SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, and it is such a pleasure for me once again to have a chance to consult with a friend and a colleague. The foreign minister and I always have more to talk about than we have time to do it. Before discussing our meeting, I want to say a few comments about the situation in Cote D’Ivoire.
Former President Gbagbo is now in the custody of President Ouattara’s government. This transition sends a strong signal to dictators and tyrants throughout the region and around the world: They may not disregard the voice of their own people in free and fair elections, and there will be consequences for those who cling to power.
We commend the United States1, the government and people of France, and other members of the international community who have worked diligently to ensure the safety and security of the Ivoirian people throughout this crisis. We also call upon all Ivoirians to remain calm and contribute to building a peaceful future for their country.
Now the hard work begins. We look forward to working with President Ouattara as he implements his plan for reconciliation, economic development, and recovery.
And I am delighted to be joined here today with Foreign Minister Stubb, who has been gracious enough to come to Washington for important consultations. Our countries have an excellent relationship and a longstanding partnership forged by democratic principles, a common understanding of our international responsibilities, and friendly cooperation. We are working together for peace, progress, and prosperity around the world, whether it be in Afghanistan, the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans, or anywhere else.
I thanked the minister for his vision, drive, and tireless work to strengthen the transatlantic relationship between the United States and Europe. We agreed that the partnership between the United States and the European Union must remain at the heart of our joint foreign policy efforts. We discussed the developments in the Middle East and North Africa, and I appreciated greatly Finland’s commitment to democratic transitions and humanitarian assistance as these people throughout the region seek a better future.
I thanked the foreign minister for Finland’s vocal support for Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973. Finland has pledged an additional $2 million in humanitarian aid to Libyan refugees through the UN and other aid agencies, on top of the $2 million that Finland has already provided.
We also discussed Finland’s important contributions in Afghanistan, where Finnish troops serve as part of the ISAF force and dozens of Finnish police are helping make the transition from coalition to Afghan Government control. The tragic attack on the UN compound in Mazer-e Sharif reminded us all of the challenges we face.
Now, there are many other contributions that Finland has made to global peace and security, and I appreciate particularly Finland’s support of the Global Initiative to Develop Clean Cookstoves, which can prevent millions of deaths in the developing world by cutting down on illnesses caused by breathing the dirty smoke from cooking fires and also cut down on black carbon and other unfortunate elements that contribute to global warming.
So we value our relationship, and I am delighted that we had this chance to continue our consultation.
FOREIGN MINISTER STUBB: Thank you very much, Hillary, and good morning to all of you. It’s always very nice to be here. Hillary and I, we’ve known each other for a couple of years, and in our discussions and negotiations, if I have a problem getting a point across, I speak with a very heavy southern accent. (Laughter.) And that always – it always works.
We indeed had a good conversation and a discussion on the situation in the Arab world, more specifically in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia. Secondly, we talked about Afghanistan. And thirdly, we touched upon a subject which is very familiar to all of us Finns; in other words, Russia. We both discussed our commitment to UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 and the upcoming EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg tomorrow where Libya will be on the agenda as well.
But I think without further ado, we’d be more than glad to take a question or two.
MR. TONER: The first question, Jill Dougherty of CNN.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you. We have two peace proposals out there – one for Libya, one for Yemen. Nobody seems to know exactly what they mean, quite honestly. Details are quite murky. Could you enlighten us? What do they mean, especially the Libyan one? Does it entail a demand that Qadhafi step down? And what does the U.S. think about those proposals?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, first with respect to Libya, I assume you’re referring to the African Union mission that was in Tripoli yesterday and in Benghazi today. We are waiting to get a full readout from the participants. Obviously, we’ve heard various accounts as to what the proposals were and how they were received.
We’ve made it very clear that we want to see a ceasefire. We want to see the Libyan regime forces pull back from the areas that they have forcibly entered. We want to see a resumption of water, electricity, and other services to cities that have been brutalized by the Qadhafi forces. We want to see humanitarian assistance reach the people of Libya. These terms are non-negotiable. We believe, too, that there needs to be a transition that reflects the will of the Libyan people and the departure of Qadhafi from power and from Libya.
So we have been consistent along with many of our international partners in making those points to be as clear as possible in what we expected. So we’ll wait to get the full briefing as to what the African Union delegation determined.
With respect to Yemen, we have consistently welcomed the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative to address the situation in Yemen. There is an enormous amount of discussions going on. This is a dynamic process. We strongly encouraged all sides to engage in a dialogue to reach a solution that would be supported by the Yemeni people. Now, President Saleh has expressed his willingness to engage in a peaceful transition, but we don’t have any specifics, we don’t have any timelines so we are supporting the efforts that the GCC is currently leading to arrive at a clear statement of what the government will do and the timeline that it will occur.
MR. TONER: Next question goes to Paivi Sinisalo with MTV Group.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I would like to know your – what do you think about situation in Libya? Do you think it really going to need ground forces there before the situation is under control? How the whole Middle East – how worried you are about the situation in there? And do you think that you should be helping in some way, like the rapid response forces in the situation in Middle East?
And, Mr. Stubb, as well, if I may, what do you think about EU’s role in the situation?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I will certainly let the minister speak to the EU role. But let me express great appreciation for what the EU is doing in Libya and in Egypt, Tunisia, throughout the region, and also gratitude for what individual nations are doing in support of the efforts to help create conditions for peaceful transitions.
Now, in some countries that has been more possible than in others. Certainly, what we’ve seen with Qadhafi is a violent response to the aspirations of his own people, the use of his military assets against his own people. And so the combination of military action that was authorized by the Security Council, combined with political, diplomatic, and humanitarian assistance is an international commitment, and I am very grateful for the support that we have seen come forth.
FOREIGN MINISTER STUBB: (inaudible) to split the question in two – first one Finland, the second one the European Union – as far as Finland is concerned, we were one of the first countries, actually, to condemn Qadhafi and the first country to propose sanctions, which were then adopted a week later in 1970 in the UN Security Council. After that, we were quite rapid in putting forward the humanitarian aid side of things, but we decided quite early on not to participate in the implementation of the no-fly zone because we didn’t feel that we had a value added in that particular operation. Eleven out of twenty-eight NATO countries were involved in that, plus three outsiders.
Then we come to the second part, the European Union. The European Union is right now preparing and planning a EUFOR Libya operation. It has its headquarters in Rome. But there is one very clear lock or condition for this operation, and that is a request by UN’s OCHA. If that request would come, which is still, may I add, a big if, it would most probably be dealing with opening passages for taking in humanitarian aid. It could be involving evacuations or some kind of sea or airlifts. But it’s probably too early to say. I think it’s very important that the European Union is involved in any which way, and one of the ways that we can be involved in also is political dialogue because there is going to be life after Qadhafi, and the European Union should prepare for that.
QUESTION: Thank you, Alex.
FOREIGN MINISTER STUBB: Thanks a lot.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Thank you, all.
The United States condemns the renewed assault by forces loyal to former President Gbagbo against the Republican Forces of Cote d’Ivoire. It is clear that Gbagbo’s attempts at negotiation this week were nothing more than a ruse to regroup and rearm. Gbagbo’s continued attempt to force a result that he could not obtain at the ballot box reveals his callous disregard for the welfare of the Ivoirian people, who will again suffer amid renewed heavy fighting in Abidjan.
We call on Gbagbo to cease these hostilities, direct his supporters to stand down, and surrender to President Ouattara’s legitimately-elected government. We reiterate to all forces the urgent need to respect the rights of civilians and to fulfill United Nations Security Council Resolution obligations and requirements of the international community. We salute President Ouattara’s affirmation of the need for credible investigations of abuses perpetrated by any party, and welcome his commitment to govern for all Ivoirians.
Statement by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe
Human Rights Council 16th Session
U.S. Statement General Statement on the adoption of the Côte d’Ivoire Resolution
Thank you, Mr. President.
The United States thanks the African Group and especially the Delegation of Cote D’Ivoire for proposing this very important and timely resolution. As an early Co-Sponsor of both this resolution and the December 23, 2010 Special Session, we hope that as it was the case then it will be adopted by consensus. As we said during the Interactive Dialogue on the 14th of March the situation in Côte d’Ivoire is grave and deteriorating. We deplore the gross abuses of human rights and trampling of fundamental freedoms in Côte d’Ivoire. We fully support this resolution’s call for the immediate establishment of an International Commission of Inquiry and we hope that through their work, all those who lost their lives during this troubled period will find a measure of justice.
