QUESTION: Thanks very much for doing this.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m happy to do it – glad this worked out.
QUESTION: We should have tea more often. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right. Exactly. Well, when I invited you, I wanted to talk about these two speeches that I’m giving this week. And obviously, there are a lot of other things going on in the world. But just so that I fulfill my obligation here, tomorrow I’ll be at CAP, the Center for American Progress, talking about American leadership and sort of linking it to the work we have to do at home, and obviously, the challenges we face around the world, because I know that there is this kind of maybe unspoken theme that, oh, we’re – we have all these problems at home with our economy, with political gridlock, et cetera. And we’ve seen this movie before, and the United States has enduring values and strengths that I just want to remind all of us of.
And then on Friday, I’ll be in New York at the New York Economic Club talking about economic statecraft because I want to also explain why what the work we do here at the State Department is part of our overall effort to increase economic opportunity for Americans. And I’ve been working with the Jobs Council. I think you were – somebody was at the Jobs Council meeting.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) last week, yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Because if we do better on exports, if we do better on foreign direct investment, we put Americans to work. And it’s not a connection that a lot of people make. They probably don’t think of the State Department as being part of the economic agenda. So I want to be very explicit about that and kind of make the case for it. So with that –
QUESTION: Good. Well, thank you. We’ll now turn – (laughter) –
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Inaudible) Pull up, Toria. Yes, don’t try to balance your tea –
QUESTION: To go to one news of the day –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, was there some news today? Oh, what do you know?
QUESTION: You knew it was coming –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: – for three or four months now, but Attorney General Holder said that the State Department would be taking actions to hold Iran responsible for this. What are you going to do? What actions?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me say the obvious, that this was a terrific achievement of our law enforcement and intel communities. Disrupting, preventing this plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador here in Washington took really creative, smart work. And obviously, the Attorney General and the FBI director and the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, along with the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York laid out a lot of what has been done, and the complaint has more detail. And then I believe that Treasury should have issued its additional designations of sanctions against named individuals that I think you’ll find of interest this afternoon.
So we’re doing several things, and have been integrated into this effort, as you say, for many months now. What the Iranians were plotting violates the convention, the international convention, on the prevention and punishment of crime against internationally protected persons, of whom, obviously, an ambassador is one. It violates international norms in a way that cannot be denied by the Iranians, despite their best efforts. And we believe that through concerted outreach, which we are undertaking and have begun, both in New York at the UN and in capitals around the world, we will create a chorus of states that are condemning this kind of behavior, looking at their own countries to determine whether the Iranians are engaging in potentially threatening or disruptive activities within their countries. In addition to our sanctions that were designated by the Treasury today, we will be seeking other countries to do the same against named individuals and against entities within Iran.
We think the facts of this case, which include the outreach by the Iranian authorities to a Mexican drug cartel seeking a murder-for-hire assassin, will be quite disturbing to officials in countries that have even in the past given Iran a pass. So I think, Arshad, that this will be an opportunity to further isolate Iran. And if you believe, as I do, that their internal debates and power struggles that are going on in plain sight, combined with the impact of the sanctions, combined with the suspicion that they have already created in many countries in the region and beyond, with this very strong case that we have presented today, it will give us extra leverage in dealing with Iran. And I think that you may not see skywriting in the sky announcing it, but you’ll see a more reluctant stance by many countries toward dealing with Iran, toward doing Iran’s bidding, and I think that is all to our interests.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, if I could follow up on that, obviously for the Saudis in particular, this is a worrisome development.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Indeed.
QUESTION: And we know that the Saudis themselves have no love lost for Iran. Are you worried that this is going to really fuel tensions that already exist in the Gulf in a dangerous way? And do you have any counsel that you might make public that you would give to the Saudis about how they should respond to this?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andy, you’re right. I mean, I talked with the Saudi foreign minister earlier today. They’ve obviously been brought in because of the target for quite some time and have been a great partner with us as we have tried to track down and unravel this very deadly plot. I think that it will certainly confirm the worst fears by the Saudis, but it will also perhaps strengthen their hand in dealing with the region about the threats posed by the Iranians.
Everybody knows that there is no love lost; that’s obvious. But this is such a blatant violation of the international norms that countries which have tried to hedge to some extent are going to find more pressure on them. We’ve spoken for some time about increasing our security cooperation not just with individual states in the Gulf but between and among them, which I think this will probably hasten. So I think there’s a lot of moving parts.
