US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed on Monday with British Foreign Secretary William Hague the situation in the Middle East, the war in Afghanistan and the economic crisis in Europe.
“Our meeting today reflected a wide array of shared concerns and challenges, including the economic crisis in Europe, the embassy attack on the UK embassy in Iran, the transition in Afghanistan, the situation in Pakistan, the evolving situations in Burma, North Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans and so much more”, said Clinton in remarks after the meeting.
“We naturally discussed the decisions regarding Europe’s debt crisis, and we have a great stake in a speedy resolution. We support efforts to enact pro-growth reforms, and we will continue to work closely with our European partners”, she added.
Clinton noted that she discussed with Hague ongoing efforts to press the Iranian government to meet all of its international obligations.
“The attack on the British embassy was an affront not only to the British people, but to the international community. Governments owe a duty to protect diplomatic lives and property, and we expect the government of Iran to do just that, both inside and outside of Iran,” she said.
“That is why we strongly supported the UN General Assembly’s resolution deploring the plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador here in Washington, and we are working together on additional sanctions and the great work that the foreign minister and the government of UK has done with us at the IAEA to express nearly unanimous concern about Iran’s nuclear program”, she added.
Clinton noted that Afghanistan “was a big part of the discussion today, following up on our meetings in Bonn and the ISAF meeting in Brussels, at NATO. The British and American men and women of our armed forces have literally stood and fought side by side and have reversed the Taliban momentum on the battlefields”.
She further welcomed the Arab League decision on Syria and compared notes with Hague on the parliamentary elections in Egypt affirming that the Egyptian people “are justifiably proud to begin the process of choosing their new leaders”.
“We urge the Egyptian authorities to ensure that free and fair voting continues through the next election rounds and that there be a steady transition toward a new civilian government. And at the same time, we call upon the continued protection of peaceful protesters and holding those accountable for previous incidents of violence”, she added.
In return Hague noted that year 2012 is “set to throw up challenges in foreign policy that could be more demanding and complex still, and we must be ready for those. Britain is determined to play its full part, alongside the United States, standing shoulder to shoulder and building on our shared values, our sense of common purpose, our mutual resolve”.
“We cannot sign a European treaty that does not give adequate protection to the single market in Europe, but we’re not changing our relationship with the European Union. And we will work with our European partners over the coming months on the need for the EU to remove barriers to trade, to complete the single market, to conclude free trade agreements around the world”, affirmed Hague.
“These remain the most important way for Europe to compete and address economic problems and generate essential growth. We discussed the Middle East peace process and the need for a return to negotiations that cannot safely be delayed”, he concluded.