Interview With Ed Henry of Fox News
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
November 18, 2011
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I appreciate your time very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: My pleasure, Ed.
QUESTION: As a woman, in particular, it has to be pretty remarkable to think that you’re heading out to this mission to Burma next month. And given everything that’s happened there with Aung San Suu Kyi, what is the goal of your mission?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well I think, as the President said when announced it, we have as a country followed closely what’s happened in Burma over the last several decades. It’s been heart-wrenching and heartbreaking. And then when Aung San Suu Kyi was finally released from house arrest, we began communicating with her, seeking her advice, began talking to others in the country, and particularly in the new government, the new parliament, as well as the executive, and we sensed some changing attitudes and openings that encouraged us but obviously have to be tested.
So we’ve had people go out. We had the first special envoy to Burma that was a position created by the Congress, but we appointed the first one. We’ve had members of the Senate go to Burma. I know that both Senator Webb and Senator McCain have gone, others probably as well. And the information coming back was there is an opening. Now, let’s not get carried away. There is still a lot to be done and it has to be tested, but I’m going to go and meet with, obviously, Aung San Suu Kyi, but the highest levels of the government, civil society, other members of the opposition, and just convey that the United States is prepared to support a peaceful institutionalization of democracy.
We’d like to see more political prisoners released. We would like to see a real political process and real elections. We’d like to see an end to the conflicts, particularly the terrible conflicts with ethnic minorities. But we think there’s an opportunity and we want to test it.
QUESTION: Now they – obviously, the Burmese Government may have an agenda here. They want to get rid of the sanctions; it’s been very tough on their economy. How do you ensure that you’re not used here and that they get what they want without really reforming?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, and that’s what diplomacy’s all about. That’s why we are pursuing for the last two years kind of a probing analysis. That’s why we’ve had a lot of contact officially and unofficially with people there. But it is, I think, appropriate now for us to do this trip. We’re not ending sanctions. We are not making any abrupt changes. We have to do some more fact finding, and that’s part of my trip.
QUESTION: Do you think this puts more pressure on China to see somebody that they have a good relationship with opening the door to the U.S. maybe changing its record? Again, it’s early, but maybe starting to change its own record on human rights? Does that put pressure on China?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would think that the integration of this region, which is really one of the key goals that the Obama Administration has – it’s something I’ve worked on from the very beginning of my tenure as Secretary of State – is an economic integration, but it’s also an effort to promote universal values. We think the Burmese people have just as much of a right to free expression and other freedoms that we take for granted. And we think that everyone in the region has some work ahead of us in order to realize the potential.
And I think if you look at ASEAN, which is the kind of central organization here in Southeast Asia, there’s been a lot of good changes. We’re doing this interview in Indonesia, a country that has been a democracy now for a little over a decade. Who would have predicted that when they had very strong dictatorial regimes?
So we think that you’re on the right side of history when you’re promoting freedom and democracy and human rights. And countries and people move at their own paces, but we want to do everything we can to support that.
QUESTION: And part of the President’s trip – you were with him in Hawaii, now with him in Indonesia – was trying to sell back home the idea that this diplomacy also can, with trade missions in particular, can matter to jobs back home. You have your ear still to the ground on domestic politics as well. Do you think the President’s message on that is breaking through?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I hope after the announcements today it not only breaks through but it really makes the case. I mean, obviously we’re interested in economic integration, security, democracy, human rights. But on the economy, the big announcements from Boeing, GE, Sikorsky, 120,000-plus job, that’s a good message to have. Because if you’re looking at our economic rejuvenation and what we need to do back home, we clearly have to be selling more to the rest of the world. What part of the world has a lot of money right now and is building infrastructure, buying airplanes, building power stations, buying things that we are really good at? Well, it’s the Asia Pacific region. So for anyone who back home says, well, why is the President heading off to the Asia Pacific region, I think Boeing, GE, and Sikorsky should answer that question.
QUESTION: We only have a couple minutes, so a couple quick subjects. The President had a one-on-one with the Russian president back in Hawaii, and there have been reports suggesting that the Administration may share sensitive data with Russia as part of the reset about missile defense. And there are some critics sayings, “Why would you do that?” Why would you do that, and are you – is there risk to sharing that information?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not quite sure what that would refer to. We have from the very beginning made it clear that the United States was going ahead with missile defense. We think that the approach that President Obama set forth, the phase-adaptive approach, actually will work better against the threats that we face, namely missiles from countries like Iran or other actors. And we’re also working closely with our NATO partners. As you might recall, just a few weeks ago we announced that Turkey would host a radar for missile defense for NATO So we have that track that is going.
Now, we have always said that if the Russians want to cooperate with the United States and NATO in developing missile defense that will protect them as well as us from the kind of threats that we foresee in the future, we would be willing to work with them on that. The details are so far in the distance because, of course, there’s been no agreement.
QUESTION: Two last things. We were talking beforehand about all your travels around the world. Do you ever look at the Republican field out there going to Iowa, New Hampshire? You used to be on the plane as well domestically. Do you ever look back and miss it at all?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Ed, that was a wonderful experience. I cannot tell you how really grateful I am that I got to run for president. But that was then, this is now, and I’m very focused on what I think needs to be done for our country. And that’s where my time and attention is devoted.
QUESTION: And we’ve also learned that your daughter is going to be joining our business. You have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of our business.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: What’s your advice for her?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, she’s a grown-up, and I think it’s good for a mother to support what her children do. And I’m very excited for her, and I think that she’ll do an absolutely amazing job.
QUESTION: But she’s not going to get an unfair advantage if we want to get an exclusive with you, right?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t think so. (Laughter.) I think you’ll always have an open door, Ed. I’ve known you too long.
QUESTION: I appreciate your time.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Good to see you.
QUESTION: Great to see you.