Travel Diary: Secretary Clinton Meets With Egyptian Foreign Minister Al-Araby

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
March 15, 2011

On March 15, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Al-Araby in Cairo. Secretary Clinton said:

"...I want to begin by saying very clearly and directly to the people of Egypt that this moment of history belongs to you, that this is your achievement and you broke barriers and overcame obstacles to pursue the dream of democracy, and the United States and President Obama and I will stand with you as you make this journey.

"Like so many Americans, we have watched with great admiration and inspiration not only the activities in Tahrir Square but the outpouring of support for a new future where Egyptians take control of their own destiny. And the solidarity that was shown among Egyptians across all lines was very moving to many of us.

"This courage and solidarity will serve the people of Egypt well, because the road to democracy, as the United States knows, being the oldest democracy in the world, although nothing like the oldest civilization in the world. We know how hard this path is. And we congratulate you on embarking on what will be a very important next chapter in the storied history of Egypt.

"As the foreign minister said, we had a comprehensive discussion on many issues. I came to listen more than talk. I wanted to hear directly about the needs that Egypt has, particularly economically, because we know that political reform must be matched by economic reform, that there must be jobs and rising incomes and opportunities for all.

"And we also discussed the current situation in Libya. We are very concerned about the Egyptian citizens who are still in Libya. We have played a part in helping to bring Egyptians home who made it to Tunisia, but we know that there are many, many Egyptians who are still unable to come home.

"We also support -- and I will have an opportunity to discuss this tomorrow with the prime minister and with the field marshal -- the steps that are being taken to lay the groundwork for free and fair elections, and the need for those elections to be meaningful, to be based on a strong foundation that will be stable enough and strong enough to move into the future to hold parliamentary and presidential elections, to get results that will give you leaders that will be able to respond to the aspirations.

"I am particularly pleased that the minister and I discussed in great detail with others who were there the economic needs, the need to rebuild a police force that will have the trust of the people. And I applaud the announcement today of the dismantling of the existing state security apparatus and the rebuilding of one that will be responsive to the needs of Egyptians.

"We also focused on small and medium-sized enterprises because 99 percent of the jobs in Egypt are in small and medium-sized businesses. And I brought with me the head of our Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Elizabeth Littlefield, to discuss the ways that we could support this effort. And we want to see a very specific commitment by OPIC and by U.S. Export-Import Bank to provide letters of credit, to encourage private sector investments, because the long-term economic growth of Egypt depends not on government jobs but on private sector jobs. So the more foreign direct investment that we can help to encourage and support, we think will be beneficial for Egyptian people.

"We've committed $90 million for near-term immediate economic assistance. At my request, we've had legislation introduced in the Senate of the United States by Senator Kerry and Senator McCain to establish an Egypt-American enterprise fund similar to what the United States did for Central and Eastern Europe. And we will closely coordinate with our Egyptian counterparts because we want to be responsive to the needs that you have.

"In early January before the protests began, I warned at a conference in Doha that the region's foundations were sinking into the sand. But today, because of the Egyptian people, Egypt is rising. Egypt, Umm al-Dunya, mother of the world, is now giving birth to democracy. Congratulations."

You can read the Secretary's full remarks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Al-Arabyhere.

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