ABC Interview: U.S., Japan Work Together for Global Recovery

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Interview With Martha Raddatz of ABC
Tokyo, Japan
February 17, 2009

QUESTION: Let’s start with the economy here in Japan. The economy is really tanking here. The finance minister just quit a while ago. How will you deal with this?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we want to support Japan in its efforts to deal with its internal economic challenges. I think they know they’ve got to try to figure out how to stimulate internal demand, how they are going to diversify their economy, in part because of the reliance on manufacturing and exports. As the economy has slowed down, they’ve been particularly hard hit as the figures today show.

But I really commend the Japanese Government for also looking beyond its shores as to what it can do to help shore up other economies that are in even graver danger. You know, the resilience, the intelligence of the Japanese people, their understanding of what it’s going to take to work their way through this is a really important part of how we’re going to see global recovery take hold. They’re the second largest economy in the world. We’re going to work closely with them in the lead-up to the G-20 in London, and I hope that we’ll be able to lay the groundwork for the turnaround.

QUESTION: Just quickly on the finance minister, what do you think of what happened, and his decision to resign?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s an internal decision for the Japanese Government. But there are a lot of very able people in the finance ministry and in the government, in the private sector here who I know will be working hard to make sure that their efforts at recovery continue.

QUESTION: And as far as China is concerned, there are concerns there particularly about the Buy America provision.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Mm-hmm. Well, the President worked hard to get that provision changed so that it reflected our existing international agreements, and now, it will not be implemented in any way that is not consistent with our international agreements.

QUESTION: Dennis Blair, at his hearings to become the Director of National Intelligence, said the global financial crisis is the primary near-term security concern. Do you agree with that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think what Director Blair was saying, which is a very important point, is we get fixated sometimes on the headlines of dangers. And that is not, in any way, to underestimate the importance of the continuing threat from terrorism, the instability in the Middle East and Afghanistan and Pakistan and elsewhere. But this economic crisis, left unresolved, will create massive unemployment. It will upend governments. It will, unfortunately, breed instability.

And I appreciated his putting that into the context of the threat matrix, because look at Pakistan, a country that we know has to be stabilized for the benefit of not only South Asia, but beyond. It is where the terrorists and their allies have found haven. But the economy in Pakistan is under even greater pressure now because of the global economic crisis.

QUESTION: So would you agree with what he said?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think what he’s saying is that yes, we have to look at this as a – as part of our threat matrix. I know some people have criticized him and said, “Well, what’s the economy have to do with terrorism?” That’s a very shortsighted view.

Going back to Pakistan, if Pakistan becomes more financially unstable, that increases the danger that we will face from the threat by the extremists to the Pakistan Government.

QUESTION: Let’s stay with Pakistan. You know that the Pakistanis accepted Sharia law in the Swat Valley, which used to be a beautiful tourist area, essentially giving in to Taliban demands.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are trying to determine exactly what was agreed to. There have been some contradictory reports about what was or wasn’t agreed to and, you know, I want to wait until I have a full understanding before I comment.

QUESTION: The minister of the province said they will only react to attacks. They will not carry out offensive actions anymore, the Pakistani troops.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, again, I want to get the whole picture of what it is they’re attempting to achieve. There were, as I said, some contradictory communications from the government as to what was really going on, and we want to sort that out before we say anything.

QUESTION: That has to be a concern.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, look, the entire situation in Pakistan is a concern. That’s why we are conducting a policy review that looks at Pakistan and Afghanistan. That’s why, when the President and I decided to have a special representative, it was for both Afghanistan and Pakistan. We understand that the instability in Pakistan, the safe haven given to al-Qaida and to the Taliban, the alliances among the extremist groups, is a threat to the stability of the Pakistani Government, a threat to the stability of Afghanistan, and a much broader threat to the region and us.

QUESTION: Just a couple more. On North Korea, you’ve said it’s unhelpful, the rhetoric, but right in the middle of this wild rhetoric and these threats, or intelligence, rather, that says they might test-fire a missile, you say you have an openness towards North Korea. Are you trying to take a softer tone with them?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, not at all. What I’m trying to do is to communicate with both the people of North Korea as well as our allies and the parties in the Six-Party Talks, and also to the members of the Government of North Korea.

We don’t know what’s going on in the North Korean Government. There is certainly evidence that there is a jockeying for a position in that government, and I want it known very clearly that we remain absolutely committed to the denuclearization of North Korea, that North Korea entered into an agreement to do that. And if they proceed, as they had already agreed, and verifiably and completely eliminate their nuclear program, there are benefits. That’s a quid pro quo.

And they need to understand that, because certainly, very often what you hear out of North Korea is that the continuing antagonism toward the United States, toward Japan, toward South Korea holds the regime together. But I want the people of North Korea, as well as those within the government, to understand we hold no antagonism for the people of North Korea. They are suffering under this repressive regime, and we want those who are jockeying for power to know that there is a better opportunity if they comply.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, can I ask you one last question for our “Good Morning America” audience? And that is just some thoughts on your first trip here: what it’s like, how you prepared.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s a wonderful experience to represent the United States of America, to be coming to Japan and the other countries that I’ll be visiting in the next days, as a representative of the Obama Administration, with a message that the United States wants to listen and learn. We believe that we have a lot to do in cooperation, both regionally and globally, with Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and China. And we are open to an expanded and deepened partnership.

QUESTION: All right. Thank you so much.


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PRN: 2009/T1-4