SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, originally when I set this up, I had wanted to do this for a while and I thought the – let me make sure everybody’s got their mikes here – I thought that the fact that I’m giving two speeches this week, one tomorrow at the Center for American Progress on American leadership and to talk about a lot of the sort of durable values and interests that shape our policies today and I think are helping us navigate through and even manage a lot of new and very difficult challenges.
And then on Friday, I’ll be speaking before the New York Economic Club on economic statecraft, how we sort of use what we do here in the State Department to promote economic progress here at home. And it’s an issue that I care deeply about and have been working on for the last two and a half years, but it seems particularly timely because of the Jobs Council – the event we had last week – but also because of the great anxiety in our country about our economic prospects, and to try to once again give Americans reasons to understand why we have to be focused outward, why we have to look at ways we can promote business – which is something we do a lot of in the State Department and that I do a lot personally. So we’re really trying to go into an arena in a very public way that we’ve been in for a long time, but where Americans themselves are thinking today.
And of course, this is to some extent related to the budget challenges that we’re having on the Hill, because there are a lot of people who don’t really understand what the State Department does or what USAID does and why it’s important not only for our peace and security, but also for our prosperity and opportunity in this very difficult global economic environment.
So those are two pieces of business that I feel strongly about, kind of laying down and making sure our part of the debate going forward within the Congress, obviously, the press and the public.
And I’m sure you’ve seen some of the news that we’ve had in the last few minutes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I know that Donna wants to talk to you about the budget a little bit. Can we just start with that breaking news? Because that’s the reason I’m not wearing a tie right now and – (laughter) –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. Oh, is that the reason Matt? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: We’ll talk to you about that afterward. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: And that is – presumably you are up to speed, you’re aware of this?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, aware –
QUESTION: And I know that it’s a Justice Department thing and that –
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is.
QUESTION: But what does it say about – I mean, about Iran and any attempt to try and get them to be reasonable?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me start with what it says about our whole-of-government efforts. I mean, this was a really important achievement by our law enforcement and our intel community to disrupt this plot. And you’ll be able to get the – you all were up here, but the news conference that the Attorney General and the FBI director and the U.S. Attorney from the Southern District and the Assistant AG for National Security just finished giving made it very clear that this was conceived by and directed by elements within the Iranian Government. The complaint has more detail than that. It’s something that we’ve been aware of and working on, led by the Justice Department and the FBI and the DEA.
So I think that the fact that the plot was disrupted and that, thankfully, the worst consequences that might have resulted from this kind of state-sponsored act of terror against a diplomat who, under the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons, is a breach of international norms, and Iran happens to be a signatory to that convention, I think creates a potential for international reaction that will further isolate Iran, that will raise questions about what they’re up to, not only inside the United States or Mexico, but elsewhere in the world. More details will, of course, come out in the course of the case being processed.
But as you may know, Matt, there are two named defendants, one the holder of American and Iranian passports and one who is in Iran who was involved. And I’m going to let the details kind of be up to the Justice Department because it’s really within their bailiwick. But it will not, I think, surprise you to know that we are actively engaged in a very concerted diplomatic outreach to many capitals, to the UN in New York, to not only explain what happened so that we try to preempt any efforts by Iran to be successful in what will be their denial and their efforts to try to deflect responsibility, but that we also enlist more countries in working together against what is becoming a clearer and clearer threat by Iran within many nations.
This is about us today, but it’s not the only place where Iran is seeking to influence and use elements of its security apparatus, most particularly the Qods Force and departments within the Qods Force, to be an arm of Iranian policy in ways that violate international norms and violate the sovereignty of nations. So we are on a concerted effort to try to make that case and have a lot of voices in the chorus.
QUESTION: Is there an immediate impact to – I don’t know what more you can do to Iran. Is there anything that happens immediately to –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the Treasury Department will be, if they haven’t already, be issuing additional designations of some named people which I think you’ll find of interest. We will clearly be speaking with our counterparts in the Gulf, in Europe, and beyond about what actions they might take – additional personal designations of sanctions. I mean, it’s been my experience over the last two and a half years that when we have designated individuals, as we did for systematic human rights abusers inside Iran, that drew a real response.
So I just finished talking to the Saudi foreign minister, and I will, the President will, be making a number of additional calls. I’ve already spoken in the past week with the Mexican foreign minister. So we have a lot of outreach going on, because this really, in the minds of many diplomats, government officials, crosses a line that Iran needs to be held to account for.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you said it was –
QUESTION: (Inaudible) in the region? I mean, obviously the U.S.’s Gulf allies and Iran have already been pretty unhappy with each other and there’s been a lot of allegations in the region of Iranian meddling –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, right.
QUESTION: — in Bahrain, in Saudi. Does that give you any – I mean, does this prove that there’s any more proof to those accusations, do you think? Or –
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that it does strengthen the case that a number of nations have made, but without the solid base of evidence that we have put together on this one. There is a great deal of anxiety about Iran anyway, and we often in our discussions with other nations, particularly in the Gulf, are trying to make sure that they’re not overcharging, because everything that happens is not necessarily caused by Iran.
So what we want is to make it clear that, yes, is there a real threat from the way Iran is behaving, most particularly in its region but clearly now beyond ? The idea that they would attempt to go to a Mexican drug cartel to solicit murder for hire to kill the Saudi ambassador? I mean, that even – nobody can make that up, right? And so that does give a lot of credibility to the concerns, but we also have to be careful – and we’ve tried to be very careful in this instance to – what you’ll see in the complaint is what we know, what we can prove. But now we want to reassure our friends that the complaints against Iran are well-founded, so we have to be careful about how we go after them now and how we make it in common cause with a lot of these other countries, some of whom have not been willing to point the finger at Iran, but now may be.
QUESTION: Is this supposed to go on in (inaudible) talks or is it –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I mean – you know what? I mean, we said just a few weeks ago when Ahmadinejad came to New York and he said, “Look, I’m willing to talk. All I want is my 20 percent enrichment for the Tehran Research Reactor. We had Cathy Ashton on behalf of the P-5+1 basically say, “Look, if you have a real proposal, you know where we are. Come talk to us.” And they haven’t. So, no, I mean, the door is not closed, but there has to be some seriousness of intent before we’re going to walk through that door again.
QUESTION: Is there evidence of – from – well, from this case of Iranian plotting in other countries against others?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Michael, we have had evidence going back a number – well, running back a number of years. I mean –
SECRETARY CLINTON: — we have reason to believe that in many different countries, Iran or proxies of Iran have been active. But we do – that was mostly in other countries. And most of those other countries have not put together criminal cases. They might have kicked out a diplomat or they might have protested to the Iranians. So it was all handled kind of below the radar screen, if you will.
This case, we are pushing into the sunlight with evidence and accusations which we hope will give some support to those who know this is going on in or near them so that they too can be more forthright. Yeah.
QUESTION: But nothing specific in this case that they were hiring these drug cartel guys for this –
SECRETARY CLINTON: No.
QUESTION: — they were hiring them for something else too?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, but in this case, look at (inaudible) worked for them. Who knows, right? (Laughter.) I mean, that’s what’s so scary about their overaggressive outreach here.
QUESTION: I just want to get to two other kind of – one other issue of the day and then I’ll be quiet and let all my colleagues talk, and that is – one other issue of the day, and Toria talked about this in the briefing, is Egypt and how concerned you are about what appears to be a really significant deterioration of things like sectarian violence. And then the second thing would be the Quartet offering the 23rd (inaudible) exactly 30 days from the last 23rd, what did you – is there any hope that they’re going to accept?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first on Egypt, Matt, I share the concerns that have been expressed about the outbreak of violence and particularly what appeared to be the sectarian nature of it. I’ve spoken with the foreign minister, who has assured me that there is an investigation going on, that they understand very well in the Egyptian Government, as expressed by the prime minister in his remarks last night, that they have to, number one, find out what happened, and number two, take steps to prevent it from happening again.
I also pressed on a couple of laws that they’ve been considering that would give certain rights to the Coptic Christian minority, to be able to build churches, more of an evenhanded approach, ending discrimination against the Copts. These, as I say, are laws that they’ve considered but they haven’t yet passed.
I have to tell you, the foreign minister, with whom I have spoken on numerous occasions, memorably in the middle of the night during the mob attack on the Israeli Embassy, has been very responsive, and I have found him to be very forthright, so that he hasn’t, again, told me what I wanted to hear. He has been very straight with me, and I felt like, again today, he was sort of describing the process that they’re going through. They don’t yet have the information that they are seeking about how this all happened and got out of control.
And I also pressed him on the role that the official state media played in kind of fanning the flames. And it’s our information that the official media was saying things like go out and protect the military and doing things that was not helpful. And he said he was aware of that and they were also addressing it.
So we just have to keep in a constant channel of communication with our counterparts in Egypt because this is all new territory for them. And it’s quick to jump to conclusions about what they really intend, but it’s also, I think, fair to say sometimes they don’t know what is going to happen next because this is something that they didn’t sign up for. And so we have to try to keep our voice in the mix, along with others, about when we talk about a democracy, when we talk about elections, when we talk about building a democratic government, it’s not just holding an election. They’re protecting minorities, independent judiciary, all of the pieces, freedom of press, et cetera. So I did – I told him that we hope that they would get back to protecting peaceful assembly, freedom of worship, the kind of basic rights that make up a democratic society.
With respect to the Middle East, the Quartet has been very active since we came out with the statement. They held a meeting, as you know, in Brussels – I think it was Sunday, over the weekend – as the preparatory meeting that they had promised to do among the Quartet. And then they’re aiming for a preparatory meeting by the end of this month. The exact date, that’s still in negotiation because where, when, how, that’s a detail.
But I personally have been encouraged by the seriousness that the Quartet has brought to this and the responses of the Israelis and the Palestinians. President Abbas, as you know, is on a road tour, so to speak, and has been in a number of countries seeking support for his UN position. But we have made clear that he’s lodged his request in the UN; there is no route whatsoever for a state being formed through the UN; it can only be formed through negotiations. And we are urging him, and now there are many voices in the Quartet and beyond who are urging him. So it’s not just the United States; it’s everybody saying you have to return to negotiations and there has to be a way to work out your demand for a settlement freeze and the Israeli demand for no preconditions if you really want to make progress toward a Palestinian state. So I think everybody’s on the same page, and that’s important, and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to see some movement.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, just following up on that, there is this month-long deadline that was in the Quartet statement. If negotiations don’t resume then, what do you see happening, particularly since, in the interim, we’ve seen new settlement building by the Israelis and really no sign that there’s going to be any significant progress to settle this? Doesn’t this really feed into the Palestinians saying, well, look, we’ve waited so long and look what happened right after we made this bid?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Edith, I think that the situation has changed from a total paralysis or stagnation between the parties, because you do have the Israelis saying that they’re willing, ready, and able to go into negotiations; you do have President Abbas knowing that he cannot get a state through the United Nations even though he was able to express the aspirations of the Palestinian people by lodging his request at the Security Council.
So I really think that this is hard under any circumstances, as we all know so well. And it always seems, historically, when one is ready to move, the other isn’t. And we’ve been down this road now for 20-plus years. But I actually believe that the spotlight that is now shining on this process has the potential for moving both sides in a way that we haven’t experienced for quite some time, maybe not since the Camp David efforts at the end of the ’90s.
And I am of the opinion that having the Quartet playing this leading role – because remember, everybody on the Quartet had to come together to set this timetable for us. So everybody now has a stake in it, which is one of the reasons we worked so hard to get it nailed down and just sort of made it under the wire at the UN to be able to get it public. Because what happens in most of these situations is one side or the other calls somebody and says you’ve got to listen to me, we can’t really do this, I can’t go forward, I’m not getting what I need, and now there is a common response: Go back to negotiations. We’ve all signed up to that.
And you’re right that the announcement of additional housing was counterproductive, unhelpful. All of the people on the Quartet said that. Certainly, our government said it. But as I’ve told the Palestinians, and as I think the Quartet is now telling the Palestinians, what’s the best way to end settlement development? Negotiate borders. Come up with a process where what is yours is yours, what is theirs is theirs, and then it becomes moot. The Israelis, if they were sitting on this side of the table, would say to you everybody knows Gilo is going to be in whatever we negotiate. Everybody knows that. So what’s the big fuss? It’s not like we’re building in Ramallah; we’re building in Gilo. And there’s a certain logic to that because, in fact, I don’t know any map that doesn’t have Gilo in it. There are other places that are more controversial, but Gilo is pretty much assumed.
So I actually think there’s an enormous amount of energy behind this now. And people who have never been involved at all – like I spoke last evening to President Santos in Colombia. Colombia sits on the Security Council. Colombia has made it clear that they are not going to vote for statehood because they think that it would be disruptive and not lead to a state. But President Abbas is in Colombia, so President Santos is going to speak with him. And so it’s not just the Americans, it’s not just the Europeans. The whole world is saying now is the moment. What better moment could there be? It’s kind of the argument that Olmert made in his op-ed of a few weeks ago. Whatever the reasons were for doing this before, it’s even more imperative now to try to resolve this conflict and have a safe and secure Israel with borders that are recognized by everyone, and have a Palestinian state.
So if you hang around the Middle East peace process, you either hang your head and give up, or you keep looking for any ray of light that you possibly can see. (Laughter.) And I have found every scintilla of light.
QUESTION: Although –
QUESTION: There’s an upside to the UN.
QUESTION: That’s diplomatic (inaudible). (Laughter.)
