Remarks With Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini After Their Meeting
Secretary of State
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good morning. It is a – everybody down and ready – good, okay. It is a pleasure to welcome a friend, a personal friend as well as a representative of a country that is a great trusted friend and valued ally to the United States. Foreign Minister Frattini has been someone with whom I have consulted closely and often over this past year. And based on the agenda in front of us, I think we will be continuing that pattern.
We had much to discuss today. I thanked the foreign minister for the generous assistance that Italy has provided to the people of Haiti. As we know, Italy suffered its own tragic earthquake last year, and the Italian people have opened their hearts in solidarity. I will be leaving shortly for Montreal where there will be a conference on the international relief effort. I will have more to say about developments in Haiti later today. We discussed how difficult this endeavor is in a country without the infrastructure and the capacity that we take for granted in countries like ours. But we will look to Italy for technical advice and assistance as we move forward for the longer term.
We also discussed our shared commitment to Afghanistan. The United States appreciates Italy’s leadership in our refocused mission and we especially are grateful for the increased troop commitment that Italy has announced. Later this week, both Franco and I will be in London for the international conference on Afghanistan. Our soldiers are fighting side by side. Italy leads NATO forces in western Afghanistan and provides a provincial reconstruction team and elite police trainers who are helping the Afghans build their own capacity to take responsibility for their own security.
Last week, the State Department released a comprehensive plan to implement a civilian strategy that offers the best prospect for stabilizing Afghanistan and Pakistan. And it includes the work of many agencies across our government. While our military mission in Afghanistan is not open-ended, we are committed to building lasting partnerships with both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
We will also be focusing at the London conference on the Afghan Government’s commitments and plans to spur sustainable economic development, to improve governance, to fight corruption. And those are issues that Franco and I have a particular interest in. We will be looking for the gradual ability of the Afghans themselves to assume the security responsibility and assist in the development of their own country.
I also appreciate Italy’s announcement earlier this month of new financial support for Somalia, which is a great boost to the efforts there. We discussed Iran and agreed that it must fully address international concerns about its nuclear program and end the repression and abuse of its citizens. Iran faces a clear choice between continued isolation and living up to its international obligations.
And finally, we have a shared commitment to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. In coordination with Italy and our Quartet partners, including the EU, the United States will continue to vigorously pursue a comprehensive and durable peace. There are many other issues we covered, from energy security in Europe, to Bosnia and so much else. But suffice it to say, we are very grateful to our friends for all that they do both on their own and in concert with us to address the many challenges we face in the 21st century.
FOREIGN MINISTER FRATTINI: Thank you. Thank you very much, Hillary. It was, as usual, very interesting and fruitful talks with a personal friend with a country which is, for Italy, the first ally in the world. We share points of view. We share common values. We talked about many, many important issues.
First of all, I want to repeat here how highly we value the important and generous efforts of United States to help people in Haiti. We highly value, we strongly appreciate the personal commitment of President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton to help people there. Italy was among the first countries helping and contributing in a framework of international coordination. We will continue to do so. We are sending a military boat that is coming to Haiti – the boat Cavour, a ship which is bringing helicopters and the first Carabinieris team. It is a special unit to contribute, to guarantee public order and security on the ground. We want to do so in very close cooperation with America. We appreciate very much. This is the first point.
Second point: We have really the same goals on Afghanistan. Italy is on board on training police, on contributing to local development, in dealing with cross-border issues, and working together with partners, European partners, and United States, on transition of powers to Afghanis’ authorities. These can be, should be done from the London conference to the months to come to show the people in Afghanistan that we want a political solution. We want to talk about a national reconciliation while making a very clear distinction between those who renounce violence and those who don’t. They – we cannot make a confusion.
On terrorism, we talked about what to do on prevention and fight this network of terror, which is not related to Yemen only. We cannot point finger on one or another country. Instead, we have to cooperate on data sharing, information sharing, preventing by reaffirming our basic values. These are the antidote against those who join violence – reaffirming democratic values in the world.
I paid a visit quite interesting in the Horn of Africa recently. I briefed Hillary about this. And there is need to cooperate with African countries in the Horn, like Somalia. Yes, okay, we decided to help Somalia. But Italy cannot do so alone. We need a cooperation. I raised this point. I will raise the point in London.
While talking about terrorism, we have to take into consideration there is, unfortunately, a dissemination of terrorist cells not in Yemen only, but in the Horn and in the north of Africa. This is a problem that concerns all of us.
Finally, on Iran, I think we together have to prevent Iran from going nuclear. This is a concern for all of us, for Western democracies, United States, Europe, but for Arab states as well. And we are in perfect agreement on broadening the consultation of a number of states in the region that can be interested and are interested in talking about what to do in order to repeat once again that the double-track strategy requires unity of international community. Of course, those who want to go nuclear will be exploiting eventual divisions. We cannot allow them to do so.
Final point, I completely agree with suggestions made by Secretary Clinton about having an enhanced dialogue between EU and United States on energy security. Italy is among the European partners that have interest in doing so. We are diversifying our energy strategy but we want to do so at European level, not only at bilateral level. We are absolutely in agreement on, I would say, working together on some concrete proposal to be submitted to European partners.
MR. CROWLEY: On the U.S. side, David Gollust from VOA.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, a number of people with interest and expertise in Haiti believe that one possible way to help that country would be allowing more legal immigration from Haiti not just by the United States but countries in the region. And I wonder, is that something you might take up in Montreal, whether these – whether you see it has any merit? And number two, if you could just briefly comment on the wave of bombings in Baghdad today, the motivation for the people who are doing this?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first with respect to Haiti, we are looking at every option that can provide a better future for the Haitian people. This is largely, however, within the authority of individual countries. But we are certainly looking at that and will have more to say later.
Look, I think that politics is working in Iraq. People are doing what you do in countries to determine alliances and coalitions in order to prepare for elections. That is the worst possible outcome for the terrorists. When people believe in the political system and that they can chart their own future, then that poses a direct rebuke to those who try to govern by fear, intimidation, and violence.
We, unfortunately, believe there will be continued efforts by the terrorists, by al-Qaida in Iraq in particular, to try to upend the commitment of the Iraqi people toward a democratic future. But as we have seen over the past year in the face of horrific losses – the bombing of government buildings, the terrible tragedies that the Iraqis have had to continue to endure – I think that the Iraqis themselves, by their actions, are demonstrating a great deal of courage as they try to move toward these elections.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning.
QUESTION: Good morning. Italian civil protection and Secretary Bertolaso criticized the military approach of the U.S. aid (inaudible) effort in Haiti. What do you think about – if there are accounts like Bertolaso says?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think you heard from the foreign minister the position of the Italian Government, which we not only appreciate but agree with, that we are working closely together in Haiti. We are very grateful for the contributions that Italy has already made and will make in the future. And there is always an opportunity in the face of any disaster for what we in the United States call Monday morning quarterbacking. But what we see are – is an enormously committed and effective international effort that could not succeed without additional military assets. As Franco said, Italy is sending a military ship with assets. It’s just easier for the United States to get here – get there first because Haiti’s our neighbor.
So we appreciate the very positive endorsement of our efforts that we have heard not just today from the foreign minister but over the course of the last 10 days.
FOREIGN MINISTER FRATTINI: And I repeat once again, we very much appreciate the American leader about this.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
# # #