QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you so much for joining us. I want to start with Iraq. And clearly the biggest concern here is that with the exit of U.S. troops Iran will move in where the U.S. is moving out. I want to bring to your attention an interview that CNN’s Fareed Zakaria did with President Ahmadinejad.
QUESTION: Since there will be a need in Iraq for training and support, will the Iranian Government be providing greater support in that area.
PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD: Again, I think we should have done it sooner, maybe seven or eight years ago.
QUESTION: Now, I assume the U.S. would not look favorably upon the Iranians training the Iraqi army and police.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Candy, thanks for asking about this, because I do believe there is a lot of questioning, and to me, it is very clear to make three points: First, we are continuing a training mission in Iraq. That has been agreed to. We will have the same kind of training and support mission that we have with many other partner countries around the world. What we will not have are combat troops and bases.
Now that was really a decision put into motion back in the Bush Administration, and President Obama has demonstrated great leadership as he has made it possible for our troops to leave, as was promised and by the end of this year, but leaving behind a training and support mission along with a very robust diplomatic presence also envisioned by the agreements reached back in the Bush Administration.
QUESTION: How many troops are we talking about?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I also think it’s important to underscore – well, but let me just finish. It’s also important to underscore that Iran would be badly miscalculating if they did not look at the entire region and all of our presence in many countries in the region, both in bases, in training, with NATO allies like Turkey. So I’m used to the president of Iran saying all kinds of things, but I think it’s important to set the record straight.
QUESTION: Can you tell me how many troops we’re talking about staying there? Is it beyond the usual contingent that is around an embassy? And can you tell me the level of your fear that Iran, whether it’s in supporting troops or not, is going to be an increased presence in Iraq as the U.S. pulls out?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, yes, the support and training mission is in addition to the usual marine contingent, the defense attaché, and other normal relations between our diplomats and our Department of Defense representatives. This will be run out of an office of security cooperation. It will be comparable to what we’ve done in many countries where we handle military sales. The Iraqis are buying military equipment from the United States. And we will be working with them, as we work with Jordanians, Colombians, and others around the world.
And I also would underscore that it is not our only presence in the region. In addition to a very significant diplomatic presence in Iraq, which will carry much of the responsibility for dealing with an independent sovereign democratic Iraq, we have bases in neighboring countries, we have our NATO ally in Turkey, we have a lot of presence in that region. So no one, most particularly Iran, should miscalculate about our continuing commitment to and with the Iraqis going forward.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, 57 percent of Americans said in a recent poll that the war in Iraq was not worth it. Do you think it was?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we can either look backward or we can look forward. I choose to look forward. An enormous amount of sacrifice was made by Americans, most particularly our young men and women in uniform, many of whom lost their lives or suffered grievous injuries, and then of course, I’m particularly proud of our diplomats and the other U.S. Government representatives in Iraq. So we are where we are right now. We have a plan in place.
There’s been an enormous amount of effort in conjunction with the Iraqi Government. The Iraqi Government is looking forward. They’re trying to chart a new course that will give them the kind of independence and sovereignty from everyone, including their big neighbor Iran, and we’re going to support that. It’s very much in America’s interest to do so.
QUESTION: So I’m going to take that as you’d rather not answer that question as to whether it was worth it. Let me move you to Libya, where the UN --
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think I’ll leave it to others to argue.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ll leave it to others to argue. My job, President Obama’s leadership, is leading us forward, which is where I think America needs to be.
QUESTION: Okay. Let me move you to Libya where the UN is calling for – wants an investigation as to how Muammar Qadhafi died, the circumstances, who killed him, what he died of. Is the U.S. interested? Is it a matter of consequence to the U.S. how Muammar Qadhafi died?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Of course it is, and we strongly support the UN call and we also strongly support the Transitional National Council of Libya’s call for an independent investigation. Because as Libyans move into the future once again, they need to do so with a sense of unity and reconciliation, they need to hold each other accountable. Those who do not have blood on their hands must be made to feel safe and included regardless of whether or not they supported Qadhafi in the past. So we believe in the rule of law and accountability, and such an investigation would contribute to that.
QUESTION: Will the U.S. put pressure on the transitional government to hold accountable the convicted Pan Am bomber al-Megrahi?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We have certainly raised it in every meeting with the leadership. Now as you know, Candy, there will be, later on Sunday, an announcement of a new government. So once there’s a government in place, we will renew our calls that Megrahi, who should never have been released in the first place, be returned to serve the rest of his sentence for the terrible crime against those passengers on Pan Am 103.
QUESTION: You’ve spoken with members of the transitional government. Has this come up yet?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, absolutely. I’ve raised it a number of times. Now there’s not yet a government. That’s what we’re waiting for, a government to be put in place. The Transitional National Council said they would wait to declare the liberation of Libya until they were sure that Sirte had been taken from the regime loyalists. They would then announce a government. That process begins today.
QUESTION: And finally, let me turn you to Pakistan, where it seems to me the U.S. has spent many, many months warning Pakistan to crack down particularly on the Haqqani Network. We have had folks in the Administration, both publicly and privately, say they believe that the intelligence arm of the Pakistani Government is, in fact, a supporter of the Haqqani Network, which has attacked the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, among other things. Is your patience wearing thing with the Pakistan Government?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you know, I led a very high-level delegation of U.S. officials, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dempsey, now director of the CIA, Dave Petraeus and others, and we had intensive discussions.
And I would make three points: First, the cooperation on security that we have received over the past years from Pakistan has been absolutely essential in our efforts to defeat and disrupt the al-Qaida network. Secondly, the Pakistanis themselves, as you know, have suffered enormously from their military actions against the terrorist networks. And of course, that’s not only been military losses, but civilians to the total of about 30,000 over the last decade.
And finally, we are very clear we need to do two things together. We need to squeeze the terrorist networks, including the Haqqani Network, out of their safe havens, preventing them from being able to plan and carry out attacks across the border. And we have to, on the Afghan side of the border, squeeze and eliminate safe havens of those who move back and forth and who use safe havens in Afghanistan to attack Pakistan. And we have to have a very firm commitment to an Afghan-led reconciliation peace process. We’re about 90, 95 percent in agreement between the United States and Pakistan about the means of our moving toward what are commonly shared goals, and we have a work plan and a real commitment to making sure we are as effective as possible together.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, thank you so much for your time. Safe travels to you.