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Posted in: February 2011

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  • Video: Ambassador Rice on Libyan Sanctions

    Ambassador Rice speaking

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    U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice speaks before the United Nations Security Council Session on Resolution 1970, which freezes assets of key Libyan leaders, bans travel, and imposes an arms embargo on Libya. She also meets with reporters following the adoption of Resolution 1970, which was passed unanimously by the 15-nation council, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, New York, on February 28, 2011.

  • Video: President Obama on the Situation in Libya

    President Obama at podium

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    TRANSCRIPT:
    THE WHITE HOUSE
    Office of the Press Secretary
    February 23, 2011

    REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON LIBYA

    THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Secretary Clinton and I just concluded a meeting that focused on the ongoing situation in Libya. Over the last few days, my national security team has been working around the clock to monitor the situation there and to coordinate with our international partners about a way forward.

    First, we are doing everything we can to protect American citizens. That is my highest priority. In Libya, we’ve urged our people to leave the country and the State Department is assisting those in need of support. Meanwhile, I think all Americans should give thanks to the heroic work that’s being done by our foreign service officers and the men and women serving in our embassies and consulates around the world. They represent the very best of our country and its values.

    Now, throughout this period of unrest and upheaval across the region the United States has maintained a set of core principles which guide our approach. These principles apply to the situation in Libya. As I said last week, we strongly condemn the use of violence in Libya.

    The American people extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all who’ve been killed and injured. The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable. So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop.

    The United States also strongly supports the universal rights of the Libyan people. That includes the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. They are not negotiable. They must be respected in every country. And they cannot be denied through violence or suppression.

    In a volatile situation like this one, it is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice, and that has been our focus. Yesterday a unanimous U.N. Security Council sent a clear message that it condemns the violence in Libya, supports accountability for the perpetrators, and stands with the Libyan people.

    This same message, by the way, has been delivered by the European Union, the Arab League, the African Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and many individual nations. North and south, east and west, voices are being raised together to oppose suppression and support the rights of the Libyan people.

    I’ve also asked my administration to prepare the full range of options that we have to respond to this crisis. This includes those actions we may take and those we will coordinate with our allies and partners, or those that we’ll carry out through multilateral institutions.

    Like all governments, the Libyan government has a responsibility to refrain from violence, to allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need, and to respect the rights of its people. It must be held accountable for its failure to meet those responsibilities, and face the cost of continued violations of human rights.

    This is not simply a concern of the United States. The entire world is watching, and we will coordinate our assistance and accountability measures with the international community. To that end, Secretary Clinton and I have asked Bill Burns, our Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, to make several stops in Europe and the region to intensify our consultations with allies and partners about the situation in Libya.

    I’ve also asked Secretary Clinton to travel to Geneva on Monday, where a number of foreign ministers will convene for a session of the Human Rights Council. There she’ll hold consultations with her counterparts on events throughout the region and continue to ensure that we join with the international community to speak with one voice to the government and the people of Libya.

    And even as we are focused on the urgent situation in Libya, let me just say that our efforts continue to address the events taking place elsewhere, including how the international community can most effectively support the peaceful transition to democracy in both Tunisia and in Egypt.

    So let me be clear. The change that is taking place across the region is being driven by the people of the region. This change doesn’t represent the work of the United States or any foreign power. It represents the aspirations of people who are seeking a better life.

    As one Libyan said, “We just want to be able to live like human beings.” We just want to be able to live like human beings. It is the most basic of aspirations that is driving this change. And throughout this time of transition, the United States will continue to stand up for freedom, stand up for justice, and stand up for the dignity of all people.

    Thank you very much.

  • Video: Secretary Clinton Holds a Bilateral Meeting With Brazilian Foreign Minister Patriota

    Secretary Clinton and Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota

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    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 23, 2011.

    TRANSCRIPT:
    Remarks
    Hillary Rodham Clinton
    Secretary of State
    Treaty Room
    Washington, DC
    February 23, 2011

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. I’m delighted to welcome a friend and a colleague and someone very familiar here in Washington back to the State Department in his new capacity as foreign minister. Antonio, it’s always a pleasure to see you, and thank you for being here so that we could have a very broad-ranging discussion and particularly prepare for President Obama’s upcoming visit to Brazil.

    I was very privileged to attend the inauguration of President Rousseff, and the wonderful potential of everything that we’re working on holds great promise for broadening and deepening our already strong partnership. This will be President Obama’s first presidential visit to South America. It comes at a time when we are cooperating closely and our bilateral work on issues and global challenges, including food security and human rights and clean energy and global inequality, is key to both of us. And we will explore even additional ways to pursue our common interests and our common values. Both Brazil and the United States seek to promote open and accountable government, civil rights, a vibrant civil society, and social inclusion.

    And President Rousseff has placed particular emphasis on eliminating poverty and advancing the role of women, something that I am particularly pleased to endorse. And the two are connected, because empowered women tend to be entrepreneurial women who lift their families and even their neighborhoods and communities out of poverty.

    I am also pleased that last year our two countries launched the Global Partnership Dialogue to advance exchanges on economic, security, and social issues. In the past year, our energy ministries have concluded a work plan for energy that will help us collaborate on advancing sustainable technologies such as hydropower, smart grids, and energy efficient housing. We initialed an Open Skies agreement that will increase the number of flights between the United States and Brazil and make pricing more competitive, and we signed a defense cooperation agreement that will help us work together to meet the security challenges confronting us. I also was pleased that we signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will help us together promote international development.

    Brazil brings so much to the table when it comes to global development, and I often point to Brazil as a model. And I am delighted that just recently the foreign minister chaired the Security Council on Security and Development. Brazil has pioneered innovative and indigenous responses to HIV/AIDS. After the tragic earthquake in Haiti, Brazil became one of Haiti’s top ten donors. It already commanded and continues to command the UN Stabilization Mission that has provided security to the Haitian people. And we have worked together closely to ensure that the next round of elections in Haiti go well.

    So Brazil has enormous credibility when it comes to development, and the United States supports what Brazil is doing in reaching out around the world. In fact, the foreign minister told me that Brazil has opened 50 new embassies in recent years. And we look forward to working with Brazil, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

    So this is an exciting time for Brazil and for our relationship. The whole world is looking forward to Brazil hosting the World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016. And we are especially pleased that President Obama will be visiting Brazil and will have a chance to speak directly to the Brazilian people about the cooperation, partnership, and friendship that exists not only between our leaders but between our people.

    Thank you.

    FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Well, thank you so much, Secretary Hillary Clinton. First of all, we’re very pleased that you came to the inauguration of President Dilma Rousseff, who has asked me to convey her warm greetings to you. I am very pleased to be in Washington for two days of discussions not only here at the State Department, but I also met with National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon. I will be meeting with Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury, among others. And we, of course, are looking forward to President Obama’s visit to Brazil on the 19th of March.

    You have mentioned many of the recent accomplishments in the U.S.-Brazil relationship, a very solid relationship, a relationship that has grown over the years in a number of areas, including through trade, investment, through contacts between civil societies. We’ve established new partnerships that deal with issues such as combating racial discrimination, promoting gender equality, and we were very pleased to receive Ambassador Melanne Verveer recently, who is in charge of those issues.

    So our intention is to build on this solid foundation and to look at some new strategic areas for cooperation. And in particular, we’ve had a very useful discussion on science and technology, how to enhance our cooperation in this area, innovation, in addition to looking at business opportunities. And we’re pleased that the high-level CEO Forum will be meeting also on the margins of the forthcoming presidential visit.

    Of course, political dialogue is also increasingly important for Brazil with the key actors in today’s increasingly multipolar world. We were very happy that the U.S. supported our initiative to hold a debate at the Security Council on the inter-linkage between peace, security, and development. Indeed, we believe this is of the essence in trying to tackle some of the challenges such as the one that we are working, I think, very cooperatively to improve in Haiti.

    And I look forward to the Global Partnership Dialogue that we’ve established. Perhaps we could schedule a meeting still during this first semester to have a broad view of the different

    mechanisms that are at work and forging ahead through new partnerships, including in strategic areas.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

    MR. CROWLEY: Rosalind Jordan from Al Jazeera English.

    QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you. First, very briefly for the foreign minister, the question is: Where is Southern Cone unity regarding Libya? Some countries have said that they are not pleased with what’s happened in country. Others, including Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, have indicated that Mr. Qadhafi should continue to stay in power.

    And Madam Secretary, ordinary Libyans have been reaching out to their friends, their relatives, to the international media, and they say that they’re in terror. They’re horrified. They’re in fear of their lives. Hundreds of people have already died. And they’re wondering, where is the United States at this moment? They’re feeling abandoned, that – that’s what they’re telling us. Are sanctions in order here, a referral to the ICC for human rights violations? What about cutting off trade? What about putting Libya back on the state sponsor of terror list? Where is the United States, and what is it going to take for Washington to act? Thank you.

    FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Well, maybe I can make a few comments here. First of all, Brazil is very concerned with the situation in Libya. We have a number of nationals working there through companies that have been involved in several infrastructure projects, including enlarging the airport at Tripoli. And at this point, without providing any details, I’m fairly encouraged that our efforts to provide a way out of the country for those who wish to depart will meet with success. This is our sincere hope.

    I must say that it is a positive feature within a very complex, problematic situation that so far we have not witnessed violence against foreigners in Libya. Having said that, we, of course, were in favor of addressing the situation at the Security Council. Yesterday, there was a press statement that came out. And as you know, Brazil is at the presidency of the Security Council during the month of February. We’ve also associated ourselves with an initiative to call a meeting of the Human Rights Council to look at the situation in Libya. And differently from what happened in Egypt and Tunisia, what to us is a very worrying element here is the use of force against unarmed protestors.

    Otherwise, we see the manifestations in Northern Africa and the Arab world as a movement that can only elicit solidarity from the Brazilian people, inasmuch as it is a movement for better governance, more participation in decision making, more job opportunity, a vision of a better future for the youth of these countries. And we would like to see, in whatever way possible, we can support their efforts towards these objectives.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say I think that the United States, starting with what the President said on Friday, what I reiterated yesterday, have made it absolutely clear that we strongly condemn the violence in Libya, that we have called for an end to violence against protestors and those who are seeking the rights that are due to any people, anywhere. And we deeply regret the loss of life that has already occurred.

