On-the-Record Briefing En Route Montreal, Canada
Secretary of State
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think there will be a couple of preliminary announcements just because we’re trying to get organized for what will be a big donor conference that will come within the next 30 to 60 days. And there’s a tremendous desire to help, but we’ve got to create the mechanisms so that it can be done effectively, and we’ve got to get the Haitian Government’s capacity to lead put together. So there’s a lot we’re working on today, and I’m optimistic that we’ll put together a good plan. It’s always hard to move from planning to implementation, but that’s what I’m determined we’re going to do.
And the UN has been working very hard to recover, first of all, from their losses. They’ll probably end up losing altogether more than 300 people, and that’s – just think about any organization that you’re part of, when you have that kind of a tremendous tragedy. But they’ve worked really hard on the ground and our people have been working with them and Cheryl Mills, who is with us, is working more closely.
Because the advantage that I hope we’re bringing into this is that for the past year, we’ve been working with the Haitian Government on a plan, and we have a well thought-out plan that they had been fully involved in helping to construct. Obviously, it has to be revised in light of the circumstances we’re facing, but we had already done so much of the work, built the relationships with the president, the prime minister, other members of the government, as well as members of the legislature and the private business sector.
I mean, I don’t know if any of you had any reason to notice this, but the Monday night before the earthquake, there was an extraordinary, long report on Jim Lehrer on PBS that talked about everything we’re doing. And it was realistic in saying, “Look, there’s a lot that has to be done.” But it was hopeful in saying, “But it looks like people are really focused on doing what is both necessary and achievable,” and talked about my husband’s work with the private sector. And he had just had a conference with 500 businesspeople. They were signing contracts, they were making investments. Twenty four hours later, we get this terrible calamity.
So we have a plan. It was a legitimate plan, it was done in conjunction with other international donors, with the United Nations. And I don’t want to start from scratch, but we have to recognize the changed challenges we are now confronting. So I think we’ll see some positive come out of it.
QUESTION: How many (inaudible) donors conference (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m sorry, what, April?
QUESTION: How many (inaudible) donors conference?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Don’t know yet, don’t know yet. We’re going to be putting it together and trying to get the right level of commitment and accountability so that people take responsibility, but it’s part of an overall mechanism, that we can actually judge what’s being done on the ground. It’s a challenge.
QUESTION: Do you expect (inaudible) to write off some of their debt?
SECRETARY CLINTON: People are looking at that. I think that’s a very important piece of the puzzle.
QUESTION: What’s the long-range plan for Haiti in connection with the United States?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we’ve got an ongoing responsibility, which is why when I talked to President Obama back in February about taking on a leadership role and working on behalf of Haiti, he was very supportive. And we’ve been doing it for a year, so this is not new to us that all of a sudden, we wake up and there’s this terrible catastrophe in our neighborhood. But other countries also have relations with Haiti. Canada is the second-biggest donor. France obviously has a historic relationship. I met with the new high representative of the European Union; they want to be involved.
So we’ve got a lot of good players with commitments at the table; I just want to be sure we get it worked out right.
STAFF: Guys, we got to make up time.
QUESTION: What’s the U.S. contribution?
SECRETARY CLINTON: What?
QUESTION: The U.S. contribution was announced at a hundred million?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, that was just for the emergency.
SECRETARY CLINTON: There will be more to come. Yeah, there will be more to come.
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