Travel Diary: Secretary Clinton Speaks at Town Hall With Omani Civil Society

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
January 12, 2011
Secretary Clinton Meets with Sultan Qaboos in Muscat, Oman

Secretary Clinton spoke at a Town Hall gathering today at Bait al Zubair Museum in Muscat, Oman. Secretary Clinton said:

"...Oman stands out as a nation that has achieved not only stability at home, but peace with your neighbors and the kind of human progress that is especially important. America values your country and the people of Oman as a friend and partner.

"The free trade agreement that we signed in 2006 has brought our people even closer together and helped to create jobs and widen prosperity in both of our countries. We certainly see that agreement not only as an opportunity to open markets and exchange goods, but to exchange ideas about sustainable development and how to, as we connect with the global economy to ensure that we provide benefits to all of our people.

"I know that human security is not just an absence of violence; it is the presence of opportunity. And Oman has shown that it is possible for a nation to focus on education, to empower women and girls, and to put people at the center of its development strategy. I was told in preparing for my visit that just 40 years ago the entire country had only three primary schools which educated fewer than 1,000 boys and no girls. And today, you have universal education, something that is still not obtained by every country in the region and beyond. You have women and men studying at the universities.

"And it is apparent to me that when the UN Development Program ranked Oman as the world's most improved country in human development since 1970, it was because not of the great infrastructure, the impressive modern airport, all of the physical manifestation of a country that has worked hard for 40 years, but because of the quality of the improvement in people's lives.

"I think that education remains a key to Oman's future. That's why we're working together with the ministry of education and civil society to recruit talented students for exchange programs like the Fulbright Scholarship, Women in Science, and Leaders for Democracy Fellowship. The number of Omanis studying in America is on the rise, but I personally would like to see it grow even more.

"...Young people today are connected globally, but focused locally. They want to see improvements in their own circumstances. And that's where nongovernmental organizations come in, because as committed as governments can be -- and certainly the government here of His Majesty is very committed as we have seen for the last 40 years -- governments need partners. And some governments recognize that and embrace civil society, and some governments try to shut the door to citizens working to improve themselves and their communities.

"...There's so much I want to learn from you, and I'm looking forward to our discussion today to hear your ideas, your questions about what we can do as partners and friends to continue to provide greater opportunity, and some of the views that you have about what more can be done in your own country and in the larger region.

"Coming from Yemen as I did yesterday and landing here in your country has certainly highlighted the challenges that exist within a very small geographic area. And we have to ask ourselves in addition to good leadership, which Oman has enjoyed for 40 years -- and I will congratulate His Majesty on the 40 years of his leadership -- what are the other ingredients that has made Oman so successful. Because if I could bottle it, I would take it to some other places near and far and try to persuade leaders and citizens alike to make the same decisions, to walk the same path, and to recognize that when we invest in the future of our young people, we are doing the most important work we are called to do here on earth to give our children a chance to fulfill their own God-given potential."

You can read the complete transcript here. More information about the Secretary's travel to the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Oman, and Qatar is available here.

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