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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Interviews in Egypt Today

March 16, 2011

CBS News:

QUESTION: Thanks for your time this afternoon. In this whole debate about the Libyan no-fly zone and who participates, you several times expressed a sense of urgency, certainly about the international consultations. But you’re also waiting on this UN resolution at the Security Council that’s still being drafted, and which you’re pretty sure is going to be opposed by the Russians and the Chinese. So where’s the urgency?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Wyatt, first I think that there was a sea change in opinion when the Arab League issued its statement on Saturday. For the Arab League to call for military action to protect civilians in Libya against a member of the Arab League was an extraordinary statement of leadership and real conviction. That has changed the thinking of a lot of people. In fact, as we consult in New York on a UN resolution, there’s a much greater openness than there was a week ago.

And the answer to why a UN resolution is because we need to have international support for anything that anyone does on behalf of the opposition and the civilians in Libya. To go unilaterally, whether it was a European nation, the United States, or an Arab nation, would fly in the face of the international community. And it would also limit the kind of support that would be necessary. I think what you’re seeing today is a recognition that whatever is decided in the UN Security Council must include Arab leadership and Arab participation. So many different actions are being considered. Yes, a no-fly zone, but others as well, to enable the protection of Libyan citizens against their own leader, who seems to determined to turn the clock back and kill as many of them as possible.

So I think that it is certainly fair to say that it took a while for people to feel that there was going to be international support, including Arab support, for any action. But now that’s being considered.

QUESTION: But you’re saying something important here. Arab support – do you see a time where you might ask Arab air forces and Arab pilots to take on some of the risk that they were previously asking of the United States?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we’re going to take this one step at a time. We’re going to try to see what can be negotiated. And right now, that is ongoing as we speak. But certainly, we and others have made it clear that there must be Arab leadership and Arab participation. How that will be defined depends in large measure on what the Security Council decides to call for.

QUESTION: But I’m sure you remember that during the first Gulf War, Arab armies took the field against Saddam Hussein.


QUESTION: Do you think it’s possible that you will be asking for Arab air forces to be included in any action against Qadhafi?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it is important to see what the Security Council will come up with, but I think the Arab League statement, their very courageous stance, suggests that they know that they have to step up and lead and participate in any action that would be internationally authorized. The details of that have not been in any way determined.

QUESTION: They have to step up. You want to leave it vague, but you believe they have to step up. Fair to say?


QUESTION: Outside of the no-fly zone, there is pressure in Congress for the United States to help arm the Libyan resistance. Do you support that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I want to see what we can get out of the United Nations because there is no way that the United States will take unilateral action on any of these issues. We are not going to act alone. There would be unforeseen consequences to that that I believe would be detrimental. But as part of the international community, there will be a wide range of actions discussed. As you know, I met with one of the key leaders of the Libyan opposition. They had many requests for what they thought would help them. All of those are being considered by the Security Council. But I do think that it’s important to go back to the very basic point about why we are all discussing this. We want to do what we can to protect innocent Libyans against the marauders let loose by the Qadhafi regime.

And yes, time is fast upon us. There is an urgency to it, which is why I think that once the Arab League acted, there has been much more intensive consultations. And many of the countries on the Security Council that were reluctant or opposed are now willing to discuss what might be possible because of that Arab League statement.

QUESTION: Do you think the Arab League statement means that Russia and China are not quite as opposed as they used to be? Is that what you’re saying?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think they’re willing to talk about what’s at stake here. A regime that is acting as he is, with all of the consequences that that entails, not only for the Libyans but for the region and beyond, I think has been given new impetus because of the Arab League statement which made it clear that this is not something Europeans are concerned about or Americans are concerned about, but this hits very close to home right here in the region. And the Arab League taking that position has, I think, opened up some doors that were closed.

QUESTION: Let’s move to Bahrain, please. There was renewed violence in Bahrain today. Several pro-democracy demonstrators were killed. This comes on the heels, in just the last week where both Secretary Gates and you have asked the Bahraini leadership for restraint. So what is American policy now that the Bahraini leadership doesn’t seem to be listening?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we find what’s happening in Bahrain alarming. We think that there is no security answer to the aspirations and demands of the demonstrators. We’ve made it very clear to the Bahraini Government at the highest levels that we expect them to exercise restraint. We would remind them of their humanitarian obligation to keep medical facilities open and to facilitate the treatment of the injured, and to get back to the negotiating table. We have also made that very clear to our Gulf partners who are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council, four of whose members have sent troops to support the Bahraini Government. They are on the wrong track. There is no security answer to this. And the sooner they get back to the negotiating table and start trying to answer the legitimate needs of the people, the sooner there can be a resolution that will be in the best interest of everyone.

QUESTION: But right now, Madam Secretary, does it make the United States look bad? Does it give the United States a black eye to be so allied with a monarchy that is now shooting its own people?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are absolutely opposed to the use of force, and we have said that repeatedly. Secretary Gates gave a very strong message to the Bahraini Government when he was there, and not only urging restraint but pointing out all of the problems if they were to pursue any other alternative. So we have been very clear about that, and we are going to continue to stress what we think is in the best interests not only of Bahrain and the people of Bahrain, but of the entire region. This kind of use of force against peaceful demonstrators, a refusal on all sides – because we want to make sure that no one is using force, whether they are in the security forces or in the demonstrators, everyone needs to resolve their differences in a peaceful manner and to look for a political solution. There is no long-term alternative other than that.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you.



