Clinton: U.S. Wants Egyptians To Have Their Universal Human Rights Recognized

On a special edition of “This Week”, Christiane Amanpour reports live from Cairo, Egypt on the widespread protests that have erupted throughout the city. She also talks to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the tense situation. It's

On a special edition of “This Week”, Christiane Amanpour reports live from Cairo, Egypt on the widespread protests that have erupted throughout the city. She also talks to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the tense situation. It's clear that the U.S. is no longer actively supporting Mubarak, but won't publicly take sides:

AMANPOUR: Perhaps no one is watching this situation more closely than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and she joins us this morning from the State Department.

Has the United States administration, whether yourself, whether the president, or Secretary Gates, told the Egyptian government specifically that any military crackdown will result in a cutoff of U.S. military assistance?

CLINTON: No. Right now, we're monitoring the actions of the Egyptian military, and they are, as I'm sure your contacts are telling you, demonstrating restraint, working to try to differentiate between peaceful protesters, whom we all support, and potential looters and other criminal elements who are obviously a danger to the Egyptian people.

We have sent a very clear message that we want to see restraint, we do not want to see violence by any security forces, and we continue to convey that message. There is no discussion as of this time about cutting off any aid. We always are looking and reviewing our aid.

But, you know, right now, we are trying to convey a message that is very clear, that we want to ensure there is no violence and no provocation that results in violence and that we want to see these reforms and a process of national dialogue begun so that the people of Egypt can see their legitimate grievances addressed.

AMANPOUR: Madam Secretary, do you believe that what President Mubarak has done already, which is to appoint a first-ever vice president and to shuffle the government, does that amount to enough reform? Is that all you've asked him to do?

CLINTON: Oh, of course not. But there has been for 30 years a both public and private dialogue with the Egyptian government, sometimes more public, sometimes more private, but all with the same message, from Republican and Democratic administrations, that there needs to be reform.

One of the items on that long list was appointing a vice president. That has happened. But that is -- that is the beginning, the bare beginning of what needs to happen, which is a process that leads to the kind of concrete steps to achieve democratic and economic reform that we've been urging and that President Mubarak himself discussed in his speech the other day.

AMANPOUR: There are people still on the streets in great numbers. On Tuesday, you said that the U.S. government's assessment is that the government of Egypt is stable. Do you believe that was a mistake? Or do you think today that the government of Egypt is stable?

CLINTON: Well, Christiane, you know, I know that everybody wants a yes-or-no answer to what are very complicated issues. Obviously, this is a volatile situation. Egypt has been a partner of the United States for over three decades, has been a partner in achieving historic peace with Israel, a partner in, you know, trying to stabilize a region that is subject to a lot of challenges.

And we have been consistent across those three decades in arguing that real stability only comes from the kind of democratic participation that gives people a chance to feel that they are being heard. And by that I mean real democracy, not a democracy for six months or a year and then evolving into essentially a military dictatorship or a so-called democracy that then leads to what we saw in Iran.

So we've been very clear about what is in Egypt's long-term interests. And we continue to be clear. And that is what we want to see come from this very -- this great outpouring of -- of desire for the people of Egypt to have their universal human rights recognized. And that is what we hope will come.

AMANPOUR: A lot of the people here on the streets are telling us that they're angry, they think the U.S. is hedging its bets.

CLINTON: I just want to reiterate what both President Obama and I have been saying. I said it in Doha. I've said it before. President Obama said it himself when he was in Cairo at the beginning of his administration.

We believe that democracy, human rights, economic reform are in the best interests of the Egyptian people. Any government that does not try to move in that direction cannot meet the legitimate needs of the people. And in the 21st century, it is highly vulnerable to what we have seen in the region and beyond. People are not going to stand by any longer and not be given the opportunity to fulfill their own God-given potential.

Is it really that simple, that we support democracy? We've been supporting a torture regime in Egypt for 30 years. Yes, you can argue that we can't expect every country to accept our standards overnight, but this situation is even worse: Omar Suleiman, the newly-appointed vice president, was the CIA's point man on extraordinary rendition in Egypt.

Our rhetoric on "human rights" rings a little hollow, considering.

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