QUESTION: That very argument, though, that now is the time, it’s not – things are only going to get worse from here, is one that Ariel Sharon made five years ago. And now we’re five years down the road and, arguably, things are worse. I mean, are you worried that this just keeps getting moved along in some sort of weird middle-muddle and it never gets fixed?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Anne, I think that’s a possibility. And who knows? Look, who knows what would’ve happened if Rabin hadn’t been assassinated? Who knows what would’ve happened if Sharon hadn’t had a stroke? I mean, who knows what would’ve happened – it’s like after my husband left office, Arafat calls him up some months later and says I’m ready to take the deal now. I mean, so – (laughter) – there’s always something that is happening which makes it incredibly painful and excruciating to move forward.
But it’s by no means a coincidence that you had a succession of Israeli prime ministers, no matter where they started from, who have all ended in the same place, that we need to do this. You had Netanyahu, who doesn’t – who often it’s not written about this way – who embraced the two-state solution, which had not been something he had done before. And as I remind the Palestinians, Bibi Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month settlement freeze. I dragged you all to Jerusalem and stood on the stage with him and said look, this is a big deal, never been done before. There was never a settlement freeze when Rabin was there, Barak was there, Sharon was there. Ten months, and then for a confluence of events, the Palestinians didn’t come to the negotiating table until the ninth month, one week.
So you’re right that who knows what will happen, but I think it’s the kind of difficult problem that does not get better by ignoring it or trying to put it on a shelf somewhere or taking half measures toward it. So therefore, we have to keep trying. And I think we are building a good, strong case for international support for negotiations. We just have to convince the parties of that.
QUESTION: I want to ask you about another area of things that may not improve by being ignored, and that’s the Taliban and the prospect of a peace process. Do you feel any closer to that goal than when you laid out your terms for it, I believe, in February? I mean, just sort of looking at the landscape, I mean, you’ve got President Karzai saying there’s really no use in talking and the Pakistanis have to do it. You have the assassination of the head of the – the leader of the outreach there, and if reports are to be believed, the stagnation of the U.S.’s own unilateral outreach. Where do you assess U.S. outreach to the Taliban, and how confident are you that that’s a deal you can get done before you leave?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think if you carefully analyze what President Karzai said – and of course, in the immediate aftermath of the Rabbani assassination, the emotions were intense, and for all the right reasons there was a sense of great loss. I think where we stand right now is that President Karzai understands that there has to be outreach to see whether or not there is an opportunity for a resolution with some parts of the Taliban or with all of the Taliban.
And Ambassador Marc Grossman, who has been working around the clock on this, has been in the region for the last week and believes that the parties understand – meaning Karzai and all of the elements within his government – that as difficult as it is to pursue a peace process and potential agreement with the Taliban, it has to be done.
So we believe that this has to be an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process, which we support. And therefore, their conclusion after a lot of soul-searching, after deciding that probably the best person to succeed Rabbani was his son, that there will be a continuation of outreach.
Now, there are a lot of moving parts here, and what we have tried to do is to put whatever efforts the Afghans, with our support, with the support of others – because there are a number of countries who have inroads into or contacts from the Taliban that are being pursued – that if you put this into the context of where we are today, we’re going to continue to try to kill, capture, or neutralize as many of their fighters as we possibly can, whether they are Afghan Taliban, Pakistan Taliban, Haqqani Network, whomever they might be. And we are going to press the Pakistanis even harder about being a positive player in this process.
And we are, at the same time, aiming toward two significant meetings – the meeting in Istanbul November 2nd, which is a meeting of the region, including us, to talk about what are the peace dividends, if you will; how can everybody make more money if you quit fighting with each other, to put not too fine a point on it. So we have this program that we’ve developed called the New Silk Road vision, which I unveiled with the Germans and the Afghans in New York, which people are really excited about. Because when you look at sort of South Central Asia, it is remarkably underdeveloped economically because there is so much suspicion between and among them; they don’t trade, they don’t have open borders, Pakistan – you got to go through Pakistan in most instances to get into India, and that’s not moving as quickly as we would hope. So there’s a lot of other elements here that we’re going to be pressing forward on. And of course, in December, we have the 10th anniversary of the Bonn conference.
So there’s a lot going on, a lot of diplomatic activity, a lot of outreach. But the bottom line for us is it has to be Afghan-led and owned. And if the Afghans tomorrow say, “We don’t want anything to do with this, we don’t ever think it can happen,” we can’t act in their stead. We can only act in support of them. It is their country, it’s their future, but I think they have concluded, after being quite shaken by the vicious, duplicitous murder of Rabbani, that they still need to be pursuing these threats.
QUESTION: Do you expect to have a strategic partnership dialogue document concluded and ready to sign at that Bonn conference? What’s the holdup there?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re certainly working hard on it. We’ve resolved a lot of the outstanding issues. There are a couple more that we’re still negotiating. We’ve put the lead on it now in Kabul with Ryan Crocker and John Allen. I had a SVTC with them last week and we got updated on the progress. So yeah, I think that that’s our goal. Our goal is to try to get it resolved.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you mentioned the budget, and it’s under assault on the Hill –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: — with both Republicans and Democrats –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: — even on the Senate bill. What are you saying to members up there and what is your outreach to members to try to hold the line against deeper cuts? And also, you’re in an odd position now because in everyone’s wisdom up there, they threw you all into this national security pie, so you’re up against the Defense budget.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: So there are a lot of members who don’t want to trim Defense either. So what’s your word to them and who are you reaching out to to make the case?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Donna, we are intensely reaching out to both Houses, both sides of the aisle, on a daily basis. Tom Nides, who is our deputy for management and resources, kind of runs a team of policy and legislative experts here so that we’re constantly assessing where we are and where we’re headed. The idea of having a national security budget was something Bob Gates and I proposed, and I still think it’s the right idea. And I’m fully aware of the much greater presence of the Defense Department on the Hill – (laughter) – and also the very strong allegiance that many members have to every weapons system that ever was proposed. So we are certainly cognizant of the challenges we face.
However, we have strong support in the Congress, particularly in the Senate, which understands what Bob Gates and I have been preaching together for the last couple of years, which is that if you talk to the military in Afghanistan or now coming out of Iraq, there’s just a real division of labor that State Department and USAID cannot be expected to do if we don’t get support.
Now, one of the innovations that I’ve pushed very hard for, which I believe is going to be embraced by the Congress, is the overseas contingency operations. Because as you know so well, for a long time – well, as long as anybody can remember – Defense has put all of their war-fighting costs off their budget so that they were part of what is called the OCO account. And we were competing against ourselves when this – when the new House came in and changes in the Senate and people were looking at how – while they wanted us to keep doing what we’re expected to do in Iraq and what we were doing in Pakistan and Afghanistan, “Oh, by the way, what you’re doing in Yemen and what you’re trying to do in Somalia and what you’re trying to do in Sudan,” et cetera, et cetera. So yeah, “Oh, okay, but that – but we don’t want to give you as much money, so you just keep doing that.” Well, then, okay, so who’s going to process visas, right? And when you go on your CODEL to Paris, who’s going to be there to meet you?
And so we began to make the case that we needed to replicate the Defense Department’s approach, which was an overseas contingency operation so that the funding didn’t go into the base. And I think that the Congress really understood that. So it looks like we will get an OCO account, which will release some of the pressure that we face. But to go back to the economic speech on Friday, I mean, the biggest concern that I hear from everybody from Jeff Immelt to the business guy I run into on the street in New York is “You got to process more visas. I want to do business with a Chinese supplier. He’s been waiting six months to get his interview to get the visa.” Well, we are processing – we have increased the numbers, we are open six days a week, we have more people doing it. The demand is just enormous. And so if we’re going to keep up on the economic side, there are certain functions we have to be able to perform. So that’s just one example.
Similarly, on the foreign aid side, we struggle against this unfortunate perception that 20 percent of the American budget goes to foreign aid. And it’s a burden for us to keep making the case, “No, no, no.” But then I’ll get called by a conservative member of Congress who says, “Why aren’t we doing more in the Horn of Africa? Those people are starving.” And so we have to keep making the case, and we are, and we have a lot of allies. We have religious groups who are our allies on foreign aid. We have the military and the intelligence community much more aware of what we help them do in areas of conflict. So we’ve created a much broader set of advocates.
Having said all that, it’s still going to be hard because people, when it comes down to it, especially if this super committee kicks in, it’s going to be hard for both the Defense Department and State. I’d rather have their problems than my problems, but we’re just going to do the best we can to make the case and to get the resources we need.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, could I follow up on that? What about the efforts in Congress to defund the United Nations and other international organizations? What’s that going to do to America’s international standing?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you know, Edith, there’s already laws on the books that predate this Administration that require the end of funding to any international organization that recognizes the Palestinians as a state, gives them observer status, in any way kind of validates their claims. And we’re seeing this played out at UNESCO. I think – I can’t remember exactly, but we provide a healthy percentage of the budget to UNESCO.
SECRETARY CLINTON: How much?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Twenty-two percent. And we have made it very clear it’s not our choice to cut off funding, but we are legally required to cut off funding. And there are those who up on the Hill say, “Well, UNESCO, that’s education, that’s cultural,” but what about the International Atomic Energy Agency or what about the World Health Organization or what about the Food and Agriculture Organization?
You go down the alphabet soup of all of the international organizations and it would be very much against America’s interests. Here we are at the IAEA pushing to find out everything we can find out about Iran or North Korea, and we’re no longer at the table? That is not in our interests. So we are looking for ways to comply, of course, with the law, but perhaps to inject some understanding into it that doesn’t end up undermining America’s interests in these organizations. So that’s where we are right now, and it’s challenging.
QUESTION: And how do you see the fight over aid to the Palestinians (inaudible) out in this funding?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that we were successful a few months ago in convincing the Israelis to support my releasing the last tranche of money – I think it was $50 million – to the Palestinian Authority. And we made the case – this was money that had been appropriated in the, I think, 2010 cycle – we made the case that we needed to keep the Palestinian Authority functioning, we need to pay salaries, that it was very much in their interest but also equally if not more in Israel’s interest so that there was not outbreaks of violence, that there wasn’t a collapse of their state structure, that the security forces were paid. And the Israelis have also been continuing to provide the fees that they collect for the Palestinians, the kind of customs revenue fees, so they recognize that.
So we’re taking this on a case-by-case basis. For example, we have money up there now as part of our continuing funding of the training of the security forces. And we’re in discussions with the Hill, with the Palestinians, with the Israelis about wanting to keep that flowing, because if you go back and look at the last several years, when Tahrir Square broke out, Syria breaks out, everything is going on around them, the Palestinian security force has been reliable, stable, a very good partner with the Israelis in trying to keep peace, trying to prevent Hamas infiltration into the West Bank. So we’re making the case.
QUESTION: And you’re asking the Israelis to help make the case with –
SECRETARY CLINTON: We do on a case-by-case basis, yeah.
QUESTION: I need to get a quick one in on Keystone (inaudible). So there are environmentalists –
QUESTION: Time’s up. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I was waiting for that (inaudible). You’re slow off to start (inaudible).
QUESTION: Too bad. He started talking. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, right. Okay.
QUESTION: There’s been a lot of allegations from environmentalists that there’s a conflict of interest, that this TransCanada guy who worked in the campaign has somehow gotten sort of a cozy relationship with the Department then. So the question is, one, I mean, is there – was there a conflict? Do you see any conflict of interest, any problem here? Do you still expect a decision to be made sooner than the end of the year? Will make it yourself? Will you delegate it to someone? How does all that work?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Matt, first, I think that the Department, both here in Washington and in Ottawa, has been very much in listen-and-outreach mode, and they have met with, talked with, received information from a very large group of interested parties – some for, some against, as you know. They recently concluded six public sessions that were held gave a forum for people, and you just can’t – this is a very emotional decision. You have people who feel very strongly on both sides, as has been evident. You have states that are welcoming it, states that are rejecting it, all of whom, I think, are governed by Republicans. Or maybe one isn’t but – (laughter) – it’s quite – this is a very local – this is an issue that raises very local concerns. So I have been just having our team go forward and do what they’re supposed to do, so I have nothing more to say at this time because until a recommendation comes up the chain and – originally, two and a half years ago, this had been delegated to the deputy. This was not something that the Secretary was going to decide. But there is no recommendation, and when there is a recommendation, there’ll be a decision, but it’ll be very much rooted in all the work that has been done. And I think people have tried to be extremely careful and thoughtful, and it’s a process that I am trying to respect until it reaches its conclusion.
QUESTION: But you don’t see any merit to this conflict of interest (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I mean, I haven’t – I have no reason to believe that.
QUESTION: Can I ask one question about you? You said you’re leaving these lovely rooms at the end of next year, and I know a lot of people will be interested in your plans. Is elective office done?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I have said that before; I will say it again. I really am looking forward to returning to private life. And I’ve told everyone that I assume and believe that the President will be re-elected. I will, obviously, wait until he has a chance to make whatever transition he wants to make, but then I am looking forward to being out of public life, whether it’s high-level appointments like this or elective office. I have no interest in or no plans of any sort to pursue that anymore.
STAFF: From that, I like to say her next appointment is waiting out there.
QUESTION: Bradley –
SECRETARY CLINTON: He wore this good-looking –
QUESTION: I know. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: — ascot thing. I can’t let him go without a question.
QUESTION: I figured that the ascot plus no tie equals a regular tie.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. I think you’re right. (Laughter.) Okay, so Bradley gets the last question.
QUESTION: Just to go back to the Middle East, we skipped over a couple countries in – near civil war –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: On Syria, you’ve done various piecemeal sanctions, but how do you see this situation being resolved beyond the call that it would be great if Asad stepped down from power and the transition occurs? And how is this going to – how can this be brought about?
