Press Availability in Busan, South Korea

Press Availability
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Busan Exhibition and Convention Center
Busan, South Korea
November 30, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Hello, everyone. It’s a great pleasure to be back in the Republic of Korea.

Before I begin, I want to say a brief word about yesterday’s events at the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran. The United States condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms. It is an affront, not only to the British people but also to the international community, and we stand ready to help in any way that we can to make the point, as strongly as possible, that governments owe a duty to the diplomatic community to protect life and property, and we expect the Government of Iran to do so.

Today, here in Busan, I had the opportunity to address two high priorities for U.S. foreign policy. In meetings with President Lee and with Foreign Minister Kim, I reaffirmed America’s deep bond with one of our closest allies. And at the High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, I engaged on a great global challenge and a personal passion of mine – creating sustainable growth and improving lives around the world.

Let me begin with my meetings with the president and foreign minister. The alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea is a lynchpin of security, stability, and prosperity in the Asia Pacific. This alliance has never been stronger. President Lee, Foreign Minister Kim, and I discussed issues of global and regional importance, as we always do when we have the opportunity to exchange views.

And we particularly focused on the importance of promoting nuclear nonproliferation on the Korean Peninsula. I know we recently passed the one-year anniversary of the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island. Let me reaffirm that the United States stands with our ally, and we look to North Korea to take concrete steps that promote peace and stability and denuclearization.

I also congratulated President Lee on the passage of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. It has been a long time coming, it took a great deal of work on both sides, but now we can get down to the important business of creating more jobs and economic opportunities for both our people.

And I thanked President Lee for hosting the High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness here in Busan. As he eloquently told the audience this morning, 50 years ago Korea was recovering from a devastating war. Today, it is a vibrant industrial power and a major contributor to growth in other countries. And no one understands the importance of effective development better than the Korean people.

I came to the forum as the first American Secretary of State to do so to send a clear message: creating economic growth and delivering development results are not side issues. They are central matters in America’s foreign policy. We have elevated development alongside diplomacy and defense as a pillar of America’s foreign policy because it is core to promoting our values and interests. Countries whose economies are growing are more stable and less likely to spark regional crises. They become partners that can help solve global challenges.

And so not only is development a top priority for my country, it should be a priority for every nation, whatever its income level or stage of development. And I was very pleased to see the high-level representation from heads of state in government, ministers, and other officials representing governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector, civil society, and NGOs.

In this morning’s plenary session, I spoke about the sometimes-difficult steps that every nation – developing and developed – the private sector and civil society groups can take to deliver tangible results. The task for all of us is to use development investments in a different way, as a catalyst that sparks self-sustaining progress. I’m very pleased to see these principles reflected in the political statement from this conference, which President Lee released earlier today. That statement reflects our shared vision and commitment to maintaining political leadership, and it is important in turning our aspirations into actions.

And finally, I participated in two events that mark important advances in our work to promote growth – first, a special session on gender, because the evidence is in and it is unmistakable: It pays to invest in women and girls, in their opportunities, from education to employment to health. Countries that make these investments are more likely to see sustainable economic growth. So we know what to do, but we don’t yet know how to do it. So we need better data to guide these investments, and the project we launched today, the Evidence and Data for Gender Equality, or the EDGE Initiative, will standardize the information that is collected on women’s inclusion in a economies by many different agencies that will help us make sure we are targeting our resources in ways that do the most good for the most people.

I also was able to meet with the four countries’ representatives who are part of our new Partnership for Growth – El Salvador, Ghana, Tanzania, and the Philippines, the countries we are working with to try to put into practice all of these changes that we think will bring about better results.

And lastly, I want to thank not only the Government of the Republic of Korea, but the OECD, which has been a leader in creating a new development strategy. And how we mobilize domestic resources so that they are available for the development of people in their own countries remains a key challenge, and I thank them.

So we’ve covered a lot of ground already today, and I’ll be happy to take your questions.

MS NULAND: We have time for two questions today. The first one goes to Matt Lee of Associated Press.

QUESTION: Hi, Madam Secretary. Next week, you are going to be attending this conference in Bonn on Afghanistan, and I’m wondering, considering the fact that you were just in Pakistan a couple of weeks ago and came away from that with high hopes or at least some expectation that cooperation would improve, I’m wondering how disappointed you are or how bad a thing it is that the Pakistanis are refusing to attend.

And then secondly, looking ahead to your trip to Burma late this afternoon, can you tell us what specifically you would like to see the Burmese do, and what is the U.S. prepared to do to reciprocate on those steps? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with respect to Pakistan, what happened across the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan was a tragic incident. I called my Pakistani counterpart, Foreign Minister Khar, on Sunday to express our condolences on behalf of the American people and to pledge a full investigation into the circumstances of the event. Generals Dempsey and Allen, Ambassador Munter have been in close touch with their Pakistani counterparts, and we will look to move this investigation forward as swiftly and thoroughly as possible.

What is most important, I think, is that we learn lessons from this tragedy, because we have to continue to work together. We have all said many times that terrorism and extremism in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region threatens both countries as well as the interests and citizens of many other countries across the world. Nothing will be gained by turning our backs on mutually beneficial cooperation.

Frankly, it is regrettable that Pakistan has decided not to attend the conference in Bonn, because this conference has been long in the planning. Pakistan, like the United States, has a profound interest in a secure, stable, increasingly democratic Afghanistan. Our gathering in Bonn this coming Monday is intended to further that goal. Everyone knows Pakistan will be a major participant in what occurs in the future, so I would express regret and hope that perhaps there can be a follow-up way that we can have the benefit of Pakistani participation in this international effort to try to work toward a stable, secure, peaceful outcome in Afghanistan.

With respect to our upcoming trip, I am obviously looking to determine for myself and on behalf of our government what is the intention of the current government with respect to continuing reforms, both political and economic. And I’m going to save specific comments till I've had that chance, starting tomorrow, to begin my consultations. But obviously, we and many other nations are quite hopeful that these flickers of progress, as President Obama called them in Bali, will be ignited into a movement for change that will benefit the people of the country.

MS. NULAND: And last question, Ms. Hong Ton He of YTN.

QUESTION: (In Korean.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Wait, wait, wait. I’ve got to put my earpieces in. Thank you. Okay.

QUESTION: (In Korean.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Very good question. Because as I said in my remarks this morning, and again at the Gender Session, research shows that countries that invest in their girls and their women make more progress. I was later discussing this with President Lee, and he was talking about how education, even after the devastation of the Korean War, was readily available because of the commitment of both the government and the families of Korea for both their daughters and their sons. We know that investing in women’s employment, their health and education, have strong consequences for development.

So here’s what we are attempting to do. Just in the last three years, we have revamped our agriculture programs, which are now very much focused on women. Why? Because in the world, particularly Africa and Asia, the vast majority, as much as 60 to 70 percent, of the people in the field at smallholding – small agricultural holdings, who are doing the work of planting, of livestock tending, of harvesting, of marketing, are women. So how can one have a development policy for agriculture and leave women out?

Yet we know from research that often women are not given the chance to participate in programs that provide better seed or technical advice about how to do irrigation more effectively. Women who often labor in the fields of their family’s holdings are denied the right to continue to even live in their homes on that property if their father dies or their husband dies or their older brother dies. And so laws that eliminate the right of women to have the benefit of their work in agriculture are standing in the way of productivity.

We have also worked very hard to look at the impediments to economic growth, and we find that women are often denied access to credit. You may have a man and a woman who both go to the same lender, and they are not treated the same, even if they’ve come with the same collateral, the same background, the same work experience.

So those are just two examples of what we’re trying to do, which is working with countries to help them eliminate the barriers to participation in the economy for both men and women, but very often in the developing countries the barriers against women’s participation are greater. So focusing on tearing those barriers down will unleash creative productivity, will create entrepreneurs.

And the final thing I would say is that when we talk about putting women at the center of development, it does require us all to ask: Well, what are the barriers that maybe we’ve never seen before? Many years ago, I was in Africa, and everywhere I went I saw women working in the fields, I saw women carrying water, I saw women fetching firewood, I saw women at market stalls. And I was talking to some economists, and I said, “Well, how do you evaluate the contributions of women to the economy?” And the answer was, “We don’t, because they don’t participate in the economy,” meaning the formal economy. But if women across Africa all of a sudden stopped working one day, you would find that they actually contribute a lot to the economy.

Well, it’s true around the world. And we know that if we lower these barriers, GDP and per capita income will increase in every region of the world, in every country, including my own. So focusing on that is in everyone’s interest, in particular our mothers, our daughters, our granddaughters, and future generations of women to come.

Thank you all very much.

MS. NULAND: Thank you very much.

PRN: 2011/T56-03