    We’ve joined with the international community to speak with one voice, because, as your question implied, first we have to get the international community together, because there is no doubt in my mind that this is now the moment for the international community to act together.

    And to that end, we joined a very strong United Nations Security Council statement yesterday. We are consulting closely. The foreign minister and I spoke about this at great length during our meeting, because we are joining with the rest of the world in sending a clear message to the Libyan Government that violence is unacceptable and that the Libyan Government will be held accountable for the actions that it is taking.

    Now, the way that we will proceed in the Security Council and in the Human Rights Council is to come up with the best approaches that we think will help the people of Libya. And remember, that must be our objective; that right now the situation is fluid, it is uncertain, it is difficult to get a clear understanding of everything that is happening everywhere throughout the country. So we are working very closely with partners. And there are many countries that have much closer relations with Libya than we do. As you know, we haven’t had those relations for many years to the extent that we’ve had the kind of influence that other countries might be able to exercise now. But everything will be on the table. We will look at all the possible options to try to bring an end to the violence, to try to influence the government.

    But as I said yesterday, obviously, as you heard the foreign minister, in any situation, our foremost concern has to be for the safety and security of our own citizens just as the foreign minister’s concern has to be for the safety and security of Brazilian citizens. And we are encouraging Americans to leave Libya. And we have taken the step of providing a chartered ferry boat today to take off not only all the Americans who could get to the ferry boat pier, but also other nationals from other countries who we have offered to similarly take out of Libya. We urge Americans to depart immediately. If they need help, they should contact the Embassy or go to our Bureau of Consular Affairs website for information. So we are moving on several tracks simultaneously.

    MODERATOR: (Inaudible) Sao Paulo.

    QUESTION: Thank you. The question is for Secretary Clinton, but we would also like for Minister Patriota to comment afterwards. Does the American Government see a change in the position of the Brazilian Government in regards to Iran? And will the U.S. – will Brazil have the support of the U.S. for a permanent seat at the Security Council, as did India?

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with respect to Iran, we are constantly speaking with our Brazilian friends because we share the view that we do not want Iran to become a nuclear weapons state. And Brazil has been very active in its diplomacy, and Brazil has also worked to enforce the international sanctions that were adopted by the Security Council. So our view is that we are all looking for ways to influence the behavior of the Iranian regime. And we believe strongly that the sanctions are working, that they are having an impact within Iran, and we are going to continue to work with partners across the world to enforce those sanctions.

    We are also looking for action in the Human Rights Council in the upcoming session to once again point out the human rights abuses within Iran. I mean, it’s been the height of irony and even hypocrisy to see Iran cheering on protestors who are peacefully demonstrating in Egypt or Tunisia while they brutally suppress peaceful protests in Iran. So I think that there’s a lot that we’re all trying to pursue in a common effort by the international community to influence the actions of the Iranian Government when it comes to their nuclear program.

    With respect to Brazil’s position in the United Nations and elsewhere, as I told the foreign minister, we very much admire Brazil’s growing global leadership and its aspiration to be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. We look forward to a constructive dialogue with Brazil on this issue during President Obama’s trip and going forward. We believe that there are many, many areas of leadership multilaterally that Brazil will be demonstrating, and we want to support those efforts.

    Thank you all very much.

    FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Thank you.

    (Off mike.)

    SECRETARY CLINTON: I would never run out on any man as good looking as you, except – (laughter) – I have to go meet the President right now to talk about Libya and other matters, so I’m going to leave you.

    FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Thank you so much. And I’ll say goodbye Brazilian style. (Laughter.)

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very, very much.

    FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Thank you very much. (Via interpreter.) Well, I want to quickly respond to the question. (In Portuguese.)

    (Via interpreter.) You all know what the Brazil – what Brazil’s intention and goals are. Through dialogue and diplomacy we want to help solve issues that may be destabilizing to peace in the world and be it the ones that the Security Council deal with or others that are outside the Security Council. Of course, the nuclear aspirations of Iran is one of those issues, and Brazil wants to contribute and be one of the countries that help solve that problem and also to reduce the mistrust that exists between Iran and the countries that are part of the Security Council among others. So this is the mindset that guides our actions.

    I think the United States understands our position. We talked a lot about Iran; we talked about the Arab world in general, and I think there is a certain convergence or idea, ideas about what we would like to see happen in the region. I mean, all the protests that are happening there now – I mean, it is a crisis, but this crisis also opens up the door to opportunities.

    To answer a question about Security Council and Brazil’s membership, I think the Secretary of State gave a very positive response to that, what we would like is to see the U.S. be part of a deep reform of the Security Council, which would bring a larger number of permanent members to that body, especially members who are part of the developing world. And I think that, given all contributions that Brazil has made to the Security Council, Brazil is in a good position as far as that’s concerned.

    Thank you.

  • Podcast: Secretary Clinton on Events in the Middle East

    Close-up of Secretary Clinton

    LISTEN

    TRANSCRIPT:
    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: Remarks on Events in the Middle East
    Treaty Room
    Washington, DC
    February 22, 2011

    Secretary Clinton:
    The United States continues to watch the situation in Libya with alarm. Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been lost and their loved ones, and we join the international community in strongly condemning the violence, as we’ve received reports of hundreds killed and many more injured. This bloodshed is completely unacceptable. It is the responsibility of the Government of Libya to respect the universal rights of their own people, including their right to free expression and assembly. The United States is also gravely concerned by reports of violence in Yemen and elsewhere. We urge restraint and for the governments in the region to respect the rights of their people.

    In Bahrain, we welcome King Hamad’s decision to release a number of prisoners and we look forward to implementation. We also welcome Crown Prince Salman’s steps to initiate a meaningful dialogue with the full spectrum of Bahraini society. We hope Bahrain’s friends across the region and around the world will support this initiative as a constructive path to preserve Bahrain’s stability and help meet the aspirations of all its people. As we have said, these steps will need to be followed by concrete actions and reforms. We urge all parties to work quickly so that a national dialogue can produce meaningful measures that respond to the legitimate aspirations of all the people of Bahrain, and we continue to call on the Bahraini Government to exercise restraint. There is no place for violence against peaceful protesters.

    The process for a new Tunisia and for a new Egypt has only just begun. We welcome Egypt’s leaders signaling their commitment to an orderly transition to a democratic government, and we look to them to take the concrete steps needed to bring about political change. And we will continue to be a supportive partner to the peoples of both countries as they seek a better future.

    Across the Middle East, people are calling on their governments to be more open, more accountable, and more responsive, and the United States believes it is in the interest of governments to engage peacefully and positively in addressing their demands and to work to respond to them. Without genuine progress toward open and accountable political systems, the gap between people and their governments can only grow and instability can only deepen.

  • Video: Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo Delivers Remarks on Libya

     

    WATCH THE VIDEO

    Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivers remarks on Libya and offers condolences to those who have suffered during the violence, at the United Nations in New York, NY, on February 22, 2011.

    TRANSCRIPT

    Rosemary A. DiCarlo
    Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
    New York City
    February 22, 2011

    The United States strongly supports the statement just read by the President of the Security Council. Today, the international community has said in one clear and unified voice that it condemns the violence against civilians in Libya, that the violence must cease immediately, and that the government of Libya must exercise restraint and protect the rights of its people.

    As we have made clear repeatedly over the course of the last several weeks, the United States will stand up in support of the legitimate aspirations and universal rights of people everywhere. We believe that governments must respect these rights, including the right to assemble peacefully, to protest, to speak, and to form political organizations.

    Our prayers are with those who have suffered and lost loved ones in the violence. We hope today’s Security Council action will help bring an immediate end to this unacceptable situation.

    Thank you.

  • Video: Secretary Clinton Meets With Latvian Foreign Minister, Comments on Mideast

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    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with Latvian Foreign Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on February 22, 2011. Clinton also comments on unrest in the Middle East.

    TRANSCRIPT

    Hillary Rodham Clinton
    Secretary of State
    Treaty Room
    Washington, DC
    February 22, 2011

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. Before we begin, I’d like to say a few words about the Middle East. The United States continues to watch the situation in Libya with alarm. Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been lost and their loved ones, and we join the international community in strongly condemning the violence, as we’ve received reports of hundreds killed and many more injured. This bloodshed is completely unacceptable. It is the responsibility of the Government of Libya to respect the universal rights of their own people, including their right to free expression and assembly. The United States is also gravely concerned by reports of violence in Yemen and elsewhere. We urge restraint and for the governments in the region to respect the rights of their people.

    In Bahrain, we welcome King Hamad’s decision to release a number of prisoners and we look forward to implementation. We also welcome Crown Prince Salman’s steps to initiate a meaningful dialogue with the full spectrum of Bahraini society. We hope Bahrain’s friends across the region and around the world will support this initiative as a constructive path to preserve Bahrain’s stability and help meet the aspirations of all its people. As we have said, these steps will need to be followed by concrete actions and reforms. We urge all parties to work quickly so that a national dialogue can produce meaningful measures that respond to the legitimate aspirations of all the people of Bahrain, and we continue to call on the Bahraini Government to exercise restraint. There is no place for violence against peaceful protesters.

    The process for a new Tunisia and for a new Egypt has only just begun. We welcome Egypt’s leaders signaling their commitment to an orderly transition to a democratic government, and we look to them to take the concrete steps needed to bring about political change. And we will continue to be a supportive partner to the peoples of both countries as they seek a better future.

    Across the Middle East, people are calling on their governments to be more open, more accountable, and more responsive, and the United States believes it is in the interest of governments to engage peacefully and positively in addressing their demands and to work to respond to them. Without genuine progress toward open and accountable political systems, the gap between people and their governments can only grow and instability can only deepen.

    It was with great pleasure that I welcomed the foreign minister of Latvia here today, a democracy that is demonstrating by its actions how it can build a better future for its own people. We just held a productive meeting. I expressed our unwavering commitment to Latvia’s security and our support for its continuing economic recovery and the efforts that it is undertaking to ensure prosperity, energy security, and justice for all of its citizens. The United States has maintained an unbroken friendship with Latvia throughout its modern history, when it was at war and under occupation and since it acquired its independence from the Soviet Union, and we have long admired the Latvian people’s resilience throughout very difficult times.

