Good morning, everyone, and Happy New Year. It’s good to see you here, and I’m especially pleased that I get to welcome His Excellency the Prime Minister back to the State Department. I hope you’ve all had a chance to rest and enjoy the holidays, and I know that there’s a big agenda in front of us which His Excellency and I have been discussing. It’s very important that this meeting be held at the beginning of this new year so that we can immediately get to work on the many matters that concern us.
Qatar is a friend and an ally of the United States, and the partnership between our two countries is a model of the new beginning based on mutual respect and mutual interest that President Obama called for in Cairo.
So today we not only discussed a wide range of important issues, but also how to deepen and broaden our partnership.
Among the matters that we consulted on, the situation in Yemen is a top concern. How can we work together and with others to stabilize Yemen, assist in securing its borders and providing for its people in combating al-Qaida. The instability in Yemen is a threat to regional stability and even global stability, and we’re working with Qatar and others to think of the best way forward to try to deal with the security concerns. And certainly, we know that this is a difficult set of challenges, but they have to be addressed.
I also thanked the Prime Minister for Qatar’s efforts to facilitate an end to the crisis in Darfur and to promote security and stability in the broader Middle East as well as Africa.
We both have a shared mutual interest in moving toward a comprehensive peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We both share the goal of an independent and viable Palestinian state, and we are committed to doing what we can to help re-launch peace negotiations that would lead to a two-state solution. We believe that President Abbas is a partner for peace and can help deliver that to the Palestinian people.
The Prime Minister and I discussed the future of Iraq. It’s important that Iraq be reintegrated back into the larger region and that it go through this next electoral cycle and create greater stability among the various constituents within the country.
We discussed the importance of international solidarity and dealing with Iran, particularly with respect to its nuclear program and its compliance with various obligations under the United Nations Security Council, the IAEA, the NPT, et cetera.
And finally, let me express our appreciation to His Excellency and to His Majesty the Emir and his country for their actions in combating hunger and poverty and disease across the region and the world.
We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I thank you, Your Excellency, for your friendship, for your candid thoughts on so many important matters, and I look forward to continuing our dialogue in the year ahead.PRIME MINISTER AL-THANI:
Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. Happy New Year, and I am very glad in the first working day to be here with Madame Secretary. And as Madame Secretary mentioned, we discussed all the issues which it is important for both countries, and I just want to highlight that about two or three issues. One of them is Yemen, is very important the stability of Yemen and unity of Yemen, and we think that the situation in Yemen, there is only one solution to be solved through a peaceful manner by trying to find a way to solve this problem in a peaceful way.
The second thing is about the Middle East track and the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. We are hoping that this peace process could start again and it have to start an agenda and endgame. We are looking to see where is the endgame, and I really thank Obama and Madame Secretary Administration for their efforts which bring hope again to us to continue this process. There will be difficulties and there will be up and down in this process. We know this. But the most important things is how we can do a unity governments between the Palestinians so they can concentrate how to deal in the peace process, and also the Israeli and the Palestinian have to know that the solution to solve this problem is by a dialogue. And a dialogue is a very important that there is no games in this dialogues because we know Jerusalem is a very important part, we know the settlements there is a problem, we know the water, we know peace – land-for-peace, you know, that’s the main elements which all the international arena and all the countries agree in it in Madrid process. So I hope that both sides realize that they have to work together. All of us, we are ready to help. All of us rely in United States helpful and involving in this process. I think that’s a very important matter for the region.
The other problem if we are talking about Iran, and we hope that this problem could be solved through diplomatic means. We wish stability in the region, and the stability will not come unless we realize that we have to comply with the international law and comply also in how to solve the problem by dialogue.
Thank you very much, Madame Secretary.SECRETARY CLINTON:
Thank you so much, Your Excellency. MR. CROWLEY:
We’ll begin with Elise from CNN.QUESTION:
Happy New Year, Madame Secretary, Your Excellency. SECRETARY CLINTON:
On Yemen, Madame Secretary, what can you say about the – the latest you can say about the terror threat to the U.S. Embassy? And given the longstanding concerns the U.S. has had about Yemen and to the Embassy itself, what is the U.S. prepared to do, as you say, to help Yemen combat their growing terrorist problem?
And given the Embassy’s discussions with Mr. Abdulmutallab’s father, how much blame do you think the State Department bears for not highlighting the fact this gentleman had a visa and could come to the U.S. at any time, or pulling the visa?