Now, you’ve probably noticed in the last week, even before this plot was revealed, Iran really vociferously attacking Turkey. Attacking Turkey because of the NATO missile radar that Turkey agreed with us to position to protect NATO from missile attacks. Attacking Turkey for advocating secular states that recognized and appreciated Islam but were more in line with what Turkey has achieved over the last many years. Really a full frontal assault on Turkey.
And I thought it was incredibly important because Turkey has tried to be a good neighbor. They share a long border, they’ve tried to get along with the Iranians, and what everyone is learning is that nobody is safe from the Iranians. They have their own logic, their own way of thinking about the world and their place in it. And they’re vying with everybody for influence. They’re vying with the Saudis, they’re vying with the Turks, they’re just in a constant state of agitation about their position. And this case will, I think, reinforce the well-grounded suspicions of many countries about what they’re up to.
QUESTION: Do you think it’s going to make it easier for you whenever you should seek additional UN Security Council sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear program? Do you think this is going to make it easier? Does that accelerate the timetable?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t know, because I think that the likelihood of our seeking additional sanctions – I mean, they’re pretty well sanctioned. I mean, we’re now going after individuals, we’re going after entities. We’ve got a few more arrows in our quiver, but they’re pretty well sanctioned. But will it give us extra arguments when we go to a country and we said we told you these were bad guys, so don’t let that shipment go through like you have turned blind eyes to before. Enforcing the sanctions, I think, becomes more likely because of this.
QUESTION: Who are you thinking of? I mean, Turkey was the first country that I thought of in terms of hedging.
QUESTION: Malaysia’s been a problem in terms of (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: A number of countries, Warren, they’ve been cooperative, and I think we surprised Iran and the world at how effectively we’ve enforced these sanctions, because one of the things that I said after we got them through the UN was, okay, fine, we got them through, but now we need a designated group that will go after the Iranians every single day, will track down every single lead we have no matter where it goes about financing, shipment, whatever. So I think we’ve done a better job than people expected, but I want to do even more – close every loophole, make every country go the extra mile to enforce these sanctions. And I think this helps us on that.
QUESTION: Let me turn to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Toria today told us that the Department is very hopeful that the Israelis and the Palestinians will agree to this preliminary meeting in Jordan on the 23rd.
MS. NULAND: Did I say very hopeful? I don’t think I said very hopeful.
QUESTION: Indeed. Two tape recorders and a transcript. (Laughter.) Why are you very hopeful?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well –
QUESTION: (Inaudible) signals or –
SECRETARY CLINTON: – let me put it in context. When we got the Quartet statement finalized at the UN, one of the most important reasons why I wanted to get it out is because of the suggested timetable. Now, some people say, well, so what does that mean? Well, already we’ve had the meeting of the Quartet envoys over the weekend. We have a really intensive effort going on by nearly anybody you can imagine on both the Israelis and the Palestinians to get them back into negotiations. And we had said, coming out of the Quartet meeting, that we hope to have a meeting, or we hope to have a preparatory meeting between the parties by the end of this month. Some have said one date, some have said other dates, but the important thing is that the meeting happened, because part of the problem with the schedule was that we had some – we lost a number of days to the Jewish holidays, which – you couldn’t deal with the Israeli Government because, for obvious reasons, they were not available.
So I think that we are hopeful. We are always hopeful, Arshad. Hope springs eternal. It must, for any of us who deal with the Middle East. Otherwise, it’s too depressing to contemplate. So what I see happening is the Israelis have accepted without preconditions a return to negotiations. The Palestinians, as you know well, are reluctant because of the settlement freeze issue. But there are many people now who are interacting with and talking to the Palestinians who are making what I think is the right case, which is, look, you’ve lodged your letter of request for consideration at the Security Council. It’s not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. And even if it were, you’re not going to get a state through the UN. It’s not going to happen. So you’ve done what you needed to do to signal your seriousness of purpose. Now get back into negotiations where you can actually start talking about borders. What’s the best way to end the dispute about settlements? Start talking about borders. You know as well as we, some areas that the Israelis have built in are going to be in a new Israel and some areas are not. The sooner you start really negotiating over what’s in and what’s out, the better off you will be.
So that argument is now being made intensely by people other than us. I mean, one of my goals with the Quartet statement was to get international buy-in to get everybody back to negotiations. Nobody standing on the sidelines crossing their arms and saying one thing to one party and another thing to another party, which is just human nature, but to get everybody on the same page. The spotlight that is being put on these negotiations has a lot of additional actors under it, which I think is all to the good.
