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হিলারিয়াম

November 9, 2016

বিভিন্ন সময়ে হিলারিকে নিয়ে আমার বিচ্ছিন্ন ভাবনা মতামত খবর।

১৮ সেপ্টেম্বর ২০০৯

রমাদান করিম মুবারাক। হিলারির মুখে এই রমজানের শুভেচ্ছা, যা শুধু মধ্যপ্রাচ্যের মুসলিম অধিবাসীরা রোজার সময় একজন আরেক জনকে শুভেচ্ছা বিনিময়ের জন্য বলেন, শুধু এটুকু শুনতে আমাদের পররাষ্ট্র মন্ত্রী আটলান্টিক উপকূলে পাড়ি জমালেন? মুসলিম এলিটরা এবং তাদের দেখাদেখি মুসলিম এলিটদের হাতে রাখতে চায় এমন সব রাজনৈতিক ব্যবসায়িক শক্তির কাছে ‘ইফতার পার্টি’ এক ভয়ংকর মার্কেটিং টুল-এ পরিণত হয়েছে। সেই ইফতার পার্টির দাওয়াতে স্বাভাবিকভাবেই গদগদ হয়ে আমেরিকা উপস্থিত হয়ে ছিলেন দীপু মনি, আশা ছিল এমন কোনো আশার আলো নিয়ে ফিরবেন, আর তা তুলে দেবেন তার নেত্রীর হাতে, যিনি ইদের পরে যাচ্ছেন আমেরিকায়, তিনি কি যাচ্ছেন ওবামার ইদ পুনর্মিলনী উৎসবে যোগ দিতে? জানি না, আমেরিকা এখন যে রকম মুসলিম বান্ধব হয়ে উঠছে, তাতে এরকম অনুষ্ঠান আয়োজনের গুজব হয়তো মোটেই ভিত্তিহীন নয়।
দীপু মনিকে হিলারি কী দিলেন? ‘টিফা’, হ্যাঁ বাংলাদেশ নিয়ে আমেরিকা এর চেয়ে বেশি, আগেও ভাবেনি, এখনো ভাবে না। হ্যাঁ, ইফতার পার্টিতে যা কিছু মনে হয়েছিল গভীর, হিলারিকে মনে হয়েছিল, যেন তিনি মুসলিম, ফিৎরায় (সাহায্য) ভরে দেবেন উপস্থিত সব মুসলিম এলিটকে, যে এসেছে তার কাছে যা চাইতে, কিন্তু সেই অতলান্তিক ইফতার থেকে বেরিয়ে চারিদিক শূন্য দেখলেন দীপু মনি, মনে হল আর জীবনেও এমন অনুষ্ঠানে যোগ দেবেন না, এই অনুষ্ঠানগুলো মন দুর্বল করে দেয়, মনে হয় সব দেবে এরা—আমরা যা চাই, মনে হয় নিঃশর্তেই দেবে, যেমন নামাজের মোনাজাতে অনেকের মনে হয়, কিন্তু রাতে ঘুমোতে যাওয়ার আগে, পরীক্ষার আগের রাতের মতোই সবকিছু কঠিন মনে হয়। কী যে বলব দেশে গিয়ে, হিলারির সাথে সংবাদ সম্মেলনের পর, মনে হল ইফতার পার্টি থেকে কত ভিন্ন এই মানুষটি, আর আমি তখনও অতলান্তিক ইফতার পার্টিতে, তাকিয়ে আছি, কখন আসবে ফিৎরার ঘোষণা, শুধু ‘টিফা’ আমার আর ভালো লাগে না।

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২৪ মার্চ ২০১১

ভারতীয়দের সাথে ঘনিষ্ঠতার সূত্রে হিলারির কাছে বিদেশ সচিবের কাজের চেয়ে এই পদকে ব্যবহার করে বন্ধুর রাখিবন্ধনের জোর দেখানোর মওকাটাই বড় হয়ে উঠেছে। তাই শুধু মারিয়ার্টি নয় ব্লেককেও কাজে লাগালেন তিনি। ইউনূসের মুখে হাসি না ফুটলে ইউনূসের বন্ধু মার্কিন বিদেশ সচিবের ইউনূসের দেশে সফরে আসার পরিবেশ তৈরি হবে না — এই যদি হয় একজন আমেরিকান বিদেশ সচিবের পাঠানো গুরুত্বপূর্ণ দূতের মনোভাব — তাহলে পররাষ্ট্রনীতি নিয়ে আর কথা বলে লাভ নেই।

কয়েকমাস আগে এক জার্মান কার্টুনিস্টের ‘উইকিলিকস’ নিয়ে একটা কার্টুন খুব ভাল লেগেছিল — তাই সেটি ‘টুইটপিক’এ সেভ করে রেখেছিলাম — হিলারির এই কর্মকাণ্ডে মনে হচ্ছে কার্টুনটির লিন্ক এখানে রাখাটা প্রয়োজনীয়।
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১৬ ফেব্রুয়ারী ২০১২

আগামী ৩০ জুন পদ ছাড়ার ঘোষণা দিয়েছেন বিশ্ব ব্যাংক প্রেসিডেন্ট রবার্ট জেলিক।

পদত্যাগের এ ঘোষণার এক বিবৃতিতে বুধবার তিনি বলেন, “বিশ্ব মানের এমন একটি সংস্থার নেতৃত্ব দিতে পেরে আমি সম্মানিত।”

এখন পর্যন্ত আমেরিকানদের নেতৃত্বে থাকা এ সংস্থার পরবর্তী প্রধান কে হচ্ছেন তা নিয়ে গত কয়েক মাস ধরে আলোচনায় যাদের নাম আসছে তাদের মধ্যে যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের পররাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রী হিলারি ক্লিনটনও রয়েছেন।

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১ মার্চ ২০১২

বিকল্প পাইপলাইন নিয়ে ভাবছেন হিলারি, তুর্কমেনিস্তান-আফগানিস্তান-পাকিস্তান-ভারত, কেন হিলারি, ইরান বাদ কেন? বাণিজ্য নিষেধাজ্ঞা এক ভয়ঙ্কর খেলা, এই খেলা বৈশ্বিক অর্থনীতির জন্য মারাত্মক হুমকি। বাণিজ্য নিষেধাজ্ঞাকেও ‘মানবতার বিরুদ্ধে অপরাধ’ বা ‘আন্তর্জাতিক অপরাধ’এর অন্তর্গত করা উচিত।

In response to a question from a lawmaker, Clinton said as the proposed Pakistan-Iran pipeline could raise serious concerns under the Iran Sanctions Act, US has supported an alternative the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline.

The United States recognize that Pakistan has significant energy requirements under the Iran Sanctions Act, she said. “We have made that absolutely clear. We have raised this issue with the government of Pakistan.”

“We are encouraging it to seek alternatives,” Clinton added. “And there is an alternative that we do strongly support, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline.

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৩ মে ২০১২

‘বিদ্রোহী চেন’কে ঘিরে চীন-আমেরিকা সম্পর্কের জটিলতা বাড়বে, অথবা ‘বিদ্রোহী চেন’ সম্পূর্ণ উপেক্ষিতই থাকবেন আগামী দিনে। বেইজিং-এর আমেরিকান দূতাবাস থেকে পায়ের চিকিৎসার জন্য ‘চেন’কে হাসপাতালে পাঠানো হয়েছিল এবং বলা হয়েছিল ‘চেন’ এরপর তার পরিবারের সাথে থাকতে সম্মত হয়েছে। কিন্তু এখন পরিস্থিতি ভিন্ন ‘চেন’ নিজেকে আর চীনে নিরাপদ মনে করছেন না, তিনি এখন দেশের বাইরে চলে যেতে চান। আবার ‘চেন’কে দ্রুত বেইজিং-এর আমেরিকান দূতাবাস থেকে হাসপাতালে পাঠানোর পেছনে অনেকে মনে করছেন হিলারির সরাসরি তৎপরতা জড়িত রয়েছে, হিলারি কোনোভাবেই চীনের সাথে তার পূর্বনির্ধারিত বার্ষিক ‘স্ট্র্যাটেজিক ও অর্থনৈতিক সংলাপ’ বিলম্বিত করতে চাইছিলেন না।

Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng appealed Thursday for safety abroad, saying he feared for his life after his dramatic escape to Beijing, as US and Chinese leaders sparred over human rights.

The fate of the lawyer-dissident has engulfed a top-level Sino-US meeting which started in Beijing Thursday, after Chen left the shelter of the US embassy under a deal between the two countries that has rapidly unravelled.

“I want to go overseas. I want the US to help me and my family. They helped me before,” he told AFP by phone from a Beijing hospital where he is being treated for a foot injury suffered during his daring escape from house arrest on April 22.

“I don’t feel safe here. I want to leave.”

Chen said he did not initially want to seek asylum overseas but changed his mind Wednesday after emerging from the US embassy in Beijing amid concern for his safety and that of his family.

“I did not make the final decision at the US embassy, I made it yesterday. I don’t think the US is protecting me,” he said.

US officials said Beijing had pledged that Chen and his family would be treated “humanely” and moved to a safe place.

But according to US-based rights group China Aid, Chen “reluctantly” left the embassy after Chinese authorities threatened his relatives in the eastern province of Shandong.

Interviewed by CNN, the 40-year-old Chen said after his escape his wife had been tied to a chair for two days by police in Shandong who threatened to beat her to death with sticks.

The activist, who riled Chinese authorities by exposing forced abortions and sterilisations under the government’s “one-child” policy, appealed directly to US President Barack Obama to get him and his family out of China.

He also accused US embassy officials of pushing him hard to leave the safety of the embassy, where he had sought refuge for six days after fleeing his home.

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৭ মে ২০১২

০৫ মে ২০১২, আমেরিকা-বাংলাদেশ সম্পর্ক এক ধাপ এগিয়ে গেল, এখন থেকে প্রতিবছর নিয়মিত দুদেশের পররাষ্ট্র মন্ত্রণালয় পর্যায়ে বহুবিধ বিষয়ে অংশীদারি সংলাপ চলবে।

Joint Statement on U.S.-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 5, 2012

Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Moni signed the following agreement on May 5, 2012 in Dhaka, Bangladesh:

We, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of the United States of America and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Member of Parliament Dr. Dipu Moni of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, affirm the strong bonds of friendship and shared values that exist between our two countries and reaffirm our desire to deepen our partnership in addressing bilateral, regional and global issues to the mutual benefit of both Bangladesh and the United States.

We believe that a strong partnership between Bangladesh and the United States, working together to further mutual peace, security and development, is in the interests of the people of Bangladesh, the United States and the world. As we look to the challenges of the 21st century, our shared interests and values, including respect for human rights and the rule of law, should guide our collective engagement on addressing the challenges of our time.

Leveraging the values of tolerance, respect for human rights, inclusion and resilience of Bangladesh society, including a robust civil society, we intend our broader collaboration to be anchored in a strong bilateral development partnership focused on joint development priorities, including food security, maternal and child health, family planning, climate change, strengthening democracy, youth and women’s empowerment, among others.

We reiterate our support for the United Nations system, underscore the value of UN-led peacekeeping and peacebuilding initiatives, and note Bangladesh’s singular contribution to such activities.

We affirm our dedication to deepening dialogue in security cooperation, including in combating terrorism, violent extremism, and transnational crime, such as narcotics trafficking, piracy, and trafficking in persons and arms.

We also intend to develop deeper and broader people-to-people ties between the United States and Bangladesh, including through educational and cultural exchanges, encouraging innovation and expanding our commercial and trade relations by building on the creativity and rich diversity of our societies. We further support the exchange of information, skills and technology bilaterally, regionally and globally to promote new economic opportunities for our citizens.

To advance these and other shared objectives, and to review and give strategic direction to the bilateral relationship and its wide array of ongoing and future cooperative activities, we intend to hold regular, annual consultations under a Partnership Dialogue. The Dialogue will be led at the level of Foreign Secretary/Under Secretary of State and held at times mutually convenient to both parties, alternating between our respective capitals. We also intend to hold periodic consultations at the Foreign Minister-Secretary level.

Signed in duplicate on May 5, 2012, in Dhaka, Bangladeh

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United States of America

Dr. Dipu Moni
Minister for Foreign Affairs
People’s Republic of Bangladesh

০৬ মে ২০১২, হিলারি ক্লিনটন, আমেরিকান অ্যামবেসির তত্ত্বাবধানে ”A Conversation with Bangladesh” শিরোনামে বাংলাদেশের তরুণদের সাথে সিভিল সোসাইটির উপস্থিতিতে এক ঘন্টাব্যাপী এক সাক্ষাৎকার প্রদান করেন।

MS. SAHA: Welcome and good morning. Please welcome our honorable guest here, Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

MS. SAHA: Welcome. (Applause.) I’d like to start our show. We call it our Conversation with Bangladesh. Bangladesa sange Adda. And I’d like to now introduce my friend here, Ejaj. He’s a young leader. I call him leader of the leaders. (Laughter.) Well, shall we start?

MR. AHMED: Sure. Madam Secretary, welcome to Bangladesh. We are so pleased to have you with us in Dhaka. First time you visited us 17 years ago in 1995 as the First Lady of the United States, second time, here as the Secretary of State. How do you feel to be in Bangladesh?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first I want to thank you, Ejaj, and you, Mooni, and all of you for being here at the International School for this conversation, because I am very interested in Bangladesh and everything that you’re doing, and I’m particularly interested in the young people of this country. So I’ve met some of the young leaders who are here, and I see others out in the audience, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you. I want this to be a real conversation, and I thank you both for moderating it.

I was here 17 years ago and had just the most wonderful experience with my daughter meeting so many Bangladeshis at that time not only here in Dhaka, but going out into the country, going to villages, visiting Grameen Bank, Bowers, people working BRAC projects, really getting a sense of the potential of the country. And coming back 17 years later, it just confirms my confidence that there is a tremendously positive path for this country. And it’s not easy; you know that better than I do. But the changes, the economic growth, the continuation of democratic sustainment – all of that is very encouraging. So I’d love to hear more about what you think is needed for this country to realize its potential. As I said last night in my press conference, I’m betting on Bangladesh. I’m betting that you’ll be able to work through all the problems that developing countries have everywhere.