I would also like to note that the crisis in Cote D’Ivoire is the result of the inability by Mr. Gbagbo to accept the result of an election which he agreed to hold. This is a challenge to democracy not only in the Ivory Coast and in West Africa, but to the democratic community as a whole. This situation is a critical test for democratic institutions and values across Africa and the United States will continue to support the efforts by the African Union and ECOWAS to resolve the crisis peacefully.
As the State Department’s spokesman noted yesterday the United States has, since the beginning of the political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, strongly supported African-led efforts to achieve a peaceful transition of power between former President Gbagbo and his elected successor, Alassane Ouattara. I want to once again underline that we firmly stand behind President-elect Ouattara.
Thank you, Mr. President.
At the 16th Session of the Human Rights Council on Follow-up to the Human Rights Council 14th Special Session –Côte d’Ivoire
Thank you, Mr. President.
The United States thanks the High Commissioner for her report, which can leave no doubt that the situation in Côte d’Ivoire is grave and deteriorating. We deplore the gross abuses of human rights and trampling of fundamental freedoms in Côte d’Ivoire. The recent killing of at least seven women in Abobo who were peacefully protesting in support of President Alassane Ouattara, is but one instance of unconscionable violence we have seen from Ivorian security forces. Furthermore, despite months of comprehensive efforts by the international community, Mr. Gbagbo’s intransigence has pushed Côte D’Ivoire to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe.
By convening the special session in December, the international community sent a strong, unified message expressing profound concern regarding human rights abuses and violations, and insistence upon respect for the democratic processes. Mr. Gbagbo has not heard this message and continues to defy the will of the citizens of Côte d’Ivoire, who have elected Mr. Ouattara as their President. It is vital that the Council and the Office of the High Commissioner remain vigilant in responding to these horrific abuses, and that we do not let up pressure in response to a situation that is clearly deteriorating.
Continued reports of mass human rights abuses and violations of international law must be investigated, including: enforced disappearances, targeted killings, arbitrary detentions, and intimidation of those that oppose former President Gbagbo, as well as the discovery of possible mass graves. The United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) must be granted access to investigate human rights abuses, especially the reported mass graves, and to carry out patrols throughout the country to bolster confidence and deter further abuse. Threats against UNOCI and restrictions on the movement of UNOCI staff are an affront to the international community.
We are disturbed by the High Commissioner’s account of attacks on religious buildings and worshippers. We strongly urge all parties to respect the freedom of religion. The United States is also alarmed by reports of sexual violence. Providing better protection to civilians from violence, including sexual violence, is of utmost importance to the United States. We call on all parties to investigate and hold accountable the perpetrators of these crimes. The singling out of individuals of specific nationalities for violence and abuse must also be stopped. Innocent Ivoirians suffering the effects of the political stalemate should not have to live in fear of violent and brutal attacks.
We are pleased that the Ivoirians are introducing a resolution on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire at this session. This initiative deserves our strong support. It is important that Members of the Council strongly support this effort to send an unequivocal message to former President Gbagbo that he must respect the will of the Ivorian people, step down immediately, and acknowledge that President Ouatarra is Côte d’Ivoire’s legitimate head of state. We also believe it critical that the Council heed the proposal of the Ivoirians to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate these events with a view towards ensuring that those responsible for serious human rights violations and abuses are held accountable.
For Immediate Release
President Obama announced that the U.S. Government, through the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, will provide $12.6 million in emergency funds to international and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) assisting refugee and other displaced populations resulting from recent political unrest and violence in Côte d’Ivoire. More than 75,000 refugees have fled Côte d’Ivoire, mainly to Liberia. Hundreds of thousands more are internally displaced in Côte d’Ivoire.
The U.S. commitment includes support for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to Ivoirian refugees and internally-displaced persons (IDPs). It also includes support for the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to enhance logistical capacity for humanitarian operations in Liberia, and the International Organization for Migration to assist and transport IDPs and individuals fleeing Côte d’Ivoire. Funds will also be provided to select NGOs in Liberia to provide relief and assistance to Ivoirian refugees.
The U.S. Agency for International Development has already provided some $4.1 million in funding and food aid to WFP, UNICEF, and several NGOs in Liberia. With the President’s latest commitment, the U.S. will have provided almost $17 million in humanitarian assistance to refugees and IDPs in the region.