By Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Secretary of State, Viana Palace, Madrid, Spain
FOREIGN MINISTER JIMENEZ: Hola. Buenos dias. Dear Secretary of State, dear Hillary, let me start by expressing my personal satisfaction for receiving you here in Madrid. We are extremely pleased to have this opportunity for receiving you, and to see how is our collaboration and our friendship. So I want to thank you for being here, and to have this opportunity to strengthen our relationship and our friendship.
(Via translator) (Inaudible) agenda. The relations between Spain and the U.S. are very sound, and also very broad-ranging. We work together on subjects such as counterterrorism, but also in the areas such as justice, without forgetting all of the economic and international exchange, all our cultural cooperation, as well. In addition, in the multilateral framework, we have worked together on climate change, and developing alternative energies.
Trade (inaudible) and direct investment have grown very strongly. Traditionally, the United States has always been one of the first direct foreign investors in Spain. But one thing that you may perhaps not know is that Spain has become a major investor in the United States and in companies, in sectors that are tremendously important: teaching sectors, for example; infrastructure; financial services; or renewable energy.
In the economic sphere, the Secretary of State and myself have reaffirmed our intention to continue strengthening our relations and our efforts in order to overcome the global economic crisis, in order to consolidate recovery and achieve sustainable development.
We have looked at all our different agenda items, among which, of course, Afghanistan, where we have reaffirmed our commitment to make progress in the transitional process, according to the established calendar in order to make Afghanistan a safe, secure, and stable place. And I am sure that — in this regard I can assure you that the Secretary of State has expressed her condolences because of the recent loss of the lives of Spanish soldiers in Afghanistan.
We have also talked about North Africa in depth, especially the situation in two countries that — about which we are optimistic, each — and Tunisia. And the work we are doing in the European Union, but also bilaterally from Spain in order to help these countries strengthen their democracies.
We also talked about Libya, where we have been working very closely in a coordinated way in these recent months. We will continue exerting pressure, both militarily and politically, in order to help the Libyan people to achieve their legitimate aspiration for democracy, security, and safety — peace, (inaudible).
We have also spent time on the Mideast peace process, where the United States has traditionally played an essential role, as it continues to play, with both sides, Palestine and Israel, in order to get them to return to the negotiating table, and in order to lay solid foundations for an agreement that enables both people to live in peace. In July, the (inaudible) will be meeting in Washington, and we are working most intently in order to be able to make progress in such an important matter to the entire international community.
We have also had the opportunity to talk about Latin America. The Secretary of State knows that Spain has very strong ties, traditional ties, with Latin America. We enjoy a privileged relationship that enables us to talk to them very directly, because we are very close. And we have once again stated that we are ready — we are both ready — to work together in cooperation, as we have done recently in South America in the security conference that was held in Guatemala two weeks ago. That was a (inaudible) conference that was a tremendous political success, because what it required in terms of coordination and (inaudible) efforts in — coordinated efforts in security.
We have also talked about the possibility of stretching our cooperation in other matters, such as Haiti, where we have also worked together, and we would like to continue doing so. In this regard, two cooperation agencies, USAID and (inaudible), have to work on how we can coordinate our actions together.
We talked about Palomares and the progress made. Ever since I met with the Secretary of State in Washington I saw the goodwill of the Department of State and the United States to work on this, and all the technical teams that have been — since then come over. We have — and the technical assistance, and we are very appreciative of all those efforts.
So, dear Secretary of State, dear Hillary, I know we will now have the opportunity to meet with the President of the Government, with His Majesty, the King, and this is — comes to prove how important this visit of U.S. to Spain is, and it is a token of our friendship, of the excellent cooperation between our two countries, and of course, looking forward to the future, hoping to strengthen this excellent relationship even further, if possible.
So, on behalf of the Spanish Government, this is my — I would like to extend my warmest and heartfelt welcome in this very important visit of yours to Spain. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so very much, Trini, for those warm words, and also for the excellent working relationship that we have. And the meeting we just completed demonstrated that once again. It was a wide-ranging, comprehensive discussion of so many of the important issues, not only the bilateral issues, but regional and global issues, as well. And it underscores the enduring relationship between the United States and Spain.
We are very grateful that the ties between our two nations run deep. Our alliance is rooted in enduring bonds of history and heritage, and they spring from our shared values. Spain is a trusted partner and a valued friend. And together we are leading members of a Transatlantic community that remains an unrivaled force for peace, progress, and prosperity in the world.
