Remarks With Timor Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
September 6, 2012
PRIME MINISTER GUSMAO: Ladies and gentlemen, today it has been a great pleasure to meet with United States Secretary of State, the lovely Hillary Clinton. (Inaudible) warmly welcomed me and our Timorese delegation when we visited Washington, D.C. in February lat year. We now have received this opportunity to respond in kind and to warmly extend our hand of friendship as the Secretary of State visits Timor Leste during the year of the 10th anniversary of our sovereignty.
Madam Secretary, you are the first United States Secretary of State to visit Timor Leste. You are recognized globally for your relentless advocacy for peace, freedom, and democracy. (Inaudible) the Asia Pacific and are committed to the peaceful development and the prosperity of the nations in our region. Madam, you are an inspiration to us in Timor Leste, and your visit will be remembered by our people for man years to come. Your visit also symbolizes the contribution that you are making – makes to our region and to the world. As an international leader, the United States has provided a strong framework for global prosperity and progress.
Ladies and gentlemen, the United States Government has been a steadfast supporter of Timor Leste and our development. The United States has supported the strengthening of our framework for good governance, including (inaudible) Anti-Corruption Commission, which is a critical reform of our nation. It has supported the development of our private sector, our agriculture sector, and the development of our coffee industry. And I have to (inaudible) that we have the best coffee in the world. (Laughter.)
And our nation also enjoys close defense ties which help to strengthen the (inaudible) capability of the effort (inaudible) of our armed forces. Ladies and gentlemen, they – our talks have been wide-ranging and reflective. We have discussed the problems of Timor Leste and the implementation of the strategic development plan, besides our (inaudible) future. We have spoken about our own development partnership, including U.S. support of the G-7- Plus. And we have discussed regional and global plans in international relations. As you understand, we are so small that we have begun (inaudible) our best wishes to the (inaudible) the United States is playing. This has (inaudible) expressing our concern about the situation in Syria, commending the efforts of the United States in seeking to achieve a resolution to this conflict.
Madam Secretary, thank you for visiting us in Timor Leste. We are honored by your presence which has made a great contribution to strengthen the strong bond of friendship between our nations. Before we take questions from you, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to invite the Madam Secretary to make some remarks. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Prime Minister, and I am absolutely honored and delighted to be the first-ever United States Secretary of State to visit Timor Leste, and to help celebrate your 10th anniversary of an independent, democratic state. I told the Prime Minister when we met in February that I was determined to get there before the year was out as a very visible sign of our support for all that has been accomplished by the government and the people of this nation.
My message to the Timorese people is this: The United States was proud to stand with you during your struggle for independence, and we are standing with you as you work to build a strong democracy with robust institutions, the rule of law, and protecting the rights of all of your citizens. Strong democracies, we know from long practice, make more stable neighbors and capable partners, which is one of the reasons why the United States is advancing democracy and human rights as a central pillar of our engagement throughout Asia.
I am so pleased because when the Prime Minister and I met in Washington last February in advance of your elections, he asked for assistance to make sure there were two sets of eyes on every ballot box. The United States supported four observer missions covering all 13 voting districts across the nation. And let me congratulate the leaders and people of Timor Leste for three sets of free and fair elections this year, and a peaceful transfer of power to the new President, government, and parliament. I told the Prime Minister there are many nations much older than this one who cannot credibly say they have conducted elections that are as free, fair, and credible as yours.
The Prime Minister and I also discussed the progress that your country is making to build peace at home, and as a leader of the so-called New Deal initiative for engaging with fragile and conflict-affected states, Timor Leste is helping create a model for country-led development. I also want to commend the Government of Timor Leste for being the first nation in Asia and only the third nation across the world to be fully compliant with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. As you can tell by the fact there are so few countries in the world that have achieved this full compliance, that is indeed a commendable accomplishment, and it proved once again you don’t have to be big to be good.
The Prime Minister and I talked about the many ways that Timor Leste and the United States are working together – from the robust military partnership between Timor Leste and the United States Pacific Command, to our efforts to strengthen the justice sector, improve access to healthcare, develop agriculture and expand trade through projects like the Timor Coffee Cooperative that I just visited earlier today, and I can personally attest the coffee is fabulous. (Laughter.) And I am looking forward to taking some home and sharing with my family.