So, for example, last night I spoke to President Santos of Colombia. President Abbas is in Colombia. President Santos is going to see him. President Santos knows that part of the reason President Abbas is coming to see him is Colombia’s on the Security Council. Colombia has said they’re not going to support statehood in the Security Council, but they would strongly support and stand up for the Palestinians’ right to have a full, open negotiation. So President Santos wanted to convey that that’s what he was going to tell President Abbas.
So now, this is not – I’m not saying that there’s going to be some immediate positive response, but hearing this from so many different places really makes a difference. So I’m hoping that by the end of the month we will see a meeting between them.
QUESTION: Can I ask you two really short ones on this topic? Have you figured out – have the lawyers made a determination yet on whether you’re going to have to cut off funding to UNESCO if they, as it seems likely, accept the Palestinians as a member? And then secondly, what do you – do you think you’re going to be able to maintain the flow of American economic assistance to the PA, given the stance taken by — generally Granger? I mean, it just seems like, on the Hill, you really have a very hard case to make.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you’re right, we do. And with respect to the first question about UNESCO, we are legally prohibited from continuing to fund organizations that accept the Palestinians as members or observers or in any way participants in the organization in a formal respect. We have made that clear to UNESCO. They know that our funding, which constitutes 22 percent of UNESCO’s funding, is in jeopardy. And it’s regrettable. I wish that it were not happening. I don’t really understand exactly why there’s a big push on in these ancillary organizations when the UN hasn’t acted, but there’s obviously pent-up desire to do something, and it’s being done.
Now, there are those on the Hill and elsewhere who say, well, UNESCO deals with cultural stuff; what’s the difference? Well, I think there are some significant problems if this begins to cascade. What happens with the International Atomic Energy Agency? What happens with the World Health Organization? What happens with the Food and Agriculture Organization? Not only do we provide 20 to 25 percent of all the funding that these organizations get, but our membership in them is in our self interest. I mean, it’s not anything to do with supporting the Palestinians or supporting the Israelis; it’s supporting the health of Americans, stopping pandemics, getting food into the Horn of Africa, holding Iran’s nuclear program accountable. So I am strongly making the case to Members of Congress that at some point we need some flexibility because pretty soon, if we don’t pay into these organizations, we lose our right to participate and influence their actions. So this is a difficult problem.
Now, with respect to the Palestinian Authority, so far, we and the Israelis have made the case that continuing to fund the Palestinians, particularly during this period of uncertainty around their statehood and the state of negotiations, makes sense. A couple of weeks ago, you might remember I was able to get freed up the remaining $50 million from the – it was the last tranche of funding. And I made the case to the Palestinians, to the Israelis, to the Congress, to everybody that this was in everyone’s interest. Certainly it was in the Palestinians’, but it was also in Israel’s interest to make sure that the Palestinians could keep their state running, pay their public officials, their security forces, et cetera. We have other funding that is up on the Hill that is being discussed right now, some of which goes directly to the security forces, and I strongly am advocating that that money be released. Now, the Israelis have been releasing the funds that they collect for the Palestinians. So they also see this as something in their interest. So again, we’re kind of taking it on a case-by-case basis.
QUESTION: I’m sorry. We’ve got to keep on jumping.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s okay.
QUESTION: There’s so much we now have to talk to you about. Just next door, quickly, on Egypt, obviously, events over the weekend were very disturbing and –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: – we saw the statements out of this building and also out of the White House condemning the clashes. But I’d be curious to know if you get a sense now about the Egyptian military leadership; are they beginning to lose control? You have the Israeli Embassy situation, you have their handling of this problem. Do you get a sense that things are getting out of hand for them and want to bring it back into line if we want to go forward with this plan for elections?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, here’s how I see it. I spoke with the foreign minister, Foreign Minister Amr, earlier today, and I asked him what was happening. And he’s been a very reliable interlocutor for me. I got him up and out at, like, 2 o’clock in the morning when the mob was attacking the Israeli Embassy. And he’s been very straightforward. He said, “Look, we are investigating it. We really don’t know what happened exactly.” And I said, “Well, I hope it’s going to be a thorough investigation, but in any event, you have to do more to protect all the people of Egypt, most particularly minorities – ” although the Copts are a pretty big minority, what, I guess 10 million or so – “and they have to be – they have to – the right to assemble peacefully needs to be protected, their right to worship needs to be protected, the two piece of legislation you have on – pending on building mosques and churches, ending discrimination against Copts, I mean, that would send a real positive signal I hope you’ll consider.”
