Before we begin, I want to say a few words about Warren Christopher. He was a friend, a mentor, and truly a diplomat’s diplomat. He served our country with such great distinction in so many capacities over his long and very productive life. There are a lot of days in this job when I ask myself, “What would Warren do?” From the Balkans to the Middle East, to China and Vietnam, he helped guide the United States through difficult challenges with tremendous grace and wisdom. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and with his many, many friends and colleagues throughout our country and around the world.
Now, this has been a quick but productive trip, and I want to give you a brief update and then answer your questions. First, let’s remember how we got here. As you know, Americans and people around the world watched with growing concern as Libyan civilians were gunned down by a government that has lost all legitimacy. The people of Libya appealed for help. The Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council called for action.
The international community came together to speak with one voice and to deliver a clear and consistent message: Colonel Gaddafi campaign of violence against his own people must stop. The strong votes in the United Nations Security Council underscored this unity. And now the Gaddafi forces face unambiguous terms: a ceasefire must be implemented immediately – that means all attacks against civilians must stop; troops must stop advancing on Benghazi and pull back from Adjabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya; water, electricity, and gas supplies must be turned on to all areas; humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.
Yesterday, President Obama said very clearly that if Gaddafi failed to comply with these terms, there would be consequences. Since the President spoke, there has been some talk from Tripoli of a ceasefire, but the reality on the ground tells a very different story. Colonel Gaddafi continues to defy the world. His attacks on civilians go on. Today, we have been monitoring the troubling reports of fighting around and within Benghazi itself. As President Obama also said, we have every reason to fear that, left unchecked, Gaddafi will commit unspeakable atrocities.
It is against that backdrop that nations from across the region and the world met today here in Paris to discuss the ways we can, working together, implement Resolution 1973. We all recognize that further delay will only put more civilians at risk. So let me be very clear about the position of the United States: We will support an international coalition as it takes all necessary measures to enforce the terms of Resolution 1973.
As you may know, French planes are already in the skies above Benghazi. Now, America has unique capabilities and we will bring them to bear to help our European and Canadian allies and Arab partners stop further violence against civilians, including through the effective implementation of a no-fly zone. As President Obama said, the United States will not deploy ground troops, but there should be no mistaking our commitment to this effort.
Today, I was able to discuss next steps with the full group and also conduct smaller focused conversations with many of my colleagues. I met first with President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Cameron. Both France and the United Kingdom, along with other key partners, have stepped forward to play a leading role in enforcing 1973. We reviewed the latest reports from the ground and discussed how we can work together most effectively in the hours and days ahead, and how we would work very cooperatively with our other partners, including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, as well as others that are not in that long list.
I also had the opportunity to engage today with my Arab counterparts, including Foreign Minister Zebari of Iraq representing the presidency of the Arab Summit, Secretary General Amr Moussa of the Arab League, Prime Minister Hamid bin Jasim of Qatar, Sheikh Abdallah bin Zayid of the UAE, Foreign Minister Fassi Fihri of Morocco, and Foreign Minister Judeh of Jordan.
We have said from the start that Arab leadership and participation in this effort is crucial, and the Arab League showed that with its pivotal statements on Libya what really that meant. It changed the diplomatic landscape. They have sent another strong message by being here today, and we look to them for continued leadership as well as active participation and partnership going forward.
With Sheikh Abdallah and Prime Minister Hamid bin Jasim, I reiterated our strong and enduring partnership. The United States has an abiding commitment to Gulf security and a top priority is working together with our partners on our shared concerns about Iranian behavior in the region. We share the view that Iran’s activities in the Gulf, including its efforts to advance its agenda in neighboring countries, undermines peace and stability. Our Gulf partners are critical to the international community’s efforts on Libya, and we thank them for their leadership.
We also had a constructive discussion on Bahrain. We have a decades-long friendship with Bahrain that we expect to continue long into the future. Our goal is a credible political process that can address the legitimate aspirations of all the people of Bahrain, starting with the Crown Prince’s dialogue, which all parties should join.
Of course, that process should unfold in a peaceful, positive atmosphere that protects the freedom of peaceful assembly while ensuring that students can go to school, businesses can operate, and people can undertake their normal daily activities.
My GCC counterparts said they share the same goals in Bahrain. Now, Bahrain obviously has the sovereign right to invite GCC forces into its territory under its defense and security agreements. The GCC has also announced a major aid package for economic and social development in Bahrain. We have made clear that security alone cannot resolve the challenges facing Bahrain. As I said earlier this week, violence is not and cannot be the answer. A political process is. We have raised our concerns about the current measures directly with Bahraini officials and will continue to do so.
With all of these partners, we have discussed the urgent humanitarian needs arising from the crisis in Libya. I thanked the Arab leaders for their generous contributions to aid refugees fleeing Gaddafi’s violence, and we agreed that this will be a critical concern in the days ahead. Egypt and Tunisia, in particular, will need all of our support. The United States has made significant pledges of assistance, and we look to all our allies and partners to join us in this work.
Now, this is a fluid and fast-moving situation, which may be the understatement of the time. And I know that there are lots of questions that people have about what next and what will we be doing. So let me just underscore the key point: This is a broad international effort; the world will not sit idly by while more innocent civilians are killed. The United States will support our allies and partners as they move to enforce Resolution 1973. We are standing with the people of Libya and we will not waver in our efforts to protect them.
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