QUESTION: Okay, we’ll jump right into it. Again, I’ll try not to take up too much of your time. Before I ask about Egypt, I’m obliged to ask you about one other thing – Raymond Davis. Can you explain why, in your view, it was a wise idea in the long term to pay blood money for Davis’s release?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, the United States did not pay any compensation. The families of the victims of the incident on January 27th decided to pardon Mr. Davis. And we are very grateful for their decision. And we are very grateful to the people and Government of Pakistan, who have a very strong relationship with us that we are committed to strengthening.

QUESTION: According to wire reports out of Pakistan, the law minister of the Punjab Province, which is where this took place, says the blood money was paid. Is he mistaken?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you’ll have to ask him what he means by that.

QUESTION: And a lawyer involved in the case said it was 2.34 million. There is no money that came from anywhere?

SECRETARY CLINTON: The United States did not pay any compensation.

QUESTION: Did someone else, to your knowledge?

SECRETARY CLINTON: You will have to ask whoever you are interested in asking about that.

QUESTION: You’re not going to talk about it?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I have nothing to answer to that.

QUESTION: Okay, let me move on to Egypt here and other countries as well. Having had some meetings here, has the United States, because of the events in the last couple of months, lost influence in Egypt?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that the United States has a different form of influence. We are now dealing with a developing democracy. We have a lot of practice doing that around the world. It was clear from my meetings yesterday and today that both government officials, as well as private citizens – civil activists, youth activists – want the United States to be helpful, and we are going to look for every way we possibly can.

QUESTION: Although you have a country where Hosni Mubarak was an ally, and willing, in some cases, such as policy towards Israel, to do things that were clearly against Egyptian public opinion. If a democracy is formed here, whoever runs this country will have to be responsive to public opinion.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Steve, first of all, the Camp David Accords set out certain obligations on the part of Egypt. And those obligations were immediately accepted by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces after the changeover in government here. So I think those were obligations that the state of Egypt assumed. And we were very pleased to see those reaffirmed by the Supreme Council.
QUESTION: What if we get more specific? If you think about Egypt helping Israel to blockade Gaza, which Egypt has been doing, that’s something that’s very unpopular here by all accounts and not necessarily something that would be envisioned in the Camp David Accords. Could not Egypt in some ways move away from – make some distance between the U.S. and Egypt in its policy toward Israel?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that will be up to the new Egyptian Government. But I think there’s also an argument that Egypt’s got security interests in not permitting the import and export of arms and possible ingress and egress of terrorists. So it’s not only what Egypt will or won’t do with respect to Israel, it’s what Egypt will decide is in its interest to do. And that will be up to the Egyptian Government to determine.
QUESTION: Do you expect that Egypt’s interests will lead it to the same decisions that it made under Hosni Mubarak, as far as foreign policy is concerned?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I think there will be different decisions. But I think that there is such an interest in keeping the peace in the region. Egypt has got a lot on its plate. It’s going to have to politically reform, economically reform. It’s got a big agenda ahead of it. I think the last thing it wants is to see any kind of problem between itself and its neighbors.

So I think that there’s always a likelihood that no two countries will agree on everything. That we don’t expect. And we certainly look to Egypt exerting leadership in the region and beyond, and doing so as a democratic nation, which we think will be a very good example.

QUESTION: But, Madam Secretary, as some people will know, you toured Tahrir Square while here in Cairo, the scene of the protests. One week ago, in Tahrir Square, the army moved in against protestors who were occupying that square, arrested well over 100 people. A number of those people say they were tortured. I visited a man who said he was tortured and who had clearly been beaten severely. He had injuries all over his back. Did you speak, in your meetings with Egyptian officials, about the way that the new government is treating its citizens now?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I certainly raised the concerns that you just mentioned, because they were raised with me. And I was assured that they would be looked into, which I expect will be done.

One of the challenges for this new Egyptian Government is to create a police force and to have a well-trained police force that respects the human rights of its citizens. And they are very committed to that. As you know, they’ve dissolved the state security apparatus yesterday, and I had a lengthy discussion about what it will take to try to create a new security system that will be respectful.

QUESTION: How are they going to do that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: They are going to start. They are very determined to do it, but it’s a big task. I mean, I think that is important that certainly the army has tried to assert a very careful control. They do have problems. As you know, there were a lot of criminals who broke out of prisons that, unfortunately, have not yet been apprehended, and there are signs of lawlessness. They’re trying to move as quickly as possible to turn over law and order to a police force. That is not something that the army has told me that they have any intention of continuing. So there are some questions and some allegations that deserve and should be investigated, and I was told they would be.

QUESTION: We have also been talking here in Cairo with correspondents coming out of Libya, where the rebel position at the moment appears to be collapsing. The view seems to be that it is likely too late for a no-fly zone (inaudible) outside can make very much difference. Is it too late?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t think so. I don’t want to put a timeframe on what is likely to happen in Libya. I’m well aware that Qadhafi is moving against the rebel stronghold in Benghazi. I have received different estimates as to how long it will take him to do what he intends to do, to try to crush the rebellion.