As the foreign minister said, we not only discussed a wide range of issues, but we enhanced our cooperative relationship in a number of areas. Let me just mention a few.
I thanked the foreign minister for Spain’s contributions to the NATO/ISAF mission in Afghanistan, and expressed my condolences to the government and to the families of those Spanish soldiers killed and injured in the last week.
This month we are beginning the transition to Afghan responsibility, and it will be completed in 2014. I want to applaud the Spanish forces for their bravery and skill, and especially for the excellent work that is being done training the Afghan police force. I am also grateful for the Spanish investment in health care services in Badghis Province, including the construction of a maternity and pediatric center. We agreed on the importance of moving forward with unity and urgency on all three tracks in Afghanistan: military, civilian, and diplomatic.
We also discussed our shared conviction that Qadhafi needs to stop the assault on the Libyan people, and leave power. We appreciate Spain’s contributions to enforcing the no-fly zone and the arms embargo. The NATO-led mission is on track. The pressure on Qadhafi is mounting. And the rebels have been gaining strength and momentum. We need to see this through, and we are in complete agreement that we will.
There is hardly a major global challenge that we are not working on together. Spain is a strong presence at the G20 as a permanent participant. And we are partners at the nuclear security summit and in food security, climate change, and shared endeavors in Haiti and elsewhere. We work especially closely throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, where Spain’s continued investment in strong democracies and economies is having a real impact.
Earlier this month, both the foreign minister and I were together in Guatemala, where we joined with other donors to announce a major package of support for Central America’s fight against drug traffickers and criminal organizations. And today we continued our conversation about how together we can enhance citizen safety across Latin America.
Our close connections extend to our economic relationship. Under President Zapatero’s leadership, the Spanish Government has taken important steps to strengthen its finances, restructure its banking sector, and improve its competitiveness. We understand how difficult those steps are, and we know that Spain still faces significant challenges as it works to consolidate its finances, bring down unemployment, and overcome the legacy of the global economic crisis.
So, I know that the Spanish Government will continue the process of reform, and I want publicly to say how much we understand that this takes time and patience to make these changes, and to see them through. It is our hope that European leaders continue to make sure that Europe’s response to the crisis is strong, flexible, and effective.
As I told the foreign minister, Spain can count on the unwavering friendship, not only of the United States Government, but of the American people. Spain is the second-fastest growing investor in the United States, and the United States is one of Spain’s largest trading partners. As we each seek to create jobs for our people and grow our economies, we will work together to expand investment and trade between our countries. I had the chance yesterday evening to take a walk in beautiful Madrid, and I saw so many Americans. (Laughter.) So I know that American support for the Spanish economy is strong.
So, my friend, my colleague, this is a full agenda. And I am delighted to be working so closely with you. Our interests and our values converge, and I thank you again for your hospitality and friendship. And I thank also the Spanish people for their commitment to our very strong alliance.
FOREIGN MINISTER JIMENEZ: (Via translator) Thank you very much, Secretary of State, my friends. Now both the Secretary of State and myself are happy to answer some questions.
MODERATOR: (Via translator) A question for the Secretary of State.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary, Madam Foreign Minister. I have a question for both of you. Yesterday Colonel Qadhafi made some threats that he would launch attacks on Europe, on homes and offices, if the NATO mission continued. How do both of you respond to these types of threats?
And, just in a related question, the African Union recently — a number of African leaders made very negative statements about the ICC referrals. And what type of a message does this send? Does this run the risk of offering Colonel Qadhafi and some of the other members of his government a safe haven across the whole continent? Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER JIMENEZ: (Via translator) To your question about yesterday’s threat by Colonel Qadhafi, I need to say that Spain’s response, and that of the international community, is to continue with the same resolve we have been working with during these past months. We will continue working together. We will continue exerting the same military and political pressure we have until now, because this is how we are going to achieve the UNSCR 1973. We are working together in order to protect the Libyan population, to protect Libyan citizens from the threat and the use of military violence against — by Qadhafi. So, we will stay until our objectives are met. And the theme of resolution 1973 is, on the one hand, to protect the civilian population, and on the other to enable the Libyan people to fulfill their aspirations of living in peace.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I agree with the foreign minister, and I would only add that instead of issuing threats, Qadhafi should put the well-being and the interests of his own people first, and he should step down from power and help facilitate a democratic transition that will meet the aspirations of the Libyan people.