    We are proud to call Latvia our partner on many important issues, particularly with regard to global security. Latvia joined us at Lisbon last year to approve NATO’s new Strategic Concept, which will update our alliance so we can meet the diverse threats of the 21st century. And Latvia has been a leading partner in our military and civilian engagements in Afghanistan. As I said at the Munich Security Conference this month, and as I emphasized to the foreign minister today as well, these times of economic uncertainty have done nothing to lessen our enduring commitment to Europe and its security. We remain committed to our responsibilities under Article 5 and to the principles of the Strategic Concept. And we will continue working with our allies, like Latvia, to strengthen the security architecture in Europe for the 21st century.

    As we work together for global security, we especially commend the Latvian people for their achievements over the past 20 years as they continue their work toward their own better future. Gaining membership in NATO and the European Union took patience and persistence, and when those memberships came they were richly deserved. And after suffering devastating job losses during this last global recession, they have been undertaking stringent cost-cutting measures necessary to begin a sustainable recovery.

    The foreign minister and I discussed many issues from accelerating economic progress toward more energy security for Latvia to reduce its dependence on any one source of energy. And of course, a free economy goes hand in hand with a free and just society, and Latvia has shown its strong commitment to the rule of law. It has supported sanctions against Belarus, whose detention of its own citizens we strongly condemn. We commend Latvia for also reaching out to the Belarusian people with visa liberalization that allows them access to open countries and free media and with partnerships in business school education that expose the students of Belarus to free market principles.

    As we look forward to seeing Latvia broaden that commitment by renewing a claims process to return communal property to its own Jewish community, I believe that the sky is the limit for Latvia. We have a shared commitment to values, a view of what is in the best interest of our people. And Minister, it is very gratifying for me to have you here today to reaffirm our strong bonds of friendship and alliance. Thank you.

    FOREIGN MINISTER KRISTOVSKIS: Thank you, Madam Secretary, for your very kind words and vast explanation of situation in Latvia.

    I represent Latvia’s people and our government, and I want to say very great thanks to your nation because we benefited over the many years because we appreciate the United States as our strategic partner. And we cooperate really in wide range of fields.

    We are looking further that we will participate together with U.S. forces in ISAF mission in Afghanistan. We will support good U.S.-Russia recent policy. We are looking forward that we will extend our economic cooperation and that will be a good opportunity for development of policy of and economy of Latvia.

    We want to create a stable nation which – with high quality of life, and we’re looking forward that U.S. will assist strongly to reach those aims.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much. Thank you, so much, Minister.

    MR. CROWLEY: Jill Dougherty from CNN.

    QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, as we know, right now there is bloodshed in Libya, even using air power to attack civilians. Colonel Qadhafi just spoke recently and he said he will never surrender. He’s threatening to execute people. I’m sure you’ve seen his comments.

    There’s intense frustration as the world looks on and a feeling of impotence right now to really get in and help people who are being attacked. Other than words, what is the United States doing to try to help to stop this?

    And also if you could, just any comment on the pirates killing the Americans today. Thank you.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, Jill, we are obviously watching developments in Libya with grave concern. We have joined with the international community in strongly condemning the violence in Libya, and we believe that the Government of Libya bears responsibility for what is occurring and must take actions to end the violence.

    Now, as always, the safety and well-being of Americans has to be our highest priority, and we are in touch with many Libyan officials directly and indirectly and with other governments in the region to try to influence what is going on inside Libya. The Security Council, as you know, is meeting today to assess the situation and determine whether there are steps the international community can and should take.

    As we gain a greater understanding of what actually is happening – because you know, of course, that communication has been very effectively shut down, and we’re trying to gather as much information as possible – we will take appropriate steps in line with our policies, our values, and our laws. But we’re going to have to work in concert with the international community, and I think that the message today is very clear and unambiguous from the entire international community: There is no ambivalence, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind, that the violence must stop and that the Government of Libya has a responsibility to respect the universal rights of all of its citizens and to support the exercise of those rights.

    Now, we are also deeply saddened and very upset by the murder of four American citizens whose yacht, The Quest, was seized off the coast of Oman. This deplorable act by the pirates that stalk vessels in the waters off of Somalia firmly underscores the need for the international community to act more decisively together. We’ve got to have a more effective approach to maintaining security on the seas in the ocean lanes that are so essential to commerce and travel.

    Our deepest sympathies go to the victims’ families at this time, and we will honor their memory by strengthening international responses and partnerships to bring these criminals to justice and to more effectively end the scourge of piracy, something that should not persist in the 21st century.

    MR. CROWLEY: (Inaudible) from Latvian (inaudible).

    QUESTION: Mr. Kristovskis, as you have stated on numerous occasions, the way to Latvia’s economic recovery lies through foreign investment in part. And after meeting with Madam Secretary and other U.S. officials, do you have any good economic news to bring back home? And if not, maybe you can mention what are the main obstacles lying in the way of more U.S. investment in Latvia, be it lack of effort, the judicial – deficiencies in judicial system, or maybe the perception of corruption. Thank you.

    FOREIGN MINISTER KRISTOVSKIS: Thank you. I strongly believe that U.S. will continue have interest in our region and especially also in Latvia. Yes, we discussed several aspects which is related with the development of economy of Latvia. We try to learn U.S. experience which is related with shale gas aspects. Also during the visit, I could exchange views on NDN. That means Northern Distribution Network project which is related with cargo flew via Riga to Afghanistan. And more and more, Latvian entrepreneurs, I believe, in future will participate in this road (inaudible). This road will not be just as a road for supplement of military needs, but I believe in future also that will work for civil needs and civil targets.

    You mentioned some aspects which is related with the economical environment in Latvia. I strongly believe that our government under a very effective prime minister, Mr. Dombrovskis, will do the best, that our economy environment will be interesting for U.S. investors, and they will create good joint ventures with Latvian entrepreneurs.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

  • Video: Under Secretary Burns Visits Egypt

    Under Secretary Burns at podium

    WATCH THE VIDEO

    Remarks at the Arab League, Cairo, Egypt
    William J. Burns
    Under Secretary for Political Affairs
    Cairo, Egypt
    February 21, 2011

    Thank you very much. I’m delighted to be back in Cairo. I have just finished a very interesting and comprehensive conversation with Secretary General Amr Moussa about developments in Egypt and around the region. As always I learned a lot.

    This is a moment of extraordinary promise for Egypt and for Egyptians. It’s a moment when Egypt has only just begun its historic transition to democracy. It’s a moment when the voices, the courage and sacrifice, and the remarkable peaceful determination of Tahrir Square have been heard around the region and around the world.

    Americans deeply respect and admire what Egypt has already achieved, but we know that the road ahead is not going to be easy. We also know that it’s a road that can only be navigated by Egyptians themselves. The United States has great faith in the capacity of Egypt to navigate that path successfully and to set an example for the rest of the region. We want to do everything we can to help as Egypt builds an open, inclusive process aimed at producing real political change, economic recovery, and long-term economic modernization.

    I look forward with my colleague David Lipton over the next couple of days to listening to the priorities of Egyptians inside and outside government, to understand better how we can connect our resources to Egypt’s priorities and to be as helpful as we can in this process. Along the way, we’ll continue to encourage concrete steps to build confidence and to sustain the momentum of the transition, ranging from the constitutional amendments that are being considered, through careful preparations for elections, to the further release of political detainees, to the lifting of the Emergency Law.

    In this process of democratic transition, as in the process of tackling many other regional and global challenges, the United States looks forward to remaining a very strong partner of Egypt and Egyptians. Thank you very much once again.

  • Video: Ambassador Huntsman Urges Chinese Government To Release Xue Feng

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    U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman urges the Chinese government to consider an immediate humanitarian release of Xue Feng following a disappointing court appeal rejection, in Beijing, China, on February 18, 2011.

    TRANSCRIPT

    Jon Huntsman
    U.S. Ambassador to China
    Beijing, China
    February 18, 2011
    Reuters Soundbite
    AMBASSADOR HUNTSMAN:  I’m extremely disappointed in the outcome, although it wasn’t completely unexpected. The original sentence was upheld, that of eight years in prison and a 200,000 RMB fine. This has been a long, difficult and painful, painful ordeal for Xue Feng, but not only for Xue but also for his wife Nan and his two kids, Rachel and Alex. We have remained in regular contact with his family. We ask the Chinese government to consider an immediate humanitarian release of Xue Feng, thereby allowing him to get back to his family and his way of life. He is a US citizen and we take this case very, very seriously as we have over the last couple of years.

    AMBASSADOR  HUNTSMAN:  I think he expected, exactly what was handed down. I think he was mentally prepared for it. Disappointed of course, disappointed of course, we’re all very, very disappointed.

  • Photo Gallery: America I AM

    Shackles
    America I AM: The African American Imprint, an exhibition traveling to major U.S. cities, explores almost 500 years of the African-American experience and African Americans’ contributions to the United States. The exhibition offers multimedia displays and more than 200 artifacts, including the above iron shackles (circa 1700s–1800s) used by slave traders to control captives bound for the New World.

    Musical instrument
    Enslaved Africans brought their music with them, making African instruments from materials at hand, such as a large gourd or a chunk of wood. They marked happy and sad occasions — births and holidays, maltreatment and deaths — with song.

    Lapel button
    From 1889 to the 1960s, more than 3,400 black men, women and children were lynched, according to the America I AM exhibition. The above lapel button, with its anti-lynching message, was issued in the early 1900s by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one of the oldest and most influential civil rights organizations in the United States.

    Basketball jersey
    Michael Jordan is considered by many to be the best basketball player of all time. He has six National Basketball Association championship rings and two Olympic gold medals. His ability to seemingly float in the air earned the nicknames “His Airness” and “Air Jordan.” Jordan wore the above jersey while playing for the Chicago Bulls in the final game of the 1992 NBA championship, which the Bulls won.


    Prince has released hundreds of songs, some during the time when he was known by a symbol instead of a name and was referred to as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. It was during that time that Prince played the above guitar in the pouring rain during the halftime show of the 2007 Super Bowl, the U.S. professional football championship game. As a songwriter and musician, he has won numerous Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.

  • Video: Admiral Willard Briefs on “Asia-Pacific U.S. Military Overview”

    Admiral Willard

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    U.S. Admiral Robert Willard, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, briefs the Foreign Press Center on “Asia-Pacific U.S. Military Overview,” in Washington, D.C., on February 17, 2011.

