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Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the First Meeting of the Lifeline Donor Steering Committee

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I apologize for being late.  I had the opportunity to meet with the president this morning, and we met a little bit longer than planned.  But let me thank you all very much for being part of this very exciting initiative.  And I want to thank our team — Mike Posner and his team from the State Department — for working with all of you to arrange this.  And I want to thank our seven NGO partners who will act as a clearinghouse, both for tracking and receiving requests for help from NGOs around the world that we then will be dispersing funds to.

We think this is — as is obvious from the turnout — an idea whose time has come, to have an organized response to those who are on the front lines of democracy and freedom and human rights, often at great cost to themselves.  We established the Lifeline last year with a $2 million contribution.  This year we have pledged another $1 million.  And I am very pleased that our support was more than matched with a $1.4 million commitment from all of you.  So thank you very much.

I think that the trends are so contradictory.  Because, on the one hand, we have more and more people seeking to realize their rights, and on the other we have, in the past 5 years, more than 50 nations creating laws and regulations aimed at stifling the peaceful movement for democracy and freedom.

So, I think, as we lay a foundation to help embattled NGOs continue their fight for democratic values, the Lifeline fund can help in two ways.  First, it will provide financial assistance to watchdog and advocacy NGOs, by doing everything from paying for new cell phones they need, helping to keep contact with jailed activists, launching legal appeals, paying for medical bills for those who have suffered abuse at the hands of government security.  Second, we can help NGOs stand up to repressive government action by giving grants to rally local and international support through media campaigns to help build coalitions with civil society.

And I think our seven NGO partners are creating a virtual SOS warning platform to improve our abilities to identify where and when people are in danger.  So we can get a response as quickly as needed.  So we are really excited by what we have accomplished in just a year of working on this, and what we can do together.  And I very much appreciate the commitment that you have made, Yuri, to contribute for two more years.  And I appreciate Ambassador Bruce Davis from Australia for your commitment for another year, because we have to really see how this works.  We have to make a commitment to it.

And then, I think we can attract more private money as we go forward, to have a fund that is not just government commitment, but private commitment, if we prove we can use the money effectively and get it to the people who need it the most in a timely manner, not tied up with bureaucracy and procurement, and signing a million forms, and all the things that, unfortunately, governments are well known for.

So, I think that what we are launching today is really a unique partnership with tremendous potential.  So I just want to thank you all for what you have done, and for the vision that brings you here.

 


Secretary Clinton responds to questions from Jill Dougherty of CNN

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, everyone. It is my pleasure along with Secretary Gates to welcome the foreign minister and the defense minister to Washington for this Security Consultative Committee meeting, known as the 2+2. For more than 50 years, the alliance between Japan and the United States has been the cornerstone of security in the Asia Pacific region. Our agenda today, embodied in the documents that we have just released, reflects the breadth and depth of our alliance. We are cooperating more closely on a wider range of issues and challenges than ever before.

It has been more than three months since the tragic events of March 11th left tens of thousands of people dead or missing, and hundreds of thousands homeless. The Japanese people have shown remarkable strength in the face of this unprecedented crisis. All Americans have been proud to stand with you and support your efforts to recover. Today, we discussed our countries’ ongoing work together and reaffirmed our commitment to maintain these efforts for as long as they are needed.

We also made important progress on several initiatives that will enhance our ability to defend Japan and respond to a variety of threats to the security of the Asia Pacific region. For example, we explored ways to broaden and deepen our cooperation on defense technologies. As Secretary Gates will describe, we also took steps to reduce the impact of our defense presence on the communities in Okinawa.

We discussed a range of regional and global issues. On North Korea, we remain committed to deterring further provocative behaviors by North Korea, supporting a North-South dialogue, and promoting the complete and peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We talked about our efforts to improve regional cooperation in a variety of multilateral forums and through a trilateral dialogue with India. On global issues, we discussed our joint efforts to advance peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, ensure Iran’s compliance with its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and bring security against the pirates to the waters off the Horn of Africa.

But overall, we really celebrated the mutual respect and shared values that have served us so well for the past 50 years. As the U.S.-Japan alliance enters its second half century, it remains indispensible to the peace, security, and economic dynamism of the Asia-Pacific Region, and I was very honored to have this opportunity to host our colleagues and discuss these very important issues together.

Minister Matsumoto.

(Technical difficulties)

FOREIGN MINISTER MATSUMOTO: (Via interpreter) Well, let me try once again. Since the 50th anniversary of Japan-U.S. security treaty last year, we’ve continued our consultations for the purpose of deepening the Japan-U.S. alliance. And I am very happy to say that, as a result of those efforts, we’ve met today in this 2+2 setting, which takes place for the first time in four years. And during these four years, there have been change in government in both countries, but especially in Japan we had a full – what I might call full-fledge change of government. And this was 2+2 held for the first time under a DPJ administration. And for that, it is all the more significant.

Now, in the evening years, the strategic environment around Japan and in the region underwent significant change. And Japan was struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake on the 11th of March. And I’d like to take this opportunity once again to express our heartfelt gratitude for the very special cooperation extended to us by the United States in the aftermath of the earthquake. And I’d like to mention to you that under these circumstances, the awareness of the importance of Japan-U.S. alliance has only increased, not just in the two governments but amongst the peoples of our two countries.

And in the 2+2 today, in the security consultative committee meeting today, we first took up the regional situation in East Asia. And so I – that the uncertainties in the security – regional security environment has been increasing. And building on that basic understanding, we agreed on new common strategic objectives.

Next, we discussed Japan-U.S. security and defense cooperation in the future and agreed on a deepening and expanding cooperation in a broad range of areas. In addition to regularizing the extended deterrence consultations, including nuclear, in the area of so-called global commons, we also agreed to have consultations on space and cyberspace as well. We also agreed to further advance in cooperation with countries that share – countries in the region that share values with us, in such settings as in Japan-U.S.-ROK, and Japan-U.S.-Australia trilateral cooperation, et cetera.

And also, with regard to U.S. forces, a realignment, that we also reaffirmed that we shall continue the consultations, the work that has been underway. The purpose of the realignment is to maintain deterrence and reduce burdens on local entities, and the agreement this time is to achieve both.

Also agreed on – and also, we confirmed close cooperation on reducing burdens on local communities, including on issues of – on preventing incidents and accidents and reducing – and dealing with noise issues.

I also believe that the 2+2 meeting this time managed to come up with very important – extremely important results, in setting the direction for future Japan-U.S. security cooperation in a broad range of areas. And on the basis of this joint statement, we’d like to continue to do all our best to further develop Japan-U.S. security relations and deepen Japan-U.S. alliance.

I’d like to also express our heartfelt gratitude to Secretary Clinton for hosting us and hosting this 2+2 meeting, and also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Secretary Gates for working very hard for this Japan-U.S. alliance until the very last – very end of his term. And let me also say that we can conclude this 2+2 meeting with pride for the results that we have achieved thanks to all the efforts that have been made by people concerned at the State Department, Defense Department, Ambassador Roos and all the others concerned. And I certainly would have to express — and of course to also express my gratitude to the – most of the important people that he got – people at the White House.

And with that, let me conclude my remarks. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY GATES: We had an excellent discussion today that focused on the most critical challenges facing the Asia Pacific region. Those included the denuclearization of North Korea, supporting continued progress in Afghanistan, and maritime security. We have also agreed on a framework to transfer jointly produced missile defense interceptors to third parties, to deepen our cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and to start new initiatives in space and cyber security.

The sight of U.S. and Japanese forces working side by side to bring aid to the survivors of the earthquake and tsunami in March demonstrated the high level of interoperability between U.S. and Japanese forces. It also validated years of investment by both nations in training and capabilities. It also demonstrated to a new generation in both countries the close bonds between our people and the value of this alliance.

As a Pacific power, the U.S. remains committed to maintaining a robust forward presence in East Asia. The decision announced today on the Futenma replacement facility configuration, along with other elements of the 2006 Realignment Roadmap, shows we are making steady progress toward modernizing U.S. forward presence in the region. It is critical that we move forward with the relocation of Futenma and construction of facilities in Guam for the U.S. Marines. Doing so will reduce the impact of our presence on local residents in Okinawa while allowing us to maintain capabilities critical to the alliance in Japan.

Close on a personal note: After coming to this position in late 2006, one of the most positive changes I saw from my last time in government was an extraordinary improvement in U.S.-Japanese relations. Those ties have only grown and deepened in recent years. I leave this post convinced that the future of our alliance is a bright one that will continue to be the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific.

Thank you.

DEFENSE MINISTER KITAZAWA: (Via interpreter) I assumed office as defense minister in September of 2009, and I am truly happy that I was able to attend this 2+2 meeting that was held for the first time in four years, and to engage in a very useful exchange of views, discussions with Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates.

I believe that the fact that this first 2+2 meeting since the inauguration of DPJ administration in Japan and producing important results in terms of – in the area of defense is a reflection of the maturity of Japanese democracy, and in that respect I think it’s been very significant.