And then on Yemen, it’s such a difficult situation because you’re getting some cooperation against al-Qaida on the one hand but the same – some of the same officials who are helping in that way are creating this huge power crisis, which is kind of creating the conditions in which al-Qaida can grow and operate there. So how do you deal with that situation, and what can we look forward to?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first with respect to Syria, I think that what we have been strongly advocating for and what Ambassador Ford has been really putting himself out on a limb for is the right of the Syrian people to demonstrate, to organize, to demand change on their terms. And when this all started, there really wasn’t anything resembling an organized opposition. Now there is. There’s a coalescing opposition. We strongly believe it is their interest to maintain their nonviolent approach to this. We do – we think it’s right because they are not organized or able to even imagine some kind of armed action, and they don’t – they have the moral high ground right now. And one of the techniques of the Asad regime is to try to claim that it’s a armed gang, it’s thugs, it’s terrorists. So we really are focused on keeping the nonviolent aspect of this.
And I think that has done a couple of things. It has certainly attracted a lot of European support, a lot of European sanctions, because people believe that the opposition and the Syrian people deserve that. But it’s also, I think, put China and Russia on the wrong side of history. People have asked me, well, were you upset about the vetoes by China and Russia? And I say, well, first of all, I obviously expected them. But secondly, it’s China and Russia who have to explain what they’re doing about the Arab Spring and what they’re doing about the Syrian people and why they’re continuing in, at least according to available information, supporting a regime that is using weapons that Russia has sold them in the past against their own people.
So I think this is an evolving situation, and it’s not – it cannot be accelerated from the outside. The single message that comes through loudly and clearly from everyone associated with the opposition is they do not want foreign intervention, unlike the Libyans. The Libyans were asking for it. They went to the Arab League, they went to the GCC, they went to the UN. Syrians reject it. They do not want anybody coming in, and I respect that because they’re – they have a lot of work to do internally because there is not yet an acceptance by many groups within Syria that their life would be better without Asad than with Asad. There are a lot of minority groups that are very concerned.
Now, I think the killing by the Syrian authorities of the Kurdish leader seems to have been just a spark to the tinder because that goes right at one of the groups that up until now have been kind of on the sidelines. You didn’t hear a lot from the Kurds, the Druze, the Christians, obviously the Alawites, the business leaders in Damascus, Aleppo. But as this goes on, I really believe there will be more support for change. And I know we get impatient, and you guys have to write all the time so you’re especially impatient, but sometimes you just have to let – you have to let circumstances unfold. And the act that – the steps that Turkey has taken, which have drawn a fierce attack from Iran, I mean, this is all, I think, kind of moving in the right direction.
So how long, when, I cannot predict to you. But first there has to be something more of a Syrian opposition, and that opposition has to be more reassuring to all the constituent groups inside Syria in order for there to be some agreement, consensus reached to go try to bring down the government in whatever way they think they can.
Yemen is an entirely different case. I mean, Yemen – we signed on to the GCC plan because, frankly, the GCC had a better chance of influencing the Yemenis than anybody else, particularly Saleh and his family. I think that it also is a very complex situation inside Yemen. Our ambassador has been terrific in marshalling support, keeping the European and Arabs together in trying to force Saleh to actually leave. But it is also going to take some time. He’s clearly not ready to go, and the demonstrators are not ready to leave, and al-Qaida is trying to take advantage of it. And you have a lot of discontent across the country, pro-, anti-government. So it’s a lot of very complex actors who we are trying to all put in the same frame of saying, look, regardless of where you’re from or who you are, you need a fresh start and you need a new leader, and then you need a fair process for choosing the next leader. And we can help you do all of that, but you’re going to have continuing conflict and cries of – accusations of illegitimacy and the like if – unless you really come to grips with this.
QUESTION: Is this a civil war?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it’s a – no, not yet. No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I think it’s – I mean, there are certain – people have chosen up sides, but not completely. And that’s why we’re trying to keep everybody focused on what the GCC plan was, because at least is a coherent plan, and there’s a process attached to it, and that’s the way I think we should proceed.
QUESTION: Coherent plan without a coherence.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, without a decision by Saleh, who just doesn’t want to leave. (Laughter.) What can I tell you? He doesn’t want to leave. And he is hanging on by –
SECRETARY CLINTON: — whatever he can hang on to. And remember, he’s the only guy who ever unified Yemen. So he is a guy who understands the country as well as anybody else, and he’s trying to play every possible angle on this. But we’ve remained consistent. The GCC – everybody’s remained consistent, but we’ll have to see how it unfolds still.
Well, thank you all.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: My pleasure. My pleasure.
Secretary Clinton on the Assassination of Afghanistan High Peace Council Head Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani
The United States condemns in the strongest terms the assassination in Kabul of Professor Rabbani, the former President of Afghanistan and head of the High Peace Council. We extend our condolences to his family, and to all the people of Afghanistan, including those who were injured, and the families of those who lost their lives.
We will support the Afghan Government as they pursue the ones responsible for this cowardly attack and bring them to justice. And we will continue to increase pressure on al-Qaida and the Taliban. We have always known that there are those who will do all they can to undermine the cause of peace and reconciliation. We will see more violence before this is over. But the Afghan people will not be deterred from pursuing a more peaceful, democratic future for their country and we will continue to stand with them and support their efforts.
SECRETARY CLINTON:Good afternoon, everyone. It is a great pleasure for Secretary Panetta and I to welcome Foreign Minister Rudd and Defense Minister Smith and the entire Australian delegation, our friends and our partners, here today. I must say, on a personal note, it’s a special pleasure to see my friend Kevin Rudd back on his feet, serving his country, and making this important journey to be with us here today.
We have come to San Francisco to celebrate 60 years of the U.S.-Australia alliance in the place where it was born. Here at the Presidio Golden Gate Club back in 1951, in the month of September, our predecessors signed the treaty that cemented the ties between our nations. Today, we reflect on that history, celebrate the vision of those who brought our alliance to life, and chart a common path forward together. And as we announced earlier this week, President Obama will be visiting Australia in November to commemorate this important milestone and to advance our alliance.
For 60 years now, each new global challenge has brought with it a new cause for cooperation with Australia and an ever stronger partnership grounded in our shared values. And that is exactly what happened 10 years ago. When America was attacked on September 11th, just days after the 50th anniversary of our alliance, Australia invoked the treaty to come to our defense.
In the decade since, Australia’s men and women have fought alongside our own, just as they have in every major conflict since the First World War. In Afghanistan, Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor to our mission. In Libya, Australia now provides 10 percent of the international humanitarian budget. So from cyberspace to food security, Australia makes vital contributions to global security, stability, and well-being. And we greatly appreciate their efforts.
As Pacific powers, the United States and Australia are committed to working together to seize the opportunities of a fast-changing Asia- Pacific region. Our alliance has provided a context for the region’s dynamic economic growth by underwriting peace and security and promoting trade and prosperity. The detailed joint communiqué we are releasing today reflects the full range of our shared interests, values, and vision from maritime cooperation to joint development projects to building stronger ties with India to promote democracy and prosperity in the Pacific Islands.
We are working to encourage trade through the Trans-Pacific Partnership and through APEC, whose leaders the President will be hosting this fall in Hawaii. Together, we are strengthening regional institutions like the East Asia Summit and ASEAN. And as Secretary Panetta will explain, our military relationship is deepening and becoming even more consequential.
One country of particular shared concern is Burma. In recent weeks, we have seen some welcome gestures from Burma’s Government. It’s important for us and for others to try to understand better what is unfolding in Burma today. Our new special representative and policy coordinator for Burma, Ambassador Derek Mitchell, has just returned from his first visit to the country, one that included productive meetings with both the government and Aung San Suu Kyi.
Frankly, we have serious question and concerns across a wide range of issues, from Burma’s treatment of ethnic minorities and more than 2,000 prisoners to its relations with North Korea. Still, we welcome the fact that the Burmese Government has launched a dialogue with Aung Sun Suu Kyi and begun to speak of the need for important reforms. But just yesterday, Burma added 10 years to a prison sentence of a 21-year-old journalist. So I would urge the Burmese Government to follow its words and commitments with concrete actions that lead to genuine reform, national reconciliation, and respect for human rights.
The ties between our nations are as close as any in the world. Our peoples and our governments overwhelmingly support our partnership. And although Australians have taken over the Oscars, the Tour de France, and now the U.S. Open, our affection for your country remains undiminished. (Laughter.) The communiqué we have produced today is forward-looking and action-oriented, and it reflects our confidence in this alliance and in what our two countries can and will accomplish together.
So today we celebrate 60 years of a strong, steady alliance. We honor those who fought and sacrificed to sustain it, and we recommit ourselves to continue to work closely together as allies and friends to make good on its full promise for many years to come.
Secretary Panetta. I think – Foreign Minister Rudd.
FOREIGN MINISTER RUDD: Thank you very much, Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Panetta. Both Stephen and I have appreciated the hospitality here in San Francisco, and at this 60th anniversary of the alliance which shares our two countries. It is good that we reflect on why we have this alliance. Sixty years is no small span of time. If you’re a student of military history, there are few alliances in history, in modern history, which have outlasted that span of time. And so we should ask ourselves why is that so in the case of this alliance between our two great democracies.
I think the answers can be found in the extraordinary ties between our two peoples. The answers can also be found in the fact that between us we are among the world’s oldest continuing democracies, and therefore at the deepest level we share common values. No one can overestimate the importance of the sharing of common values. Of course, we share common interests as well in the complex challenges which confront us today in the international community. But the reason that we have endured these 60 years, and, I believe, have a long span of time ahead of us yet in this alliance, is because we are fundamentally anchored in a common view of what is important in the affairs of the world.
As Secretary of State Clinton just mentioned, we’re reminded just recently of the importance of those values. Ten years ago, we saw the horrendous attacks on innocent Americans and citizens from across the world here in the United States on September 11. We in Australia were shocked then, as we remain shocked now, at such a callous act. It cut deep into the hearts of Australians. They saw, they felt, and we knew we were as one. That sentiment remains alive 10 years later. For our friends in America, I sense very closely and acutely that the feelings of that day are still very close, though a decade has now elapsed. It is a salient reminder of our common challenge based on our common values, to deal robustly, comprehensively, and globally with the challenge of terrorism today. And that’s one of the reasons we cooperate together at this great alliance between Australia and the United States.
In our discussions today, we have covered a great scope and a great span. We’ve reviewed our engagement across the Asia-Pacific region. This region of ours, the Asia-Pacific – the waters of the Pacific we see out here off the coast of San Francisco. This region will be the center of gravity for global economic growth, for global security for the half century to come. And it is in our combined interest, therefore, to ensure that this Pacific century is indeed a Pacific century. And therefore, that must be based on not just the sharing of values but concrete cooperation in the hard areas of foreign policy and national security policy, and that is what we have reviewed again today: our engagement with China and the countries of Northeast Asia, including the Republic of Korea and Japan; in Southeast Asia, our common engagements with countries there, including Australia’s nearest neighbor, the Republic of Indonesia, now a welcome member of the family of democracies; our common engagement across the Indian Ocean and South Asia, and our relationship, of course, important that it is, with India.
We focused also on regional challenges, and the nuclear program being adopted by North Korea is one which profoundly concerns our two countries and profoundly concerns the Government of Australia. More broadly of course, we also reviewed our common interests in the Middle East. The peace process, the recent changes underway in Egypt, in Libya, and we follow with great, great concern the continued and systematic abuse of human rights and the killing of innocent people in Syria.
The Secretary just mentioned Burma. I would endorse wholeheartedly her remarks. When I visited Burma myself just a couple of months ago, I emphasized there to the regime that if they wish to engage international community comprehensively, then the first and foremost requirement is to deal with the state of democratic conditions within their own country and the absolute imperative of the release of prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners in that country. We welcome recent signs from the Burmese regime that they are open to such a dialogue, but like the United States, we proceed cautiously and we would call on the Burmese regime to talk concrete steps to manifest to the world at large that they are serious about that country becoming a democracy without the threat of imprisonment for those who impose – those who pose, in the regime’s view, a threat to them.
Finally, this is a significant AUSMIN conference. It is significant because we have also addressed new challenges of a global nature for the future. Here I refer in particular to the challenges represented by cyber security. What we are doing today in the statement that we’ve released, in separate joint statement on cyberspace is underline that this is a new area of operational engagement between ourselves and the United States in this critical area which affects governments, businesses, and citizens the world over, the region over, and in our countries individually as well.
I’ll draw in particular attention to the reflections and the statement contained within the joint statement on cyberspace. It says, and I quote: “We” – that is the Governments of Australia and the United States – “recognize that cyberspace plays a growing role in ensuring national security.” Mindful of our longstanding defense relationship and the 1951 security treaty, our governments share the view that in the event of a cyber attack that threatens the territorial integrity, political independence or security of either of our nations, Australia and the United States would consult together and determine appropriate options to address the threat.
This represents a new dimension of our lives, an important dimension given the realities we face in this 21st century. One cyber attack can cripple an economy for hours and days on end. Let there be no doubt, cyber attacks are not only attack on governments, they can cripple businesses, and Australian businesses are not immune. We know that Australian businesses have already been the subject of cyber attacks. And if it’s a big enough economy, it would have reverberations throughout the world. Like terrorism, it’s a battleground that is fought unconventionally, often without a known enemy. That is why it critical that this become a formal part of our alliance deliberations and committed cooperation in the event of such attack in the future.
If I could conclude by saying this: We in Australia look forward to the upcoming visit by President Obama to Australia. Any president of the United States is a welcome guest in Australia. We look forward very much to that visit, we look forward to making the President welcome in our country, and it constitutes, in our view, a further symbol and signpost of the significant relationship which expands not just across the foreign policy and security sphere, which we have dealt with here, but across the full breadth of the engagement between our two great democracies. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Kevin. Leon?
