Interview With Jill Dougherty of CNN
InterviewHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateTaj Palace HotelDelhi, IndiaMay 8, 2012
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much for being with us. This has been quite a trip, and I want to begin at the beginning, in China. Mr. Chen, Chen Guangcheng, is still in the hospital. Do you believe that China will follow through on this agreement and allow him to get out, come to the United States?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, I think that we’re looking forward to welcoming him to the United States. He is still in the hospital receiving medical treatment, some of which was recommended by the Embassy doctors who examined him. We remain in close contact with him. We know that Chinese officials have visited him in the hospital in order to begin processing necessary papers, and we’re doing the same in order to prepare the way so that he can come here and pursue his studies.
QUESTION: But do you believe that the government will follow through on what it promised?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re looking forward to welcoming him and seeing him have the chance to pursue the studies that he has said he’s interested in doing.
QUESTION: Right now there is a smear campaign against him. Some of his relatives and friends are being picked up by the police. Some apparently have been beaten up. What, if anything, can the United States do? Are you going to be talking about this?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we talk about the full range of human rights issues, the specific cases that are part of our ongoing dialogue and the more general concerns that we have. So I think it’s fair to say that any issue will be addressed. It is for us, though, principally the focus of our efforts now to do what we can to bring Mr. Chen and his family to the United States.
QUESTION: Now, Mitt Romney, in the middle of this, made some comments, some critical comments. Was it correct for him to do that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not going to get into domestic American politics. That’s something that I am staying out of for all the obvious reasons. But I think that the work that was done in this exceptionally unusual case with extraordinary circumstances was a very important demonstration of both American values and Mr. Chen’s wishes. And I think that it was in the best tradition of what American diplomacy is about.
QUESTION: Now, here in India, one of the big issues is Iranian sanctions. And of course, we have the deadline getting closer for countries that should cut back on imports of Iranian oil. One of those countries happens to be India. What are they saying to you – the Indians – about this? Will they meet those targets?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, India has reduced its dependence on Iranian oil. I know their refineries have stopped asking for orders to purchase Iranian oil. So they certainly have taken steps. We are working with them to help them in any way that we can offer technical assistance, and next week my energy coordinator, Ambassador Carlos Pascual, will be here in India with a team of experts. Because we know that this is hard for India, just like it’s been hard for some of the European countries that were very dependent upon Iranian oil, for Japan. And we have worked with them and offered suggestions about alternative sources of supply at an affordable cost. So we appreciate the steps that India has taken, and we’re continuing to consult with them.
QUESTION: But it does place friends in a difficult situation.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, India shares exactly our goal. Their goal is our goal, and that is to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons nation, which we think would be greatly destabilizing of the region and the world, and in fact could lead to greater disruptions of oil supply which would also be damaging to India.
So everything in this high-stakes diplomacy that we’re engaged in is an exercise in calculations. The Indians and the United States are on exactly the same side as the international consensus that Iran cannot, should not, must not, have a nuclear weapon. I don’t think Iran would be at the table discussing this with the so-called P-5+1 nations if we hadn’t implemented very tough sanctions. We want to keep the sanctions pressure on, which requires – yes – our friends, nations with whom we have great areas of agreement, to have to make some tough choices.
QUESTION: I want to ask you about Alan Gross. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer did an interview with him. He, of course, is the American who has been held in Cuba. And he – Blitzer, Mr. Blitzer, got an answer from the ambassador, the Cuban ambassador, at the Interests Section saying, look, we have the Cuban Five who are being held in just as if not worse circumstances than Mr. Gross, but we are willing to solve this on a reciprocal basis.
What would have to be done in order to free Alan Gross?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, Mr. Gross should not even be incarcerated in Cuba. Mr. Gross was not a spy. Mr. Gross was not an intelligence agent. Mr. Gross worked for a development group that was helping Cubans, principally in their small Jewish community in Cuba, to have access to the internet. And Mr. Gross, in our view, is being held without justification and has been detained already far too long. So there should be a decision by the Cuban Government to release him, and we would like to see that happen as soon as possible.
Now, we are well aware that the Cuban Government wants to see the release of their intelligence agents, five Cuban spies who were lawfully arrested, tried, and convicted for espionage. One has already served his sentence in prison. He’s continuing to finish out his parole. Another will be up for parole – all within the regular order of our system, a system that provides due process, rule of law protections. It does not have a record of arbitrary arrests or detentions like the Cuban Government does.
I am deeply distressed and unhappy for the Gross family. I’ve met with Judy Gross. People in the State Department stay in close touch with her and with her family. They have been incredibly brave in the face of this injustice. But the Cuban Government has released political prisoners, which is something we’d like to see them do with Mr. Gross.
QUESTION: The French election brought in Mssr. Francois Hollande, who I’d like to get your opinion on how this might affect things, specifically let’s say in the use of military action or a harder approach when it comes to international action, let’s say areas like Libya. Certainly, under Mr. Sarkozy, he was quite strong in terms of using military action. What are you anticipating? What would be your hopes with the incoming president?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first we’re looking forward to receiving the new French president, and he’ll be coming to the United States for a visit, attending the G-8 summit, the NATO summit in Chicago. So there’s a lot of anticipation on the part of our government and I think our nation, because France is our oldest ally. We have a deep, long, enduring relationship with France, with the government of France, with the people of France. So until we’ve had a chance to actually consult and hear his views and have a chance to express our own, we’re going to be waiting eagerly to do that.
QUESTION: Have you been following the demonstrations in Moscow, the crackdown on those demonstrations?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right. Well, certainly from the TV coverage I have seen the extent of the demonstrations. And I think it goes to the hope that all Russians have and that everyone who cares about Russia has that with the new term that President Putin is about to begin, Russia will be able to continue democratizing, protecting and respecting the rights of all Russian citizens, ensuring that there is a level playing field for political and economic participation. And I think that for those of us watching from afar on television who have such great respect for Russia, as I know you do, having lived there and studied and really become quite knowledgeable about Russia, we want Russia to fulfill its own potential. And that, of course, means giving people the chance to express themselves.
QUESTION: I know you have to catch a plane, so let me just ask you a quick question. Vice President Biden made an interesting comment. He was asked about 2016, and he said – I think he said you and he could be a team, and then he said, “I don’t know whether I want to run and Hillary doesn’t know whether she wants to run.” So I was wondering if he knows something about you that you don’t know. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t think so. We’ve been friends for a long time and we’ve been on the same team. We’ve been on the same team in the Senate. We’re on the same team now for President Obama. And no matter what I do in the future, I’d love to have Joe be on my team, because he is a great and effective person who cares deeply about our country.
QUESTION: And just one last question. When you were at that town hall in Kolkata, and almost every town hall, there are always personal questions about you. And you went on at some length about the glass ceiling, the double standards about women. And right after that, now in the blogosphere there is a big thing about Hillary Au Naturel; in other words, you without makeup, you wearing glasses. (Laughter.) What can I say? But this is exactly what you were saying, that it’s either the hair or it’s something like that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I feel so relieved to be at the stage I’m at in my life right now, Jill, because if I want to wear my glasses, I’m wearing my glasses. If I want to pull my hair back, I’m pulling my hair back. And at some point it’s just not something that deserves a whole lot of time and attention, and if others want to worry about it, I’ll let them do the worrying for a change.
QUESTION: So it doesn’t drive you crazy?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It doesn’t drive me crazy at all. It’s just not something that I think is that important anymore. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I agree. (Laughter.) Okay, well, thank you very much, Secretary Clinton.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.