But I think it’s important to note that there is intensive negotiation going on in New York as we speak to try to obtain authorization from the Security Council that will provide a series of potential actions, including a no-fly zone that could be taken. And I think that is the appropriate venue. There should not have been unilateral action by any country. When the Arab League made its decision on Saturday, that changed a lot of people’s assessment about what could and should be done. And part of what is being discussed in New York is how much leadership and participation can be expected from the Arab states.

QUESTION: I invited questions from our listeners before this interview. And one question came in from a man named Jim Voorhies (ph) from Nashville, Tennessee, who asked about uprisings through the Arab world such as Libya, where there is a great resistance or oppression by the government. And he asks: How long will we fail to help?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Steve, that is not a question that should be only directed to the United States, with all due respect to your listener. I think that President Obama has been absolutely right in being clear in saying that Qadhafi has lost the legitimacy to govern. But as you know very well, there is a vigorous debate by people of good faith as to whether any particular action is called for or would be effective.

But there is very little debate that the Security Council, in its Resolution 1970, did not authorize any no-fly zone, any delivery of arms, or any other kind of assistance, other than humanitarian assistance. Now, we are in a different environment where enough countries have watched what was happening. The Arab League has taken its stand. And now, countries that said flat out they were opposed, they would veto, they would never support, are reconsidering.

QUESTION: Meaning that you don’t have that option? You cannot act with an international consensus, because it doesn’t exist? That’s what you’re saying?

SECRETARY CLINTON: But we are working to achieve that international consensus. But I think –
QUESTION: By the time you do, it’s going to be too late, isn’t it?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, sometimes – we have – I wake up every day and I look at violence around the world. I look at women being murdered who marched on International Women’s Day in Cote d’Ivoire. I look at women and men being murdered in eastern Congo. I see a lot of violence by bad guys all over the world.

And the United States has, for decades, tried to enforce the peace, tried to stand against people who were abusing their own people to a terrible degree. But we haven’t been able to do everything that everyone would want us to do.

But one thing that we are clear about is unilateral action would have unintended consequences that we cannot undertake. If there is international decision in the Security Council, then the United States will join with the international community.

QUESTION: As a realist, watching the news from Libya, watching the news from Bahrain, where the government has fired on protestors, are you in a position of accepting that some of the Arab uprisings are simply going to fail?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. But we are in a position of supporting the popular uprisings by people themselves and doing everything we can to help nurture that democracy. We’re alarmed by the situation in Bahrain, and we have spoken very forcefully against the security crackdown, in fact, at the highest levels of the government. And with the Gulf countries, we’ve made it very clear that there cannot be a security answer to what are legitimate political questions. And the sooner that the government of Bahrain and the opposition, which has resisted negotiations as well, get back to the negotiating table, the more likely that this matter can be resolved. And there has been absolutely no doubt about where the United States has stood on this. And we have communicated that in every way possible.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Steve.


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BBC News – Clinton criticises Bahrain over prot…, posted with vodpod

QUESTION: Thank you for speaking to the BBC, Madam Secretary. I want to ask you first about the UN resolution that is being tabled at the UN in New York by France and Britain and Lebanon. Among other things, it would try to establish a no-fly over Libya. Does the United States support the resolution as it stands now?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Kim, as we speak, the United States and other Security Council members are in intensive discussions about what should be in the resolution. We greatly appreciate the leadership shown by Lebanon, the UK, and France. And we think it’s significant that the Arab League made its statement on Saturday, so we want to be sure that there will be Arab leadership and participation in whatever comes out of the Security Council. So there’s a great deal of discussion, and I think there is a sense of urgency that was precipitated by the Arab League’s courageous stand on Saturday. And we hope that there will be a resolution of the discussions and a decision made very soon in order to enable us to protect innocent lives in Libya. We are well aware that the clock is ticking.

QUESTION: Do you want Arab participation, Arab military participation?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are in the midst of discussing the details about what Arab participation and leadership would mean. But I think it’s important that, number one, we get international authorization through the Security Council. This cannot be a unilateral action by anyone in Europe or the U.S. or, frankly, anyone in the Arab League. It has to be international and authorized. And then we have to be very clear about what Arab leadership and participation will be.

QUESTION: But is there still time for a no-fly zone, or is it too late for that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there will be other things considered in addition to a no-fly zone. That will certainly be one of the actions considered, but there are other ways to assist the opposition. As you know, I met with one of the key leaders in Paris. There are other ways that we can assist, and all of those are on the table and being examined.

QUESTION: Could you tell us anything more about what those other ways are?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m going to let the resolution speak for itself when it is introduced because I do not want to intervene into these delicate negotiations. As you know, prior to the Arab League statement on Saturday, there was a great deal of opposition. There were countries which said they would veto anything. There were other countries that were adamantly opposed. That has changed. So now the discussion is of a different tenor with a level of detail that we were just not able to have before.

