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Diplomacy in Action

Interview With Greta van Susteren of Fox News


Interview
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
January 17, 2010

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QUESTION: (In progress) situation.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It is, but I’m very pleased you’re here on the ground, as you often are.

QUESTION: Now obviously, this isn’t our country and we’re desperately trying to help and we need the cooperation from their government. What is the state of their government to even help us because they’ve been hit hard?

SECRETARY CLINTON: They’ve been hit very hard. But we just had an excellent meeting with the president and the prime minister. And they were very specific about what they’re trying to achieve. Clearly, their highest obligation is to get necessities to the people who are living, to clear the streets of the corpses – that is a very tragic job that has to be done – and to begin working on the electricity, the transportation, the telecommunications, the nuts and bolts of how they get up and going again.

QUESTION: We’ve hit the ground pretty hard – the United States. You’re down here just a couple days after this happened. How long can we sustain this, and are we getting help from other foreign governments, and how are you coordinating that so that we can collectively make this work out?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We are getting an outpouring of help. First and foremost, the United Nations, despite suffering their own horrific losses, are here, are getting stood up. You saw a lot of the trucks, the UN trucks. We have a great group of other countries in our hemisphere and beyond. We’re beginning to meet, and I’ve talked with many of my counterparts, our foreign ministers, around the world. So there’s going to be an international effort. The key is coordinating it, and to make sure that we’re each doing what we can do best. There isn’t anybody who could have gotten this airport open and up and running besides the United States military in the time that we did it. We’re going to be looking at the port to make sure that we can take whatever information and expertise we have and try to get that port up and going.

So the teams that are here, there are, I think, 30 search-and-rescue teams. Six of those are Americans. The others are from all over the world. Everybody’s been saving lives. It’s really heartwarming. And I mean, from my perspective, what the world is doing on behalf of this terrible tragedy is a great tribute to us.

QUESTION: In our great zeal to help, and we want to – we came in the other day and this airport, you’d think it would be so easy, though, to take over an airport, but it’s not, obviously.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s not easy.

QUESTION: What kind of behind-the-scenes – I don’t think people realize that we actually had to get permission. We had to work something out.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.

QUESTION: What did we have to do to – because we don’t have the authority to do that.

QUESTION: Well, we’re here as a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission. That’s what the United States military is here for. They’re here, as we all are, at the invitation of the Haitian Government that knows that they need help. And this airport’s a perfect example. There’s only one runway. This is not ideal. Thank goodness it was not damaged. If the earthquake had knocked this runway out, I don’t know where we would be in terms of trying to help.

So we went to the Haitian Government, we said we were ready to help, they asked for our help, we negotiated an agreement so that the United States military could get it open and begin to prioritize the flights in and out. Because as you can tell, it’s a small airport but we’ve made it very busy and we’ve got to be sure people are safe coming in and out.

QUESTION: All right. So we’ve got all these flying cargo coming in. We’re like – we’re shipping it out into the country. But the things like hospitals, and we’d really like to help in the hospitals. Does the United States have to work out agreements there? Is there any sort of resistance? If we could, if we can help in those hospitals, but we’re hearing horrible stories there.

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. The Haitians have said we need all the help we can get. It’s a question of getting to where the help is needed, setting up a facility, making sure it’s well staffed and well equipped. There are military hospitals by a number of countries being set up around the affected area. There will have to be more. We’re also trying to resupply and support the Haitian hospitals that are still operating. I just got, before I got on the plane this morning, an email from Dr. Paul Farmer, who you know has a long history here in Haiti in Partners in Health, which he was one of the founders of. He’s got a team working in one of the hospitals, giving me a report. So it’s all hands on deck. Everybody in our government and all these other governments is doing our best.

QUESTION: We see the men and women of our military here.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank goodness.

QUESTION: The Embassy – what’s with the U.S. Embassy?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, our ambassador is the chief of mission. Everybody in country is reporting to him. He’s coordinating the civilian and the military assistance. General Keen, who is the military commander on the ground, works closely with our ambassador. Our ambassador negotiated the agreement with the Haitian Government to get this airport open and have our folks help to prioritize. So literally, there is more work than any human being can do in a 24-hour period, but everybody’s working hard. What we want to do is make sure we’re prioritizing and we’re coordinated, and that’s my goal.

QUESTION: You know, I think it’s so interesting, just to show the – sort of the all-hands effect. Even your staff was out last night hustling at drug stores around Washington, DC, buying all sorts of items to bring down here.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right.

QUESTION: So it really is all hands on deck.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It really is, Greta.

QUESTION: Lots of supplies (inaudible) on your plane?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It is the best of America, and I’m so proud. I’m proud of our State Department, our USAID, our military, all of our private citizens, the generosity of the American people. This is a terrible, horrible catastrophe for the people of Haiti, but I think that the outpouring from America and beyond should give them some reason to hope.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Greta.



PRN: 2010/T19-5



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