And Your Excellency, if I might just ask you to follow up on your comment. You said that there’s only one solution to Yemen, and that’s trying to help in a peaceful way. Could you expand on what you – what that means and what you think the region and the U.S. can do to help Yemen? Thank you.SECRETARY CLINTON:
Those are a lot of questions, Your Excellency.PRIME MINISTER AL-THANI:
It is.SECRETARY CLINTON:
(Laughter.) Let me start with Yemen. As you know, the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa closed January 3rd
. It remains closed today. That is in response to ongoing threats by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula – so-called AQAP – that have been ongoing. They certainly predate this holiday season and they are aimed at American interests in Yemen.
On December 31st
, we sent what’s called a warden message to American citizens in Yemen to remind them of the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against American citizens and interests. And as always, we remind U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance and to practice enhanced security awareness.
Now, the United States commends Yemen for the recent actions it has taken to disrupt the AQAP networks, and we are reiterating our commitment to assist in those efforts. We review our security conditions constantly and will make a decision on reopening the Embassy when the security conditions permit.
With respect to what happened with the terrorist on the plane coming into Detroit, we are not satisfied. We are conducting an internal review. The President has called for a whole-of-government review. Based on what we know now, the State Department fully complied with the requirements set forth in the interagency process as to what should be done when a threat is – or when information about a potential threat is known. But we’re looking to see whether those procedures need to be changed, upgraded. And that is my goal as Secretary – to do everything I can to make sure that not only American citizens, but all people traveling on airlines of any nationality can arrive at their destination safely.
So we will be meeting with the President tomorrow to go over our internal reviews to hear what others in our government also have concluded and to take whatever additional steps are necessary. PRIME MINISTER AL-THANI:
Thank you. As you know, this is the fifth or the sixth war in Yemen. And for that reason, we know that this problem have to be solved through dialogue. As you know, Doha hold the last dialogue between the Houthis and the Yemeni governments and there is an agreement been signed. And we hope that we go back and find a way to solve this problem through meaningful dialogue and dialogue which can give the lead for the state of Yemen because we support the unity of Yemen, and that’s a very important role.
But it’s very important also not to spread our power or our efforts to these kind of things, and we have to concentrate on the terrorism and how we can fight the terrorism in our region and in other so we don’t export it somewhere else.MR. CROWLEY:
Mina from Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.QUESTION:
Thank you so much. Happy New Year. Madame Secretary, if I can start by asking about Yemen, a follow-up question on Yemen. What do you hope to get out of the meeting in London at the end of the month? And what can the GCC countries play specifically – what role can they play specifically?
And Your Excellency, if I may, regarding the peace talks on – the Middle East peace talks, are there any conditions on the ground now that give you further hope that there can be successful talks with an endgame? We’re hearing different reports of the possibilities of a quicker resumption of talks. Thank you. SECRETARY CLINTON:
Thank you very much, and Happy New Year. I think that the meeting at the end of the month in London is an opportunity for nations that can play a role in helping to stabilize Yemen to come together and discuss steps that each of us can take individually and collectively. Obviously, Qatar has played an ongoing role, as other GCC nations have. This is in that region; the spillover effects from instability directly impact the neighbors.
Obviously, we see global implications from the war in Yemen and the ongoing efforts by al-Qaida in Yemen to use it as a base for terrorist attacks far beyond the region. So we’re going to listen and consult with those who have long experience in Yemen, such as Qatar does – both His Majesty, His Excellency, and others – and work together to try to encourage the government to take steps that will lead to a more lasting period of peace and stability.
As His Excellency said, there have been numerous conflicts in Yemen. They seem to just get worse and worse with more players involved now. And it’s time for the international community to make it clear to Yemen that there are expectations and conditions on our continuing support for the government so that they can take actions which will have a better chance to provide that peace and stability to the people of Yemen and the region.PRIME MINISTER AL-THANI:
Happy New Year, and can you remind me again about your question? (Laughter.)QUESTION:
It’s regarding the peace talks – sorry.PRIME MINISTER AL-THANI:
Regarding the peace talks in the Middle East and are there conditions on the ground now for successful talks. Thank you. PRIME MINISTER AL-THANI:
Well, there always will be difficulty in the peace process. We have a long history in the peace process, and this history should not let us down or not let us – our morale to be down. I think we have to continue and push. As I said, there is no magic solution. All of us know the right solution for these conflicts. And now, it’s the parties have to take a decision to move to that, and especially the Government of Israel, in my opinion, they have to move and comply with the international and United Nation resolution and Madrid agreement – very important for them to know that this cannot be continued, and it’s an opportunity with this Administration to bring us together to a long-lasting peace between us and Israel.MR. CROWLEY:
Arshad from Reuters.QUESTION:
Secretary Clinton, on Iran, President Obama said last year that you’d have a pretty good sense by the end of year whether Iran was seriously interested in pursuing dialogue about its nuclear program. There aren’t a lot of signs that they are, and there are no signs that I’m aware of that they’re interested in carrying out the agreement on low-enriched uranium that was reached in Geneva.