QUESTION: But at the same time, the British and the French seem frustrated and, frankly, a little bit upset almost with the United States. They feel that you are dragging your feet, that you’re not really warm to the idea of a no-fly zone, or perhaps that you can’t make up your mind about what it is you want to do about Libya. Is that fair? Is that what the situation —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t think that is fair. I think, based on my conversations in Paris with the G-8 ministers, which, of course, included those two countries, I think we all agree that given the Arab League statement, it was time to move to the Security Council to see what was possible. I don’t want to prejudge it because countries are still very concerned about it. And I know how anxious the British and the French and the Lebanese are, and they have taken a big step in presenting something. But we want to get something that will do what needs to be done and can be passed.

It won’t do us any good to consult, negotiate, and then have something vetoed or not have enough votes to pass it. So I think that we are where we need to be right now. And yes, I understand the frustration before the Arab League because there was a lot of ambivalence and opposition and concern about whether this would be accepted or not. But now that the Arab League has spoken and that there is active consultation with our Arab friends and partners, I think you will see a resolution coming forth.

QUESTION: You say you want a resolution that will pass and that will not be vetoed. Would a resolution that isn’t vetoed be tough enough to do the job, which is to get rid of Colonel Qadhafi?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the job is really to protect innocent Libyans. The job is to prevent the kind of massacres and slaughters that, unfortunately, everyone expects from Colonel Qadhafi and his regime. And so there are a lot of steps that can and should be taken. But I don’t want to prejudge the discussions because they are intensely going on right now.

QUESTION: But Madam Secretary, sanctions, arm embargo, no-fly zone – these are all long-term solutions, perhaps they’re not even solutions. We don’t know what the outcome is of those steps. But 13 days ago, President Obama said he wanted to see Colonel Qadhafi go. What is the United States prepared to do to make sure this actually happens quickly?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are prepared to join an international consensus that comes out of the Security Council. And we would want to see that consensus include actions that would protect the Libyan people and would assist the opposition in their legitimate aspirations.

QUESTION: Targeted strikes?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think everything is on the table. Everything is on the table. But it’s important to underscore that unilateral action is not an option; that is not anything that either can or should be supported. International action must be the route we take. And so therefore, we are hoping to see a consensus reached in the Security Council.

QUESTION: At the same time, while the talks continue in Benghazi – sorry, in – while the talks continue in New York about the resolution, in various European capitals and in Washington, Qadhafi’s forces are advancing on Benghazi. The rebels seem to be losing ground day by day, perhaps hour by hour. If Benghazi falls to Colonel Qadhafi because the U.S. was seen to take its time deliberating, history won’t judge the Obama Administration very kindly, will it?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Kim, first of all, I don’t want to engage in hypotheticals. We don’t know what will happen. And secondly, the United States under President Obama is engaged in numerous efforts around the world to ensure peace and stability. And it is important that no one sees the United States acting unilaterally. This is what we were criticized for in the not-so-distant past.

I think President Obama has been very clear. He has said there needs to be action. This man must go. He has lost legitimacy to govern. Let’s get an international consensus as to how we’re going to do that.

There’s a lot in making a decision like that. I give the Arab League an enormous amount of credit to take an action that is aimed at a member of the Arab League; that’s unprecedented. And of course, it takes time to consult and think this through. Now I hope that everybody understands that we don’t want to see countries going off and doing things unilaterally. What we want to see is exactly what is happening – a very thoughtful process. Yes, the timeframe is very short because of what’s at stake. But I believe that we are moving in the right direction and that hopefully there will be a consensus and the United States will be part of that consensus.

QUESTION: When you look at what’s going on in Libya and in Bahrain, it seems to me that – or it seems to a lot of people that the lesson from the Egyptian revolution is quite clear, a lesson that Arab leaders can draw: Don’t give an inch to the protestors, unleash your fire power, or you’re out the door like President Mubarak.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that’s a wrong reading of history. I think the —

QUESTION: But isn’t that what these leaders are doing in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they may be taking short-term measures that will not have the long-term effects they are seeking. I think the situation in Bahrain is alarming. We have made it very clear at the highest levels of the government there that we think they’re on the wrong track, that they need to resume immediately a political dialogue. We deplore the use of force against demonstrators, and we deplore the use of force by demonstrators. We want a peaceful resolution. We also would remind the Bahraini Government to protect medical facilities and to facilitate treatment of the injured, and we have called on our friends in the Gulf – four of whom are assisting the Bahrain security efforts – to force through a political solution, not a security standoff.

QUESTION: But they’re your allies, and they’re not listening to you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I wish we could get everybody in the world to do what we ask them to do. I think that would make for a more peaceful world, but countries make their own decisions. But the United States stands very clearly on the side of peaceful protest, nonviolent resolution, political reform. And I think that what happened in Egypt and Tunisia are really the models of what will happen. It may take a little longer, but there is no turning back the tide of democracy and the universal human rights of every person to have freedom and an opportunity to fulfill his or her own dreams.

QUESTION: So what leverage do you still have on countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia? They’re your allies. You – they – you train their armies. You supply them with weapons. And yet when the Saudis decided to send troops into Bahrain – and I believe Washington made clear it wasn’t pleased about that – they said, “Don’t interfere. This is an internal GCC matter.”

