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Secretary Clinton’s Press Availability on Libya

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is my ninth trip to discuss the current crisis in Libya, and each time I have urged that our partners stay focused on the ultimate objective of helping the Libyan people chart their way to a better future. And today, that future is within their reach. All of us are inspired by what is happening in Libya.

Six months ago, Libyans stood up to demand fundamental rights and freedom. And when Qadhafi met their peaceful protest with violence, the Libyan people refused to back down. While their struggle is not over, the Libyan people are taking back their country. Libya’s transformation is the – largely the result of their own courage and their resilience in the face of very difficult days. The sacrifice that the Libyan people have been willing to make in order to obtain freedom and dignity has been extraordinary.

But the United States and our international partners are also proud of our own contributions. When Qadhafi threatened Benghazi, we assembled an unprecedented coalition that included NATO and Arab countries, and acted quickly to prevent a massacre. We sought and won local, regional, and international support, including the backing of the UN and the Arab League. And after deploying our unique military capabilities at the outset, the United States played a key role in a genuinely shared effort as our allies stepped up. As time went on, our coalition grew even stronger.

Today, the international community must maintain the same sense of resolve and shared responsibility. We know from experience that winning a war is no guarantee of winning the peace that follows. That is why even as we sought to protect civilians and pressured Qadhafi to step down, we have supported the Libyans as they laid the groundwork for a transition to democracy that is just, inclusive, and sustainable.

What happens in the coming days will be critical, and the international community has to help the Libyan people get it right. First, as I told my counterparts earlier today, we need to continue NATO’s military mission as long as civilians remain under threat of attack. For the sake of the Libyan people, we have called on Qadhafi and those around him to recognize that their time is over and lay down their arms. And as the new Libyan authorities consolidate power, we will support their efforts to demobilize and integrate fighters into a single security force.

Second, we need to welcome Libya back into the community of nations. Nearly 70 countries so far have recognized the TNC, including 18 African nations, the Arab League, and now Russia. It is time for others to follow suit.

Third, we must continue to support the interim Libyan authority’s efforts to meet the needs of the Libyan people. The United States and our partners have worked through the United Nations to unfreeze billions of dollars in order for Libya to get access to their state assets to meet critical needs. I am pleased to announce that by the end of today, the United States expects to have delivered $700 million to help the TNC pay for fuel and civilian operating costs and salaries, with another 800 million on the way. We are working with the TNC to ensure that these funds are disbursed in a transparent, accountable manner. It must be clear to Libyans and to the world that this money is being used to serve the Libyan people.

Fourth, the international community, led by the United Nations, needs to help the Libyan people and their leaders pave a path to peaceful, inclusive democracy – one that banishes violence as a political tool and promotes tolerance and pluralism. After 42 years of Qadhafi’s rule, it is going to take time to build institutions, strengthen civil society, write a constitution, hold free and fair elections, and put in place an elected, legitimate Libyan government. We encourage the world’s democracies to offer expertise and technical assistance along the way.

As Libya’s leaders have emphasized repeatedly, Libya’s transition must proceed in a spirit of reconciliation and justice, not retribution or reprisal. Libyans must continue to stand against violence extremism and work with us to ensure that weapons from Qadhafi’s stockpiles do not threaten Libya or Libya’s neighbors or the world.

In fact, the international community will be watching and supporting Libya’s leaders as they keep their commitments to conduct an inclusive transition, act under the rule of law, and protect vulnerable populations. And that should include enshrining the rights of women as well as men in their new constitution.

A great deal of work lies ahead to build a stable, unified, and free Libya – a Libya that has never before existed in its modern history. The challenges may be formidable, but so is the progress we have already seen. We have stood with the Libyan people in their moment of need and we must continue to stand with them for the foreseeable future.

Finally, I want to say a few words about Syria. President Asad’s brutality against unarmed citizens has outraged the region, the world, and most importantly the Syrian people themselves. The Arab League, the GCC, the Jordanian and Egyptian governments have all condemned his abuses. And after repeated warnings, Turkey’s president announced that he too has lost confidence in Asad.

The violence must stop, and he needs to step aside. Syria must be allowed to move forward. Those who have joined us in this call must now translate our rhetoric into concrete actions to escalate the pressure on Asad and those around him, including strong new sanctions targeting Syria’s energy sector to deny the regime the revenues that fund its campaign of violence. The EU has already taken important steps, and I’m pleased to hear that more are on the way.

Just as we have done in Libya, we are also encouraging the Syrian opposition to set forth their own roadmap for a tolerant, inclusive, and democratic path forward, one that can bring together all Syrians, Christians, and Alawites. Everyone who lives in Syria today must be part of the new Syria that should be developed in the months ahead. The people of Syria, like people everywhere, deserve a government that respects their rights equally and without discrimination. Syria’s transition to democracy has already begun. It is time for President Asad to acknowledge that and step aside so the Syrian people themselves can decide their own future.

It is very heartening that this year, Tunisian, Egyptian, and Libyan families will celebrate Eid at a moment of promise. May this be a year when the tide of freedom and progress rises around the world. And I want to wish Muslims everywhere an Eid Mubarak.

And with that, I will take your questions.

MS. NULAND: We have time for (inaudible). The first question, CNN, Elise Labott.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. I was wondering if you could speak a little bit about what the Libyans spoke to you about what it is that they need, how the international community can help. And how do you envision a UN mission working towards this end? How quickly do you think one could get on the ground? And how do you see the UN working as a coordinator of international response?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Elise, I was very encouraged by the meeting today. I want to again commend President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Cameron for bringing us all together, along with Chairman Jalil and Prime Minister Jibril. I think that what we heard today was very promising, in that the TNC has specific requests that they wish to make to the international community. They did so in my bilateral meeting with them, and of course, they did so in the larger meeting as well.

What they are looking for is, number one, continuing support to ensure that the violence ends, that there can be no credible effort by Qadhafi and those still supporting him to continue wreaking violence against Libyans. And they were very clear in their request that the NATO role continue, and NATO, in turn, was very clear that it will maintain its presence over Libya until there is no longer a need to protect civilians from attacks or the threat of attacks.

And of course, NATO is also focused on trying to do all we can to protect Libya from Qadhafi and those troops that are still under his command. Secondly, the TNC was very clear that they need to have the funds that are Libyan state funds unfrozen and released to them as soon as possible. I’m very pleased that the United States was able to persuade the United Nations to lift the sanctions and to approve the release of $1.5 billion. That is being matched by hundreds of millions of dollars coming from others who have frozen assets within their borders. And now, we’ve got to do everything possible to make sure that the TNC has the resources it needs. There are a lot of humanitarian urgent needs that have to be met.

Thirdly, we want what they want – more recognition. As I said in my opening remarks, more than 70 nations have recognized the TNC, but we want to seat the TNC, representing Libya, in every international organization, including the United Nations. We’re pleased that the Arab League had introduced that resolution and that the TNC now represents Libya in the Arab League.

Fourth, I think it’s important that they requested assistance in all kinds of areas where they need expertise, whether it is ensuring that the financial mechanism they’re setting up has the level of accountability and transparency that is required, to helping them put together an impartial, independent police force, to helping them find ways to provide housing for Libyans who have been bombed out or had their homes destroyed or who will be coming back from having sought refuge elsewhere.

And I guess, finally, the Libyans were very responsive to the long list of ideas that were presented throughout the day. And I was impressed by their openness. And they still have a huge hill to climb here. They don’t yet have their whole country secure. But they are working with the international community to secure both chemical weapon stockpiles as well as conventional weapons. They are taking action against extremism wherever they find it.

So I guess in general, I would have to stay that today’s meeting validated the confidence that all the other nations around the table had placed in the TNC. And they were realistic about how much they have to do and how much they still face in the days ahead. But it was an excellent transition from the Contact Group, which dealt primarily with protecting civilians and ending the terror of the Qadhafi regime, to the reconstruction, rebuilding, transition period.

QUESTION: What about our UN mission, Madam Secretary?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think the UN mission is going to be put together in an expeditious manner. Ban Ki-moon met with the TNC leadership at the larger meeting. He spoke about the kinds of assets the UN could bring. All of us support the UN taking the lead in the reconstruction and transition period ahead, so they’re going to be working through all the details of that. And importantly, countries are reopening embassies. The Italians reopened their embassy in Tripoli today and have a new ambassador named. I’m sending a team to Tripoli to check out our Embassy building and see what we need to do to be able to get our diplomatic presence at the highest level again.

So there was so much discussed and so many decisions that we ticked down. It was a worthwhile and productive day.

MS. NULAND: Last question (inaudible).

QUESTION: Hi, Madam Secretary. There’s a lot of anger on Capitol Hill and in the U.S. at large about Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the fact that he’s still at large in Libya. We understand you brought the issue up with Libya’s new leaders. Could you tell us what you asked of them and how they responded?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Nicole, first I want to underscore the fact that I share the anger. As you know, I represented New York for eight years. A lot of the people who were killed came from either Syracuse University or nearby in upstate New York. And as I have said many times, the United States categorically disagrees with the decision that was made two years ago by the Scottish executive to release al-Megrahi and return him to Libya. We have never wavered from our disagreement and condemnation of that decision. He should be behind bars. We have consistently extended our deepest sympathies to those families who have to live every day with the knowledge that they lost their loved ones, and they wanted justice to prevail, and we think justice was aborted.

So we will continue to pursue justice on behalf of the victims of this terrorist attack. The United States has kept open the case concerning the Lockerbie bombing. We have raised the investigation with the TNC. We’ve conveyed the importance that the United States places on this issue. We want more information, and we want to have access to those who might have been somehow involved in the planning or execution of the bombing.

We recognize the magnitude of all of the issues that the TNC is facing, and we know that they have to establish security, the rule of law, good governance. But at the same time, they’ve assured us that they understand the sensitivities surrounding this case, and they will give the matter the consideration it richly deserves at the earliest opportunity.

Thank you all.

 


Secretary Clinton’s Statement on Libya

The events in Libya this week have heartened the world. The situation remains fluid, but it is clear that the Qadhafi era is coming to an end, opening the way for a new era in Libya—one of liberty, justice, and peace.

We join the Libyan people in celebrating the courageous individuals who have stood up to a tyrant and defended their homes and communities against Qadhafi’s violence.

The United States and the international community have stood by the Libyan people during many difficult days in the last six months. Together, we prevented a massacre, and we supported the people’s efforts to gain their freedom. We will continue to support them as they take on the regime elements that still pose a threat to Libya’s future – and as they address their humanitarian needs and rebuild their nation. The Libyan people made this revolution and they will lead the way forward, but they deserve our help. Libya’s future is not guaranteed. Considerable work lies ahead.

The coming days and weeks will be critical. The United States and its partners are moving quickly and decisively on several fronts.

Earlier this week, I spoke by phone with the Chair of the Transitional National Council, Mustafa Mohammed Abdul Jalil, to express our support for the TNC’s efforts and to discuss next steps. I also hosted a conference call of foreign ministers of many of the member nations of Libya Contact Group, to coordinate our efforts – humanitarian, financial, diplomatic, and otherwise – on behalf of the Libyan people. Today, the Libya Contact Group held a meeting in Istanbul to demonstrate our continued commitment to Libya and to focus on the urgent financial needs of the TNC. The Contact Group called for an expedited process to lift sanctions on Libyan assets. The United States supports this call.

Today, we have secured the release of $1.5 billion in Libyan assets that had been frozen in the United States. This money will go toward meeting the needs of the people of Libya. We urge other nations to take similar measures. Many are already doing so.

As funds are released, we look to the Transitional National Council to fulfill its international responsibilities and the commitments it has made to build a tolerant, unified democratic state—one that protects the universal human rights of all its citizens. It is critical that the TNC engage swiftly with communities and leaders across Libya to ensure order, provide critical basic services to the people, and pave the way for a full democratic transition. Libya’s future will be peaceful only if the leaders and people of Libya reach out to each other in a spirit of peace. There can be no place in the new Libya for revenge attacks and reprisals.

The TNC also has obligations to the international community. We will look to them to ensure that Libya fulfills its treaty responsibilities, that it ensures that its weapons stockpiles do not threaten its neighbors or fall into the wrong hands, and that it takes a firm stand against violent extremism. At the same time, we call on Qadhafi, his family, and his supporters to bring an end to their continuing violence for the sake of the Libyan people and Libya’s future.