MS. SAHA: Wow. Wow. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: And the United States wants to be your partner, because what we care about is a successful – (applause) – prosperous, peaceful, democratic country.

MS. SAHA: Well, Madam Secretary, you know the word adda? May I explain you? In Bengali, we call adda, is that Bengali expression like (inaudible) or chitchat. So before I go to the audience, I would like to ask you one question. We heard that you had a meeting with Sir Abed and Dr. Yunus, of course.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

MS. SAHA: And how was that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, I was honored to meet with both Sir Abed and Yunus. I’ve known them for many years. I’ve actually known Yunus longer, for more than 25 years. I think they are two national treasures of your country. They are two men who have – (applause) – they have created organizations with the Grameen Bank and BRAC that are viewed internationally as the two best development organizations in the world. (Applause.)

And I will say that I am committed to every way that I can and my government can to supporting their efforts, because we think they are so valuable. And I have followed the dispute over Grameen Bank from Washington, and I can only hope that nothing is done that in any way undermines the success of what Grameen Bank has accomplished on behalf of many millions of poor women and their families.

And I know some of you – I met a young woman who is the daughter of a Grameen borrower, who’s now at university. That is how change happens. You help somebody get a better income that they then invest in their children and their family. Then the next generation goes further. That’s the story of America. I want it to be the story of Bangladesh. And the Grameen Bank has played an instrumental role.

So I highly respect Muhammad Yunus, and I highly respect the work that he has done, and I am hoping to see it continue without being in any way undermined or affected by any government action. That would be unfortunate, because I come from – (applause) – I come from this perspective. If you look at societies that are successful, there are three stools – there are three legs to a stool, if you think about it. You have to have a responsible, accountable government that delivers services to its people; you need a private business sector that produces jobs and economic growth that is broadly spread, which is beginning to happen here in this country; and you need civil society, because neither government nor business can or should do everything for people. What you are doing as a youth leader and all of you who are involved is building that third leg of the stool here in Bangladesh. That’s where so much of what makes life important and – (applause) – meaningful happens.

So I had an excellent meeting with both of those gentlemen this morning and just have the highest regard. And every Bangladeshi should be so proud of what they’ve accomplished for your country.

MS. SAHA: Madam Secretary, we know what happened with Dr. Yunus. All of us, we know, and we feel very sorry for that. But I’d like to know what does – U.S. Administration’s stand on the matter of Grameen Bank.

SECRETARY CLINTON: We do not want to see any action taken that would in any way undermine or interfere with the operations of Grameen Bank or its unique organizational structure where the poor women themselves are the owners. That has never happened anywhere in the world. It is now being duplicated. Other countries are looking to see what worked here in Bangladesh. So other countries are saying, “What can we do to try to create something like that?” So I don’t want anything that would in any way undermine what has been this tremendous model that has stood the test of time over the last decades as a very important tool for lifting people out of poverty.

MS. SAHA: Well, you have just visited China, and you will visit India in between – now, you are here in Bangladesh. So how do you consider us, like, Bangladesh, as an emerging soft power?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think you have extraordinary soft power.

MS. SAHA: Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And let me just – (applause) – explain why. First of all, you are strategically located between east and west of Asia. You have the opportunity to be a crossroads, as you historically have been; the Grand Trunk Road, the old Silk Road, all came to Bangladesh. And now you have an opportunity to serve the same role in the 21st century.

I think the success that you’ve seen in lifting people out of poverty over the last years, dropping the poverty rate, I was told, from 40 percent to about 31 percent – it has to keep being driven down, but that’s a very good sign. The fact that you’ve maintained democracy through a really difficult set of challenges is important; the fact that civil society is developing, as evidenced by all of you. The education system is being more responsive; you’re getting, I think, close to 100 percent primary school enrollment. I think that those are all very strong signals to yourselves as well as the rest of the world.

You’re the largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations. You have seen an increase in agricultural productivity. You’re now self-sufficient in rice. The United States is working with you on that. You’ve dropped child and maternal mortality so that it appears that you will meet the Millennium Development Goal for maternal and child mortality. I mean, you go through the list of what you have accomplished in the last 17 years since I was last here, and it’s been a remarkable commitment of the Bangladeshi people, and I think the people deserve most of the credit. In a democracy, the people have to be given the credit because the government, remember, as Abraham Lincoln said, is of, by, and for the people. And so the people have demonstrated great resilience and determination.

But you’ve got some challenges, and you know you have some challenges. I mean, you still have too many unemployed and underemployed young people who are not seeing a good future for themselves. You are starting to see some worrisome labor problems in the garment industry, which have to be solved, because you don’t want to get a reputation as a place where labor leaders and activists are murdered or where people are taken advantage of or abused in poor working conditions, because in today’s world, that will cause big manufacturers of clothing to be afraid to stay or come to Bangladesh. So the government and the garment factory businesses and the labor organizations have to work together so that you stay a very important destination to bring and create more jobs and have more exports. We talked with your government about how we can facilitate all of that.

There needs to be total rule of law, no impunity. The recent killing of the labor activist, Mr. Islam, has to be investigated, and the perpetrators, if they can be found, need to be brought to justice, because you have to constantly be demonstrating no one is above the law no matter how powerful or positioned in society.

So you have continuing challenges, but I think the glass is more than half full. It’s just a question of how you tackle some of these issues that are really found in every developing country. They’re not in any way unique to your country. But the world is beginning to expect more from you, because you have shown you can produce. You can get things done, you can make progress, and I think that’s a good problem to have.

MR. AHMED: Right.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And of course, we really believe that it is rooted in this new energy that we’re seeing coming out of your country to really make a difference and to show the world that your soft power is to be reckoned with.

MR. AHMED: Wow. Sure. (Applause.)

MS. SAHA: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

MR. AHMED: Talking about energy, I also want to give you a sense of who is in the audience. We have civil society leaders. We also have students from different universities, educational systems, and behind me you will see the eight-member youth advisory council of the ambassador, and this is a think tank the ambassador has put together to consult on issues relating to youth. And we also have representatives from many youth organizations such as the (inaudible) for Bangladesh, (inaudible) Initiative and Community Action. I also want to give an opportunity to young people to raise their voice and share their concerns with you. So perhaps we could start with Momita, a student at the Asian University for Women.

Momita.

QUESTION: Honorable Secretary of State, this question actually came from Tushar Bhutto from the Facebook page of U.S. Embassy. And the question is: What is the main obstacle for building peace in this region?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that there have been longstanding historical conflicts in this region. I mean, your country was born out of a conflict, as you know. There has been problems with and among your neighbors, both your immediate near neighbors and your further neighbors. And we know that some of those feelings and grievances still are present.

But what I’ve been encouraged by is the outreach I see going on in this region between countries, because if you look at the region as a whole, if you take from Bangladesh through India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, up into Central Asia, this region has been held back in development because of the closed borders, because of the historical enmities that have dominated the minds of people in the various nations. And the result is that you don’t trade with each other, you don’t exchange with each other to the extent that most other regions of the world do, even with former enemies.