Now, if I may add some commentary in my own way, in the past – the alliance in the past half a century, the Liberal Democratic Party continued to play a central role, while the opposition, not quite having majority, had voiced their opposition and criticism. Now that DPJ has come into power, we had this first 2+2 under a DPJ administration, and this means that more than 80 percent of the political forces in Japan are committed to the Japan-U.S. alliance. So I think this is very significant for the next half century of the alliance.

And let me briefly comment on the 2+2 meeting this time from my position as defense minister. We referred to the new defense program guidelines of Japan and the U.S. military transformation and agreed to strengthen the security and cooperation – security and defense cooperation in numerous areas. And I think we achieved an important result by agreeing on the criteria for agreeing to third-country transfers of SM-3 Block IIA and consultative mechanism for that purpose.

The Government of Japan is currently engaged in study for the – in order to deal with increasing sophistication of defense equipment and reducing costs involved against the backdrop of increasing trends for international code to (inaudible) and production. And on this we agreed to further promote such efforts, and the U.S. Government will encourage this – such efforts.

We also decided on the v-shape configuration for the runways in connection with the Futenma relocation issue, and I think this is very important progress towards the relocation of the facilities. We decided to remove the deadline of 2014 for its completion, but – in order to avoid the continued – forever continuing use of Futenma Air Station. We also confirmed a mutual strive for earliest possible relocation.

I also took the opportunity to express once again our heartfelt gratitude for the very generous support given by the United States in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and for the kindness extended and mentioned that the entire Japanese are grateful for the Operation Tomodachi and greatly encouraged by that.

I believe it’ll be very important for us to learn from the experience of the earthquake and adapt to changing circumstances. And I believe it’ll be very – extremely important for Japan and the United States to engage in discussions on various matters, including the idea of establishing a logistic hub for disaster relief and for the utilization of leading-edge technologies such as robots and UAVs. I explained this idea and the U.S. side concurred, which is – I’m very happy about that.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, the understanding of the significance of the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan, including the Marine Corps in Okinawa, I believe has been understood that has brought a greater sense of security to the Japanese people. And building the results of the 2+2 meeting this time, I’d like to continue to strive to further cement the ties that we have close to us, we have between our two countries, and for the deepen and advance our alliance.

Lastly, well, since Secretary Gates has said – towards his end of his remarks, he spoke on a personal note, let me also reciprocate by speaking on a personal note. Well, this will be my last meeting with Secretary Gates, but this also happened to be the seventh meeting that I’ve had with him over the years. And I would like to send a very warm applause to him as he leaves the stage, wishing that he would continue to apply his outstanding capability in the private sector, and if at all possible, I hope that he will be a regular attendant, participant at the Shangri-La Dialogue in the future as well. So let me conclude by expressing my heartfelt gratitude for the very significant contributions that he has made to date. (Applause.)

MS. NULAND: Unfortunately, given that we have consecutive translation today, we only have time for one question from the American side and one question from the Japanese side. From the American side, Jill Dougherty, CNN. Please.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, Secretary Gates says that the start of any drawdown in Afghanistan should be modest. Others, of course, think that it should be much speedier. What is your view on this, and which scenario would make it easier for the State Department personnel, USAID, other civilians in Afghanistan to carry out their mission?

And just a quick question on another subject, the Saudi women driver’s protest. We were told yesterday that you are engaged in quiet diplomacy. Some people think that it’s a little bit too quiet and they would say that perhaps the reason you’re doing that is because you do not want to offend the Saudi Government at a time when the United States really needs it, especially in the Mideast. Can you explain your views on that?

And Secretary Gates, if I could, you say that the drawdown has to be politically credible here at home. Could you explain a little bit more what you meant by that? Because of course, it could be open to interpretation that political considerations are driving this rather than the situation on the ground. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, let me start with respect to Afghanistan. And I think you would expect me to say that I will not have any comment before the President delivers the speech that he intends to make. The time for it has not yet been set, but we expect it will be occurring soon. In fact, Secretary Gates and I will be leaving here to go to the White House for further consultations with the President. And then I am scheduled to testify on Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And I’m sure, since the subject of the hearing is Afghanistan and Pakistan, I will have quite a bit to say and a lot of questions to answer, so at that time I will certainly respond to your concerns that you raised in the question.

With respect to Saudi Arabia and the ban on women driving, let me start by saying that this is about Saudi women themselves. They have joined together. They are acting on behalf of their own rights. This is not about the United States. It is about the women of Saudi Arabia. And what these women are doing is brave and what they are seeking is right. But the effort belongs to them. I am moved by it and I support them, but I want to underscore the fact that this is not coming from outside of their country. This is the women themselves seeking to be recognized.

And we have raised this issue at the highest level of the Saudi Government. We’ve made clear our views that women everywhere, including women in the Kingdom, have the right to make decisions about their lives and their futures. They have the right to contribute to society and to provide for their children and their families. And mobility, such as provided by the freedom to drive, provides access to economic opportunity, including jobs, which does fuel growth and stability. And it’s also important for just day-to-day life, to say nothing of the necessity from time to time to transport children for various needs and sometimes even emergencies.

Now, I know there is an active debate in Saudi Arabia on a range of social issues. For our part, we will continue in private and in public to urge all governments to address issues of discrimination and to ensure that women have the equal opportunity to fulfill their own God-given potential. But I want to, again, underscore and emphasize that this is not about the United States, it’s not about what any of us on the outside say; it is about the women themselves and their right to raise their concerns with their own government.

SECRETARY GATES: With respect to political credibility of the President’s decision, it simply was a – first of all, it was intended to be open to interpretation. And second, the President has to take into account on any national security issue sustainability here at home, both among the public and in the Congress. And it goes without saying that there are a lot of reservations in the Congress about the war in Afghanistan and our level of commitment. There are concerns among the American people, who are tired of a decade of war. So the President obviously has to take those matters into consideration as well as the conditions on the ground in Afghanistan in making his decision.

MS. NULAND: Last question, Mr. Sakaguchi, Mainichi Shimbun.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) I’d like to ask both Minister Kitazawa and Secretary Gates about a veto of Futenma relocation and U.S. forces realignment. Following the inauguration of the DPJ administration, there was some confusion regarding the U.S. forces realignment, whereas now, the situation has really returned to – with it, understanding agreement under the LDP Komeito coalition government. So what do you think of this whole process that has led to the current situation?

As for the Futenma relocation issue, there is now some voice in the U.S. Congress seeking review, revisiting the Futenma relocation agreement itself in view of fiscal pressures. Would there be a possibility for the two governments to reconsider their Futenma understanding?

DEFENSE MINISTER KITAZAWA: (Via interpreter) Well, let me start first. The suggestion, I think, was that under the DPJ administration, we simply returned to the proposal that was being worked on by the previous government. In the overall Japanese politics, this issue has been regarded, is regarded as a major issue that needs to be dealt with. And therefore, when the DPJ administration came in, we looked into this Japan-U.S. and – Government agreement established by the previous administration. We looked into it and studied it very carefully, and studied from various angles. And as a result, we have arrived at today’s agreement on the configuration at this candidate site. Now if you suggest that this has been loss of time, I would say this is a cost that entails democracy as we have a change of government under democracy.

Opinions in Okinawa are very harsh, and we confirmed in our meeting today that we and Japan will do our – make our best efforts to try and get the understanding of Governor Nakaima of Okinawa and the local people there. The purpose of U.S. realignment, as I mentioned earlier, is to maintain deterrence and to reduce local impact, the local burden. And so we’ll be working on U.S. forces – the Japan-U.S. agreement – achieve the Japan-U.S. agreement in order to achieve both objectives. And to that end, let me say that we’ll continue to make our maximum efforts.

SECRETARY GATES: Secretary Clinton and I both informed our colleagues this morning that the letter from Senators Webb and Levin about the realignment is really a manifestation of growing congressional impatience with the lack of progress. We both reaffirmed the U.S. Government’s commitment to the 2006 realignment plan, but at the same time emphasized the importance of concrete progress over the course of the next year.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

 


Secretary Clinton: Holding Iranian Human Rights Abusers Accountable

In June 2009, the world watched as Iran’s security forces violently suppressed thousands of Iranians who were calling for transparency and accountability in their government. Nearly two years after Iran’s brave citizens took to the streets, the struggle for civil liberties and fundamental rights continues. Today, the United States has sanctioned three Iranian government entities complicit in the ongoing brutal repression – the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Basij Resistance Force, and Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) – as well as LEF Commander Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam.

While Iran’s leaders hypocritically applaud protesters abroad calling for self-determination, many of Iran’s own citizens — including founding members of the revolution — are being held as political prisoners merely for holding views contrary to Iran’s leaders. Iranians are being executed for crimes based on dubious charges and without the due process guaranteed under Iran’s constitution. Religious and ethnic minorities are intimidated and imprisoned, while women’s rights activists, human rights defenders, clerics, and labor leaders are targeted for retribution for seeking human rights for themselves and other Iranian citizens. By barring many of Iran’s most accomplished artists, journalists, and academics from working, and forcing many to flee their homeland, the Iranian government restricts the space where free thought and expression can flourish.

The United States stands with all Iranians who wish for a government that respects their human rights, their dignity and their freedom, and we call on the Iranian government to end its systematic human rights abuses and political hypocrisy. Today’s sanctions reflect our commitment to hold accountable those governments and officials that violate human rights and deprive their citizens of the opportunities and future they deserve.

 


Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin After Their Meeting

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining me and the foreign minister. We’ve just had an excellent meeting that capped a day of intensive dialogue between our governments. The foreign minister and I addressed our delegations earlier, and I certainly underscored how impressed and inspired we are by Colombia’s progress and eager to expand our work together on the full range of issues that we have common concerns about.

Colombia has emerged as a regional and global partner. It sits on the UN Security Council, trains police to help 16 other nations to meet their security challenges, and through the leadership of both the president and the foreign minister, has played the leading role in bringing Honduras back into the inter-American system. At home, President Santos and his government are taking bold steps to heal Colombia’s wounds, redress grievances, consolidate democratic freedoms, and promote human rights. And of course, we are absolutely committed to passing the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement to open new markets and create jobs and opportunities for both of our peoples.

Since the first High Level Partnership Dialogue last October, Colombia has made significant progress on human, labor, and civil rights. And we are committed to working with Colombia as they continue their progress. We also discussed social and economic development, climate change, environmental protection, energy, education, and culture.

We had a very productive and wide-ranging dialogue, and Colombia’s progress is a testament to the courage and vision of the Colombian people and their leaders. And it’s also a reminder to the United States about why we sustain investments in our friends and our partners even through tight budgets and tough times.

So, Foreign Minister, thank you so much for the opportunity to work with you on these very important issues.

FOREIGN MINISTER HOLGUIN: (Via interpreter) Thank you, Secretary Clinton. To me, to us, it’s a great pleasure to be here today working at the State Department. We truly value the effort and support that the United States has shown Colombia over the course of many decades.

I believe that the success that Colombia has had in the fight against terrorism, against drug trafficking, is due to U.S. support. We have a well-trained police. We have one of the strongest military forces in the region. And today we are happy to take a second step to take drug trafficking or reduce the importance of drug trafficking and think about other issues that are important for us as well – energy, education, science and technology, environment – and to focus on these issues that are important to both of us in our relationship.

We believe that the work that both delegations have undertaken today lead us to developing a specific agenda on a number of issues that will help us further consolidate the relationship that has been strong in the past.

I want to thank Secretary Clinton for supporting Colombia’s aspirations to accede to the OECD. It’s a great opportunity for us to improve practices in our country, and we thank the United States for their support in this endeavor.

As Secretary Clinton said, we talked about the region, we talked about Honduras, and Colombia is very happy to have given its part to reestablishing Honduras within the organization and to do its part to strengthen democracy throughout the region.

And we talked about the issue of security, and Colombia here has cooperated greatly with Central America and the Caribbean on issues related to the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking. And as we talked before, we can continue to be great allies in helping the region, and we believe we can truly contribute to improving the situation throughout.

We thank Secretary Clinton for her support on the FTA, for support on the preferences. We are abiding by the commitments that we achieved during the April agreement, and we are happy to see that our dream that we’ve held for so many months is about to come into fruition.

We also talked about the Summit of the Americas. Colombia will be a host of the summit in April of 2012, and we’ve been talking with many countries about the organization of the summit and we have U.S. support to this end. We want to have discussions on a number of issues that join us, and we hope to have support in the region and throughout the continent, and we’ll see you in Cartagena next year.

I thank you for the work today. I think this is an important step towards strengthening our relationship, a relationship that is no doubt strong already, but there is always room for improvement. Thank you very much.

MR. TONER: We have time for just a few questions. The first goes to Elise Labott from CNN.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. On Pakistan, the Pakistanis have said they’re going to take a new offensive into North Waziristan. Do you see this as a positive sign in response to some of the things that you discussed on your trip in terms of the Pakistanis needing to take action?

And then there are some very troubling signs in the Middle East today. There’s been reports in Syria of the torturing of a young boy, and in Yemen as well the violence is – the government is cracking down on the opposition even further. And it seems as in this second wave of the Arab Spring, if you will, the dictators are really digging in. And in fact, even as you call for them to make a transition, they’re cracking down even further and furthering their oppression. I was wondering if you had some thoughts on that.

Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Elise, first with regard to Pakistan, as I said on our recent visit, Pakistan is a key ally in our joint fight against terrorists that threaten both of us as well as the region and beyond. And when I was there, we discussed our cooperative efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida and to also drive the associated terrorists who are targeting both Pakistanis and, across the border in Afghanistan, Americans, coalition troops, and Afghans. So we are discussing a number of approaches that we think could assist us in this very important fight.

I would also add that there is no doubt that the progress we have made against al-Qaida and terrorists could have not have happened without Pakistani cooperation between our governments, our militaries, our intelligence agencies. And there’s still a lot of work to be done, so we are in the process of discussing what more the Pakistanis could do. We will continue to do our part working together.

With respect to Syria, I too was very concerned by the reports about the young boy. In fact, I think what that symbolizes for many Syrians is the total collapse of any effort by the Syrian Government to work with and listen to their own people. And I think that as the President said in his speech last week, President Asad has a choice, and every day that goes by the choice is made by default. He has not called an end to the violence against his own people and he has not engaged seriously in any kind of reform efforts. And I have here the name of the young boy whose body was so brutally affected by the behavior and the conduct of those who had him in detention: Hamza Ali al-Khateeb. And I can only hope that this child did not die in vain but that the Syrian Government will end the brutality and begin a transition to real democracy.

QUESTION: Have they completely lost legitimacy?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s up to the Syrian people themselves. We’ve obviously, along with others, imposed sanctions, spoken out. We’ve closely coordinated with allies and partners. We’ve imposed an arms embargo. We’ve led the call for a special session in the United Nations. But I think that every day that goes by, the position of the government becomes less tenable and the demands of the Syrian people for change only grow stronger. And therefore, we continue to urge an end to the violence and the commencement of a real process that could lead to the kinds of changes that are called for.

MR. TONER: Our next question goes to Sergio Gomez Maseri of El Tiempo.

QUESTION: Thanks, Madam Secretary and Minister Holguin. You just mentioned that the U.S. is absolutely committed to the passage of the FTA. However, the FTAs – and I mean Colombia, Panama, and Korea – are all hostage of an internal dispute between Republicans and Democrats that has caused deep frustration in Colombia and also questions that come in that you were talking about. So can you tell us if you’re still confident, as you say a couple months ago here, that the FTAs are – are these FTAs going to be passed this year?

And a question for both: Can you comment on what’s expected tomorrow on the general assembly of the OAS regarding Honduras?

FOREIGN MINISTER HOLGUIN: (Via interpreter) On the issue of Honduras, I can say that we are convinced that Honduras will be brought back into the OAS tomorrow, and there has been negotiations on the resolution that took place last week and today. And I can say that most countries, if not all, wish to see Honduras return to the OAS and wish to see the strengthening of democracy in that country, and I can say that the only surprise that we can expect tomorrow is Honduras coming back to the organization.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And yes, I am confident that we are going to pass the Free Trade Agreement. I hope that the people of Colombia do not lose heart in watching the activities of our Congress, because there always is a lot of rhetoric and skirmishing between the parties before they finally hit the deadline to get the work done. And so I am absolutely sure we’re going to get it passed.

QUESTION: Can you (inaudible) Honduras?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I agree with the foreign minister. And I commend Colombia for the leadership role that it has played in enabling us to reintegrate Honduras tomorrow at the OAS.

Thank you all very much.

 


Remarks at the U.S.-Colombia High-Level Partnership Dialogue

SECRETARY CLINTON: Please, be seated. And thank you so much for what I have heard has been a very productive day as we put some meat on the bones of the High-Level Partnership Dialogue. And I’m very pleased to be here with the foreign minister and the entire Colombian delegation. This is the second-ever U.S.-Colombian High-Level Partnership Dialogue, and we meet at a time when there is so much going on in our hemisphere and around the world, and we are inspired and greatly admiring of all that Colombia has accomplished.

For me, it is just a stark comparison. Where citizens once lived in fear to exercise their right to vote, now we have peaceful democratic elections that are really the envy of so many other countries that have not been able to make that transition. We see now not only Colombia consolidating gains internally, but reaching out to help neighbors in so many respects, and I am delighted that we are building on the strong relationship that we’ve had over the past years. Of course, we’re so committed to the passage of the Free Trade Agreement. We know – which is what President Obama has stated publicly and unequivocally – that this will bring jobs and growth to both of our countries. It will also help to support the security gains that Colombia has made, and, as our two presidents have agreed, it opens even a broader vista for greater cooperation on the spectrum of our shared challenges and opportunities.

