This map is an update of the one we posted on June 15 which shows the number of people displaced by the violence in Syria. The Assad regime is a destabilizing force both within Syria and throughout the region. This map shows that this problem is growing.
Click the map to enlarge:
We condemn the assassination of Kurdish opposition leader Mishaal al-Tammo and the vicious and unprovoked assault against prominent opposition figure Riad Sayf in Syria. The United States strongly rejects violence directed against peaceful oppositionists wherever it occurs, and stands in solidarity with the courageous people of Syria who deserve their universal rights. These acts lay bare again that the Assad regime’s promises for dialogue and reform are hollow. Today’s attacks demonstrate the Syrian regime’s latest attempts to shut down peaceful opposition inside Syria. President Assad must step down now before taking his country further down this very dangerous path.
It is also notable that these acts of violence took place just three days after the UN Security Council failed to pass a resolution calling for international human rights monitors in Syria in the face of brutal repression. The United States will continue our efforts to mobilize the international community in support of the Syrian people’s democratic aspirations, and work with allies and partners to apply pressure on the Assad regime.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi, everyone. Good afternoon. Good afternoon. Let me tell you how pleased I am to be back in Santo Domingo. And I am grateful to our hosts, the Government, and people of the Dominican Republic for the leadership in making the Pathways to Prosperity ministerial a success. I’m also pleased to be here with our ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who understands firsthand how important it is that we continue to stress our efforts to help people escape poverty, achieve prosperity, and build better lives for themselves and their families.
And through the Pathways program, that is exactly what we are doing, by sharing best practices, by embracing good policies, by making it clear that we are going to close the inequality gap in this region, that we’ve had good economic growth, but it hasn’t done enough to lift the many millions of people who are still living in poverty into a better life. We have refocused our objectives. We’ve strengthened our partnerships. We’re working with the Inter-American Development Bank, the Organization of American States, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Today at the ministerial, we have adopted a declaration and a plan of action that clearly lay out both the mission of Pathways and the concrete steps we are taking, and we are looking forward to meeting next year in Colombia. We have four pillars for our work: empowering small businesses, facilitating trade, building a modern workforce, and promoting sustainable business practices and environmental cooperation. And I applaud those nations who are serving as co-chairs for these pillars: the Dominican Republic, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay.
We are going to keep working together to translate our intentions into actions. And to help make that progress, earlier today I announced that the United States will commit up to $17.5 million to fund projects that foster inclusive economic growth in the Americas. We already dedicated $5 million during the past year to support a number of successful projects under Pathways. And we’re going to work to increase trade, which is why just a few days ago President Obama submitted to Congress three pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. We are hopeful that the Congress will act swiftly to approve them, along with trade adjustment assistance.
Well, we know what works. We’ve got the models that are proving themselves. Now we have to replicate, adapt, and expand those to all of our citizens.
Again, let me say how good it is to be back in the Dominican Republic. I am blessed to have a number of friends here. And this country is a close partner and friend to the United States. We work together closely to pursue our shared security and prosperity through Pathways, the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, the Open Government Partnership, and so much else. This is a relationship we highly value. So again, I am pleased to be here and to have this opportunity to make progress together on our shared goals.
Now I would be happy to take some questions. So, Mike, let me turn it over to you.
MR. HAMMER: We have time for two questions from the U.S. side and two questions from the Dominican side. Is Brad Klapper from the AP – pose the first question.
QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, could you describe your feelings after Russia and China vetoed the UN resolution condemning Syria last evening in New York? I wonder if it’s particularly disappointing to you after the lobbying effort you pushed with Foreign Minister Lavrov. And with this route effectively blocked off, where do the United States and its international partners go from here to stem the bloodshed?
SECRETARY CLINTON:Well, Brad, frankly, we believe that the Security Council abrogated its responsibility yesterday. It has a responsibility to protect international peace and the security of civilians. The resolution voted on yesterday represented the bare minimum that the international community should have said in response to the months of violence that the Asad regime has inflicted on the Syrian people.The countries that chose to veto the resolution will have to offer their own explanations to the Syrian people, and to all others who are fighting for freedom and human rights around the world. We note the striking distinction between those Syrians who stand peacefully for change every day in cities across their country and those countries that would not stand with them on even one day in one city yesterday. So the United States and our European allies have made very clear where we stand on this issue, and we think that the people who joined with us from four continents to express our condemnation and call for an end to the violence, and to begin a peaceful transition to a new democratic, non-sectarian Syria are on the right side of history.
In the meantime, those countries that continue to send weapons to the Asad regime that are turned against innocent men, women, and children should look hard at what they are doing. Those nations are standing on the wrong side of history. They are protecting the wrong side in this dispute, and the Syrian people are not likely to forget that, and nor should they.
MR. HAMMER: All right. The next question (in Spanish).
QUESTION: (In Spanish.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say that every country in our region is unfortunately affected by the scourge of drug trafficking and the criminality of drug traffickers. No country is immune, and every country must do more to prevent the spread of drug trafficking and the criminal elements who profit from the misery of people.
So we work closely with our colleagues and counterparts in the Dominican Republic. We will continue to do so. Strengthening security for citizens and against criminal elements remains a very high priority. That’s why we are working together in the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative. We are partnering with the Dominican Republic’s military to help strengthen its ability to combat narco-trafficking, and we will be very clear about what our expectations are because we know that the people of the Dominican Republic deserve to lead safe, secure, peaceful lives free of the terrible violence that drug traffickers inflict.
We also know that drug trafficking goes hand-in-hand with corruption. And corruption is a cancer in any society. It needs to be addressed and eliminated. So we do support the Dominican Republic’s participatory Anti-Corruption Initiative, which is the kind of program that can help to strengthen governance and increase transparency and improve the institutional capacity of the security forces in the Dominican Republic to defeat the challenge posed by drug traffickers.
So we will continue to work together, but we will also continue to expect that those who are on the front lines of protecting the people of the Dominican Republic or anywhere in the region, are held to a high standard of accountability. Otherwise, we will not be successful.
MR. HAMMER: All right. The next question goes to Andy Quinn of Reuters.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, UNESCO said today that it will allow its full membership to vote on a Palestinian bid for membership later this month, which some say could be a back door to UN recognition of their statehood. Do you think the U.S. should withhold its funding for UNESCO or even drop out of the organization if this happens?
And we are now almost halfway through the one-month timeline that the Quartet gave for resuming direct peace talks. Do you have any reason to be optimistic now that the Israelis and the Palestinians will make that deadline?
SECRETARY CLINTON:Well, first, with regard to the action in UNESCO, I have to state that I find it quite confusing and somewhat inexplicable that you would have organs of the UN making decisions about statehood or quasi-statehood status while the issue has been presented to the United Nations. I think that that is a very odd procedure indeed, and would urge the governing body of UNESCO to think again before proceeding with that vote because the decision about status must be made in the United Nations and not in auxiliary groups that are subsidiary to the United Nations.Having said that, you know where I stand. It is unfortunate that there is a policy to pursue recognition of whatever sort through the United Nations rather than returning to the negotiating table to resolve the issues that will result in a real Palestinian state, something that the United States strongly supports and wants to see as soon as possible. But we know that there cannot be a state without negotiations.
What is the boundary of this state that is being considered by UNESCO? What authorities does it have? What jurisdiction will it be endowed with? Who knows? Nobody knows because those are the hard issues that can only be resolved by negotiation. And unfortunately, there are those who, in their enthusiasm to recognize the aspirations of the Palestinian people, are skipping over the most important step, which is determining what the state will look like, what its borders are, how it will deal with the myriad of issues that states must address.
With respect to the question about the United States’s response, we are certainly aware of strong legislative prohibition that prevents the United States from funding organizations that jump the gun, so to speak, in recognizing entities before they are fully ready for such recognition. So it is still our hope and our strong recommendation that we take this to the appropriate forum, which is the negotiating table, and take it out of international organizations that are basically engaged in actions that are not going to change the lives of the people that deserve a state of their own, namely the Palestinians.