From the beginning, the United States has played a central role in marshalling the international response to the crisis in Libya. Together with our partners, we have saved thousands of lives and helped confront a ruthless, erratic dictator who was poised to slaughter his own people in order to hold on to power. The United States will stand with the Libyan people and our international partners in the weeks and months ahead, to help as Libyans write the next chapter of their history.

 


Statement by the President on Libya

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I just completed a call with my National Security Council on the situation in Libya.  And earlier today I spoke to Prime Minister Cameron about the extraordinary events taking place there.

The situation is still very fluid.  There remains a degree of uncertainty and there are still regime elements who pose a threat.  But this much is clear:  The Qaddafi regime is coming to an end, and the future of Libya is in the hands of its people.

In just six months, the 42-year reign of Muammar Qaddafi has unraveled.  Earlier this year, we were inspired by the peaceful protests that broke out across Libya.  This basic and joyful longing for human freedom echoed the voices that we had heard all across the region, from Tunis to Cairo.  In the face of these protests, the Qaddafi regime responded with brutal crackdowns.  Civilians were murdered in the streets.  A campaign of violence was launched against the Libyan people.  Qaddafi threatened to hunt peaceful protestors down like rats.  As his forces advanced across the country, there existed the potential for wholesale massacres of innocent civilians.

In the face of this aggression, the international community took action.  The United States helped shape a U.N. Security Council resolution that mandated the protection of Libyan civilians.  An unprecedented coalition was formed that included the United States, our NATO partners and Arab nations.  And in March, the international community launched a military operation to save lives and stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks.

In the early days of this intervention the United States provided the bulk of the firepower, and then our friends and allies stepped forward.  The Transitional National Council established itself as a credible representative of the Libyan people.  And the United States, together with our European allies and friends across the region, recognized the TNC as the legitimate governing authority in Libya.

Qaddafi was cut off from arms and cash, and his forces were steadily degraded.  From Benghazi to Misrata to the western mountains, the Libyan opposition courageously confronted the regime, and the tide turned in their favor.

Over the last several days, the situation in Libya has reached a tipping point as the opposition increased its coordination from east to west, took town after town, and the people of Tripoli rose up to claim their freedom.

For over four decades, the Libyan people have lived under the rule of a tyrant who denied them their most basic human rights.  Now, the celebrations that we’ve seen in the streets of Libya shows that the pursuit of human dignity is far stronger than any dictator.  I want to emphasize that this is not over yet.  As the regime collapses, there is still fierce fighting in some areas, and we have reports of regime elements threatening to continue fighting.

Although it’s clear that Qaddafi’s rule is over, he still has the opportunity to reduce further bloodshed by explicitly relinquishing power to the people of Libya and calling for those forces that continue to fight to lay down their arms for the sake of Libya.

As we move forward from this pivotal phase, the opposition should continue to take important steps to bring about a transition that is peaceful, inclusive and just.  As the leadership of the TNC has made clear, the rights of all Libyans must be respected.  True justice will not come from reprisals and violence; it will come from reconciliation and a Libya that allows its citizens to determine their own destiny.

In that effort, the United States will be a friend and a partner.  We will join with allies and partners to continue the work of safeguarding the people of Libya.  As remaining regime elements menace parts of the country, I’ve directed my team to be in close contact with NATO as well as the United Nations to determine other steps that we can take.  To deal with the humanitarian impact, we’re working to ensure that critical supplies reach those in need, particularly those who have been wounded.

Secretary Clinton spoke today with her counterparts from leading nations of the coalition on all these matters.  And I’ve directed Ambassador Susan Rice to request that the U.N. Secretary General use next month’s general assembly to support this important transition.

For many months, the TNC has been working with the international community to prepare for a post-Qaddafi Libya.  As those efforts proceed, our diplomats will work with the TNC as they ensure that the institutions of the Libyan state are protected, and we will support them with the assets of the Qaddafi regime that were frozen earlier this year.  Above all, we will call for an inclusive transition that leads to a democratic Libya.

As we move forward, we should also recognize the extraordinary work that has already been done.  To the American people, these events have particular resonance.  Qaddafi’s regime has murdered scores of American citizens in acts of terror in the past.  Today we remember the lives of those who were taken in those acts of terror and stand in solidarity with their families.  We also pay tribute to Admiral Sam Locklear and all of the men and women in uniform who have saved so many lives over the last several months, including our brave pilots that have executed their mission with skill and extraordinary bravery.  And all of this was done without putting a single U.S. troop on the ground.

To our friends and allies, the Libyan intervention demonstrates what the international community can achieve when we stand together as one — although the efforts in Libya are not yet over.  NATO has once more proven that it is the most capable alliance in the world and that its strength comes from both its firepower and the power of our democratic ideals.  And the Arab members of our coalition have stepped up and shown what can be achieved when we act together as equal partners.  Their actions send a powerful message about the unity of our effort and our support for the future of Libya.

Finally, the Libyan people:  Your courage and character have been unbreakable in the face of a tyrant.  An ocean divides us, but we are joined in the basic human longing for freedom, for justice and for dignity.  Your revolution is your own, and your sacrifices have been extraordinary.  Now, the Libya that you deserve is within your reach.  Going forward, we will stay in close coordination with the TNC to support that outcome.  And though there will be huge challenges ahead, the extraordinary events in Libya remind us that fear can give way to hope and that the power of people striving for freedom can bring about a brighter day.

Thank you very much.

 


Statement of President Obama on Libya

Tonight, the momentum against the Qadhafi regime has reached a tipping point. Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant. The Qadhafi regime is showing signs of collapsing. The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator.

The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Moammar Qadhafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end. Qadhafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all. Meanwhile, the United States has recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate governing authority in Libya. At this pivotal and historic time, the TNC should continue to demonstrate the leadership that is necessary to steer the country through a transition by respecting the rights of the people of Libya, avoiding civilian casualties, protecting the institutions of the Libyan state, and pursuing a transition to democracy that is just and inclusive for all of the people of Libya. A season of conflict must lead to one of peace.

The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people. Going forward, the United States will continue to stay in close coordination with the TNC. We will continue to insist that the basic rights of the Libyan people are respected. And we will continue to work with our allies and partners in the international community to protect the people of Libya, and to support a peaceful transition to democracy.

 
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Assistant Secretary Gordon’s Interview With Balkan News Agencies

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Welcome. Maybe I’ll just say a couple of very brief things at the beginning and then I’ll look forward to your questions.

I’m very pleased to be back in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I think you know, spoke at a conference this morning and have spent the day meeting at the tri-presidency, meeting with a number of party leaders and others, and I hope my visit will be seen as a sign of the United States’ continued engagement and interest in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We’ve invested a lot over the past years in this country and remain committed to its success, remain committed to its aspirations to join Euro-Atlantic institutions, and I wanted to express that strong support which I did publicly and to a number of the individuals that I met with.

I also came to express an interest in the formation of a state level government. I won’t hide that we in the United States are frustrated at the amount of time it has taken. The last visit I made to Bosnia and Herzegovina was with Secretary Clinton last October which was just after the elections which we hoped would quickly lead to the formation of a functional government that could start tackling the very real challenges that this country faces. Now eight months have gone by in the mean time without such a government and I wanted to talk to party leaders about their ideas for how to put such a government in place.

I was encouraged to hear that the party leaders agree that it’s not in the interest of the country to have a vacuum at that level, to not have a government, but I was disappointed at the lack of progress and encourage them to think creatively and get together in the interest of the country as a whole.

I also came and expressed the United States’ strong and ongoing support for the Dayton institutions and the Office of High Representative. There have been various challenges to those institutions in particular over the past year, and I’m including in that recent or earlier RS legislation on state property and more recently the April 13th proposed referendum and conclusions and I think we were very clear at the time that we found that proposed referendum and conclusions unacceptable and inconsistent with Dayton and that we supported the OHR in rejecting that approach. We made that clear at the time and I underscored that it remains our view that those conclusions are inconsistent with Dayton and we would continue to back the High Representative in his approach to the issue.

So those are some of the messages that I conveyed and some of the issues that I discussed. Again, the overall point is that we remain engaged and committed. We want to see Bosnia and Herzegovina as a full-fledged and thriving member of the European Union and NATO. Ultimately a lot more work needs to be done. We will stand ready to help in every way we can, but it is something that the leaders of the country and the people of the country are going to have to take responsibility for. We will be with them as they do so.

I’m happy to take your questions.

QUESTION: Today you had an opportunity to meet with several political leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Are you optimistic after these discussions that Bosnia and Herzegovina could in near future, by the end of June, agree on parliamentary majority at the state level?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I did meet with a lot of party leaders and talked about the urgency of forming a government. As I noted, I was encouraged to hear all of them committed to forming a government. They all seem to recognize that this country cannot do without a state level government, there are real issues that need to be tackled on behalf of all of the people of the country and they expressed interest in doing so which was welcome news.

I was, however, disappointed that they didn’t seem to be near a solution, that so much time has gone by without it, that they remain dug in on certain positions and inflexible which might be in the interest of their party or their ethnic group but not in the interest of the country as a whole which is precisely the approach that we’re encouraging. That is to say encouraging leaders to think about the people of the country as a whole and the success of the country as a whole and not narrow political interests. So I was disappointed in that.

I don’t want to put a timetable on it. I do think that they understand that this needs to get done. I think it would be too optimistic to say the end of June or any other near term deadline, but I can tell you that we are going to continue both to press them to do so and to offer whatever ideas we might have that would help, but ultimately the responsibility is for the leaders.

QUESTION: After the government is formed and the entities, can you tell us what the United States expects from this government? The new government is made up of old parties, the SDP is the only new party. So what does the United States expect after the formation of the government? What do they expect from the new government? The fact is that the new government is made by all the parties of which the old government was made except for SDP and that period, past period, the main characteristic was the lack of reforms implemented and needed for Euro-Atlantic path for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I think we would expect similar things from whatever government that may be formed. Again, it’s not really a question of what we expect, it’s what the country needs and what the people of the country expect, but I think we all know what the issues are. You concluded your question by referencing the European Union and that I think is near the top of anyone’s list. There are a set of measures that would be expected of any government dealing with the EU accession process, dealing with the question of a census and state aid and Sejdic-Finci and whatever the stripe or composition of the government they’re going to have to take steps to deal with those issues to move this country down the path towards the European Union.

Also in the context of joining Euro-Atlantic institutions there’s the NATO question, and a government we hope would tackle the question of fixed defense properties which, as you know, is the precondition for the Membership Action Plan process to begin which will be a very positive thing for the country.

There’s the question of a deal with the IMF for which a state level government is necessary and which would benefit the economy as a whole. I made references in my speech to slow growth and economic problems that would need to be tackled by this government.

Beyond that there are other questions of governmental reform and efforts to make the government more functional and effective. I think you could come up with a whole list of things that any government would have to tackle, but first things first, you need a government in place before any of these issues can be dealt with.

QUESTION: Does the U.S. administration, current administration, have some new proposals for Bosnia and Herzegovina when it comes to constitutional reforms? We had Butmir package of measures and it failed and recently there were certain statements in the media and certain initiatives in relation to a new conference that will be called Dayton II.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: First, just to be clear, we have no plans for anything resembling or known as Dayton II which implies a major international conference, restructuring or structuring a constitutional system and institutions. Dayton I was a set of measures to end the war and to set up a country and no reform program that I’m familiar with is being considered in Europe or the United States to do anything remotely like that. Indeed, as I said, we support the Dayton institutions that are already in place and we’re not proposing to replace it with anything. So I don’t know where that notion comes from but there’s no plan for a Dayton II.

In terms of constitutional reform or other types of reforms, I would say what I said about government formation. It’s not for the United States to come in with a plan. One of the things we’re trying to do is encourage this country to, and its leaders, to act in the interests of the country as a whole. To do that, the views of all of its constituents need to be represented. Nothing can be imposed on the different peoples and entities. Therefore you’re not going to hear the United States come up with the plan for constitutional reform. Sure, we can help, we can provide ideas, we have a lot of experience with this sort of thing, we have constitutional experts. So does the European Union. The European Union has advised a lot of transition countries on setting up their legal systems, judicial structures, and we’re more than ready to offer such thoughts and creative ideas. But we’re not in the business of putting forward plans and ultimately they would have to be agreed to by the parties in the country. Again, I said the same thing about government formation. We can offer thoughts, creative ideas, paths forward, but we can’t do it for them.

QUESTION: My next question would be in that context as well. Recently in Banja Luka the structural dialogue on reform of judiciary started with the European Union. Does the United States intend with advice or in any other form to support the judicial reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: We will be supportive. I think the structure dialogue specifically is an EU process that exists and has been used in other candidate countries, and we don’t have a direct role in it. We do support it because I think this process has demonstrated in the past that it can help countries improve the functioning of their judicial systems which is an absolutely critical measure in their success. And the EU has a pretty good track record in this. I think the enlargement process itself has been very positive in helping countries fight corruption, reform their judiciaries, and install the rules of law. If that can help in Bosnia and Herzegovina then it’s a good thing and we very much support it even though we’re not going to have a direct role in it.

QUESTION: Another question related to the recent tensions caused in Bosnia and Herzegovina related to the decision of RSNA on referendum and referendum on imposed decisions of HR. It was pulled back when the dialogue on reform of judiciary started, but the conclusions of the RSNA are still valid.

Do you think that by not pulling back these conclusions the story on referendum remains topical?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I can only speak for the United States and we’ve been pretty clear about that. We said that the referendum was a direct challenge to Dayton that was not acceptable and needed to be dropped. I’ve heard different references to the degree to which it has been abandoned. I know that Mr. Dodik said it was dropped for now, which raises some prospect of bringing it back up, but I can tell you that were it to be brought up our view of it would be the same as it was when it was brought up in the first place, that it’s an unacceptable challenge to the Dayton institutions and the High Representative would be fully within his rights and obligations to oppose it. Our view of that hasn’t changed and won’t change in the future.

QUESTION: Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Thank you all.

 
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Assistant Secretary Gordon on U.S. Policy in the Balkans

As prepared

Thank you very much. It really is an honor and a pleasure for me to be back in Sarajevo, particularly with so many good friends and colleagues in the room. This conference comes at a very timely moment. I am glad to see Bosnia and Herzegovina getting the high-profile attention it deserves and to be able to lend the voice and perspectives of the United States to the discussion.

Let me begin by thanking the conference hosts for having me here and for organizing this conference: The Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University SAIS, especially Executive Director Dan Hamilton, and the America-Bosnia Foundation, especially President Sasha Toperich. CTR and the America-Bosnia Foundation are uniquely equipped to put on such a conference and they have done a superb job of assembling an outstanding group of scholars and practitioners. I would also like to thank the conference sponsors, including the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, led by Ambassador Patrick Moon, who is also here today. Indeed, it is a tribute to the importance and timeliness of this conference that in a difficult economic climate, so many internationally renowned foundations – 15 in all from the United States and Europe – have so generously contributed. Finally, let me thank Mike Haltzel, not just for organizing this conference but for his long and constant dedication to Balkans issues, first in the United States Senate and more recently in his role at SAIS.

I first visited Sarajevo in 1994, at a time when Bosnia and Herzegovina was still in the grips of the terrible war that would take the lives of over 100,000 people and displace millions of others. I don’t need to remind this audience of the horrors that took place during those dark years or of all the hard work Bosnians have done since then to rebuild this country. The United States and NATO, particularly, made an enormous investment in peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And with our help, but mostly as a result of your own efforts, Bosnia and Herzegovina has come a long way since.

For the United States, our commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina is an integral part of our long-standing commitment to a Europe that is whole, free, democratic, and at peace. We believe strongly in the idea that all of Europe must join the Euro-Atlantic institutions and realize the benefits of stability and prosperity. The Balkans are a critical part of Europe—historically, geographically and culturally and its future lies within the Euro-Atlantic institutions. The United States will always support an open door to the European Union and to NATO and we will always be ready to help countries to walk through that door.

As part of this commitment, we take pride in what we have done with and for the Bosnian people. And our commitment continues in the Obama Administration, as demonstrated by the persistent diplomatic attention that Bosnia and Herzegovina receives. Vice-President Biden came here on one of his very first trips as Vice President, in May 2009; Secretary of State Clinton traveled here this past October, and Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg has visited this country six times during his tenure, more than any other country in the world except Japan. Congress also takes a deep interest in developments here, as the frequent Congressional delegations to Sarajevo will attest.

Many officials in this administration have deep a personal connection with Bosnia. Our professional identities, our understanding of international diplomacy, and even our careers were forged in the crucible of the Balkans War of the 1990s. Over the years, the United States has sent tens of thousands of American soldiers and diplomats to establish and keep the peace. We’ve invested roughly 1.5 billion dollars to help rebuild, strengthen public institutions, foster better education and promote economic development. We provide $300 million a year to help Western Balkans countries meet EU and NATO requirements. We are deeply and personally invested in the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In short, we have been your friends. And friends sometimes need to speak to each other bluntly. Bosnia and Herzegovina has made great progress since the horrors of the 1990s. But it in the last four or five years, it has not moved in the right direction. There has been a dangerous rise in nationalist rhetoric. The institutions of the state and the Dayton settlement have been brazenly challenged. There have been attempts to roll back the reforms that are necessary for Bosnia and Herzegovina to join the EU and NATO. In general, Bosnian politicians have been too willing to stoke ethnic fears and to privilege their own personal political interests over the needs of the people they are supposed to represent.

If this does not stop – and again I owe it to my friends here to be blunt – then Bosnia risks being left behind, as the rest of the region moves forward.

We can already see this happening. With the help of the international community, many states in this region are making progress: Slovenia joined the EU in 2004; Albania and Croatia joined NATO in 2009; Croatia’s EU candidacy is steadily advancing, following the favorable recommendation by the European Commission just last week. Macedonia will join NATO as soon as its name dispute is resolved. Kosovo recently celebrated the 3rd year of its independence and continues to progress as a multi-ethnic democracy. Montenegro, only five years since independence, already has EU candidacy status and is a full participant in NATO’s Membership Action Plan. Serbia has applied for EU candidacy and is making progress along that path, including through the recent arrest and extradition of Ratko Mladic.

Of course, all of these countries still have a lot of work to do to realize their aspirations: Serbia and Kosovo particularly need to advance in their dialogue and to work creatively to resolve their differences before they can move much further along their path to EU membership. Throughout the Balkans, people are free from violence, but they often do not have jobs. Hatreds have eased but dangerous nationalism and prejudice persists.

So Bosnia is hardly the only country in the region to face major challenges. But whereas other countries in the region are managing to make progress, however halting, in their efforts to join Europe—Bosnia and Herzegovina is not.

To get back on the right path, Bosnia must be able to function as a state that can deliver results for all of its citizens. Reforms are needed for their own sake, but they are also necessary to meet EU requirements and the country’s international obligations. Only greater integration into Europe will provide the stability and opportunity that the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina want for their children.

Bosnia’s leaders specifically need to make progress in three areas: government formation, respect for state institutions and the Dayton Framework, and governmental reform.

Government Formation

The first is state-level government formation. It has been eight months since the elections and this country still does not have a state-level government. Without a broad-based coalition government, Bosnia cannot make the decisions necessary to progress on the Euro-Atlantic reform agenda.

Efforts in the parliament to start the process for appointment of Chairman of the Council of Ministers are a step in the right direction. But it is disappointing that we still have not seen a serious initiative from any political party leader to form a governing coalition.

There is no time to lose. Unless a government is formed soon, the economic consequences will be felt far and wide. Moody’s has already downgraded the country’s credit rating from “stable” to “negative” due to the stalemate. Deficit spending will result in budget shortfalls in both entities later this year, but the IMF and other international financial institutions have made clear that Bosnia and Herzegovina will not be able to access additional lending until a new state government is in place. Pensioners, veterans and other vulnerable groups whose benefits have already taken a hit will see deeper reductions.

Every day that passes without a government Bosnia and Herzegovina falls further behind its neighbors and increases the risk that Bosnia and Herzegovina will fall off the European path. In this context, it is irresponsible for any party to block formation of a government based on maximalist demands, be it a claim on a certain number of positions in the Council of Ministers or for a specific ministerial appointment. All must be prepared to compromise. Those who refuse to consider any compromise are playing into the hands of those who seek to undermine Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capacity to function as a state. I will be meeting this afternoon with some of the major party leaders and will be looking forward to hearing from the constructive ideas about how to form a state-level government in the very near future.

The responsibility to form a government that can advance the well being of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina should supersede any personal or political concern.

Respect for State Institutions and the Dayton Framework

Second, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s politicians need to demonstrate their commitment to the Dayton Framework and their willingness to abide by the decisions of state institutions.

Like other members of the international community, the United States has repeatedly reaffirmed our support for the Dayton framework – one state, two vibrant entities, three constituent peoples – to reassure all the peoples of the country that their future is secure within Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that the goal is a more functional — not a more centralized — country, capable of meeting European integration requirements.

Similar efforts at reassurance have been made by some politicians in Sarajevo, including by President Bakir Izetbegovic, who has made conciliatory statements and offered greater flexibility on key reforms required by NATO and the EU. In return, others have intensified separatist rhetoric and sought to undermine Bosnia and Herzegovina’s state institutions and OHR.

One of the most recent challenges to the state was the April 13 decision by the RS assembly to call a referendum on High Representative decisions and on the legitimacy of the BiH Court and Prosecutor’s Office.

The RS decision to step back from a referendum has headed off an immediate crisis. I hope that the leadership in Banja Luka uses this opportunity to reevaluate its approach—the challenges made by the RS assembly to the Dayton Framework are not acceptable. They are incompatible with the goal of European integration. The leaders and the people of the RS need to decide whether they want to have a relationship with the United States and with Europe or not.

Those who think they can outwait us and our Allies on the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board are wrong. As I have already made clear, the United States has a significant personal and political investment here. We will not give up on Bosnia and Herzegovina or its people.

We will continue to defend and strengthen existing state institutions, like the BiH State Court and Prosecutors Office, which are doing critical work to combat terrorism, organized crime and to bring war criminals to justice; and the Indirect Tax Administration, which had ensured a dedicated revenue stream for the BiH government.

We will continue to promote further reforms, including of the constitution, as are necessary for a functional state and for Bosnia and Herzegovina to meet EU accession requirements. And we will stand behind the High Representative and his decisions. We will not permit the closure of the Office of the High Representative until the agreed reform agenda is completed.

We also welcome the EU’s determination to play a leading role in supporting positive change and protecting against threats to stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina. EU High Representative Ashton has named Peter Sorensen, a senior diplomat with 15 years of experience in the Balkans, to lead this EU effort. As Secretary Clinton wrote last week in an article co-authored with UK Foreign Secretary Hague, the United States “will be strongly supportive of Ambassador Sorensen, using all of the levers available to achieve progress, while working in close partnership with the Peace Implementation Council and the Office of the High Representative.”

And we will be prepared to take measures against any individuals and organizations that threaten to undermine the stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. All levels of government in Bosnia must accept and respect Dayton.

Governmental Reform

Finally, Bosnia and Herzegovina must move forward with the governmental reforms necessary for NATO and EU integration.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future lies in its integration into Europe, specifically membership in NATO and the EU. Once the state level government is formed, we expect Bosnia and Herzegovina to move forward quickly to resolve the defense property issue so that it can participate in NATO’s Membership Action Plan. The EU has made clear that Bosnia and Herzegovina must take three steps in order to be considered for candidate status: establish a serious process to change the constitution to accommodate the Sejdic-Finci decision, act on state aid provisions, and conduct a census. In addition, Bosnia and Herzegovina needs a well-functioning government at the state level that will have the power to engage effectively with Brussels and to participate effectively in the EU accession process.

We are convinced this is possible while protecting and preserving the decentralized government structures established in the Dayton constitution.

But it will require reform, including of the constitution. The most immediate change necessary to comply with basic EU human rights standards following the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the Sejdic-Finci case. And there will need to be additional changes over the longer term to ensure the state has sufficient functionality and decision-making capacity to comply with EU and NATO standards. Although the EU accession process will be difficult, it is the only viable alternative for this country. Threats to abandon the process or not participate are incompatible with the needs of the people.

Reform is also imperative in the entities. The Federation has far more government than it can afford. Years of mismanagement, corruption and political infighting by the previous government have exacerbated the problem. Last year the government had to adopt emergency austerity measures just to avoid bankruptcy and the new Federation government still faces serious funding issues. The most recent EU progress report singled out the Federation in particular as being incompatible with EU accession criteria.

The new Federation government has gotten off to a good start. It has a fresh opportunity to make progress on privatizations, which have languished for years due to corruption and political infighting, as well as on education and economic reforms.

We regret that the HDZ parties declined to accept a compromise that would have included them in the coalition. No political party can claim the exclusive right to represent an entire ethnic group.

But we also recognize the concerns of those citizens who feel that the new government does not include representatives that they elected or who are committed to representing their interests.