With respect to the ICC action, the referral to the ICC was embedded in UN Security Council resolution 1973, which garnered positive votes from the 3 African members of the Security Council: Nigeria, Gabon, and South Africa. There may be some disagreement by a few. But I think that the overall support of what we are attempting to do within Africa is strong and growing.
QUESTION: (Via translator) Good morning. A question for both of you. After the most recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, a recent wave of attacks, do you think it has been advisable to announce the time frame for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan with such a long notice?
And I do have a question for the Secretary of State, for Ms. Clinton. Do you think that Spain should become more involved — and I mean militarily — in the action that is being carried out in Libya? That is all. Thank you very much.
FOREIGN MINISTER JIMENEZ: (Via translator) With regard to Afghanistan, as you know, the international community is acting under the mandate of a resolution of the Security Council of the United Nations. In this regard, what I mean is that the international community has been working together in Afghanistan for almost 10 years now. We have been working in order to make it a secure place, and now we are working in order to help the Afghan people (inaudible) their government, (inaudible) masters of their own destiny. So we are working together on a transitional process, and we think that (inaudible) the transition process contributes to organizing the process.
We know these are complicated times. Coalition forces have suffered attacks. But we hope to continue working with the same determination we have been working from day one and, at this point, to redouble our efforts (inaudible) transfer authority to the Afghans themselves, in terms both of visibility and governance, because our belief is for Afghanistan to be able to (inaudible) into peaceful (inaudible) its own destiny. That is what we are working on. And we set the deadline at 2014 in order to bring this transition process (inaudible). Of course, these are always just a reference.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I agree with the foreign minister. I would also add that the Afghan Government has welcomed the commitment we have made to transition because they too know they must assume responsibility, and they are undertaking to do so with our assistance.
With respect to Libya, we are very grateful for the contributions that Spain is making to the mission in Libya, both in the no-fly zone and in enforcing the arms embargo. As NATO allies, we are constantly evaluating what our resources are, how best to utilize them, and how to make sure that the mission is successful.
QUESTION: Hi, Madam Secretary. The United Nations top human rights official recently criticized China for not arresting Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, during his visit to their country. I would just like to know where you stand on that and whether you agree with the UN on this position.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we have made our views clear, that countries should not be welcoming the Sudanese president because of the outstanding charges against him from the international criminal court. We believe that there are important principles to uphold, when it comes to international justice. And, of course, we are also urging all countries to convince the Sudanese Government to fulfill its responsibilities under the comprehensive peace agreement, to make sure that, as South Sudan becomes an independent nation next week, that the ground for a positive relationship between north and south will be established.
So, I hope that other countries will not offer the opportunity for a visit, but I hope all countries will give a clear, unmistakable message about what needs to be done to finish the comprehensive peace agreement between north and south.
QUESTION: (Via translator) Good morning, Secretary of State, ministers. (Inaudible) said that you talked about Palomares during your meeting. Beyond the goodwill of the United States Government, will it contribute economically to this contamination of that beach because of an American accident in 1966? (Inaudible) Secretary of State applauded President Zapatero’s efforts, and (inaudible) in his forming work. You will be meeting the (inaudible) leader of the opposition, Mr. (Inaudible). What do you expect in that meeting?
And Mr. (Inaudible) in recent months has called for early elections. Do you think that would be good for Spain, or do we have to wait and see what the fruits are of President Zapatero’s reform process?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with respect to Palomares, we understand the sensitivity within Spain toward this issue, and we have, in recent months, brought together a team from the Department of Energy to come to Spain to work with your experts on a collaborative solution to what has been a long-standing legacy issue. Our work is continuing. But I think, as the foreign minister said, the Obama Administration is taking the Spanish concerns very seriously.
Second, I do not comment on internal Spanish politics; that is for the people of Spain to decide. I — as I travel around the world, I meet with governmental officials and opposition representatives. That is part of our ongoing outreach to the entire country and the political system in various nations. So I have no basis for making any comment about the internal decisions.
As I said in my opening remarks, I know how politically difficult many of the actions that the current government has taken are. As you probably know from following the news in the United States, President Obama has taken some very difficult political issues, and has been roundly criticized because these are controversial. But I think each country, in terms of its own economic recovery from the global crisis of 2008, has to make responsible decisions, regardless of the political controversy or consequences. And, of course, we hope, as we do in our own country, that these decisions will be continued, and that they will bear fruit, in terms of the positive economic outcomes that we are all seeking for our people.