MR. HAMMER: Okay. The last question (in Spanish).
QUESTION: (In Spanish.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that we should start with the recognition that the Dominican Republic was extraordinarily generous and helpful to Haitians after the terrible earthquake. The Dominican Republic, both through the government, through its military, through its private sector, through private citizens, was one of the earliest responders to the terrible tragedy that befell on the Haitian people. So we know that in its most terrible time of need, Haiti received help from the neighbor who shares this beautiful island with it.
I’m well aware that there are very serious concerns about the human rights of Haitians, and in particular those who have been here long enough to be – to have been born here and lived here. And we don’t dispute that every nation has a right, a sovereign right, to establish the laws concerning its border security, concerning its nationality, but we also believe that every nation has an obligation to protect the human rights of migrants. And therefore, there must be a resolution that recognizes those human rights, and we hope that we can encourage the Government of the Dominican Republic to look for ways to resolve these outstanding issues of residency and citizenship.
I know there’s a debate about what would happen to migrants who were stripped of their naturalized residency rights. I know that the Haitian constitution seems to suggest that once a Haitian, always a Haitian, and always the right to be considered a citizen of Haiti. So these are very difficult, complex issues, and the United States is a friend to both Haiti and to the Dominican Republic, and we want to encourage the fair resolution of these issues so that people’s rights are recognized, but also a nation’s right to control its borders and its internal laws is also respected. Thank you.
MR. HAMMER: That concludes our press conference.
U.S. Statement at the Universal Periodic Review of Syria, 12th Session
The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the Syrian government’s gross violations of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of its people and its continued violent and deadly repression of peaceful protests.
The Syrian national report touts its human rights record and states that its people enjoy fundamental rights and legal protections, but for over four decades, Syrian security forces have operated with impunity, directed by unaccountable dictators, immunized by unjust laws and protected by a politicized judiciary. The Syrian people remain unable to achieve their aspirations or enjoy universal human rights despite more recently announced reforms that have no purpose except to provide cover for the government’s continued atrocities.
The Syrian government responded to peaceful protests by killing over 2,900 civilians in the past seven months in military and security operations, using tanks and heavy weapons. The Syrian national report states that freedom is a sacred right guaranteed by the constitution but even as we speak, the Syrian people continue to suffer mass arrests, arbitrary detentions, torture and targeted killing of civilians. A government that fails to respect the will of its people, denies the fundamental rights of its citizens, and chooses to rule through terror and intimidation, cannot be considered legitimate and must step aside immediately.
Bearing this in mind, the United States has the following recommendations:
1. Immediately end violations of international human rights law, including violent reprisals against peaceful protestors, political activists and their families;
2. Immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience;
3. Expeditiously permit international humanitarian missions, human rights observers and media unrestricted access within Syria, including the HRC Commission of Inquiry; and
4. Allow a Syrian-led transition to take place that will initiate change in laws and lead to the formation of an inclusive and representative government that adheres to the rule of law and upholds the rights of members of religious and ethnic minorities.
Ambassador Rice’s Remarks at the Security Council Stakeout on the Veto of a UN Security Council Resolution on Syria
Ambassador Rice: Good evening. I hadn’t intended to get a head start on everyone else but since—this has been quite a sad day, most especially for the people of Syria, but also for this Security Council.
The people of Syria, who seek nothing more than the opportunity to achieve their universal human rights and to see their aspirations for freedom and liberty achieved, have been slapped in the face by several members of this Security Council today.
And as I said in the chamber, I think the people of Syria and the people of the region have had today the opportunity to determine who among us stand with the people of the region in their quest for a better future, and who will go to whatever lengths are necessary to defend dictators who are on the warpath.
I am happy to take a few questions.
