QUESTION: Madam Secretary, good evening.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good evening to you.
QUESTION: And thank you for accepting our invitation.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: You’ve been in Morocco several times.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: It’s a country you are familiar with.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And a country I love. Yes. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: You came the first time, I think, as a first lady.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right.
QUESTION: And then as a U.S. chief diplomat.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: Geostrategically speaking, where does Morocco stand in the U.S. foreign policy today?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We have a strategic partnership with Morocco that we highly value. As I think you may remember, Morocco was the very first country to recognize our young republic, back in 1777. So ever since then, all these years, we’ve had a close relationship, and we cooperate on a full range of issues – economic issues, security issues, a lot of people to people and cultural exchanges. We have a very high regard for Morocco.
QUESTION: Your last visit dates back, I think, two years ago, in 2009. In the meantime, many changes have taken place. Maybe we can say that the most of which the constitutional reform.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: That was initiated by His Majesty King Mohammed VI. As soon as it was introduced, you held the reform, referring to it as a model. What definition would you give that Moroccan model?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think the way that His Majesty the King and the people of Morocco responded showed great political maturity, and it was a successful transition to a new constitution, to elections that were held and hailed as successful, and now to a new government that is very much in keeping with the democratic trends but within a stable, functioning society and country. So we look at that and we compare it to what is happening elsewhere in the region and around the world, and it is quite admired in the United States.
QUESTION: Speaking of which, there is, of course, a very strong relationship between the two countries, but over and beyond that, do you think we can really boost further especially economic relationship between the two countries? There is, of course, the free trade agreement, the Millennium Challenge Account, but what else?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we are building some additional relationships. We started a program called Partnerships for a New Beginning, where we reached out to countries in the Maghreb, and beyond all the way to Indonesia, Muslim majority countries, and we said, “What more can we do to help create a culture of entrepreneurship and small businesses?”
QUESTION: That’s it.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And the group that was formed here in Morocco of leading businessmen and women has been among our most successful in the world. They just hosted a big conference in Marrakech last month. More than 400 businesspeople and young entrepreneurs came from elsewhere in the region. And Morocco is showing the way, looking at how we incentivize, particularly, young people because there’s what’s called this youth bulge of so many people under 30. And we want to make sure they’re educated and that they have employment opportunities. And I know that’s a particular emphasis of His Majesty the King, of the new elected government, and of the business community here. And we want to be partners.
QUESTION: I remember the – President Obama memorably formulated a new agenda, let’s talk about Africa. He formulated a new agenda for Africa, in light of which do you think the U.S. policy in Africa is about to bring once again economic and human development, or is your concern – your primary concern – to achieve security for the region?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it has to be both because it’s very hard to develop an economy, to attract investors, to start businesses, if you don’t have security. You have to have security that is going to create an environment where people are free to send their children to school, start businesses, do what we would like to see them do. The Millennium Challenge Account, which you mentioned, is a very competitive effort. Morocco competed and won, and I have to tell you many of your neighbors are constantly saying, “We want one.” I said, “Well, we didn’t give it to Morocco. Morocco earned it.” And so what we’ve been doing in the entire continent is setting forth that agenda that President Obama set forth to help stimulate economic growth and more trade and investment. Everybody wants a free trade agreement, and they say, well, Morocco has one. I say they earned it.
QUESTION: Who’s the next?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. That’s right. So I think we look to Morocco quite often as an example of how you create a climate in which businesses are welcomed, investors are attracted, people have jobs because of that. And that’s what we’re trying to do in other countries throughout the continent.
QUESTION: Still on the same theme of security, the American Administration aims to very well that no security is possible or achievable in the region unless there is a final settlement to the Sahara countries. In this regard, Morocco put forward a proposal for autonomy which was very soon – which the international community very soon (inaudible) by U.S. Administration. So where does the U.S. State Department stand today on this issue?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, where we’ve always stood.
QUESTION: In that particular moment?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. And where we have always stood. We continue to support the UN process. We believe that is the appropriate vehicle. We continue to believe the autonomy proposal is credible. So we encourage the parties to make progress together, and that’s been my consistent position for many years.
QUESTION: But you know, Madam Secretary, Algeria was – through its dealings, is standing in the way of building an economically and politically strong Maghreb in the region. You were yesterday in Algeria. You think we can today believe in the sincerity of Algerian Government in that moment?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I was impressed by the conviction expressed to me that Algeria wants to find a way to move beyond the present situation. There will still be negotiations in the UN over the Western Sahara. But Algeria and Morocco, I hope will open their border, I hope will encourage trade, commerce, exchanges, cooperate on security, because both countries face some common threats coming from the south. So I was strongly urging that. I will be reporting that to the Moroccan Government as well because I would like to see – where there are areas of disagreement – the United States has areas of disagreement with many of our friends, partners, allies around the world. So we work on that area of disagreement, but then we try to expand the area of agreement so that it doesn’t become the only issue, the disagreement, that we’re worried about.
QUESTION: You were just talking about the security and terrorism in this part of the world. Coming back – so coming back to security, and the Sahara region particularly, it turns out today that al-Qaida in the region is posing serious threats to stability. To what extent does U.S. Administration take seriously those threats on the stability of this region?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We take them very seriously because we think that terrorists and extremists are spoilers. They disrupt economies, they destroy lives, they destabilize communities, countries, and regions, if they are permitted to do so. So we have worked very closely with the countries of the Maghreb to establish a security relationship, to share information, to cooperate wherever possible, because we are well aware that our friends such as our Moroccan friends are successful. And that, unfortunately, is often a target for the terrorists because they don’t want people to live lives that are of their own making, having a successful woman like you sitting in this chair --
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: -- in front of the camera. And so we want to help you preserve your way of life, your economic progress, your constitutional changes. And therefore, we have to work against the terrorist threat.
