Remarks With Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger
Secretary of State
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, are you going to – can we ask you a question or two?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let – I think both Michael and I have a short statement to make.
And first, let me thank the foreign minister for his crucial help in getting this event organized. I believe very strongly that Austria’s leadership on behalf of this issue is essential because we need to form a strong global partnership to make clear that we are committed to bringing about peace, but in doing so, we want to empower women to not be victims, but agents of peace and ending conflict.
And I also want to wish Austria a very happy National Day. I’m sorry that this Security Council meeting coincided with National Day and that the foreign minister had to be here, but from our perspective, we’re very glad he is, and his leadership and the excellent commitment that were – commitments that were made by the Austrian Government in the intervention by the foreign minister. So I thank you very much for your leadership.
And I also want to say how pleased we are to have a strong, growing, even deeper relationship between the United States and Austria. The foreign minister and I have worked closely together on several key issues, from the Balkans to Iran and so much else. And we have a shared commitment to human rights and the rule of law and to nonproliferation. And I am very grateful that I will be having a bilateral, thorough discussion with the foreign minister in Washington, D.C. on November 17th.
FOREIGN MINISTER SPINDELEGGER: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, ladies and gentlemen. For us, it’s a great pleasure to see how engaged Hillary Clinton is in this field – framework of 1325. And this gives us hope and this inspires us to be more active in this way. And of course, I think if you have a look, after all the events, we have to notice there is a lot of space for more engagement. We have to double our efforts to make, for the future, a better world for women and, of course, if you have a more close look to all these areas of conflict, we should now have these indicators, these 26 indicators, that gives us more tools and more information about that – what we have to do in all these areas.
And I think it’s wonderful to cooperate. Thank you very much for that. And of course, as I said, we are now celebrating the 10th anniversary, but we also are celebrating the birthday of Hillary Clinton here today.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, dear.
FOREIGN MINISTER SPINDELEGGER: Twenty-fifth birthday. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Coincides with National Austria Day. I’m very excited about that. (Laughter.)
FOREIGN MINISTER SPINDELEGGER: So it’s really a wonderful story and I would like to thank you also for this cooperation between the United States and Austria. We are very much happy with that and we would like to continue it in the future. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you’ve talked very passionately about the women of Afghanistan and not leaving them behind. I wonder if you had any comment on the comments by the president of Afghanistan, President Karzai, about the United States and it’s giving cash to him to run his office?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I do not. I have a very strong opinion about the work that we’re doing, which I think is critical for our national security, the national security of Europe. I work closely with our representatives in Afghanistan and with the Government of Afghanistan. It’s a very challenging and quite complicated situation, but I think we’re making progress, and I am very, very pleased to have the opportunity to try to support the women of Afghanistan while we do so.
QUESTION: Mrs. Secretary of State, the situation of women and also girls in many countries of the world, especially in Africa, but I would like to mention also Afghanistan, Iran, et cetera is very serious. Do you really think that resolution discussed today can make a difference, can change something? Or does this – it could be only done on the level of the government and the – on the politics?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it’s both. I think in my own lifetime – since it is my birthday, I can look back on it and see so much progress that has occurred. It has occurred both on the international level in beginning to look at women’s rights as human rights and to create coalitions around change on behalf of women, and of course, it’s happened in my own country.
So the progress that women have made in the last 50 years is remarkable when you consider it against the backdrop of the prior history of humanity. But as Michael and I have said, there is still much more to be done. And certainly, those of us who are fortunate enough to live in countries like the United States and Austria where there have been great advances on behalf of women’s rights and opportunities, I believe have an obligation to try to do more to help women and girls in countries where those rights and opportunities are not respected.
So yes, we’ve made progress and shining a bright light of international concern on these issues gives heart to women and men working on behalf of this cause all over the world and helps to move the progress, the trajectory, a little bit further along. So it’s all worth doing.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you have mentioned the special and growing relationship with Austria, and could you be more specific what has brought about this renewed friendship with Austria? And could you specify the areas of cooperation where the friendship with a small country like Austria could really make a difference?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can give you two examples based on my own experience with the foreign minister. He and I spoke several times in depth on the necessity for sanctions on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He was very helpful in conveying the concerns not only of the United States but of the international community directly to representatives of the Iranian Government. And certainly, with the IAEA headquartered in Vienna, I’ve spoken with the foreign minister on nonproliferation, which is a key goal of President Obama. So those are two areas where Austria’s commitment and values, combined with its very strategic location, has been of benefit to our common cause.
Do you want to add anything to that, Michael?
FOREIGN MINISTER SPINDELEGGER: Yes, I think, of course, it was an area where we had to be in a close contact. It was a very sensitive moment, I think. And I only can give you back this was very good to have this close contact to inform each other what’s the next step forward, and I think we have reached a lot. If you have looked today, maybe Iran is ready to come to the table back, this is one of the results of our (inaudible).
MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone. Thank you. We have – sorry (inaudible).
QUESTION: You both mentioned Iran, though, and today the Iranians announced that they were going to restart refueling the reactor. Is this something that --
SECRETARY CLINTON: But that – let’s not confuse – Iran is entitled to the peaceful use of civilian nuclear power. They are not entitled to a nuclear weapons program. What they are doing is starting a reactor that is, based on everything we know about it and everything that the Russians have informed us about it since they have worked with the Iranians over many years to build this reactor, strictly for peaceful purposes. Our problem is not with their reactor at Bushehr. Our problem is with their facilities at places like Natanz and their secret facility at Qom and other places where we believe they are conducting their weapons program.
So I know – I heard some of the news coverage that oh my goodness, the Iranians are starting the reactor. That is not the issue. They are entitled to peaceful civilian nuclear power. They are not entitled to nuclear weapons. There’s two different processes. And so I’m glad you asked the question because I think it’s important to distinguish that. And as Michael said, we’re hoping that the Iranians will come back to the table soon with the – what we call the P-5+1 or the E-3+3, headed by Cathy Ashton, to begin an in-depth negotiation over their nuclear arms program.
MODERATOR: Thank you.