SECRETARY PANETTA: I’d like to join Secretary Clinton in extending a very warm official welcome to Minister Rudd and Minister Smith and all of our Australian colleagues and thank them for traveling all the way across the Pacific to join us in marking a very historic event here at the Presidio. It’s a real pleasure for me – personal pleasure for me to be able to participate in my first Australian-U.S. ministerial, and all the more so because it gives me an opportunity to show off my home state of California and this great city of San Francisco to these dear friends.
The depth and breadth of discussions we’ve had here today really do confirm for me that the United States has no closer ally than Australia. Sixty years after the signing of the ANZUS Treaty here at the Presidio, we come together again today and affirm this alliance, affirm that it remains strong, and that we are determined to deepen our security cooperation even further to counter the threats and challenges that we face in the future.
With that goal in mind, we discussed today the efforts of the Bilateral Force Posture Working Group, the United States and Australia working together, which has been making steady progress in developing options for our two militaries to be able to train and operate together more closely, including more combined defense activities and a shared use of facilities. This work to strengthen our alliance’s presence and posture in the Pacific reflects a reality we all recognize: security and prosperity of our two great nations depends on the security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.
We also discussed, as has been pointed out here, a whole range of efforts to enhance cooperation in emerging domains such as space and cyberspace. The joint statement on cyber released today sends a very strong signal about our commitment to work together to counter and respond to cyber attacks. I’ve often mentioned this is the battlefield of the future, and our ability to work together is extremely important to the challenge of being able to counter this very significant emerging threat.
As we work to build on these new areas of cooperation, American and Australian forces continue to fight together in Afghanistan as they have in every major conflict over the past century. I expressed to Minister Rudd and to Minister Smith and all of our Australian friends that were gathered here the deep appreciation of the United States Government and the American people for their very strong partnership in these efforts, and for the considerable sacrifices Australian troops and their families have made during this time of war.
Over the past decade, and indeed for the past 60 years, we have gone into battle together and we have bled together because of the shared values and the deep bonds between our people. We are both immigrant nations, and that creates a very strong bond between the United States and Australia, particularly for this son of immigrants. As we mark the 60th year of our alliance, I have no doubt that if we continue to work together hand-in-hand, we can build a better and safer and more prosperous future for our two countries.
DEFENSE MINISTER SMITH: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. I thank you and Secretary Panetta for your warm hospitality and for our very productive meeting today. I’m very pleased to be here to mark the 60th anniversary of our alliance, an alliance between Australia and the United States which was forged in the battle for Australia, the battle in the Pacific, in the Second World War. And to mark that, later this afternoon I’ll lay a wreath at the USS San Francisco Memorial. But out of that battle in the Pacific in the Second World War, in 1951 came our formal alliance. And for 60 years, that alliance has been the indispensible bedrock of Australia’s strategic security and defense arrangements.
The people, our predecessors, who wrote and signed the alliance would not have envisaged that 10 years ago yesterday, the alliance would be formally invoked for the first occasion in the face of international terrorism against a non-state actor, not against another nation-state. And today, we formally record as one of our resolutions from AUSMIN that cyberspace and an attack on the United States or an attack upon Australia in cyberspace could itself invoke the treaty. This tells us that the treaty, which we have both respected over that 60-year period, is a living document that moves with the times, as it did 10 years and 1 day ago, in the aftermath of September 11th.
Can I also indicate that the discussions we’ve had today also deal with other challenges for the future – our cooperation in space and space awareness, our cooperation in ballistic missile defense. In addition to those productive discussions, as Secretary Panetta has said, we’ve done further work on the joint working group that we’ve established 12 months ago in Melbourne on the United States Global Force Posture Review. And we received a report from our offices, work on that Global Force Posture Review is ongoing. But we are looking at increased joint exercises, increased joint training, increased joint operations. As I’ve put it colloquially in Australia, more ships in, ships out; more planes in, planes out; more troops in, troops out. We have further work to do, but we regard this work as very important.
As Secretary Panetta has said, we also spent some time dealing with Afghanistan, yet another of the conflicts that the United States has been involved in where Australia has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States. We remain committed to the transition strategy. Australia’s assessment is that in Uruzgan province, where we are, we will effect transition before the end of 2014. We’ve also started discussions about what contribution Australia can make in the post-transition Afghanistan, whether that’s special forces, whether that’s training, whether that is institutional building, development assistance, capacity building.
Secretary Panetta and I also discussed issues of budget constraints and capability, in particular the very good cooperation that we are seeing in a very important project for Australia, our new submarine project. And I’m gratified to Secretary Panetta for the ongoing cooperation that Australia is and will receive so far as work on that project is concerned for 12 new submarines.
We also spoke about the joint strike fighter and the need to ensure that the joint strike fighter is delivered on schedule. I’ve made the point in Australia and in the United States before that we are keen to ensure that there is no gap in our capabilities so far as our air combat capacity is concerned in Australia.
So today, we’ve dealt with the range and the array of shared interests that Australia and the United States have, including the fact, as the foreign minister has said, we regard very much this century as the century of the Asia Pacific, where political, strategic, economic, and military influence moves to our part of the world. The rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the ASEAN economies combined, the emergence of Indonesia as a global influence, and the ongoing economic prowess of Japan and the Republic of Korea. So all of these issues we have dealt with in the context of an alliance between two nations, an alliance between friends, which has served us well for 60 years and will continue to serve us well into the future. Thank you.
MS. NULAND: We have time for four questions today, two from each side. First question to Reuters, Arshad Mohammed. Please.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, are the U.S. officials and the EU officials and former Prime Minister Tony Blair making any discernable progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue? And can you conceive of a way to give the Palestinians a non-member state status at the UN while curbing or restricting their ability to go to the ICC or the ICJ? In other words, is there a way to give a nod toward statehood for the Palestinians but to prevent some of the deleterious consequences that could flow from that status, in your view?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Arshad, as I said on Tuesday, we believe strongly that the road to peace and two states living side by side does not go through New York; it goes through Jerusalem and Ramallah. And it is our absolute conviction that we need to get the parties back into negotiations on a direct face-to-face basis and that they have to be at that negotiating table working through the framework that President Obama laid out in May. That remains our focus. We are absolutely committed to pursuing that. As you know, Dennis Ross and David Hale are back in the region, having been there as well just a few days ago. We are working closely with a range of international partners, and we intend to keep our attention where we think it needs to be, which is how we can try to convince both sides to do what must be done in order to bring about a resolution of the issues between them, and that’s going to be certainly the core of all of our efforts for the next several days.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not going to get into specifics, because a lot of these are very sensitive conversations that we are all having, and I don’t think it would benefit the decision-making for me to be speaking prematurely. I cannot give you the odds on how successful our entire effort will be, but I think there is certainly a growing recognition among not only the parties and the region, but beyond, that there is no real answer to all of these concerns that we share, other than negotiations on the tough issues, like borders, like security, and other matters that can only be resolved – and will not be resolved if some other route is taken at the United Nations.
MS. NULAND: Next question, Brad Norrington, The Australian.
QUESTION: Could I direct this question to Defense Secretary Panetta and Defense Minister Smith? Could you detail how Australia is going to see a considerably increased number of U.S. ships, aircraft, and personnel? And is the boosted U.S. presence in Australia likely to involve existing facilities or new facilities?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Stephen, you want to start?
DEFENSE MINISTER SMITH: Well, we’ve been working on the Force Posture Review for the last 12 months. In Melbourne, at AUSMIN 2010, we established the joint working party. Then-Secretary Gates and I made the point that a lot of work needs to be done. But we were looking, and both Secretary Gates and I repeated this at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in July, from memory, that we were looking at opportunities for further exercises together, further training together, the possibility of pre-positioning stores and equipment in Australia for purposes of humanitarian relief and disaster assistance and potentially greater access to ports and our facilities. We’ve come to no final conclusions. We’re very pleased with the progress that our offices have made, and we are pleased with the progress of discussions today.
But we’ve got more work to do. There are a range of things that we’re not envisioning. We don’t have United States bases in Australia. We have joint facilities, and they’ve been established for some time. They perform a very important function. And we’ve had those joint facilities since the mid 1980s. So we’re not looking at additional or new facilities; we’re looking at the sharing of current facilities. And I’ve made the point in Australia, whilst we regard this very much potentially as an extension of work we already do, good work we already do, it will in an operational sense be the single largest potential change to the day-to-day working arrangements of the alliance since the establishment of those joint facilities. But no decisions have been made. When to come to finalize our deliberations, obviously decisions will be made and announcements made in due course. But we are pleased today with the work that our officials had done, both civilian and military, and pleased with the progress of discussions today.
SECRETARY PANETTA: Obviously, I concur with what Minister Smith said about our discussions. I think the thing to understand is that we are in negotiations on what that force posture would look like. Those discussions are continuing, and our goal is basically to build on a very strong relationship that we’ve had throughout the years. We’ve done exchanges, we’ve had these exercises together. This is something we’ve done pretty much in the past, and our goal here is to try to strengthen that relationship as best we can so that we can send a clear signal to the Asia Pacific region that United States and Australia are going to continue to work together to make very clear to those that would threaten us that we are going to stick together.
MS. NULAND: Next question, Dan Deluce, AFP.
QUESTION: Yes. To Secretary Clinton and Secretary Panetta, given that the two U.S. hikers were not released, despite the promise of the Iranian President Ahmadinejad, what do you think that says about his role and the power relationships inside that regime, and how does that affect your efforts to try to curtail that country’s nuclear program?
And Secretary Panetta, do you share the view that a U.S. – that some kind of military strike on Iran’s program would merely delay that program?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me begin by perhaps providing a little context. We continue to hope that the two young Americans will be released as part of a humanitarian gesture by the Iranian Government. We have seen in the past some delays that have occurred after decisions were announced, so that – at this point, we are not at all concerned, because we have received word through a number of sources, publicly and privately, that the decision will be executed on and that we will see their return to their families.
So I’m not going to speculate on what the reasons are or what it might mean or might not mean, but I’m going to count on the Iranian Government fulfilling the announcement that was made by the leadership of the country, and hope that it can be expedited and we can see their release very soon.
SECRETARY PANETTA: And I, again, concur with Secretary Clinton’s description of that situation. I mean, it’s very difficult for us to try to speculate as to the differences and battles that are going on in the political leadership within Iran and to really understand just exactly what the nature of that is. Our goal here is to try to get these hikers released, and we’ve been assured that steps will be taken to make that happen, and we hope that does – that is the case.
With regards to the broader question on Iran’s nuclear capability, we remain very concerned, very concerned, about their efforts to develop a nuclear capability, and we have indicated our concerns directly to the Iranians, and we have indicated that it is important for them if they want to become part of the international family that they have to take steps to stop progress in that area. And I’m not going to talk specifically about what steps we would or would not take in order to make sure that doesn’t happen.
MS. NULAND: One last question. Ben Potter, Australian Financial Review.
QUESTION: This is a question for Secretary Panetta. Will the U.S. be able to fulfill its side of the agreement envisaged by the – what you’ve discussed and announced today regardless of Defense budget outcomes from the current talks, both in terms of personnel, existing equipment, and acquisitions of expensive new equipment projects on which interoperability depends?
And also for Secretary – Minister Rudd – I’m sorry – how do you plan to reassure Beijing that this is not somehow directed at them, given – especially given Secretary Panetta’s strong statement a few minutes ago about people in the region better look out?
SECRETARY PANETTA: With regards to the budget situation, I think, as I’ve made clear, that – even with the numbers that have been presented to us by the Congress – that we believe that we can implement those savings in a way that protects the best military in world and that maintains our strength in dealing with all of the threats that we have to deal with in the world. And that’s particularly true with regards to the Asia-Pacific region. My goal is to make clear that the United States will always maintain a very strong presence in that part of the world and that we will fulfill our commitments to Australia and all of our allies in that part of the world in order to make very certain that the countries in the Asia-Pacific region understand that we’re there to stay.
FOREIGN MINISTER RUDD: On the second half of your question, I think it’s important to recognize the fundamental principal here which is the long term prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region rests on continued strategic stability of the Asia-Pacific region. The question is how is that stability to be maintained in a post-war period? And the answer is the strategic presence of United States. It has been the underpinnings of what we have seen unfold. And if I look particularly at the extraordinary economic growth levels that have occurred in China, by the countries in Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia and now South Asia in recent decades, it’s because of the continued U.S. strategic presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
I think the second point is this, that there is nothing particularly novel about U.S. forces using Australian facilities. I think that’s been the case since 1951, under the terms of this alliance, and then if we flick back another decade or so to 1941. There have been U.S. troops, U.S. aircraft, there have been U.S. ships using our facilities since year dot of our strategic cooperation, and probably going back to the days of the Great White Fleet in 1907, 1908. But there’s nothing new under the sun. In terms of the further negotiations between officials, I simply reinforce the comments made before by Stephen Smith.
I think the last thing about the future of the region though, is we have a common regional interest in establishing a wider sense of security community across Asia and the Pacific. That is why we, and our friends the United States, but also countries right across East Asia, including China, have supported the inclusion of the United States and Russia at the upcoming East Asia Summit. That will have on it, obviously, a significant discussion of regional political and security questions, as it should. And the overall objective there is to bring about a greater common sense of security between the various countries of our wider region – greater transparency, greater mutual trust, expanding confidence and security building measures, the sorts of things the Europeans were working on something like 35 years ago or more. Frankly, in the Asia-Pacific region where we’ve started from very little of that, we have an opportunity now to build on that. So for those various reasons I believe our communications with our partners in the wider region should present no difficulty at all.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
Good morning. It is such a delight for me to be back in the Netherlands. Your country and mine have enjoyed close ties for more than 400 years when Henry Hudson first landed in Manhattan and we had very strong diplomatic ties going back to the earliest days of the United States. We have worked together bilaterally to address a range of global challenges and we have worked together multilaterally to address peace and security around the world. So it is so fitting that we come together today to address another extremely timely and important subject.
