Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hillary Clinton Demands Israel Halt Settlements

Today Secretary Clinton met with Foreign Minister Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit of Egypt at the State Department.

The Secretary said this during their appearance before the press:

"We just had a very good working lunch with the foreign minister, General Suleiman, and the delegation from Egypt. I had the opportunity to thank them for their commitment to working with us and strengthening and deepening our bilateral relationship, and for the leadership that Egypt is showing on both regional and global matters.

I asked them to extend our thanks to President Mubarak and others in the Egyptian Government who are working to resolve conflicts and bridge divides. And I assured them that President Obama and I are fully committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, to a two-state solution, and that we regard Egypt as an essential partner in helping us to realize that vision.

We appreciate the leadership that Egypt has shown in recent months, including convening the convention in Sharm el-Sheikh that I attended, as well as undertaking sensitive mediation among various parties in the region. I know that the President is looking forward to his trip to Cairo next week and the opportunity to speak about America’s relationships, not only in the Middle East and not just in the Islamic world but to people everywhere about what our common concerns are and how to seek common ground and realize our common objectives. And I look forward to continuing to work with the foreign minister and others in the Egyptian Government to address the full range of bilateral and mutual concerns."

Also during their remarks to the press, Secretary Clinton urged Israel in blunt terms to completely halt settlements on land that Palestinians claim as part of a future state of their own.

"He (Obama) wants to see a stop to settlements _ not some settlements, not outposts, not 'natural growth' exceptions," Clinton said, referring in the last case to population growth on existing Israeli settlements in the West Bank from births and from allowances for adult offspring of settlers to buy homes near their parents.

"We think it is in the best interests (of the peace process) that settlement expansion cease," Clinton added, with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit at her side.

"That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly. ... And we intend to press that point."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is putting settlements at the center of his talks with Obama at the White House on Thursday, and he has said he won't resume peace talks without a freeze. Hillary had dinner with Abbas this evening. Read their full remarks here or watch below:

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