Interview With Mujahid Kakar of Tolo TV

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy Kabul
Kabul, Afghanistan
October 20, 2011

QUESTION: First of all, Madam Secretary, welcome to Afghanistan.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. I’m very happy to be back here.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you’re trying to advance something, which Afghanistan is in a very critical state. On one hand, the Afghanistan (inaudible) Pakistan is in trouble. (Inaudible) also we have some difficulties. What do you think, somehow the – how much it might be make difficult problem for the United States, or how much impact it have for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well first, I think what I believe is that progress has been made in Afghanistan. We’re sitting here talking in a way that was unthinkable 10 years ago. There have been great advances on behalf of women and human rights, education, health care, so much else. But there’s also a very clear need to continue fighting those who would undermine this progress. At the same time though, we know that there is no military solution to bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan.

So we have to do three things simultaneously: We have to fight, we have to talk, and we have to build. And I’m here to assess all three of those and how we can do better in each. We need to send a very clear message to the Taliban and those who support them in sanctuaries and safe havens and funding sources that we will not give an inch to them and their desire to turn the progress in Afghanistan backwards. Yet we also need to reach out and talk with those who are willing to reconcile on the three terms that have been laid out: Renounce violence, break with al-Qaida, and respect the laws and constitution of Afghanistan, including protecting the rights of minorities and women. And we need to continue to build a new Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, the U.S. was carry out type of attacks like in (inaudible). Do you think because most people in Afghanistan think that after the attack on the U.S. Embassy, especially the statements that which was made in the United States that the Haqqani Network is close to the (inaudible), do you think the U.S. will clear out these type of attacks?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think if you look at the news in the last several days, there has been a very effective joint operation by Afghan and coalition international forces to go after Haqqani operatives inside of Afghanistan. And there’s also been efforts to target those who are leaders inside the safe havens in Pakistan. This is not an either or problem. There are problems, yes, in Pakistan that contribute to the conflict in Afghanistan. But there are also problems in Afghanistan that we have to address. So we are taking a comprehensive approach and going after the problems where we see them.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, with pressure on Iran, especially after the arranged assassination plan against the Saudi ambassador in Washington, people think that Iran might retaliate or somehow fight back. Do you think Iran will choose Afghanistan to fight back against the U.S.?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think Iran is trying to cause trouble everywhere. I don’t think that Afghanistan is immune. I don’t think any place in the region is immune, and they tried to bring that state-sponsored terrorism to our shores with their planned attack on the Saudi ambassador. Iran is just in a trouble-making mood. I think that’s fair to say. So we all have to be on alert to make sure that they’re not causing trouble here or elsewhere in the world.

QUESTION: Madam, about the Strategic Partnership between Afghanistan and the United States, there were some differences, especially Afghan Government had some issues over the (inaudible). So do you think there is any progress on these issues?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I think we are making progress, because the Strategic Partnership document covers a wide range of issues that are important to the enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan. There are some issues that are more challenging than others, and we are addressing them in a very thorough way. Our ambassador and representatives of the Afghan Government are working through all of those issues. But I’m quite confident we’re going to reach a resolution, because we want to demonstrate clearly to the people of Afghanistan, to the wider region, and the world, that the United States will not abandon Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Mrs. Secretary.

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

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PRN: 2011/ T54-15