  • Video: Secretary Clinton on Egypt, Bahrain, Middle East

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    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton briefs on recent events in Egypt and the FY2011 International Affairs Budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on February 17, 2011.

    TRANSCRIPT
    Hillary Rodham Clinton
    Secretary of State
    U.S. Capitol Building
    Washington, DC
    February 17, 2011

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. General Cartwright and I and Under Secretary Burns have just come out of a bipartisan classified briefing with senators, where we talked about recent events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. General Cartwright, Under Secretary Burns, and I wanted to come up to Capitol Hill to let our Congressional colleagues know what we’re doing to support Egypt as it works toward an open, accountable, representative government.

    It’s very clear that there is a great deal of work ahead to ensure an orderly democratic transition. It’s also clear that Egypt will be grappling with immediate and long-term economic challenges. The United States stands ready to provide assistance to Egypt to advance its efforts. I’m pleased to announce today we will be reprogramming $150 million for Egypt to put ourselves in a position to support the transition there and assist with their economic recovery. These funds will give us flexibility to respond to Egyptian needs moving forward. Under Secretary Burns and David Lipton, a senior White House advisor on international economics, will travel to Egypt next week to consult with Egyptian counterparts on how we can most effectively deploy our assistance in line with their priorities.

    In today’s briefing, we also discussed the lessons of the recent events in Egypt and the broader Middle East. These events demonstrate why the United States must remain fully engaged around the world. In Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and so many places, the men and women of the State Department and USAID are working to advance our interests, our values, and most importantly, our national security. This work is vital and it needs proper funding. I told our congressional colleagues that the FY – Fiscal Year 2011 spending bill that is on the House floor right now would have serious negative consequences for America’s national security. The 16 percent cut for State and USAID in that bill would, for example, force us to scale back dramatically on our missions in the frontline states of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

    I certainly realize that these are very tough budget times, and we must justify every single penny that we ask for. But as General Cartwright told our Senate colleagues, diplomats and development experts are working side by side with our military troops in those countries to secure the gains we’ve made, and we cannot do the job with two of our three hands tied behind our back.

    As the events of the past month have shown, protecting our country and advancing our interests takes constant and coordinated effort from across our government. Congress is a crucial partner in this work. And I look forward to continuing to work with our colleagues here to continue strengthening America’s national security.

    General, would you like to say anything?

    GENERAL CARTWRIGHT: Thank you. To reinforce how important it is, everybody sees the soldier out there in Iraq and Afghanistan, but with every soldier, there is an element associated with either the State Department, our diplomatic corps, USAID. And they’re absolutely essential, and as we make the transition in Iraq, even more essential to not lose all of the gains and all of the treasure that we have sacrificed by not recognizing that that mission is going to be picked up by the civilians. And it must be resourced.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

    QUESTION: Madam Secretary, could you comment specifically on the recent developments in Bahrain, the crackdown on the protesters? And then also, I’d like to ask you if you would, please, to reflect on a comment when you were there that you made 10 weeks ago? You said, quote, “I am impressed by the commitment the government has to the democratic path that Bahrain is walking on.”

    SECRETARY CLINTON: And I am very happy to respond because, as we have said repeatedly, the United States strongly opposes the use of violence and strongly supports reform that moves toward democratic institution building and economic openness.

    I called my counterpart in Bahrain this morning and directly conveyed our deep concerns about the actions of the security forces. And I emphasized how important it was that given that there will be both funerals and prayers tomorrow, that that not be marred by violence. I stressed the need to seriously engage all sectors of society in a constructive, consultative dialogue to meet the way forward in accordance with the aspirations of the people.

    And there have been reform steps taken, which we want to see continue, we want to see strengthened. We believe that all people have universal rights, including the right to peaceful assembly. And Bahrain is a friend and an ally, and has been for many years. And while all governments have a responsibility to provide citizens with security and stability, we call on restraint. We call on restraint from the government to keep its commitment to hold accountable those who have utilized excessive force against peaceful demonstrators, and we urge a return to a process that will result in real meaningful changes for the people there.

    QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, can you explain the UN Security Council statement on settlements at this point, and will the U.S. support sending an envoy on behalf of the UN Security Council to the Middle East conflict?

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, there already is a Quartet mechanism, of which the UN is a member, along with the European Union, the United States, and Russia. And we do not see any reason to add anything to the Quartet process. There already is a Quartet envoy that represents all four members.

    Our focus is on doing what is best to advance negotiations between the parties that will lead to a two-state solution. And we have consistently, over many years, said that the United Nations Security Council and resolutions that would come before the Security Council are not the right vehicle to advance that goal. So we are working with our partners in the Security Council, with our friends in the region, to find a consensus way forward that is consistent with our overall approach.

    There are a lot of rumors flying around, and I’m not going to get into any specifics at this time. The President spoke – our President, President Obama, spoke with President Abbas this morning about the peace process and the broader regional context. I don’t want to get into the details of that call, but our goal is absolutely the same as it always has been – two states living side by side, the Palestinians having a state of their own to realize the aspirations of the Palestinian people, Israel with secure borders and normalized relations with all of their neighbors. That is what this Administration is working toward and that is what we are going to continue to pursue.

    Thank you all very much.

  • Video: Ambassador DiCarlo on Peace

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    Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, says the international community has been successful in consolidating peace following prior wars, but peace in any country is ultimately in that country’s own hands, at the United Nations in New York, New York, on February 11, 2011.

  • Photo Gallery: Technology Solutions for a Better World

    Not long ago, new technologies were designed almost exclusively for the developed world. Now, inventors increasingly focus on simple, low-cost devices that can improve the health and living conditions of the poor in developing nations. Bringing those devices from research labs to the people who need them remains a challenge. But inventors and their supporters are finding ways to overcome the challenge. What follows is a selection of the technologies that are improving lives around the world or have the potential to do so in the near future.

     
    Self-Adjustable Lenses
    Adjustable eyeglasses allow the users to correct their own vision. They add or subtract clear silicon oil from plastic syringes on each bow of the glasses until the focus is right. Oxford University physics professor Joshua Silver developed the lenses over 15 years. He sold 30,000 pairs, 20,000 of which were bought by the U.S. Department of Defense and sent to Africa and Eastern Europe. A United Kingdom nongovernmental group plans to provide the lenses to those who need them in Rwanda as part of a nationwide program. Trial runs are being conducted in Liberia and China.


    Embrace Infant Warmer
    The Embrace looks like a miniature sleeping bag, but it is actually a portable incubator that can save the lives of newborn, low-birth-weight babies. The device helps to warm vulnerable infants with a pouch that can be heated by an outside source and slipped into the back of the bag. Designed to provide hours of safe warmth, it will cost less than 1 percent of a traditional incubator. Four inventors — all graduates of Stanford University — plan to run a pilot project in India and then roll out the product in the rest of the developing world.


    XO Laptop
    The XO laptop was developed by a nonprofit organization established by faculty members from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab as an educational tool designed specifically for children in developing countries. About the size of a small textbook, it has built-in wireless technology and a screen that is readable under direct sunlight for children who go to school outdoors. The XO is durable, functional and energy-efficient. Since 2007, the nonprofit group One Laptop per Child has distributed XOs through governments to 2.1 million students and teachers around the world.


    Q Drum
    The Q Drum is a durable plastic drum that can be filled with water and — drawn by a rope — rolled easily along the ground. Invented and launched in 1994 by South African brothers Hans and Piet Hendrikse, it has been gaining popularity in rural areas of Africa where women and children haul water to their homes. The Q Drum, in which people store as well as haul water, is now widely used in South Africa, Namibia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania and recently was introduced to Haiti.


    LifeStraw
    The LifeStraw is a cigar-shaped device that purifies water, removing bacteria, viruses and parasites, some of which cause cholera and other illnesses. Invented by Vestergaard Frandsen of Switzerland, it doesn’t require spare parts or electricity. Instead, it depends on users sucking up surface water through the device’s filters. At the cost of a few U.S. dollars, the family model purifies up to 18,000 liters of drinking water, enough for a family for more than two years. It has been distributed in the poorest areas in Africa and recently in Haiti.

  • Video: Secretary Clinton Hosts Strategic Dialogue With Civil Society

     

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    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hosts the first-ever Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 16, 2011.

    TRANSCRIPT

    Hillary Rodham Clinton
    Secretary of State

    William J. Burns
    Under Secretary for Political Affairs 

    Rajiv Shah
    USAID Administrator

    UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Good morning, everyone. I’m very pleased to welcome you to the Department of State and to the launch of this first-ever Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society. Today’s event is the logical outgrowth of Secretary Clinton’s more than two years of intensive consultations and interaction with civil society representatives across the globe.

    We are honored to have citizen activists with us today from virtually every continent. Some of you are here as alumni of the Department’s Leadership Visitor Programs and have been asked to participate in recognition of your pioneering work at home, from launching alternative energy education programs to advocating on behalf of individuals with disabilities, to encouraging civic participation through a grassroots democracy movement. We deeply admire your passion and commitment to improving your communities.

    In recent weeks, we have been awed by the power of committed citizens to effect change in their societies. We’ve borne witness to a remarkable triumph of human spirit and human courage in Cairo and in Tunis. As President Obama said of events in Egypt, we saw a new generation emerge, a generation that uses its own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that is responsive to its boundless aspirations.

    History too reflects the moral force of individuals committed to securing rights and advancing opportunities for all citizens, from the group of bereaved mothers in Argentina who organized to protest the disappearances of their missing sons and daughters, to the millions of people who came together across the world to battle apartheid. Not every nation has a large-scale civil society movement. Sometimes it’s a lone voice who seizes the imagination or who pricks the conscience of a society, a journalist who continues to report in the face of threats and intimidation, an attorney who takes unpopular cases at considerable risk, or a blogger who engages in critical debate despite threats and persecution.

    As President Obama has stressed, international relations are not just about ties between governments. They’re increasingly about the links between societies. The problems that all of us face today are too complex for governments alone to solve. As community activists in their own right, both President Obama and Secretary Clinton know this to be true and share a passionate conviction in the power of civil society to bend the arc of history. Secretary Clinton has championed human rights, democracy, and civil society for many years. Her longstanding efforts to advance women’s rights predate her famous 1995 speech in Beijing, and her establishment with former Secretary Albright of the Vital Voices Democracy Initiative, which today continues to train and organize women leaders across the globe.