And the problem is that the police force was disbanded, as you know. And the army doesn’t want to be a police force, so it’s always trying to balance what it’s supposed to be doing and what it’s not supposed to be doing, and they just have to figure out how to create a police force again that will restore law and order while protecting people’s rights. And that’s a big piece of business. So they are working on it, but it’s new territory for them.
So they are proceeding with the schedule that they have set out. We are strongly supporting that they do so. But it’s a fragile situation. I mean, it’s not at all clear to me how they balance all of these conflicting considerations, but we’re doing the best we can. Our Ambassador is very active. We’re all reaching out. We’re trying to send support, messages that kind of help them move through this. But it’s going to be a complicated process for the foreseeable future.
QUESTION: Well, one just quick follow-up, and then we’ll (inaudible). When you met the Egyptian foreign minister here a couple weeks ago, I mean, (inaudible) – I mean, emergency law –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: – and that still seems to be a hang-up.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: Does that concern you, I mean, that this seems to be a key demand that they’re just not willing to move on?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, it does concern me, and I’ve made that very clear to them. But I mean, look – and this is not in any way to make any rationalization – but I just try to think through in my own head, everybody in a position of authority in the military came up with the emergency law. They don’t have a police force, and they’re trying to figure out how to keep just everyday criminals off the street, because it’s not just these terrible instances like we saw over the weekend, but they don’t have law and order. They don’t have control over a lot of their neighborhoods and cities. They have a real problem. So they’re trying to figure out how to do that. But in effect, they’re kind of being asked to do something which nobody has ever done before. And so the emergency law, which they were going to take off, they then decided not to take off yet because they don’t know how to do this.
QUESTION: Go about it, yeah.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Go about it. So we keep saying, “You’ve got to do several things all at once. You got to move on the reconstitution of the police force, but they have to be trained so that they respect people’s rights. You’ve got to get the emergency law lifted, but you got to pass other laws so that you’re able to do it in an appropriate way.” Lots of moving pieces here.
QUESTION: You want to go to Iraq?
QUESTION: Yeah. Maybe just another quick one since we’re going to have to sort of – on the question of Iraq, Reuters had an exclusive interview, we can say, on Sunday with al-Maliki in which he was talking about the possibility of U.S. trainers staying in Iraq beyond the 2011 drawdown. And he was mentioning that this could happen, he could see it, that they could stay without an explicit grant of immunity from the Iraqi parliament, but somehow they’d be attached to NATO or the existing U.S. mission there, and that would be sufficient.
Is that an idea that would fly here, do you think? Or do you think that we – they’d still need – if this were to happen, you would still need to have a parliamentary bill pass that would grant them a specific immunity?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is something that we’re very focused on because we are meeting the terms of the agreement negotiated by the Bush Administration for our troops to leave. President Obama is very committed to that. We obviously have been willing to hear from the Iraqis what they might need, what kind of missions they would want our help from.
But we’ve made it clear from the beginning that we can’t leave any military forces in Iraq or even rotating through Iraq without protection for them. And if we can’t get a SOFA that is endorsed by the core, we would have to be absolutely convinced – and this is more of a DOD question – that what was being discussed would have the same effect. And this is something that – our Ambassador, our commander on the ground are in intense negotiations with the Maliki government, but – we’ll wait and see how that develops, but we’re leaving. If they want us to stay, we have relationships with many countries in the region – Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE. So certainly we would entertain it, but we would have to get the same kinds of protections that we get elsewhere.
QUESTION: I’d like to switch gears a little bit. Secretary Clinton, we are entering a U.S. election year, and we’re hearing voters voicing concerns about an apparent decline in the U.S. influence in the world. And we see as the U.S. struggles with a weak economy, there’s defense cuts, foreign assistance cuts, that there are nations stepping forward, like China, and people out in the heartland see that. I wanted to know, are you concerned that if present trends continue, the U.S. could lose some of its preeminence in global politics and economics, and what could be done to forestall that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s exactly why I’m giving these two speeches this week, because I hear the same things, I read it in what you all write, and it concerns me because I don’t think it squares with the reality that I see. I think America’s leadership is not only still paramount, but it is desired and respected everywhere in the world, and that people may choose to criticize us, but when times get tough, they expect us to kind of step forward and solve problems and manage difficult situations. And I think Americans, understandably because of our own economic pressures and very difficult problems for so many Americans when it comes to jobs and income and security and their homes and all of the terrible dilemmas that people are facing across our country, are very focused on that because, first and foremost, how do you put food on the table, send your kids to school, save for your retirement, all the things that everybody has to answer. But I do believe that our leadership is critical to our economic revival and to our security and safety in the world. So it’s something that I’m going to try to explain and connect to what people are going through right now.