Reporter: Ambassador Rice, is this a failure of the European policy in the Security Council? Because they practically emptied the resolution of teeth, or is this, have they been duped by Russia, and China, and the BRICs? Or has this exposed China, Russia, and the rest of the BRIC countries? You did say there was a ‘cheap ruse’ of reaction, basically, by the Russians. What do you expect next? Can you explain these three, four elements of what I just asked you from your point of view as the U.S.?
Ambassador Rice: Well first of all, the United States’ view has been, and remains, that this Council ought to pass a resolution that contains real sanctions and that is what we proudly co-sponsored in August, and what we think is still warranted. Now, I’m not going to sit here and Monday-morning quarterback, or Monday-evening quarterback, how this has unfolded. We supported this resolution because we thought it was a step, had it been passed, in the right direction.
But the fact that, after days, if not a couple of weeks, of strenuous effort on the part of the Europeans to achieve the consensus that ought to have been possible, that that effort of goodwill on their part was met with the response today, I think, says the most about the people who were unable to support this resolution and those who cast the veto.
Reporter: Thank you Madam Ambassador. Do you think that diplomacy has reached a dead-end regarding how the international community should deal in regard with the situation in Syria?
Ambassador Rice: No, I don’t think diplomacy or pressure has reached a dead-end. I mean, the fact of the matter is, despite the vote that we saw today in the Council, the majority of members supported the resolution. The majority of members would have supported a sanctions resolution. And the countries in the region are, every day, coalescing and raising their voices against what is transpiring in Syria. This is not, as some would like to pretend, a Western issue. We had countries all over the world supporting this resolution today, and we have countries throughout the region who’ve been very clear that the brutality of the Asad regime has to end and that the behavior of the regime is absolutely intolerable.
Reporter: Madam Ambassador, would you consider keeping on your reset diplomacy strategy with Russia considering the result it gives you, at least at the Security Council?
Ambassador Rice: Well, I’m not sure it “gives us,” but let us say, given the result—look, we have many, many issues on which we work very constructively with Russia—from non-proliferation to arms control to Iran to North Korea, and many, many others—and will continue to do so. On this issue, we and others had a fundamental disagreement with Russia and other countries. And we think history will bear out who was on the right side and who was on the wrong side. But they are a country able to make their sovereign choices and we are able to make ours, and we can still work together and cooperate on a vast range of issues.
Reporter: Yeah, sure, Ambassador Rice, in the chamber you said, this is not about Libya, it’s about countries that want to sell weapons to Syria. And I guess what I wonder is, is the countries, say the IBSA countries, countries like Brazil and others, do you think that what happened on Libya, that a resolution was passed, and then NATO bombed—from the point of view of those countries, things went further than they authorized—do you really think it had no impact on this? Or do you think all of those countries are selling weapons?
Ambassador Rice: I think this is an excuse. I think the vast majority of countries, even today on the Council that were not able to vote in favor of this text, know that this was a resolution that, in substance, was unobjectionable. And their decisions to vote as they did may have had a lot less to do with the text than it did with some effort to maintain solidarity among a certain group of countries. So I think Libya has been beat to death, overused, and misused as an excuse for countries not to take up their responsibilities with respect to Syria.
Reporter: Just a quick follow-up, Ambassador, because—a good follow up—because, you know, the language you used in describing the Russian behavior today, you know, “Cheap ruse”—this is strong language. But then you’re saying here we’re going to go on business as usual and…
Ambassador Rice: I didn’t say business as usual. I said we are two countries with different interests that disagree on this issue.
Reporter: Take it from here on, in regards to Syria.
Ambassador Rice: Well, first of all, the United States has been very strong and unequivocal in its leadership, on a national basis and on a global basis, in condemning and sanctioning the Asad regime. And we are going to continue, as I said in the Council, to maintain our efforts and maintain pressure on the Asad regime.
It is on the wrong side of history. It is not going to get what it seeks by the continual repression and killing and imprisoning of its people. It doesn’t work and it won’t succeed, and sooner or later that will be self-evident.
