News / Africa

Clinton Sets Visit to Egypt, Tunisia

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies during the Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Budget hearing at Capitol Hill in Washington, March 10, 2011
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies during the Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Budget hearing at Capitol Hill in Washington, March 10, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Egypt and Tunisia next week in the highest-level U.S. visit to the region since the popular upheaval that toppled the governments there.  Clinton told a Congressional panel she will also meet Libyan opposition figures.

Clinton says she will be opening a dialogue with members of the Libyan opposition both in Washington and on her trip to the region next week, while again expressing caution about unilateral U.S. military action in Libya.

Amid a background of bipartisan calls in Washington for direct military aid to Libyan rebels or a no-fly-zone to halt air attacks by government forces, Clinton said the Obama administration is looking into "every option imaginable."

But she said past history in Iraq and Serbia suggests that no-fly-zone regimes are not a panacea.  And she said absent international authorization, U.S. unilateral action "would be stepping into a situation whose consequences are unforeseeable."

"I really want people to understand what we are looking at," Clinton said.  "And I will reiterate what the president has said and what our administration has consistently said: we are considering everything.  But we think it is important that the Congress and the public understand as much as possible about what that actually means.  And I can assure you that the president is not going to make any decision without a great deal of careful thought and deliberation."

Clinton will visit Paris on Monday to discuss Libya with fellow foreign ministers of the G8 group of world powers before her North Africa visit.

She told panel members that while Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi scrapped his nuclear program several years ago in return for international incentives, he still retains some chemical weapons and other, as she put it, "nasty stuff" in his arsenal.

She also disclosed the administration has suspended its relationship with the Libyan embassy in Washington, where pro- and anti-Gadhafi officials have vied for control.

But the United States has not broken off relations with the Libyan government and U.S. officials have been in contact, since fighting began there, with Foreign Minister Musa Kusa.

Clinton's appearance before a House Appropriations subcommittee was otherwise dominated by budget issues, including Republican moves to sharply reduce State Department and foreign aid spending for the rest of the current fiscal year, and in 2012.

Overall Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky told Clinton the United States simply "cannot sustain" the level of foreign affairs spending in administration requests.

"We are borrowing 42 cents on the dollar that we spend," said Rogers.  "It is time that we get serious about reducing spending, putting a dent in our record-setting deficit.  It is difficult to believe that the administration shares my goal to cut spending, when the 2012 State-foreign operations request of $59.5 billion is an increase of more than 22 percent above the 2010 bill."

Clinton said the increase is in large part the result of the State Department assuming responsibility for U.S. programs in Iraq with the withdrawal of U.S. military forces.

She said she shares the view that the United States must return to a strong fiscal footing, but that retreating from America's global leadership role would be counter-productive.

"I know we are tempted to try to step back from these obligations," added Clinton.  "But every time we have done that, it has come back and hit us right square between the eyes.  We left Afghanistan after we pushed the Soviet Union out, and now we are paying a terrible price for that."

Clinton said added State Department spending for Iraq and other front-line states is less than a tenth the size of the anticipated $45 billion reduction in Pentagon war spending next year.  She said the United States needs to protect the investment, including the sacrifices of American troops, which it has already made in Iraq democracy-building.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Computer Crash Halts US Visa, Passport Operation

Problems with database have resulted in extensive backlog of applications, affected State Department's consular offices all over the world More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

World Bank: Boko Haram Stalls African Aid Projects

Islamist group’s terrorism sets back agriculture, health efforts in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid