Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco February 24-25, 2012. In Tunisia, Secretary Clinton participated in the first meeting of the "Friends of Syria" group as part of our ongoing efforts with our friends, allies, and the Syrian opposition to crystallize next steps to halt the slaughter of the Syrian people and pursue a transition to democracy in Syria. At the meeting, she said "Syria is a proud country of 23 million people, with a rich history and ancient culture. The end of Assad can mark a new beginning for Syria. It is a chance to rebuild and strengthen the foundations of the state. If Syrians come together, and especially if the leaders of Syria's business community, military, and other institutions recognize that their futures lie with a reformed Syrian state and not the regime, then Syria may yet emerge as a strong and unified country -- a respected and responsible leader in the region."
After the meeting, the Secretary spoke to the press, where she said, "I think today the Friends of the Syrian People sent a strong and unified message that the Assad regime's escalating violence is an affront to the international community, a threat to regional security, and a grave violation of universal human rights. And the work that has been done by the Arab League to bring us to this point, where we put together a strong international consensus has been extremely important. The violence must end and a democratic transition begin. I applaud the selection of Kofi Annan as a special envoy for both the United Nations and the Arab League. He will seek to advance the positions reflected in the Arab League transition plan and the UN General Assembly's resolution."
In Tunisia, Secretary Clinton also held a town hall on global youth issues and met with Tunisian President Marzouki. Following their meeting, the Secretary said, "The political side of the revolution is going quite well. The elections were done in a very impressive way. The assembly is now constituted. The government is up and running. The challenge is how to ensure that the economic development of Tunisia matches the political development."
Secretary Clinton continued, "...There is a need for both short-term relief and a longer-term economic plan that will make the changes in Tunisia that will open Tunisia to the world and bring opportunity here to your country. I have pledged to the president that I will do whatever I can on behalf of the United States Government to help in the short run to deal with the immediate economic needs of the Tunisian people, and also to support the longer-term changes that will make a real difference for Tunisia."
On February 25, Secretary Clinton traveled to Algeria, where she delivered remarks at a civil society roundtable. Secretary Clinton said, "The people of the Maghreb are as talented, creative, and hard-working as people anywhere in the world; they need and deserve the opportunity to make decisions on behalf of themselves, because that is good for the dignity and rights of every individual and it is good for every society." She also met with U.S. Embassy Algiers staff and their families.
In Morocco, Secretary Clinton met with Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani. After their meeting, Secretary Clinton said, "...So much has changed since my last visit to Morocco two years ago, but what has not changed is our commitment to our partnership and friendship, which goes back to 1777 when Morocco became the very first country to recognize our new nation. And the United States and Morocco have been allies and partners ever since. We collaborate on everything from trade and economic development to joint military exercises and counterterrorism efforts."
Secretary Clinton continued, "...I thank the foreign minister for the important role that Morocco has played, first within the Arab League and second within the Security Council. Morocco is in a unique position to help shape the international community's efforts, and it is imperative that we continue working today. I visited with the minister first in London about Syria. And then in Tunis, we attended together the Friends of Syria meeting.""And I want to reiterate my message to those Syrians who still support Assad, especially members of the Syrian military and business community: The longer you support the regime's campaign of violence against your brothers and sisters, the more it will stain your honor. If you refuse, however, to prop up the regime or take part in attacks on your fellow citizens, your countrymen and women will hail you as heroes. Assad would have the Syrian people believe that it is only terrorists and extremists standing against the regime, but that is wrong. So many Syrians are suffering under this relentless shelling. All Syrians should be working together to seek a better future. That is what we hope for the Syrian people. That is what Morocco has led us in the international community in trying to achieve."
Secretary Clinton also delivered remarks with U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Kaplan, Foreign Minister Othmani, and Mayor Oualalou at the ground breaking ceremony for the new embassy compound. Secretary Clinton said, "We want to do all we can to help forge an even deeper relationship and to help Morocco deliver on the vision that Moroccans have set for themselves. ...We are very excited by what we see happening here, and we want you to know that you can count on your long-time friend and partner in the 21st century, as we counted on you in the 18th century so long ago."
You can read more about Secretary Clinton's travel here.