Many of you have been involved in this conversation for a long time, and today, with the convening of five working groups, three for the first time, we hope there will be even greater contact between officials of our two governments and more creative approaches to cooperation. Human rights have been a focal point in our dialogue, and I am very honored that Vice President Garzon joined with Deputy Secretary Steinberg to continue the conversations which they started last October in Bogota. And we know that this is a high priority for the Santos administration, to improve on human rights, labor rights, and civil rights.

We also are strongly supportive of your efforts to return families who are displaced by violence to their homes and to end impunity for abuses, and I understand there was agreement to track, on a monthly basis, the progress of important human rights cases. This kind of whole-of-government effort, bringing together experts on security, development, and the rule of law – all of whom are with us today – is a way to really focus the attention of us all.

The Energy Working Group is working to expand our partnership on fossil fuels and clean energy, and the very promising ideas that Colombia has presented for linking electric grids across Latin America. For the first time, the Climate Change and Environmental Protection Working Group was convened. Colombia exercised leadership in Cancun, and we want to deepen our diplomatic cooperation at future climate talks and to find new ways to develop strategies for expanding development without increasing carbon emissions.

And an issue that is particularly close to my heart is inclusive development, and I am very impressed that the Santos administration has adopted this as a goal. The Social and Economic Working Group discussed Colombia’s national development plan, and the United States wants to support this impressive investment in the Colombian people and to look for how we can reach out to all Colombians, in particular indigenous and Afro-Caribbean populations. And I was at the OECD just a few days ago in Paris, and I want to underscore that we want to support Colombia’s bid to join the OECD.

And finally, the Culture and Education Working Group met on how each country can expand access to education, preserve ancient cultures, optimize people-to-people exchanges such as the Fulbright Scholarship that brought President Santos to the United States 31 years ago. We’ve been working closely together for a long time, but I really believe this dialogue represents a deeper engagement than we’ve ever had before. Certainly during the ’90s, an era that I am somewhat familiar with in American politics, we began a very close working relationship on behalf of security. But now, given the extraordinary gains that Colombia has made, the United States wants to support the priorities that President Santos is able to promote, to build on an environment that does provide more physical security, to move now to human security and all of the issues that go with economic growth, with social and cultural transformation.

Now, some I know say, well, when people come and talk, what happens? And I think it’s too simplistic a question, because one really never knows what can happen through this kind of engagement, through getting to know one another, through building relationships. I’m convinced in the absence of that, the answer is easy: Not much will happen. But given this level of engagement that we saw in action, I’m told, at lunch with so many different people coming from across our government and yours to discuss a way forward on the range of issues that are important, there is an extraordinary opportunity here.

And I thank you for your hard work on behalf of Colombia, and I thank my colleagues in government for your hard work on behalf of this very important relationship that we have between our two countries. I wanted to come this afternoon to underscore the importance that we place on it and to thank you not only for what you have done, which presents such an extraordinary model for so many others, but for the increasing role that you are playing in the region and the world.

Just in the last few months, the work that the president and the foreign minister have led on the reintegration of Honduras into the OAS, which we hope and trust occurs tomorrow – it could not have happened without creative diplomacy and Colombian leadership. The role that Colombia is playing on the Security Council, the strong support for standing against the abusive actions of Qadhafi in Libya, and of looking for ways to hold governments accountable for their mistreatment of their own citizens – again, Colombia is playing a global leadership role.

So on so many fronts, this is a relationship that is on a solid foundation but has the opportunity to become so much more for the benefit not only of the people of Colombia, but I would say for our own people in the United States the kind of positive, open relationship that we hope to see even stronger in the future, we think is very much in the interests of the United States as well as Colombia. We actually have a lot to learn from you, and we look forward to the opportunities that this partnership dialogue provides to do just that.

Let me now invite the foreign minister to the podium for her remarks and, as she comes forward, to thank her for her leadership also in the last months. Thank you. (Applause.)

FOREIGN MINISTER HOLGUIN: (Via interpreter) Madam Secretary Hillary Clinton, Mr. Ambassador McKinley, Mr. Ambassador Gabriel Silva, esteemed members of the U.S. and Colombian delegations, I would like to express my satisfaction with the work conducted today during the Second Session of the High-Level Partnership Dialogue that got started in Bogota on October 25th. These dialogue working groups in democracy and human rights, energy, environment and climate change, economic opportunities in society, culture and education, have allowed us to get to know the broad range of issues that we need to work on a bilateral agenda together.

Colombia has a strategic relationship with the United States based on historic and shared values, and this is perhaps one of the most successful cases of cooperation. Over the last eight years of our Democratic Security Policy, we’ve been able to move forward towards democratic prosperity and to think about issues that go beyond the internal security situation, which continues to be our national priority, to move forward and think about our country’s comprehensive development.

We’ve faced scourges like drug trafficking and terrorism for decades. We have shared a vision, and we have been consistent in our cooperation and international positions on the matter. Our joint search for solutions will be current among our priorities, and we will continue to build with the U.S., with the forum – the international forum against terrorism. Colombia has become a partner, given the priorities it has developed in the international fight against terrorism. That is why today we can develop a cooperation strategy against a lack of security in the fight against transnational crime, which we can work on together in response to Mexico’s needs as well as Central America. In the Caribbean’s needs, we are undertaking ambitious cooperation projects in this fight, cooperation that we’re also extending to countries in western Africa, countries that are no doubt your great partners as well.

And the respect for differences and the search for common destiny with equity and equality for all when giving priority to the fight against – priority against – fighting poverty make our region a peaceful region. Based on cooperation and respect, we’ve been able to recover and strengthen our relationship with our neighbors without declining in our main priority in national security. We are a bridge country in the Americas. We join north and south. We are a platform for dialogue, and in that sense we will continue to build a political and economic joint space that seeks our well being. The selection of a Colombian and appointment as the general secretary of UNASUR is a testament to the positive role that Colombia can play in the region. We have established same goals with Chile, Peru, and Ecuador, countries with whom we share an economic and political vision. And to ensure sustainable development, we are also developing an interconnection scheme with Peru, Ecuador, and Chile, as well as with Panama, towards Central America.

We are an energy-generating country, and as infrastructure projects develop, we will be providers of energy to an important swath of the continent. Our role is not limited to fossil fuel production or hydroelectric production, and the production of bio-fuels and the potential for wind energy in these areas has increased significantly, and we hope to see projects come into fruition in this area soon. Our conviction with democracy backs the unrestricted support of human rights protection. The land law for victims will drastically change the structure in our country and will set new goals for development and progress for all. It is a great challenge that lies ahead. And during the October meeting, I mentioned this as a possibility. Today, it is a reality.

I invite all U.S. sectors to understand the changes and challenges that we face and to join our country’s willingness to change and solve the problems that have marred us for decades. If you look at us differently, I know that you will find the values and the integrity of a society that has not let adversity beat it. And as a country – Colombia is a country that is a permanent ally of the United States, and we are grateful for the support we’ve received. We want to continue to move forward with this cooperation in the framework of a broader and more innovative agenda that will allow us to move forward for the development of our countries.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

 


Shifting Sands: Political Transitions in the Middle East

Assistant Secretary of State Michael H. Posner

Assistant Secretary of State Michael H. Posner

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Ackerman, distinguished Members of the Committee:

Thank you for inviting us to testify before this committee on the subject of political transitions in the Middle East. You rightly recognize that this is a pivotal moment in the Middle East and North Africa. National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon said recently that the Arab Spring is an event comparable to the fall of the Ottoman Empire or the decolonization of the Middle East following the Second World War. And historians will long be debating these momentous developments. President Obama has often said that the future of the Middle East will be written by its own people, not by any foreign power. This administration stands with those in the region who call for peaceful, democratic transitions, for tolerance and pluralism. Our policy approach is both pragmatic and in keeping with American principles, values and interests.

We view this as a moment of great challenge and great opportunity – and the two are inexorably linked. Last month, Secretary Clinton noted that uprisings across the region have exposed a number of myths: The “myth that governments can hold on to power without responding to their people’s aspirations or respecting their rights; the myth that the only way to produce change in the region is through violence and conflict; and, most pernicious of all, the myth that Arabs do not share universal human aspirations for freedom, dignity, and opportunity.”

The protests and upheaval we have witnessed in so many countries has the potential to bring about a region that is more democratic, more economically dynamic, and more responsive to the needs and aspirations of its citizens. As Secretary Clinton has said, the status quo in the Middle East is unsustainable, and genuine democratic changes in that region will make countries both more stable and, in the long run, likely to be more in sync with the interests of the United States and our closest allies. But she also has warned of the danger that democratic transitions can be hijacked by undemocratic forces, giving rise to new autocracies. We need to shape our policies in the region to encourage peaceful democratic transitions and to help prevent the rise of such new autocracies.

The Obama administration believes that democratic transitions must be home grown. The challenge falls to the people and the leaders of the region to achieve the brighter future they desire – a future in which governments respond to the aspirations of their people and view it as their duty to protect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the dignity that all people desire and deserve. But the United States has a keen interest in their success, and we can play a key supporting role. We have done and will do this by acknowledging, supporting and empowering the democratic and reformist voices from the region. And we will continue to do this by speaking honestly about the need to respect human rights and shun violence. We continue to tell all governments, friendly or not, that the use of violence to suppress peaceful expression is wrong and destabilizing, both to the governments that resort to violence and to the region as a whole.

Much has been said about the alleged conflict between our democratic values and our desire for stability in the Middle East. This is a false dichotomy. The United States has a profound interest in regional stability, and we believe that respect for universal human rights and the principle that governments are accountable to their people are in fact key components of long-term stability.

As popular movements for political change take on the immense challenges facing their respective countries, political outcomes will have a significant impact on stability in the region. If the region’s movements for greater democracy, opportunity, dignity, and accountability fail to produce successful transitions to more inclusive and transparent democratic systems, the Middle East will be unable to overcome its mounting economic and social challenges. These challenges are well established, from stagnant economies saddled by corruption, inequality, and unemployment, to resource depletion, to the marginalization of women and minorities, and they add up to an unsustainable status quo.

The United States remains steadfast in our commitment to advancing our core interests in the region and defending the security of our allies. And we are explicit about our interests: We seek a comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbors. We seek to combat terrorism and the dark ideologies of extremist groups. We seek to stop Iran’s illicit nuclear activity and curb its destabilizing influence in the region. We seek to cement a long-term partnership with an Iraq that is peaceful, sovereign, self-reliant, and reintegrated into the Arab world. We seek to maintain the continued flow of critical energy resources to the global economy. And we seek broad-based prosperity. Regional stability has always been a key factor in our ability to channel energies and marshal coordination in service of all these goals.

In light of the role of stability in promoting U.S. interests, we have an enormous stake in the outcome of the Arab Spring. Going forward, the regional stability we seek to advance our interests can only be sustained if the processes of democratic reform advance. As Secretary Clinton noted, when there is a gap between the government and the needs and ambitions of the people, states grow more brittle and less stable. In the long run, governments that are responsive to their people are the best guarantors of stability, and the best partners for the United States.

Furthermore, the peaceful, homegrown, non-ideological movements that have put Egypt and Tunisia on the path of democratic transition offer a powerful repudiation of the false narrative espoused by al-Qaeda and other extremist elements that violence is the only way to effect change. Thus, events in the region today present an opportunity not only for the advancement of universal values and human rights but also a strategic opportunity for the United States and our allies.

Our response to the upheaval in the Middle East has been rooted in a consistent set of principles: We have opposed the use of violence against peaceful protesters and supported the universal rights of free expression, assembly, and association and the right to participate in the affairs of the state. We have strongly condemned, including in multilateral fora, the killing, torture, and abuse of peaceful protestors. We have made clear our view that people’s legitimate demands and aspirations must be met by positive engagement from governments, in the form of meaningful political and economic reforms.

Our policy responses also take into account the interrelationship between political and economic change, because we know that people have not put themselves in harm’s way so that they could vote in one single election; rather, they seek to transform the relationship between themselves and their government – they seek a system of democratic governance that delivers results for them and their families. As we offer support and encouragement to governments and people pursuing political change, we are also looking to bolster the economic progress that can help make that change sustainable over time. And we have mobilized the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to provide up to $2 billion in financial support for private-sector investments in the Middle East and North Africa.

We are keeping a close eye on religious minorities, who are often even more vulnerable to violence and abuse during such tumultuous times, and who rightly view religious freedom as part and parcel of the universal rights democracy promises. We are also concerned with ensuring that democratic change, where it comes, is inclusive – that means that women have an equal voice at the bargaining table and minorities are fairly represented.

Iran provides a powerful cautionary tale for the transitions underway. Iranians’ democratic aspirations in 1979 and 2009 were subverted by a brutal dictatorship. Throughout Iran, security forces have beaten, detained, and in several recent cases killed peaceful protesters, even as Iran’s president has made a show of denouncing the violence against civilians in Libya and other places. But we are holding Iranians who are responsible for human rights abuses to account. The United States and the European Union have sanctioned serious human rights abusers and joined a broad coalition of nations at the UN Human Rights Council to create a Special Rapporteur position for human rights in Iran. We will not remain silent as the Iranian government seeks to squelch the voices of its own people.

The path ahead will look different in each country of the region, and so too will our support for each unique process. But the trends that produced this dramatic moment in the Middle East have been building for many years, and they are not likely to fade soon. No part of the region has been untouched, and already we can say that the Middle East will never be the same again.

Tunisia and Egypt have begun the process of democratic transition and, if successful, are poised to offer a promising example to their neighbors for the power of peaceful movements to bring about meaningful change. Other states, including Jordan, Morocco, and Oman, have taken some initial positive steps toward political and economic reform, but all have more to do. In others, including Yemen and Bahrain, for example, much more work remains to reverse disturbing trends, hold security forces accountable for abuses, and initiate democratic reforms that improve equality and participation.

In Egypt, the military council deserves credit for responding to the aspirations of the Egyptian people for democracy and taking steps to meet many of their immediate demands. They have supervised a process for initial constitutional amendments, which were overwhelmingly passed in a referendum last month and which set the stage for democratic elections and the end of the emergency law. They issued a vastly improved political parties law; have taken early steps toward reorganizing the state security apparatus; publicly committed to lifting the emergency law before holding free, fair, and transparent democratic elections; recognized independent unions; and oversaw the successful constitutional referendum. The Egyptian Armed Forces also rebuilt a church in the village of Sol, which had been destroyed by mob violence on March 4.

We will be closely tracking the military’s implementation of all of its commitments, especially the lifting of the emergency law before elections take place. Moreover, we remain concerned about continued detentions by the military and quick trials of civilian protestors in military courts in a process that does not provide essential procedural safeguards.

We have received reports that dozens of people are in prison after being arrested at or near the site of peaceful protests. Military courts have tried protestors in proceedings that have sometimes taken less than an hour, with limited or no access to counsel. For example, on February 28, Amr al-Beheiry was sentenced to five years in prison after a one-day military trial following his participation in a peaceful protest on February 26. He was not allowed legal representation.

On April 14, the Supreme Military Council committed to “review the detentions of all the youth…tried in the recent period.” We are continuing to engage with the Supreme Military Council to encourage them to fulfill this commitment.

On a broader scale we also are concerned about sectarian violence and legal discrimination of religious minorities, and the limited participation by women in all aspects of the transitional process.

Egypt’s long-standing economic troubles contributed to the revolution, and the recent upheaval has made the country’s economic distress acute. The state of the economy, including unemployment rates, will of course affect the prospects for successful transition to democracy. We are consulting with our international partners and international financial institutions on ways to help. We have made available $165 million in bilateral funds toward meeting immediate needs for economic recovery and democracy and governance programming, and we are looking at avenues to potentially increase these commitments. We are working closely with Congress to increase access to capital available to the private sector, particularly for small and medium enterprises, taking the lessons learned from Eastern Europe to structure a successful Enterprise Fund for Egypt. We are exploring possible expansion of the Qualifying Industrial Zone program, which stimulates growth and deepens the U.S.-Egyptian partnership, as well as evaluating several other options for broader economic support to be responsive and demonstrate clear support of Egypt and its people.

The U.S. Government’s support for democracy and good governance in Egypt is a coordinated effort involving offices at the State Department and USAID. The State Department’s Bureau of Human Rights, Labor and Democracy (DRL) is focusing on political party development, with an emphasis on women, and on technical assistance for the upcoming parliamentary and presidential election, including training poll-watchers and helping nascent parties develop, maintain and represent their constituents. DRL is also working to strengthen independent labor unions because they are key actors in the larger political dialogue. It also supports programs to bolster independent media, including the training of bloggers, women and youth in multimedia journalism, and teaching the nuts and bolts of election coverage. And it helps train civil society groups that will be critical to building the institutions of sustainable democracy and monitoring and protecting human rights. DRL will use a portion of the reprogrammed and repositioned $165 million in Economic Support Funds for Egypt for these activities, and will collaborate with USAID and other relevant offices at State to ensure complementary roles.

In Tunisia, preparations are underway for the election this summer of a constituent assembly that will rewrite the constitution and chart the next steps in the country’s democratic transition. We applaud a number of steps already taken, including the interim Government of Tunisia’s efforts to improve human rights protections and its endorsement of the country’s personal status code protecting the rights of women. Tunisia has prepared a new elections law, and dozens of new political parties are organizing to compete. The United States is committed to helping secure a democratic transition that delivers results and sustainable economic development for all the people of Tunisia. Thus far, the Administration has identified nearly $30 million to help Tunisians build the capacity of civil society, political parties and media, to conduct free and fair elections, to promote transparency and accountability, to support youth employability, and to advance private sector development.