If you, for example, look at China, which has developed economically, they’re still, by any standard, a poor country. And yes, there are great pockets of wealth and success, but that isn’t reflected in the overall standard of living, and our national wealth is so much greater, many times over, than China’s. So let’s put this into some perspective about what’s actually real and what is feared or a source of anxiety. Yet that doesn’t mean that we can just slap ourselves on the back and say, “Aren’t we the greatest?” and not do anything to maintain our leadership. I mean, leadership has to be earned. It has to be earned over and over again.
I mean, as an aside, it’s one of the reasons why I went to Asia first on my first trip and why I’ve just had published this long article in Foreign Policy, because it appeared to Asians – both our allies, like Japan and the Philippines or Australia and others – that we were ceding the Asia Pacific region because we were so preoccupied in the Middle East and Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan. And I wanted to send a very clear signal, no, we are a global power. We are an Atlantic power and a Pacific power, and we are a power to be reckoned with in the Asia Pacific. And you almost could see countries in the region going, oh, okay, yeah, okay. So when we say, “Hey, come on. We have to keep the South China Sea open and free for navigation and maritime activities,” everybody else is going, “Yeah, that’s right. We do.”
And so we are –we stand up for international norms, we stand up for universal human rights, we stand up for a free and open economic system, and we are the guarantor, in many respects, of all of those critically important global values. So I want to make that case, and I’m going to make that case in these two speeches, and I hope that people will understand that while we have to fix our problems at home, we cannot abdicate our leadership without it eventually boomeranging on us.
QUESTION: While we’re in Asia and talking about Asian power politics, obviously, that brings us to China, and there is the Senate version of the currency bill that’s likely to pass today. Is that something that you think the Administration would veto because it’s so potentially destabilizing to U.S.-China relations? And looking ahead, in your contacts with the Chinese and ahead of President Obama’s meeting with President Hu, how is – how are you going to convey to the Chinese the real sense of frustration, particularly in Congress, over this issue and that this isn’t something that can just be kicked down the road sort of for a –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have certainly conveyed that. We’ve conveyed it in a very clear, unequivocal manner to our Chinese counterparts. I don’t know whether this bill that, in the form that is passing the Senate, will ever end up as a piece of legislation coming from the Congress. I’m not going to speculate on that. But it does reflect a great deal of frustration on the part of the American people. And there are many reasons for that frustration, and I have already outlined some. I will be speaking to more on Friday in the – before the New York Economic Club. We believe in free and open economic structures. We believe that there ought to be reciprocity, not on a case-by-case basis but as a universal principle. And there is a lot of concern on the part of Americans and American businesses that we don’t see that coming from our counterparts in China.
So everybody needs to take a hard look at how we rebalance the economy, and the Chinese have more to do to stimulate internal demand, not to be artificially inflating their exports by depreciating their currency, and all anybody’s asking for is a fair field for competition. And if we can’t win on a fair field, that’s fine. But when you’re fighting with two hands tied behind your back because of all kinds of advantages for state-owned enterprises, for currency pegging, for not protecting intellectual property rights, I mean, there’s a long list of concerns that Americans have brought to me and that I have shared with the Chinese.
So we don’t want to spark any kind of retaliatory trade war that will disadvantage the global economy, the U.S. economy. We want to move toward a framework of rules that will be followed by everybody. And artificially deflating your currency is not a rule that is really in the best interest of the global economic system.
PARTICIPANT: No more questions? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: We’re trying to decide which ones (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m just admiring these books that you two have.
QUESTION: I can get you one.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, my gosh. Those are good looking. Really? They are nice. Wow.
QUESTION: They are nice.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And you’ve got a different kind.
QUESTION: Do I have a different kind?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I mean, you can –
QUESTION: She’s got the big boss kind. I’ve got the –
QUESTION: I’ve got the Reuters stamp at the top.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, fancy dance. Okay.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I have a number of questions on, I guess, what you’d call the counterterrorism file. You and the Administration have labeled the Haqqani Network or fingered them as being behind a number of plots, including the plot to attack the U.S. – your Embassy in Kabul. Yet at the same time, officials over the years – U.S. officials have met with members of the Haqqani Network, representatives, and if the report’s correct, quite recently. And I’m wondering, do you see at least elements of the Haqqani Network as reconcilable? And as a follow-up, is that debate sort of part of the whole debate of whether or not to list them as an FTO, a foreign terrorist organization?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Warren, we have laid out what we view as the guidelines for reconciliation with those who are fighting in Afghanistan. And we’ve made it clear that it has to be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. And after the Rabbani assassination, there was certainly a great deal of anguish in the Afghan Government and people about whether it was worth pursuing any kind of reconciliation or peace negotiations with any of these groups. But having thought about it for a while, the Afghans have said, “Look, we have to continue to try to find a way to resolve the ongoing conflict.” And we support that, and we want to work with them.
Now, it is also true that we’re still trying to kill and capture and neutralize them, and they’re still trying to kill as many Americans, Afghans, and coalition members as they possibly can. So as in many instances where there is an ongoing conflict, you’re fighting and looking to talk, and then eventually maybe you’re fighting and talking, and then maybe you’ve got a ceasefire, and then maybe you’re just talking. But where we are right now is that we view the Haqqanis and other of their ilk as being adversaries and being very dangerous to Americans, Afghans, and coalition members inside Afghanistan. But we’re not shutting the door on trying to determine whether there is some path forward. It’s too soon to tell whether any of these groups or any individuals within them are serious. I mean, the Afghans don’t know that. They were very shocked by the Rabbani assassination. In fact, President Karzai urged Rabbani to meet with this guy, thought he was a bona fide representative of the Taliban. But there’s – it’s always difficult in this stage of a conflict, as you think through what is the resolution you’re seeking and how do you best obtain it, to really know where you’ll be in two months, four months, six months. But we’re going to support the Afghans and they want to continue to see whether there’s any way forward or whether you can see some of the groups or their leaders willing to break with others. We don’t know that either, so that’s kind of the state of play.
QUESTION: Stranger things have happened, I guess, in terms of –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Stranger things have happened, exactly. And the old saying, “You don’t make peace with your friends,” these people have a long history of real antipathy toward each other; strangely enough, not so much for us. It’s like you go to Vietnam now, it’s like was never about you – (laughter) – yeah, I mean, tens of thousands of deaths later.
It really is – I mean, I know it sounds odd to say and it kind of goes to the question about American leadership, but I cannot tell you how many people say things to me like, “Well, we don’t always agree with what the Americans do, but we don’t think you have ill motives or ill intent. We think sometimes you don’t do the right thing.” And it’s funny because there’s that overarching impression that we’re not out to build an empire, we’re not out to take over these countries, we’re not out to enslave them, we’re not out to do X, Y, and Z to them. So I think we’ll find out as we move forward here whether the Afghans themselves can reach a resolution between them, and we’ve made it clear that we’re going to support that.
QUESTION: And a real quick one on Awlaki?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: I don’t want to – we could spend all afternoon debating the legalities and so forth of his killing, but what I wanted to ask you was whether there’s been any diplomatic blowback, whether you’ve gotten any angry or concerned calls from foreign ministers, letters from the European Human Rights Council, any of that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Not that’s been brought to my attention.
QUESTION: I’m sure it would have been.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, I think so. I don’t know. Mike, have you seen anything?
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the U.S. press, I would say.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, yeah. No, not at all.
QUESTION: All right.
QUESTION: Do you want to ask about –
QUESTION: We’re going to get in trouble if we don’t ask about Myanmar.
QUESTION: Well, let’s ask about Keystone too, so –
QUESTION: Okay. So, Keystone XL pipeline. So given the environmental impact report in August that Keystone XL would not do significant damage to the environment, are you leaning toward approval of the pipeline? And when do you expect to make a decision?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not leaning any way, I’m – because I don’t have any recommendation at all from the professionals and experts who have carried out the requirements that we’re mandated to follow. So I’m not going to comment. I’m going to wait and see what recommendation comes forth.
QUESTION: So you have until the end of the year?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We have said we’d like to make a decision by the end of the year, yeah. If you look at it, I mean, it has certainly engendered strong emotions, both for and against. People are very, very intent upon expressing their opinion, and we have heard from thousands of people by this point expressing diametrically opposed opinions, but that’s all part of the process. We solicited that. We had six public meetings in order to try to make sure that people had a chance to be heard in addition to every other way we’ve tried to reach out. And at the end of the day, we’ll make a recommendation.
QUESTION: Can I ask you one about Burma? I mean, as you know, there are these reports that the authorities are on the verge of releasing a bunch of prisoners. I’m well aware that they do this periodically and that it’s unclear how many political prisoners will actually be in any group that they may release, but the question I have is: What is it going to take from the regime for the Administration to consider, if not removing sanctions, but sort of smaller steps? And there are things you could do. You could seek waivers, for example, that would allow assistance for things like training midwives. I mean, there are sort of useful things that you could do, (inaudible) –
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a good idea, training midwives. Write that down. I like that, Arshad. I’m big on training midwives.
QUESTION: Yeah. I think you’re – somewhere, somebody is actually (inaudible) about that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I tried to convince the Bush Administration to train midwives in Afghanistan, so –
QUESTION: Yeah, it’s a hard sell. Anyway, here’s – so are you thinking about smaller steps that you could do? And what’s it going to take for you to take some of those steps?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say we’re encouraged by the steps we see the government taking. As you know, we have the first-ever appointed Special Representative to Burma, Ambassador Derek Mitchell. He made a fact-finding trip there just last month and came back with a very comprehensive report of what he had heard from meeting across the political spectrum. We’ve had a very active diplomatic effort underway led by Kurt Campbell for several years now to try to encourage the democratic process there. And we’re going to take it – we’re going to take them at their word, but we want to see actions. And if they are going to release political prisoners, that would be a very positive sign.
So I think it’s a little premature for us to announce what we might or might not do, but I will say we’re encouraged by what we believe to be their efforts to try to do some internal reforms, continue the dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi, listen to the voice of their own people as they recently did regarding the dam. So there are some promising signals.
QUESTION: Do you think that they’ve made a strategic decision or do you think these are just sort of tactical moves?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t know the answer to that, but that’s why we want to watch and evaluate what they actually do.
QUESTION: I’ve got to ask you about North Korea. We’re – it’s almost two years since Ambassador Bosworth’s trip to Pyongyang. The North Koreans, as far as I can tell, have shown no interest in meeting the American preconditions – freezing Yongbyon, letting international or some inspectors back in.
So, two questions: Do you see any signs that the North Korean – that I’m missing that the North Koreans might be willing to do some of the things that the Administration has been very clear it wants them to do before resuming denuclearization talks? If you don’t, are you open to, are you considering, the possibility of entering into a more serious dialogue with them even absent – or continuing a dialogue with them since you’ve already had a couple – some meetings – absent those preconditions?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you know, we have the Korean state visit starting tomorrow and Thursday and Friday. And we have been closely consulting with and coordinating with the South Koreans to an unprecedented degree. I think that the relationship is very strong. And we will remain quite committed to moving forward together. So we will be, during this visit, discussing what next steps might occur. We have been willing to remain engaged with the North Koreans on a range of issues that they are following up on.
But again, I may know more in the next few weeks about what is possible, but it’s very important that we stay closely allied with the South Koreans, because it is not just about us and the North Koreans; it’s very much about our treaty ally, the South, and therefore, we want to be sure that we are working on the – as we have been, working on the same process moving forward.
QUESTION: From the way I see it, the South is more open to dialogue. I mean, there’s been a series of –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, but there’s been – but they have also asked some hard questions, explored some options. And I don’t want to jump the gun, I don’t want to preempt what they are willing to do, but I think we are in a very strong position to consider what our next steps – if any – what our next steps might be.
QUESTION: And do you think Bosworth is likely to go, or to have a meeting later this month with the North, or is that something –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s something that, if that is confirmed, we will certainly announce.
QUESTION: So anything else? Are we –
QUESTION: Can I ask one personal question?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, I think this may be the last one.
QUESTION: So you’ve said that you’ll be a one-term Secretary of State, and 15 months doesn’t sound – for someone who’s in their job five and a half weeks –
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: – 15 months doesn’t sound like a whole heck of a lot of time. What would – what are going to be your priorities between now and January 2013? And what have you not accomplished that you’d really like to?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this could really be part of an exit interview which we should do in January 2013, but –
QUESTION: We accept. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. But I am assuming and believe that President Obama is going to be reelected, and therefore, a lot of what I’m doing now will continue into the next term. And it’s both the headlines that we’ve been talking about – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, the Middle East, China, the economy, et cetera – it’s all through the trend lines; I mean, our continuing work on everything from nonproliferation to women’s empowerment, which we see as a key national security goal, to ensuring that we have a safe and secure energy supply.
