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Secretary Clinton’s Interview With Ekho Moskvy Radio

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I would ask them, please, to recognize that President Obama is very committed and very sincere about working together with President Medvedev and with Russia. Obviously, this is challenging for many reasons, but I think the 68 percent who answered yes understand that Russia and the United States have so much in common that we need to be working more closely together. And we have an opportunity with our two presidents to really forge a new relationship, and that’s what we’re working for.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I often meet with several officials in the countries where I go. It’s usual that I would meet with a foreign minister and a president or a prime minister for three reasons – first, to convey the continuing commitment that President Obama and I and others feel to the highest levels of government in a country. Second, to go into more depth with all officials about exactly what we are working on together. And thirdly, even though we’re living in an age where people communicate over the electronic media or the internet, nothing substitutes for building personal relationships.

And at the end, the President sets the policy. I carry out President Obama’s policy. Minister Lavrov carries out his president’s policy. So making sure that we’re all communicating is very important.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I thought it was a very successful meeting. I don’t want to give grades because that’s not my business, but I am very satisfied by the meeting. It was open. I find both in the meetings that I’ve attended in London and in New York with President Obama and President Medvedev that he is very engaged, he is very knowledgeable. There is not a subject you can raise that he does not respond and know what he wants to express.

The two presidents have very good personal chemistry. I think they trust each other. Now, that doesn’t mean we’re going to agree. I mean, you don’t agree in a family on everything. But it does mean that there is an atmosphere of goodwill and of a positive sense that we can do things together that maybe in the past were not possible.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would have enjoyed meeting with Prime Minister Putin, and we certainly had intended to do so, but our schedules didn’t work out. So I’m looking forward to seeing him on a future occasion.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Look, I believe in a world in which our interdependence and our interconnectedness is recognized. And we’re not living in a bipolar world; we’re not even living in a multi-polar world. We’re living in a world of interdependence and we need multiple partners. I like to think of it as a multi-partner networked world.

So it is far better to have two great countries like China and Russia cooperating commercially, looking for ways to support the economic growth and prosperity of their respective peoples. I think that’s to the good not only of China and Russia, but to the world as a whole. The United States is not threatened or worried by relationships between other countries. We just want to be sure that there’s a sense of equity and parity in this partnership world that we’re developing, because we have so many difficult challenges.

And it is imperative for countries like Russia, the United States, and China to lead against the forces of disintegration and destruction so that we can stand united against those who would undermine the opportunities that we are seeking to promote.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, I do, and we have evidence of that. During the United Nations General Assembly, I attended a meeting with Minister Lavrov, Minister Yang from China, as long – as well as our other counterparts. We agreed to a very strong statement that basically told Iran that the international community expects Iran to fulfill its obligations and responsibilities. And in it, we said we want to pursue engagement and diplomacy, but it might not work. It is our preference, but as President Medvedev said, sometimes sanctions and pressure are inevitable. So we are pursuing that.

And then at the October 1st meeting in Geneva, among the P-5+1, very important steps were agreed to. Number one, Iran agreed to open its covert facility to inspection. Number two, they agreed in principle to ship out their low-enriched uranium, actually to Russia, to be reprocessed. Number three, that there would be another meeting shortly after to continue this important dialogue. So I think that we’ve come a long way in the last six months.

Now how we get to where we’re going, which is the goal of preventing Iran from being a nuclear weapons power – they are entitled to peaceful nuclear energy, but they are not entitled to nuclear weapons. And so we have to continue to work closely together, and we are. And President Medvedev reaffirmed that yesterday.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: What we are doing is negotiating a new START agreement to reduce our nuclear arsenals. As part of that agreement, we do want a system of verification, and verification would include visits by our respective experts to one another’s facilities. Again, we are open to this. We want to make sure that Russia knows that we are complying with the agreement and, as we say, vice versa; we want to have that level of verification. So that’s part of what’s being negotiated. We hope to have this agreement done by its deadline of December 5th.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s our goal, because the current agreement, the current START agreement expires December 5th. So we want to have a new agreement to be able to replace it.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: I do, and I was very encouraged. President Medvedev said let’s get it done. In fact, he said our negotiators should go to Geneva and they should be locked in a room until they finish negotiating and come out with the agreement. And we said okay, we’ll tell them to pack a big suitcase.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, they should come out with an agreement so that we can begin the important business of reducing our nuclear arsenals.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can’t really respond because I don’t know what he has said. But of course, President Obama is committed to taking steps that would move our world toward a world without nuclear weapons. Now, we know that’s not going to happen in the near future, but it is really important for Russia and the United States to lead.

