Interview With Adel Al-Ghamdi of Channel 2

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Dar Al Hekma College
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
February 16, 2010

QUESTION: Dear viewers, this is a private interview with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Due to shortage of time and her busy schedule, I’m going to start with my questions directly. Welcome, Secretary --


QUESTION: -- in Saudi Arabia, and it’s a real privilege to have you with us.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, what procedures might be taken from the United States Government to end the visas problems concerning the Saudi students? I know the number actually have reached up to 25,000 late visa. What steps might be taken to solve that problem?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is a matter of great concern to me because I want to have even more students coming from Saudi Arabia to the United States, and I’d like to see students coming from the United States to Saudi Arabia. So you’re right; we are now back up to the levels we were before 9/11, but I think we should do even better than that. I discussed that with His Majesty The King and other officials here in the government, and we’re going to look for more opportunities to increase educational exchanges.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, you know, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has accomplished great success in fighting terrorism and preventing some of the terrorist operations before it was launched. How do you see the necessity of the joint security effort and the cooperation between Riyadh and Washington in the coming future concerning this field?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that the United States and Saudi Arabia, along with other nations, face a common enemy. Saudi Arabia has been a victim of terrorism, as has the United States. Our cooperation is essential to keeping both of our countries safe. And we’re very grateful for the close partnership that we have with the kingdom, and we are every day asking what more we can do, because we want to do everything possible to give the sense of security that our citizens deserve, and also work with other nations so that they too can work against the scourge of terrorism.

QUESTION: Okay. Secretary Clinton, how do you (inaudible) evaluate the Iranian and how would you deal with the program, the nuclear program that Iran has at the moment and enriching the uranium to 20 percent? Is there any chance of reaching or achieving peaceful solutions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we hope so, because we see this as a very serious threat. And I was pleased by the commitment to work with the United States that I received from the Government of Saudi Arabia. They understand better than we, because it’s in the neighborhood, what a nuclear-armed Iran would mean in terms of destabilizing the Gulf, causing other problems that could lead to all manners of consequences. So we are working closely together to try to persuade Iran and to try to impose pressure and sanctions on them to change their minds about their pursuit of nuclear weapons.

QUESTION: The Palestinian-Israeli talks was one of the main issues on the agenda that has been tackled in Riyadh. Is there any hope of reviving the talks again, like reaching agreement as well as a solution to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we believe there is a very strong possibility that we can get talks going between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and those talks would resolve all issues. That is our goal. The settlement issue, which the United States criticizes – we consider settlements illegitimate – that issue would be taken care of if borders were agreed on and everyone knew where the new state for the Palestinians would be.

So that is our goal, and both President Obama and I are very determined. Senator George Mitchell is working very hard. We are not going to be discouraged. We’re going to go at it every single day. It’s time to resolve this conflict.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, you were one of the speakers in the Jeddah Economic Forum; am I right?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I didn’t speak at the Jeddah Economic Forum. I spoke in Doha and then I went to Riyadh and then I came to Jeddah today.

QUESTION: Okay. How do you see the Jeddah Economic Forum in terms of, like, dealing with current and future challenges and also to come up with active decisions that can be applicable? How do you see the importance of such a forum in the area?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it’s very important. I think that the opportunity for people to come together from around the world to share ideas and figure out ways to solve problems is extremely valuable in these times. And I hope that that forum and other forum here in Jeddah or elsewhere in the kingdom are not only continued, but increased, because I really believe that people of common concerns should be working together to try to make progress. And the Jeddah Economic Forum is a primary example of that.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, at the moment, you are on a visit to Dar Al Hekma College and you have come across a lot of Saudi womens. How do you assess Saudi women in terms of the level of education, ambition, efforts, and the social contribution?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m very impressed. I know Saudi women in my life prior to coming here, of course, and so I have firsthand personal experience. And I am also impressed by the changes that have been made in the kingdom to increase access to education of all levels, to have colleges like this one, to provide both women’s colleges and coeducational education for young people here in the kingdom. So I am very impressed by the women whom I have met who are leaders in medicine, leaders in academia, leaders in business. And I’m a big believer that every little girl and every little boy should have the opportunity to fulfill his or her God-given potential, and I think that’s in the best interest not only of the individuals, but of their families and their communities and country.

QUESTION: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, thank you very much for being with us, and we hope you all the success and prosperity.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much for having me.

QUESTION: Thank you. Dear viewers, this was a (inaudible) report with the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Thank you for watching us. From Dar Al Hekma University, this is Adel Ghamdi.

PRN: 2010/T22-08