(Remarks as delivered)
Madame President, the United States is outraged that this Council has utterly failed to address an urgent moral challenge and a growing threat to regional peace and security.
Several members have sought for weeks to weaken and strip bare any text that would have defended the lives of innocent civilians from Asad’s brutality. Today, two members have vetoed a vastly watered-down text that doesn’t even mention sanctions.
Let me be clear: the United States believes it is past time that this Council assume its responsibilities and impose tough, targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on the Asad regime, as we have done domestically.
Yet today, the courageous people of Syria can now clearly see who on this Council supports their yearning for liberty and universal human rights—and who does not. And during this season of change, the people of the Middle East can now see clearly which nations have chosen to ignore their calls for democracy and instead prop up desperate, cruel dictators. Those who oppose this resolution and give cover to a brutal regime will have to answer to the Syrian people—and, indeed, to people across the region who are pursuing the same universal aspirations.
The record is clear. For more than six months, the Asad regime has deliberately unleashed violence, torture, and persecution against peaceful protesters, human rights defenders, and their families. The High Commissioner for Human Rights has already warned that the Syrian government’s appalling actions might amount to crimes against humanity. The Asad regime’s crimes have won a chorus of condemnation from the region, including the Gulf Cooperation Council, which demanded an immediate end to what it called Asad’s “killing machine.” But this Council has not yet passed even a hortatory resolution to counter the Asad regime’s brutal oppression.
The arguments against strong Council action grow weaker and weaker by the day. Some on this Council argue that the Asad regime’s abuses are not that egregious, or that the regime deserves more time for its so-called reforms. But as the UN’s own reporting makes clear, the Syrian government’s efforts to mask its continued atrocities are as transparent as its promises of reform are empty. Others claim that strong Security Council action on Syria would merely be a pretext for military intervention.
Let there be no doubt: this is not about military intervention. This is not about Libya. That is a cheap ruse by those who would rather sell arms to the Syrian regime than stand with the Syrian people.
This is about whether this Council, during a time of sweeping change in the Middle East, will stand with peaceful protestors crying out for freedom—or with a regime of thugs with guns that tramples human dignity and human rights. As matters now stand, this Council will not even mandate the dispatch of human rights monitors to Syria—a grave failure that may doom the prospects for peaceful protest in the face of a regime that knows no limits.
In August, we clearly condemned the violence and made clear that the Syrian regime’s repression is utterly unacceptable. Several of us on this Council and many throughout the international community have voiced our condemnation and imposed sanctions on the Asad regime. Regional organizations such as the League of Arab States, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation have urged the Syrian government to stop the bloodshed. But the Syrian government’s reply has been an increase in the violence and repression. And some Council members have chosen to look the other way. We urge the governments that failed to support Council action to change course and heed the voices of the Syrian people. The Asad regime flatly refuses to meet its international obligations, including those laid out in this Council’s August 3 Presidential Statement, and the international community must bring real consequences to bear.
In failing to adopt the draft resolution before us, this Council has squandered an opportunity to shoulder its responsibilities to the Syrian people. We deeply regret that some members of the Council have prevented us from taking a principled stand against the Syrian regime’s brutal oppression of its people. But the suffering citizens of Syria are watching today, and so is the entire Middle East. The crisis in Syria will stay before the Security Council, and we will not rest until this Council rises to meet its responsibilities.
Thank you, Madame President.
(Remarks delivered at the Treaty Room at the Department of State)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. I am very pleased to have the foreign minister of Nigeria here, and I will address the concerns that we discussed. But I first want to begin with a statement about the assault on Ambassador Robert Ford and our Embassy staff in Syria this morning.
We condemn this unwarranted attack in the strongest possible terms. Ambassador Ford and his aides were conducting normal Embassy business, and this attempt to intimidate our diplomats through violence is wholly unjustified.
We immediately raised this incident with the Syrian Government, and we are demanding that they take every possible step to protect our diplomats according to their obligations under international law. Ambassador Ford has shown admirable courage putting himself on the line to bear witness to the situation on the ground in Syria. He is a vital advocate for the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people now under siege by the Asad regime. I encourage the United States Senate to show our support for Ambassador Ford by confirming him as soon as possible, so he can continue, fully confirmed, his critical and courageous work.
Now, I’m delighted to welcome the foreign minister. Minister Ashiru is a great diplomat. He’s been serving his country for many years and we had an opportunity today to follow up on the meeting that I had in New York with President Jonathan. We have worked closely with the people and Government of Nigeria over the last two and a half years to make progress in key areas.
The U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission is our flagship agreement for bilateral cooperation on the entire African continent. When we signed the agreement just 17 months ago, we set bold goals for ourselves. Today, the foreign minister and I discussed how far we have come in each area of the commission, including advancing good governance, promoting energy access and reliability, improving food security, dealing with extremism, and so much else.
Our joint efforts leading up to Nigeria’s elections in April deserve particular attention because we worked so closely with the government and civil society to improve transparency, to address the political and logistical challenges of the elections. And for the first time in recent history, Nigeria held elections that were widely hailed as credible and effective. And we know that over 90 percent of Nigerians thought the elections were free and fair. That is up from 30 percent just a short four years ago. So the people of Nigeria are making strides every day and consolidating their democracy and the institutions of democracy.
Nigeria has also played an important role on global issues through its seat on the UN Security Council and has been a leader in helping to improve stability in West Africa. Nigeria played a key role in supporting the difficult democratic transitions in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Niger. Nigeria’s own example of credible elections provides it with great credibility in democracy promotion across the continent.
So as we continue our close cooperation through the second year of our Binational Commission, we will set forth our priorities, and they include improving governance, fighting corruption, delivering services more effectively to the people. We are working toward a strong anticorruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and other ways we can promote transparency.
Economic development is key; Nigeria is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with the largest population in Africa and strong trading relationships. We want to see Nigeria prosper and grow. To this end, the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation, OPIC, has just approved $250 million in financing to help revitalize the Union Bank of Nigeria, and to reach previously un-banked people in Nigeria. And we will look for ways to support Nigeria as it reduces inequality and builds a broader base for prosperity.
Finally, we will stand with Nigeria as it faces serious security issues. The bombing of the UN headquarters in Abuja last month was a horrific and cowardly act, and we want to work with Nigeria and West Africa to improve security and to make sure that we also address the legitimate needs of people before extremists have a chance to exploit them.
So again, Minister, our goals for the second year of the Binational Commission are just as ambitious as our goals for the first. We look forward to working closely with you, and I thank you for your long-standing commitment to the relationship between our two countries.
FOREIGN MINISTER ASHIRU: I thank you, Secretary of State Clinton. It’s a pleasure for me to be here, and we’ve had useful discussions with our American counterparts and we discussed issues of mutual concern to our two countries. Our relations is now anchored under the BNC, the Binational Commission, which was signed earlier this year. And in the Commission there are various sectors and we discussed areas of enhancing and promoting relations and attraction of investment, especially in the energy and power sector.
I reiterated the fact to the Secretary of State that the U.S. companies should take advantage of the boom that we foresee in the nearest future in the energy sector, and that the U.S. companies should not sit on the fence as they did when we had the telecoms boom in Nigeria. We should not allow their competitors to go reaping only from Nigeria, and now this is the time for them to move into Nigeria and take part in the energy boom which we foresee. And there are many notable U.S. companies that are the leading players, especially in manufacturing of turbines and so on. We believe this is the time for them to come to Nigeria and invest. And we see a big market for the energy sector in Nigeria.
And of course, we also open our doors to other companies in the agricultural and rural transportation sector to also come into Nigeria because we now having an agricultural boom. We are (inaudible); we are turning agriculture in Nigeria to mechanized farming, and we believe they have the expertise. They should now join the others who are already in Nigeria to come and see this transformation and let’s partake in it together. Of course, Secretary of State Clinton has already reviewed a number of the issues we discussed on the bilateral sides and also on the international arena. So with those few remarks, I say, Madam Secretary, thank you very much for this –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister Ashiru. Thank you.
MR. TONER: Time for just two questions today. The first goes to Jill Dougherty of CNN.
QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, thanks for the comments about the attack in Syria. If you had anything further to add, especially about your level of concern for the safety of the ambassador, we’d be more than happy to hear it. I do have just two questions.
One concerns Uzbekistan. The President spoke with the President Karimov last night, and then also you met with the Uzbek foreign minister. Did you discuss expanding the Northern Distribution Network for Afghanistan? And does the Administration support expanding – or I should say dropping restrictions on military equipment that can be sold to the Uzbeks in spite of the concerns about potential human rights violations.
And just – I’m sorry – one other question. I represent a lot of journalists.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Maybe one is optional. (Inaudible) But there is interest among my colleagues in the continuing questions about Pakistan. There was an interview with Admiral Mullen. He’s not stepping away from those comments about the veritable arm, the Haqqani Network. Why is the Administration or parts of the Administration stepping back from those comments in spite of what he is saying?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, if I can remember them – (laughter) – the first one, with respect to Ambassador Ford, we’ve raised this ugly, unfortunate incident to the highest levels of the Syrian Government. We are demanding that the Syrian Government take all necessary steps to protect our Embassy, to protect our diplomats in accordance with the international obligations that every country must abide by. And this is absolutely required. The Vienna Convention requires that host countries protect property and persons of diplomatic missions. And I must say that this inexcusable assault is clearly part of an ongoing campaign of intimidation aimed at not only American diplomats but diplomats from other countries, foreign observers who are raising questions about what’s going on inside Syria. It reflects an intolerance on the part of the regime and its supporters, and it is deeply regrettable that we have the Asad regime continuing its campaign of violence against its own people.
So I hope that, first and foremost, our property, our – the persons that serve in our mission will be protected along with every other diplomat from every other country. But secondly, we continue to call for an end to the violence, and we’ll continue to speak out, and I think Ambassador Ford’s courage and clarity is making the point that the United States cannot and will not stand idly by when this kind of violence continues.
With respect to Uzbekistan, we value our relationship with Uzbekistan. They have been very helpful to us with respect to the Northern Distribution Network. They have also been helpful with Afghanistan in terms of reconstruction. They are deeply involved in assisting Afghans and the Afghan Government to try to rebuild and make Afghanistan a more prosperous, peaceful country. We believe that our continuing dialogue with officials of the government is essential. It always raises, as I have and as others from our government continue to do so, our concerns about human rights and political freedoms. But at the same time we are working with the Uzbeks to make progress, and we are seeing some signs of that, and we would clearly like to deepen our relationship on all issues.
Finally, with respect to Pakistan, I would certainly urge people to look at the entirety of Admiral Mullen’s testimony. He did raise serious questions, which our government has raised with the Pakistanis about the continuing safe haven for terrorists that strike across the border in Afghanistan against Afghans, Americans, NATO ISAF troops, civilians working there, as well as within Pakistan. But Admiral Mullen also said that this is a very critical consequential relationship. We have a lot of interests that are in common, most particularly the fight against terrorism. So we are certainly making clear that we want to see an end to safe havens and any kind of support from anywhere for terrorists inside Pakistan, and we also want to continue to work to put our relationship on a stronger footing.
MR. TONER: Next question goes to Peter (inaudible) from News Agency of Nigeria.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary of State, thank you very much for your firm belief in Nigeria, for you very open comment about our country. My question is on security in Nigeria. Will the U.S. support the Nigerian Government to go into dialogue with Boko Haram while there are ongoing killings on the streets of Maiduguri? And in the last 48 hours we have had unconfirmed reports from the extremist group saying they will disrupt the independence day celebrations.
And if you can indulge me one more question, you told us that you discuss with the minister – your meeting with the minister this afternoon, there was a follow-up on what you discussed with President Goodluck Jonathan, who attended General Assembly last week in New York. Did you raise the issue of Palestine with the minister, and what did our president tell you about Nigerians (inaudible) and preference if the issue of the Palestinian statehood should come to the Security Council?
Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first with respect to Boko Haram, we have condemned its deadly use of violence. We think that its attacks on ordinary citizens, on institutions of the Nigerian state, on the United Nations office in Abuja, are absolutely unjustifiable. There is no set or principles or beliefs that can justify taking the lives of innocent people, and we offer our deepest condolences to all those families who have lost loved ones in these senseless attacks.
At the same time, we are working with Nigeria to try to develop capabilities to provide better security, to strengthen the security sector, because we think that some terrorist and extremist groups are absolutely unreconcilable. They cannot be convinced to end their violence and participate in society. But where there is an opportunity for any dialogue or outreach, we would support that. We certainly have around the world. But we also know that it has to be both at the same time. There has to be a strong, effective security response and an effort to try to remove the reasons why people would, in any way, condone or support this kind of terrorism.
And maybe – let me stop here and let the minister respond to that as well, and then I can answer your second question.
FOREIGN MINISTER ASHIRU: Yes. I can assure you that we had a useful discussion on that with the Secretary of State (inaudible) to offer support and assistance to Nigeria to combat this issue of terrorism. You see, no one country can handle this issue on its own, so it has to be multilateral and multifaceted. And from all our meetings, we’ve received assurances of support to help Nigeria in this new wave, which of course, as you rightly know, is much new to us in Nigeria. But we believe that our government is on top of the situation and they will continue to develop expertise and capability to manage and curtail this new menace that we have.
SECRETARY CLINTON: With respect to your second question, the minister and I had a good discussion of these issues today. I had the opportunity to talk to President Jonathan, as did President Obama, last week at the United Nations General Assembly. We believe strongly, and we have certainly communicated that to the president and the foreign minister, that the only route to a Palestinian state, which we want to see happen, is through negotiations. We know that whatever does or doesn’t happen in the United Nations will not create a state, and our goal is to see two states living side by side in peace and security.
The Quartet statement that was issued last Friday calls for a return to negotiations. We hope that Nigeria, who is a friend of both Israel and to the Palestinians, will tell both of them, get back to the negotiating table, because that’s where the differences must be resolved. It is the only place where we can get a durable and lasting peace, but we have certainly made it clear to all of our friends that we want to see a return to negotiations. Anything which is done that disrupts that or detours that is a postponement of the outcome that we are all seeking.
Thank you all very much.
The United States welcomes the rapid action by the President of the Human Rights Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry on the situation in Syria as called for August 23 by HRC member states. The membership of the three-member Commission was announced yesterday on the opening day of the 18th Session of the Human Rights Council. It is now essential that this team be permitted to enter Syria to begin their investigation.
The death toll from the brutal crackdown in Syria continues to rise. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the slaughter, arrest and torture of peaceful protesters by the Assad regime, which clearly has no intention of ending its violent attacks against the Syrian people.
The establishment of this COI is part of a growing consensus in the international community that the appalling behavior of the Assad regime must be brought to an end now.
Spokesperson Nuland Offers Condolences on the Killing of Syrian Human Rights Activist Ghiyath Mattar
The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the killing of Syrian human rights activist Ghiyath Mattar while in the custody of Syrian Security Forces. We offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends as they mourn their loss. Ghiyath, along with leading activist Yahya Sharbaji and a number of other human rights activists committed to non-violent resistance, was detained on September 6. Ghiyath Mattar’s courage in the face of the Asad regime’s brutal repression is well known in his home of Daraya and across Syria. His brave commitment to confronting the regime’s despicable violence with peaceful protest serves as an example for the Syrian people and for all those who suffer under the yoke of oppression.
We stand with the Syrian people in their resistance to tyranny. We call on the Asad regime to immediately cease all violence against the Syrian people and release all political prisoners. We again call on Asad to step aside and allow the Syrian people to embark upon the democratic transformation they demand.
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.