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Schiff questions Sec. Clinton about the transition going on in the Middle East

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Uploaded on Mar 14, 2011

Rep. Adam Schiff: Thank you, Madame Chair. I'm curious about the Egyptian decision to allow the Iranian ships to go through the Suez Canal. It seemed like an oddly out-of-step move coming on the heels of the military I think very correctly and strategically saying that it would preserve the peace treaty with Israel. It just seemed out of the blue. Can you shed any light on what motivated that? I also want to ask about Pakistan. I was really discouraged to see not only the terrible assassinations of the Governor of Punjab and the Minority Cabinet Member, but even more disturbing was the public reaction in Pakistan, which was to have mass celebrations of the first and maybe somewhat diminished in terms of the second. But to have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people celebrating in favor of the assassin, to have the lawyers who had been advocating for Chadre's return to the court now advocating for the assassin. It's so discouraging to me. Are we losing the battle for hearts and minds if they are going to be celebrating assassins, where the victims are people preaching tolerance?
Secretary of Clinton: Well, first on Suez, I don't have any insight other than that it is a major source of revenue. So every ship that goes through pays a bunch of money and I think that probably close to $200,000 came into the Egyptian coffers with those two ships going through. So it may be something, Congressman, as simple as 'We are desperate, we need money, they want to go through, make sure they pay.' I don't have any other information. With respect to Pakistan, let me tie it to our budget because I share your concern. I met Governor Taseer and his family when I was in Pakistan a year or so ago. I deeply regretted and mourned his murder, and was appalled by the reaction that occurred in the country. The reaction when Minister Bhatti was murdered was much more in keeping with what I would expect and hope for any country. That when someone was a patriot who stood up for the rights of all of the Pakistanis, including the minority communities, the minority Christian and the minority Islamic communities, was assassinated, people really did speak out and were quite upset. But I think that we have a very difficult situation in Pakistan. I don't want to sugar coat it; this Committee knows it. When I became the Secretary of State, I realized that our public standing was the lowest in Pakistan of any country in the world. And there are many reasons for that. But one of the problems was that we were not really trying to respond to a lot of the criticism and a lot of the accusations. So when the question came I think from this side about the increase in personnel, I mean we are beefing up our public diplomacy. We have a great story to tell about America, and we are going to keep telling it, and we are telling it under very difficult circumstances. Our standing in Pakistan is very difficult because there's just so much going on inside of the country itself. When I was here the first time in '09, I said that the Pakistanis needed to take on the extremists inside their own country, and they've done that. So there are things changing, but it's a long way to go.

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