But before I add my comments, I want to thank Ambassador Hartog-Levin for the extraordinary service she has rendered on behalf of us in your country for the last two years and for bringing us all together this morning. And I know from my conversations with her, that it is very difficult for her to take leave of a place she loves. I know she will take a good chunk of your country home with her. So thank you, Ambassador Levin.
I also want to thank Foreign Minister Rosenthal for his comments today and for his leadership. We had a very excellent meeting yesterday and he conveyed to me personally much of what he said this morning.
And I want to mention the two Palwashas who are with us today. One, Palwasha Kakar, is in her government as a deputy minister and is doing excellent work. The other Palwasha is Palwasha Hasan – she is with the Afghan Women’s Network. She is an exceptional leader in civil society. And I think the two Palwashas represent a kind of coming together of women leaders in powerful positions, one in government and one in civil society. They are making a strong difference for their country, particularly in these times. And I want to add my acknowledgement to the Atlantic Commission for its great leadership in co-hosting this session.
Now in the aftermath of 9/11, the world’s eyes focused on Afghanistan and we made collective efforts to root out al-Qaeda, to overthrow the Taliban and to usher in peace, stability, and a better life for the people of that country. And I also want to add my acknowledgment to the role that the Dutch have played as a partner in Afghanistan, especially your contributions to security, stability, humanitarian relief, reconstruction and development in Uruzgan Province and more broadly across the country. You have been a key partner in organizing elections, fighting the epidemic of opium production and trafficking, and assisting aid organizations with clearing away deadly land mines. And this summer you have launched the initiative that the Foreign Minister talked about this morning in the northern providence of Kunduz to better equip Afghan police forces with training that they need to strengthen the rule of law and assist in the very hard work of reconciliation. You have understood both in your development work broadly and in your engagement specifically in Afghanistan that the future of Afghanistan depends, in many ways, on the degree to which women have an active role, a power sharing role in participating in the political process – certainly in re-integration and reconciliation – and are fully engaged in the economic sector and and have their rights protected. Investing in women and girls is one of the most effective investments that can be made for poverty alleviation, for security, for a country’s prosperity – and even to decrease corruption. Yes, there are studies that show as women’s roles increase in government decision making, corruption decreases.
Now I have read about your government’s recently propagated policies on development cooperation and your focus on the four areas in which the Netherlands can bring special value. And I am pleased that Afghanistan will continue to be one of your partner countries in that work. I was also pleased that the Dutch government launched the Funding Leadership Opportunities for Women fund – (the acronym, FLOW, I like the sound of that) – to promote security, economic opportunity, and political participation. You’ve clearly been guided by the research and the data which documents the soundness of these priority investments. I couldn’t agree more with your Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation, Minister Knapen, who said, “Investing in women and girls is smart politics, smart economics, and smart security.” The concept of women as agents of peace and stability is also embodied in President Obama’s national security strategy, which says in part, “countries are more peaceful, more prosperous when women are accorded full and equal rights and opportunities.”
And Secretary Clinton has echoed this view countless times. “The status of women,” she said, “is not only a matter of morality and justice, as important as that is – but is also a political, economic and social imperative. Put simply, the world cannot make lasting progress if women and girls in the 21st century are denied their rights and left behind.”
Following their bilateral meeting a few months ago in Washington, Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Rosenthal issued a joint statement on supporting women’s political empowerment in emerging democracies. Their statement said, “Experience shows that integrating women into transition, reconciliation and peace-building processes from the start helps to promote long-term peace and stability by ensuring a focus on critical broader priorities and needs.” They went on to say, “Where women are oppressed and marginalized, those societies become more dangerous and breed intolerance. The subjugation of women is a threat to the common security of our world, because the suffering and denial of the rights of women and the instability of nations goes hand in hand.” The United States is implementing this understanding in our strategy in Afghanistan – and obviously the Netherlands is also. We agree that Afghan women need to be involved in every step of securing and rebuilding their country.
Now let me turn for a moment to the continuing commitment of the United States to Afghanistan in this time of transition and add to what Ambassador Hartog- Levin has said this morning. In a recent address in India, Secretary Clinton described the Obama administration’s policy. “The United States is committed to Afghanistan and to the region. We will be there. Yes, we are beginning to withdraw combat troops and transfer responsibility for security to the Afghan people, a process that will be completed in 2014, but drawing down our troops is not the same as leaving or disengaging. We and the Afghans are making progress on a new strategic partnership declaration that will define our relationship after 2014. And through that partnership, we will continue to assist the Afghan army and police and the Afghan Government. And we will do everything we can to help the Afghan people rebuild after decades of war. At the same time, we are pursuing an active diplomatic effort with all the countries in the region toward two goals: First, a responsible political solution in Afghanistan, and second, stronger economic ties through South and Central Asia so that goods, capital, and people can flow more easily across borders.”
Those unambiguous redlines that Ambassador Hartog-Levin laid out, including she said, ensuring that the rights of women will be protected as the Constitution of Afghanistan provides – and let me say clearly that those rights include the right to an education, to participate politically and economically in their country’s public life, to be free from violence in their homes, workplaces and communities.
Now no one wants to see the conflict end more than the Afghan women and I have spent much time with many of them and you will hear from them again this morning. They have suffered unspeakable atrocities under the Taliban. So they want this conflict to end and they want a better life for themselves and their country but they want to be part of the process to ensure that the eventual peace agreement is sustainable. They want to be part of that power sharing that the Foreign Minister discussed this morning. This is not a favor to the women of Afghanistan. It is not just a nice thing to do. It is a necessity. Because any potential for peace will be subverted if women’s voices are silenced or marginalized. The United States will not abandon our values or support a political process that undoes the progress that has been made over the last decade. Secretary Clinton also noted that the diplomatic and political effort will only succeed if it is paired with a strategy to increase economic ties in all the countries of the region. None of us can provide aid forever. It is critical that Afghanistan’s economy gets going in a very strong way, that it achieves trade and investment. An Afghanistan firmly embedded in the economic life of the region would be able to attract new investment and connect to markets abroad. This is the vision of a new Silk Road – a 21st century regional economic network that enlists the international community and private sector to ensure a sustainable, economically viable future for Afghanistan.
I had a glimpse of what is possible just a few weeks ago because the State Department sponsored as significant coming together, a conference for female entrepreneurs from Central Asia and Afghanistan that took place in Kyrgysztan. It was called “Invest in the Future.” The women were so eager to accelerate their economic journey together, across borders, in order to grow economic opportunity. As a result of the conference, the United States, multilateral organizations and the private sector have committed resources to provide women with greater opportunity for success. So simply put, neither reintegration and reconciliation nor the promotion of economic opportunity can succeed without Afghan women’s full participation.
The United States, like the Netherlands, has been committed to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. It links women with peace and security. It says that we must ensure justice for acts of violence against women and ensure that women’s participation in conflict prevention, management, and resolution, and strengthening the conditions for lasting peace and prosperity, are real. Evidence shows that integrating women into peace building processes helps promote long-term peace by ensuring that a broader set of critical priorities and needs are on the table and addressed. Moreover, women’s leadership in peace processes positively correlates with a reduction of violence and armed action, the sustainability of those peace agreements and post conflict political frameworks, as well as the evolution of democratic systems of governance.
Women have been distinguishing themselves in Afghanistan. As you heard from the Foreign Minister, the role they’re playing in Parliament, ministries and in the provincial government – and they also need to be fully included in the peace and reconciliation process as it moves forward. We and your country have advocated for their inclusion, as we have for women’s participation in the London Conference that the Foreign Minister mentioned, Kabul conference, in the Consultative Peace Jirga where the women so distinguished themselves several months ago and where they constituted roughly 20 percent of the participants, and now the High Peace Council – the lead Afghan body guiding the ongoing reintegration and reconciliation process. This has to take place on all levels – the national, provincial and local level, where real reconciliation will have to take place if the prospects for peace will truly take hold.
This is also true for the Bonn conference that will take place in December. The Afghan Women’s Network has described this as a step toward defining a vision for Afghanistan beyond 2014 and the transition. But for women to be included in the Bonn II conference, it will be up to the Afghan government, because they are in the chair of the conference and they will be putting together the Afghan delegation. And prior to Bon II, there will be a civil society meeting and it is our hope that representatives from the civil society discussion will also participate in the Bonn conference.
Countries that exclude women do so at their own peril. No country, especially one emerging from war, can afford to exclude and suppress the vital driver of economic growth that women represent. For every dollar a woman earns, up to 90 percent of it is spent reinvested in to her family and in her community. When girls go to school, even just for year, their income dramatically increases after they finish, their children are more likely to survive their families more likely to be healthier for years to come. Women’s capacity to participate and contribute economically is directly correlated to their ability to exercise equal rights, inheritance rights, land rights bear particular significance. Ultimately, access to equal economic opportunity for women and men form a very integral dimension of lasting stability and prosperity.
One of the key sectors for women’s economic participation is agriculture. I know that the Dutch, as has been said, have a great deal of expertise in this sector, as well as water management. And you are the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural goods. You have also developed a robust educational and training system for agriculture that offers so much to places like Afghanistan, which is traditionally an agricultural society. According to USAID, agriculture represents one third of Afghanistan’s economy and 75 percent of its population is engaged in farming – and that includes between 30 –60 percent of women, depending on the region they are from and what the season is. They are involved in farming, herding or otherwise connected to the agriculture industry. Women are playing an extremely important role in all dimensions of agricultural production. Increasingly their role is growing in livestock production and processing of dairy products. They make major labor contributions to a number of the marketed products. Fewer women own either land or livestock because of cultural subordination, traditions, pressure of women to cede inheritance to a relative, lack of credit, and like factors that diminish their prospects.
I remember on an early trip to Afghanistan, I had heard about how the country was importing chickens and I couldn’t understand how, when there was so much potential, that was the case. However, over time I have seen great expansion of poultry programs, through business trainings and other projects. One woman commented that she was now able to open her own poultry business. She said: ”It is unbelievable for all of us how soon our family life changed from misery to prosperity. Many chicks have grown, laid eggs. We are selling eggs, using them as a source of our food for our family and our lives are completely transformed.” And today increasing numbers of women are being trained in veterinary fields as more and more Afghans own their own livestock. The United States development and agriculture programs have focused on improving food security, increasing agricultural productivity and rural employment and to improve family incomes and well being. And this factor is particularly important for the livelihood and security of women. All of this also has a profound impact also on peace and stability. Our agriculture development programs have also focused on the high value fruit and nut production which Afghanistan has always enjoyed an extraordinary reputation. And we are working to train farmers in improving crop yields and business skills, to enable Afghan traders to expand their export markets which will be absolutely critical in the months to come.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) devoted this year’s study – they do an annual study on food and agriculture – on the vital role that women play in the agricultural sector. What the study showed is that there is a very strong economic argument for focusing on investing in women in agriculture. Yet women farmers do not have equal access to resources and this significantly limits their potential in enhancing productivity. They are often at a severe disadvantage when it comes to securing land tenure rights or owning land outright, owning livestock, accessing credit which is a major issue in Afghanistan, receiving the kind of extension training and resources that will grow her output. The FAO study shows that when women are provided with equal resources they can produce yields equal to those of men, if not greater. But because there is a gender gap in access to resources in everything from seeds and fertilizer to training, the opportunity to improve overall productivity has been limited.
We also know from the World Economic Forum’s Annual Gender Gap Report that in the countries that are closer to closing the gap between men and women on 4 metrics, including economic empowerment, those countries are far more economically competitive and prosperous.
When I was at the FAO I participated in a dinner with the Afghan Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock. He described the progress that was taking place in Afghanistan in his sector and he also described some of the key challenges that Afghanistan confronts. And he said that it is absolutely vital to the future success of agricultural production that women play a greater role. His ministry has adopted a gender mainstreaming policy and strategy. However because of a lack of capacity, it has not been implemented to the degree that it needs to be.
Unleashing women’s potential by closing that gender gap in the agricultural sector is a win-win strategy. We all need to do better in our collective efforts to focus on women in the agricultural sector, as well as to ensure that they are getting a greater percentage of resources than they are currently.
Let me just say that to visit Afghanistan, whether in the capital, big cities or in the provincial and rural areas, one is immediately struck by the number of strong, courageous and capable women, many of whom are risking their lives every day in order to work as they do – alongside the men – to create a better life for themselves and their country. One evening when I was in a discussion with some Afghan women, the session opened by one pleading, “Do not look at us as victims but as the leaders that we are.” Afghan women’s contributions are critical, whether in the peace process or advancing economic opportunity and greater productivity in the agricultural sector. They are leading the way. And with our support, they can go that much farther and do that much better.
A friend gave me a small calendar that has a quotation for every day of the year and I think the quotation for today says a great deal about the collaboration between the United States and the Netherlands. It is from an African proverb that says, “If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But if you want to walk far, walk with others.” And your country, together with mine and so many others, are walking the distance, walking together to make a difference for peace and progress in Afghanistan and for a better world for everyone. I thank you for this and I thank you for all the things we are doing together.
Well, good afternoon and Vanakkam. I am delighted to be here today. (Applause.) I want to thank Chief Librarian Naresh for welcoming me to this absolutely extraordinarily impressive facility, and for telling us all to the largest public library in India. And I am delighted to finally be here in Chennai. I’ve been coming to India since the 1990s as my country’s first lady, as a senator from New York, and as a Secretary of State in the Obama Administration. But this is the first opportunity to come to this extraordinary coastal city here in the South, and one that means so much to so many in my own country and elsewhere, and to be in Tamil Nadu, who is a state that is one of the most industrialized, globalized, and educated in all of India. So it is – (applause) – it is somehow not surprising that this state would boast this very large library for the use of its citizens. And I know that the librarian has spent some time in my country, and we so pleased to have that among many of the links between us and you.