You think about Europe, where a – two terrible world wars were fought in the last century, and now they’re part of the European Union. And they are rich and they are – they may have economic problems, but given the high level of their standard of living, they will be dealing with those over time. But what’s fundamentally important is that they put aside centuries of warfare and terrible violence between them in order to learn how to cooperate. You look at ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, that is working toward developing greater trade ties, or you can see it happening in Africa, you see it happening in Latin America. And it’s very important that this region of South Asia be part of that.

So yes, it is a problem. There are lots of difficulties and mistrust that exists. There are all kinds of political and ideological differences, but it’s important to keep making progress, to find specific ways to work together. We’re beginning to see increasing business between Pakistan and India, for example. They’re starting to open up as to trade and business visas. Now, that doesn’t mean they’ve solved their problems. That doesn’t mean that they have decided they’re going to trust each other, but it means that they’re being practical and realistic.

And I think the same goes for Bangladesh and India or with Burma, Myanmar as they develop, goes with Nepal and Bhutan, and even the entire regional outlook will be enhanced by being very practical about how to do more in cooperation, in trade, business, investment, exchanges. And maybe in 25, 50 years, the region will be flourishing in a way that we couldn’t imagine today. (Applause.)

MS. SAHA: Well, Madam Secretary, I have a question. Whenever we talk about our internal politics, we seek U.S. advice. Why is that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that for people who believe in democracy, the United States is now the longest-lasting democracy in the world, and we’re very proud of that. But there’s also a recognition that we didn’t get there overnight, that we didn’t just wake up in 1789 and say everything is solved. We had a lot of problems. I mean, we had slavery still. We didn’t empower women until the 20th century. We had to fight a civil war to end slavery, and we had to keep working on our civil rights movement to recognize the human dignity of every person. We had to work on religious tolerance.

The United States is a very religious country, but it’s also a very pluralistic country. You can go and see churches, mosques, synagogues, Hindu temples, you name it, where people are free to worship as they choose, and that all took time, and it took a lot of work by succeeding generations of Americans. And it wasn’t just our government and political leaders. It was the – what we call habits of the mind of our American citizens that Alexis de Tocqueville talked about when he came to the United States in the 1820s, and he said this is a new kind of people, where they think for themselves and where they work with each other and where they’re overcoming these divisions that had kept them apart if they had lived back in the place where they came from.

And many of you have studied in the United States. How many have you have studied in the United States? We’ve got a couple of hands here. We want more of you to study in the United States. (Applause.) We want you to come on student exchanges. And we are doing a big push through our Embassy to create more study opportunities for young people from Bangladesh.

So I think people look to us. And it’s – we do not claim to be a perfect nation. We are very conscious of our own shortcomings, maybe not as publicly as sometimes we should be – (laughter) – but we know that we have works to do, and we take that seriously. But we also want to be helpful to people who strive for freedom and democracy, who want to respect human rights and human dignity, who want to be build a market economy, who want to have a responsive government. So I think people ask for our help. We offer our help. We don’t want to be interfering in the internal affairs of countries, but we do have a lot of experience about what works, and what sustains democracy and what undermines it. So we will continue to offer whatever support we can to what you’re doing —

MS. SAHA: So it’s totally a friendly advice, not any pressure or —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we know that all we can do is offer —

MS. SAHA: Okay.

SECRETARY CLINTON: — advice. It’s ultimately up to any country whether to take it or not. But I want to stress something I said in my press conference. The United States is investing significant sums of money in Bangladesh. And one of the reporters said, well, why are you doing that? We’re investing in helping in helping you improve agricultural production through our Feed the Future program. We’re investing in helping you build health systems through our Global Health Initiative. We’re investing in technology and other approaches to mitigating climate change. We’re working with various groups within Bangladesh on economic projects and other things.

So why do we do that? Well, we do believe that spreading democracy is good for the world. We believe that. Now sometimes the decisions democracies make are not ones that you or I would make, but we think, over the long run, having people empowered, given their rights, is the best form of government that has been invented. It certainly beats all the others. And so we think a strong democracy here that is able to realize the aspirations of your people is not only good for you, but it’s good for the kind of world we would like to see. And that’s our hope.

MS. SAHA: Thank you. Thank you. Can you take questions from the floor?

MR. AHMED: Sure. I will – I have two of my friends, Savir and Jonathan. If you raise your hands, then we will take your questions.

Savir.

PARTICIPANT: We have so many hands up in the air.

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)

PARTICIPANT: And it’s hard to pick one – so many eager young faces. I would go with you, please. Please tell your name.

QUESTION: Hello. Welcome to Bangladesh. My name is Lashin Khan, and I’m a recent graduate of Mount Holyoke College, and I’m working at a development organization called Khan Foundation. So we know that Bangladesh is one of the lowest contributors to carbon emissions, but it’s the worst affected by climate change. So I would like to know, Madam Secretary, what initiatives or what commitment is the U.S. planning to make at the upcoming Rio+20 conference that would help Bangladesh or other developing nations to tackle this challenge, either financially or in other means? Thank you. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you. And congratulations on your graduation. I also graduated from a women’s college – (laughter) – in the United States, called Wellesley. And so Mount Holyoke and Wellesley are what we call seven sisters; we’re two of the sisters.

You’re right. Climate change is one of the biggest threats to low-lying countries like yours, to island nations across the oceans. So we are particularly focused on seeing what we can do to help, and here are a couple of things. I also announced yesterday a grant to work between our research institutions and yours, $17 million over the next few years, to think of ways that we can help mitigate the effects of climate change here in Bangladesh – how we use technology, what kind of agricultural practices, what kinds of other responses to rising waters, or the effects of increasing and intense – intensity of storms, and all of the issues that we are studying together.

We are looking to figure out ways to actually put into practice the fund that has been agreed to with the large economies, making contributions to try to help countries that are at risk. But among the challenges we face is to make sure we all know what works best, because as we try to reduce emissions, we still have to deal with the dangers that you are facing at the same time. So we – that’s why this grant to work with you is so important.

The other thing I have just started – and Bangladesh was a charter original member – is something called the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to prevent short-lived polluters – pollution like methane or black carbon or soot. And we are working with a small but growing group of countries – Bangladesh, Sweden, Canada, Mexico, the United States, and others – to take action on these pollutants while we still work on carbon dioxide, because they’re about 30- to 40 percent of the problem with greenhouse gas emissions.

And there are ways of attacking those right now. For example, Bangladesh has joined something that we are sponsoring called the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, because the way that women in the developing world cook the food for their families kills 2 million women and children a year because of respiratory distress and diseases, and pollutes the atmosphere. So we are working to try to develop clean cookstoves that will then be made available through organizations like Grameen Bank or BRAC so that we can help cut the pollution and improve the health.

So there are numerous ways we are working directly with your country, and then more generally, in preparation for Rio+20, looking for how we’re going to build on the commitments of Copenhagen, Cancun, and Durban, where for the first time, developed and developing countries together said we all have to work to limit climate change. So we’re working at it. It’s a very difficult, long-term challenge. In the United States, we’re increasing gas mileage for cars; we’re cleaning up coal-fired power plants; we’re working on a number of areas, even though we don’t have an overarching, comprehensive legal framework. That was not possible with our Congress, but President Obama is continuing to make progress despite that. (Applause.)