It is incumbent upon the new government to demonstrate that it is acting in the interests of all of the entity’s citizens. It is understandable that Bosnian Croats, as the least numerous of the three constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, are concerned about their status within the Federation. But redrawing new internal boundaries to add a new entity or other layers of complexity to an already overly complicated government is unrealistic. We welcome recent steps by HDZ parties to participate actively in the Federation parliament.

The Republika Srpska faces its own serious economic challenges. The entity has exhausted all of its reserves from the RS telecom and oil refinery privatizations and now faces a $500 million deficit. Last year the RS economy grew at an anemic 1 percent. The forecast for this year is not much better. Provocative political rhetoric and attacks on the independence of the state judiciary is driving away foreign investment, which is a tenth of what it was just three years ago. The Republika Srspka would be much better off if its leaders focused more improving the economy and thus on serving the needs of the citizens rather than on promoting greater division within the country. A positive step would be to discuss with the Federation ways to harmonize their regulations and to promote inter-entity economic cooperation.

The Path to Europe

These steps together constitute a path toward Europe. If Bosnia and Herzegovina’s politicians make the necessary choices and compromises, we will be there to help with resources and political support. As Secretary Clinton said here in October, “The bonds between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the United States have been forged through harsh trials and historic triumphs and today we remain committed.”

But you should understand that our commitment will mean little if Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot summon the will to help itself. We stand ready to advise, assist and support, but we cannot do it alone. We need partners who share this vision and who are prepared to compromise for the greater good.

The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina deserve better; they deserve a Euro-Atlantic future. The young people of this country, particularly, want and deserve to join the European mainstream, to travel and work abroad, and to take advantage of all that the modern world has to offer. There are courageous actors in this country, many of whom are represented at this conference, who understand what needs to be done. Each of you has responsibility to work in interests of all Bosnians and Herzegovinians, to work across ethnic lines, and to avoid feeding ethnic fears. We are confident that, in so doing, you can overcome your divisions and build a European state, just like so many other Europeans before you.

No one can do this for you. But I can tell you that if you try, the United States will be with you every step of the way.

Thank you very much.

 


Secretary Clinton’s Press Availability in the United Arab Emirates

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is the end of a very productive day here in Abu Dhabi. I want to thank the United Arab Emirates for hosting us and to the UAE and Italy for co-chairing this meeting of the Libya Contact Group. The UAE’s leadership on full display here in Abu Dhabi has been critical to this mission from the very beginning.

Today’s successful Contact Group meeting was a powerful statement that our coalition remains united and committed. We reaffirmed there is only one way forward for Libya, attacks against civilians must stop, Qadhafi must go, and the Libyan people deserve to determine their own future.

We continued our ongoing dialogue about steps we can take to protect the Libyan people, pressure Qadhafi to hasten his departure, and lay the groundwork for a successful transition to a unified, democratic, Libya. On each of these goals, we are making progress and we have increased the pressure on Qadhafi. But as long as he continues his attacks on his own people, our military mission to protect them will continue.

We are pleased that NATO extended the mandate of Operation Unified Protector for another 90 days. We have stepped up the pace of our strikes and added British and French attack helicopters to our arsenal. With coalition backing, the people of Misrata have expelled Qadhafi’s forces from their city and they are bravely standing against those forces which, unfortunately, are renewing an assault.

We are escalating the political, diplomatic, and financial pressure on Qadhafi, and his isolation is deepening. The list of former officials who have now abandoned him is growing. He’s lost two foreign ministers, an interior minister, ambassadors to the United States and UN, an oil minister, and five generals, and just this week his labor minister defected as well. The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has sought arrest warrants for Qadhafi, his son Saif, and the intelligence chief Senussi. And we’ve again begun to see brave protestors taking to the streets of Tripoli.

We have very good reason to believe that time is on our side, so long as we sustain the pressure. Since our last Contact Group meeting in Rome, Russia and many others have joined the chorus of nations working to achieve Qadhafi’s departure from power. We recognize the important role that the African Union and African states are playing, and we are consulting closely with them and welcome the recent statements from South Africa, Gabon, Mauritania, and others. The old tactics of divide and rule that Qadhafi mastered in Libya will not work with the international community.

Our support for Libya’s Transitional National Council is also deepening. The United States views the Transitional National Council as the legitimate interlocutor for the Libyan people during this interim period. We expect to see Libyans coming together to plan their own future and a permanent, inclusive, constitutional system that will protect the rights of all Libyans. This is in stark contrast to the Qadhafi regime, which has lost all legitimacy to rule. The TNC is the institution through which we are engaging the Libyan people alongside our work with civil society.

We are all working to put the TNC on firmer financial footing. We’ve taken steps in the United States to license oil sales by the TNC, and we’re pleased that an American company was able to make a purchase, which was delivered yesterday. To help the TNC secure credit, we embrace the idea that a future Libyan government should honor any financial obligations that the TNC assumes on behalf of the Libyan people. We welcome today’s announcement that the temporary financial mechanism has been activated for this purpose. Already, Kuwait announced it will transfer about $180 million, and Qatar will transfer 100 million through this mechanism. We are also continuing to provide non-lethal supplies and working to deepen all of our relationships.

Finally, we will continue to work to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches the Libyan people, including those who have fled the violence into neighboring countries. And yesterday, a group of bipartisan United States senators announced they had agreed on a framework to use Libyan assets frozen by the United States to provide humanitarian aid to the Libyan people, and we look forward to the Congress passing that legislation so we can begin to implement it.

And also today, we announced $26.5 million of new funds to help all victims of this conflict, bringing the American total to nearly $81 million.

We’re optimistic also about the Libyan information exchange mechanism, which will serve as a clearinghouse to match in-kind contributions of non-lethal assistance with the most urgent needs of the TNC. We welcome Italy’s announcement that the mechanism is now in operation.

This is a moment to reaffirm our commitment to our common purpose and continue our progress together, and that is exactly what we did today in Abu Dhabi. Libya is not, however, the only country in the region in the midst of extraordinary changes, and I took the opportunity today to consult closely with a number of our partners on the full range of regional challenges. We spoke about how more we can pull together to support the historic transitions underway in Tunisia and Egypt, which remain critical priorities for the United States. Our European and regional partners are sustaining their focus on supporting Tunisians and Egyptians.

We also talked about the rapidly evolving situation in Yemen. We continue to urge all sides to honor the ceasefire, and we support an immediate, orderly, and peaceful transition consistent with Yemen’s constitution. Violence is not the way forward, and Yemen’s instability is a challenge for us all. The Yemeni people need a government that addresses their needs and aspirations.

And finally, we discussed ways to support the Syrian people and sharpen the choices facing the Asad regime. Syrians took to the streets to demonstrate peacefully for a government that respects their rights, reflects their aspirations, and is accountable. What they have received instead has shocked not only Syrians but people around the world. We are working with our partners in the international community to bring an end to the violence and to support political and economic reforms. President Asad may try to delay the changes underway in Syria, but he cannot reverse them.

This is a remarkable and very busy time. In each of these and other countries, there is simply no going back to the way things were, and yet the full story of each of these transitions remains to be written. All of us are humbled by the risks and the rewards of this moment. A great deal of hard work lies ahead and we must get it right. So speaking for the United States, we will continue to work closely with our partners to help the people of Libya and throughout the entire region navigate this season of change and arrive at a better future destination.

And I’d be happy to take some questions.

MODERATOR: First question goes to AFP, Lachlan Carmichael.

QUESTION: Hello, Madam Secretary.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi, Lachlan.

QUESTION: You said that Qadhafi’s days are numbered. It sounds that he could leave much more imminently than we even thought a few weeks ago. So do you think that the Libyan people, through the Transitional National Council, could fill a void very quickly, that they’d be capable to establish order? And the other question is: Have you heard and can you confirm reports that the Qadhafi family is reaching out to Senegal and South Africa to find an exit for Muammar Qadhafi?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Lachlan, to the second question, let me say this. There have been numerous and continuing discussions by people close to Qadhafi. And we are aware that those discussions include, among other matters, the potential for a transition. There is not any clear way forward yet, but we will be focusing between now and the next Contact Group in Istanbul in July on making sure that all of those contacts are understood and evaluated because they occur with many different interlocutors, and that we begin the very difficult but necessary work with both the TNC and the Qadhafi regime to try to bring about the kind of transition from power in the first instance that is necessary to see from Qadhafi, and then in the second, going to your first question, the necessary work that lies ahead so that if Qadhafi were to leave tomorrow, there would be a receptivity by the international community to redouble our efforts to help the TNC and others throughout the country who wish to be part of an inclusive process that establishes the necessary institutions, such as a constitution, that can begin to guide the democratic reform that is sought.

We have seen a great deal of improvement in the efforts of the TNC. We are obviously doing all we can to assist them in better organizing themselves and building those institutions that any state needs. But they know and we know there’s a long road ahead. However, we all stand ready to assist them and have begun discussions with them about what more they would need once the transition occurs.

MODERATOR: Al Jazeera, please. Mahmoud Hamdan.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi.

QUESTION: Hi. Excuse me. Do you believe that the Council now qualified to use this financial aid and – or is – do you think that they still – are you still thinking that they have to go in some procedures to be able to use this aid?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, actually, we are ready, through the establishment of the financial mechanism, to begin money flowing to them through this mechanism but also through bilateral efforts. So we do think that they are prepared. As you may know, there was a lot of work done, led by the Qataris and the Emiratis and the Kuwaitis and many of the rest of us, to establish this mechanism with sufficient transparency and accountability, because the last thing we want is to put to the TNC in a position where the money flows but they are not – they don’t have the systems in place to actually put it to good use. We think that they do now, and we’re working to assist them. So the money is being deposited in the financial mechanism that we announced today.

MODERATOR: Next question, Reuters. Andy Quinn.

QUESTION: Hi, Madam Secretary. If I could just turn briefly to Syria and Yemen, on Yemen there are reports today that the U.S. is stepping up air strikes on suspected militants to keep them from exploiting a power vacuum while President Saleh is undergoing treatment. How concerned are you that al-Qaida is gaining ground while the situation tips further out of control in Yemen? Do you have any position now on whether or not he should return? And what are you and the Saudis doing to try to breathe new life into the GCC roadmap?

On Syria, please, Russia said today it will veto any UN Security Council resolution on Syria. How can the international community increase pressure on President Asad if he has such powerful protectors at the United Nations?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I’m not going to comment on the first part of your question regarding any operations. I think it’s clear that we have worked very closely with our partners in the Gulf and others to try to bring about a peaceful transition. On several opportunities, President Saleh did not go forward with what we thought had been agreed to. He remains now in Saudi Arabia receiving medical treatment. The vice president, in accordance with the Yemeni constitution, is now currently serving as the acting president.

Our ambassador and other ambassadors continue to meet with a cross section of the Yemeni population, including senior Yemeni Government officials as well as members of the opposition because, obviously, we are committed to doing what we can to create a stable base for Yemen to make the changes that are necessary. We don’t think that the instability can be fully addressed until those changes commence. And so we’re going to continue to consult closely with our friends in the region to determine the best way forward.

I can’t speculate on what President Ali Abdullah Saleh will decide to do. That’s obviously up to him. But Yemen has a strong constitution, and we believe if their constitution were actually implemented, Yemen would be moving in the right direction. So whatever happens in Yemen needs to be in line with their own constitution, and we’ve been urging that, and we will continue to do so.

With respect to Syria, everyone that I spoke with here today is deeply concerned about events in Syria. We are seeing a continuing use of violence by the government against their own people, and we’re seeing violent responses by elements of the Syrian population against security forces. And we know that, repeatedly, that President Asad has said over the last several years that he wanted to make changes, and, as President Obama said, he either needs to make them or get out of the way.

We believe that Syria can play a positive and leading role in the region as a pluralistic democracy contributing to regional stability. But sadly, under President Asad, it is becoming a source of instability in the region, exporting its problems. People are fleeing their country, seeking safety beyond their borders, and therefore, we think the international community has an important role to play, and I don’t think anyone looking at the situation can conclude that this is going to end well unless there is a change in the behavior of the government. So we’re going to continue to press for changes and do everything we can to try to bring international pressure to bear on the government to take action immediately and to cease the violence.

MODERATOR: Last question, Al Arabiya, Abdullah Mataran (ph).

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) the countries in this group – they – we say that the legislative council has not been recognized, although, it is the only council that represents the Libyan people. So what does the U.S. think about this?

SECRETARY CLINTON: You’re talking about the Transitional National Council? Yeah. I think that it is important to look at how far the Transitional National Council has come. It is a very young institution, and it is trying to represent the entire nation, which is a challenge given that the opposition controls a significant part of the east and is fighting in the west. But I think that the progress that the TNC has made should be encouraging. But as I said, it’s important to be clear about how much more needs to be done.

There is a lot of work ahead of the TNC – work to expand its reach, to be more inclusive, to build institutions, and we’ve had very open conversations with the representatives of the TNC about that. But I think that they have issued statements of their intent, of the kind of Libya they would like to see in the future, which are very impressive. So what we hope to be able to do, along with all of our international partners, is to help them improve their capacity to serve as the transition leader of Libya.

What we seek are open, fair, legitimate elections, as Tunisia is facing, as Egypt is facing, that will determine what the makeup of the next Government of Libya will be. But we think that the Transitional National Council is in a position to guide and lead that process. And that’s why what happened today was so important in ensuring that they got additional financial support and validation from the Contact Group.

MODERATOR: Thank you all very much.

 


Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom in Joint Press Conference in London, United Kingdom

PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Thank you, and apologies for keeping you waiting.  It’s a pleasure to welcome President Obama here today.

      We’ve just been having a barbecue in the gardens of Number 10 Downing Street with some of our service — armed-service personnel from the United States and from the UK.  And it was a great reminder of the incredible debt that we owe all of them and their families for their service, for their sacrifice, for all they do to keep us safe.  It was a great event and it was wonderful to have Barack and Michelle there.

      It was also probably the first time in history, as we stood behind that barbecue, that I can say a British Prime Minister has given an American President a bit of a grilling.  So I’m going to hold onto that.

      Over the past year I’ve got to know the President well.  And whether it’s in routine situations like sitting round the G8 table, or the slightly less routine of getting a phone call in the middle of the night, I’ve come to value not just his leadership and courage, but the fact that to all the big international issues of our time, he brings thoughtful consideration and reason.

      And I know that today, Mr. President, you’ll be thinking of the dreadful tornado in Missouri and all those who’ve lost livelihoods and lost their lives and loved ones.  And our hearts in Britain go out to all those people, too.

      Barack and I know well the shared history of our countries. From the beaches of Normandy to the Imjin River, our soldiers have fought together.  From labs in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Cambridge, England, our scientists have decoded DNA and cured diseases together.  And in millions of interactions every day, including our massive business relationship, our people forge friendships together.

      That is what makes this relationship special.  But what makes it essential is that it’s not just about history or sentiment; it is a living, working partnership.  It is essential to our security and it’s essential for our prosperity.

      And I feel every day just how important this partnership is. The President and I, together with my Deputy Prime Minister, have just had some excellent discussions.  We’ve been talking today about the two things we care about most — getting our people jobs and keeping our people safe.  Because every night millions of British and American people take the same worries to bed with them.  They’re asking if they can find a good job, if they’re going to get a paycheck next month, and if there will be work for their children when they grow up.

      The stark truth of the world today is that no country is owed a living.  We’ve got to pay our way and we’ve got to earn our way.  And that is what the President and I are determined to do.  Barack and I did not come into politics to cut public spending, but neither did we seek office to see our great economies decline or to land our children with unsustainable debts.  And that is why in the second half of this decade, we’re making sure that debt ratios will be falling on both sides of the Atlantic.

      At the same time, we’re investing in our roads and railways, in science and innovation, and above all, in our young people.  And down the line, the success of all this won’t be measured in export figures or trade flows; it will be in the feelings of the factory worker, whether they’re in Phoenix or the shopkeeper in Liverpool or the engineer in Ohio — the people who know if they work hard, then prosperity will be there for them and the promise of a better life there for their children.

      As well as the economy, the President and I had some very good discussions on security.  Now, Americans and Brits, you don’t need to explain terrorism to one another.  Both our people have suffered at its hands, and indeed they have died together.

      My wife Samantha was in Manhattan on 9/11, and I’ll never forget the five hours of trying to get hold of her.  And she’ll never forget the New Yorkers that she met that day or the sense of solidarity that she felt that day and that we have felt ever since that day.  And today, as we come up to its tenth anniversary, we should remember the spirit of that city and the sympathy we feel with those who lost their loved ones.

      Now, there are those who say that this terrorist threat is beyond our control, and we passionately believe that is wrong.  We can defeat al Qaeda, and the events of recent months give us an opportunity to turn the tide on their terror once and for all.

      I believe there are three actions we must take.  First, we must continue to destroy their terrorist network, and I congratulate the President on his operation against bin Laden.  This was not just a victory for justice, but a strike right at the heart of international terrorism.

      In this vital effort, we must continue to work with Pakistan.  People are asking about our relationship, so we need to be clear.  Pakistan has suffered more from terrorism than any country in the world.  Their enemy is our enemy.  So, far from walking away, we’ve got to work even more closely with them.

      At the same time, this is a vital year in Afghanistan.  British and American forces are fighting side by side in Helmand, right at the heart of this operation.  We’ve broken the momentum of the insurgency, and even in the Taliban’s heartland, in Kandahar and central Helmand, they’re on the back foot.  Now is the moment to step up our efforts to reach a political settlement.  The Taliban must make a decisive split from al Qaeda, give up violence, and join a political process that will bring lasting peace to that country.  We are agreed to give this the highest priority in the months ahead.

      Second, we must reach a conclusion to the Arab-Israel peace process.  Again, I congratulated the President on his recent speech on the Middle East, which was bold, it was visionary, and it set out what is needed in the clearest possible terms — an end to terror against Israelis and the restoration of dignity to the Palestinians; two states living side by side and in peace.

      Yes, the road has been, and will be, long and arduous, but the prize is clear.  Conclude the peace process and you don’t just bring security to the region; you deny extremists one of their most profound and enduring recruiting sergeants, weakening their calling and crippling their cause.  That is why whatever the difficulties, we must continue to press for a solution.

      Our third action must be to help elevate the changes in North Africa and the Arab world from a moment in history to a turning point in history.  We’ve seen some extraordinary things  — protesters braving bullets, bloggers toppling dictators, people taking to the streets and making their own history.  If global politics is about spreading peace and prosperity, then this is a once-in-a-generation moment to grab hold of.

      It is not a time for us to shrink back and think about our own issues and interests.  This is our issue and this is massively in our interests.  Those people in Tahrir Square and Tripoli just want what we have — a job and a voice.  And we all share in their success or failure.  If they succeed, there is new hope for those living there and there is the hope of a better and safer world for all of us.  But if they fail, if that hunger is denied, then some young people in that region will continue to listen to the poisonous narrative of extremism.

      So the President and I are agreed we will stand with those who work for freedom.  This is the message we’ll take to the G8 tomorrow when we push for a major program of economic and political support for those countries seeking reform.  And this is why we mobilized the international community to protect the Libyan people from Colonel Qaddafi’s regime, why we’ll continue to enforce U.N. resolutions with our allies, and why we restate our position once more:  It is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Qaddafi still in power.  He must go.

      In all of these actions, we must be clear about our ambitions.  Barack and I came of age in the 1980s and ‘90s.  We saw the end of the Cold War and the victory over communism.  We saw the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein and the world coming together to liberate that country.  Throughout it all, we saw Presidents and Prime Ministers standing together for freedom.

      Today, we feel just as passionately about extending freedom as those who came before us; but we also know that idealism without realism does no good for anyone.  We have learned the lessons of history.  Democracy is built from the ground up.  You’ve got to work with the grain of other cultures, and not against them.  Real change takes time.

      And it’s because of this we share the view that our partnership will not just continue, but it will get stronger.  And this is a partnership that goes beyond foreign affairs.  At home, we have similar goals — to bring more responsibility to our societies, and to bring transparency and accountability to our governments.  In all these ambitions, our countries will continue to learn from each other and work with each other.

      And as ever, it has been a pleasure to talk to the President, and an honor to have him with us today.

      Mr. President.

      PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you, David.  Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.  I am very pleased to be back in the United Kingdom.  I note that you have arranged for typical London weather these past two days, and I am very grateful for that.

      I want to thank Her Majesty the Queen, and the British people for the extraordinary welcome that has been extended to me and Michelle.  It’s a shining example of the genuine warmth and affection that our two nations feel towards one another.

      Since David took office last spring, I believe we’ve now met or spoken at least two dozen times.  We may be leaders from different political traditions, but on a whole host of issues we see eye to eye.  We even took the same side in a epic match of doubles table tennis against some local students yesterday, and we won’t rehash the results of that.

      The relationship between our two countries is one that’s not just based on warm sentiment or common history, although those things exist.  It’s built on shared ideals and shared values.  As David said, it is a special relationship and an essential relationship.  I believe that it is stronger than it has ever been, and I’m committed to making sure that it stays that way.

      The successful meetings we’ve had and the joint initiatives we’re announcing today represent the depths and breadth of our relationship.  We discussed our efforts to strengthen the global recovery and create good jobs for our people.  The investment relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is the largest in the world, one that accounts for nearly 1 million jobs in each of our economies.  We believe we can make that relationship even stronger with deeper cooperation in areas critical to our future prosperity, like higher education and science and innovation; areas critical to our national security like cyber crime; and areas vital to the stability of the world, including international development.

      During our discussions today we reviewed our progress in Afghanistan, where our brave servicemen and women have fought side by side to break the Taliban’s momentum and where we are preparing to turn a corner.  We reaffirmed the importance of beginning the transition to Afghan lead for security this year and completing that transition by 2014.

      We discussed the opportunity that exists for promoting reconciliation and a political settlement, which must be an Afghan-led process.  President Karzai has made it clear that he will talk to anyone who is willing to end the violence, split with al Qaeda, and accept the Afghan constitution.  And we welcome the positive cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan on that front.

      At the same time, the Prime Minister and I both agree that our nations have a long-term interest in ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a launching pad for attacks against our people.  So alongside our NATO allies and partners, we’re committed to a strong and enduring partnership with the people of Afghanistan.

      As historic change unfolds across the Middle East and North Africa, we agree that the pursuit of self-determination must be driven by the peoples of the region and not imposed from the outside.  But we are both committed to doing everything that we can to support peoples who reach for democracy and leaders who implement democratic reform.

      Tomorrow, we’ll discuss with our G8 partners how those of us in the wider international community can best support nations that make the reforms necessary to build a framework for democracy, freedom, and prosperity for their people.

      At the same time, we will continue to strongly oppose the use of violence against protesters and any efforts to silence those who yearn for freedom and dignity and basic human rights.  And that’s one of the reasons that we are working together in Libya, alongside with our NATO allies and partners, to protect the Libyan people.  And we will continue those operations until Qaddafi’s attacks on civilians cease.  Time is working against Qaddafi and he must step down from power and leave Libya to the Libyan people.

      We also discussed the situation in Syria, where the Syrian people have shown great courage in their demands for a democratic transition.  The United States welcomes the EU’s decision to impose sanctions on President Assad, and we’re increasing pressure on him and his regime in order to end his policy of oppression and begin the change that people seek.

      We discussed Yemen, where the Yemeni people call for greater opportunity and prosperity and a nation that is more unified and more secure, and we expressed our joint concern of the deteriorating situation on the ground there.  We applauded the leadership of the Gulf Cooperation Council in seeking an orderly and peaceful resolution to the crisis, and we call on President Saleh to move immediately on his commitment to transfer power.

      And at a time when so many in the region are casting off the burdens of the past, we agree that the push for a lasting peace that ends the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent than ever.  I appreciate the Prime Minister’s support for the principles that I laid out last week on borders and security, which can provide a sound basis from which the two sides can negotiate.

      As increasing tensions in the Abyei region threaten to derail Sudan’s comprehensive peace agreement, we’re working closely together to encourage the parties to recommit to a peaceful resolution to the crisis, and calling on the rapid reinforcement of the U.N.’s peacekeeping presence in the region.
      We also reviewed our close cooperation when it comes to countering terrorist threats, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means of their delivery to states like Iran, and our unrelenting efforts to keep our people safe.

      And finally, we launched a joint initiative to exchange the best ideas and practices when it comes to supporting our veterans and our military families.

      Today, before we came here, Michelle and I joined David and Samantha for a outstanding barbecue at Number 10 for active-duty members of our militaries, along with their spouses, who make extraordinary sacrifices as well.  It was a wonderful event and a moving reminder of the long line of American and British service members who’ve made heavy and heroic sacrifices in the joint defense of our shared values that our people hold so dear.

      So, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you not only for the barbecue but for the opportunity to spend this very productive time at Number 10 with you and your team.  I enjoy my visits here, as always, and I have confidence that our special relationship will continue to grow even stronger in the months and years ahead.  Thank you very much.

      PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Thank you, Barack.  Thank you very much.

      Nick Robinson from the BBC.

      Q    Thank you very much indeed.  Prime Minister, can you confirm that you plan to escalate the war in Libya by sending ground attack helicopters?  And, Mr. President, can you confirm that United States will sit that particular mission out?

      And a general question for you, if I could.  You’ve talked about an old war in Afghanistan and a new one in Libya.  Is your partnership really that different than the one between Bush and Blair?

      PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Well, thank you for that.  Lots of questions in there.  First of all, the President and I agree that we should be turning up the heat in Libya.  I believe the pressure is on that regime.  You see it in the fact that the rebels have successfully liberated much of Misurata.  You see it in the success in other parts of the country.  You see it in the strength of the coalition.  You see it in the growth of the National Transitional Council.  So I believe we should be turning up that pressure.

      And on Britain’s part, we will be looking at all of the options for turning up that pressure, obviously within the terms of U.N. Resolution 1973, because we believe we need to keep enforcing that resolution, protecting civilians, pressurizing that regime so that the Libyan people have a chance to decide their own future.  And within that, those are the options we’ll look at.

      You asked the question about this relationship and past relationships.  I think every relationship between a President and a Prime Minister is different.  I would say both of us strongly believe in the special relationship.  We both called it an essential relationship.  But we believe we have — as I said in my speech — we have to learn the lessons of history, about how best we promote the values that we share.

      And that means, yes, going with the grain of other cultures; it means, yes, having a patient understanding that building democracy takes time and you have to work on the building blocks of democracy, and not believe this all can be done in an instant. But I believe in that partnership we’re extremely strong together in wanting to see the same outcomes, whether that’s in Afghanistan, where we want to see a peaceful and stable Afghanistan that no longer requires the presence of foreign troops to keep it free from terrorism, and we want to see a Libya where people have the chance to decide their own future.

      But we are doing things in a different way.  We have ruled out occupying forces, invading armies.  We are doing what we can to enforce Resolution 1973 and allowing the Libyan people to choose their own future.  And we’re very committed to doing that work together.

      PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, I do think that we’ve made enormous progress in Libya.  We have saved lives as a consequence of our concerted actions.  I think it is important to note that we did so under a U.N. mandate and as part of a broad-based international coalition that includes Arab countries.  And I absolutely agree that given the progress that has been made over the last several weeks, that Qaddafi and his regime need to understand that there will not be a letup in the pressure that we are applying.  And the United Kingdom, the United States, and our other partners are putting a wide range of resources within — consistent with the U.N. mandate — in order to achieve that pressure.  And I think we will ultimately be successful.

      The goal is to make sure that the Libyan people can make a determination about how they want to proceed, and that they’ll be finally free of 40 years of tyranny and they can start creating the institutions required for self-determination.

      So in terms of historical analogies, I just want to underscore this is not the United Kingdom and the United States alone.  We have a broad range of partners under an international mandate designed to save lives and ensure that we did not have the sort of massacre that would lead us then to look back and say to ourselves, why did we stand by and do nothing.

      With respect to Afghanistan, similarly, we have a broad-based international mandate and a broad-based international coalition designed to make sure that Afghanistan does not serve as a base for attacks against our people.  We’ve discussed, consistent with what we said in Lisbon during our NATO summit, that this will be a year of transition because of the work that we’ve done and the enormous sacrifices that both our militaries have given.  We are in a position now to transition, to start transitioning to an Afghan-led security process.  And at the same time, we’re going to be engaging in the sort of diplomatic work that is required for an ultimate political solution to the problems there.  And I’m confident that we can achieve it.

      I think that there’s no doubt that the United States and the United Kingdom have a unique relationship.  And that is going to be consistent regardless of who the President and the Prime Minister is, and it’s going to be consistent regardless of what parties we come from.  There’s so much that binds us together that it is not surprising that we are typically, on the international stage, going to be working together as opposed to at cross purposes.

      But as David mentioned, I think that the one thing that we have learned is that even as we promote the values and ideals that we care about, even as we make sure that our security interests are met, that we are using military power in a strategic and careful way; that we are making sure that as we promote democracy and human rights, that we understand the limits of what the military alone can achieve; and that we’re mindful that ultimately these regions are going to be — that the fate of these regions are going to be determined by the people there themselves, and that we’re going to have to work in partnership with them.

      And that I think is the best example of alliance leadership and it’s something that I’m very proud to be a part of.

      Julie Pace.

      Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  You’ve said that Muammar Qaddafi’s exit from Libya is inevitable and that the U.S. will continue with the campaign until his attacks stop.  Does that also mean that you will commit the U.S. to that campaign until Qaddafi is removed from power?  And would you be willing to commit additional U.S. resources if that meant speeding up Qaddafi’s exit?

      And, Prime Minister Cameron, do you believe that the U.S. and other NATO allies should increase their role in the Libya campaign, as other British lawmakers have suggested?  Thank you.

      PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I have said from the outset that our goal, the reason that we intervened in Libya, was to protect the people on the ground and to give the Libyan people the space that they needed in order to bring about a change towards democracy.  And I also was very clear in terms of how we were going to participate.
      We moved very heavily on the front end, disabling their air defense systems, carrying the lion’s share of the burden when it came to setting the stage for NATO operations; and then that — once the transfer took place to NATO command and control, that at that point our primary role would be a whole range of support that utilized America’s unique capabilities.  That’s what we’re doing.  I also ruled out us putting any ground forces in Libya.

      We have proceeded consistent with that.  There are times where, for example, with our Predator capabilities, we have a unique capacity that we’ve brought to bear, and we will continue to do that.  And the Prime Minister and I consistently discuss on a regular basis what can we all do to make sure that that pressure continues to apply.

      I do think that is it going to be difficult to meet the U.N. mandate of security for the Libyan people as long as Qaddafi and his regime are still attacking them.  And so we are strongly committed to seeing the job through, making sure that, at minimum, Qaddafi doesn’t have the capacity to send in a bunch of thugs to murder innocent civilians and to threaten them.

      I believe that we have built enough momentum that as long as we sustain the course that we’re on, that he is ultimately going to step down.  And we will continue to work with our partners to achieve that.

      So we have not put forward any artificial timeline in terms of how long this will take.  My belief is, is that the more resolute that we are now, the more effective the coalition is in rallying all the resources that are available to it, that we’re going to be able to achieve our mission in a timely fashion.

      One last point, and this speaks to the issue of whether there are other additional U.S. capabilities that could be brought to bear.  David and I both agree that we cannot put boots on the ground in Libya.  Once you rule out ground forces, then there are going to be some inherent limitations to our air strike operations.  It means that the opposition on the ground in Libya is going to have to carry out its responsibilities.  And we’re going to have to do effective coordination — and we are doing that — with the opposition on the ground.

      But I think that there may be a false perception that there are a whole bunch of secret super-effective air assets that are in a warehouse somewhere that could just be pulled out and that would somehow immediately solve the situation in Libya.  That’s not the case.

      The enormous sacrifices that are being made by the British, by the French, by ourselves, by the Danes and others — we are bringing to bear an array of air power that has made a huge difference.  But ultimately this is going to be a slow, steady process in which we’re able to wear down the regime forces and change the political calculations of the Qaddafi regime to the point where they finally realize that they’re not going to control this country; the Libyan people are going to control this country.  And as long as we remain resolute, I think we’re going to be able to achieve that mission.

      But there’s not a whole host of new and different assets that somehow could be applied — partly because we’ve been extraordinarily successful in avoiding significant civilian casualties.  And that’s been part of our goal, that’s been part of our mission, is making sure that we are targeting regime forces in a way that does not result in enormous collateral damage.  And that means we may have to sometimes be more patient than people would like.  But ultimately I think it promises greater success, and it sustains our coalition and support for it, not just here but in the Arab world as well.

      PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Thank you.  I so agree that the two key things here are patience and persistence.  That is what the alliance is demonstrating and needs to go on demonstrating.

      Julie, I’d just make two points.  First of all, I think the President and I completely agree on this point of, of course, the U.N. resolution is not about regime change; the U.N. resolution is about protecting civilians from attack and taking all necessary measures to do so.  With that said, most political leaders, including the two here, have said it’s hard to see how you implement U.N. Resolution 1973 with Qaddafi still in control of his country, which is why we’ve been so clear about Qaddafi needing to go and needing to leave Libya.

      In terms of the U.S. role, I would make this point, which I’m not sure is widely understood in Britain or in Europe — is already a huge number of the sorties and the support and the air assets that are actually bringing the pressure to bear are U.S. assets.  There was this enormous effort at the beginning, as the President said, but also a sustained amount of assets that have been used.

      And as the President said, there are also the unique assets and capabilities that the U.S. has that others don’t have that are so vital.  And as he said, we all have to ask what is it that we can all do to make sure the pressure is really brought to bear.  That is what the British are doing, the French are doing, the Americans are doing.  And I know we’ll discuss this in the margins of the G8.

      But I’d just make this point, as well.  As well as the military pressure, don’t underestimate the pressure of building up the opposition, the contacts we have with the National Transitional Council, the fact that they are opening offices and building support and strength from the allies.  Don’t underestimate the extent to which we’re now cutting off oil products to the regime because they’re using them in their tanks and their other military equipment — and also the other steps that I know Americans and others are taking to try and release Libyan assets back into the hands of the National Transitional Council and recognizing them as the right interlocutor for us to speak to.

      So in all those ways, we can keep this pressure up over the coming period while showing patience and persistence at the same time.

      Tom Bradby from ITV.

      Q    Mr. President, you’ve talked about the need for robust action on your country’s deficit and debt positions.  Do you agree with the Prime Minister’s supporters that he led the way on the issue, or do you feel that in fact he has traveled too far and too fast?

      And could I just ask you both, as a sidebar, this time last year we talked about the case of computer hacker Gary McKinnon, on which the Prime Minister has expressed very clear views.  You said you would work together to find a solution.  So have you found one?

      PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, on your second question, Mr. McKinnon, we have proceeded through all the processes required under our extradition agreements.  It is now in the hands of the British legal system.  We have confidence in the British legal system coming to a just conclusion.  And so we await resolution and will be respectful of that process.

      With respect to how we deal with debt and deficits, I said two years ago, the first time I came here, in April of 2009, the first G20 summit that I attended, that each country is different and each country is going to have to make a range of decisions about how to — at that time — dig our way out of the worst recession that we’d experienced since the 1930s, at the same time that we put our countries on a path of sustainable growth that ultimately results in jobs and prosperity for our people and a growing middle class across the board.

      And we’ve succeeded in the first part, which is to yank the world economy out of recession, and that was in large part due to concerted action between the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries.

      Now we’ve got that other challenge, which is how do we sustain growth in a way that’s responsible and responsive to the needs of our people.  That requires us to continue to make investments in education, science, technology, infrastructure — things that help our economies grow.  But it also means governments that live within their means.  

      And obviously the nature and role of the public sector in the United Kingdom is different than it has been in the United States.  The pressures that each country are under from world capital markets are different.  The nature of the debt and deficits are different.  And as a consequence, the sequencing or pace may end up being different.

      But the one thing that I’m absolutely clear about is David and I want to arrive at the same point; a point in which we’re making sure that our governments are doing what they need to do to ensure broad-based prosperity, but doing so in a responsible way that doesn’t mortgage our futures and leave a mountain of debt to future generations.

      And the other point I think David and I would agree on is that this is going to be a constant process of trying some things, making adjustments.  There are going to be opportunities for us to make investments.  There are going to be other areas where we think those were good ideas at the time, programs that were started with the best of intentions and it turns out they’re not working as well as they should.  If a program is not working well, we should get rid of it and put that money into programs that are working well.  It means that we’ve got to make sure that we take a balanced approach and that there’s a mix of cuts, but also thinking about how do we generate revenue so that there’s a match between money going out and money coming in.

      And each country is going to have to go through what is a difficult and painful process.  What I’m confident about is that we’re going to be able to come out of this stronger than we were before.  And I think that both the people of the United Kingdom and the people of the United States want to see a government that’s reflective of their values — the fact that they take their responsibilities seriously, they pay their bills, they make sure that their families are cared for, they make sacrifices where necessary in order to ensure that their children and their grandchildren are succeeding.  And they want those same values reflected in their government, and I think that both our countries are going to be able to achieve that.

      PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Thank you.  First of all, in the case of Gary McKinnon, I understand the widespread concern about this case, and it’s not so much about the alleged offense, which everyone knows is a very serious offense; it’s about the issue of the individual and the way they’re treated and the operation of the legal system, and as the President said, making sure that legal system operates properly and carefully.

      The case is currently in front of the Home Secretary, who has to consider reports about Gary’s health and his well-being, and it’s right that she does that in a proper and effectively quasi-judicial way.

      I totally understand the anguish of his mother and his family about this issue.  We must follow the proper processes and make sure this case is dealt with in the proper way.  And I’m sure that that is the case.

      On the issue of deficit reduction, I mean, I remember when we also spoke about this at the G20, but even before that, when you first came here when you were running as candidate.  And I completely agree with Barack that each country is different and has different circumstances.  I mean, Britain does not have a reserve currency.  We’re not in the same position as the U.S. with the dollar.  And I think it was necessary for us to set out on the path of deficit reduction without delay after the election.

      And I would argue the proof of that for the UK has been what has happened in capital markets.  And as the President just said, capital markets treat different countries differently.  Well, in the European context, what you’ve seen since the election is actually market interest rates in the UK, bond yields effectively come down.  Whereas you look at what’s happened in Greece or in Portugal or other European countries, you’ve often seen those bond rates increase.  That, in my view, is the risk we would have run if we had not set out on the path of deficit reduction.

      But each country is different, but when I look across now and see what the U.S. and the UK are currently contemplating for the future, it’s actually relatively similar program in terms of trying to get on top of our deficits and make sure that debt is falling as a share of GDP.  Because as the President said, we in the end share a very similar set of values about not wanting to load responsibility for these debts on our children and not wanting to shuck our own responsibilities for straightening out our own public finances.

      So as he said, we may take slightly different paths but we want to end up in the same place.  It’s an extremely difficult thing to have to do — dealing with your public finances, getting on top of your deficit — but it’s absolutely essential.  And we’ve talked a lot today about national security.  In the end, there’s no national security unless you have economic security.  And that’s an argument that we have to make and win every day here in the United Kingdom.

      PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Christi Parsons, last question.

      Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Yesterday in his speech before Congress, the Israeli Prime Minister referred to the Palestinian right of return as “fantasy.”  And I wonder if that’s a sentiment you agree with in any way.  And also, if you could outline for us a little bit how you — your views on that issue, as well the future of Jerusalem.

      And, Mr. Prime Minister, if I may, you said at the top of this press conference that you consider the President’s principles outlined last week to be bold and visionary and, in fact, what needs to be done.  And I wonder if that means it makes you less open to the Palestinian campaign for recognition of statehood before the U.N. this fall.  Thank you.

      PRESIDENT OBAMA:  My goal, as I set out in the speech I gave last week, is a Jewish state of Israel that is safe and secure and recognized by its neighbors, and a sovereign state of Palestine in which the Palestinian people are able to determine their own fate and their own future.  I am confident that can be achieved.  It is going to require wrenching compromise by both sides.

      Over the last decade, when negotiators have talked about how to achieve that outcome, there have been typically four issues that have been raised.  One is the issue of what would the territorial boundaries of a new Palestinian state look like?  Number two, how could Israel feel confident that its security needs were being met?  Number three, how would the issue of Palestinian refugees be resolved?  And number four, the issue of Jerusalem.

      The last two questions are extraordinarily emotional.  They go deep into how both the Palestinians and the Jewish people think about their own identities.  Ultimately they are going to be resolved by the two parties.  I believe that those two issues can be resolved if there is the prospect and the promise that we can actually get to a Palestinian state and a secure Jewish state of Israel.

      And what my speech did was to say, let’s begin the work with the very hard-nosed but transparent and less — perhaps less emotional issues of what would the territorial boundaries look like and what would Israeli security requirements entail.

      And I believe that if the Palestinians and the Israelis begin talking about those two issues and get some resolution, they can start seeing on the horizon the possibility of a peace deal, they will then be in a position to have a — what would be a very difficult conversation about refugees and about Jerusalem.

      That’s not something that any party from the outside is going to be able to impose on them.  But what I am absolutely certain of is that if they’re not talking, we’re not going to make any progress, and neither the Israeli people or the Palestinian people will be well served.

      Let me just make one more comment about the prospects for a serious peace negotiation.  The Israelis are properly concerned about the agreement that’s been made between Fatah and Hamas.  Hamas has not renounced violence.  Hamas is an organization that has thus far rejected the recognition of Israel as a legitimate state.  It is very difficult for Israelis to sit across the table and negotiate with a party that is denying your right to exist, and has not renounced the right to send missiles and rockets into your territory.

      So, as much as it’s important for the United States, as Israel’s closest friend and partner, to remind them of the urgency of achieving peace, I don’t want the Palestinians to forget that they have obligations as well.  And they are going to have to resolve in a credible way the meaning of this agreement between Fatah and Hamas if we’re going to have any prospect for peace moving forward.

      As for the United Nations, I’ve already said — I said in the speech last week and I will repeat — the United Nations can achieve a lot of important work.  What the United Nations is not going to be able to do is deliver a Palestinian state.  The only way that we’re going to see a Palestinian state is if Israelis and Palestinians agree on a just peace.

      And so I strongly believe that for the Palestinians to take the United Nations route rather than the path of sitting down and talking with the Israelis is a mistake; that it does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people, it will not achieve their stated goal of achieving a Palestinian state.  And the United States will continue to make that argument both in the United Nations and in our various meetings around the world.

      Q    Do you agree with the comparison between Hamas and al Qaeda?

      PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I believe that Hamas, in its own description of its agenda, has not renounced violence and has not recognized the state of Israel.  And until they do, it is very difficult to expect Israelis to have a serious conversation, because ultimately they have to have confidence that a Palestinian state is one that is going to stick to its — to whatever bargain is struck; that if they make territorial compromises, if they arrive at a peace deal, that, in fact, that will mean the safety and security of the Jewish people and of Israel.  And Hamas has not shown any willingess to make the kinds of concessions that Fatah has, and it’s going to be very difficult for us to get a Palestinian partner on the other side of the table that is not observing the basic Quartet principles that we both believe — that both David and I believe in — the need to renounce violence, recognize the state of Israel, abide by previous agreements.

      That is I think going to be a critical aspect of us being able to jumpstart this process once again.

      PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Thank you.  I described the President’s speech as bold and visionary because I think it did an absolutely vital thing, which was to talk about ’67 borders with land swaps.  So as the President said, if you think about what both sides absolutely need to know to start this process, those two things are in place.

      First, that the Israelis need to know that America and her allies like Britain will always stand up for Israel’s right to exist, right to defend herself, right to secure borders.  That is absolutely vital that the Israelis know that their security is absolutely key to us.  They need to know that.

      But the second thing that needs to be done is the Palestinians need to know that we understand their need for dignity and for a Palestinian state, using the ’67 borders as land swaps as the start point.  That is I think what is so key to the speech that’s been made.  So neither side now has I believe the excuse to stand aside from talks.

      On the specific issue of U.N. recognition, the President is entirely right that in the end the Palestinian state will only come about if the Palestinians and the Israelis can agree to it coming about.  That is the vital process that has to take place.

      As for Britain, we don’t believe the time for making a decision about the U.N. resolution — there isn’t even one there at the moment — is right yet.  We want to discuss this within the European Union and try and maximize the leverage and pressure that the European Union can bring, frankly, on both sides to get this vital process moving.

      Both of us in recent days have been to the Republic of Ireland.  I went on part of the Queen’s historic trip, and I know Barack has just returned from a very successful trip.  And when you look at what had to happen in Northern Ireland in order for peace to come about, is there has to be some recognition and understanding on each side of the other side.

      And that is what I think is so crucial in what the President is saying about Hamas and Palestinian unity — which should in some ways be a welcome development if the Palestinians can have one group of people, but not unless those group of people are prepared to accept some of what the people they’re going to negotiate with desperately need.

      And that, in the end, is why the peace process in Northern Ireland was successful, because both sides had some understanding of what the other side needed for some dignity and for some peace.  And that is what we badly need right now in the Middle East.  And I think the President’s speech has been a good step forward in really helping to make that happen.  Thank you.

      PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Let me just pick up on what David said about Ireland.  It was inspiring to see, after hundreds of years of conflict, people so rapidly reorienting how they thought about themselves, how they thought about those who they thought once were enemies.  Her Majesty’s visit had a profound effect on the entire country.  And so it was an enormous source of hope.  And I think it’s a reminder that as tough as these things are, if you stick to it, if people of goodwill remain engaged, that ultimately even the worst of conflicts can be resolved.

      But it is going to take time.  And I remain optimistic, but not naively so, that this is going to be hard work and each side is going to have to look inward to determine what is in their long-term interests, and not just what are in their short-term tactical interests, which tends to perpetuate a conflict as opposed to solving it.

      And finally let me — also, David, just very briefly, thank you for expressing your condolences and concern about the people of Missouri.  We have been battered by some storms not just this week but over the last several months, the largest death toll and devastation that we’ve ever seen from tornadoes in the United States of America.  Knowing that we’ve got friends here in the United Kingdom who care deeply and who offer their thoughts and prayers makes all the difference in the world.  So thank you very much for that.

      PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Thank you.  And the Guinness wasn’t bad in Ireland, either.

      PRESIDENT OBAMA:  It was very good.

      PRIME MINISTER CAMERON:  Thank you.

      PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.

 


Deputy Secretary Steinberg: Assessing the Situation in Libya

Click here for State.gov video of Deputy Secretary Steinberg’s Remarks.

I thank the Chairman and Senator Lugar for inviting me today. I appreciate this chance to update the committee on our efforts and answer your questions.

During my last appearance, I reviewed for the committee the developments that led up to the international community’s engagement in Libya. Colonel Qadhafi met the peaceful protests of his own people with violence. When the UN Security Council, the Arab League, and the United States all demanded that atrocities must end, Qadhafi responded with a promise to show ―no mercy and no pity.

We quickly reached two important conclusions. First, we would not stand by as Qadhafi brutalized his own people. Second, Qadhafi had lost the legitimacy to lead, and he had to go to allow the Libyan people to reclaim their own future.

And so we assembled an international coalition of European and Arab allies with a clear, limited mission to enforce UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 and protect the Libyan people. We offered our unique military capabilities early on and then turned over full command and control responsibility to a NATO-led coalition. Three-quarters of the over 6,000 sorties flown in Libya have now been by non-US coalition partners, a share that has increased. All twenty ships enforcing the arms embargo are European or Canadian. And the overwhelming majority of strike sorties are now being flown by our European allies. We are proud of our continuing contribution and grateful as our allies increasingly carry the burden.

As the coalition continues to carry out its best efforts to protect Libya’s civilian population, we continue to pursue three tracks on the political and economic front: pressuring and isolating Qadhafi; supporting the Libyan people in determining their own future; and delivering humanitarian aid.

First, we are working to escalate the pressure, deepen Qadhafi’s isolation and convince those around him that Libya’s future lies elsewhere. 

The international community is increasingly united around a shared insistence that Qadhafi must go. Last week’s Contact Group – with the participation of 22 nations and representatives from the UN, Arab League, NATO, EU, OIC and GCC—issued its most forceful statement yet, including that ―Qadhafi, his family and his regime have lost all legitimacy. They must go so that the Libyan people can determine their own future.‖ Turkey, once an important partner to Qadhafi’s Libya, has now joined the chorus of nations demanding that he leave immediately. The British, Italians and French are expelling Qadhafi’s diplomats, as we did in March. And we are urging other nations to refuse their visits unless Qadhafi’s envoys are either defecting or coming to discuss his departure.

We are taking a wide range of steps to send a clear, forceful message to Qadhafi and those around him that there is no going back to the way things were. They now face a no-fly zone, an arms embargo, asset freezes, and travel bans. Libya’s National Oil Corporation and central bank are blacklisted. The United States and other countries are also taking further unilateral steps to tighten the squeeze on regime officials and regime-affiliated banks, businesses and satellite networks. This week, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced that he intends to apply for arrest warrants for three senior officials in Qadhafi’s regime ―who bear the greatest criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity.

These measures are having an effect. We have deprived the regime of funds and assets that could be used to support attacks against the Libyan people. Libya used to export 1.3 million barrels of oil per day. That has stopped, and the regime is having difficulty accessing refined petroleum. There are some indications that the regime can no longer afford to pay supporters to attend rallies and demonstrations. The longer international sanctions stay in place, the more the pressure will mount.