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they are on notice as to what we think. And we will intend to make that very clear publicly and privately, and we will do everything we can to try to move this off the wrong track, which we believe is going to undermine long-term progress in Bahrain, to the right track, which is the political and economic track.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you very much for your time.


QUESTION: Thank you.

Nile TV:

QUESTION: American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it’s such an honor to meet you, and thank you for giving me this opportunity to host you on Egyptian television.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, and it’s an honor for me to be here with you and to have this opportunity.

QUESTION: Thank you. Let me start by asking you – you are the first and most senior official to visit Egypt since the popular revolt that led to the fall of President Mubarak. Why did you choose to be here at this time?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, for three reasons. First, because I wanted to demonstrate the very high-level support that comes from President Obama, our Administration, and our country on behalf of the Egyptian people as you make this transition toward democracy. Secondly, I wanted to discuss with government officials what their needs were and how the United States could be helpful. And thirdly, I wanted to meet with representatives of civil society, the youth revolution, other Egyptians who brought their own perspective to the table, so that I could listen carefully, so that I would know what we could do that would be most helpful to you.

QUESTION: Egyptians are looking forward to a secular civil state, but most important, they dream of a free and democratic Egypt. How exactly does the United States intend to support the democratic transition? Is there a roadmap?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that it will have to be an Egyptian roadmap because this is an Egyptian commitment to move toward a free and democratic future. We have the greatest respect for Egypt’s 7,000 years of civilization. We are a young country by comparison. But we are the oldest democracy in the world. So we have some idea, having gone through these stages our self and having worked with other countries, what it will take to ensure that the road to democracy is not detoured, that the dreams of the Egyptian people are not derailed. And so we think that there are steps that have to be taken, which you are already planning for.

Obviously, elections are a big part of a democracy, but not the only part. Political parties, the idea of protecting the rights of all Egyptians, the – as you say, the secular state that will respect each individual Egyptian – all of that is important along with a free press, an independent judiciary, and other democratic institutions.

We also think there are economic reforms that are necessary to help the Egyptian people have good jobs, to find employment, to realize their own dreams. And so on both of those tracks – the political reform and the economic reform – we want to be helpful.

QUESTION: Let me be honest with you. Many Egyptians are disappointed. They say the Obama Administration didn’t throw its full weight behind the popular movement right from the start. The U.S. was a bit hesitant before finally extending its support to the opposition activists in Tahrir. And some are calling it “double standards.” They say the U.S. preaches democracy and freedom on the one hand, and supports autocratic regimes when it suits their own interests.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me say that I don’t think there’s any doubt that the United States, President Obama, all of us stand for democracy and for the values that undergird democracy. And we spent a lot of time trying to make sure that the demonstrations in Tahrir Square, which I was very excited to visit myself this morning, were peaceful. That was our message from the very beginning. There is no doubt about that – that the people had a right to demonstrate, that their rights needed to be respected, and that the government had a duty to do so.

To the credit of your army and other officials, we saw a largely positive response from the army, and even standing against the security forces that were trying to disrupt the demonstrations. That stands in stark contrast to what we’re seeing in Libya, for example. So the United States was very clear about its messages, that from the beginning, this needed to be peaceful, nonviolent, respecting the rights of the individual demonstrators and having a reform agenda that would meet those needs.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, in the last 30 years, much of the aid from the United States went to creating a strong security apparatus to ensure that Mubarak continues to have a tight grip on power. Very little of that aid went to improving the lives of average Egyptians. Is it likely that aid to Egypt will now become conditional?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, we had a lot of aid that went to the military, not the security forces. And I thank you for asking that question because our aid was to assist the Egyptian military. And I think that really paid off because during the height of the demonstrations in Tahrir Square, our military leaders were talking to your military leaders and exchanging ideas because they knew each other over 30 years of training together, working together. So in a way, I think that that investment was a good investment because the Egyptian military performed so admirably in everyone’s eyes. And we were very proud we had some contribution to them.

With respect to other aid, we have given, over the course of many years, money to support the American University in Cairo, money to support education, money to support healthcare, money to support civil society, human rights activists. But you’re right; it was always a difficult negotiation with the former government because that was something that we wanted to do to help the Egyptian people. Some of it went through, and some of it did not go through. Now we look forward to be able to work on the economic agenda to try to assist the government and private investors to create more jobs, and we look forward to assisting what the Egyptian people want in terms of education or healthcare or anything that you are going to ask us for.

QUESTION: It was globalization and social media that led to the changes that we’re witnessing in the Middle East today. And recently, you engaged in a discussion on the internet with young Egyptians. And you had a very important message for them, that there can be no prosperity without the empowerment of women and girls. What are your hopes for the girls – the millions of girls, the Nujoods in this region?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I believe that what happened in Tahrir Square was not only an Egyptian revolution, but a human revolution. As I was, like millions of Americans, transfixed to the television screen, I saw Egyptians of all ages, primarily young, but other generations as well, and I saw women and men. And what it said was that every Egyptian, regardless of who he or she were, were standing together for the future you were demanding. And I think it would be a great tragedy if anything were to happen that would start marginalizing any Egyptian on the basis of being a man or a woman or a Copt or a Muslim or from upper or lower Egypt.