President Obama made a state visit to India last year. I have been here twice in the last two years. And why, one might ask? Why are we coming to India so often and welcoming Indian officials to Washington as well? It’s because we understand that much of the history of the 21st century will be written in Asia, and that much of the future of Asia will be shaped by decisions not only of the Indian Government in New Delhi, but of governments across India, and perhaps, most importantly, by the 1.3 billion people who live in this country.
And we have a great commitment to our government-to-government relations, but we have an even greater commitment to our people-to-people ones. And we view them as absolutely central to the partnership and friendship between our countries. As President Obama told the Indian parliament last year, the relationship between India and the United States will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century. How will we define it? How will we work together to inject content into it? What will we do to build trust and confidence and do more that will bring us together?
Well, speaking for the United States, I can tell you that we are, in fact, betting on India’s future. We are betting that the opening of India’s markets to the world will produce a more prosperous India and a more prosperous South Asia. It will also spill over into Central Asia and beyond into the Asia Pacific region. We are betting that advances in science and technology of all kinds will both enrich Indian lives and advance human knowledge everywhere. And we are betting that India’s vibrant, pluralistic democracy will produce measurable results and improvements for your citizens and will inspire others to follow a similar path of openness and tolerance.
Now, we are making this bet not out of some blind faith, but because we have watched the progress of India with great admiration. You have maintained that democratic foundation while focusing on improving lives, particularly on the poorest among you in a way that the United States both recognizes and admires. Yet I know very well it will take time to realize this potential. And I also know, because I hear it from friends and colleagues and I see it from time to time in the Indian press, which is so exciting to read – I never know what I’m going to find when I turn the page of one of your newspapers, and I’m always both delighted and surprised.
But I find that there are those who raise questions about the direction of the relationship between us, and I understand that. It is true that we are different countries with different histories and backgrounds. And we will, from time to time, disagree as any two nations or, frankly, any two friends inevitably will do. But we believe that our differences are far outweighed by our deep and abiding bonds. Our nations are built on the same bedrock beliefs about democracy, pluralism, opportunity, and innovation. We share common interests like stopping terrorism and spurring balanced and broad-based economic growth that goes deeply into our societies.
And that is why our two governments have established a Strategic Dialogue which we announced when I first came as Secretary of State back in 2009 and when Prime Minister Singh visited later that year, and which, of course, we now have held two important sessions of, one in Washington and then this week in New Delhi. I met with a broad array of Indian officials, and I am very pleased to report to you that our work together is producing real results. We have already established a new clean energy research and development center that will be putting out the requests for proposals so we know what it is we can work on together to advance our common goal of clean energy and combat climate change.
We have worked together for the important task of preventing cyber attacks on our respective infrastructures. We are talking about a new bilateral investment treaty that will build on the 20 percent increase in trade we’ve seen just this last year. And we have watched as trade is increasingly flowing in both directions. We have new initiatives linking students and businesses and communities, and one of my personal favorites is the Passport to India, a program designed to bring more American students to study in India to match the great numbers of Indian students that come to America to study, because we want to create those bonds between our young people and our future leaders. We also consulted on the work we will be doing in the months ahead, strengthening our joint fight against terrorism, boosting our economic ties, completing our civilian-nuclear partnership, and deepening our defense cooperation. We think this work is very much in the interests of both of our countries and both of our peoples.
But I came to Chennai today to discuss in more depth, publicly, two issues that we discussed in our official meetings in New Delhi. And it really – they both are about India’s growing leadership role in the world, because today, India is taking its rightful place in the meeting rooms and conference halls where the world’s most consequential questions are debated and decided. And President Obama recognized this when he said that the United States looks forward to a reformed United Nations Security Council that includes India as a permanent member. (Applause.)
So what does – for India and for the United States and for the world, what does this global leadership mean in practical terms? And what does it mean for the relationship between the two of us? Well, for starters, it means that we can work more productively together on today’s most complex global challenges. For example, to advance democratic values, the world’s oldest democracy and its largest can both support the democratic transitions taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.
India’s election commission, widely viewed as the global gold standard for running elections – (applause) – is already sharing best practices with counterparts in other countries, including Egypt and Iraq. To help rebalance the global economy after the recession of 2008 and to spur growth, India and the United States are working together through the G-20 which has become the premier forum for international economic cooperation. To promote clean energy and to seek climate change solutions, this partnership that we have launched will accelerate research and deployment of effective technology, but it will also enable us to work together to make the UN Conference on Climate Change coming up in Durban a success.
India was a very constructive partner to the United States and others at both the conferences in Copenhagen and Cancun, where we’re not making enough progress, but we could put some milestones of progress and ongoing processes together to continue our efforts. To curb nuclear proliferation, we are working together with the international community to address shared concerns about provocative actions by countries like Iran. We have called for Iran to meet its international obligations at the IAEA. India has taken steps to ensure that products from your high-tech industry cannot be diverted to that nuclear weapons program. And we work with India, who is currently a nonpermanent member of the Security Council, to persuade Iran’s leaders to change course. And to promote sustainable development, the United States is encouraging India to share broadly its expertise in dry field, drought-tolerant agriculture, and to apply other lessons about how to lift millions of people out of extreme poverty.
So in these and many other areas, from democracy to economics, climate change, nonproliferation, development, our interests align and our values converge. A great deal has already been written about our efforts to collaborate on these cross-cutting global challenges, but today, I want to focus on two aspects of our cooperation, where the choices we make in the immediate term will have profound impacts on our security and prosperity in the years ahead. First, our work together in the Asia Pacific, and second, our shared interests in South and Central Asia, because this is a moment when these regional concerns have profound global resonance. And as I discussed them in depth with officials in Delhi yesterday, I’d like to explore them further with you today.
And let me start with the Asia Pacific. There is no better place to discuss India’s leadership in the region to its east than here in Chennai. In this port city, looking out at the Bay of Bengal and beyond to the nations of East and Southeast Asia, we are easily reminded of India’s historic role in the wider region. For thousands of years, Indian traders have sailed those waters of Southeast Asia and beyond. Indian culture has left its mark. The temples of Angkor Wat bear the influence of Tamil architecture. The Hindu god Ganesh still stands guard against homes in Indonesia. And today, the stretch of sea from the Indian Ocean through to the Pacific contain the world’s most vibrant trade and energy routes linking economies and driving growth.
The United States has always been a Pacific power because of our very great blessing of geography. And India straddling the waters from the Indian to the Pacific Ocean is, with us, a steward of these waterways. We are both deeply invested in shaping the future of the region that they connect. And there are big questions for us to consider. Will this region adopt basic rules of the road or rules of the sea to mobilize strategic and economic cooperation and manage disagreements? Will it build the regional architecture of institutions and arrangements to enforce international norms on security, trade, rule of law, human rights, and accountable governance? Through its Look East policy, India is poised to help lead toward the answers to these questions.
The United States believes that is a very good thing because we believe our vision for the future is very much similar. We both wish to expand economic ties. The United States is pushing forward on comprehensive trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and our free trade agreement with South Korea. We are also stepping up our commercial diplomacy and pursuing a robust economic agenda at APEC. India, for its part, has concluded or will soon conclude new bilateral economic partnerships with Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, and others. The more our countries trade and invest with each other and with other partners, the more central the Asia Pacific region becomes to global commerce and prosperity, and the more interest we both have in maintaining stability and security. As the stakes grow higher, we should use our shared commitment to make sure that we have maritime security and freedom of navigation. We need to combat piracy together. We have immediate tasks that we must get about determining.
These shared interests give India and the United States is a very strong incentive to make sure that the regional architecture for the Asia Pacific is up to answering the questions and delivering results. President Obama looks forward to joining Prime Minister Singh at the East Asia Summit later in the year this fall in Indonesia. We want to work with India and all of our friends and allies to build the East Asia Summit into the Asia Pacific’s premier forum for dealing with political and security issues. We want to use it to help set our priorities and lay out a vision for other regional institutions. At this year’s upcoming summit, the United States intends to collaborate with India and others to help advance an East Asia Summit agenda that draws on our two countries’ unique capacities. And high on this list should be maritime security, including developing multilateral mechanisms of cooperation. The East Asia Summit should also focus on disaster readiness, response, and relief, and nonproliferation, including working toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
Now, later this week, Foreign Minister Krishna and I will attend the ASEAN Regional Forum, and we will there be working in conjunction with ASEAN partners and others, and we will soon inaugurate a trilateral U.S.-India-Japan dialogue. America’s treaty alliances with Japan has long been a cornerstone of security in East Asia, and as a fellow democracy with us and India, we believe enhanced cooperation will be beneficial. We are also committed to a strong, constructive relationship among India, the United States, and China. Now, we know this will not always be easy. There are important matters on which we all disagree, one with the other. But we do have significant areas of common interest. We could begin by focusing on violent extremism, which threatens people on all – in all of our countries. Ultimately, if we want to address, manage, or solve some of the most pressing issues of the 21st century, India, China, and the United States will have to coordinate our efforts.
As India takes on a larger role throughout the Asia Pacific, it does have increasing responsibilities, including the duty to speak out against violations of universal human rights. For example, we recognize that India has important strategic interests in maintaining a peaceful border and strong economic ties with Burma. But the Burmese Government’s treatment of its own people continues to be deplorable. So it was a signal moment when Foreign Secretary Rao met with Aung San Suu Kyi last month. And I hope New Delhi will continue to encourage the Burmese Government to engage in dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and also to release other political prisoners.
In all of these areas, India’s leadership will help to shape positively the future of the Asia Pacific. That’s why the United States supports India’s Look East policy, and we encourage India not just to look east, but to engage East and act East as well, because after all, India, like the United States, where we look to the Atlantic and to the Pacific, India also looks both east and west. And its leadership in South and Central Asia is critically important. For example, India’s diverse democratic system in which people of all faiths and backgrounds participate equally can serve as a model for Sri Lanka as it pursues political reconciliation. Here in Chennai, we can see how much a society can achieve when all citizens fully are participating in the political and economic life of their country. Every citizen of Sri Lanka deserves the same hope and opportunity for a better future. (Applause.)
India also has a great commitment to improving relations with Bangladesh, and that is important because regional solutions will be necessary on energy shortages, water-sharing, and the fight against terrorists. And in Nepal, as the latest deadline for concluding the peace process and promulgating a new constitution approaches, Indian support for that process is critical. And in the Maldives, India is providing important economic assistance and partnerships to improve ports and other infrastructure. Looking north, in Central Asian states like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, India has forged new partnerships on energy, agriculture, cyber security, and other areas, because India and the United States share an interest in helping the people of this entire region build strong democratic societies and market economies, and to resolve long-festering conflicts. And of course, the conflict in Afghanistan continues to be a major challenge for us both.
I want to be very clear. The United States is committed to Afghanistan and to the region. We will be there. Yes, we are beginning to withdraw combat troops and transfer responsibility for security to the Afghan people, a process that will be completed in 2014, but drawing down our troops is not the same as leaving or disengaging. We and the Afghans are making progress on a new strategic partnership declaration that will define our relationship after 2014. And through that partnership, we will continue to assist the Afghan army and police and the Afghan Government. And we will do everything we can to help the Afghan people rebuild after decades of war.
At the same time, we are pursuing an active diplomatic effort with all the countries in the region toward two goals: First, a responsible political solution in Afghanistan, and second, stronger economic ties through South and Central Asia so that goods, capital, and people can flow more easily across borders. Representatives from Afghanistan and all their neighbors will have the chance to discuss this vision at a summit hosted by Turkey this November, and they will discuss it again with the rest of the international community at the Bonn conference in December.
How do we get from where we are to where we and especially the Afghan people need to end up? In February, I gave a speech at the Asia Society in New York explaining our support for Afghan-led efforts to reach a political solution to end the insurgency and to chart a more secure, prosperous, and peaceful future. As we have said many times, there are unambiguous redlines for reconciliation with insurgents. India has pioneered some of this work over years of effort in bringing people into the political system and taking them out of the forest or out of insurgencies.
Number one, people must renounce violence. Number two, the Taliban must abandon their alliance with al-Qaida. And number three, anyone wishing to reconcile must agree to abide by the laws and constitution of Afghanistan. Now, these are necessary outcomes of any negotiation. And let me say a special word about the last point. Any potential for peace will be subverted if women and ethnic minorities are marginalized or silenced. What we have learned in the 20th century that we must apply in the 21st century is that you cannot deny women and minorities, whether they be religious minorities or ethnic minorities or tribal or any other minority – you cannot deny your own people the chance to be full citizens in their own country.
And so when we look at what will happen in Afghanistan, the United States will not abandon our values or support a political process that undoes the progress that has been made in the past decade. Reconciliation, achieving it, and maintaining it, will depend on the participation of all of Afghanistan’s neighbors, including both Pakistan and India. We all need to be working together. Whether we live in Kabul or Islamabad, New Delhi, or Washington, we have to be committed to a common vision of a stable, independent, Afghanistan rid of the insurgency and a region free from al-Qaida.
In Kabul earlier this year, Prime Minister Singh reaffirmed India’s commitment to the Afghan-led reconciliation. And the Indian Government reinforced that commitment last month by supporting a United Nations Security Council resolution that cleared the way for lifting sanctions on insurgents who do reconcile. At the same time, India has rightly expressed concerns about outside interference in the reconciliation process, and we agree with those concerns and are consulting closely with India about that.