I was so impressed by the role that the cooperative has in creating economic opportunity and transforming the lives of people in the rural districts, and we’re going to look for additional ways to support economic development projects that work as well as that one. Projects like these reflect the model of partnership that the United States is pursuing across the Asia Pacific. These are partnerships rooted in our shared values, that deliver concrete benefits to people, and that help countries become stronger and more capable over time so they too can play their role in solving regional and global challenges.
One of our countries’ shared priorities is making sure that the young people of Timor Leste have the chance to live up to their own God-given potential. With 60 percent of the population under the age of 25 – and I saw many of those absolutely beautiful schoolchildren on my way from the airport to the meeting today – we want to help support their future. So I’m pleased to announce a new $6.5 million scholarship program for Timorese youth to pursue academic degrees in the United States. We want to help you train a cadre of young professionals who will contribute to your country’s social and economic development and help foster lasting ties between our people.
So thank you again, Prime Minister, for this very warm welcome. I’m so glad I’ve had this opportunity to visit one of the world’s newest democracies, but a country whose people have already shown a resilience and character that is required in a democratic tradition. And so let us work together to build an enduring partnership between our nations. Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: We’ll open to questions, two questions, (inaudible).
QUESTION: Thank you. My name is (inaudible) from (inaudible). I have a question about – it’s been (inaudible) a statement from President Obama which (inaudible) already stated that U.S. foreign policy is (inaudible) to the Asia Pacific. What does it mean for the region’s smallest countries like East Timor? Is it still more important in the great (inaudible) between China and the U.S., or will more U.S. (inaudible) be using the (inaudible)? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me emphasize that the emphasis on the Asia Pacific under the Obama Administration is meant to send a clear, unmistakable message that the United States has been, is, and will remain a resident Pacific power. We have a long history in Asia and in the Pacific, and we have many partnerships and friendships and alliances that are very important to the advancement of the opportunity for prosperity and peace that the people of the Asia Pacific all deserve.
We have had a long history, for example, here in Timor Leste in support of your efforts to achieve independence, and we are here now to help your government and people realize the benefits of independence and democracy. We are not here against any other country; we are here on behalf of our partnership and relationship with countries in the region. We happen to believe that Asia and the Pacific are quite big enough for many countries to participate in the activities of the region, and as I told the Prime Minister, we want Timor Leste to have as many friends and partners as possible, not only in this region – Australia, Japan, China, Indonesia – but far beyond. Because we think it’s in everyone’s interest to support Timor Leste’s democracy and economic development.
So as I had said just in these past days at the Pacific Island Forum in the Cook Islands, in Indonesia, in China, and now today in Timor Leste, the United States is here to stay. We want to work on behalf of our relationship, but we also want to work in partnership with ASEAN, with other nations, to further the goals of peace, prosperity, security, opportunity for the people of this region.
MODERATOR: Second question last, Mr. Matt Lee, AP.
QUESTION: Hi. I won’t surprise you. I’ve got a couple things.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: But the first two will be brief. I’m wondering – you didn’t mention your comments – oh, I’m sorry – you didn’t mention in your comments, opening comments, about the idea of accountability for the (inaudible) that happened in Timor both during the colonial era and during the Indonesian occupation. I’m wondering if there’s anything specifically that the United States is offering in that regard, and I’d be interested to hear the Prime Minister’s comments on that too.
Secondly, the – wondering if you have any thoughts the day after your trip to China on how far apart you and the Chinese are on several major issues that were covered.
And then third, as I’m sure you’re probably aware --
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: -- back home in the States, it’s a somewhat significant political day.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: I realize that you’re somewhat limited in what you can say politically, but personally, we’d be all very interested in your thoughts about missing the first Democratic convention since 1968 and the fact that your husband and daughter are there and he spoke, and I believe that the President is accepting the nomination, if he hasn’t already, just right about now. So we’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, those are three interesting questions, Matt, as always.
First, with respect to human rights, we take our lead from the Government of Timor Leste. Obviously, the protection of human rights is absolutely essential and a key measure of the health of any democracy, and the United States is proud to work with Timor Leste on human rights issues, including legal support for women and victims of domestic violence. We continue to work with the government to address outstanding concerns, including trafficking in persons, countering any kind of ongoing human rights abuse, and pursuing accountability for the victims of conflict.
