Remarks With British Foreign Secretary David Miliband After Their Meeting
Secretary of State
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon. It is always a pleasure to host Foreign Secretary David Miliband here. We’ve had many productive meetings over the past year. The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is rock solid. We are working hard to promote peace and prosperity, and it’s a pleasure to be working with David.
We went through a long list of issues. We’re going to cut our statement short because David has to be up on the Hill, actually, to testify before the Foreign Relations Committee. But we’re working together on our Haiti relief efforts. And I thank the British search-and-rescue teams that have played such an important role these – this last week. The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development has pledged $33 million for Haiti relief, and private UK donations have surpassed $38 million.
We will also meet again next week when we have the conference on Afghanistan. We appreciate the UK’s leadership in helping to organize this meeting, which is at a very important time in our commitment together through NATO to Afghanistan.
The President will soon submit to Congress a request for the resources to implement a civilian strategy that offers the best prospects for stabilizing Afghanistan and Pakistan. I was very pleased that we were able to get this kind of important request into our budget. And next week in London, when the United States and the United Kingdom join – how many countries now?
FOREIGN SECRETARY MILBAND: Over 60.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Over 60. We will be discussing very specific ways that we intend to move forward.
We covered a lot of other ground, but in the interest of time I will turn it over to David.
FOREIGN SECRETARY MILBAND: Well, ladies and gentlemen, Madame Secretary, very good to be back in Washington. Our discussions today have been substantive as well as wide-ranging, and got into some of the big issues that confront us in 2010.
The first thing I’d like to do is acknowledge and applaud the leadership of Secretary Clinton on the Haitian disaster. The scenes in Haiti have touched hearts all around the world. And the response of the United States, civilian as well as military, has been of the highest order. And it’s something that we’re proud to be supporting very, very strongly.
We’ve discussed in detail the Afghanistan conference next week. It will come at a decisive moment in the Afghanistan campaign following the inauguration of President Karzai, the speech of President Obama on December the 1st. And there’s a very clear call, which is for every country to mobilize its civilian as well as military resources behind the coherent and credible agenda that has now been set for Afghanistan. That includes responsibilities for its neighbors, and that’s why it’s very, very important that we take forward the regional agenda as well as the agenda within Afghanistan.
We’ve talked also about the challenges in the Middle East, where the work of Secretary Clinton and Senator Mitchell is so important to try to restart talks, which are the only prospect of Israelis and Palestinians finding a way to live side by side in peace. And I look forward to meeting President Abbas in London next week.
We’ve always – we also talked about the pressing issue of the Iranian nuclear program, where our countries are working closely together as part of the E-3+3 to take forward our dual-track policy.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that we both remain very committed to working together on climate change. This is an issue where the Administration has changed American position in an important way and in a way that I think has made an important contribution to the international debate about climate change. We know that there is still a long way to go if the international system is to rise to the challenge, and that’s something that we are going to be working on very closely together in the months ahead.
MR. CROWLEY: From the U.S. side, Arshad from Reuters.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, just a short while ago when you were speaking to us, you said that the P-5+1 was unified in working toward additional pressure on Iran. It perplexed me slightly because, as you well know, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations publicly said not a couple of weeks ago that this was not the time to be talking about or contemplating additional sanctions. Yesterday, I spoke to a senior European diplomat who was – who refused even to say the word “sanctions” in front of a reporter for fear of antagonizing the Chinese.
Help us understand where the unity is, because it would appear, at least from the outside, that the Chinese are not quite with the program.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Arshad, we know that the Chinese, as well as other countries have raised issues about the efficacy of sanctions. But we are unified in the position that we have to influence the Iranian Government’s behavior concerning its nuclear program. One of the reasons why we are meeting on an – just an ongoing basis, and talking in many different capitals with our counterparts, is because we believe there is a path forward to achieve a resolution at the United Nations Security Council.
Now, in addition to that path, other countries including our own, as you know, will be looking at steps that we can take. But our plan right now is to proceed to obtain the strongest possible language out of the United Nations. And what that is, I can’t stand here and tell you today, but it is all aimed at trying to influence Iranian Government behavior. And how it’s finally shaped is what the process of negotiations will determine.
QUESTION: Is the language (inaudible) actual sanctions, or is rhetoric alone acceptable?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We want the strongest possible resolution, so I’m not going to characterize it beyond that.
MR. CROWLEY: Kim Ghattas from BBC.
QUESTION: I am exceptionally sitting on this side of the aisle. (Laughter.) A question for both of you: Ahead of the conference about Afghanistan next week in London, how confident are you that the money that is being poured into Afghanistan is going to be well spent, considering the lack of coordination that has plagued the mission there all those years? And also, what about the idea of appointing an international coordinator for the civilian strategy?
And Madame Secretary, very quickly, on the Middle East, President Obama today said in an interview with Time magazine that had you anticipated the problems that you were going to face trying to make progress on peace in the region, you would not have raised expectations so high. Clearly, the Administration has lost round one. Are you ready for round two?
FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: On the Afghanistan front, we are a country which pays a large proportion of our aid through the Afghan Government structures, but we only do so when we’re absolutely confident that the money will reach the people that it’s intended for, and we audit the money trail to make sure it does reach the people that it is intended for.
Does the civilian mission need to be better coordinated? Yes. Does the international community need to up its game in the way it works in Kabul and in the provinces? Yes. And that’s why there are significant appointments that need to be made. The term of the UN – of the head of the special representative of the secretary general will come to an end in March. On the NATO side too and in the EU, it’s very important that we upgrade our civilian side of the mission as the military upgrade their side of the mission.
And that’s something that I think we’re all committed to following through, and I very much hope the momentum coming out of the London conference will contribute to that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: With respect to the Middle East, I think that you know we are absolutely committed. It doesn’t matter whether it’s round two or round 20. We believe that this is a situation that deserves constant, persistent attention, that the absence of such attention perhaps created some of the difficulties that we are now encountering.
But ultimately, as the President also said in his interview, this has to be between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The United States, the UK, the EU, the Arab League, everyone can work together to try to create the conditions for a resolution of the outstanding issues between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but at the end of the day, they must make that decision. So we are going to continue to do everything we can to create an environment in which that is possible. We have urged both the Israelis and the Palestinians to get back to the negotiating table and to start hashing out the very difficult, but we believe solvable problems that stand in the way of security for the state of Israel and a state for the Palestinians.
And one final point I would just add to what I said to Arshad: This is not happening in a vacuum, this whole effort that we’re engaged in regarding influencing and restraining the Iranians’ nuclear program. The prospects of the instability that would potentially ensue from Iran pursuing and achieving a nuclear breakout capacity or even a nuclear weapons program would be so intensely destabilizing, there is not a country in the world that is in the neighborhood, the region, relies on the oil markets, that would not be directly affected.
Thank you very much.
FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: Okay. Thanks very much, everybody. Thank you.
# # #