Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Cairo, Egypt
June 4, 2009

MS. MACCALLUM: And after much anticipation, President Obama made his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, Egypt, today. He wasn’t the only one in the Middle East. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went along for the trip, and our own Greta Van Susteren was there as well. Secretary Clinton went “On the Record” with Greta in Cairo.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, nice to see you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Very good to see you, Greta.

QUESTION: Now, I don’t want to make it a pop quiz, but I’m just curious. Since January, how many countries have you visited, any idea?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I could stop and count, but I’ve been all over the world on behalf of our new Administration and President Obama and our country. It has been the most extraordinary honor to go from Latin America to Asia representing American values and interests.

QUESTION: Obviously, here in Cairo, Egypt, and the – it must be particularly important to the Administration because not just the President of the United States, but the Secretary of State is here as well. Why did you both come?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Because this is a very important part of our new diplomacy, our outreach, our policy of engagement and partnership. This is something the President promised to do early on in his term. And it is my second trip to Egypt since I’ve been Secretary of State.
I came and was at Sharm el-Sheikh for an important conference. And it is really critical that we make clear, as the President did in this magnificent speech he gave, that we want to work with people all over the world, regardless of religion.

We have no feeling of hostility or conflict with Muslims everywhere; we have very specific principles and values that we believe in, which the President outlined today, because we’re looking for ways to solve problems and promote progress and prosperity with people of good faith. And I thought that it was important that we all be here to send a strong signal that America is doing what the President said we would do in his inaugural address, he’ll stretch out his hand, and hopefully, people will unclench their fists.

QUESTION: Well, it seemed to me in listening to the speech – I think the President said that the point of the speech was sort of to reboot America’s relationship with the Muslim world. But it seemed to me that all roads lead back to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that if that could be resolved, it would certainly go far towards solving a lot of the other problems in the area. Am I right?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think, as the President pointed out in his speech, that is certainly a very important part of our relationships with people all over, in particular Arab countries, majority Muslim countries.

But extremism exists apart from that. Democracy and human rights need to be pursued in spite of that. Women’s rights have to be elevated and respected. Economic opportunity has to be made broadly available. The threat of nuclear proliferation is a threat to people of all faiths, in every corner of the world.

So it is an important part of what we have to work on, and the President and I have been very engaged in that from the beginning. But he wanted to put it rightly in a broader context, which is important because we don’t want people saying, well, if only that issue were resolved, then everything would be fine. That is not the case. There are other concerns that we have to be honest in addressing, and I think the President did an excellent job in setting those forth.

QUESTION: But if we – if that one doesn’t get addressed – and I don’t know that it can – I mean, certainly, many administrations have tried it. It may be sort of the problem that can’t be solved. I know everyone valiantly tries to solve it from the United States. But if that one can’t be solved, you’ve got so many other sort of companion issues.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, yes, and that’s why we’re working on all of them. I mean, we’re going forward as early in this Administration as we possibly can. It’s why I recommended appointing special envoys. But we know that there are independent sources of challenge.
The threat of Iran having a nuclear weapon is one that has to be addressed with the same high-level priority. The problem of extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan has to be put on the front burner. So we’re not elevating one of these issues over the other. We are addressing all of them because they are interconnected, and that was part of the point the President was making.

QUESTION: It was sort of interesting listening to the audience, though, is that there were – there was a lot of applause when he mentioned something like no more settlements or anything that was favorable to the Palestinians.
And then when he said things like you can’t threaten – it’s wrong to threaten Israel, or that there are Holocaust deniers and things like that, there were no applause lines. I realize we’re in Egypt, but it was – it seemed like sort of a – this is sort of a friendly environment for Israel and the United States and the Palestinians. I thought that was unusual.

SECRETARY CLINTON: But Greta, what was so important about the President’s speech is that that is a speech that he could give anywhere. It will be read by, I would bet, hundreds of millions of people in the next weeks and months.

And it was, as he said, the truth as he saw it, obviously from an American perspective, but nevertheless, one that has basis in evidence and history. And I think the fact that he came here and talked about everything – of course, there was going to be some greater reaction to parts of it because it was familiar terrain. But he planted seeds. He encouraged people to have to have a conversation and to think hard about their perspectives and points of view.

I think he also challenged Americans. He went right at how we can’t have stereotypes for other people, as we don’t want to have stereotypes about us. This was a speech that I believe will be viewed historically as a very significant turning point.

One of the most important points that he made was how, if the Palestinians had pursued a different path of non-violence, of following an example of a Gandhi or a Dr. Martin Luther King, who knows where we’d be right now, that violence is not the answer. It does not change hearts and minds, it hardens them.

I don’t know whether people who have such a different perspective will hear that and think to themselves, well, there’s something there that I should perhaps ponder. But without saying it, without offering the challenge in such an eloquent and reasoned way, one thing I know for sure is that nobody will have that conversation. And I think it will happen now.