Of the nearly $30 million in assistance targeted to Tunisia, the Department of State’s Office of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) is providing $20 million to support Tunisian efforts during their democratic transition. These funds are being channeled through Tunisian and international NGOs to shape an independent, professional, and pluralistic media sector; build a vibrant civil society; strengthen democratic political parties; develop a sound framework for free elections; enact economic reforms and expand entrepreneurship. MEPI has already awarded initial grants to both Tunisian and international NGOs and continues to seek innovative proposals through a year-long open competition. USAID is providing approximately $10 million in support for the political process. As with Egypt, relevant offices, including in the bureaus of Near East Affairs and Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and USAID are working closely together.

Finally, because trade will be critical to building a more robust Tunisian economy, we are encouraging legal and economic reforms that would facilitate more open trade and private sector investment,

In Yemen, the United States supports a peaceful and orderly transfer of power in accordance with the Yemeni people’s demand for better governance that is more responsive to their needs and aspirations. A solution to Yemen’s problems will not be found through security measures, but through political dialogue, free elections, and more transparent and accountable governance. We urge the participation of all sides, including youth, in a dialogue to reach a solution that will be supported by the Yemeni people. Yemeni citizens, like people everywhere, have the right to demonstrate peacefully, to assemble, and to express themselves without fear of violence, arrest or death. We strongly urge all sides to refrain from violence.

The United States has welcomed the Gulf Coordination Council’s (GCC) initiative for supporting political transition in Yemen. As the situation unfolds, it will be critical to maintain active U.S. support on security, governance, and development to help the government of Yemen to preserve rule of law, maintain and improve service delivery, prepare for presidential elections, and draft a new constitution.

U.S. assistance policy on Yemen is two-pronged: we provide security and counterterrorism support to combat the immediate threat of terrorism, while delivering economic and technical support directly to local communities to help counter long-term drivers of instability, such as unemployment, poverty, and ineffective governance. The current political crisis in Yemen has rendered this work more difficult in the short-term, but has reaffirmed and emphasized its importance over the long-term.

We will continue to closely coordinate our assistance efforts with those of other donor countries. Through the Friends of Yemen process, for example, the United States harmonizes political and economic assistance efforts with partners including the IMF and the UN.

We are deeply concerned by what we are seeing in Bahrain. The operation to clear the streets of protests in March may at this point have restored superficial law-and-order, but now has given way to a campaign of retribution against elements of the political opposition, civil society, professional groups including medical practitioners, and Shi’a community leaders. Close to 600 people have been detained since March 17, including journalists, bloggers, teachers, human rights activists, medical staff, and political activists.

We have repeatedly raised our concerns with the Government of Bahrain, and made clear that security operations will not resolve the challenges Bahrain faces. Only a credible, peaceful, productive political process that addresses the legitimate aspirations of the Bahraini people will resolve the crisis. Targeting opposition figures for arrest, including political moderates, undermines any attempt by the Government of Bahrain to engage in a national dialogue. We have also expressed our concerns to the other Gulf Cooperation Council members and remain actively engaged with Bahrain and its neighbors, as well as with civil society and political societies inside Bahrain, in efforts to help rebuild trust and to create a climate where a productive political dialogue is possible.

The Administration has consistently spoken out against the Syrian government’s killing, torture, detention, and abuse of peaceful protestors, with President Obama condemning these actions “in the strongest possible terms.” He continued, “This outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now…We strongly oppose the Syrian government’s treatment of its citizens and we continue to oppose its continued destabilizing behavior more generally, including support for terrorism and terrorist groups.”

As the Syrian government’s abuses of human rights escalated, the Administration responded by leading the international community in calling a special session at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that produced a strong resolution unequivocally condemning the Syrian government’s use of lethal violence against its citizens. The UN resolution also created an independent UN investigation into the recent violence, and called on the Syrian authorities to release prisoners of conscience and those arbitrarily detained, including lawyers, human rights defenders, and journalists, and to lift restrictions on internet access, telecommunication, and international journalists. We have also taken additional, unilateral steps. President Obama issued a new Executive Order specifically targeting individuals and entities responsible for human rights abuses in Syria with financial sanctions, as we recently did in the case of Iran. We coordinated this action with the European Union, and we expect the EU’s imposition of targeted sanctions will greatly amplify the impact of our efforts. We are closely monitoring the status of religious minorities in Syria who are increasingly worried for their safety as the situation destabilizes the country.

Since the protests in Syria began, U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford has conveyed our grave concerns directly to the Syrian government at the highest levels, and has played a vital role behind the scenes in obtaining the release of American citizens who were arrested by the Syrian security services. Ambassador Ford has also provided invaluable insights for our policy decisions, giving us a window into the thinking of senior regime figures, human rights and democracy activists, and other non-governmental contacts. His ongoing work is particularly important because the Syrian government has banned international media from reporting inside Syria, creating a dearth of credible information about events on the ground.

In Libya, the United States continues to play a critical role in the international coalition seeking to protect Libyan civilians and enforce UN Resolutions 1970 and 1973. Secretary Clinton and Undersecretary Burns have joined foreign officials in an international contact group on Libya. The united voice of the international community has made clear that there must be a transition in Libya that reflects the will of the Libyan people and the departure of Qadhafi from power.

We are assessing options for the types of assistance we could provide to the Libyan people, and are consulting directly with the Libyan opposition and our international partners about these matters, including delivery of critical humanitarian assistance. The United States alone is providing $53.5 million to meet humanitarian needs within Libya and to evacuate and assist those fleeing the violence in Libya. USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team to the region March 1, initially based in Tunisia and Egypt. Humanitarian assistance experts reached Benghazi, Libya, in early April to determine relief needs, advise and shape the U.S. response, and work with other donors and non-governmental organizations in getting assistance to people in need. Furthermore, the President has agreed to send up to $25 million in non-lethal assistance to the Transitional National Council (TNC) for use by their security forces. The items we are providing will include medical supplies, boots, tents, rations, and personal protective gear. We are continuing to work with the TNC to determine whether there is other assistance we can provide.

Even in Libya, where Colonel Qadhafi responded to his people’s protests with extreme violence and threats of worse, we can see reasons for optimism. Not only in the international community’s success in preventing the imminent slaughter of tens of thousands in the city of Benghazi and mounting international pressure on Qadhafi to end his brutal attacks, but also in the swift and unified international action that enabled this response. As Secretary Clinton noted in her address to the U.S.-Islamic World Forum last month:

In the past, when confronted with such a crisis, all too often the leaders of North Africa and the Middle East averted their eyes or closed ranks. But not this time. Not in this new era. The OIC, the GCC issued strong statements. The Arab League convened in Cairo, in the midst of all of the commotion of Egypt’s democratic transition, to condemn the violence and suspend Libya from the organization, even though Colonel Qadhafi held the League’s rotating presidency. The Arab League went on to call for a no-fly zone… But that’s not all. The Arab League affirmed – and again I quote – “the right of the Libyan people to fulfill their demands and build their own future and institutions in a democratic framework.” That is a remarkable statement. And that is a reason to hope.

The peoples of the Middle East and North Africa have never been immune to the universal yearnings of human beings for freedom, dignity, and opportunity. But now, for the first time, citizens across the region are raising their voices to demand democratic change, and governments are beginning to respond. But all the signs of progress in recent months, and all the potential we see today for a more democratic, stable, and prosperous region will only be realized if more leaders in more places move faster and further to embrace their citizens’ aspirations for freedom, dignity and opportunity. If leaders engage positively with their people to answer the region’s most pressing challenges – to open their political systems, curb corruption, and respect the rights of all of their citizens – then this inspiring moment will truly be a turning point for the Middle East.

Fundamentally, this moment of profound transformation was generated by the peoples of the Middle East, and they are the ones who will shape their future. But the United States has a stake in their success, and we stand with those across the region who are working for peaceful democratic change. We are committed to the future of this region where we have so many key interests, and we believe in the potential of its people. As citizens and leaders in the Middle East and North Africa move down the path of democratic change, we will support their efforts. And we look forward to the day when all the citizens of the region, men and women of all faiths, are able to have their voices heard, their rights respected, and their aspirations met. We look forward to continuing to work with this Committee and the Congress to help make that future a reality.

 


Executive Order –Blocking Property of Certain Persons with Respect to Human Rights Abuses in Syria

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, hereby expand the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13338 of May 11, 2004, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13399 of April 25, 2006, and in Executive Order 13460 of February 13, 2008, finding that the Government of Syria’s human rights abuses, including those related to the repression of the people of Syria, manifested most recently by the use of violence and torture against, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of, peaceful protestors by police, security forces, and other entities that have engaged in human rights abuses, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and I hereby order:

Section 1.  All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, including any overseas branch, of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:

(a)  the persons listed in the Annex to this order; and

(b)  any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:

(i)    to be responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, or to have participated in, the commission of human rights abuses in Syria, including those related to repression;

(ii)   to be a senior official of an entity whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order;

(iii)  to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, the activities described in subsection (b)(i) of this section or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to Executive Order 13338, Executive Order 13460, or this order; or

(iv)   to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to Executive Order 13460 or this order.

