Monday, June 08, 2009

Exclusive Interview with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: full transcript and video!

In her first Sunday show interview since the presidential campaign, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sat down with "This Week" Host George Stephanopoulos.

On Her "role" as Secretary of State

"I spend a lot of my time on the problems that you would imagine: Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Middle East, Iran. But I'm also working to create a strategic set of priorities that will guide our efforts... So, for example, there are specific regional and country-based endeavors that we are teeing up. We are going to work really hard on our relationships with, for example, Indonesia, and Turkey, and India.

We have a strategic and economic dialogue that will start the last week in July with China that Secretary Geithner and I are going to co-lead.

There's plenty of work to go around, but then there are the transnational problems. I mean, the president asked me to lead the effort on food security. The president also wants us to focus on Haiti. And, ironically, the United Nations secretary general asked Bill to be the special envoy. So we're really going to have a united effort by our government and by the international community. Those are just some of the, you know, very specific and more general challenges that we are taking on and managing. "

On Israel and Palestine

Stephanopoulos asked about Israel and Palestine if there is any room for compromise on the settlement issue. Hillary gave a great response:

"We are setting forth our views. Obviously, decisions about how to go forward are up to the Israelis and the Palestinians. But I think it is an appropriate role for the United States -- and, certainly, it is what the president has decided -- to make clear some of the obstacles he sees. Now, remember, the Israelis made a commitment in the road map in the prior administration."

On Iran

Stephanopoulos went on to ask about Iran, saying Hillary was quoted in the papers back in March when she met with the foreign minister of the UAE that she were skeptical of the possibility that diplomacy would work to stall or stop Iran's nuclear ambitions. He went on to ask if she was still that doubtful?

"Well, I am someone who's going to wait and see. I mean, I -- I want to see what the president's engagement will bring. We have a team of people who we have tasked to work on this. I think there's an enormous amount of potential for change, if the Iranians are willing to pursue that... one of the values of -- of engagement is, we need to have better information, and maybe about each other, not just about a one-way street of information.

The idea that we could have a diplomatic process with Iran means that, for the first time, we would actually be sitting at a table across from Iranians authorized by the supreme leader to talk with us about a whole range of issues. That gives us information and insight that we don't have.

Of course there's contradiction, because we don't have any really clear sense as to what it is they are seeking. Now, one of the things that you heard the president say is, we understand the legitimate right of nations to have access to peaceful nuclear energy. If that is at the core of what they want, there are ways of accommodating that that do not lead to a nuclear weapon.

But we have to -- have to test that, and we have to be willing to sit and listen and evaluate without giving up what we view as a primary objective of the engagement, which is to do everything we can to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state."

On North Korea

"We think we're going to come out of this with a very strong resolution with teeth that will have consequences for the North Korean regime... If we do not take significant and effective action against the North Koreans now, we'll spark an arms race in Northeast Asia. I don't think anybody wants to see that. And so part of what we're doing is, again, sharing with other countries our calculus of the risks and the dangers that would lie ahead if we don't take very strong action."

When asked about the list of states who sponsor terrorism, and North Korea's place on the list, the Secretary had this to say:

"We're going to look at it. There's a process for it. Obviously, we would want to see recent evidence of their support for international terrorism. We take it very seriously. I mean, obviously, they were taken off of the list for a purpose, and that purpose is being thwarted by their actions."

On Obama answering that 3 a.m. phone call

Stephanopoulos asked Clinton if Obama answered the questions she raised in her campaign's "3a.m." ad.

"Absolutely," she quipped back without hesitation. "And, you know, the president in his public actions and demeanor, and certainly in private with me and with the national security team, has been strong, thoughtful, decisive, I think he is doing a terrific job," she said, "And it's an honor to serve with him."

On Accepting the role as Secretary of State

Obama told Richard Wolffe that he had decided to offer State to Clinton during their primary battle. That came as a surprise to her.

"I never had any -- any dream, let alone inkling that I would end up in President Obama's cabinet... I was looking forward to going back to the Senate and, frankly, going back to my life and representing New York, which I love. And I had no idea that he had a different plan in mind."

When he called and asked me to come see him, and we had our first conversation I said, 'you know, I really don't think I'm the person to do this, I want to go back to my life. I really feel like I owe it to the people of New York... And I gave him a bunch of other names of people who I thought would be great secretaries of state. But he was quite persistent and very persuasive. And, you know, ultimately it came down to my feeling that, number one, when your president asks you to do something for your country, you really need a good reason not to do it. Number two, if I had won and I had asked him to please help me serve our country, I would have hoped he would say yes.

And finally, I looked around our world and I thought, you know, we are in just so many deep holes that everybody had better grab a shovel and start digging out."

There were many other issues touched on including the trial of the journalists held in North Korea, human rights in China and so on. It was a great interview, and really made me proud of our Secretary, Hillary Clinton.

You can read the full transcript here or watch it below!


Anonymous said...

Thanks today (and every day) for keeping us up to date on Sec. Clinton's days. I read here first thing every day and especially appreciate the pictures you post. Keep up the good work!

Veyry said...

thank you so much for the work you do for all Hillary's fans.This is by much the best site we could find.Way to go girl!

Sarah said...

Hey Veyry! Thank you for the nice comment! I LOVE to hear that other Hillary fans enjoy the site as much as I love working on it.

Seeing that I am internetless (except for my phone) these past few days... posts have been a little bit more behind than I like >:/ I like to be right on top of things!

So keep checking back for lots more posts to come and of course, my favorite part, lots of photos and video!

Paula said...

I'm with Veyry. You do a bang-up job, Sarah! Even though I don't post here too often, I come here several times a day.

Anonymous said...

Hillary was brilliant as usual and as she always is. But Georgie boy was a little in over his head. Read a less sanitized version of what some of us think about that interview and its host. If you keep silent about such aggression, we will never advance.

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