Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met today with British Foreign Secretary William Hague at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. Following their meeting, Secretary Clinton underscored the "indispensible, unique, and special relationship that exists between our two nations, our governments, and our peoples." She then said:
"...We are certainly looking forward to President Obama and Mrs. Obama's state visit starting tomorrow. And thank you for welcoming us so warmly and thank you for the great working relationship that we have and the many areas where we consult closely and frequently on matters of mutual concern. And I was grateful again for the conversation we had which, as you have just summarized, covered quite a bit of ground. I will just highlight a few of the issues.
"First, on Libya, we reiterated our shared commitment to enforce the UN Security Council resolution and to protect Libyan civilians. I think both of us believe that we are making progress, but we know that our resolve must be firm and that we have to make it clear that time is running out for Colonel Qadhafi and those around him.
"In Syria, the Asad government continues to respond to peaceful protests with brutal violence. By our best estimate, nearly 1,000 people have now been killed. And that is against the backdrop of President Asad talking about reform while his security forces fire bullets into crowds of marchers and mourners at funerals. This cruelty must end, and the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people must be honored.
"The U.S., the EU, and others have already imposed sanctions against senior Syrian officials, including new measures announced today targeting President Asad. Foreign Secretary Hague and I are both absolutely consistent with our message to the Asad government: Stop the killings, the beatings, the arrests; release all political prisoners and detainees; begin to respond to the demands that are upon you for a process of credible and inclusive democratic change.
"President Asad faces a choice: He can lead the transition to democracy that the Syrian people have demanded; or he can, as President Obama said on Thursday, get out of the way. But there is no doubt that if he does not begin to lead that process, his regime will face continuing and increasing pressure and isolation.
"I appreciated the foreign secretary's positive words about President Obama's speech concerning a comprehensive Middle East peace. The United States has outlined principles that we believe provide a foundation for negotiations to resolve core issues, end the conflict and all claims. Everyone knows what the results should be: two states for two people with secure and recognized borders, based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps and security arrangements that ensure Israel can effectively defend itself by itself.
"As the President now has said twice in the last three days, this is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. Certainly, it is the formula that was used by two prior presidents -- one Democratic, one Republican. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years, including the demographic realities and the needs of both sides.
"As the President also said, and I would underscore this, no country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction. Any Palestinian government must accept the principles outlined by the Quartet, including recognizing Israel's right to exist and rejecting violence and adhering to all existing agreements.
"The foreign secretary and I also reviewed the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan, British and American troops continue to work side by side to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida and its terrorist allies. Our military and civilian men and women have made great progress breaking the Taliban's momentum, and we are determined to continue to press al-Qaida and its affiliates on all fronts, even after killing its leader, Usama bin Ladin.
"We are going to be discussing and planning to start bringing troops home as part of a responsible transition to an Afghan lead for security, even as we maintain a long-term commitment to the Afghan people. And we are actively supporting an Afghan-led political process to broker reconciliation with members of the Taliban who renounce violence, cut ties to al-Qaida, and support the Afghan constitution.
"With respect to Pakistan, Pakistan has hard choices to make. We know the facts. Pakistan is a nuclear-armed state, home to nearly 180 million people, making it the world's sixth largest nation. It needs international support to deal with political and economic problems and the threats it faces from internal violence. This latest attack on a Pakistani naval installation in Karachi is another reminder of the terrible price the Pakistani people have borne in their own struggle against violent extremism.
"We have killed more terrorists on Pakistani soil than anywhere else in the world, and that could not have been done without the cooperation of the Government of Pakistan. But there is more work to be done and the work is urgent. Over the long haul, both the United Kingdom and the United States seek to support the Pakistani people as they chart their own destiny, away from political violence, toward greater stability, economic prosperity, and justice.
"In Yemen, we are dismayed that President Saleh continues his refusal to sign the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative which would help resolve the political challenges facing Yemen today. The international community, led by the GCC, has worked hard to build support for this initiative. President Saleh has agreed on multiple occasions to sign it. Once again, he is failing to live up to those promises. We urge President Saleh to immediately follow through on his repeated commitments to peacefully transfer power. This is critical for the peace and security that the Yemeni people are seeking.
"Finally, we discussed events in Sudan, in particular in Abyei. The United States calls on the Sudanese armed forces to immediately cease all offensive operations in Abyei and withdraw. Both sides must follow through on implementing the agreements of January of 13th and 17th and chart a way forward that restores calm, upholds the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and advances a negotiated political settlement on the future status of the Abyei area.
"There were other matters as well, but I think those were the highlights. But as always with the foreign secretary, we have much to discuss when we meet, because we have a similar perspective and shared values and a long history of facing foreign policy challenges together as partners and friends."
You can read the Secretary's full remarks with British Foreign Secretary Hague here.