Secretary of State Hillary Clinton & Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota
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SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, everyone. It is indeed a pleasure for me to welcome back my colleague, the Foreign Minister of Brazil, and someone quite familiar to those of us in Washington. And I want to thank you for bringing with you such a stellar, high level team of representatives from across the Brazilian Government for the meetings that we have held these past two days.
And as I think both of our teams from the U.S. and the Brazilian side know, our countries have walked a long, difficult road together. We’ve worked hard to build societies that respect the rights of minorities that believe in free and fair elections, human rights, the rule of law, social inclusion; and the entire hemisphere, indeed the entire world is inspired by Brazil’s incredible rise from an illegitimate military government to a thriving, prosperous democracy. And we look to Brazil as a model for what is possible, not just throughout our hemisphere but indeed globally.
We meet as partners as the western hemisphere’s two largest democracies and its two largest economies, and we discussed a full range of bilateral and multilateral issues. Our Global Partnership Dialogue, which our two presidents endorsed during President Obama’s very successful visit to Brazil, provides a framework to bring together many existing dialogues and initiatives and adding new ones that are responsive to the needs and aspirations of us both. And we have seen progress already. We are addressing through our Economic Partnership Dialogue issues for collaboration like energy, food security, development assistance in third countries. Brazil is now a global donor to many of the important funds and efforts that are aimed at alleviating poverty, hunger, and suffering.
We work together on biofuels and the launch of our initiative on aviation biofuels in Brazil in March was a significant step, and we will continue to discuss how what Brazil has pioneered can make a difference to so many others. As we expand our relationships, we’re focused particularly on our people-to-people exchanges and commitments. We know that President Rousseff’s wonderful commitment to lifting up the educational attainment of the Brazilian youth is one that we’re strongly in support of, and increasing the number of students and educators who go back and forth between our two countries is one of our highest priorities.
So we are looking on every front for work that we can do, and we partner not only bilaterally but in the hemisphere and increasingly through the G-20, through the Security Council, on so many important issues. And I thank you very much, minister, for your great commitment to our cooperative relationship.
FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Well, thank you so much. A pleasure to be here with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to follow up on what I think has already been described as a very successful meeting between our two presidents. President Obama visited Brazil very early on during Dilma Rousseff’s administration; I think this sets the stage for enhanced cooperation on a number of areas, building upon the already very strong relationship that we have in trade and political dialogue and a number of areas, including social issues.
I had an opportunity to go over the bilateral relationship with my colleague, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Looking at trade, for example, there is an increasing trade deficit in our relationship which is cause for some concern in Brazil, but we spoke of ways of addressing that. Of course, there are other agencies in the U.S. side that deal with the issue as well and we will be engaging with them, including with the new Secretary of Commerce that has just been appointed by the U.S.
We would like to see enhanced investment and many of you are aware that we will be modernizing our airports, that we will welcome U.S. investment in this upgrading of our capacity in a key sector for preparations for the World Cup and the Olympic Games. I’m very pleased that Secretary Clinton mentioned education because I think it’s one of the most concrete outcomes of this meeting that we’ve had and our delegations have had – and I thank your very capable team also for their work in the many areas that have been touched – is a Joint Action Plan on Education. This is a plan that will increase and encourage educational, academic, and technical exchange programs between Brazilian and American universities and institutions, and hopefully promote a fast track for identifying clusters of universities, institutions, and colleges that are ready to receive Brazilian students in the United States. It’s part of our attempt to update the relationship. We also looked at science and technology, innovation. This allowed me to speak of Rio + 20, the conference that we will be hosting in 2012, and that will look at green economy and combating poverty and discussing new paradigms for sustainable development. We’d like to see participation from the U.S. during the preparatory process, but also at the highest political level during the conference itself.
We spoke of regional issues Secretary Clinton mentioned, but also of the developments in North Africa and the Middle East. I have been recently to Cairo. There are opportunities there for us in joining forces and transforming the movements in favor of greater freedom of expression, improved governance, opportunity for young people in the Arab world, in two projects where we will also strengthen each other’s participation or assistance to countries such as Egypt and others in the region.
Let me also say that I mentioned our candidacy to the Food and Agriculture Organization. Those from Brazil are aware of Professor Jose Graziano da Silva’s candidacy, a man who was involved from day one during President Lula’s government in the Zero Hunger Program that has been so effective, as well as in the social programs that have lifted millions out of poverty. We would very much like to look forward to a situation where a Brazilian at the FAO could work in tandem and very closely with an American at the World Food Program.
So these are some of the issues that we touched upon. The meeting will continue after our own encounter, and as of now, I am already very encouraged by the results that we’ve achieved.
MR. TONER: The first question today goes to Kirit Radia of ABC.
QUESTION: Hi, Madam Secretary and Mr. Minister. Madam Secretary, yesterday President Karzai threatened to make some additional restrictions on U.S. bombings in Afghanistan following the latest reports of civilian deaths. What can you and the United States do to reassure President Karzai and the Afghan people that the U.S. is trying to stop civilian casualties?
