At 11:30 a.m. Secretary Clinton attended an Expanded Bilateral Meeting, Press Availability, and Lunch with President Obama and the 81-year-old President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, at the White House. If you are interested, read the full remarks of President Obama and President Murbarak here!
At about 1:30 p.m. this afternoon Secretary Clinton met with President Obama at the White House to brief him on the details of her trip to Africa. I wish I could find some extra juicy details on these conversations but nothing to report from the press briefings and so far no other leaks... Everyone keep your eyes and ears open and be sure to let ATHC know if you get any further info on this meeting.
Also note that not only did Hillary have a meeting with President Obama, but Bill did too! The ex-president was scheduled to return to his former residence to debrief President Barack Obama on his talks and meetings with North Korean President Kim Jong Il. Ah but don't get too excited, their paths did not cross in the halls surrounding the Oval Office, talk about déjà vu! Read more on that meeting in the upcoming post!
Instead of attending the meeting with President Obama and Bill, Hillary held a bilateral meeting with Dr. Jaime Bermudez Merizalde, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Colombia, at the State Department.
Part of the importance of this meeting was for the Secretary to clear up a new U.S.-Colombia security pact that has angered some South American nations. The pact is aimed at fighting drug trafficking and terrorism and will not create U.S. bases in the Andean nation the Secretary assured.
"The United States does not have and does not seek bases inside Colombia."Under this new agreement, which was reached on August 14 and is expected to be signed in a few weeks, there will be no "significant" permanent increase in U.S. military presence in Colombia, Clinton said. Whereas under the current U.S. agreement, U.S. personnel levels in Colombia are capped at 800 military troops and 600 civilian contractors. There are around 268 U.S. military personnel in the country, where U.S. operations focus on providing training and intelligence support for the Colombian armed forces.
One huge critic of this deal is Hugo Chavez. Chavez says the U.S. plan risks sparking war in the region and has vowed to reduce trade with Colombia as a reprisal.
He has said his country needs to be prepared for an attack and plans to beef up Venezuela's army by buying tanks and other weapons from Russia. But Clinton urged critics of the deal to look at it closely.
"I would also ask that ...more countries, you know, actually help us, help us in this fight. Don't just stand on the sidelines, and certainly don't contribute to the problems by doing and saying things that undermine the efforts that our governments are taking to try to protect the entire region from the scourge of narco-traffickers."Read the full text here or watch below (At about 5:40 into the video, Merizalde knocks the microphone off of the stand. Apparently Hillary later teased him saying something like, "I just can't take you anywhere!):
Other important meetings for the day included a meeting with NSC Adviser General Jim Jones, at the White House, presiding over a swearing in of Jeffrey Feltman, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, at the State Department as well as a Principals Committee Meeting, at the White House.
Also, since health care is a very important issue these days and since I haven't been reporting much on it, today in the White House press briefing room with Robert Gibbs this question regarding healthcare and the Clintons came up:
QUESTION: And on another issue, does President Obama ever speak with either Bill or Hillary Clinton about health care and their experience?We all have most likely seen this clip from Meet the Press where Gregory asks "Has POTUS sought for advice on healthcare?" to Hillary's evasive answer of "We talk about everything. I have a rule that I dont talk about what I talk about with Presidents. Even my husband! But I am available to talk to the President about anything."
MR. GIBBS: I don't -- obviously the Secretary of State is in the Oval Office today and was part of the Mubarak -- larger Mubarak delegation meeting. Obviously President Clinton, as we've talked about, will be here later today. I don't know the degree to which they've discussed health care... I haven't asked, and I will be honest with you that I'm not entirely sure that I'm not going to keep private conversations between somebody like the Secretary of State or the former President between the current and former President.
Here and other times, Hillary does suggest that she and the President speak about other issues... So, I can't blame the reporters who continue to press the same questions. I am JUST as curious to know what goes on behind closed doors between our President and Secretary of State... Sigh, but I guess none of us will reeeally know the truth.