QUESTION: Well, and I agree that the speech was eloquent, and I think more than anything, we all would like to see all the principles laid out, the democracy, women’s right. But the thing that sort of stuck me is that he said very – and he’s said it before – no more settlements. And at the same time, I know that Netanyahu is talking about sort of natural growth, which doesn’t mean no more settlements. So now, here’s – here, we’re saying this is not going to happen, but in fact, it is happening unless you say natural growth construction is not new settlements.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re at the very beginning of this effort. I think it is important for the President to set forth his concerns about the Israelis and the Palestinians because he made it very clear – no more incitement against Israel, security, not violence, to set that out as part as what we have directed George Mitchell to do, which is to get in depth with both sides, really not just the Israelis and the Palestinians, but also the Arabs, and to say very clearly, here’s what the United States believes is in the best interests of the Israelis and the Palestinians.
We know we can’t get there by imposing such an ending. That’s not our position or role. But we want to be as clear in our description of what we think will lead to a more peaceful and secure future for Israel and for the Palestinians.

And then we have to work with the parties. Now, we’ve made progress over the past 30, 35 years. We’ve really seen progress. Who would have thought that Egypt and Israel would have ever made a peace, Israel and Jordan, that certain concessions would have been made by successive Israeli governments, regardless of their political parties. So I think the President, as he said, is patient.

We’re starting early because we know what a hard road we’re asking people to travel. But that patience, that persistence and perseverance that he and I feel toward this very difficult challenge means that we are going to keep saying what we believe and we’re going to keep working with those who have to make the decisions.


MS. MACCALLUM: Very interesting. Up next, we’re going to have more of Greta’s interview with Secretary Clinton. What is being done to release the two American journalists whose trial in North Korea reportedly got under way today? The women could face hard labor in a prison camp. Will the U.S. let this stand?

And part two of Sean Hannity’s exclusive sitdown with radio titan Rush Limbaugh. Rush talks about Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers, and why he believes those men are important to what the President is doing now.


MS. MACCALLUM: And now for more with Greta’s interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A major topic, Cuba. Secretary Clinton talked about the decision by the Organization of American States to lift the 47-year-old suspension of Cuba’s membership and allow a process of dialogue about human rights and other issues. Now that could lead to Cuba one day rejoining the group was the idea. Since Greta’s interview, Cuba has reportedly decided it doesn’t want to rejoin the OAS.


QUESTION: We talked about the travel. I know you’ve been to Honduras. The OAS, after you left – it looks like Cuba’s going to be invited back in.

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, that wasn’t the outcome.

QUESTION: It wasn’t the outcome? What happened?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we were very adamantly opposed to those who wanted to lift the 1962 suspension and leave it at that. That was not acceptable to the United States. That’s, unfortunately, the path that they were on earlier. And we made the case to many countries and found a receptive audience that we could agree to lift something from so long ago that was really part of the Cold War, but we had to reaffirm the values and principles of the OAS. We had to explicitly reaffirm democracy and human rights. And then we had to have a process.

So yes, you can lift the suspension, but that’s the beginning, that’s not the end. Then Cuba has to decide whether it wishes to become a member of the OAS. And then the OAS must, according to its practices, purposes and principles, enter into a dialogue with Cuba and make a decision.
So this was the beginning. Unlike what some had hoped, to have a kind of fait accompli, we were able to create a consensus that the majority of countries in the OAS agreed with the United States.

QUESTION: So we haven’t been snubbed.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, not at all. In fact, this was a very good example of the kind of diplomatic engagement that we want to be involved with. Now, of course we had to make the case, and I did it very vigorously with many of my counterparts, that we believed that we needed to do exactly what I said. We couldn’t throw over the OAS, throw over democracy and human rights, which we have worked so hard on in the hemisphere, but we would welcome changes by the Cuban Government. We really want to see the Cuban people brought back into the hemisphere and be part of what we hope will be a more prosperous and progressive future.

QUESTION: A thorny problem. We have North Korea, two Americans on trial starting today.


QUESTION: Any – I mean, I know that you – that the State Department – I know you’ve been monitoring this, watching this. Is there anything that – are we getting any progress? Can we do anything?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’ve been very deeply involved. And it’s been a painful process, especially for the families. We are clear in our position that the charges against these two young women should have never been brought. They should be released. As you say, there is a trial that they’re undergoing, which we hope will end quickly and be resolved in a way that allows them to come home and rejoin their families.

We obviously are hoping that there will be an opportunity for North Korea to begin to rejoin the diplomatic efforts that have been undertaken, on both a multilateral and even bilateral basis, so that we can work with the North Koreans.

But they have to know that there is a united opposition to their recent actions. I’ve been very heartened by the support we’ve gotten not just from Japan and South Korea, but from China and Russia and from other countries that have viewed with alarm some of the recent behavior of the North Koreans.

So we want the young women released. It’s a humanitarian issue. It never should have been even come about, unfortunately. And then we have to begin to deal with the North Koreans again on nuclearization and the other actions that are proving so disruptive to the region and the world.

PRN: 2009/T8-1