One, from your point of view, is the LEU deal dead? Two, even if the door to talking about the LEU deal is still open, is the Administration now closer to imposing targeted sanctions, particularly on companies or individuals that have ties to the Revolutionary Guard Corps?
And lastly, do you not perceive a danger that additional sanctions could play into the hands of the hardliners, who often make the argument that they are engaged in a struggle with foreign forces and try to rally people around them that way? And they’ve made that argument even as they’ve been crushing the protests recently.SECRETARY CLINTON:
Arshad, we remain committed to working with our international partners on addressing the serious concerns we have regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Now, our approach, as you know, has always proceeded on two tracks; we have an engagement track and a pressure track. And as I’ve said, the results of our efforts to engage Iran directly have not been encouraging. We’re disappointed by their response to the proposal for the Tehran research reactor. And the Iranian Government announced a deadline to receive a positive response to their unacceptable counter-offer. So yes, we have concerns about their behavior, we have concerns about their intentions, and we are deeply disturbed by the mounting signs of ruthless repression that they are exercising against those who assemble and express viewpoints that are at variance with what the leadership of Iran wants to hear.
Now, we’ve avoided using the term “deadline” ourselves. That’s not a term that we have used because we want to keep the door to dialogue open. But we’ve also made it clear we can’t continue to wait and we cannot continue to stand by when the Iranians themselves talk about increasing their production of high-enriched uranium and additional facilities for nuclear power that very likely can be put to dual use.
So we have already begun discussions with our partners and with likeminded nations about pressure and sanctions. I can’t appropriately comment on the details of those discussions now, except to say that our goal is to pressure the Iranian Government, particularly the Revolutionary Guard elements, without contributing to the suffering of the ordinary Iraqis
who deserve better than what they currently are receiving.
Iran is going through a very turbulent period in its history. There are many troubling signs of the actions that they are taking. And we want to reiterate that we stand with those Iranians who are peacefully demonstrating. We mourn the loss of innocent life. We condemn the detention and imprisonment, the torture and abuse of people, which seems to be accelerating. And we hope that there will be an opportunity for Iran to reverse course, to begin engaging in a positive way with the international community, respecting the rights of their own citizens. But we’re going to continue on our dual-track approach.QUESTION:
Happy New Year. Thanks. Happy New Year to both of you. I’d like to ask you, actually both of you, Madame Secretary and Your Excellency, whether there have been any progress or anything new regarding Middle East peace process guarantees that the Arab countries have asked for. And also, have you discussed aid to the Palestinian Authority? And I mean U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority. Thank you.SECRETARY CLINTON:
Well, thank you very much. Yes, we have discussed aid to the Palestinian Authority. The United States has continued to provide significant aid to the Palestinian Authority. We also discussed the commitment that the United States and Qatar share toward a re-launch of the peace process and negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. We are going to do all that we can to try to bring that about. There are many complexities of this extremely difficult situation, but we reaffirmed our commitment to keep working at this.
We know that the Palestinians deserve a state to fulfill their aspirations. The Israelis deserve security to live peacefully side by side with their Palestinian neighbors. The Arab nations have made a very positive contribution in the peace initiative of the Arab League and others. So we’re going to be even more committed this year, and we’re starting this new year with that level of commitment and we’re going to follow through and hopefully we can see this as a positive year in this long process.PRIME MINISTER AL-THANI:
Well -- QUESTION:
Hold on. If you could please answer in Arabic, Your Excellency?PRIME MINISTER AL-THANI:
Okay, I will answer in Arabic, Madame Secretary. That’s easier for me. Difficult for Madame Secretary. (Laughter.)SECRETARY CLINTON:
I’m not that good. (Laughter.)PRIME MINISTER AL-THANI:
(Via interpreter) Madame Secretary, with regard to the letter of guarantees that you – was asked of the Arab countries, as you know, Qatar today chairs the current Arabic committee for another round and we have given a letter to that effect to the U.S. Administration right after the UN meetings. We are still awaiting a response from the U.S. Administration and we have – this response will be very important to us as it will give us a clear idea about the U.S. perspective on the peace process and how the U.S. sees the endgame, or what is called as the endgame.
With regards to the issue of assistance, as you know, Qatar has always given assistance to the Palestinians and Qatar shall continue to give similar assistance to the Palestinians.SECRETARY CLINTON:
Thank you all very much. PRIME MINISTER AL-THANI:
Thank you. Thank you very much.