Interview With Michel Ghandour of Al Hurra

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Manama, Bahrain
December 3, 2010

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, first, thank you for your time. I don’t want to ask you about WikiLeaks. You’ve already answered so many questions. I’m going to stick to the peace process; a Palestinian official has said yesterday that American administration has informed the Palestinian Authority about its failure to secure a new settlement phase. Why you have failed, and what will be the next step?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Michel, we are not prepared to make any announcement about what we’re doing and what our next steps are until early next week. We’re going to have some additional consultations with both the Israelis and the Palestinians. But there are a number of ways that we’re going to move forward. So I’m not confirming or denying what any spokesman said, but I am reaffirming our commitment to find a way forward.

QUESTION: But have you failed or not.

SECRETARY CLINTON: We’re not ready to say that.

QUESTION: You’ve talked with the Israeli prime minister about a proposal or offer for deadline. We didn’t hear anything (inaudible) offer. Is the offer still there or not?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have had intensive consultations, and, of course, I’m not going to disclose details of it, because those were part of the negotiations. But I think we’ve made progress, but it really depends upon the parties deciding that they’re willing to make the tough compromises on the key issues. And as I say, I will be making a very formal set of remarks about that next week, and I’m not prepared to get into details now. But we have been talking with both parties very substantively, and I think that the United States can play a role to help each make decisions about very difficult matters that then can be presented to the other side.

QUESTION: On Iran, Iran has blamed the CIA, MI-6, and the Mossad for the assassination of Iranian scientist in Tehran. What can you say about that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I have nothing to say. I know nothing about that. I don't know what Iran is referring to, and I wish that the discussions which begin in Geneva on Monday will be fruitful ones, because everyone wants to find a way to work with Iran, and the door is open.

QUESTION: We go to Iraq. Are you satisfied from the political compromise that political blocs have achieved in the last months or last month?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I am. I think that after some very hard and long bargaining, an inclusive government has been put into place, and now I want to see that government start to work and deliver results for the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: Mm-hmm. On Egypt, to what extent you are worried about the elections and the protests after the elections and some parties pulled out from the second --

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’ve expressed our concerns continuously and frequently to the Egyptian Government and to the public. And we regret that the elections have been rejected by many participants inside Egypt, and we hope that there will be a better process going forward.

QUESTION: On Lebanon, Madam Secretary, are you aware of the Syrian/Saudi efforts to contain the security situation after the indictment that international tribunal will be issued soon, maybe this month. Are you aware about this effort?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We are aware. We, of course, appreciate efforts to try to keep Lebanon calm, but we think it’s important for the special tribunal to do its work. We think it’s important for the indictments, if there are any, to be made public, and that it’s important for anyone accused of this terrible act of criminal violence to be brought to justice. So we have said we will support the tribunal. We have specifically told the prime minister and the president that they need to stand for the rule of law and accountability and justice, and that those who might be affected need to also follow a peaceful course. They are perfectly free to demonstrate, but not to take up weapons to try to influence or affect the Government of Lebanon.

QUESTION: Finally on Syria, how can you describe the relations between the U.S. and Syria after two years of engagement?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We’ve had some candid, productive discussions at several levels, including my own with my counterpart, that it’s not only our Administration but leading members of Congress and other Americans who have reached out to the highest levels of the Syrian Government. We want to have a constructive relationship with Syria. We want to see Syria clearly end any support for terrorism or destabilizing Lebanon or in any way supplying arms to Hezbollah. So I think there has been some greater understanding, but we still have a lot of work to do.

QUESTION: Finally, what are your wishes for the next year and what are your goals?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, obviously we’re going to keep working on the broad range of responsibilities that the United States faces and that the State Department has to follow through on. We will be working probably, Michel, on Middle East Peace, on North Korea, on Iran, on the hot spots. But I also hope to continue to really deepen relations with a lot of the emerging powers from India, and China, Turkey, Brazil, South Africa. Because the United States bears a special responsibility because of our global reach to be engaged with every part of the world on the transnational problems, from climate change to human trafficking to terrorism. And we will continue to do so.

QUESTION: Thank you so much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Good to talk to you.

QUESTION: Good talking to you, too.


QUESTION: I appreciate your time.

SECRETARY CLINTON: See you back in Washington.

QUESTION: Thanks so much.

PRN: 2010/T-13