QUESTION: But in concrete terms, how can you encourage, how can you help build this Maghreb which is now necessary for this region?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, one is encourage Morocco and Algeria --
SECRETARY CLINTON: -- to cooperate more, because you two have so much that you have to do together against the terrorist threat. And the other is what we continue to do. We have joint programs, we have all kinds of cooperation that we offer, and we’re going to do whatever we can to help protect you and the Maghreb.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, let’s talk about the Palestinian issue. Two questions: Is a cause for grave concern to arrive public opinions, and perception around your support, the support of the United States to Israel, is, I would say, (inaudible) bad. If you were to be persuasive, what would you say on that issue?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we should be judged by the very consistent, strong actions we have taken to try to create a two-state solution. It’s something that started with my husband, and I was deeply involved. I was the first high-level American who called for a Palestinian state back in the 1990s. It certainly has continued on both the Republican and the Democratic side in our country. It’s frustrating. I have every reason to understand how frustrating it is because I am often sitting across from a Palestinian leader or an Israeli leader or an Arab leader or a European leader, all of us trying to figure out how we’re going to accomplish it. But I want people here in Morocco to know we are absolutely committed. We believe in the aspirations of the Palestinian people and their right to have a state of their own.
QUESTION: I said earlier that you were in Nigeria, but before that, you were in Tunisia for – you took part in the meeting of the Friends of Syria. You stated that the Syrian regime will pay the price, the higher price, if it continues to ignore the voice of international community. In concrete terms, what do you mean by pay the higher price?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think the regime will fall. I think that – I am not a fortuneteller. I cannot tell you when that will happen. But the Syrian army, which is largely a conscript army, is not going to continue to carry out these brutal assaults on the Syrian people. At some point, the defections will build, there will finally be created enough momentum against the regime from not only the security forces but business leaders, minorities who are worried about what’s happening. So it will happen. It’s just a question of when, and I wish it would happen sooner instead of later so that the killing could stop.
QUESTION: But how do you think you can lead (inaudible) to give up while Moscow and Beijing continue to (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s a very unfortunate situation because Moscow in particular, with its long history with Assad, the family, and the regime, it’s got an opportunity to try to help resolve the crisis. And instead, they stood in the way of the international consensus to do so. But I think even they are starting to get worried. I mean, these terrible pictures coming out of Homs are just heartbreaking, and people all over the world, including inside Russia and elsewhere, are seeing them.
So I do think that the pressure is building, the sanctions are beginning to really affect the economy within Syria, whether people can get what they need in the market. So I wish that this would end as soon as possible to stop the suffering, but the international community is resolved to keep the pressure on, to try to get humanitarian assistance in, and to keep helping the Syrian opposition build itself up so that it has credibility to be able to stand against Assad.
QUESTION: Mrs. Clinton, my last question, maybe you will answer – this is the issue that you are most sensitive, but I’m going to ask you – my last question is not intended for the Secretary of State, of course, but for the American citizen, for the woman you are, for the – Chelsea’s mother. You are – such qualities you enjoy once you go back home, relieved from – of your official obligations, responsibilities. Out of the crises and conflicts going on all around the world, which is the most sensitive to you at that precise moment? Which one?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, right now, Syria. That just is heartbreaking to see the deaths and the brutality. But that’s happening in many other places in the world; it’s just not on a television set.
SECRETARY CLINTON: If you go to the Eastern Congo and you meet, as I have, women and children who have been brutalized by militias, or you visit with the survivors of terrible terrorist attacks in Spain or Indonesia, I mean, as a mother – you’re a mother – you ask yourself – all you want is for the world to be more peaceful and your children to grow up and become what God meant them to be, to use their talents to make the world a better place. And it’s distressing and somewhat troubling that here we are in the 21st century, and instead of sitting down and resolving disputes peacefully, people are still using guns or machetes or bombs, and so it’s the level of violence, it’s the unfortunate consequences of that, that really undermine the human community that I remain focused on and will continue to work to try to prevent.
QUESTION: What is, for you, the biggest change in United States before and after September 11? You lived the two periods, as a first lady --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: -- and then as Secretary of State. What is the biggest change in United States?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the understanding that the United States was attacked. We’ve never been attacked like that, at least since the War of 1812 when the British attacked us. That was a long time ago. But this was such a terrible event in the consciousness of Americans. And I think it’s made Americans more vigilant, more careful about the dangers that exist in the world.
QUESTION: To finish on a cheerful note, Madam Secretary, you are best remembered in Morocco’s mind as a first lady dressed in Moroccan gown, kaftan, while greeting His Majesty King Mohammed VI in the White House. In my memory, the kaftan was red. I don’t know if I’m right, but I think it was red. My question is: Have you bought any more Moroccan gown or kaftans since then?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I certainly do. White and gold --
QUESTION: How many do you have (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have probably three fancy ones --
SECRETARY CLINTON: -- and I have about five plain everyday ones. I find them so comfortable to wear, and the fancy ones are so beautiful that I really delight in wearing them.
QUESTION: Well, thank you, Madam Secretary, to have taken the time to enlighten us on those issues, all important. Thank you and good evening.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good evening. Thank you.
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