And that’s why out of the process that I initiated, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, the so-called QDDR, we set forth a number of priorities that we wanted to pursue. And we’re steadily achieving them. So we’re standing up our energy bureau, and to me, that’s a major step forward in how we think of ourselves here in the State Department. We are rationalizing and streamlining procedures between State Department and USAID so that we have a – we save money, we save taxpayer dollars, but we deliver more for what we spend. We are engaged in a very challenging budget discussion with the Congress, which will, to some extent, determine where our priorities are in what we do.
We are responding to the Arab Spring. We have a designated team led by Ambassador Bill Taylor to push the economic and political reform agenda across the region while we, of course, deal on a national basis with our embassies. We are looking at strengthening our strategic dialogues with key countries like Brazil, like Colombia, like Mexico, like Nigeria, South Africa, each of whom has specific benefits. We’re investing a lot of time in Nigeria. That’s not going to get in the headlines unless something really bad happens. A major oil provider of ours; we worked closely with them so that they would have free, fair elections, so that they had a leadership that had legitimacy; now we’re supporting what they’re trying to do. We obviously are deeply engaged in India and continuing to build that relationship. The reset in Russia; I mean, there’s just – there’s so much that we are working on.
And I don’t know any way that we can say, okay, we’re only going to work on this set of issues and we’re not going to work on that, because the way the world works today, there are so many emerging actors who can influence events in ways that either advantage or disadvantage us nationally, or promote or undermine the values that we stand for. And so we really have to have a broad, comprehensive, global presence at the very time when we’re having the money cut.
And it’s especially difficult given this Arab awakening because we look at the individual countries; they each pose specific challenges. Take Tunisia; they’re really doing a lot of what they need to do right, they’re very anxious to have economic help from us, we’re cobbling together what we can to help them start businesses, have an enterprise fund, inspire entrepreneurship, provide technical assistance on their election. And you multiply that many times over – Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, the other Gulf countries. So we have to be a lot more creative with the dollars that we have in order to get the impact that we’re seeking.
And I know that in the Congress, there are some who – they think foreign aid is 20 percent of the budget, and so if we just cut it out, we’d be able to balance the budget. And so we’ve been doing a lot of educating with our colleagues on the Hill to make the case: Look, this is a historic moment with so much that is happening. And we’re – we have to be present, whether it’s helping Central America with their security against drug cartels. I mean, hello, today, if people didn’t know why we were worried about that, maybe they do now. We have to be opening markets, creating more investment. There’s just a big agenda out there.
So I see the headlines and the trend lines, and I try to kind of keep an eye on both of them, so –
QUESTION: The budget thing must be somewhat frustrating to you. I mean, you’ve – if nothing else, you have a made a case for foreign assistance over the years –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: – and Congress seems to be cutting some of it anyway.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you’re right, Warren. I mean, part of our – part of what we’re trying to do – and I worked very closely with Bob Gates on this for two and a half years – was to make the case that the State Department, USAID were part of national security, that we weren’t some afterthought stuck out over in the corner here. So that implied several courses of action. One was to argue for an overseas contingency account, which the Defense Department always had. They would separate out sort of the war-fighting money from their base budget.
And when we started getting into this budget discussion, I realized that if we didn’t move quickly on that front, it was going to be very difficult because the Congress was basically saying, “Okay, we want you to do what you have to do in Iraq and we want you to do what you have to do in Afghanistan and, oh, yeah, take care of what you need to do in Yemen or Somalia or somewhere else, and we’ll just cut your budget.” And so we made the case, “Look, you treat the Defense Department this way. We’re part of national security; you should give us an OCO account – overseas contingency operations account – for what we do in these conflict zones.”
And you know what? They agreed. So now, we’ve got the money that we have to have to fund what we’re doing, this enormous undertaking in Iraq and elsewhere, which the State Department has never done before, and it’s incredibly challenging. And we are not having a total tradeoff with are we going to keep issuing visas for Chinese business leaders to come to United States, or are we going to be so far behind in our Consular Affairs budget that people are going to have to wait a year or two?
So we’re trying to make the case. The Senate has been quite understanding, and we’re making, I think, some progress in the House. But now, we are in this bucket – national security bucket – with DHS, with DOD. I don’t know – remember who else is in there, maybe VA.
QUESTION: DOE maybe?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Is – I think maybe some of the nuclear stuff is. I think; I don’t know. I don’t remember right now. So yeah, I mean, a lot of people say, “Oh my gosh, there’s so many members who are going to stand up for the Defense Department, so you’re going to be really disadvantaged,” but we just have to keep making the case, so –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Always good to see you.