Remarks With German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle After Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
November 5, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, my goodness, we have a good crowd today. Well, we have had an excellent conversation, and I welcomed the new foreign minister to Washington so early in his tenure, and I am looking forward to spending more time with him when I travel to Berlin and participate in the very exciting and important commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

For Americans, our relationship with Germany is rooted in our commitment to freedom and democracy. And certainly, the new government that the minister represents exemplifies that. This time is a reminder of the values that we share and that we will use to chart a new future together: democracy, tolerance, human rights, the pursuit of a peaceful and prosperous future for our people and for all people.

This is the foundation of such a strong partnership, and we will, through our own efforts, try to deepen and broaden that partnership, because the challenges that we face today are not the challenges that our parents and grandfathers faced and that we will celebrate the end of in Berlin on Monday. They are new challenges which come to every generation, from rebuilding the global economy, combating climate change, understanding and combating violent extremism, curbing nuclear proliferation. This all demands the kind of international cooperation that the United States and Germany must provide, not only for each of us in our bilateral relationship, but within Europe and globally as well.

So we discussed a very broad array of issues. And I want to express publicly our appreciation and the honor that we show toward the German soldiers who are working to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan. Their sacrifice is deeply respected and honored by Americans. And we appreciate also the generous support that Germany has provided Pakistan to help the Pakistanis improve health and education, encourage energy efficiency and responsible governance, and assist people who are displaced by the current conflict.

The United States is also grateful for Germany’s participation and leadership in the P-5+1 and the E-3+3 processes to ensure Iran’s full compliance with UN Security Council resolutions and IAEA directives on its nuclear program. We are speaking with one voice on this critical issue, and it is a voice that is amplified by our friends from Britain and France, from Russia, China and the European Union. We are pressing Iran together in our support of the recent proposal to provide new fuel for the Tehran research reactor in exchange for Iran shipping out its low-enriched uranium. We both support the IAEA’s efforts to inspect the recently disclosed uranium enrichment facility near Qom. And we both remain ready, along with our partners, to meet with Iranian representatives to discuss further steps to build confidence and transparency in its nuclear program. As I have said, this is a pivotal moment for Iran, and we urge Iran to accept the agreement as proposed. We will not alter it, and we will not wait forever.

The United States and Germany are also working together to forge a strong international agreement to combat climate change. We applaud Germany’s efforts in transitioning toward a clean energy future, and we appreciate and admire its leadership. With one month to go before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Copenhagen, it is absolutely imperative that we work together. And as Chancellor Merkel said in her important address to Congress last week, the only way we are going to meet the challenges of the 21st century, the only way we are going to tear down the walls of today, is by working together as partners.

So I am looking forward to continuing these discussions. It is wonderful to welcome you, Guido, here to Washington, and --


SECRETARY CLINTON: -- I am delighted that I will see you again very soon in Berlin.

FOREIGN MINISTER WESTERWELLE: (Via interpreter) Ladies and gentlemen, I was delighted about the very warm welcome I received on my introductory visit here to Washington and my counterpart. The fact that I traveled to Washington, to the United States right after taking on my tenure as foreign minister, is meant to underline the great friendship existing between the peoples of both our countries, and the fact that we intend to continue that partnership and cordial relationship and friendship between both our countries.

These days, especially, we think back with gratitude as Germans for what the Americans did to ensure our freedom, our reunification, and the unity of Europe. In many of the international issues that we discussed during our meeting today, we noticed a high degree of agreement.

On the Afghanistan issue, the policy that we pursue towards Afghanistan, we noticed high agreement. We both believe that, on the one hand, our commitment goes towards the freedom and peace in the country and the region; but at the same time, we also have certain expectations from the reconfirmed Government of Afghanistan with respect to good governance. And here again, we want them to pursue a policy that not only accepts and acknowledges certain irregularities in the country but does its best to do away with them. And in order to be successful in that endeavor of ours, our intention is to cooperate and consult very closely.

I again strongly underline the point that the peace policy and the disarmament policy pursued by the American Administration, from the German viewpoint, is not only a very good path to pursue, but that we want to do whatever we can not only to accompany it with words but also with deeds. But it’s, of course, quite clear, very clear indeed, that we intend to do so in close consultation together with our allies and partners.

And of course, today in our exchanges we also talked about an issue that affects both our countries, and that is being intensively debated in Germany right now. And again, the American Secretary of State made it very clear and strongly underlined the fact that the decision taken by General Motors was a decision taken without any political influence having been exerted beforehand by the American Administration, and that is – indeed it’s very good news to receive.

But for the German Government, it’s equally clear that, on the one hand, we have to make sure that as few jobs in Germany are being lost as possible; and at the same time, we place great value on the fact that the funds that we’ve provided to General Motors are being paid back, because we are talking about funds here that have been provided by the German taxpayer and thus the German taxpayer wants that money to be paid back. And I thank you very much for the understanding that you showed on that issue.

And generally speaking, we got off on a very good start not only politically speaking but also on a personal note. Thus, I am looking forward to receiving you very soon, Madame Secretary, Sunday evening, that is, and then again on Monday in Berlin. I will have the honor and the pleasure of being your host then and returning your hospitality, and we will have a chance to continue the discussions of today. Thus, our cooperation has got off on a very good start. We intend to make sure that it continues in that very same vein. We will focus very much on continuing to cooperate very closely between both our governments and both our people. I am looking forward to that.

MR. KELLY: Thank you. We’ll take a few questions. The first question to Nick Kralev, Washington Times.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi, Nick. How are you?

QUESTION: I am well. How are you?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good, thank you.

QUESTION: Welcome back.


QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I wanted to ask you for updates on two issues that have to do with Iran. The first one is the hikers with whose families you just met today. If you can tell us what you heard, what you told them, and what’s the course from here.

And the second on the negotiations in the P-5+1 group, you say, on one hand, that you want to work this out diplomatically, you want to keep negotiating; but on the other hand, you are saying that the proposal as it is, it’s not up for discussion. So what is to negotiate, and how do you reconcile those two things? And perhaps the minister would like to comment on the Iran question, too.

Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me say that earlier today I met with the families of the three American hikers who are detained in Iran. These three young people are obviously not only on the minds of their family members but on the minds of all of us. It was an emotional meeting, and I described to the families everything that we are doing. I was impressed by their strength and fortitude and their commitment. They are determined, as we are, to see these young people return home.

As a mother, my heart went out to all of them. I cannot imagine what it would feel like to know that your child was imprisoned for now a hundred days with very little contact between you and them. I told them we were doing everything we possibly could to get Shane and Joshua and Sarah home, and we are exploring every angle. Obviously, I would hope that the Government of Iran would free them on a humanitarian and compassionate basis as soon as possible and return them home to their families.

On the second issue, we have a unified position that we have presented to the Iranians. That position is clear. It was agreed to originally in principle by the Iranians. There were, of course, questions that they were asking about the details that stood behind the agreement, which both the IAEA and our experts have been answering. But the terms of the agreement, the heart of the agreement, is not and will not be altered. And that is why we continue to call on the Iranian Government to go ahead and accept this agreement and begin to implement it, which we think is in the best interests of the Iranians as well as the rest of the world.

And finally, the point to make is that this offer has been made in good faith. We have worked hard to make sure that there was no misunderstanding about the offer. And we continue to hope that the Iranians will accept it, but our patience is not unlimited.

FOREIGN MINISTER WESTERWELLE: (Via interpreter) Allow me to begin by expressing my solidarity with the three young people affected and their families and relatives.

With respect to our Iran policy, I can only strongly underline what was just said by the American Secretary of State. We're pursuing a dual-track approach. On the one hand, we are ready to enter into a dialogue, to pursue that dialogue, to have negotiations, to talk to the Iranians, and the international community has expressed that readiness on several occasions.

On the one hand – on the other hand, it's equally clear that our patience is not endless. We very much hope that our offer to pursue a dialogue is accepted, but we also want to see good results. The federal chancellor has been very clear, unequivocal, in the speech she delivered to the two houses of Congress earlier this week. And I can only underline what she said in that speech, speaking as the federal foreign minister of Germany: This is the position of the Federal Republic of Germany.

MR. KELLY: Next question for Reinald Becker from ARD.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) A question addressed to both secretaries, both ministers, a question with respect to General Motors and Opel, the recent decision taken by General Motors. Did you agree today that you would bring your influence to bear with respect to General Motors; that is to say, take up the issue with those responsible at General Motors and point out the situation that is the consequence of this decision in Germany?

FOREIGN MINISTER WESTERWELLE: (Via interpreter) The American Secretary of State showed great understanding for the position that I presented and to the clear words that I found earlier today. Now, as to any further steps that might be taken, these will be steps to be taken by those politicians responsible in our government. As far as the German side is concerned, it will be our economics minister who would have to and will be ready to take the respective steps.

MR. KELLY: Question for Desmond Butler from AP.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, are you concerned about Mahmoud Abbas's announcement that he is not interested in running for reelection and that it's come so quickly after your trip? Did it surprise you, and will you try and persuade him otherwise?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have tremendous respect for President Abbas and the leadership that he has offered the Palestinian people for decades. I just saw him on Saturday. George Mitchell saw him on Monday. In each of those conversations, he described in great detail the challenges that he faces, and we talked about his own political future. He reiterated his personal commitment to do whatever he can to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that he’s actually been working on since 1972.

And I agree with him; I think it is the only way for the Palestinian people to fulfill their own aspirations, for Israel to have the kind of security that it deserves. And I look forward to working with President Abbas in any new capacity in order to help achieve this goal.

MR. KELLY: And the last question from Peter Carstens from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) A question addressed to both of you: What are your expectations of the upcoming Afghanistan conference at the beginning of next year?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we discussed this at length, and we have a very strong sense of agreement about what we would like to see going forward with the newly elected government. We have been both committed to the people of Afghanistan and to the institutions of their government to carry out a constitutional electoral process.

Now that it is over, it is time for us to begin working together and with our other partners in the international community, as well as with the government and people of Afghanistan, to reach understandings of the kinds of commitments that will be made to the people of Afghanistan, to look for ways we can measure those commitments going forward, and then to make explicit what the international community would be expecting.

I think that the minister and I see eye to eye on this, and we will be working together. I am sure we will talk about it again in Berlin because we want to enlist our counterparts as well as others in making it very clear that there is an opportunity now for President Karzai and his government to really engage on all of the issues, from corruption and transparency, to the rule of law, to good governance, to the delivery of services that the people of Afghanistan are looking for.

FOREIGN MINISTER WESTERWELLE: (Via interpreter) What is important is that we develop our strategy together in close consultation. And this is what we agreed upon today, that we will be in close consultation on the strategic issues. And if I speak of close or when I speak of close consultation, I’m not only thinking of the United States of America and Germany, but I think of the international community as a whole, because I believe that the international community indeed does a very important – have a very important responsibility to bear with respect to freedom and the rule of law in Afghanistan.

And this is why we will continue to talk about and to discuss on the questions that are to do with the expectations that we have of the Afghan Government and the work that they need to do on the domestic front, but I think it is far too early a point in time to give any further details here now. The frame and conditions have already been mentioned earlier in our statement.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.


PRN: 2009/1100