But let me stop here and ask the Prime Minister if he wishes to say something, because of course, his goals have been the consolidation of peace and security in his country.
PRIME MINISTER GUSMAO: Thank you, Madam. Yes, it is a very (inaudible) issue when you (inaudible) us. I believe that (inaudible) that after 24 years of suffering, what we need (inaudible) is peace, a reconciliation, (inaudible) in the spirit of tolerance between ourselves, and now that we are going, now that we are (inaudible) the world -- because we are new, we are 10 years old, making some progress in our democracy, we don’t have (inaudible). Democracy only can survive if we develop, if we feel that (inaudible) leaps and benefits. That is why is isn’t difficult to talk about this when we need to have good relations with our closest neighbor with which we have more than 70 percent of (inaudible).
We have to go through – we have to see in the future, to move from (inaudible). That is why I thank you very much, Madam, because of this understanding of our reality. The problem is this. Well, one day, I don't know, in the future, maybe it can be an issue that we can (inaudible). But I have to tell you, we established a commission of truth – truth about own mistakes and our own crimes committed amongst ourselves. And we then gather (inaudible).
We had also established (inaudible) commission through (inaudible) also. What happened to us at the time was (inaudible) – we didn’t know to do it. This is the (inaudible), and I believe that you understand now that we are at peace, now that we have good relations with Indonesia, now that we take advantage of (inaudible) of having thousands of thousands of our students there, trying to get (inaudible) all ages to come back and to develop our economy. I have to tell you, for the future, yes, the United States is now helping us in the justice sector, and helping us to provide to our police and other components of society, to look at the human rights, to look at the justice in terms of benefiting all citizens. Yes, it is – what I can say is --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the Prime Minister has eloquently stated the position of the government and the country looking forward, thinking about tomorrow, with a population – 60 percent of them are under 25. That is the imperative. And we take our lead from the government and the people of this country to be as helpful as we can in supporting them in developing the kind of future they deserve. So thank you, Prime Minister.
With respect to China, look, as I said yesterday, one of the things I am most proud of is the resilience that we have built into the U.S.-China relationship over the past nearly four years. Even when we disagree, believe me, we can talk very frankly now. We can explore the toughest issues without imperiling the whole relationship. And as was evident yesterday, there is a huge amount going on in the world where the United States and China need to consult and try to find as much common ground of agreement as possible.
On Iran, on North Korea, we have in-depth discussions on those and others. On Syria and the South China Sea, we are also very much involved in discussing our differing perspectives. And of course, on the need for a continuing economic recovery, I think it was apparent in our discussions yesterday there is a great focus on the part of Chinese leaders about the global economic recovery, what more needs to be done in order for it to really take hold, what are the challenges that Europe faces that can affect the rest of the world, for example.
And as I made clear in my remarks yesterday, the United States, certainly I, am not going to shy away from standing up for our strategic interests, and in expressing clearly where we differ. The mark of a mature relationship, whether it’s between nations or between people, is not whether we agree on everything, because that is highly unlikely between nations and people, but whether we can work through the issues that are difficult. And so I thought it was an important time to go and to have these consultations and to exchange views in advance of APEC, in advance of the East Asia Summit, in advance of the United Nations General Assembly, and to really sort out where we could make progress together. Of course, dialogue is only part of it, although we had many, many hours of dialogue over the last day and a half. The test going forward is whether we can make tangible progress, and we’re going to be very intent upon diplomatic efforts in the lead-up to the multilateral meetings that are scheduled.
Now, with regard to your last question, Matt, officially, let me say that for decades, secretaries of State have not attended political conventions because of the nonpartisan nature of our foreign policy. I think it’s a good rule. It’s one that I certainly accepted. This is the first convention I have missed in many, many years. But on a personal level, let me also say that my husband read parts of his speech to me over the last few days. I received the as-prepared version, which I’m anxious, when I can, to compare with the as-delivered version. (Laughter.)
So it’s a great honor for him to be nominating the President, and I’m delighted to be here in Timor Leste on behalf of the United States in furtherance of our shared values, interests, and security. And I’m grateful that I had this opportunity to visit and to have these discussions today.
Thank you so much.
MODERATOR: We thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all.