I mean, it would be a great tragedy because Egypt not only has the opportunity to lead the way in the Middle East, but to be a democratic, successful country for the 21st century and to be a leader that everyone will look to with admiration. And in my conversations with civil society activists, with young people, with government officials, we’ve talked about other models because other countries have made that transition. Indonesia, for example – they often say if you want to see a democratic state where women are empowered, come to Indonesia. Well, I want to see a democratic state where women are empowered right here in Egypt, because to leave out half the population is to leave out half the potential of what Egypt can become.

QUESTION: I echo that.


QUESTION: First, it was Tunisia, then Egypt —


QUESTION: — and now the desire for change is spreading like a wildfire across the region – Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria, Jordan, even Saudi Arabia. Does it concern the Obama Administration that America is losing some of its staunchest allies in the region and that these mass protests may result in Islamists taking over power?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it would concern us because it would, in our view, only have one point of view represented in societies that are very diverse, and that’s not a true democracy. One election is not a true democracy. It takes time and effort to build a democracy. But we have always stood for democracy, for human rights, for freedom, and we have friends and we do business with countries all over the world that don’t always reflect those values. But our message publicly and privately has always been the same.

Even here in Egypt, you know that we were privately urging changes, publicly urging changes; we were not successful. And it is only fair and proper that the Egyptian people themselves seized this moment in history and determined that you were going to move beyond the government that existed. And that’s what we’re seeing in Tunisia, and the efforts that are going on in other parts of the region are by no means completed. And we happen to believe that governments and societies will be more stable if they institute democratic reforms. And so we are urging all of our friends to do that.

QUESTION: You’ve just come from Paris where you attended the G-8 meetings and where the UK and France were leading the push for a no-fly zone over Libya. The U.S. has also been consulting with the United Nations on possible stronger measures against Qadhafi. What measures? More sanctions or is the military option on the table now?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It is on the table, and I think the Arab League statement on Saturday was an extraordinary commitment. For the Arab League to call for action against one of its own members because Colonel Qadhafi has lost his legitimacy to govern, and he is murdering his own people, and of course, he’s putting a million Egyptian lives at risk as well who are still in Libya, was a real strong message to everyone. And so when I was in Paris meeting with the G-8, the talk was all about the Arab League statement. So as you know, the Lebanese, the British, and the French have introduced a resolution.

There is intensive negotiations going on in New York as we speak to determine whether we can reach international consensus on a resolution that will authorize strong action and that will include Arab leadership and participation. So the United States is deeply involved in those negotiations. Some nations were very much opposed before the Arab League statement; they are much more open now. And there is a sense of urgency because Colonel Qadhafi and his forces are moving east, and so we want to see the Security Council act as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Years on, Iraq is still not quite the stable democratic model that the U.S. hoped it would be, and many are concerned that this may be the fate of other countries in the region if the United States intervenes militarily.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that is why the United States does not want to take any unilateral action and why it is very important that no country take action unless it is authorized by the United Nations Security Council. And we will see whether the Security Council will do that now.

QUESTION: Iran seems to have been put on the backburner for now because the focus is on other countries in the region, and yet the Iranian threat is still very much alive. They’re calling what’s happening in the region an Islamic awakening, and they’ve threatened to intervene in Bahrain. What is the United States reaction when you hear such defiant statements from Ahmadinejad?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that it is the height of hypocrisy for Iran, which allowed its own revolution to be hijacked and is turning into a military state with the revolutionary guard largely in control at this moment in time – it’s a very sad commentary on what the people of Iran expected back in 1979. And it’s an (inaudible) lesson to Egyptians, Tunisians, and everyone that democracy must be carefully nurtured, and no one should be allowed to claim that they have all the answers and that only they can govern. I have a lot of confidence in the Egyptian people. I think that Egypt has shown that Egyptians are ready to stand up for your rights and to claim those rights and also to be part of making the decisions necessary for a democracy.

So I think Egypt is the best rebuke to Iran. You are basically demonstrating to the Iranians that they can talk all they want and try to somehow take credit, but they don’t deserve any credit because they have allowed their own revolution to unfortunately deny their own people their voices, their votes, their freedoms, and their rights, which is not at all what Egypt is looking for.

QUESTION: How do you see the fate of the stalled Middle East peace process after Mubarak? After all, he had been trying to reconcile Fatah and Hamas, he had promised to block the tunnels into Gaza, and he was trying to negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit. So what now after Mubarak and after Omar Suleiman?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that now, there is even more of a reason for the Israelis and the Palestinians to resolve their conflict and to create a two-state solution. I think what is happening in the region which gives so much energy to democracy should be a strong encouragement to both the Israelis and the Palestinians. And we are determined to pursue the peace between the two of them.

We have never given up. We are not discouraged no matter what they say. We are moving straight ahead. President Obama and I have made that clear time and time again because we think actually it is even more important to do now to make sure that the Palestinians can realize their own dreams for a state and to have their own democracy, and that Israel can have security so that they can contribute to the economic prosperity of the region. And so I’m hoping that the circumstances of these events will actually push the parties closer together.

