Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Latvian Foreign Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis at the State Department in Washington, DC on February 22, 2011. Before remarks with Foreign Minister Kristovskis, Secretary Clinton commented on the situation in the Middle East. The Secretary said:
"Before we begin, I'd like to say a few words about the Middle East. The United States continues to watch the situation in Libya with alarm. Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been lost and their loved ones, and we join the international community in strongly condemning the violence, as we've received reports of hundreds killed and many more injured. This bloodshed is completely unacceptable. It is the responsibility of the Government of Libya to respect the universal rights of their own people, including their right to free expression and assembly. The United States is also gravely concerned by reports of violence in Yemen and elsewhere. We urge restraint and for the governments in the region to respect the rights of their people.
"In Bahrain, we welcome King Hamad's decision to release a number of prisoners and we look forward to implementation. We also welcome Crown Prince Salman's steps to initiate a meaningful dialogue with the full spectrum of Bahraini society. We hope Bahrain's friends across the region and around the world will support this initiative as a constructive path to preserve Bahrain's stability and help meet the aspirations of all its people. As we have said, these steps will need to be followed by concrete actions and reforms. We urge all parties to work quickly so that a national dialogue can produce meaningful measures that respond to the legitimate aspirations of all the people of Bahrain, and we continue to call on the Bahraini Government to exercise restraint. There is no place for violence against peaceful protesters.
"The process for a new Tunisia and for a new Egypt has only just begun. We welcome Egypt's leaders signaling their commitment to an orderly transition to a democratic government, and we look to them to take the concrete steps needed to bring about political change. And we will continue to be a supportive partner to the peoples of both countries as they seek a better future.
"Across the Middle East, people are calling on their governments to be more open, more accountable, and more responsive, and the United States believes it is in the interest of governments to engage peacefully and positively in addressing their demands and to work to respond to them. Without genuine progress toward open and accountable political systems, the gap between people and their governments can only grow and instability can only deepen."Related Content:Consular Information for U.S. Citizens in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen