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The United States and France Pledge Continued Transatlantic Alliance
February 05, 2009
Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State:
Remarks With French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner After Their Meeting
Treaty Room, Washington, DC
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon.
FOREIGN MINISTER KOUCHNER: Good afternoon.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I was –
FOREIGN MINISTER KOUCHNER: (In French.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: We’ll do the translation. I was delighted to welcome Foreign Minister Kouchner here today. We’ve had a very useful and productive discussion on a wide range of topics, first over a private lunch, and then with our various aides.
I just want to reiterate that the United States is committed to our transatlantic alliance. This is an alliance that is one of the oldest and closest that the United States has in the world. We appreciate France’s leadership, especially during its recent EU presidency. And I want to publicly thank President Sarkozy for his leadership working with the United States to achieve a ceasefire in Georgia. And I thank you as well, Mr. Minister, for the very broad-based efforts that France has undertaken to address the global financial challenges. Our alliance is rooted in common values, and we have put that alliance to work in support of security, justice, and opportunity.
We discussed a number of the difficult situations that confront us in the world. We will continue to coordinate closely in the Middle East and cooperate on Gaza, humanitarian aid, and the never-ending pursuit of a just and secure peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
You know, the United States is also very proud and grateful to have France as a coalition partner in our efforts to strengthen the Afghan people’s efforts to build a better future. The minister is very familiar with Afghanistan, and we spoke of his longstanding work in that country, going back many years, on behalf of the people. And I was particularly impressed with his description of the hospital that the French have built in Kabul, which is now being run by the Afghan people themselves.
We’ll continue to work closely as we close the Guantanamo detention center. And on behalf of our mutual concerns regarding Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, we’re going to use smart diplomacy together to engage the international community. And we will do so, including Russia as a cooperative partner, because we intend to forge a more constructive relationship.
So, Mr. Minister, there is much ahead of us on global financial reform, on making sure that we forge an even closer working relationship. And I, on a personal level, look forward to working with you and advancing our shared objectives of liberty, peace, and prosperity around the world.
FOREIGN MINISTER KOUCHNER: (Via interpreter.) Madame Secretary, I am very happy and honored to see you here today, to see you again here today in your new position, which, of course, makes the two of you – the two of us colleagues.
Of course, we saluted the election of President Obama, and although we are not always a hundred percent in agreement, our friendship, friendship between our two countries, is a very sound friendship. It’s an old friendship and it’s a friendship that has a lot of future to it.
(In English.) So we talk about a lot of subjects. We were (inaudible) the world with some consideration, but mainly on Middle East – pardon. (Laughter.)
So on Middle East, we are really very anxious about the situation of the people of Gaza, and we were in agreement together with Madame Secretary of State to make pressure on both side to open the crossing. The Gaza people, they need so-called humanitarian assistance. And we’ll do it together another time, even if this is difficult, because we are facing – all of us – the electoral process in Israel and the idea – very important idea of Abu Mazen, the president of the PLO, the Palestinian Authority, to set up – to try to set up a government of national unity. And we are, of course, supporting Abu Mazen, and we must strengthen him, but it will take some times.
Meanwhile, we must access to the people – we must accede to the people – sorry. For the rest, we were at complete agreement to support the Egyptian initiative, and you know that some talks are now – have been developed in Cairo in between the Hamas delegation, the PLO delegation, and we are waiting for the result of that with a very great support to the Egyptian. And there is a meeting in the – I think the – yes, the 2nd day of February, yes, in Cairo, and I hope we’ll get better support to Gaza people before this date.
We were talking about Afghanistan. We are talking about Darfur. We are talking about Guantanamo, and thank you for having closed this – I don’t know how to use – prison of Guantanamo. And with our friends of the European Union, we accept the idea of having a common position, if it is possible, European position, because you know that with Schengen, if one country accept one of the prisoner, he would be able to travel all – in all the places, in 22 countries – or 24 countries in Europe.
Afghanistan, it is a burden for us, but we need to succeed. We have to succeed in Afghanistan in offering support to the democratic elected government and to develop the access to the people. Afghanization is the word. For that, we need to secure the places, and with Madame Clinton we were talking a lot about that.
No, I know that I have to speak French. (Via interpreter) I’ll answer questions in French.