Monday, March 30, 2009

Travel: Arriving in The Hauge

Secretary Clinton played down expectations of her first contact with Iran at Tuesday's Afghanistan conference in The Hague. She will be the highest-level official in the Obama administration to sit at the same table with Tehran. However, she urged Tehran to play a positive role in helping stabilize its neighbor.

Aboard her plane en route to the Netherlands, she told reporters:

"I believe that there will be an opening by this conference that will enable all the countries, including Iran, to come forward. The fact that they accepted the invitation to come suggests that they believe there is a role for them to play, and we're looking forward to hearing more about that... I have no plans (to meet the Iranians). I can't forecast tomorrow, but we are looking forward to everyone playing a constructive role."
More than 80 countries and international organizations will be attending the conference, aimed at "reaffirming the solid and long-term commitment of the international community to supporting the Government of Afghanistan in shaping a better future for Afghanistan and its people." Clinton said she would be sharing the administration's policy review during the conference.

"We want to share the review in person with the friends and stakeholders in Afghanistan's future and encourage them to begin thinking hard about what each can do to support governance, security, economic assistance, regional cooperation, all of the necessary steps that we have to see fulfilled."

Clinton had personally suggested Iran should send a representative to the Dutch conference, where she will detail Washington's new war strategy in Afghanistan and seek support from allies and others to implement the plan.

She was also asked about Iran's nuclear program. She was asked if Washington would impose more punitive measures as long as Iran refused to give up its nuclear work. She responded: "We will stay focused on Afghanistan tomorrow and that is the purpose of this conference."

In an attempt to encourage assistance from the more than 80 nations represented at the conference, she also announced $40 million in new U.S. aid for a U.N. fund to prepare for Afghanistan's elections in August.

"We do not support or oppose any candidate but we want to assure that the elections themselves are going to have legitimacy and credibility," said Clinton.

Also, the US plans to send 21,00 more troops to Afghanistan, including 4,000 to help train the Afghan army, along with hundreds of civilians to improve basic services. She made it clear the focus would be on making aid programs more efficient.

"We recognize we are starting at a point where there is very little credibility for a lot of what has already been invested. It is heartbreaking."

Later this week, Clinton's deputy Jacob Lew will visit both Afghanistan and Pakistan and special U.S. representative on the issue, Richard Holbrooke, will also be in the region to explain Obama's plan and find practical ways to implement it.

After the long plane ride over the Atlantic, Hillary arrived at Schiphol Airport. She was welcomed by Mike Gallagher, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you will restore US' credibility around the world.You are the greatest Leader of our time.God bless you.We are with you forever!

Post Your Comment Below:

Grab this Widget ~ Blogger Accessories