We will continue to encourage New Delhi’s constructive role. For example, in advocating based on India’s own experience that reconciliation, beginning at the very start of the process, must include representatives from a range of political parties and ethnic groups. We also believe Pakistan has an essential role and legitimate interest in this process, and those interests must be respected and addressed. We welcomed Pakistan’s decision to participate in a joint peace commission with Afghanistan and in what we call the core group of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States to manage the withdrawal. Achieving lasting peace and security in the region will require a stable, democratic, prosperous Pakistan free from violent extremism. That’s in everyone’s interest, because Americans, Indians, Pakistanis, and Afghans have all suffered at the hands of violent extremists, and none of us should tolerate a safe haven for terrorists anywhere.
So we look to the Pakistani Government to press insurgents to join the reconciliation process, to prevent Pakistani territory from being used for attacks that destabilize Afghanistan or India and to deny al-Qaida the space to regroup and plan new violence. And beyond India and Pakistan, all of Afghanistan’s other neighbors – Russia, Iran, China, the Central Asian states should recommit themselves to the goal of a stable and independent Afghanistan. That means they too must support reconciliation and respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. That is a pledge that all the countries of the region made nearly a decade ago when they signed the Declaration on Good Neighbourly Relations. The time has come to operationalize that agreement and to create mechanisms that ensure nations will live up to their commitments, and the United States will invest the considerable diplomatic effort needed to help build such support for those outcomes.
This diplomatic and political effort is the first element of our approach, but it will only succeed if it is paired with a strategy to increase economic ties that connect all the countries of the region. Because while many countries, including India, have given generous assistance to Afghanistan, no country, including my own, can afford to provide aid forever. We have to get an economy going. We have to have trade and investment coming. And the Afghan people themselves do not want receive aid forever. An Afghanistan firmly embedded in the economic life of a thriving South and Central Asia would be able to attract new sources of foreign investment and connect to markets abroad, including hundreds of millions of potential new customers in India. And increasing trade across the region would open up new sources of raw material, energy, and agricultural products, creating more jobs in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
But we have a long way to go before we could ever realize that in today’s world, because today, an Indian entrepreneur in Chennai who wishes to ship her products to a customer in Kazakhstan has to send them either through China or Iran, thousands of miles out of the way. An Indian business must import cement from Southeast Asia instead of from the flourishing cement industry next door in Pakistan. A traveler going between India and Pakistan not only has a difficult time getting a visa; he also often has to be routed through airports a thousand miles away just to get across the border. Now, we have no illusion about how difficult it will be to overcome the longstanding distrust that holds back economic cooperation, but we also are absolutely convinced this is very much in India’s interest, Pakistan’s interest, Afghanistan’s, and other nations as well.
Historically, the nations of South and Central Asia were connected to each other and the rest of the continent by a sprawling trading network called the Silk Road. Indian merchants used to trade spices, gems, and textiles, along with ideas and culture, everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the banks of the Bosphorus. Let’s work together to create a new Silk Road. Not a single thoroughfare like its namesake, but an international web and network of economic and transit connections. That means building more rail lines, highways, energy infrastructure, like the proposed pipeline to run from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan, through Pakistan into India. It means upgrading the facilities at border crossings, such as India and Pakistan are now doing at Waga. And it certainly means removing the bureaucratic barriers and other impediments to the free flow of goods and people. It means casting aside the outdated trade policies that we all still are living with and adopting new rules for the 21st century.
I was very encouraged by the reports of the resumption of discussions between India and Pakistan, the meeting between Prime Ministers Singh and Gillani at Mohali, and the forward-looking roadmap produced by the Indian and Pakistani commerce secretaries in April are very important steps. The upcoming meeting of Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers is another chance to make tangible progress. And I was pleased to see Afghanistan and Pakistan commit to implement fully their transit trade agreement. This is an agreement that Afghanistan and Pakistan started negotiating together in 1961. All these years later, they have finally signed it. And we want to see trade begin to move across that border, and then we want to see that trade expanded into Central Asia and India – two-way trade, multiple paths for trade.
Because someday, that entrepreneur here in Chennai should be able to put her products on a track – on a truck or a train that travels unimpeded, quickly, and cheaply through Pakistan, through Afghanistan, to the doorstep of her customer in Kazakhstan. A Pakistani businessman should be able to open a branch in Bangalore. An Afghan farmer should be able to sell pomegranates in Islamabad before he drives on to New Delhi. Or as Prime Minister Singh put it so beautifully, “I dream of a day, while retaining our respective identities, one can have breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore, and dinner in Kabul. That is how my forefathers lived. That is how I want our grandchildren to live.” (Applause.)
I couldn’t agree more, and neither could you. Now it is just as important as applauding to support the work that must be done to realize that dream. When I look at the potential of the people in this region, I am absolutely convinced you can out-compete, outgrow, out-prosper anybody in the world. But that’s why the barriers must come down. When Indian Americans used to come to the United States, their hard work and their success was such a symbol of what was possible. Today, there’s migration back from the United States to India, because the opportunity society has arrived here. Pakistani Americans, Afghan Americans, they still come to the United States seeking opportunity. They too deserve an opportunity society. And in order to that, we have to move beyond the past into a present filled with possibility and then to make a future that delivers.
In what I’ve discussed today, India’s growing role in the Asia Pacific and in South and Central Asia, I do so because I think this is the only way forward. Yes, it is ambitious agenda, but we can afford to be ambitious, because when we in the United States and particularly in the Obama Administration look at India, we see, as President Obama said, a nation that is not simply emerging, but has emerged, and a nation with whom we share so many bonds, and one that will be a leader globally in shaping the future we will all inherit.
Now of course, both of our nations being democracies are dealing with challenges that have to be met and require immediate attention. But great nations can do more than one thing at a time. In fact, we can do many things at once by enlisting the powerful participation of our own people – Indian and American businesses, Indian and American academics, Indian and American entrepreneurs, inventors, students. In a democracy, we are all helping to shape our future. That is what sets us apart from other systems and other nations. I mean, it does look a little messier from time to time, but it is the most sustainable way human beings have found to organize themselves, and that’s what we must do.
For both America and India, the threats, the perils, the problems are discussed endlessly. Turn on the television, pick up the paper, go on the internet. But I see a much brighter picture because I think there isn’t anything we cannot do, and I believe in India’s future. This is not, therefore, a time when any of us can afford to look inward at the expense of looking outward. This is a time to seize the opportunities of the 21st century, and it is a time to lead. So I come to Chennai as an admirer of what India has accomplished, someone who, in just the course of the last 18 years, has seen the changes firsthand. There are great forces at work, but there is nothing preordained or inevitable about the future of your country or mine.
Generations before us fought to give us a democracy, fought to build our institutions, fought to overcome the inherent problems of pluralism and diversity, fought to make good the values that we know are essential to the systems that we have built. And now, it is our turn, and it is particularly the turn of the young people who are here today. For each of us to make our contribution, for each of us to work in every way we can not only for our own personal betterment – although that comes in an open society like yours and mine – but to work for the common good, to work for our nation, and to work for a world that is worthy of our dreams. So let us commit to do so. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
Thank you very much, Chairman Kerry and Senator Lugar and to all the members of the committee, it’s a pleasure to be back here with you in the Senate. As the President said last night, the United States is meeting the goals he set for our three-track strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The military surge has ramped up pressure on al-Qaida and Taliban insurgents. The civilian surge has bolstered the Afghan and Pakistani Governments, economies, and civil societies, and undercut the pull of the insurgency. The diplomatic surge is supporting Afghan-led efforts to reach a political solution that will chart a more secure future.
All three surges – military, civilian, and diplomatic – are part of the vision for transition that NATO endorsed in Lisbon last December and that President Obama reaffirmed last night. As he said, Afghans must take responsibility for their own future.
Today, I want to amplify on the President’s statement and update you specifically on our civilian efforts. And I also look forward to answering your questions about the road ahead. Because despite the progress, we have to stay focused on the mission. As the President said, “We have to put al-Qaida on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done.”
First, let me say a word about the military effort. Last night, the President explained his plan to begin drawing down our forces next month and transitioning to Afghan responsibility. I will leave it to my colleagues from the Defense Department to discuss the specifics. But the bottom line, as the President said, is that we have broken the Taliban’s momentum. So we do begin this drawdown from a position of strength.
With respect to the civilian surge, we greatly appreciate the attention that this committee has devoted to it. Because improving governance, creating economic opportunity, supporting civil society is vital to solidifying our military gains and advancing our political and diplomatic goals.
Since January 2009, we have tripled the number of diplomats, development experts, and other civilian specialists on the ground in Afghanistan, and we have expanded our presence out in the field nearly six-fold. And these new civilians have changed the way we do business, focusing on key ministries and sectors, and holding ourselves and our partners to higher standards.
And there should be no doubt about the results of our investment, despite the very difficult circumstances that you all know so well. Economic growth is up, opium production is down. Under the Taliban, only 900,000 boys and no girls were enrolled in schools. By 2010, 7.1 million students were enrolled, and nearly 40 percent of them girls.
Hundreds of thousands of farmers have been trained and equipped with new seeds and other techniques. Afghan women have used more than 100,000 microfinance loans. Infant mortality is down 22 percent.
Now, what do these numbers and others that I could quote tell us?
First, that despite the many challenges that remain, life is better for most Afghans. And the Karzai government has many failings, to be sure. But more people, in every research analysis we are privy to, say they see progress in their streets, their schools, their fields. And we remain committed to fighting corruption and strengthening the rule of law in a very challenging environment.
The aim of the civilian surge was to give Afghans a stake in their country’s future and provide credible alternatives to extremism and insurgency. It was not nor was it ever designed to solve all of Afghanistan’s development challenges. Measured against the goals we set and considering the obstacles we faced, we are and should be encouraged by what we have accomplished.
And most important, the civilian surge helped advance our military and political objectives. Let me just offer one example. Last November, USAID began funding the reconstruction of irrigation systems in Wardak province, providing jobs for hundreds of workers and water to thousands of farmers. In March, just a few months ago, insurgents demanded that the people abandon the project and support the spring offensive. The people refused. Why? Because they asked themselves, “Should we trade new opportunities for a better life for more violence and chaos?” Frustrated, the insurgents threatened to attack the project. Local shuras mobilized and sent back a clear message: “We want this work to continue. Interfere and you will become our enemy.” And the insurgents backed down.
We have now reached the height of the civilian surge. Any effort of this size and scope will face considerable logistical challenges. And we have worked hard in the last two and a half years to strengthen oversight and improve effectiveness. We have, frankly, learned many lessons, and we are applying them. And the efforts of our civilians on the ground, working in some of the most difficult conditions imaginable, continues to be nothing short of extraordinary. Looking ahead as the transition proceeds, we are shifting our efforts from short-term stabilization projects, largely as part of the military strategy, to longer-term sustainable development that focuses on spurring growth and integrating Afghanistan into South Central Asia’s economy.
Now, the third surge is our diplomatic surge. It is diplomatic efforts in support of an Afghan-led political process that aims to shatter the alliance between the Taliban and al-Qaida, end the insurgency, and help to produce more stability. To begin, we are working with the Afghans on a new strategic partnership declaration that will provide a long-term framework for bilateral cooperation and NATO cooperation, as agreed to, again, at Lisbon. And it will bolster Afghan and regional confidence that Afghanistan will not again become a safe haven for terrorists and an arena for competing regional interests.
As the President said last night, this will ensure we will be able to continue targeting terrorists and supporting a sovereign Afghan Government. It will also provide a backdrop for reconciliation with insurgents who must meet clear red lines – they must renounce violence, they must abandon al-Qaida, and they must abide by the constitution of Afghanistan, including its protections for women. As I said in February in the speech I gave outlining this strategy, those are the necessary outcomes of any negotiation.
In the last four months, this Afghan-led political process has gained momentum. Twenty-seven Provincial Peace Councils have been established in Afghanistan, and the Afghan High Peace Council has stepped up its efforts to engage civil society and women, even as it also begins reaching out to insurgents. And let me underscore something which you will not be surprised to hear me say, but I say it not because of my personal feelings but because of my strategic assessment: Including women and civil society in this process is not just the right thing to do; it is the smart and strategic thing to do as well. Any potential for peace will be subverted if women or ethnic minorities are marginalized or silenced. And the United States will not abandon our values or support a political process that undoes the social progress that has been made in the past decade.
But we believe that a political solution that meets these conditions is possible. The United States has a broad range of contacts at many levels across Afghanistan and the region, that we are leveraging to support this effort, including very preliminary outreach to members of the Taliban. This is not a pleasant business, but a necessary one, because history tells us that a combination of military pressure, economic opportunity, and an inclusive political and diplomatic process is the best way to end insurgencies. With bin Ladin dead and al-Qaida’s remaining leadership under enormous pressure, the choice facing the Taliban is clear: Be part of Afghanistan’s future or face unrelenting assault. They cannot escape this choice.
Special Representative Marc Grossman is leading an active diplomatic effort to build support for a political solution. What we call the Core Group – Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States – has met twice and will convene again next week. At the same time, we are engaging the region around a common vision of an independent, stable Afghanistan and a region free of al-Qaida. We believe we’ve made progress with all of the neighbors, including India, Russia, and even Iran. Just this past Friday, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to support reconciliation by splitting its sanctions on al-Qaida and the Taliban into two separate lists, underscoring that the door is open for the insurgents to abandon the terrorists and choose a different path.
We welcome these steps, and for the United States the key diplomatic priority and indeed a lynchpin of this entire effort is closing the gap between Kabul and Islamabad. Pakistan must be part of this process. Earlier this month, the two countries launched a joint peace commission and held substantive talks at the highest levels. Also, very significant, was the full implementation on June 12th of the Transit Trade Agreement, which will create new economic opportunity on both sides of the Durand Line and lay the foundation for a broader vision of regional economic integration and cooperation. This agreement started being negotiated in the early 1960s. It therefore took decades, including great, heroic effort by the late Richard Holbrooke and his team. But the trucks are now rolling across the border.
I recently visited Pakistan and had, as we say in diplo-speak, very candid discussions with its leaders. The United States has clear expectations for this relationship, and as President Obama said last night, the United States will never tolerate a safe haven for those who kill Americans. We are looking to Pakistan to take concrete actions on the goals we share: Defeating violent extremism, which has also taken so many innocent Pakistani lives; ending the conflict in Afghanistan; and securing a stable, democratic, prosperous future.
Now, these are obviously tough questions to ask of the Pakistanis and there are many causes for frustration. But we should not overlook the positive steps of just recent weeks since May 2nd: Counterterrorism cooperation continues and several very key extremists have been killed or captured. As I told the Pakistanis, America cannot and should not try to solve Pakistan’s problems; they have to eventually do that themselves. But nor can we walk away from this relationship and ignore the consequences, for all the reasons that Senator Lugar outlined in his opening statement: Pakistan is a nuclear-armed state sitting at the crossroads of a strategic region. And we have seen this movie before. We have seen the cost of disengaging from the region. As Secretary Gates, who was there at that time, has stressed, we cannot repeat the mistakes of 1989.
That’s why it’s important we have the resources to continue implementing our strategy. The State Department is following the Pentagon’s model and creating a special emergency fund – an Overseas Contingency Operations account – that separates normal operating costs from extraordinary wartime expenses. Now, I will hasten to say we are painfully aware of today’s fiscal reality. And I know that it is tempting for some to peel off the civilian and diplomatic elements of our strategy. They obviously make fewer headlines; people don’t know as much about them. And it would be a terrible mistake, and I’m not saying that just for myself, but as our commanders on the ground will tell you, the three surges work hand-in-hand. You cannot cut or limit one and expect the other two to succeed.
Ultimately, I believe we are saving money and, much more importantly, lives by investing now. And let’s not forget: An entire year of civilian assistance in Afghanistan costs Americans the same amount as 10 days of military operations.
So Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, members, I thank you for this opportunity to discuss our strategy. There have been a lot of developments in the last months and I feel that what we are doing is working. But it is obviously important that we ask the hard questions, and I look forward to working with you to improve the strategy and work together to implement it.
Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Goodness. First, let me thank you for being patient with my schedule and giving us a chance to postpone this so that I could talk to you.
First, I want to thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Westerwelle for hosting us here in Berlin. It was excellent accommodations, and everyone felt extremely well taken care of. And I want to commend Secretary General Rasmussen for running his usual tight ship and producing a very productive ministerial.
Over the last two days, we have tackled a full and formidable agenda. On Libya, we built on the momentum created by Wednesday’s Contact Group meeting in Doha. We put out a strong statement that clarified the military aims of our mission and carried forward the unified message of Doha. Our European and Arab allies and partners all agree: Attacks on and threats of attacks against the Libyan people must stop; Qadhafi’s forces must withdraw from the cities they have forcibly entered and occupied; humanitarian supplies must be allowed to reach civilians, especially those in cities under siege.
The statement also reinforced our agreement on a set of political and diplomatic objectives. It strongly endorsed the Contact Group’s call that Qadhafi must leave power and a democratic transition must take place that reflects the will of the Libyan people.
I think the bottom line is that here at NATO we achieved a solid and sustainable consensus on our objectives and what it will take to achieve them. I spoke at length with many of my counterparts about the practical steps we all have to take to pressure and isolate Qadhafi and advance our efforts to protect the Libyan people.
On Afghanistan, I took the opportunity to consult with my colleagues on our three surges – the military, civilian, and diplomatic surge – all of which reinforce the transition process that is now underway. To do this once, we have to do it right. We need to underscore that we are transitioning, not leaving, and that we are building an enduring partnership with Afghanistan that will last well beyond 2014.
I also had a very productive bilateral meeting with Afghan Foreign Minister Rassoul on the Strategic Partnership Declaration and Afghan-led reconciliation.
Our missions in Libya and Afghanistan show that NATO plays a vital role in protecting our security and interests around the world. We are seeing that new challenges will often drive us to develop new capabilities and work with partners outside the alliance when shared interests and values are at stake.
One of NATO’s most important partners is Russia. Last year at Lisbon, we made historic progress together. Today, we worked to translate the promise of that moment into practical steps that strengthen our collective security. We also discussed NATO’s partnerships with Ukraine and Georgia, and we looked for more effective ways for NATO to reach beyond the confines of the alliance and work effectively with all of our partners. Those nations willing to sacrifice for our common goals deserve a greater voice in decision making.
We also launched a NATO Defense and Deterrence Posture Review process to determine what mix of conventional, nuclear, and missile defense forces NATO will need going forward. I outlined the core principles that will guide the U.S. approach to this process, and completing this review will be a priority when the United States hosts next year’s NATO summit in 2012.
On the margins of the ministerial, I had the chance to consult with a number of my counterparts on a wide range of regional and global issues, including developments in the Middle East, missile defense, and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. So needless to say, this was another very full set of meetings, because we do have a full plate of issues. I am pleased with the progress that we have made this week and certainly ready for the work ahead.
And with that, I’d be happy to take your questions.
MODERATOR: Steve Myers, New York Times.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Cough.) Excuse me.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Yesterday, you described a desire to see increased support for the opposition in Libya. And I wondered if you could tell us, have you developed a clearer sense of who exactly the opposition is and what exactly they need, including the question of arms? And related to that, are you aware that Libyan forces, in Misrata at least, are using heavy weapons that include cluster munitions that were made in Spain as recently as 2007?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Steven, I wasn’t aware of the last point. I’d have to say I’m not surprised at anything that Colonel Qadhafi and his forces do, but that is worrying information and it’s one of the reasons why the fight in Misrata is so difficult, because it’s at close quarters, it’s in amongst urban areas, and it poses a lot of challenges to both NATO and to the opposition.
With respect to the opposition, we are learning more all the time. We are pooling our information. There are a number of countries that have significant ties to members of the opposition, who have a presence in Benghazi that enables them to collect information. Our envoy is still in Benghazi and meeting with a broad cross-section of people. The opposition needs a lot of assistance on the civilian organizational side, on the humanitarian side, and on the military side. There have been a number of discussions about how best to provide that assistance, who is willing to do what.
We’re also searching for ways to provide funding to the opposition so that they can take care of some of these needs themselves. In addition to looking at how we can free up assets that could be used by the opposition, we’re also looking at how the opposition could sell oil from sites that are under their control.
So there is a full comprehensive assessment occurring, and one of the decisions that we made in talking to a lot of our partners was that we need, in effect, a clearinghouse for such information. We need to have a way of conveying necessary information to NATO that they can use in the ongoing military efforts. And we need to share this information so that we can best determine how the international community can respond to them.
MODERATOR: The next question is from Earl Deckendorf of ARD.
QUESTION: After these two days you are in Berlin, there’s a (inaudible) case on all the hardest test for the NATO alliance is a long time for itself?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think each situation is different. Certainly, NATO has faced a lot of challenges. The ongoing challenge in Afghanistan is among the most difficult and has certainly exacted the biggest toll in the loss of life and the cost to all of us. We remain committed there because we believe it is in our interests and is absolutely tied to our security.
The Libyan military commitment by NATO is a very important one, but it is in response to a United Nations Security Council resolution asking that nations work to protect civilians, impose an arms embargo, provide humanitarian assistance, establish a no-fly zone. And so NATO is not acting alone. We are, as you’re aware, acting with others who are not in the NATO alliance but who are willing to work with us to meet the UN’s request.
So I think at this juncture, certainly we’re very aware that we have not lost any lives of participating NATO nations. We are working to try to protect the Libyan people who are the ones who are really facing a tough time. And as I said yesterday in my statement, I think we all need to be a little patient. These are complex situations. We recognize as such. We’re still in the process of trying to identify, target, attack, and destroy key elements of Qadhafi’s arsenal, his air defense system, his command and control.
But as Secretary General Rasmussen said in our meeting and said again in his press conference, we’re making progress. So I, for one, feel very positive about what we have accomplished so far.
MODERATOR: And Michel Ghandour, Al Hurra.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. The Human Rights Watch has said that Syrian security and intelligence agencies have detained and tortured hundreds of protestors during a march (inaudible) demonstration. How do you view that? And how Iran is helping Syria crack down on protestors?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, Michel, as President Obama stated on Friday, we call upon the Syrian authorities once again to refrain from any further violence against their own people. The arbitrary arrests, the detentions, the reports of torture of prisoners must end now. The free flow of information must be permitted once again. We have to allow journalists and human rights monitors the opportunity to enter Syria, to be free to report, to independently verify what’s happening on the ground, because, as you know, it’s very difficult to get accurate information as to what is going on.
And to this point, the Syrian Government has not addressed the legitimate demands of the Syrian people, and it is time for the Syrian Government to stop repressing their citizens and start responding to their aspirations. There is an opportunity for meaningful political and economic reform, and it needs to start now.
We are watching very closely what Iran is doing in the region. We hear Iran praising the uprisings in the Middle East and in North Africa, except it doesn’t praise what happens inside Iran and it doesn’t praise what is happening in Syria. It is a further example of the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime. It is attempting to, through propaganda, through information campaigns, to ally itself with the aspirations of the Arab awakening, but we do not see any evidence yet that Iran instigated such protests.
But we do see activities by Iran to try to take advantage of these uprisings. They are trying to exploit unrest. They are trying to advance their agenda in neighboring countries. They continue to try to undermine peace and stability to provoke further conflict.
And we want people in the region to understand that the Iranian Government’s motive here is to destabilize countries, not to assist them in their democratic transitions; because after all, their 1979 revolution was derailed and it has unfortunately evolved into a totalitarian state where the government is trying to control the thoughts, the speech, the actions of the citizens on every front.
So we’re very watchful. We invite Iran to change its tactics, including its treatment of its own citizens, to act on its rhetoric about what it is seeking, to play a constructive role, to cease exacerbating sectarian tensions, which it is attempting to do. And I think that everyone is aware of their efforts to exploit and even hijack what are legitimate protests. But certainly, in an era of instant communication, we hope that people will not be fooled by their tactics.
MODERATOR: Thank you all.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all.
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Chairman Kerry Opening Statement At Hearing On “Afghanistan: Governance and the Civilian Strategy”
The full text of his statement as prepared is below:
I want to thank everyone for coming this afternoon. And I want to extend a special thanks to Ambassador Holbrooke, who has taken time from his busy schedule to appear again before the committee. As always, Dick, we look forward to hearing your insights on the current situation and on the prospects for the future in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This is the Foreign Relations Committee’s 11th hearing on Afghanistan in the past year and a half. The number reflects our commitment to understanding the challenges in Afghanistan and our recognition of the critical role this conflict plays in the region and in our own national security.
The number also reflects an unfortunate fact: Last month, Afghanistan surpassed Vietnam as the longest military campaign in American history. More than 1,000 men and women have lost their lives in Afghanistan. Nearly 6,000 have been injured, many of them grievously. We owe a duty to every one of them, to their families and to the tens of thousands of other military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan from this country and our partners to exercise our oversight role seriously and responsibly.
This is a difficult moment in the Afghan conflict. Our progress is decidedly mixed, particularly in the south where the Taliban are strongest. They are assassinating government officials and tribal leaders and intimidating Afghans who want to support coalition efforts.
Corruption appears to be growing. One in three Afghan households reports having to pay a bribe to obtain public services. And our civilian aid efforts to bring stability and consolidate military gains are off to a slow start in the south and east.
Many people are asking whether we have the right strategy. Some suggest this is a lost cause. But grim as the statistics are, heartbreaking as every death is, this is not the time to give up.
This is the time to ask hard questions about the progress we are making toward our objectives of defeating Al Qaeda and bringing a measure of stability to Afghanistan. This is the time to demand accountability from our partners on the battlefield and in the corridors of government from Washington to Brussels, from Kabul to Kandahar.
And it’s time asses how our strategy fits the realities on the ground. Over the past year, some of those realities have changed, very few for the better. I believe the three conditions I laid out last October for deploying more troops still hold today, and I have doubts about whether they are being met.
First, we should insist on the presence of reliable Afghan troops to partner with our military before we clear an area. Second, in order to hold an area, we should require capable local leaders with whom we can partner to provide effective governance. And finally, to build and transfer an area to Afghan control, the civilian side must be prepared to move in quickly with well-implemented development aid.
Let me be clear: When these conditions are not met, it is difficult to imagine a good outcome.
Today’s hearing is intended to take a tough look at our civilian strategy to see if we are on the right path. The administration requested $4.4 billion in fiscal year 2010 to support civilian efforts in Afghanistan, and another $3.9 billion for next fiscal year.
We need to be smart in how we spend this money. In recent weeks, the committee staff conducted 16 briefings with the State Department and USAID to examine how we are spending the taxpayers’ money – dollar by dollar, sector by sector in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will continue to keep a close eye on how our money is being used to promote stability in this region.
But all of these billions of dollars, and all of the sacrifices by our troops, will be irrelevant if the United States and our partners do not have a serious strategy to establish effective Afghan governance. The problem is that the key element of this strategy is the one over which we have the least control, and that is the willingness and the ability of Afghans to assume ownership of this effort.
For nearly nine years, most Afghans have seen themselves as bystanders in a conflict between the West and Al Qaeda being fought in their homeland. In recent months, we have launched a concerted effort to convince Afghans that this is their fight. This is not easy, given their historic distrust of foreigners on Afghan soil, but it is vital.
Ultimately, we need a better understanding of what success means in Afghanistan and what an acceptable state looks like there. I have said repeatedly that there is no purely military solution in Afghanistan. But we need to understand what a political solution looks like and how we get there.
These are some of the questions that we will be posing to Ambassador Holbrooke today.