Interview With Kai Nicklasch of ZDF-TV

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Brussels, Belgium
March 6, 2009

QUESTION:: We had the chance to watch your performance out in (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: I am going to keep doing this all over the world, talking to young people because I just want them to know that they’ve got to hold us accountable for delivering for them because that’s what this is all about for me.

QUESTION: Okay. So, Secretary Clinton, you were welcomed yesterday at NATO’s headquarters with applause (inaudible) and NATO meeting new security framework. What do you think it should be?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I was delighted to walk into NATO and represent the Obama Administration and my country at a time when NATO is as important as it’s ever been. But the threats are different. The challenges are not the same as they were in the 20th century. We are undertaking a declaration of principles regarding the alliance and a strategic concept review, which I really welcome because the new threats that we face are going to require us to be more agile and flexible, creative and smart about how we analyze them and then deploy our assets against them. I think that this is very timely, and I look forward to participating in it.

QUESTION: And can you give us an idea of what the key issues will be?

SECRETARY CLINTON: When you think about the transnational threats, like terrorism, the terrorist networks –when you think about the impact on nation-states that either do not control their own territories or are actively condoning terrorist activity that goes beyond their borders, those pose new threats. When you think about the principle reason for NATO’s existence, the Article 5 common defense requirement, what does that mean?

We were very grateful that NATO came to our aid after we were attacked, and it really said how strong our alliance is. But we’ve learned a lot in the last eight years about how to implement this common defense commitment in a place like Afghanistan. NATO has been present. We’ve all been learning together. The United States is extremely grateful. But we see the same kinds of future threats in the world that will affect one of our European allies.

There is so much that is not of the mindset of standing armies across barbed wire borders. Ever since the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union ceased to exist, we’ve been feeling our way. The situation in Georgia, the energy security challenges –those are issues that really are, I think, properly to be considered as strategic challenges, not just somebody else’s responsibility.

QUESTION: And you mentioned yesterday missile defense. Under which circumstances would you (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think missile defense is part of the NATO arsenal. We have missile defense that is sea-based, we have missile defense that is based in Alaska. The point I was making is that a nuclear-armed Iran with the missile range to target Europe is also a threat to Russia. I will be discussing that with Foreign Minister Lavrov when I meet with him tonight in Geneva – that we have to understand that this is a threat that is out of our traditional area, but which has direct consequences for Europe.

The actual deployment of missile defense depends upon it being technologically operational and economically affordable. But the principle of coming up with new deterrents and defensive measures to protect us within NATO is one we have to follow up on.

QUESTION: Can I ask about another key problem, and – do you have an exit strategy for Afghanistan?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Actually, we have just decided to send more troops – 17,000 more troops. We are on an exit pathway from Iraq, but we are focused on a policy review concerning Afghanistan and Pakistan because we think we have strategic interests there and threats emanate from there.

We will be working with our NATO allies and other partners to come up with a comprehensive strategy that integrates military and civilian assets in a way that can try to stabilize both Afghanistan and Pakistan from the mutual threat they face from al-Qaida, the Taliban and homegrown insurgencies that are determined to destabilize those countries to gain and hold territory to serve as safe havens for terrorists who plan and plot against Europe and the United States.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) send 17,000 more troops. Do you expect anything from Germany too, maybe to go to (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We’ve just begun our conversation with Germany. I’ve discussed this with Foreign Minister Steinmeier. I think Germany has made some very useful contributions on the civilian side as well as the military side. Going forward, that will be part of our dialogue with Germany and our other NATO allies.

QUESTION: And do you think Germany could be able to go to the (inaudible) and send more troops?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s going to be up to Germany to decide. I wouldn’t presume to suggest what the German Government will decide. But there will be a number of ways for countries like Germany to participate in this new strategy. And I think the civilian side of this strategy is more important than the military side – training the Afghan National Army, training the police, working to mentor and provide technical assistance on good governance, rule of law, anti-corruption measures, anti-narcotics measures. There’s a lot that we would be discussing that could be contributions.

QUESTION: The last question (inaudible). Iran – can Iran be integrated in the peace process?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s up to Iran. They are very aggressive in their pursuit of nuclear weapons, in their interference with other countries’ internal affairs, with their funding and deployment of terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah to further Iranian aim. Most of the people in the region who have to live with Iran every day are extremely worried by Iranian actions. We share those worries. Europe and NATO are also with us on that. We’re going to be looking for ways to try to deter and prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon. Where we think that we can usefully engage with Iran, like the big tent meeting that we proposed on Afghanistan, we will invite them to participate and then it will be up to them to decide whether they will.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. It was a pleasure to have you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: My pleasure. Thank you.

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PRN: 2009/T2-20