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Remarks With Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen After Their Meeting
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, everyone. I cannot tell you how happy I am to welcome a colleague and a new friend to the State Department. It is always wonderful working with our Dutch allies on a range of issues. And as many of you know, the foreign minister scheduled and pulled off the meeting we had in The Hague about Afghanistan in just a record period of time. Minister Verhagen is someone who takes so seriously the range of issues that not only concern our two countries, but indeed our concerns about the world.
We have just discussed a wide range of issues and set up a process that will continue going forward so that we can get in depth on a number of important matters. I told the minister that unfortunately, I have to leave to attend to my first Cabinet meeting, which was scheduled long after we had set this time aside for our meeting. But we were able to touch on everything from piracy to the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and last but not least, the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s voyage to the New World, which has particular interest to me as a New Yorker.
I want to just quickly mention a few of the matters that we discussed. Obviously, piracy is a concern to both our countries and indeed to the world. And I want to thank the Netherlands for the work they have done to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia, including their recent successful mission over the weekend to free 20 Yemenis, whose fishing vessel was hijacked by the pirates. Dutch ships and aircraft have been instrumental in the interdiction of pirates and the prevention of capture for ransom of several ships.
We look forward to continued cooperation. And we’re going to work together to seek more effective ways to hold these pirate criminals accountable for their actions, which threaten not only the lives of merchant seamen and the vessels on which they sail, but the security of critical maritime routes.
To this end, we will work on clarifying the legal authorities that exist. There will be, at our request, a meeting of the international piracy contact group in New York City in early May, in addition to the meeting that will be held shortly in Brussels. We’re going to have to determine the best way to bring pirates to justice after they’re captured. And there will have to be additional discussion about this at NATO as well.
I appreciate very much the foreign minister’s extraordinary work in highlighting the necessity for us to be effective in our efforts in Afghanistan that came out of the conference in The Hague. You know, the Dutch contributions in Uruzgan province have been instrumental and a real model in showing how we can bring stability and security to the people of Afghanistan. Dutch soldiers and civilians have done excellent work. In fact, the Dutch “3D” approach – defense, diplomacy, and development – pursued simultaneously, which may sound familiar to some of us, is a model for our own efforts and the future efforts in Afghanistan. There’s a lot of work for us to do there, and the minister will be meeting with Ambassador Holbrooke as well to go into greater depth.