fields that we have identified. Let me be honest; there may be others out there that we have not been able to contact or that decide for whatever reason they would like to shelter in place for the time being. But to the best of our knowledge, the major groups of people that we were working about three to four days ago have now moved on, but we’re in the process of confirming that.
QUESTION: And how many were those? I mean, just to give us a sense.
MS. SANDERSON: I don’t remember how many. I think --
QUESTION: How many people are we talking about?
MS. SANDERSON: We heard – there were six here and there were four here and there were five here. We do know that at least two of the major oil companies were able to get their own charters in and did evacuations in the last 24 to 36 hours. So we’ll have to get back to you on that.
QUESTION: Do you have any sense of how many Americans have – I know this is a tough question – how many Americans have been evacuated, how many – is there any way – can we – we can couch how many Americans were –
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: I think that we could say that there were about – about 200 private American citizens taken out by our means, but many other American citizens left commercially and left on company charters or on – via Dutch or British means, just as we – and sort of in a mutual assistance pact – brought out nationals of other nations as well, both on the ferry and on the chartered aircraft today.
QUESTION: I just want a clarification about the security. You said that there are no U.S. security people in place. What measures are being taken to secure communications, documents, et cetera, inside the Embassy?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: I’m not going to go into our processes on security, but I can assure you that there is nothing left behind that could be compromised.
QUESTION: And just one clarification on the locally employed staff. I mean, they’re still working – like the guards are still there, understood, but they’re not authorized to do any business of the U.S. Government with the Libyan Government, correct?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Unless instructed by us.
QUESTION: And they’re not issuing visas or anything like that?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: No. Visas --
QUESTION: So, essentially, the Embassy is closed for business? I realize you don’t want to use the word “closed,” but it is closed.
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Operations are suspended, and those activities that only could be carried out by American personnel are suspended.
QUESTION: So, a spokesman at the White House used the word “shuttered.” Would you agree?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Of course. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Yeah. Hell, yeah.
MR. CROWLEY: The door is locked.
QUESTION: Did Secretary Clinton have to sign a document for this order to take effect? Or it was issued verbally, her order?
UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: She did not. She does not have to sign a document.
QUESTION: And has the Libyan Government said to you how it will deal with this Embassy right now? Have they given any assurances it will – that it will remain intact, untouched by them?
MS. SANDERSON: Under Secretary Burns had a very brief conversation with the foreign minister this morning, and we didn’t go into details on that. I’ll take the opportunity of my meeting this afternoon with the Libyan Embassy to put down some markers with regard to the maintenance and protection of our Embassy facilities.
QUESTION: Just on that, I mean, you said that you had not been notified of any change in the ambassador’s status.
MS. SANDERSON: That’s correct.
QUESTION: Well, he seems to have been doing his own notifying. Obviously – (laughter).
MS. SANDERSON: I don’t want to speak for the ambassador.
QUESTION: Maybe there was – but is it your understanding that he represents the Government of Libya, as led by Colonel Qadhafi?
MS. SANDERSON: We have nothing to the contrary at this point.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, if you could – if it is, in fact, true that he has resigned, as he says he has, you can tell him all you want that you want your Embassy to be protected, but it isn’t going to do anything.
MS. SANDERSON: That’s true. That’s true. But he hasn’t informed us that he’s resigned. So --
QUESTION: So you’re operating on the assumption that he’s still represents the government?
MS. SANDERSON: Until we have been told, either by him or by the Libyan Government, otherwise.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. SANDERSON: Thank you.