Interview
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Kabul, Afghanistan
October 20, 2011


Please attribute the following content to an interview with CNN News.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much for talking with CNN. You’ve seen these reports coming out of Libya about Qadhafi. He could be captured. What do you know about that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We cannot confirm it yet, Jill. We have seen the reports, and we want to wait until there is evidence, because we’ve had reports in the past. But certainly, the concerted effort that the Libyans made to liberate Sirte, which was Qadhafi’s hometown, seems to have gone very well, and we’ll wait and see whether it included the capture or killing of Qadhafi.

QUESTION: If it is true, what would it mean?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Jill, I think it would add a lot of legitimacy and validation and relief to the formation of the new government. The TNC made it very clear when I was in Tripoli that they wanted to wait until Sirte fell before they declared Libya liberated and then started forming a new government.

But they knew that if Qadhafi were – or still is – at large, they would have continuing security problems that were deeply concerning to them, which they shared with me, because they had every reason to believe that he would try to marshal support, that he would pay for mercenaries, that he would engage and affect guerrilla warfare. So if he’s removed from the scene, there may still be those who would do so, but without the organizing figure of Qadhafi, and that makes a big difference.

QUESTION: Okay. So on to Pakistan, in more ways than one. On Pakistan, your comments were extraordinarily strong. We’ve never heard you say exactly that. What is your level of frustration right now?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s not frustration; it’s resolve. I mean, we have a job to do. And the job consists of fighting, talking, and building. And Pakistan can either be part of the solution on all three of those tracks or part of the problem, and we want to pose the choice as clearly as we can. We also believe, and have always believed, that what we are seeking in terms of cooperation from Pakistan is very much in Pakistan’s self interest and national security.

Up until recently, the primary focus of our efforts in Pakistan were the dismantling and defeat of al-Qaida, and the Pakistanis were helpful. They were cooperative and have continued to be as we have been successful in not only removing Usama bin Ladin but others that were principal leaders of al-Qaida. So we do think we’ve severely damaged al-Qaida.

And then in recent months, we’ve seen the Haqqani Network turn from being a fighting force to one that is deliberately targeting American targets, like this embassy that we’re sitting in. We cannot tolerate that. And the safe haven in Pakistan from which they launch these attacks has nothing to do with the Taliban coming back into Afghanistan. It has nothing to do with Pakistan hedging against India or whatever the explanation is. It has to do with this group that has a safe haven in Pakistan targeting Americans. And that changes the calculation for us, and it should change the calculation for the Pakistanis.

QUESTION: Could the strategy be a dangerous one? Because, I mean, in essence you are saying it’s up to them, it’s up to the Pakistanis. It was very much you were pinning this on the Pakistanis. And if they don’t cooperate, if they don’t do more, does that mean that the Afghan strategy goes down the tubes?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, not at all. I think we’ve made it very clear that we cannot tolerate safe havens on either side of the border. There has been a concerted, successful effort against Haqqani fighters carried out by American and Afghan troops over the last several days. There has been an effort to target Haqqani Network leaders. That will continue, because it is intolerable for us to stand aside and allow these attacks against anyone, but in particular, speaking as the Secretary of State of the United States, against Americans.

Now, but remember there are two other elements here. We want to start talking. We believe that the time has come. I personally attribute the timing to President Obama’s decision to put more troops on the ground and to have our allies also add more troops. We have reversed the momentum of the Taliban. So how do we take advantage of that? It is now time to see whether there is an appetite for any kind of negotiations that would lead to a reconciliation.

The Pakistanis should be publicly in favor of that. So far, they have not yet been. But we are seeking a public statement of support for Taliban reconciliation, because that will send a message to those Taliban who wish to reconcile that they can do so without fear of retaliation inside Pakistan from either their fellow Taliban or other extremist groups.

So this is like a multidimensional chess game, Jill, and there are many moving parts to it. But one piece that is non-negotiable is you cannot target Americans and expect there to be no change in our approach.

QUESTION: Do you understand President Karzai’s decision or these recent comments about talking with the Taliban? He seemed at one point to be saying, “This is it. I’m not doing it.” Today he said, “I want an address. I want to know where their – their controlled.” Do you understand what he’s saying?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, I do. I mean, first of all, the assassination of Professor Rabbani was intended to be, and certainly was, a great blow to the hopes of reconciliation. He was a widely respected figure who represented all of Afghanistan. And it’s only understandable that President Karzai and other Afghans would be shocked and horrified and not wanting to talk about any kind of peace or reconciliation for some time.

Having thought about it, President Karzai, I think, has taken the right position, which is fine. I’m willing to talk, but only if there’s an address, because remember, Rabbani was killed by someone pretending to be a peace emissary from the Quetta Shura, and instead was an assassin, a suicide assassin. So I think President Karzai is being quite sensible. He’s saying we want to pursue this, but no more of this one-off kind of activity. You give us an address, give us a formal, proper process, and we will be there.

QUESTION: There was a moment in which, today, you were talking to President Karzai about Cain – (laughter) – Cain and the comments. When you are traveling around the world, how hard is it when other leaders, leaders of other countries, say, “What’s going on in your country with this election?”

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have to say that was the very first thing President Karzai said to me, was, “I saw this news report, and there is a man running for president who says he doesn’t care what the names of the people in this area are.” (Laughter.) And then he said, “And I saw you on TV with President Karimov,” the president of Uzbekistan, and I said, “Yeah. That was when I was there before. I’m on the way again.” But I’m not going to get involved in the Republican primary, but President Karzai has an opinion, I must tell you.

QUESTION: But it does affect foreign policy, doesn’t it? I mean, they’re asking you to explain this.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s good to be reminded in American politics from time to time that everything we do is now seen everywhere in the world, and it really matters to people how people in the public eye in America are viewing them.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.



PRN: 2011/T54-18

[This is a mobile copy of Interview With Jill Dougherty of CNN]