Interview With Fatuma Sanbur of IQRA FM
Secretary of State
QUESTION: So probably I’ll just start (inaudible) relationship between the U.S. (inaudible). So I just would like to know (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s a wonderful question because the President’s speech was so historic, and it was meant to not only reach out to the Muslim world, but for us to find concrete ways to work together.
So some of the things we’re doing are increasing educational exchanges, looking for ways to work with individuals as well as groups in different societies who are trying to improve the lives of women, who are trying to improve health care, education, who are looking for ways to promote democracy and the rule of law, who are interested in having interfaith dialogue. So the State Department and other parts of our government are reaching out to learn from people throughout the Muslim world what would be most useful, and then we’re going to try to both fund and respond to that.
QUESTION: All right, let’s talk about Somalia (inaudible) issue between the Muslim world and the instability Somalia. (Inaudible) fighting (inaudible) Somalia have been the women and the children. So (inaudible) if you – the U.S. (inaudible) America (inaudible) invasion like you did in Iraq or Afghanistan, it’s going to be (inaudible). So what strategies are you (inaudible) situation in Somalia?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have absolutely no intention of doing any kind of military action on our own. And in fact, we have been pleased that the African Union and African countries have come to the aid of the Transitional Federal Government to try to stabilize Somalia and to drive out the violent extremists who, as you say, often target innocent people.
I mean, what kind of war is it when you kill women and children, and you destroy for the sake of destruction, to intimidate people and just break the spirits of people? And the Somali people have suffered for a very long time. The United States wants to help Somalis themselves take back their country, take it away from foreign fighters and foreign ideas that are un-Somalia. This is not about Somalia anymore. It’s about trying to gain control over a piece of territory so that you can create a terrorist haven. That’s not the way Somalia (inaudible). This is something that I feel very strongly about. But we’re going to support those who are trying to support a better future.
QUESTION: And in your speech yesterday at the AGOA Forum (inaudible) education (inaudible) to help (inaudible) in the government. And as a Muslim woman (inaudible), especially the hijab. I’d like to know personally your stand on hijab.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I consider it a personal decision, and I have Muslim women friends who wear a hijab and who don’t. And I want women to make their own choices. I want women to be educated enough and feel confident enough that if it is their choice to wear a hijab, they wear it; if it is not their choice, they do not wear it.
Because I think that Muslim women, like all women, should have the right to make decisions that are important for themselves and their families. So in my country, there is – there are many opportunities for women to pursue their jobs regardless of whether or not they cover themselves.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Barack Obama government initiative headed by George Mitchell. So I would like to know (inaudible) what have you achieved in Palestine in bringing the Palestinian people together (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have tried to support the Palestinian Authority. I just announced last week $200 million to go to support them, because in the West Bank the Palestinian Authority is establishing security, they are encouraging businesses, they are encouraging education, and they are really making a very good showing of how they would run a state. And it’s something I want to support, so we are.
And George Mitchell is working with the Israelis, the Palestinians, and Arab groups in different countries to try to come together in, we hope, a few months at a comprehensive peace negotiation that would lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.
QUESTION: And finally, (inaudible). So according to you, how (inaudible) common (inaudible) woman (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: In two ways. Kenya and most of the African countries have not yet fully utilized AGOA. There are 6,999 products that can be exported to the United States duty free, but what we have found is that a lot of people don’t know that. And so we’re going to do a better job of trying to reach out and explain that to people.
Now, the individual women in Kabaras (ph) selling vegetables will not be able directly to get into the AGOA forum, but if she is part of a larger group or if she is the farmer who is growing the vegetables who then can be part of a cooperative that would be able to get into America, that can happen. But it takes organization, and it takes planning. And we’re going to try to do more to help businesses here in Kenya be able to get the tools they need to participate.
QUESTION: Thank you so much for (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. It was a pleasure talking to you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.