QUESTION: American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I can’t thank you enough for joining me on the program. For me, this is a comeback, and I am hoping that it will be a contract for Egyptian television for a freer, more open state media. Thank you for giving me this time.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you for your leadership on that, too.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Thank you so much.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Secretary Clinton NBC Interview in Egypt, posted with vodpod

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. I wanted to talk first about Japan. The scale of this catastrophe is so enormous, and it’s inevitably going to affect nuclear policy. It already is. Germany is shutting down plants. What does this mean for the future of the world in terms of nuclear energy, nuclear power, and increasing reliance on oil?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andrea, that’s one of the questions that is obviously going to have to be examined. And right now we are focused on trying to deal with the immediate disaster – earthquake, tsunami, nuclear reactor problems. We’re doing everything we can to support Japan, and we’re doing everything we can to assist American citizens because their health and safety is obviously our highest concern. And we’re following this very fast-moving dynamic situation literally minute by minute.

So in the immediate short term, we have a lot that we have to handle. And in the longer term, you’re right. This raises questions that everybody in the world will have to answer. But for us right now, just trying to stay very connected with our Japanese friends. We have Nuclear Regulatory Commission experts, Department of Energy experts, others who are on the ground in Japan working with their counterparts to try to mitigate the effects of this particular disaster.

QUESTION: Some people have suggested that the Japanese were reluctant to take advice, nuclear advice, initially, and waited too long.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I can’t comment on that because I’m not a nuclear expert. I know that our experts were immediately in communication with their Japanese counterparts. But the scale of this crisis was so immense and so unprecedented to have the earthquake followed by the tsunami, followed by the problems in the nuclear reactors, that our goal now is just to do everything we can to assist the Japanese to do the humanitarian work.

We have search and rescue teams on the ground from Los Angeles, from Fairfax, Virginia. Our naval assets, our brave Navy men and women, are doing a lot in the humanitarian relief delivery. So we’re just so busy trying to assist in every way possible, and so is the rest of the world. Because Japan is historically such a generous country, everyone is rushing to try to reciprocate.

And I know how hard it is to make decisions in the midst of fast-moving disastrous events. But we’re doing everything we can to help the Japanese as they struggle with these tough calls they’re making.

QUESTION: Do you have concerns about nuclear power in the United States?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have concerns about a lot of our energy issues because clearly we’re talking here in Cairo, in the Middle East, in a region that supplies a lot of oil. We have oil dependence problems. We have nuclear power safety issues and waste disposal problems. We have the difficulties of getting a lot of the renewables like wind and solar and others up to scale. And we have a really hard challenge convincing people that energy efficiency is actually the most effective way to try to lower our energy costs and usage.

We need an energy policy. That’s something that President Obama has said repeatedly. And we need it to be yesterday, and it’s got to be comprehensive. I think what’s happening in Japan raises questions about the costs and the risks associated with nuclear power, but we have to answer those. We get 20 percent of our energy right now in the United States from nuclear power. So we’ve got to really get serious about an energy policy that is going to meet our needs in the future.

QUESTION: Let’s talk about Libya, because Qadhafi’s son says that within 48 hours it’s going to be over. The Libyan opposition asked for help, they asked for military help. You’re resisting that. You want Arab League leadership, you want a UN vote. It might be too late to save them. Do you have concerns about that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you know, I’ve consulted with our European and Arab partners in the last two days. I’ve also met with the leader of the Libyan opposition. We are working very hard in New York with members of the Security Council and others because we believe that we have to take steps to try to protect innocent civilians, and we cannot do it without international authority.

The Arab countries, with their statement through the Arab League last Saturday, made it very clear that they wanted to see action, so we need Arab leadership and Arab participation in whatever the UN decides to do. So we’re working as we speak to try to get international support, which is very important, because unilateral action would not be the best approach. It would have all kinds of unintended consequences. International action with Arab leadership and participation, we think, is the way to go.

QUESTION: Your husband, the former president, last week said, “We’ve got the planes. We should do it.”

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we do think that among the actions that have to be considered by the United Nations, the no-fly zone is one of them, but it’s not the only one. There are other actions that need to be also evaluated. And we are putting everything on the table. Our UN team is working very closely with other members of the Security Council, and we hope to be able to move forward in a way that does respond to some of the requests by the Libyan opposition.

QUESTION: What if it’s too late?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andrea, we’re very aware of the actions of the Qadhafi regime. We deeply regret his callous disregard of human life, his absolute willingness to slaughter his own people. But we think that there is a lot that can be done if we can reach international agreement on what should be done.

QUESTION: There are more causalities in Bahrain. The Saudis intervened. The other – the UAE and others moved in, even after you had appealed for calm and expressed your deep concern. What does this say about the U.S.-Saudi relationship? Defense Secretary Gates was in Bahrain only last Friday and had no heads-up that this was going to happen.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I know. I think it’s fair to say from everything we are seeing that the situation in Bahrain is alarming. We are in touch with the highest levels of the Bahraini Government today, as we have been for the last – a period of time. And our message is consistent and strong: There is no way to resolve the concerns of the Bahraini people through the use of excessive force or security crackdowns. There have to be political negotiations that lead to a political resolution. We have urged all the parties, including the Gulf countries, to pursue a political resolution. That is what we are pushing, along with others who are concerned by what they see happening. We would remind the Bahraini Government of their obligation to protect medical facilities and to facilitate the treatment of those who might be injured in any of the demonstrations and to exercise the greatest restraint. Get to the negotiating table and resolve the differences in Bahrain peacefully, politically.

QUESTION: They’re ignoring us so far. Is there anything more that you can do?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are very concerned and have reached out to a lot of different partners. There’s a lot of the same messages coming in from across Europe and the region to the Bahraini Government. And in fact, one of our assistant secretaries for the region is actually there working on a – literally hour-by-hour basis. We do not think this is in the best interest of Bahrain. We consider Bahrain a partner. We have worked with them. We think they’re on the wrong track, and we think that the wrong track is going to really affect adversely the ability of the Bahraini Government to bring about the political reform that everyone says is needed.

QUESTION: And you went to Tahrir Square.


QUESTION: An emotional experience to walk in that square. At the same time, women have been kept out of the new government, and there are some concerns that they are moving too quickly here in Egypt to create a new constitution without developing political parties and being more thoughtful about what it requires to create a democracy.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, going to Tahrir Square was exhilarating. It was a tremendous personal experience to be there and to see Egyptians with smiles on their faces saying hello, welcoming me to the new Egypt. That was an extraordinary uplifting experience.

I know and the Egyptian people know – because I’ve been talking with a broad cross-section of Egyptians – that translating the enthusiasm and the energy of Tahrir Square into the political and economic reforms necessary to establish a strong, functioning democracy, more jobs for people, a real sense of a positive future, is going to be challenging. But they’re up for that challenge. I feel very good about what the Egyptians are doing. It is an Egyptian project, an Egyptian story. They are making their own history. The United States stands ready to assist in any way that is appropriate. But this is being molded by Egyptians themselves, as is only proper. I told them that they have a 7,000 year old civilization; we’re a young country, but we’re the oldest democracy, so we stand ready to help them as they navigate into this very exciting period of their long and storied history.

QUESTION: Thank you so much.


7 Comments leave one →
  1. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    March 16, 2011 9:11 pm

    ” At the same time, women have been kept out of the new government [in Egypt].”

    This is why Hillary needs to stay in government (read: run for President in 2016) — because in my opinion the Andrea Mitchell’s of the world wouldn’t make this observation with any other
    political leader in the world, male or female. Because the name Hillary Clinton is synonymous with the battle for women’s rights around the world. Because there is simply nobody else on the horizon to pick up the standard if she leaves public life. I realize she can continue to advance the cause as a private citizen but to do so from a position of real power is altogether different. Hillary, don’t leave your work unfinished!

    • Rachel permalink
      March 16, 2011 10:50 pm

      I dont know. I think she might have more ability fo make change in women’s and girls lives out of government. She has to follow foo much protocol as secretary of state. Also can I just say it burns me that president obama is doing guest spots about his college basket ball bracket while hillary is in the middle east. Yes i know he can multi task but what if hillary made an apperance on home ahopping network abot a new hand vag she picked out.

      • Rachel permalink
        March 16, 2011 10:53 pm

        That should be bag not vag.

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        March 17, 2011 12:01 am

        Yes, he is astonishingly tone deaf for a man who hit all the right notes as a candidate.

        Re: Hillary. Yes, she is somewhat constrained by protocol but she has made it a point, everywhere she goes, to talk to and about women and to focus the world’s attention on women’s rights. And I think her voice is more likely to be heard from a world stage than as a private citizen. Andrea Mitchell wouldn’t be interviewing Hillary if she weren’t Secretary of State, nor would Andrea have highlighted the absence of women in planning Egypt’s future if
        she hadn’t been talking to Hillary Clinton (for all we know, maybe Hillary made it a condition for the interview — “you have to ask me at least one question about the women, Andrea.” It wouldn’t surprise me!). And if Andrea Mitchell hadn’t raised the issue, chances are nobody would be thinking much about the role or absence of a role for women in the new Egyptian order. Maybe nobody much is paying attention anyway. But I noticed, and cheered silently, and I’ll bet there are millions of other women around the world who also cheered and were cheered by her words. It’s hard to put into words why it would feel so devastating if Hillary’s voice disappeared from the world stage.

        • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
          March 17, 2011 8:44 am

          It would be like stacy closing down this blog. 😉

          • March 17, 2011 9:13 am

            @Carolyn- yeah, if she leaves on or before 2012 what will I do with the blog?

      • March 17, 2011 9:13 am

        @Rachel- Her voice will never disappear from the world stage. While I’d like to see her run in 2016 (and be on the ticket in 2012), I wouldn’t blame her at all for leaving public life. As you noted, being constrained by the need to tow the party line, follow protocol and not be controversial must be limiting at times.

        Like Bill Clinton, even if she formally left public life she could still do a lot of good diplomatically- like an elder stateswoman. She could be a chief negotiator in charge of Mideast Peace, or anything else like that . even while she does other things- kind of like Bill Clinton was involved with helping out with Haiti and North Korea.

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