    As the Secretary said in Krakow, societies move forward when citizens are empowered to transform common interests into common actions that serve the common good. Each of you is an essential part of that great effort, and each of you can count on our enduring admiration and support. And so it’s in that spirit that I’m proud and honored to introduce to you the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Bill. (Applause.) Thank you very much, Under Secretary Burns, and let me welcome all of you to the Ben Franklin Room here at the State Department for this inaugural session of the Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society. I am delighted to have this opportunity to meet you and to welcome you to this effort, and I also want to welcome Foreign Minister Azubalis from Lithuania, which is now holding the presidency of the Community of Democracies. Foreign Minister, thank you for joining us for this Civil Society meeting.

    We have a broad cross-section of global civil society here today, and we have thousands of others who are participating via interactive videoconferences at 50 of our embassies around the world. Even more are taking part in live online chats in Arabic, Russian, and Spanish. I want to start by acknowledging the many brave people who could not be with us today because they are doing what civil society does. They are fighting for human rights and dignity. In the last weeks, we have seen their courage on display in the streets of Tunis and the town squares of Cairo. We have watched with great anticipation as they have stood up for their rights and aspirations.

    For decades, Egyptian activists worked under a repressive system of official controls, including laws that required them to register before they could start work, the kinds of measures that impede the work of many of you here today and many more who are joining us by conference. But you are here because you have not been deterred. You have gone on with your work despite harassment and persecution. And we have seen the progress that can be made because of your commitment.

    The events of the past few weeks, which we never could have predicted when we began to plan for this months ago, makes our meeting even more timely and the issues more urgent. If we’re going to take advantage of this historic moment, we have to tap the expertise, experience, and energy of civil society. Across the Middle East today, we see people calling on governments to be more open, more accountable, more responsive. They want a stronger voice in their own affairs. They want to be treated fairly and with dignity. As I’ve said before, it is in the interests of governments to answer these demands, to reflect the will of their own people. Countries with vibrant and representative institutions settle differences not in the streets, but in city halls and parliament buildings. That, in turn, makes them more stable, and they tap the potential of all of their people, which gives them the base for greater prosperity and progress.

    The United States supports democratic change. It is in line with our values and our interests. We support citizens working to make their governments more open, transparent, and accountable. We uphold the universal rights of every person to live freely, to have your voice heard, and your vote count. And we want to work with all partners, governments, the private sector, civil society, the entire cross-section that gives us the chance to make real and lasting change.

    Now, of course, we recognize there are many paths to democracy, and we recognize that true and sustainable democracy is about far more than elections. Each society will work to realize its own democratic values and build its own democratic institutions in its own way, because we also recognize the uniqueness of culture and history and experience. But let me be clear, our support for democracy and human rights is not about siding for or against either governments or citizens. This is about standing up for universal principles and for those in and out of government who support them. So as our partners take steps to open their own political and economic systems, we will support those efforts. And we will urge others to follow that path. Governments that pursue democratic change, economic openness, will have a friend in the United States.

    We’re also continuing to work with civil society and those who are outside of government to lay a groundwork for reform because, as I said earlier this month in Munich, the transition to democracy is more likely to be peaceful and permanent when it involves both the government in power and a broad cross-section of the governed. Civil society holds governments accountable, keeps them honest, and helps them be more effective. But you play an even more fundamental role than that. You help to strengthen the basic bonds of trust that are essential to democracy.

    We had a wonderful phrase that came to us from the French observer Alexis de Tocqueville, who talked about the habits of the heart. Because we understand that building trust is the glue that holds democratic societies together, and trust is often in very short supply. Working with others toward a common purpose, contributing to the life of your community, that’s how we practice those habits through civil society.

    I’ve talked often about the three-legged stool that upholds stable societies – a responsive, accountable government; an energetic, effective private sector economy; and then civil society, which represents everything else that happens in the space between the government and the economy, that holds the values, that represents the aspirations. If one of those legs on the stool is too short or too tall, the stool is not stable. And we’ve seen a lot of unstable stools that now no longer can hold the weight of their societies. And what we hope to do is to bring that into balance with you.

    Now, what consists of the individual actions of civil society joining religious organizations of your choice to pursue your spiritual fellowship, donating to humanitarian causes, working to improve your school or clean your street or provide other kinds of citizen activism may not be life-altering events, they may not change the world, but they serve a very important purpose. They ground people in the life of a community. They build that trust with neighbors and they remind us all that we have a stake in the future, that we can work with our fellow citizens in pursuit of a common good even when we disagree. Those are the building blocks of a healthy democracy.

    Both President Obama and I have deep personal connections to civil society. He began his career as a community organizer; I began mine as an advocate for women and children’s rights. Both of us are committed to defending civil society. In Krakow last July, I spoke about how, in many countries, governments are trying to crush civic activism. Well, we will continue to stand up for you. And we are backing that commitment with action. I’m very pleased to announce we are more than doubling our financial support for efforts to respond to threats to civil society, to help human rights workers who have been arrested, activists who’ve been intimidated, journalists who have been censored. We have launched an international fund that will provide quick assistance, such as communications gear and legal support to NGOs affected by government crackdowns.

    We also recognize that new technology opens up new ways for governments to restrict civil society. And yesterday, I spoke at George Washington University about our commitment to Internet Freedom and outlined steps we are taking to protect and advance it.

    We’re also using diplomatic channels. Last October, I asked every U.S. ambassador and embassy to engage with civil society as a cornerstone of our diplomacy. I’ve also asked every assistant secretary who travels overseas to meet with civil society groups in addition to governments. I’ve had that opportunity in my travels as Secretary. Students and professors at a women’s college in Saudi Arabia, survivors of human trafficking in Cambodia, business leaders in Brazil. It’s one of the best parts of my job. And I also raise these issues with government leaders. I recently wrote the foreign minister of Cambodia about proposed legislation that would impose burdensome reporting requirements on NGOs and prevent many small organizations from operating at all. They’ve now begun a dialogue with civil society about this law, and we are following that debate closely.

    Finally today, we are launching this new Strategic Dialogue. This is the first time we’ve held a strategic dialogue with any group other than a government, but we know very well the benefits that such dialogues offer. They help break down barriers across governments by creating a forum for regular contact between senior people on both sides. They build habits of cooperation, which increases understanding and helps translate that understanding into practical results. They make it easier for us to identify common problems, set common goals, and share what we are learning.

    In our ongoing dialogue with countries, we make progress in areas like nonproliferation, climate change, health and development, agriculture, and other critical issues. We’re rolling up our sleeves and getting to work, and that’s exactly what we want to do with each of you because our work together on women’s rights, corruption, religious freedom, and other issues is just as important as anything we do with governments.

    Now, many of our current dialogues involve civil society, and that will continue. But we need to elevate our engagement beyond the discussions we’re already having. We have a lot of ideas about what we might accomplish together, and we have many of our senior diplomats here who will be working on specific issues. Under Secretary Bob Hormats will lead a working group on governance and accountability. Assistant Secretary Mike Posner will focus on democracy and human rights. And Ambassador Melanne Verveer will lead a group focused on empowering women. Now, this is our initial plan, but we want to hear from you about what we need to do to be responsive to what you are facing and how we can build this project together over the next months.

    None of us can ever predict what will spark the kind of movements we’ve seen or even from the past, the firing of a Polish shipyard worker who inspired a democratic movement that changed the face of Europe. But we know that the power of human dignity is always underestimated until the day it finally prevails. So come with us on this journey, because that’s what democracy is. It is a road traveled rather than a destination. We know where that journey begins, with the people here in this room and the men and women of civil society everywhere.

    So thank you for your courage and your commitment, and please join us in this discussion that we will begin right now. (Applause.) (Inaudible) many distinguished representatives here from our government and also from civil society. I want to begin, though, as I think it would it be only appropriate to do so, with Sherif Mansour, a prominent Egyptian activist. And I think it’s particularly timely that he would be the person who would kick off this discussion about civil society.

    Sharif.

    MR. MANSOUR: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mrs. Secretary and thank you for the invite and for your kind words today. I was very much expecting that all these nice words would come, and I think, as you recognized, this is a change that can – only attributed to people in Egypt and Tunisia who proved that ultimately, civil society is a change-maker and the permanent partners for the U.S. in the long run. I think – I was very happy to listen – like to hear from you that U.S. foreign policy did not – do not have to choose between oppressive governments and the aspiration of the people.

    And I think in order for this dialogue, which we’re starting today, to be effective, I think we should look back, recognize the mistakes of the past. And let’s be honest. The record of the U.S. foreign policy on Egypt and on Tunisia is not very good. I think what we’ve seen over the last 30 years is that the U.S. have had very biased relationship with complete support for the governments of those countries without enough leverage for civil society.

    And I can mention a few facts for the audience. One of them is specifically the support, the – like the U.S. aid support package we’ve seen in Egypt civil society over the last 30 years, the amount of civil society fund did not exceed 1 percent. And specifically over the last three years, where there was a lot of dissent and people were advocating for reform, and they were preparing for election, the State Department actually conceded to pressure from the Egyptian Government to cut down funds for democracy and to make it only available for government-approved NGOs. I think from now on we need to hear it clearly from State Department that should never happen again. Government recipients of foreign aid should not control U.S. aid money and should not decide what the civil society should do or are able to do.

    I think also – like, I’m reminded – was a conversation that when I first hear the word “civil society” which in Arabic means (in Arabic), I heard it for the first time from my previous boss, who is a democracy activist, Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim. And when he first said the word in front of President Mubarak – and let me say that clearly, former President Mubarak – President Mubarak interrupted him and said, “So what’s wrong with military society?” And I think that shows that this is how these people think. And of course, Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim went to explain that they are not mutually exclusive, and that civil society is the best guarantee for stability of the country.

    But I’m reminded now that this is a conversation that I am actually having to do right now, is that Egypt have a military government and have civil society who is advocating for reform. And I think from now on, the U.S. foreign policy should be clear about their support not just morally, financially as well. I am hoping to see a formalized instruction from the U.S. to its diplomat across the world to say that civil society is not just an afterthought. Civil society are equally important in terms of building partnership and future of the countries that you work with.