Russia and the United States have not only the largest arsenals in the world, but we have been the stewards of nuclear weapons. Other countries may have them, but people look to us to set the tone and to provide the leadership. So I’m hoping that our efforts on nonproliferation, which we’ve agreed to pursue together – President Medvedev will be at the summit that President Obama is holding in April in Washington on nuclear security – we’ve agreed to work together to try to round up any vulnerable material so it won’t end up in the wrong hands. I think our cooperation is getting deeper and broader all the time, and I think that’s important.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, no decisions have been made, and what ideally we would like to do is to cooperate jointly with Russia on missile defense. You see, we believe that the threats in the future come from countries and terrorists who are not responsible stewards of the enormous power of destruction that nuclear weapons represent. They may not even be deterrable.

Remember, during the worst of the Cold War, the United States, and then, the Soviet Union, we never stopped talking about nuclear arms. We never stopped communicating. We might have gotten too close to the line, but we always pulled back. And we kept the world from suffering from such terrible weapons.

Missile defense is meant to protect people from the ambitions that some places like Iran may have or al-Qaida may have. So when we did a review of what the prior administration had decided about missile defense in Europe, we concluded it didn’t meet the threat that we were worried about. We do not believe Russia and the United States pose a threat to one another. What we believe is that these other actors pose threats to both of us.

So we have offered for the closest cooperation between the United States and Russia. We would be happy to be making these decisions jointly with Russia. So we haven’t made final decisions at all, but we’ve changed what we are doing because we think it is more reflective of the real threat we face.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: I can’t speak to that. I think that’s really up to the technical experts. I don’t know.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, and I have no reason to believe at all that anything would be deployed in Georgia. No, I have no reason to believe that, and that is, I know, a matter of great concern to the Russian Federation. But again, that’s why we would like to work with – we would like to eliminate the concerns. We would like to have a joint missile defense program to protect our people, your people, our European friends and allies, to put as broad a missile defense system so that we can guard against short and medium-range missile that might have nuclear weapons.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: We talked about Georgia. Now we do have a difference there, and even though we are working hard to not just reset our relationship, but deepen our relationship, we will disagree about Georgia. Georgia is providing troops in Afghanistan. We are training Georgians to be able to go to Afghanistan. But we’re also making it very clear that we expect both the Georgians and the South Ossetians and the Abkhazians and everyone else to avoid provocative action, to deal with whatever problems they have through peaceful and diplomatic means.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Minister Lavrov did not ask me that question, but we will help the Georgian people to feel like they can defend themselves.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think he knew the answer. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, not at all. Yesterday at Spaso House, I was honored to address a group of activists on behalf of civil society, democracy, anticorruption, human rights, and very clearly said the United States stands by our values. We support those who are struggling on behalf of the universal rights of men and women and who want to see their country improve and become even stronger and better. So we are very clearly committed to supporting people who are democracy advocates in every sense of the world.

We also believe that we can have a broader, more effective relationship, government-to-government, than perhaps the prior administration did, because we think we have a lot to work on together. We also think we need to do more people-to-people. I think that there are some misunderstandings that are sometimes held by the Russian people about what we are doing and why we are advocating for certain actions.

But I have no doubt in my mind that democracy is in Russia’s best interests, that respecting human rights, an independent judiciary, a free media are in the interests of building a strong, stable political system that provides a platform for broadly shared prosperity. We will continue to say that and we will continue to support those who also stand for those values.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: I mentioned the names – I mentioned the killings of journalists, and I said that this is a matter of grave concern not just to the United States, but to the people of Russia, and not just to the activists, but to people who worry that unsolved killings are a very serious challenge to order and to the fair functioning of society, and that we did not believe that enough was being done to make sure that no one had impunity from prosecution who might have been involved in any such criminal acts.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think all of these issues of imprisonments, detentions, beatings, killings, it is something that is hurtful to see from the outside. I mean, every country has criminal elements, every country has people who try to abuse power. But in the last 18 months – well, and even going back further – there have been too many of these incidents. I met an activist yesterday at Spaso House who was badly beaten.

And I think people want their government to stand up and say this is wrong, and they’re going to try to prevent it and they’re going to make sure the people are brought to justice who are engaged in such behavior.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I hear Kazan is a beautiful place. And when I travel, I like to go places in addition to the big cities, the capitals. Of course, when I come to Moscow, I spend most of my time with officials, although I was able to go to the opera last night and I also was able to go to the Boeing design center and see Russian engineers working with American engineers.

But I also like to get out of the capital. I know in my own country, you get a better feel if you get out of Washington, D.C. for example. And what’s particularly attractive to me about Kazan is that you have a mosque and a Russian orthodox church side by side in the capital there. And the larger Tatarstan is predominantly Muslim, but people live very peacefully together, and in an interfaith way. So I wanted to come and see that for myself and I wanted to also have a chance to hear from them about how successful that has been.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, thank you for this opportunity to have this interview and speak directly to the Russian people, and particularly at a radio station that has been such a strong voice for positive change inside Russia. And I’m very excited about what we can do together. We have so much more in common than sometimes people give us credit for, but we do have to keep working to understand each other better and to find common ground, and I thank you for this opportunity to express myself to your listeners.

QUESTION: (In Russian.)

 
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