From my inbox:
Secretary’s Remarks: Remarks by Secretary Clinton En Route to Tokyo, Japan
. . . Now, this is not just about meeting with leaders, though, because I think it’s important that we get out of the ministerial buildings and listen to the people in the countries where I’ll be visiting. So to that end, I’ll be doing town halls and visits in areas of concern that we can discuss with NGO leaders and local officials.
This is not the first time I’ve been in these countries, but it’s obviously the first time that I come in this capacity. But it’s an opportunity to renew relationships with some people that I’ve known before, as well as those with whom I’ll be meeting for the first time.
And it really is about listening as much as talking. I think that’s an important point I want to underscore. We think it’s not only a smart approach to engage our friends, partners, and have an opportunity to hear from them, but we also are looking for the best ideas about how to further the objectives of this Administration in pursuing peace and prosperity and progress.
What? No more “my way or the highway?” But, it has worked so well! Surely Hillary is doomed from the get go.
Seriously now, what a breath of fresh air. Heading out to touch base, listen, share ideas, and establish rapport for future cooperation. Whee! I’m delighted.
Of course, the press corpse must try and stir up shit, and this (really) was the first question out of the gate from the kewl kidz at the back of the plane.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary. On the global economic and financial crisis, you said the other day that you have discussed with Secretary Geithner how you’re going to deal with China and how, if you want – if you like, divide the tasks and the labor. There’s been a lot of speculation about the fact that you’re trying to claim turf that belonged to the Treasury under the previous administration, and so on, when it comes to China.
How are you going to handle the problem in terms of responsibilities and sharing the burden with Secretary Geithner? Thanks.
They just can’t help themselves, can they? The ensuing questions were on track and topic, and then came this.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary. Long-time listener, first-time caller. A twofer, if you would. First, would you take this opportunity right here, since we’ll be disseminating what you say when we land in Alaska, to reassure the Japanese that the U.S. nuclear umbrella is still strong and will still protect our Asian allies?
And secondly, I want to hearken back to something that you stated in your Senate confirmation hearing. You said that the highly enriched uranium program of North Korea was, quote, “never quite verified.” And I wonder how you can succeed in your stated task of getting these negotiations, the Six-Party negotiations, back on track if you proceed from such a different point of view about the nature of North Korea’s nuclear program than our allies do, all of whom have no doubts about the existence of the HEU program.
Hillary takes “first time caller” to school:
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, as to the question about our nuclear umbrella, we have and continue to support a policy of extended deterrence that provides protection as part of our alliance with Japan. It remains as strong as it has ever been. We are absolutely committed to it, and we’ll be discussing that and other matters with Japanese officials.
Secondly, with respect to North Korea, I can only remind you that the North Korean nuclear weapons program is based on their reprocessing of plutonium, which they began to do in earnest after the Agreed Framework was torn up. The Agreed Framework was torn up on the basis of the concerns about the highly enriched uranium program. There is a debate within the intelligence community as to exactly the extent of the HEU program. There is no debate that once the Agreed Framework was torn up, the North Koreans began to reprocess plutonium with a vengeance because all bets were off. And the result is that they now have nuclear weapons, which they did not have before.
My goal is the denuclearization of North Korea, and that means a verifiably complete accounting of whatever programs they have and the removal of the reprocessed plutonium that they were able to achieve because they were given the opportunity to do so.
So it’s clear to me that one can raise questions about the extent of the highly enriched uranium program. We want to know for sure exactly what it is, where it is, and make sure it is dismantled. But there is no doubt about the reprocessing of plutonium, which has led to the acquisition of nuclear material on the part of the North Koreans.
Link to full transcript here.