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

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

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

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs