Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Remarks With British Foreign Secretary David Miliband After Their Meeting
Washington, DC
February 3, 2009

Date: 02/03/2009 Description: Secretary Clinton and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband speak to the press after their meeting. State Dept Photo
Hello. I’m delighted to welcome back to the State Department a friend and someone with whom we have a very positive working relationship, Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Our two countries have stood side by side confronting global challenges for a very long time, and we’ve just had a substantive, broad-based discussion about a number of issues that are facing both the United Kingdom and the United States and the world.

I think it is fair to say, and I would underscore this, that we share fundamental values and important fundamental objectives. It ranges across the fight against terrorism and combating the spread of weapons of mass destruction, to working together to solve the current global financial crisis and ensure that the benefits of a renewed global economy are spread widely. We’ve worked together and will continue to deepen our working relationship in combating poverty and disease, and confronting global climate change.

I also want to thank the Foreign Secretary and Her Majesty’s government for the sacrifice and commitment of the British troops who put their lives on the line day in and day out. I’m particularly grateful for the work that they do in Afghanistan, and we’re going to be working closely together in the weeks and months ahead along with our other NATO allies to enhance our support for the people of Afghanistan.

We’re working together also in Pakistan. And as you know, the President and I have appointed a special representative to that region because we see those two countries as linked together. And we want to forge a positive relationship, and we know that the United Kingdom shares that approach.

We have pledged again to join efforts to achieve a comprehensive solution to the conflict in the Middle East, and our combined effort and energies will be directed to that end.

You know, it’s often said that the United States and Great Britain have long enjoyed a special relationship. Well, it is certainly special in my mind, and one that has proven very productive. Whoever is in the White House, whichever party in our country, this relationship really stands the test of time. And I look forward to working with the Foreign Secretary.

FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: Well, Madame Secretary, thank you very much for your very kind remarks and for your hospitality today. I’m obviously delighted to be here on the day after you were sworn in as Madame Secretary, as Secretary of State, and three months to the day since America voted for change, and two weeks to the day since President Obama issued his clarion call, not just to the American people but to the global community, to come together to tackle shared challenges. And now, we get down to business, and that’s what we’ve done, I think, today. Our discussions have been detailed, substantive, friendly, and also, I think, focused on results, because that’s what brings us together. We’re interested in the means, but in the end, it’s the ends that count.

I’ve come here today with a very strong commitment from our Prime Minister to work with President Obama, to work with you, and to work with all of your colleagues across the whole range of issues that bring us together. And what’s become clear to me, reading your confirmation hearing and everything that you’ve said, and knowing your own history, is that we are joined by very strong shared values and very strong shared objectives, and strong determination to find the right means to achieve them.

At each stage, we have, I think, in our discussions today, followed what the President and the Prime Minister committed themselves to, which was to renew and refresh the special relationship, and that is certainly our commitment. The shared values and shared priorities are in – are needed in some very difficult areas. We’ve had a very good discussion. And I met Senator Mitchell earlier today to talk about the Middle East peace process, both the short-term issues of making sure that the commitments in Resolution 1860 are fulfilled – the humanitarian access, the action against arms smuggling – but also keeping alive the critically important long-term vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in security, which is so essential to regional stability.

We’ve talked also about Afghanistan and Pakistan, the new approach that you and Senator – and Ambassador Holbrooke want to bring to that domain. We’ve talked also about the importance of the Iranian nuclear issue, your commitment to engage with other countries in making clear to Iran the costs of its current course, but also making clear to Iran that if it’s willing to accept its responsibilities in the international community, it will be a welcome member of the international community exercising its rights as well as its responsibilities, I think is a very important message.

I’ve also taken the opportunity to brief the Secretary on the G-20 preparations for the economic summit in April, which the Prime Minister will be chairing, and we look forward to very strong American commitment and representation there. I think it’s also important to say that we look forward to further discussions on critical issues in Africa, where we have strong shared interests on climate change, and we’ve also discussed today the very worrying humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka.

I’d also, just by way of conclusion, like to say that I think all of the European foreign ministers who come here this week will be very – bringing a very strong message. We have heard what you and your – and the Obama Administration have said about the commitment to work with allies. But we also know that allies have to step up to build a strong working relationship. And I think that all the European foreign ministers who have come here don’t just come with great expectations; they also come with a recognition that we all have to work better to make the international community achieve more. And your commitment to sharing the burdens and the responsibilities of international leadership and cooperation is something that strikes a very strong chord with us and a commitment that we want to follow through.

Madame Secretary, on a personal note, I hope you know the admiration and respect with which you are held in the United Kingdom. The record of public service and achievement that you have built up is a unique résumé to bring to the task of bringing – being America’s chief diplomat. For many years, you have not just been an ambassador of America; you’ve been an ambassador for America and everything good that it stands for in the world. And I look forward to working very, very closely with you in the months and years ahead to make sure that our shared aspirations for a safer, more secure, more just planet are delivered.

Thank you very much, indeed.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.



QUESTION: Secretary Miliband, what are your first impressions of the new Administration? Is it a big change compared to the other?

FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: Is that a question for Madame Secretary --


FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND: -- or for me? (Laughter.) I think that the great beauty of the American system is that it manages to combine change and continuity. And the – every four years, the ritual of American democracy is, I think, an example to the wider world. And I think that there are some areas where there’s obviously change, but there’s also other areas of continuity. And the most important thing, I think, from the UK’s point of view is that we want the strong partnership that we have, often in very, very difficult places, to be carried forward with verve and drive and determination. And I’m sure that that verve and drive and determination will come from the Secretary of State.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, how important is it that European allies step up to (inaudible) on Iran?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that the Foreign Secretary said it very well, that we view Iran as a challenge; and it is one that is not directed solely at the United States or even at our European allies, but indeed, the larger region and the world. We are going to be working within the Administration to devise our approach to Iran, and working closely with Her Majesty’s government and the work that the Foreign Secretary and others have already done.

You may know that Under Secretary Bill Burns will be attending the P-5+1 meeting that will continue to discuss the approach that the international community will take toward Iran. It is clear that, as the Foreign Secretary said, Iran has an opportunity to step up and become a productive member of the international community. As President Obama said, we are reaching out a hand, but the fist has to unclench. And we will see how we proceed together toward a policy that we believe represents the objectives that we share vis-à-vis Iran.

So I thank you all for, you know, being here to record the slight change, but more than that, the continuity in the special relationship. Thank you all very much.


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