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Hillary Clinton Speaks to CNN on Her Asia Tour
By Jill Dougherty
CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (left) meets with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Seoul on Feb. 20, 2009 prior to their talks.

In an interview with CNN, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to CNN on North Korea, Beijing, the economic crisis and her job as Secretary of State. Below is the full interview with CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty. The interview will air on CNN's "World News Asia" at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. HKT.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: The US seems to be saying two things right now to North Korea: one, you are a tyrannical, unpredictable country that insults and threatens its neighbors and your leadership is unclear. Two, you are a country that has the ability to act rationally, make commitments and stick with them if you want to. Aren't you sending a mixed message? Does this mean the administration hasn't settled on a policy toward North Korea?

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think past history proves that North Korea can be either of those, depending on what it's attempting to achieve. And what's clear from the six-party process over the years is that when North Korea decides to cooperate and make agreements that it believes are in furtherance of its own interests it will do so. And when it doesn't, it is always seeking advantage and it uses provocative words and threatened actions to try to get attention in order to you know, make a deal in some way, you know, food and fuel and other kinds of assets. I mean, South Korea basically keeps the North Korean economy going with all of the subsidies of food and fuel and medical supplies and the like so I think its calculated and I think you have to respond in kind as you look at the behaviour of the day, the week, the month, the year.

DOUGHERTY: Speaking of taking advantage, right now you have a theory, that with the economic crisis affecting the United States and Asia, certainly you've been talking about that here, that the North or perhaps other countries might take advantage of this opportunity to think that the outside world is so engaged with that issue, that it can take provocative action. What do you think?

CLINTON: I think that's interesting analysis, because clearly the new administration has demonstrated through what the president has said, I have said, and others, that there is an opportunity for North Korea to return to the Six Party talks, to begin working in a thoughtful way toward denuclearization in a verifiable and complete manner as they have agreed to and then all of a sudden, these insults, and these provocative statements start coming across the border. Now, if North Korea is calculating that, somehow, they're going to drive a wedge between the US and the Republic of Korea they are badly miscalculating. Our alliance is stronger than ever and it's not only about our mutual security but it's also about how we're going to deal with the global economy and so much else. .So I think that there's a testing period, a kind of wait and see attitude about how this is going to move forward and we're hoping that North Korea will see its way clear to re-engage, and as I've said repeatedly, if we can get to the point that their denuclearization is verifiable and complete a tremendous advantage is waiting for North Korea, not only for a bilateral, normal relationship with the United States, but I think a lot of international support and aid that could come to the people of North Korea.

DOUGHERTY: The next stop is Beijing, China has not been as directly affected by this financial crisis as some other countries, and in fact, it's going around the world buying up natural resources – oil, minerals, etc. When this crisis is over, could it turn out that China could emerge stronger than it is now, with the ability to pose a direct challenge to US interests.

CLINTON: You know, Jill, the way I am looking at China and anticipating our talks there over the next two days is that the rise of China is not, in and of itself, threatening to the United States. It's how China decides to act with whatever assets it has. But that's up to how we cooperate together. I think that the Chinese economy is incredibly dependant upon the American consumer that has been the source of a lot of the growth in China. You know, they have 20 million migrant workers who are unemployed as of today. They are having to do their own stimulus package. So how China moves through this economic contraction is not determined yet, just like how we are going to work through it. We've got to work together. We have a big stake in seeing the global economy recover. But I have, you know, infinite faith in the resilience and dynamism of the American economy and I think that President Obama has put us on the right track now to be able to recover. Are we going to have competition with China? Of course, you have competition with all kinds of countries. That's nothing new. But we also hope for cooperation in a peaceful and productive manner on a range of issues where we think that China and the United States have comparable interests, whether it be global climate change and clean energy, the economic challenges we face and shared security like Afghanistan, Pakistan and so much else.

DOUGHERTY: One question about the job you've taken on. You've been in the job for about a month. Every word, every gesture that you make is under the microscope including your comments yesterday and today on North Korea succession. They have serious implications for US foreign policy. How is this job different from the jobs you've had before – senator, First Lady? And is it more difficult? A person I know describes it as a "silk straight jacket." Do you feel that?

CLINTON: I don't feel that way at all. But you know, I've always felt that you get up every day and do the best job you can, no matter what it might be. It's great honor to be representing the United States. But I also have a conviction that some, you know, open, candid conversation, uh, is called for. But there needs to be an exchange of ideas, that, you know, something that as commonplace as, you know, who is going to naturally succeed at whatever time that might be in North Korea. That's on people's minds, it's written about. We ought to be engaging. We ought to elicit reactions and opinions about that and many other issues. So yes, it carries with it a great deal of responsibility but I see it as a tremendous opportunity to serve my country.

DOUGHERTY: So it's not a verbal minefield?

CLINTON: You know, I think some people invest way too much in parsing words, I think you know, you have to look at the complete picture. And I think it's very clear what the Obama administration is attempting to do, and what I'm attempting to do as Secretary of State and I also am very deliberately talking about things and trying to open up dialogue and create some space for there to be some sensible discussion about the way forward and some very difficult problems.

CNN International






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