President Mubarak is going to be going to trial in August. How do you feel that this fits into Egypt’s path toward democracy?
And finally on Yemen, there’s been escalated violence over the past 24 hours with reports of many dead. How is that going to end?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think first with respect to Afghanistan, U.S. and international military forces have in the past and continue to place the highest priority on protecting civilian lives. And certainly, it is the goal of the military efforts to root out the insurgents who are responsible for the vast majority of civilian injuries and deaths. And we recognize that in a complex military environment, it’s just a tragic fact that some civilian casualties may be inevitable and unavoidable. But we are very concerned any time there is any civilian casualty caused by the NATO ISAF military mission, and every single one of the issues or events that is brought to the attention of the military command is investigated thoroughly.
General Petraeus has consistently emphasized that we have to do everything in our power to reduce the number of civilian casualties. And we are seeing a steady increase of Afghan lead through their army and security forces on any night raids, and procedures are being put into place in preparation for a transition to greater Afghan responsibility to ensure that such operations are properly authorized and approved by senior representatives of the Government of Afghanistan.
So we’re going to continue to do everything we can to express our deep regret when a terrible incident occurs and civilians are injured or killed. And I would only underscore that that stands in stark contrast to the indiscriminate killing, the suicide bombing, the IED – the improvised explosive devices, that are used by the insurgents without regard for any human life.
With respect to Yemen, we continue to watch the situation, and we are where we’ve been for weeks, in doing everything we can, along with the international community, to convince President Saleh to step down from power. If it wasn’t obvious before, it certainly should be now, that his presence remains a source of great conflict and, unfortunately, as we have watched over the last several days, even military action and violence. President Saleh was given a very good offer, that we strongly backed, by the Gulf countries, and we cannot expect this conflict to end unless President Saleh and his government move out of the way to permit a – the opposition and civil society to begin a transition to political and economic reform.
And finally, you asked me a question about – a third country in one question, so I —
QUESTION: Mubarak’s trial.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Mubarak’s trial. That is a decision for the Egyptians to make. Obviously, we want to see the rule of law. We want to see appropriate due process and procedures followed in anyone’s trial, and particularly in such a highly charged trial as that will certainly be. And we are keeping very close watch on events in Egypt. We’re disturbed by the reports of efforts to crackdown on journalists and bloggers and judges and others, which we don’t think is in keeping with the direction that the Egyptian people were heading when they started out in Tahrir Square.
MR. TONER: Next question goes to Luis Fernandez of (inaudible).
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Ministro Patriota, the imbalance in the trade relationship between the United States and Brazil has been referred to by the minister. The question to both of you is: Do you see the United States becoming again the main trading partner of Brazil, and if so, in which basis? The main trading partner of Brazil at the moment, the relationship is based largely on the exportation of raw materials from Brazil, of commodities, and that’s not the best situation – China specifically. And in relation to the visit of the Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to the United States, I would like to ask you what was discussed. Is the visit confirmed, and for when, specifically? Thanks.
FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Well, I can start on the trade relationship. Of course, this was mentioned, and as I said, we have a number of other dialogues, an economic dialogue. We have a meeting that is already scheduled between Department of Commerce and our department – our ministry for industrial development and commerce during the month of June, in addition to the USTR foreign ministry dialogue. So we will be pursuing different avenues to try to develop a trade that is mutually beneficial.
The relationship is a very robust one, and we discussed some of the opportunities for increasing exports from Brazil to the United States, as you mentioned, with other important trading partners, including our individually most important at present, China. There’s a concentration on a very few products, namely iron ore, soya, and oil, and we’re trying to diversify our exports to China. With the United States, we don’t confront the same problem. It’s a more diverse platform, and we would like to continue exporting airplanes, exporting beef, and looking at other products.
There was also a question about a potential visit by President Rousseff. Well, this is mentioned in the joint communiqué that was adopted by our two leaders when President Obama visited Brazil in March. But I think what we are concentrated on right now is to implementing the many decisions that were taken then, and I’ve invited Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to come to Brazil to continue this discussion so that we can in the future have a productive summit meeting between our two leaders at the earliest possible and at the most convenient time so that we can start reaping some of the benefits of the discussions that we are having already.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I endorse what the minister said and would only add that we are quite satisfied by the depth and breadth of our relationship. I think both of our presidents set forth a comprehensive agenda, and we continue to add to it. And in the area of trade and investment – that’s a very high priority for the Obama Administration. The minister is correct that we have a diversified economic relationship. We want it to become more so. We fully endorse President Dilma Rousseff’s commitment to innovation, science, and technology because we think that’s not only very directly in Brazil’s interest, but also in the interest of the hemisphere, including the United States, to see Brazil continue to develop and broaden its own economic foundation. And we will be working on finding a date for the president’s visit to Washington, and as the minister said, he and I will be in close consultation in preparation for such a visit because we have a very high standard to meet given the successful visit of President Obama to Brazil. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Thank you so much.