    I hope you take my remarks in good sense. I know that I’m being critical. And I think it’s important if we want to move forward to look back, recognize our mistakes and ensure they never happen again. Thank you so much.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Sharif, thank you very much, and I appreciate your remarks and the very clear commitment that you have to civil society and to a path forward in Egypt that will realize a best outcome for the people of Egypt.

    And we have given exactly what you asked for, the direction to all of our ambassadors to do what you have said last October, when I gave the instructions to all of our ambassadors that they must engage with civil society. And it sometimes quite hard to do that, you understand. And we will have to keep working for ways to be more effective in how we approach civil society, depending upon the country and the conditions that we find. But the general policy is exactly as you have offered. It must be that we engage with civil society as well as governments, and where we can, try to bring the two together, because together, they make up for a much stronger, more stable future for people. And that’s really what we should be seeking. So thank you very much.

    MR. MANSOUR: Thank you.

    Let me turn now to USAID Administrator Dr. Raj Shah.

    ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Thank you, Secretary Clinton, and thank you, Sharif, for your candid remarks. USAID firmly believes in the Secretary’s goal to elevate the quality and depth of our partnerships with civil society. Our Administration, under President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s leadership, has pledged to pursue a new approach to development through a comprehensive new development policy that prioritizes democratic governance and that is defined fundamentally by partnership, innovation, and, in everything we do, seeking real, genuine, lasting results.

    At USAID, we seek to create the conditions so that ultimately our assistance is no longer needed, and we know that the only real replacements for the type of work that we support are vibrant civil societies, effective private sectors, and accountable governments that provide effective services broadly to all parts of their populations.

    In pursuing this new approach, we will seek to elevate our crucial partnership with civil society. We recognize that civil society organizations create the basics for accountability and have tremendous relevance and significance in all aspects of our work, of course, in the democracy and governance portfolios that will perhaps be the largest part of today’s conversation, but also in our efforts to create inclusive economic growth, to fight disease and hunger through agriculture and global health initiatives, and to create more educational opportunities more broadly for all members of society. That’s why we are now at a point where nearly 40 percent of our funding goes to nongovernment organizations. And in each of our countries, through all of our missions, we’re setting specific targets so that we can increase the percentage of support that we provide to local organizations and local entrepreneurs and local NGOs.

    We also recognize that civil society creates transparency and encourages accountable governance more broadly, from reporting on financial practices, identifying and highlighting individual cases of corruption, and reporting on human rights. Using new technologies and supporting innovative new efforts to enable those activities to be more effective is a big focus for us, and we’ve launched a development innovation venture fund to support the creativity that technology now enables in our collective work.

    The Secretary also mentioned our effort to double the size of the global Legal Enabling Environment Program so that local NGOs have technical support when governments do create less space for effective operations.

    And finally, of course, we recognize civil society’s crucial role in transitions to democracy as we’ve all been reminded of and inspired by over the last few weeks.

    I just would like to close, Madam Secretary, with a brief comment about a package of reforms that we’ve launched through the QDDR and under your leadership, the USAID Forward reforms. As part of that, we’re actually fixing our procurement systems, and I know that’s not always a high-visibility topic. But we’ve taken a number of steps over the course of the last year and under the Secretary’s leadership to just make it easier and more transparent for smaller local organizations to work directly with our missions in the 82 countries where we are operating. And some of these are quite arcane, but at the end of the day, I think they will make a big, big difference in providing flexible resources – smaller money, faster moving money – to the kinds of innovative entrepreneurial NGOs that clearly make up the most vibrant sectors of change in all forms of society, and certainly in civil societies.

    So we are pursuing that effort, and we welcome your continued candid feedback and also your guidance on how to put that in place in a way that’s most effective. And I’ll take this opportunity to thank some of the partners here around this table that have been actively informing that effort. So thank you.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Raj. And let me turn, now, to Dr. Sima Samar, director of the Afghan Independent Commission on Human Rights, for her opening remarks.

    MS. SAMAR: Thank you very much. I’m happy to be a part of this event, and I hope that this strategic dialogue on civil society will continue, and it should not be one event.

    I’m coming from a country where we are in wars since 30 years. Although, the civil society is very young and still there’s civil society and NGO was able to play a vital role to the people of Afghanistan who were able to survive the 30 years of violent war in the country. I think it’s very, very clear that we cannot have a – cannot push for good governance and accountability and transparency for the governments and fight against corruption without having a strong civil society in the country. In this century, I think Afghanistan is the most difficult and problematic country for all of us, and especially for the people in Afghanistan who are suffering everyday from the violence of the terrorist group.

    So my recommendation would be in order to continue and support civil society for good governance in Afghanistan would be: One, more stronger support for human rights defenders and civil society in the country not only politically, but also financial support to the civil society.

    Two, more support on capacity building of the civil society group, men and women, in Afghanistan in order to be able to keep the government in Afghanistan responsive and accountable and try to bring to justice the perpetrator of human rights and stop the culture of impunity in Afghanistan.

    Three, I think more focus should be put on the education in order to build the capacity of civil society. If you don’t have a proper and good quality of education for young men and women in Afghanistan, we cannot really have a strong civil society. So that would be one of the issues that I recommend to do within Afghanistan.

    Four, I think please do not use the excuse of respecting culture and religion in Afghanistan not to touch on human rights, and specifically on women’s rights. I mean, we should not use that excuse not to touch the issues or the values of human rights in Afghanistan. It is of universal value, and it’s the value of human being not (inaudible) value.

    And finally, I would like to say that acknowledging women’s role and women’s participation and women’s existence in a society like Afghanistan, I don’t think a – civil society without full participation of women will be effective on keeping the governments accountable. And I say that acknowledging the existence of women and then, of course, include the women on the decision-making policies and then support them. It’s not only – I mean, unfortunately in our country mostly women are not acknowledged; their existence is very, very symbolic, although we all put a lot of pressure in the government.

    And finally, I would say that please do not have only contact with the governments. As Sharif said – I completely agree – unfortunately the U.S. has been supporting very, let’s say, undemocratic leaders in the Muslim countries, so that will affect Afghanistan. If we like it or not, that is the reality. And please do continue to be supportive and have contact with the civil society, men and women in the country, and thank you very much.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Sima. The press is going to leave at this point so that we can begin our discussion.

  • Video: Administrator Shah Delivers the David E. Barmes Global Health Lecture

    Ambassador Shah

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    USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah delivers the David E. Barmes Global Health Lecture at the Masur Auditorium in the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on February 15, 2011.

    TRANSCRIPT

  • Video: U.S. Policy Toward Latin America

    Assistant Secretary Valenzuela

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    U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela testifies on U.S. Policy on Latin America on February 15, 2011, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

    TRANSCRIPT

  • Video: Secretary Clinton on Internet Freedom

    Secretary Clinton at podium

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    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks on “Internet Rights And Wrongs: Choices & Challenges In A Networked World,” at George Washington University’s Jack Morton Auditorium in Washington, D.C., on February 15, 2011.

    TRANSCRIPT

  • Video: President Obama’s Press Conference

     

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    President Obama speaks about how the 2012 Budget reflects his plan to win the future and takes questions from the media, February 15, 2010.

  • Video: What is Culture?

     

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    This video illustrates a conversation that took place on ExchangesConnect, an international online community managed by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs.

    Add your voice to this conversation & more like it: http://www.connect.state.gov.

  • Photo Gallery: African Americans Tell Their Stories

    National Visionary Leadership Project
    For nearly a decade, the nonprofit National Visionary Leadership Project (NVLP) collected the oral histories of extraordinary African-American elders and “visionaries” who helped shape America’s culture and history in order “to unite the generations and create a blueprint for tomorrow’s leaders.” NVLP recorded interviews with more than 200 people, ranging from ordinary citizens to renowned artists, politicians and civil rights leaders. The recordings are archived at the Library of Congress American Folklife Center. This photo gallery highlights some of the visionaries featured in the project.

    Dorothy Height
    Dorothy Height
    1912–2010

    Civil rights activist Dorothy Height played a role in nearly every major 20th-century reform movement for blacks and women, led the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, and stood by Martin Luther King Jr. during his “I Have a Dream” speech. Dorothy Height, said President Obama, “deserves a place of honor in America’s memory.”

    Toni Morrison
    Toni Morrison
    1931-

    Toni Morrison’s richly woven fiction has gained her international acclaim, including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. She paints African-American women as unique, fully individual characters rather than stereotypes, while exploring difficult subjects such as racism, infanticide and slavery. Among her nine novels are Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, and most recently, A Mercy. Beloved, a wrenching look at slavery, won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

    Maya Angelou
    Maya Angelou
    1928-

    Poet Maya Angelou has been hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first in a series of autobiographical works, was nominated for a National Book Award, and she received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her poetry collection Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Diiie.In January 1993, Angelou became the second poet in U.S. history to write and recite an original work at a presidential Inauguration. She delivered “On the Pulse of the Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s swearing-in.

    Coretta Scott King with Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Coretta Scott King
    1927-2006

    Coretta Scott King championed civil rights, justice and equality at the side of her husband, Martin Luther King Jr. (shown with her in 1964), and she carried on after his assassination in 1968. She worked tirelessly to preserve her husband’s memory, establishing the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, and chairing the commission to create a Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday. Her efforts, said President George W. Bush, “made America a better and more compassionate nation.”

  • Photo Gallery: Civil Society Upholds Democracies

     

    Civil society “is the conscience of our communities,” President Obama has said. Human progress, he said, has been shaped by individuals who can freely join forces and by nongovernmental organizations. But what is civil society, exactly? Why is it important? And what does it need to flourish?

    What Is Civil Society?
    What is “civil society”? You. Me. Activists, congregations, unions and other individuals who voluntarily work together to transform common interests into actions that serve the common good. They represent a broad range of opinions, and their goals can include any number of things such as better laws, lower crime, cleaner air, social justice or consumer protection.

    What Does Civil Society Need?
    To flourish, civil society needs freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — all guarantees under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But in recent years, some 50 governments have issued new restrictions against nongovernmental organizations. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said an attack on civil society is an attack on democracy. Both the U.S. State Department and the U.N. Human Rights Council are taking steps to protect civil society worldwide.