Sec. 2.  I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13338 and expanded in this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.

Sec. 3.  The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:

(a)  the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and

(b)  the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

Sec. 4.  The prohibitions in section 1 of this order apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order.

Sec. 5.  (a)  Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

(b)  Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec. 6.  For the purposes of this order:

(a)  the term “person” means an individual or entity;

(b)  the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;

(c)  the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States; and

(d)  the term “Government of Syria” means the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, its agencies, instrumentalities, and controlled entities.

Sec. 7.  For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual.  I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13338 and expanded in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.

Sec. 8.  The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order.  The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law.  All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.

Sec. 9.  The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to determine that circumstances no longer warrant the blocking of the property and interests in property of a person listed in the Annex to this order, and to take necessary action to give effect to that determination.

Sec. 10.  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Sec. 11.  This order is effective at 1:00 p.m. eastern daylight time on April 29, 2011.

                     BARACK OBAMA

THE WHITE HOUSE,
April 29, 2011.
 

ANNEX

Individuals

1.    Mahir AL-ASAD  [Brigade Commander in the Syrian Army’s Fourth Armored Division, born 1968]

2.    Ali MAMLUK  [director of the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, born 1947]

3.    Atif NAJIB  [former head of the Syrian Political Security Directorate for Dar’a Province]

Entities

1.    Syrian General Intelligence Directorate

2.    Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force

 


Hannah Rosenthal: Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism

Hannah Rosenthal: Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism 

Hannah Rosenthal: Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism

Hannah Rosenthal was sworn in as Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism on November 23, 2009. Sparked by the work and experience of her father, a rabbi and Holocaust survivor, and her own experience studying to become a rabbi, Hannah Rosenthal has led a life marked by activism and a passion for social justice.

Just before joining the State Department, Ms. Rosenthal worked as Community Relations Vice President at the not-for-profit Wisconsin Physician Service Insurance Corporation in Madison, where she focused on health care policy and prevention. From 2005 to 2008 Ms. Rosenthal was Executive Director of the Chicago Foundation for Women, where she led one of the largest women’s funds in the world. Prior to that, she was Executive Director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs for five years, where she worked on domestic and international policy for the organized Jewish community in North America.

Ms. Rosenthal served as Midwest regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton Administration and helped lead the Wisconsin Clinton-Gore campaigns in 1992 and 1996. She was involved in community organizing, and the antiwar and civil rights movements in the 1960s.

Ms. Rosenthal attended graduate school for rabbinical studies at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem and Los Angeles, and holds a bachelor’s degree in religion from the University of Wisconsin. Ms. Rosenthal has two grown daughters who are busy mending the world with their mom.

2011 Hours Against Hate
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Secretary Clinton: Remarks With Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh After Their Meeting

Treaty Room
Washington, DC

SECRETARY CLINTON: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the State Department. And welcome especially to my friend and my colleague the foreign minister, with whom I have had the privilege of meeting many times over the last two years to discuss a range of very serious and significant issues.

Before I talk about our meeting today, I want to say a word about the protests taking place in Cairo and other Egyptian cities. As we monitor this situation carefully, we call on all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence. We support the universal rights of the Egyptian people, including the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. And we urge the Egyptian authorities not to prevent peaceful protests or block communications, including on social media sites.

We believe strongly that the Egyptian Government has an important opportunity at this moment in time to implement political, economic, and social reforms to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people. The United States is committed to working with Egypt and with the Egyptian people to advance such goals. As I said recently in Doha, people across the Middle East, like people everywhere, are seeking a chance to contribute and have a role in the decisions that affect their lives. And as the President said in his State of the Union yesterday night, the United States supports the democratic aspirations of all people.

When I was recently in the region, I met with a wide range of civil society groups, and I heard firsthand about their ideas, which were aimed at improving their countries, of giving more space and voice to the aspirations for the future. We have consistently raised with the Egyptian Government over many years, as well as other governments in the region, the need for reform and greater openness and participation in order to provide a better life, a better future, for the people.

And for me, talking with the foreign minister from Jordan is always a special experience because of all the work that is being done in Jordon. On every occasion when we meet, it reflects our longstanding friendship and the mutual goals that we share between Jordanians and Americans. And I especially appreciate and respect his counsel. The United States has had a long, close relationship with Jordan for many decades. We value Jordan’s guidance in the region, and today we spoke at length about many of the issues.

We spoke about Lebanon and expressed our hopes that it will be the people of Lebanon themselves, not outside forces, that will sustain the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon. I know that the foreign minister and His Majesty share our concern about peace and stability in the region. And I commend his call for Lebanon to maintain its national unity, security, and stability.

Jordan has developed important relationships with many critical countries and has built a unique and respected position as a peace broker among diverse parties. It was a critical player in the creation of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which brought 57 Muslim states together to advocate a comprehensive peace between Israel and all Arab states. Jordanian peacekeeping troops have served in far-flung places around the world, including Haiti, Sudan, and Cote d’Ivoire. And earlier this month, the Jordanian prime minister, accompanied by Foreign Minister Judeh, led the very first visit by a head of government to meet with the newly elected government in Iraq.

For both our nations, permanent peace in the Middle East remains our number one priority. So much of our discussion centered on ways to keep working toward a two-state solution that will assure security for Israel and realize the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own. Such an agreement, Jordan and the United States believe, will not only bring peace and prosperity to those who are directly affected, but it will be a major step toward a world free of extremism. Jordan’s tireless diplomacy has been, and continues to be, indispensible to this process.

Now, we talked about many other things: water shortages, rising food and oil prices, the need for continuing social and economic reform. And Jordan has taken crucial steps to do just that. I was very proud to have the foreign minister here when we announced the Millennium Challenge Corporation grant. Jordan met the very high standards of the MCC on these social and political and governance indicators. And that compact committed $275 million for sustainable development, jobs, and safe drinking water. It was a vote of confidence in the path that His Majesty is pursuing. And last November, the government invited international observers to monitor its parliamentary elections, and these observers declared the process to be peaceful, fair, and transparent.

Jordan is setting a great example, and we are proud to be your partner and your friend. Sixty years of mutual respect, common security interests, and shared values has built a strong and enduring relationship, and we continue to look for Jordan to lead further progress in the region as we meet the challenges ahead.

Thank you very much, Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, for your warm words, for your friendship, and for the partnership that we enjoy between our two countries. And it is a real pleasure and honor to be here at the State Department again today, and I wish to thank you for the warm reception and for the constructive and important talks we had today on peace efforts, regional issues, and our excellent bilateral relations, and ways and means to enhance them and build on them.

Middle East peace efforts, as you said, Madam Secretary, are at a crucial juncture. There is a growing and pressing sense of urgency attached to resuming direct negotiations that address all core issues of borders, security, Jerusalem, refugees, and water in the very near future, and with an appropriate and effective context that guarantees the continuity of those negotiations without interruption until they conclude with an agreement that brings about the two-state solution within the anticipated 12-month timeframe identified by the Quartet when direct talks resumed on September 2nd, 2010.

Secretary Clinton and I discussed the means by which we can resume direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations promptly. And we both agree that the current stagnation is simply not acceptable and also has dangerous repercussions for the security and the stability of the region. His Majesty the King always stresses that the two-state solution is the only solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which is at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. There are no alternatives to this solution. And as His Majesty the King cautions, with changing demography and geography, and with shifting political dynamics resulting from settlements and other unilateral measures which are illegal and illegitimate and corrosive to peacemaking efforts, the alternative would be devastating to the whole region.

Jordan firmly believes that for the Middle East and the world to enjoy stability, prosperity, and security, the two-state solution must transpire, whereby an independent, sovereign, viable, and territorially contiguous Palestinian state emerges on the ‘67 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side in peace and security with all the countries of the region, including Israel, within a regional context that ushers in comprehensive peace based on an internationally agreed-upon terms of reference and the Arab Peace Initiative. This is the only gateway that would enable us to deal more effectively with other challenges and threats.

We discussed the situation in Lebanon, as the Secretary mentioned, and agreed that all efforts must be exerted to ensure that peace, stability, and security prevail, and that the constitutional process and deep-rooted political customs and traditions in Lebanon be fully respected by all parties, as this is the only way to maintain and preserve viability, stability, security, and peace. Jordan unequivocally supports Lebanon’s sovereignty, national cohesion, and independence, and stresses the importance of respecting the sovereignty fully and implementing the commitments and obligations made to Lebanon by the international community and vice versa.

We also discussed our excellent bilateral relations and means to expand them. I briefed the Secretary on the progress achieved by the government in implementing the comprehensive reform agenda of His Majesty King Abdullah II, including the fact that the new house – the lower house of parliament, which is the product of a fair and free general election, as attested to by U.S. and international observers, as the Secretary mentioned, who were invited to witness the elections.

Now, the parliament is in place. The reforms and their economic dimension are challenging and have social impacts, and we are attempting to do all we can to continue steadfastly in a political and economic reform agenda, while at the same time alleviating the economic hardships resulting from rising oil and food prices internationally which affect the Jordanian economy. With the help of our friends here in the U.S. and in other parts of the world, we are steadfast in our political and economic reform agenda, and in alleviating and addressing the economic hardship that result from the economic situation around the world.

And we are, as always, committed to this, His Majesty is committed to this, and we are committed to continuing our dialogue and consultation with you at all times, Madam Secretary. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, my friend.

MR. CROWLEY: Kirit Radia from ABC.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, I’d like to follow up on your opening statement on Egypt. In Tunisia, the United States was quick to support the aspirations of the protestors. Will the United States support the aspirations of the Egyptian protestors? Mr. Minister, is Jordan worried about these protests spreading elsewhere in the region? Madam Secretary, there are reports already that Egypt has shut down Twitter and Facebook. Do you plan to bring this up with the Egyptian Government directly?

And if I may stay in the region on behalf of a colleague and go a little further south – (laughter) – to Sudan, your meeting later today with the foreign minister of Sudan. Is the United States ready at this point to take them off the terror list? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I hope I’m awake enough to remember all those questions.

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: I remember mine.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good, good. (Laughter.)

Well, first, let me say clearly the United States supports the aspirations of all people for greater freedom, for self-government, for the rights to express themselves, to associate and assemble, to be part of the full, inclusive functioning of their society. And of course, that includes the Egyptian people. I think that what the President said last night in the State of the Union applies not only to Tunisia, not only to Egypt, but to everyone. And we are particularly hopeful that the Egyptian Government will take this opportunity to implement political, economic, and social reforms that will answer the legitimate interests of the Egyptian people. And we are committed, as we have been, to working toward that goal with Egyptian civil society, with the Egyptian Government, with the people of that great country.

So I think then, we were going to you.

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Thank you very much. I think your question was: Are we worried that these protests will spread? I can’t speak for other countries. I can speak for Jordan, and I’m happy to do so, and I’ve addressed this issue publicly.

In Jordan, we have economic hardships. We have economic realities that we’re dealing with. We have a political and economic reform agenda that is initiated by His Majesty the King and that the government’s trying to implement. This, of course, comes with social considerations. And yes, we are an importer of 90 – 96 percent of our energy. We rely on imported goods. And when there is a rise in oil prices internationally or a rise in food prices internationally, it affects all sectors in Jordan. And the government is trying its best, through economic measures, to alleviate the hardship that the people of Jordan feel.

While at the same time there is freedom of expression in Jordan, where protests dictate this and will probably happen every time there’s an issue, but at least we in Jordan are proud of the fact that the demonstrators demonstrate in an orderly way and have issues to have demonstrate against, and certainly their voices are heard.

And I just want to say that we had a protest over fuel prices and food prices last Friday and the Friday before that. And I think you’ll all remember that last Friday the police was passing out water and juice to the demonstrators. And demonstrators started at a certain time and ended at a certain time, and they had announced their demonstration well ahead of time, weeks before.

So I think that we have to differentiate between economic hardship and – which we have in many countries around the world. Jordan’s not living in a bubble. It’s part and parcel of the fabric of these international economies – and between political stability, which we are blessed with in Jordan with the Hashemite leadership, His Majesty the King, who initiates reform from within, as I mentioned earlier.

So I can speak for Jordan and I can tell you that we have economic realities that we have to deal with, but we have a political system, guided by His Majesty the King, that promotes freedom and openness and freedom of expression.

SECRETARY CLINTON: With respect to my meeting later this afternoon with the Sudanese foreign minister, I’m very much looking forward to consulting with him about the progress that has been made to date. The United States and many other nations were encouraged by the peaceful execution of the referendum in the South. And we hope to continue working with the government in Khartoum on the remaining issues, which are many, in order to fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, to finally resolve the status of Abyei, citizenship issues. We are still very focused on the ongoing problems in Darfur. So we have a full agenda of issues to discuss.

MR. CROWLEY: (Inaudible) from –

QUESTION: Thank you, P.J. Madam Secretary, you seem to imply that the Egyptian Government is capable of reforming itself and meeting the expectation of the people. Yet the mood in the streets of Cairo today contrasts that, and people are demanding for radical change, removal of the government and President Mubarak not to nominate himself for another term. Are you unsure of what’s happening in Cairo?

And if I may, you made a focus – the Israeli-Palestinian question a focus of this Administration. Yet the most important speech by the President last night seems to skip it, not to mention it by word even. Are you giving up on the Israeli-Palestinian question?

Very quickly, if I may – (laughter) – since I have – entitled the same rights as the Americans –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, you do. You do. (Laughter.) We believe in equal rights – (laughter) – for Jordanians, Americans, women, men. We are in favor of equal rights, even for reporters. (Laughter.)

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Please make sure my question is not as long as that one. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: No. Very quickly – you talk about reigniting the process. How do you propose to break the impasse?

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Reigniting?

QUESTION: The Israeli-Palestinian –

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Yeah, in the overall context of what we’re talking about reigniting (inaudible). (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Yeah, I picked the word.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Do you want to answer that and then I’ll answer it? (Laughter.)

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Reigniting the process?

QUESTION: Yeah. How do –

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Fine.

QUESTION: Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: With your position, Madam Secretary, I mean, I think that our discussions today centered on what we need to do collectively. The current impasse in the peace process, like – I always use the expression “Arab-Israeli conflict, at the core of which is the Palestinians, (inaudible).” The current impasse is very, very unsettling, and it has to be resolved. And I know that the Secretary has reassured me today that they are still committed. We always say that the United States is not just a mediator or an honest broker; the United States is a full partner on this.

And it has been said that – by President Obama, by the Secretary, by Senator Mitchell, whom I’m seeing later on – that this is U.S. national interest. This is not just a local or regional conflict. This is a conflict that is loaded with global ramifications. We’ve said that before. And it is U.S. national interest, just like it is the national interest of all the parties concerned, the stakeholders, to reach a solution to this lingering conflict. The Palestinians are entitled to their state. Israel and the whole region is entitled to security and stability.

When we’re talking about economic hardship, I think we also have to bear in mind that peace will usher in the opportunities that come with peace – economic opportunities, not just political peace, but an economic peace, an integration and reintegration of the whole region, and the vast potential that can be unleashed from this region. Don’t forget that the majority of the people who live in the Middle East are young, below the age of 30. They need opportunities. In this day and age, you refer to Twitter and Facebook, and I am on Twitter myself – (laughter) – as the diplo-babes know. (Laughter.) Yeah, they are the diplo-babes, didn’t you know that? (Laughter.) They see the opportunity –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Try to dig yourself out of that one. (Laughter.)

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Well, they are. (Laughter.) They refer to themselves as –

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. Oh, excellent.

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Yeah. (Laughter.)

Anyway, this is some – the situation where people see the opportunities all over the world and they want to have the same opportunities, so there are economic dividends of peace as well. And I think the time has come to pool our efforts collectively to ensure that the next few weeks will see a resumption of negotiations according to international legitimacy, the parameters that we’re all agreed on, and the Arab Peace Initiative, and the timeframes that we have announced.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would certainly second everything that Nasser just said. With respect to the President’s speech, there were many parts of the world not mentioned and many very serious issues that were not mentioned because, as you could tell from the content of the speech, it was very much focused on the American agenda and dealing with our own economic challenges – getting more jobs, growing the economy, innovating, educating, rebuilding; but make no mistake; we are absolutely committed to the process. And we believe that a framework agreement that resolves the core issues not only remains possible, but necessary.

And as the foreign minister said, he will be meeting later with George Mitchell. We have a constant dialogue going on with many of our friends and partners in the region and around the world. We remain committed to a two-state solution. We are absolutely continuing our work. I will be going to Munich a week from Saturday for a Quartet meeting that will be held where we will discuss the way forward toward our common goal. So there is – from the top with President Obama and myself, all the way through this government, we remain absolutely committed and focused on what needs to be done.

With respect to the Egyptian Government, I do think it’s possible for there to be reforms, and that is what we are urging and calling for. And it is something that I think everyone knows must be on the agenda of the government as they not just respond to the protest, but as they look beyond as to what needs to be done economically, socially, politically. And there are a lot of very well informed, active civil society leaders in Egypt who have put forward specific ideas for reform, and we are encouraging and urging the Egyptian Government to be responsive to that.

Thank you very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Thank you very much.

 
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Phillip Crowley: Concern for the Denial of Human Rights in Iran

Press Statement
Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC

The United States is deeply concerned that Iran continues to deny its citizens their human rights. Judicial cases, trials, and sentences continue to proceed without transparency and the due process rights enshrined in Iran’s own constitution.

We are particularly troubled by the recent execution of Dutch-Iranian national Zahra Bahrami, who was denied access to Dutch consular officials. Her execution is one of dozens carried out in recent weeks amid serious questions about the motives of the Iranian government and whether these prisoners were granted their rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United States urges the Iranian government to halt these executions and to guarantee the rights of its citizens in accordance with its international obligations.

 
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