QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you for joining us. Are you in Herman Cain’s famously designated Beki-Beki-Beki-stan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, there’s a zero-zero-zero chance I’m going to comment on Republican politics, but I am in Uzbekistan.
QUESTION: Let to turn to something more serious. You were actually in Libya earlier this week, and this week we all saw the video of the bloodied and dazed Muammar Qadhafi. We saw him now lying in a freezer while Libyans take a look at him. What was your reaction to that video, your gut reaction?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Christiane, obviously no one wants to see any human being in that condition, yet I know what a great relief it was to millions of Libyans that the past was finished, and now they can move into a different future without fear and intimidation and try to make up the lost time of 42 years to develop a country that has so much natural wealth and deserves to have a democracy and prosperity.
QUESTION: Do you think it was obvious that that was going to happen to him, or do you think that he should have been treated any differently?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think everyone would hope that he could have been captured and brought to justice, and I am very pleased that the Transitional National Council has called for an independent investigation along with the United Nations. I fully support that, because I think that the new Libya needs to start with accountability, the rule of law, a sense of unity and reconciliation in order to build an inclusive democracy so people who supported the former regime – unless they do have blood on their hands – should be safe and feel included in this new country.
QUESTION: What about the bomber of Pan Am 104, al-Megrahi, who was freed and brought back to Libya. Do you want to see him recaptured, re-imprisoned, and if so, where? In Libya or in the United States or in Britain or Scotland?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Christiane, I never thought he should have been released in the first place. I’ve raised this with the highest levels of the TNC. I will raise it with the new Libyan government. We want to see him returned to prison, preferably in Scotland where he was serving the sentence, but if not, elsewhere, because we thought it was a miscarriage of justice that he was released from the sentence that had been imposed for the ghastly bombing of Pan Am 103.
QUESTION: Let’s turn to Iraq. President Obama at the end of this week has announced that all troops will be out by the end of the year. It’s well known the military wanted to keep 20 to 30,000 in and that the Iraqi forces, while they’ve made progress, really still need American logistical help. Are you not concerned that some of the gains that have been made are at risk?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Christiane, remember that it was President Bush who set the timetable in motion by agreeing with the Iraqis that all troops would be out by the end of this year. And of course, President Obama promised the American people that the troops would be out by the end of this year.
But we’re always open to discussing with partner countries what their needs are. And as you know, we have a lot of presence in that region. So no, we’re not going to have bases in Iraq, but we have bases elsewhere. We have security relations from Jordan to Colombia. So we’re going to be present in Iraq, supporting the Iraqis, and continually discussing with them what their needs are. And no one should miscalculate our commitment to Iraq, most particularly Iran.
QUESTION: Let’s just move to Afghanistan, where you’ve also just from, and Pakistan. You have confirmed that you’re talking to the Haqqani Network, also you’re trying to get talks with the Taliban. Is the United States prepared and does the United States have the responsibility to make sure that when it leaves, if the Taliban is being brought back in, that it does not commit the same kind of atrocities against the women and others that it did in the past?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me take each piece of that very quickly. We’re going to fight where we need to fight. We will talk if there’s an opportunity to talk. And we will keep building toward a more secure, stable future for Afghanistan. And to that end, we have redlines for any talking or any agreement. With whomever we talk, they have to abide by the following: They must renounce violence, they must renounce any and all ties to al-Qaida, and most importantly, for the future of Afghanistan, they must commit to abide by the laws and constitution of Afghanistan, which protect the rights of ethnic minorities and women.
So I am very clear, as I was on my just recent visit to Afghanistan, that I am not going to support any peace agreement that gives up the hard-won rights of the Afghan people, and in particular, I have a commitment to the women of Afghanistan.
QUESTION: I wonder if you can, finally, just give us what you know about the latest message from the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, which has issued a warning to Americans that it has credible evidence of an imminent terror attacks against terrorists there?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you know, Christiane, we follow this very closely, and it is our responsibility, first and foremost, to take care of Americans everywhere in the world. We’ve been getting threats from al-Shabaab against Americans and Westerners. So it’s a very dangerous, uncertain situation, and we want to be sure that whatever information we have, we immediately present to Americans who live, work, or may be visiting in Kenya.
QUESTION: So al-Shabaab, the al-Qaida offshoot, that’s who’s threatening?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not going to get into specifics, but they’ve been public in their threats. You can look at coverage over the last weeks that they’ve threatened Kenya, they have threatened Westerners. So al-Shabaab remains a very serious threat, which is why we have taken action against them and are supporting further action.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much indeed.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Christiane. Good to talk to you.