    Why Is Civil Society Important?
    Civil society — along with representative government and a well-functioning market — is an essential element of a free nation. In the United States, civil society helps identify and eradicate injustice. Civil society, for example, produced the abolitionists who fought against human slavery; the suffragettes who campaigned for women’s rights; the freedom marchers who demanded racial equality; the unions that championed the rights of labor; the conservationists who work to protect the environment.

    The Need for Civil Society Never Ends
    Real progress — economic, social and political — comes from the people, and it is an ongoing process. “A fundamental truth in the 21st century,” President Obama said, is “that strong, vibrant nations include strong, vibrant civil societies.” That truth, he said, applies to the United States as well. “Our journey to perfect our union goes on to this day.”

     

    Civil Society Comes in All Forms and Sizes
    Like the individuals that compose it, civil society is varied. In Poland, for example, Lech Walesa, a shipyard electrician, was able to establish Solidarity, the Soviet bloc’s first independent trade union. At its height, the union had some 10 million members and was instrumental in the downfall of communism in the country. In Jordan, activist Aida Abu-Ras was able to establish that country’s first nongovernmental organization to fight the exploitation of female migrant workers. She launched a workers’ rights campaign that sent 120,000 text messages to mobile phone users.

    Civil Society Adapts to a Changing World
    Today the Internet and various forms of social media are important platforms on which members of civil society meet, share information and discuss ideas. Seeing how social media can support civil society, the Obama administration launched an initiative in 2009 to help grass-roots organizations around the world use digital technology effectively. Secretary Clinton has linked the freedom to use the Internet without government obstruction to basic human rights. Having the freedom to connect to the Internet, she said, “is like the freedom of assembly, only in cyberspace.”

  • Video: 2011 Hours Against Hate

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    Special Representative for Muslim Communities Farah Pandith and Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism highlight the campaign, 2011 Hours Against Hate, and encourage young people to reach out to stop hate, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 11, 2011.

    Transcript

    Hannah Rosenthal
       Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism 

    Farah Anwar Pandith
       Special Representative to Muslim Communities 

    Washington, DC

    February 14, 2011


    SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE PANDITH: Anti-Semitism

    SPECIAL ENVOY ROSENTHAL: Prejudice

    SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE PANDITH: Racism

    SPECIAL ENVOY ROSENTHAL: Muslim hatred

    SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE PANDITH: Sexism

    SPECIAL ENVOY ROSENTHAL: All words for hate…Hate is Hate

    SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE PANDITH: Hate is Hate…No matter who the target is

    SPECIAL ENVOY ROSENTHAL: This year we are launching a campaign

    SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE PANDITH: 2011 Hours Against Hate

    SPECIAL ENVOY ROSENTHAL: We are asking young people, in every corner of the world

    SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE PANDITH: To pledge their time to stop hate

    SPECIAL ENVOY ROSENTHAL: To do something for someone who doesn’t look like you, pray like you, live like you

    FARAH: To stand up for respect

    SPECIAL ENVOY ROSENTHAL: And speak out against bigotry

    SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE PANDITH: It’s up to you, the next generation…

    SPECIAL ENVOY ROSENTHAL: Join the Campaign—2011 Hours Against Hate

    SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE PANDITH: Pledge two hours to serve food for the homeless

    SPECIAL ENVOY ROSENTHAL: Pledge four hours at a religious charity other than your own

    SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE PANDITH: Pledge 5 hours at a women’s shelter.

    SPECIAL ENVOY ROSENTHAL: Every hour makes a difference

    SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE PANDITH: What will you do?

    SPECIAL ENVOY ROSENTHAL: How many hours will you give?

    SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE PANDITH: Who will you reach out to?

    SPECIAL ENVOY ROSENTHAL: To stop hate?

    www.facebook.com/2011HoursAgainstHate

    @2011AgainstHate

  • Video: US Egyptian Community Celebrates Changes in Cairo

     

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    Egyptian Americans are rejoicing from Washington to New York City and beyond, after the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes us to the celebrations and what’s next.

  • Photo Gallery: Egypt Timeline

    February 11: President Obama says the Egyptian people have inspired the world through their nonviolent struggle to change their country’s government and the United States stands ready to provide any assistance the country needs as it transitions to a more democratic future. “The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same,” Obama says after the resignation of former President Hosni Mubarak.

    February 10: Mubarak again refuses to yield the presidency. “Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy,” President Obama says. “The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity.”
    TRANSCRIPT


    February 6: Egyptians in Tahrir Square watch President Obama’s remarks. Obama says after nearly two weeks of political unrest in Egypt, the country “is not going to go back to what it was. The Egyptian people want freedom. They want free and fair elections. They want a representative government. They want a responsive government.”

    February 3: The Obama administration condemns the harassment of journalists covering the unrest in Egypt as well as violent attacks against civilians. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton strongly condemns the attacks on reporters, saying, “This is a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press. And it is unacceptable under any circumstances.”

    February 2: White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs says the Obama administration has repeatedly told the Mubarak government that violence is unacceptable, and that President Obama “reiterated our strong call for nonviolence” during a call to Mubarak. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley says Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman the same message.


    February 1: A girl standing on a man’s shoulders reacts during a demonstration in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square in Cairo. More than a quarter-million people flood into the heart of Cairo, filling the city’s main square in by far the largest demonstration in a week of unceasing demands for President Hosni Mubarak to leave after nearly 30 years in power.


    January 31: In a series of television news interviews, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, says that violence, looting or criminal acts will not move the political process forward in a productive way that will be satisfying for the Egyptian people. “The United States wants to see the Egyptian government respond to the legitimate rights of the Egyptian people, and the creation of a process to address frustrations and reconcile various demands,” Clinton says.


    January 30: Three women gesture for victory as they attend a demonstration in Cairo.

    January 26: The United States urges both security forces and protestors to shun violence as discontent over corruption, poverty, and government reductions in subsidies continues in Egypt. “As we monitor the situation in Egypt, we urge all parties to refrain from using violence, and expect the Egyptian authorities to respond to any protests peacefully,” says White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

  • Video: President Obama on a Historic Day in Egypt

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    President Obama speaks on the situation in Egypt following the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, saying the U.S. supports the Egyptian people and stands ready to assist as the country moves towards a genuine democracy, February 11, 2011.

  • Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks to International Food Policy Research Institute

    Closeup of Secretary Clinton

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    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers video remarks to the International Food Policy Research Institute global conference on “Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition and Health” held February 10-12, 2011, in New Delhi, India, from the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.

  • Video: Secretary Clinton Meets With Panamian Vice President and Foreign Affairs Minister Varela

     

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    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Panamian Vice President and Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Varela at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 10, 2011.

    TRANSCRIPT
    Hillary Rodham Clinton
    Secretary of State
    Treaty Room
    Washington, DC
    February 10, 2011

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. It’s a great pleasure, once again, for me to be meeting with the vice president of Panama. The vice president is here to discuss a number of important issues – first and foremost, the free trade agreement, which the President reiterated our strong support for in the State Of The Union. But we have many matters of concern and interest on our bilateral agenda, as well as what we need to do together to support Latin America, particularly Central America, the Caribbean, and the entire economic and security agenda that we’re pursuing.

    So again, Vice President, welcome.

    VICE PRESIDENT VARELA: Thank you, Secretary Clinton. I’m very happy to be back in Washington at the State Department with Secretary Clinton in such a special week for trade. This week has been very positive for us, a positive message from President Obama, from Ambassador Ron Kirk, and we are very encouraged that the Administration resolves to address all the outstanding issues with the Panama Free Trade Agreement. And Panama is going to do what it takes to make sure that these treaties move forward.

    And I think that moving the treaties forward, sending the right message to international community that U.S. stand – that the U.S. stands a leader for free trade and open market. And it’s also a good message that we’re resonating in Latin America, while their governments are working very hard to balance economic growth with social justice. I think that moving the treaties forward is what should be done and is the best for the Panamanian people, for the American people, for Panamanian American workers, for private sector, and also for governments and for the future of the region.

    Also we’re working very close with the President Obama Administration and Secretary Clinton for the future of the regional security in Central America, working very closely in fighting organized crime, and making sure that our country is not used by organized crime to be able to accomplish their goals. So we are looking, in a long-term relationship with the U.S. Government, to build a better future, and at the next meeting of the Organization of American States, we’re looking forward to address some other issues about what – immigration from other countries that is coming to America.

    So looking forward for this meeting, and a special moment, we’re – we hope that the situation in Egypt comes for – in a peaceful solution.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Vice President.

    VICE PRESIDENT VARELA: Thank you, Secretary Clinton.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

  • Video: Deputy Secretary Steinberg Discusses Developments in Egypt and Lebanon

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    Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg testifies in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on “Recent Developments in Egypt and Lebanon: Implications for U.S. Policy and Allies in the Broader Middle East, Part 2,” at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., on February 10, 2011.

  • Photo Gallery: Timeline of Unrest in Egypt

    President Obama at podium

    February 10: Mubarak again refuses to yield the presidency. “Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy,” President Obama says. “The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity.”
    TRANSCRIPT


    February 6: Egyptians in Tahrir Square watch President Obama’s remarks. Obama says after nearly two weeks of political unrest in Egypt, the country “is not going to go back to what it was. The Egyptian people want freedom. They want free and fair elections. They want a representative government. They want a responsive government.”

    February 3: The Obama administration condemns the harassment of journalists covering the unrest in Egypt as well as violent attacks against civilians. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton strongly condemns the attacks on reporters, saying, “This is a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press. And it is unacceptable under any circumstances.”

    February 2: White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs says the Obama administration has repeatedly told the Mubarak government that violence is unacceptable, and that President Obama “reiterated our strong call for nonviolence” during a call to Mubarak. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley says Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman the same message.


    February 1: A girl standing on a man’s shoulders reacts during a demonstration in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square in Cairo. More than a quarter-million people flood into the heart of Cairo, filling the city’s main square in by far the largest demonstration in a week of unceasing demands for President Hosni Mubarak to leave after nearly 30 years in power.


    January 31: In a series of television news interviews, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, says that violence, looting or criminal acts will not move the political process forward in a productive way that will be satisfying for the Egyptian people. “The United States wants to see the Egyptian government respond to the legitimate rights of the Egyptian people, and the creation of a process to address frustrations and reconcile various demands,” Clinton says.