MS. SAHA: We learned that you’ve become the champion for using social media. So how do you manage? (Laughter.) You have a Face.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I have to say that I think social media is used much, much more by young people than people my age. I’m well aware of that. But we in the State Department have tried to empower our diplomats to use social media, particularly to reach out to young people around the world. And in fact, I was over at the Embassy thanking our employees who work at our Embassy in Dhaka, and thank them because the Facebook page for the Embassy in Dhaka is the third-most used in the world – (applause) – for all of our State Department.

MS. SAHA: Now Madam Secretary, you have bunch of questions through social media, through Facebook and our ATN News email. So I’d like to – (inaudible), you wanted to ask something on behalf of ATN News.

QUESTION: Thank you (inaudible). This question came from a public poll conducted by ATN News. The question is from Piel Alem from (inaudible). What you say about the common perception held by many young people that the U.S. is anti-Muslim?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, that hurts me. (Laughter.) That hurts me so much, honestly. I mean, it’s a painful perception to hear about, and I deeply regret that anyone believes that or propagates it. So let me say first that certainly I think the way the United States demonstrates respect for religions of all kinds, and particularly gives people from every religious faith the opportunity to participate in our society, is an important statement of our beliefs and our values.

And are there – is there discrimination or prejudice in the United States, like in every society and country in the world? Unfortunately, yes. I mean, human nature has not changed dramatically. There is discrimination against people of different religions, of different races, of different ethnic groups all over the world. We see the results of that. But I don’t think that it is at all fair to hold up the United States, separate and apart from the challenges that we all are confronting to make sure that we respect the rights of every human being. And I believe that the United States, through our laws and through our constant political dialogue, has gone probably farther than anywhere else in the world in trying to guarantee legal protections for people. I would like to see more countries do more to protect the rights of minorities because I think that’s an important part of democracy and of recognizing that no matter what our religion or whatever our background might be, we share this planet with people from many different vantage points, and we should be respectful.

So I think that part of it is the fact that we have been engaged in self defense and in protecting ourselves for more than 10 years. And we have gone after the terrorists who, personally, I do not believe is in any way reflective of Islam. I think that people who use religion, who pervert religion, for their own power or their own personal needs or their own desires are doing a great disservice to religion. And you find people who, over history, have used every religion for that purpose. And it’s unfortunate that terrorists today, at this point in history, are too often using a religion that is one of the great reflections of man’s faith and one of the three monotheistic religions that I came out of, as a Christian.

So we know that there are those who, for their own reasons, try to politicize what the United States has done in a way that I think is unfortunate and unfair. And I certainly think President Obama has sent a very clear message of respect and appreciation of all religions, and in particular of Islam. So it is something we’re aware of and something we will continue to speak out against, but I think, looking at how the United States practices religions tolerance is something that speaks louder than any person’s political statement would.

PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.) Can I please jump in?

PARTICIPANT: Yeah.

PARTICIPANT: I’m sure that we have many eager audience – in fact, I have a question, but – (laughter) – I’ll leave it to audience.

So, let’s see. We have this young fellow here. So, sir, what’s your name?

QUESTION: I’m (inaudible) from University of Dhaka. I have (inaudible) and now I am involved in (inaudible) University of Dhaka, and I am also (inaudible) at the American (inaudible) Association. In fact, I am (inaudible) common people because the students have the opportunity to go to USA, but you provided earlier a visa lottery that was open for common people. And with this lottery program, our people – almost 5,000 people very year went to USA, they contributed to your country, and they also contributed to the country because the (inaudible). But this opportunity is now closed for Bangladesh, so it is (inaudible) for us. So do you have any plan for resuming the DV program for our people or any other (inaudible) exchange program so that the common people can go to the U.S. and contribute to USA and (inaudible)?

PARTICIPANT: Sir, thank you for your question. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me ask one of our people here at the Embassy because – maybe let the ambassador directly respond to that.

AMBASSADOR MOZENA: Thank you very much for that question. I know – (applause) – it’s one that might be on the mind of many of you. The Diversity Visa Program was formulated to assist those countries whose emigration flows to America were not at a high enough level, given the population of that country. And now so many Bangladeshis have, in fact, emigrated to America that Bangladesh has surpassed that level and therefore no longer qualifies for having the Diversity Visa Program. So that has now ended, as the questioner rightly pointed out.

SECRETARY CLINTON: So why don’t you, Ambassador, talk about the efforts we are making to increase student exchanges and other study opportunities?

AMBASSADOR MOZENA: Well, Madam Secretary, you may regret having asked me to do that. (Laughter.) It’s very hard to give up this microphone with that question in the air.

On the stage is my youth council. We are focused on youth, on the leaders of today and the leaders or tomorrow. And we have a wide range of programs that – to facilitate youth going to America, to facilitate youth here in Bangladesh, working among themselves to help build this wonderful nation.

The place to find out more about all of that is to come to our American Center here in Dhaka, also the American Corners in Jessore and Sylhet and Chittagong. And soon, in mid-July, we’ll be opening the Edward M. Kennedy Center in the Dhanmondi area among – close to Dhaka University and all of those private universities, reaching out to you, to the young people, to create a platform for you to build, work together to make the Golden Bangladesh.

I’d better stop there because I’m sure I’m getting dagger looks from my boss. (Laughter and applause.)

MR. AHMED: Madam Secretary, we’re going to take one more questions, definitely from this side. So.

PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.)

MR. AHMED: Okay. Sure. Please.

QUESTION: Thank you. Well, first of all, I’d like to say you have got a very beautiful smile. (Laughter.) Anyway, I’m (inaudible). I’m a (inaudible). I’m also working as a lecturer in (inaudible) University of Bangladesh, and I’m also vice president of Bangladesh Youth Empowerment Society.

So my question is: You’re, like, one of the most – even the most, maybe the most – influential woman in this world and are a very influential character or figure for all the women in this world. So from – in your journey from a very – from a young leader to today’s position, the Secretary of the United States of America, what were the advantages or disadvantages you got being a woman, a (inaudible) even? Thank you. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, I think that it is exciting to see the opportunities for women opening up in many places around the world, not just in my country, and here in your country. As I see more and more women taking positions of responsibility, not only in politics and government but in academia, in the professions, in civil society and business, that’s been one of the changes that I think has helped Bangladesh, to go back to Mooni’s question about soft power. The empowerment of women, half the population, makes a huge difference. And certainly, I have lived through that kind of experience in my own country, where more and more women were able to pursue their own dreams, to study in colleges and universities that were opening doors to them, to pursue careers, professions, and make a contribution.

In my own case, I have always believed that you have to get a good education, which all of you are doing, to equip you to make the best decisions for yourself. You cannot expect to be able to advance in your own chosen path if you are not prepared. So the first advantage I had is I had an excellent education. I had a very good secondary education, higher education, went to law school, got a law degree from Yale University. So I felt that I had gotten the education that I needed to be able to start making decisions.

I think second – the second advantage, which really has stayed with me my entire life, is that I had a family and I had parents, both a mother and a father, who encouraged me and who made no difference in their encouragement and expectations for me, their daughter, as they did for their sons. And I just lost my mother in November, but she was somebody who understood that you have to make your own way in life because ultimately that is how you will determine the purpose and meaning of your life. And she was a wonderful mother and gave me so much, and that, of course, made a huge difference.

I think the other advantage is that I was determined, I was healthy, I had a lot of stamina, I had a thick skin – (laughter) – and therefore, as I went through various phases of my life and had people tell me from a relatively young age that girls didn’t do that or girls shouldn’t do that or you can’t have that scholarship because that’s only for men or you can’t go to that program, I just kept going. And luckily, a lot of those obstacles have been eliminated in my country. So the kinds of legal obstacles, institutional obstacles, that used to exist no longer do, for the great part. And so young women have more choices than even I had when I was younger.

So I mostly see advantages, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems and that there aren’t challenges and that there doesn’t remain a double standard, because – I will be – just – I don’t want to mislead you; there is a double standard. There’s a double standard in every society, including advanced societies that I live in or that exist in Europe and elsewhere. But you can’t give in to that. You can’t be embittered or angered by it. You just have to keep working to overcome it.

And the final thing I would say is I was advantaged because I always believed that women had every right to go as far as their hard work and their talent would take them, but they would have to prove themselves, that there was no given, there was no presumption that couldn’t be rebutted. You had to demonstrate that you were capable and ready and willing to do whatever the job was.

So I think that it’s been mostly advantages, but it’s also because I just kept moving forward and did not allow other people’s expectations or other people’s opposition to determine the choices in my life. And I would think that’s true for both women and men, because they’re trying to chart new ground and some of these young youth leaders – and have on my bracelet the Volunteer for Bangladesh sign here – (applause) – you’re trying to create something for your country that is kind of new. Young people historically have had to wait their turn. That’s the way it’s been in the past, but that’s no longer the way it is. You now are able to demonstrate your own ability, make your own mark, make your contribution. But I am sure there will be people who tell you to wait – wait your turn, don’t go too fast, don’t try to do too much. So you have to be smart about it because you want to be successful, but you also have to be strong enough not to get discouraged and deterred for doing what you believe is right to do. So I think that’s the best I can say to answer your question. (Applause.)

MS. SAHA: Madam Secretary, you are an inspiration and leader to us, and you are a loving mother, and you are a great soul, I must say. And my question is: You use your (inaudible). What is the magic?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you for that, because some days it feels harder than other days – (laughter) – to try to bring people together. I mean, I see a very important need in the world to overcome our differences and bring people together because we have so much to gain by working together. And I spend a lot of my time trying to convince people to figure out ways to work together. I mean, it was in the newspapers what I said last night. In both my meetings with Sheik Hasina and Begum Zia, I said I wish you could figure out ways to work together. You need to work together to get an election mechanism in place so that your democracy has predictability and can keep moving forward.

In every place I go representing my country, I try to think of what is the best argument to make, what is the best way to present the potential of greater positive results for people if we can just figure out how to overcome and bridge our differences, because in the modern world in which we’re living, we’re all interdependent, we’re all interconnected. You just can’t say that you’re going to only deal with your own kind of person or you’re only going to meet your own kind of person or you’re only going to listen to your own kind of person. That’s not the way the world is going to work. And we’ll either figure out how to be more integrated or we will disintegrate. And we will have more conflict and we will have more problems that we won’t figure out ways to solve because we won’t work together.

You have big problems with water, right? You’ve got to figure out ways to work with India and Nepal and other neighbors, and you have to make the case that it’s in their interest to work with you. So you don’t make agreements with people you agree with before you start. You have to figure out what are the areas of agreement that you can possibly meet together on.

So I spend most of my time trying to think of smart ways to help people overcome what is keeping them apart, keeping their people poor, keeping conflict going, giving room for violence, and all of the problems that we have when I think the world has such an enormously positive potential for all of you. Because finally, I would say, Mooni, that the work I do is about my daughter and about the next generation and about the kind of future you deserve to have. And I said last night it’s like when Ted Kennedy came here as a young man and planted that banyan tree. That was an act of symbolic faith in your future. And the tree has flourished. Well, that’s like a metaphor. You have to be planting trees in soil that has been uprooted, sometimes polluted by all of the problems, but you have to keep doing it. And each of you who is a young leader has so much at stake in making your country what it can be in your lifetime.

PARTICIPANT: Absolutely. Thank you.

MS. SAHA: Madam Secretary, you are just pressing on the young leader. Of course, we are in an excellent gathering of young leaders, but I mean in terms of smart politics, so what about the experienced leader? So who they are now – well, I’m not saying that they are creating problem. They are on the (inaudible), so then —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I mostly deal with the experienced leaders, the leaders who’ve been around for a long time, because those are the people I sit across the table from – presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, other national leaders. But most of them are beginning to see that the world around them is changing. You cannot escape social media. Social media can get information to people that governments used to try to control and prevent you from having. Politics is utterly changed because it’s not just authorized sources of information that the government approves about what is happening politically. It’s bloggers, it’s tweeters, it’s people with an opinion. And everybody who has a cell phone can take a picture of a corrupt official demanding a bribe, and post it, and say this should be a corruption-free country, and we’re going to do everything we can to stop it. And they can also call out leaders who are abusing power and abusing human rights.

So even experienced leaders now have to recognize that you can’t keep doing politics the same old way. And there has to be an openness to new ideas, an acceptance of accountability. I mean, one of the biggest problems in developing countries – and look, it’s a problem here – one of the reasons that you’ve not been eligible for a Millennium Challenge compact is because of corruption and the failure to take more steps to stamp it out. So every leader has to be asked, “Are you in this – are you in politics and government for yourself, or are you in politics and government for the people of your country to leave them a better a future?” That’s the question. So now it can be asked not just by journalists but by millions of people who are connected on social media.

And I think that’s a promising development. A lot of governments are trying to figure out how to prevent that. We do a lot of work in the State Department to break down the firewalls that authoritarian governments try to put in place to prevent their own people from getting information. We’re seeing it now in Syria, a brutal, violent crackdown on what started as peaceful protests by students and young people, which is now morphing into a very widespread conflict that is very dangerous. Inside Iran, constant efforts by the Iranian Government to keep information out so that people don’t have a chance to think for themselves. And so we do what we do, spend a lot of time trying to help those people inside such countries have access to information that they can then convey. And I think every leader is going to have to deal with that.

MR. AHMED: Can we take a few more questions from the audience, please?

PARTICIPANT: There are a lot of young entrepreneurs in this audience, so we want to also give them an opportunity –

MR. AHMED: Yes. And we can also take questions in Bangla. (In Bangla.) Okay. Let’s go to our friend over there.

QUESTION: Well, thank you. This is Razound ah-Mazoud, a student of international relations from University of Dhaka. Well, we have seen that there was a signing of a partnership agreement last night between United States of America and Bangladesh. And now much hopeful can we be of seeing a long-term strategic and stable U.S.-Bangla relations for a future generation? And what role do you expect of the Bangladesh to play in the region where we have Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, and India not far from us, in fact and (inaudible) issues? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the question is a very good one because part of the reason that I wanted to develop and then sign the partnership agreement last night is to do exactly as your question implied, to put our relationship on a stable basis, regardless of who our president is, who our secretary of state is, who your prime minister is, who your foreign minister is. It should not be dependent upon the personal – the persons holding the positions; it should be between our two nations, between our governments and our people year after year after year so that we develop institutional cooperation between us.

And that’s the purpose of that partnership agreement, and I’m very pleased about it because we do a lot of government-to-government talking, we do a lot of government-to-NGO talking, we do a lot of government-to-business talking. But I wanted to bring it all together under one umbrella so that we could count on it lasting year after year after year, because that’s the kind of partnership we want to have.

With regard to your second question, I think that Bangladesh has the opportunity to play a constructive role in trying to resolve regional problems, and I would like to see you do that going into the future, reaching out to your neighbors. Now, it’s not a short-term proposition. It can take time, but make it clear that Bangladesh wants to have a pivotal role in resolving cross-border problems. I mentioned one, water; climate change, which is obviously another; opening up economic markets. I heard last night that Bangladesh now has maybe either limited or no-tariff access into the India market. I mean, that’s the —

MS. SAHA: Yes. No tariff. Yeah.

SECRETARY CLINTON: — kind of cooperative agreements that I think are very good, not only for Bangladesh but for the region. So I would urge that.

MR. AHMED: Can we also expect duty-free access to the U.S. market? Because that is a major concern for the R&D sector. And you mentioned R&D, and so many women are employed in this sector. So is this something that is —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re certainly looking to see what we can do. I heard quite a bit about that last night, and we want to finish a trade and investment agreement. But I’ll give you an example of the kind of agreements that we want to enter into on trade and investment, because we’re very close, we hope, to negotiating this – do have requirements for labor standards, because we think if you’re going to become a middle-income country, you have to have a strong base on which to build that kind of labor force, and so you want to build in labor protections. And that, to us, is a key part, and it’s also part of the International Labor Organization Declaration.

Because after a certain point of development – and you’re seeing it in China. China’s having more worker unrest, more labor problems. They’re finding all kinds of outside attention as to how they put together electronics or garments or whatever. So as you evolve economically, you have to begin to have a legal framework to protect labor rights. So in our agreements, we do have requirements, and sometimes those are difficult, not only for the government but for the business sector. But we think it’s the best way to set out how you’re going to have the kind of economic progress that will not just exploit people but will build a better future.

MR. AHMED: Absolutely. Thank you. Samir, do we — (applause).

MS. SAHA: Lots of questions.

PARTICIPANT: It’s very hard to pick one, seriously.

MR. AHMED: (Inaudible.)

PARTICIPANT: Like her. I hear you. This side, this side. (Laughter.) Please.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) My name is Alia Atta. I am the general secretary for BGIF. We work with workers’ rights. And there we face all kinds of obstructions with the police, goons, thugs, and false allegations in court. And, in fact, one of our leaders, Aminul Islam, was very brutally murdered. With such conditions, how can we work with the cause of workers’ rights? Thanks.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. (Applause.) And – well, first let me say that I spoke out strongly to point that there needed to be an independent investigation into the murder of Mr. Islam, because certainly his family and his colleagues deserve answers about what happened to him. So on that particular case, this is a real test for the government and for the society to make sure you don’t say that anyone can have impunity. That’s a key issue for the rule of law.

Secondly, on your larger question, the history of labor rights and labor unions in any developing society is always difficult. There are strong forces that oppose workers being organized. We have this in my own country. You go back to the 19th and the early 20th century when labor unions were just getting started, there were goons, there were thugs, there were killings, there were riots, there were terrible conditions. We passed laws at the beginning of the 20th century against child labor, against too many hours for people to work, but that took time. It took time to develop a sense of political will to address those issues. So you are beginning that, and it’s a very important struggle. I think in today’s world, everything is accelerated because everything is known. There are no secret issues that can’t be exposed. There are exposes about factories from China to Latin America. So you are doing very important work. Do not be discouraged or intimidated. But you deserve to have the support of your government and your society.

The third point I would make is that we have worked from Colombia to Cambodia with the owners of factories and other enterprises to help them understand how they can continue to make a very good profit while treating their workers right. And in fact, we have spent a lot of time trying to help owners of businesses understand how to do that. And it’s worked. And we have people who are quite experts in that.

For many years, Colombia, the country in South America that has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world right now, had hundreds of labor organizers killed. And they were killed by economic forces and political forces that didn’t want to share power, didn’t want to share profits, who didn’t see that that was part of the obligation of democracy and society. So we have seen this happen all over the world, and we stand ready to work with factory owners and labor organizers to have a better dialogue, to understand what can work, and then to help you implement it.

So I thank you for raising it because it’s a part of becoming a middle class country. Workers deserve to have their labor respected and fairly paid for. Factory owners deserve to have what they pay for, which is an honest day’s work for the wages that they pay. So there is a way to accommodate those interests, and we’ve seen it, and we can continue to work with you to try to achieve it. (Applause.)

MS. SAHA: Madam Secretary, I have a question regarding cooperation between our two country, like America and Bangladesh, on power and energy sector in a changing reality of Myanmar and after resolving our controversy with the maritime boundary with Myanmar, so —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I want to recognize that the way that you handled your maritime boundary with Burma and the way you’re handling it with India is exactly the way it should be resolved. You went to the international authorities, you submitted your information, you’ve had a favorable ruling. But you did it by a peaceful rule of law approach, so I really compliment you on doing that. And – (applause).

MS. SAHA: That’s smart power, they use. Must be. It must be use for smart power.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s very smart, because it’s now resolved. And it comes at a very good time because, as Burma is reforming economically and politically, I think that Bangladesh can be a big help to the people there. And there’s also economic opportunities for your businesses in working across the border. So I think it’s a win-win for your country. And I would hope that as the democratic reform effort there continues, civil society here will also get involved because they’ve been under a military regime for 40 years, right? So they don’t have yet the institutional experiences that you have been developing. So I hope that there’ll be some outreach to try to assist them as they make progress.

MS. SAHA: I specifically like to know about the investment in energy and power sector.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, energy and power is critical, we know, to Bangladesh because you still don’t have reliable, affordable electricity across the country. And we talked last night, and as part of the partnership agreement, the government asked if we would provide technical advice about potential development of your hydropower, exploring whether you have natural gas, unconventional gas resources, including shale gas, other kinds of advice that we would be willing to offer. So we’re going to send a technical team to work with you on that, what kind of renewable energy in addition to hydropower, whether there’s an opportunity for geothermal, for wind, for solar, greater than has been anticipated. So we stand ready to help you meet your energy needs.

QUESTION: Thank you so much. (Inaudible.)

MR. AHMED: We will have to wrap it up, so I think —

MS. SAHA: I would like to ask our honorable, respected Madam Secretary, what are you taking back with this trip? You have visited China and you are going to India and —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right. Right.