Second, we are supporting the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people, who deserve a successful transition to democracy just as much as their neighbors in Egypt and Tunisia.

Last time I testified, there were a great many questions about the makeup and intentions of the Libyan opposition. Our envoy, Chris Stevens, has been in Benghazi for several weeks now and has held meetings with a wide range of Libyan opposition members, including but not limited to the Transitional National Council (TNC). Secretary Clinton has met three times with Libyan opposition leaders and urged others to do the same. Several of you met with TNC leader Mahmoud Jibirl, including Chairman Kerry, yesterday. I will host him and his delegation at the State Department on Friday and he will meet National Security Advisor Tom Donilon at the White House Friday afternoon as well. Though it will be important to ensure that words are matched by actions, we have been encouraged by the TNC’s public statements on democracy, treatment of prisoners, human rights and terrorism. We have continued to stress the importance of the TNC distancing itself from extremists who could seek to hijack the popular movement, and we have been pleased by the clear view of the TNC leadership rejecting extremism and calling for tolerant democracy.

As we have gotten to know the Libyan opposition, we have stepped up our political, financial and non-lethal military support. As we notified Congress, we are providing up to $25 million for the provision of non-lethal items to the TNC. The carefully-chosen list includes medical supplies, boots, tents, rations and personal protective gear. The first shipment, 10,000 MREs, arrived on Tuesday.

The TNC has also requested urgent financial assistance. The Treasury Department has published new rules to remove sanctions on oil sales that will benefit the TNC. In Rome, the Libya Contact Group created a Temporary Financial Mechanism to provide transparent financial assistance to the opposition. Kuwait has already committed to contribute $180 million.

As Secretary Clinton said in Rome, we hope to work quickly with Congress to begin unfreezing Libyan government assets to meet pressing humanitarian needs. On Wednesday, we continued our consultations with Congress and shared our proposal. The bill authorizes the President to vest Libyan government property within the jurisdiction of the United States and use it for costs related to humanitarian relief to and for the benefit of the Libyan people. We see this legislation as addressing unique circumstances in Libya for limited, humanitarian purposes. This money belongs to the Libyan people, and it should serve the Libyan people.

Third, protecting civilians remains at the core of our mission. We are engaged in robust humanitarian efforts to help those in need inside Libya and those who have fled the violence. Our government is providing more than $53 million in humanitarian assistance, which helps to evacuate and repatriate third-country nationals, care for refugees on Libya’s borders and deliver food and medicine. The international community has already contributed, committed or pledged $245 million. We continue to look for additional ways to support humanitarian operations in response to the Libyan crisis.

Unfortunately, the Qadhafi regime has tried to block the delivery of desperately-needed humanitarian assistance. The brave people of Misrata have withstood a month-long siege as well as repeated incursions, assaults and atrocities. Qadhafi has blocked water, gas, and electricity. And this week, his regime laid anti-ship mines in Misrata’s harbor in a failed attempt to block humanitarian aid and medical evacuations. What has happened in Misrata is an outrage. Despite Qadhafi’s best efforts, we have now established a safe route for assistance to reach Misrata and its people.

We salute the determination and resilience of the Libyan people in and around Misrata. We are inspired by the way they have stepped forward to protect and care for their neighbors who managed to escape from areas under attack. We are also proud that NGOs we fund have provided much needed medical personnel and supplies to these cities, despite Qadhafi’s attacks.

Qadhafi knows what he needs to do. The violence must end and the threats must stop. His troops must withdraw from the cities they have entered. Humanitarian goods must be allowed to move freely and vital services must be restored. Qadhafi must go to allow the people of Libya to chart their own future.

Our approach is one that has succeeded before. In Kosovo, we built an international coalition around a narrow civilian protection mission. Even after Milosevic withdrew his forces and the bombing stopped, the political and economic pressure continued. Within two years, Milosevic was thrown out of office and turned over to The Hague.

I understand the desire for quick results, and of course I share it. But history teaches us that patience and persistence can pay off. We have already seen international pressure change the calculations of some of Qadhafi’s closest advisors, who have defected. It is impossible to predict which step will tip the balance.

The way forward is not easy. It will take sustained effort. And it will take continued close consultation with Congress.

We know what needs to happen. And so we are using as many tools and levers as we can to bring about our ultimate objective: the end of Qadhafi’s rule and a new beginning for a peaceful, democratic Libya.

 


Secretary Clinton: Remarks at Press Availability at Embassy Berlin

SECRETARY CLINTON: Goodness. First, let me thank you for being patient with my schedule and giving us a chance to postpone this so that I could talk to you.

First, I want to thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Westerwelle for hosting us here in Berlin. It was excellent accommodations, and everyone felt extremely well taken care of. And I want to commend Secretary General Rasmussen for running his usual tight ship and producing a very productive ministerial.

Over the last two days, we have tackled a full and formidable agenda. On Libya, we built on the momentum created by Wednesday’s Contact Group meeting in Doha. We put out a strong statement that clarified the military aims of our mission and carried forward the unified message of Doha. Our European and Arab allies and partners all agree: Attacks on and threats of attacks against the Libyan people must stop; Qadhafi’s forces must withdraw from the cities they have forcibly entered and occupied; humanitarian supplies must be allowed to reach civilians, especially those in cities under siege.

The statement also reinforced our agreement on a set of political and diplomatic objectives. It strongly endorsed the Contact Group’s call that Qadhafi must leave power and a democratic transition must take place that reflects the will of the Libyan people.

I think the bottom line is that here at NATO we achieved a solid and sustainable consensus on our objectives and what it will take to achieve them. I spoke at length with many of my counterparts about the practical steps we all have to take to pressure and isolate Qadhafi and advance our efforts to protect the Libyan people.

On Afghanistan, I took the opportunity to consult with my colleagues on our three surges – the military, civilian, and diplomatic surge – all of which reinforce the transition process that is now underway. To do this once, we have to do it right. We need to underscore that we are transitioning, not leaving, and that we are building an enduring partnership with Afghanistan that will last well beyond 2014.

I also had a very productive bilateral meeting with Afghan Foreign Minister Rassoul on the Strategic Partnership Declaration and Afghan-led reconciliation.

Our missions in Libya and Afghanistan show that NATO plays a vital role in protecting our security and interests around the world. We are seeing that new challenges will often drive us to develop new capabilities and work with partners outside the alliance when shared interests and values are at stake.

One of NATO’s most important partners is Russia. Last year at Lisbon, we made historic progress together. Today, we worked to translate the promise of that moment into practical steps that strengthen our collective security. We also discussed NATO’s partnerships with Ukraine and Georgia, and we looked for more effective ways for NATO to reach beyond the confines of the alliance and work effectively with all of our partners. Those nations willing to sacrifice for our common goals deserve a greater voice in decision making.

We also launched a NATO Defense and Deterrence Posture Review process to determine what mix of conventional, nuclear, and missile defense forces NATO will need going forward. I outlined the core principles that will guide the U.S. approach to this process, and completing this review will be a priority when the United States hosts next year’s NATO summit in 2012.

On the margins of the ministerial, I had the chance to consult with a number of my counterparts on a wide range of regional and global issues, including developments in the Middle East, missile defense, and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. So needless to say, this was another very full set of meetings, because we do have a full plate of issues. I am pleased with the progress that we have made this week and certainly ready for the work ahead.

And with that, I’d be happy to take your questions.

MODERATOR: Steve Myers, New York Times.

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Cough.) Excuse me.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Yesterday, you described a desire to see increased support for the opposition in Libya. And I wondered if you could tell us, have you developed a clearer sense of who exactly the opposition is and what exactly they need, including the question of arms? And related to that, are you aware that Libyan forces, in Misrata at least, are using heavy weapons that include cluster munitions that were made in Spain as recently as 2007?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Steven, I wasn’t aware of the last point. I’d have to say I’m not surprised at anything that Colonel Qadhafi and his forces do, but that is worrying information and it’s one of the reasons why the fight in Misrata is so difficult, because it’s at close quarters, it’s in amongst urban areas, and it poses a lot of challenges to both NATO and to the opposition.

With respect to the opposition, we are learning more all the time. We are pooling our information. There are a number of countries that have significant ties to members of the opposition, who have a presence in Benghazi that enables them to collect information. Our envoy is still in Benghazi and meeting with a broad cross-section of people. The opposition needs a lot of assistance on the civilian organizational side, on the humanitarian side, and on the military side. There have been a number of discussions about how best to provide that assistance, who is willing to do what.

We’re also searching for ways to provide funding to the opposition so that they can take care of some of these needs themselves. In addition to looking at how we can free up assets that could be used by the opposition, we’re also looking at how the opposition could sell oil from sites that are under their control.

So there is a full comprehensive assessment occurring, and one of the decisions that we made in talking to a lot of our partners was that we need, in effect, a clearinghouse for such information. We need to have a way of conveying necessary information to NATO that they can use in the ongoing military efforts. And we need to share this information so that we can best determine how the international community can respond to them.

MODERATOR: The next question is from Earl Deckendorf of ARD.

QUESTION: After these two days you are in Berlin, there’s a (inaudible) case on all the hardest test for the NATO alliance is a long time for itself?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think each situation is different. Certainly, NATO has faced a lot of challenges. The ongoing challenge in Afghanistan is among the most difficult and has certainly exacted the biggest toll in the loss of life and the cost to all of us. We remain committed there because we believe it is in our interests and is absolutely tied to our security.

The Libyan military commitment by NATO is a very important one, but it is in response to a United Nations Security Council resolution asking that nations work to protect civilians, impose an arms embargo, provide humanitarian assistance, establish a no-fly zone. And so NATO is not acting alone. We are, as you’re aware, acting with others who are not in the NATO alliance but who are willing to work with us to meet the UN’s request.

So I think at this juncture, certainly we’re very aware that we have not lost any lives of participating NATO nations. We are working to try to protect the Libyan people who are the ones who are really facing a tough time. And as I said yesterday in my statement, I think we all need to be a little patient. These are complex situations. We recognize as such. We’re still in the process of trying to identify, target, attack, and destroy key elements of Qadhafi’s arsenal, his air defense system, his command and control.

But as Secretary General Rasmussen said in our meeting and said again in his press conference, we’re making progress. So I, for one, feel very positive about what we have accomplished so far.

MODERATOR: And Michel Ghandour, Al Hurra.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. The Human Rights Watch has said that Syrian security and intelligence agencies have detained and tortured hundreds of protestors during a march (inaudible) demonstration. How do you view that? And how Iran is helping Syria crack down on protestors?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, Michel, as President Obama stated on Friday, we call upon the Syrian authorities once again to refrain from any further violence against their own people. The arbitrary arrests, the detentions, the reports of torture of prisoners must end now. The free flow of information must be permitted once again. We have to allow journalists and human rights monitors the opportunity to enter Syria, to be free to report, to independently verify what’s happening on the ground, because, as you know, it’s very difficult to get accurate information as to what is going on.

And to this point, the Syrian Government has not addressed the legitimate demands of the Syrian people, and it is time for the Syrian Government to stop repressing their citizens and start responding to their aspirations. There is an opportunity for meaningful political and economic reform, and it needs to start now.

We are watching very closely what Iran is doing in the region. We hear Iran praising the uprisings in the Middle East and in North Africa, except it doesn’t praise what happens inside Iran and it doesn’t praise what is happening in Syria. It is a further example of the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime. It is attempting to, through propaganda, through information campaigns, to ally itself with the aspirations of the Arab awakening, but we do not see any evidence yet that Iran instigated such protests.

But we do see activities by Iran to try to take advantage of these uprisings. They are trying to exploit unrest. They are trying to advance their agenda in neighboring countries. They continue to try to undermine peace and stability to provoke further conflict.

And we want people in the region to understand that the Iranian Government’s motive here is to destabilize countries, not to assist them in their democratic transitions; because after all, their 1979 revolution was derailed and it has unfortunately evolved into a totalitarian state where the government is trying to control the thoughts, the speech, the actions of the citizens on every front.

So we’re very watchful. We invite Iran to change its tactics, including its treatment of its own citizens, to act on its rhetoric about what it is seeking, to play a constructive role, to cease exacerbating sectarian tensions, which it is attempting to do. And I think that everyone is aware of their efforts to exploit and even hijack what are legitimate protests. But certainly, in an era of instant communication, we hope that people will not be fooled by their tactics.

MODERATOR: Thank you all.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all.

 
 

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