    January 30: Three women gesture for victory as they attend a demonstration in Cairo.

    January 26: The United States urges both security forces and protestors to shun violence as discontent over corruption, poverty, and government reductions in subsidies continues in Egypt. “As we monitor the situation in Egypt, we urge all parties to refrain from using violence, and expect the Egyptian authorities to respond to any protests peacefully,” says White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

  • Video: Ambassador Rice on Southern Sudan

    Ambassador Susan Rice at podium

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    Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, affirms the U.S. recognition of Southern Sudan, the newly independent state, following the completion of the Southern Sudan Referendum by the UN Security Council at the United Nations in New York, New York, on February 9, 2011.

  • Video: Deputy Secretary Steinberg Signs Homeland Security Agreement With Slovenia

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    U.S. Deputy Secretary James B. Steinberg signs the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6 Agreement with Borut Pahor, Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 8, 2011.

  • Video: Special Envoy King Comments on Productive Relationship With South Korea

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    U.S. Special Envoy for North Korea Robert King comments on the productive relationship with South Korea following his meetings with South Korea’s nuclear envoy Wi Sung-lac in Seoul, South Korea, on February 8, 2011.

  • Video: Ambassador Verveer Speaks at Rehab Center Opening in Democratic Republic of Congo

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    U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer speaks at the opening of the first rehabilitation center in the Democratic Republic of Congo for victims of sexual violence funded by the United Nations, calling rape nothing less than a crime against humanity in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo.

    TRANSCRIPT
    Melanne Verveer
    Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues 
    Bukavu, Congo (Kinshasa)
    February 4, 2011
    Reuters Soundbite

    AMBASSADOR VERVEER: “We work in many levels with our partners here, with all of you to end the conflict to end the atrocities of systematic rapes that is nothing less than a crime against humanity.”

  • Video: New START Treaty Enters Into Force

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    Secretary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sign and exchange the instruments of ratification for the New START Treaty, bringing the treaty into effect at a ceremony in Munich, Germany, February 5, 2011.

    TRANSCRIPT

    VOICE OFF CAMERA: [inaudible] instruments of ratification of the treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on measures for further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Today, we exchange the instruments of ratification for a treaty that lessens the nuclear dangers facing the Russian and American people and the world. Two years ago, we all laughed about the translation of the ceremonial “Reset Button” that I gave the Foreign Minister in Geneva, but when it came to the translation that mattered most, our two countries, led by our two presidents, turned words into action to reach a milestone in our strategic partnership…

    And when it comes to the button that has worried us the most over the years — the one that would unleash nuclear destruction –today, we take another step to ensure it will never be pushed…

    Our countries will immediately begin notifying each other of changes in our strategic forces. Within 45 days, we will exchange full data on our weapons and facilities, and 60 days from now we can resume the inspections that allow each side to trust but verify…

  • Video: Secretary Clinton on the Situation in the Middle East

     

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    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton comments on events in the Middle East during a security conference in Munich, Germany, February 5, 2011.

  • Video: Secretary Clinton Condemns Attacks on Demonstrators and Journalists in Egypt

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    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemns the attacks on demonstrators and journalists in Egypt during her remarks at the Department of State in Washington, DC, February 3, 2011.

    TRANSCRIPT
    Hillary Rodham Clinton
    Secretary of State
    Treaty Room
    Washington, DC
    February 3, 2011

     SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. We’re here for a very important occasion, but before we get to that, let me say a few words about the situation in Egypt.

    We condemn in the strongest terms attacks on reporters covering the ongoing situation in Egypt. This is a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press and is unacceptable under any circumstances. We also condemn in the strongest terms attacks on peaceful demonstrators, human rights activists, foreigners, and diplomats. Freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press are pillars of an open and inclusive society. It is especially in times of crisis that governments must demonstrate their adherence to these universal values. There is a clear responsibility by the Egyptian Government, including the army, to protect those threatened and to hold accountable those responsible for these attacks. The Egyptian Government must demonstrate its willingness to ensure journalists’ ability to report on these events to the people of Egypt and to the world.

    Vice President Suleiman spoke today about the need for free and fair presidential elections. That is essential. And I urge the government and a broad and credible representation of Egypt’s opposition, civil society, and political factions to begin immediately serious negotiations on a peaceful and orderly transition. The Egyptian people expect a meaningful process that yields concrete changes.

  • Video: U.S., Croatia Sign Open Skies Air Services Agreement

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    Secretary Clinton and Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Gordan Jandrokovic deliver remarks at a signing ceremony at the State Department, February 3, 2011.

    TRANSCRIPT

    Hillary Rodham Clinton
    Secretary of State
    Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Gordan Jandrokovic
    Treaty Room
    Washington, DC
    February 3, 2011

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. We’re here for a very important occasion, but before we get to that, let me say a few words about the situation in Egypt.

    We condemn in the strongest terms attacks on reporters covering the ongoing situation in Egypt. This is a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press and is unacceptable under any circumstances. We also condemn in the strongest terms attacks on peaceful demonstrators, human rights activists, foreigners, and diplomats. Freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press are pillars of an open and inclusive society. It is especially in times of crisis that governments must demonstrate their adherence to these universal values. There is a clear responsibility by the Egyptian Government, including the army, to protect those threatened and to hold accountable those responsible for these attacks. The Egyptian Government must demonstrate its willingness to ensure journalists’ ability to report on these events to the people of Egypt and to the world.

    Vice President Suleiman spoke today about the need for free and fair presidential elections. That is essential. And I urge the government and a broad and credible representation of Egypt’s opposition, civil society, and political factions to begin immediately serious negotiations on a peaceful and orderly transition. The Egyptian people expect a meaningful process that yields concrete changes.

    And now let me to turn to this important matter, too. The United States and Croatia enjoy a warm and enduring relationship and friendship. My meeting today with the deputy prime minister and foreign minister comes at a promising moment in Croatia’s history, its pending membership in the European Union. I congratulated the deputy prime minister for taking the difficult steps necessary toward EU membership. We remain hopeful that Croatia will fulfill all of its requirements in the coming months so the Croatian people will earn their rightful place in Europe as soon as possible. The United States supports Croatia’s membership and we are excited about how close you are today in achieving that.

    Croatia has shown great commitment as both a global and regional partner. In our meeting today, I expressed America’s appreciation for Croatia’s contributions in Afghanistan, especially in their training of Afghan police forces. In the Western Balkans, Croatia continues to be a leader, and it is a leader in reconciliation. Croatia is an example of a country that not so long ago was engaged in war, subject to civil, political, and economic stress and difficulties, and which made a determination by its leadership and its people to choose a different path.

    What Croatia is doing in its efforts toward reconciliation in the region is exemplary. It is engaged in negotiations with Serbia to facilitate the return of refugees and resolve and finalize mutual claims. Croatia is supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina’s path to reform and Euro-Atlantic integration. Reconciliation doesn’t just build peace for the people of Croatia and the region – it creates economic opportunities for European and American businesses as well.

    In advancement of that economic opportunity, today we are signing the Open Skies Agreement. This will allow for an open travel corridor between our two countries, which will go a long way to increasing the flow of tourism to the beautiful country that Croatia is and creating new investment opportunities. We look forward to continuing our partnership and we look forward to Croatia’s prospective membership in the European Union.

    DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER JANDROKOVIC: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Thank you very much for your hospitality and really kind words about my country. I am very pleased to be back in Washington and have had this opportunity to meet with you once again, Secretary Clinton.

    The Republic of Croatia is grateful for the friendship and support we have enjoyed from the

    United States during the almost 20 years since we declared independence. During the past two decades, our relationship has evolved into one of mutual respect, understanding, and partnership, and I am pleased to say that it has never been stronger. Our joint efforts in Afghanistan and Southeast Europe, where we share an unwavering commitment to peace, stability, and prosperity are a testament to that ever-strengthening relationship.

    Today, I reaffirmed Croatia’s commitment to our mission in Afghanistan, where we have yet again increased our troop contribution levels, and we – where we are assuming a greater role in mentoring Afghan troops. Croatia will continue to be a responsible and reliable partner in NATO and trusted ally of the United States. Regarding Southeast Europe, I advised the Secretary that Croatia stands ready to share the experience gained in our European and Euro-Atlantic processes with all of the countries of our region and that we will continue to be a proactive partner of the United States (inaudible) Southeast Europe.

    We discussed the current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatia strongly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, its Euro-Atlantic perspective, (inaudible), and constitutional changes. Croatia also emphasized the importance of equal status and the participation of credible representatives of all three constituent peoples in the new government. I particularly underlined the sensitivity of the position of the Croat people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    In addition to discussing our common international priorities, today I informed the Secretary of the ambitious agenda that Croatia has set for itself this year. We are working hard to conclude our accession negotiations with the European Union during the Hungarian presidency. I expressed to the Secretary how grateful we are for the encouragement we have received from our American partners throughout the process and particularly now as we enter the final stage of our negotiations.

    Our efforts are also focused on strengthening Croatia’s economy. We look forward to developing a stronger economic partnership with the United States. And I am convinced that our signing of the Open Skies Agreement today will result in direct flights between Croatia and the United States and lead to increased tourism opportunities for both of our countries.

    We believe that regional trade and investment (inaudible) that we are pleased to be co-hosting with the U.S. in April in Dubrovnik in honor to the late Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown, will also contribute to increased economic cooperation. It is our hope that American investors will find numerous opportunities for investment in Croatia in areas such as tourism, energy, transport, and water management.

    I expressed to Secretary Clinton Croatia’s continued interest in joining the Visa Waiver Program and I hope that Croatia will soon fulfill criteria and become a member of the program.

    Last but not least, I extended an invitation to Secretary Clinton to attend this year’s Croatia summit, and I am hopeful that she will find time in her schedule to visit Croatia during what I believe will be a historic year for my country.

    Thank you.

    STAFF: The Secretary of State and the Croatian Deputy Prime Minister are signing the Air Transport Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Croatia.

    (The Compact is signed.)

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you all very much. Thank you.

  • Video: Black History Month

    Senior Advisor Carr

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    After speaking with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on February 1, President Obama says the orderly transition in Egypt “must be meaningful, must be peaceful, and must begin now.”

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