MS. SAHA: — so this evening, you are leaving for India. So —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

MS. SAHA: — from – exactly what you are taking back.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m, first of all, taking back just the overall impression of the dynamism and the progress that is being made here and in the region. You’re right; I was in China. China obviously is continuing to grow and develop. They would be the first to tell you they still have hundreds of millions of people that they need to lift out of poverty, that they need to educate, that they need to provide health care for. So they are the most developed developing country, that is for sure, but they still are facing issues they have to address. I’ll be going on to India. India, too, is making progress, has hundreds of millions of people still in poverty that they have to find ways of providing income to, education, health care.

So I think that the region itself, with you right strategically situated between China and India, has developed incredibly fast, but people’s aspirations probably have developed faster. So there’s now a greater expectation that people’s economic and political needs will be met. And I personally believe that you are on the right track. Over the long run, people’s freedoms cannot be denied. And what you’ve done by taking a democratic route – it may be messy, because democracy is messy; it may not have top-down control over everything, but that way you also don’t prevent good ideas from bubbling up – you are on the right path.

But you know the problems you face. You understand that far better than I do. And what you need is national unity and a consensus toward continuing that progress. And I know that’s hard. You have two very powerful political parties that alternate between one and the other, and you have a lot of challenges to the sustainment of a peaceful political path forward, but the people have to demand that. Regardless of who you vote for or what party you support, the people have to demand that everybody is trying to accomplish the same thing, which is continuing the economic development of the country, providing democratic institutionalization for the country, respecting the human rights and human dignity of every person in the country, bringing people together, developing a volunteer mentality so that people go out and help each other, because the government cannot and should not be expected to deliver everything everybody needs. That is a recipe for failure in today’s world.

So you are on the right track. Build up civil society and continue to support democracy and economic opportunity and market development. And I feel very positive about what I’ve seen and heard, and I’m particularly impressed by the young people who I have met.

PARTICIPANT: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Thank you. I would like to request (inaudible) to thank Madam Secretary on behalf of the audience, and please (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: And let us thank you. You did an excellent job with too many hands. (Applause.)

MR. AHMED: Madam Secretary, thank you so much. We are so grateful to you for your time. And this is your second visit. And the youth of Bangladesh are really hopeful. We pray for you. We wish you all the best. And hopefully, the next time you’re in Bangladesh, in five years’ time, you’ll be here on Air Force One. Our prayers and good wishes. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, my God – (applause). Thank you.

MS. SAHA: Bangladesh is (inaudible).

MR. AHMED: A round of applause for Madam Secretary. (Applause.)

MS. SAHA: Thank you very much. Thank you. Goodspeed. (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Same to you, my friend. Thank you so much. Good luck to you. Thank you.

PARTICIPANT: Yes. No, we wish you all the best. You’re such an inspirational role model, and I’ve read your book so many times. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you all.

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১৩ মে ২০১২

০৭ মে ২০১২তে কলকাতায় হিলারি ক্লিন্টনের টাউন্টারভিউ “We The People”

MS. DUTT: Good morning, everybody. Good morning ladies and gentlemen of Kolkata, but especially good morning to all the young students and the young voices of Kolkata who are here this morning to listen to a very, very exciting and important guest. Our guest this morning seems to, when she is not in Washington, D.C., be living in an airplane. And I’m not joking. Do you know how many miles she’s clocked up since she took over as Secretary of State in 2009? Any guesses, guys? I bet you can’t guess. More than 700,000 miles. Actually, I think somebody there got it almost right. That worked out – oh, that’s somebody on the staff. That’s cheating right? (Laughter.) That’s cheating, guys.

Alright. More than 700,000 miles and 95 countries works out to about 25 trips around the globe. And yet not once does she show signs of any flagging energy. In fact, as she arrives in India making Kolkata her first stop, she has just completed two very important visits to two other countries: China first, then Bangladesh; and now, of course, here in India as an old friend.

She is one of the most influential women anywhere in the world, and in fact a Gallup poll in the United States of America has consistently called her the most admired woman in the United States of America for more than decade. And I know how excited we are as Indians to welcome her to our country today, and of course the people of Kolkata to welcome her to her first stop in India, which is Kolkata. We are going to be having a very exciting conversation this morning, and it is my privilege and honor to welcome to India and to the stage Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Let’s have a huge round of applause. (Applause.)

Welcome. It is so good to see you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. It is so wonderful to be here with all of you, and I want to thank Barkha Dutt for agreeing to moderate our discussion and everyone at NDTV and at La Martiniere. This is very exciting for me to have this chance to be back in this vibrant city after a number of years. I was last here in 1997 honoring the life and work of Mother Teresa. And I am thrilled to see all of the dynamism and how much both Kolkata and West Bengal have thrived.

So here we are in the economic and innovation hub of Eastern India, and I just want to make a few comments before we have a chance for a conversation. I wanted to do this, because certainly for me, the work that I do every single day, the miles that I fly, are about trying to see what all of us together can be doing to bring peace and prosperity to the world, because most of the world’s population are young people. That’s true in India, but it’s true in most places in the East, and particularly in Asia and South and East Asia.

So it’s truly about what you want for your futures. And the relationship between our two great democracies is one that is going to help determine the kind of future that we have. As President Obama told the Indian parliament, the relationship between India and the United States will be one of those defining partnerships of the 21st century. Why? Because we are united by bedrock beliefs about freedom, democracy, pluralism, and opportunity.

And also our economies are increasingly interdependent. When I first visited India in 1995, trade between our countries was about $9 billion. Well, today it’s more than $100 billion. And that makes a difference in the lives of people in both countries. I was talking with some friends here last night, and they were referencing the jobs and opportunities created by the Pepsi-Frito Lay plant here, and how it’s not only for the people who work in the plant but for all the farmers whose incomes are going up because they have guaranteed contracts for their products.

So there’s a lot of progress, but we always think that more can be made to reduce barriers, open markets to greater trade and investment, economic reforms from manufacturing to retail, can spark growth, create jobs, and lower prices for consumers in both countries.

Increasingly also, our strategic interests are aligned. India is a regional and increasingly global power, recognized with its economic, diplomatic, and military influence. And India is taking on more responsibilities, which is good news because the international community cannot solve our shared problems, such as nuclear proliferation or climate change, unless we are all working together and unless the leading countries are taking the steps necessary for solutions.

I think here in Kolkata, you’ve always been at the forefront of India’s engagement with the world. I know the city is sometimes called the Gateway to the East. And increasingly, India’s look-east policy will be essential for the growth of India, but even more importantly for the entire integration of the Asia Pacific region.

I’ve just come from Bangladesh, where there is a great hope and excitement about increasing trade and economic opportunities with India, with Burma, with the markets of Southeast Asia. I think because of India’s democracy, India stands in a strong position to help the people of Burma as they navigate their way forward both with economic and political reforms.

Prior to that, I was in China, where we are building a constructive relationship not only bilaterally but among our three countries. In fact, the trilateral consultation between China, India, and the United States will be essential for us in the future as well.

But really, the heart of our relationship is the people-to-people relationship, the thousands and thousands of visits every year, the incredible contributions of Indian Americans in my country in every walk of life, increasingly in the political realm. And I checked the statistics. In 2011, 35 percent of all the L1 work visas that the United States issued in the entire world were issued to Indians. And between 2010 and 2011, we saw an increase in 24 percent in H1B work visas. And more than 100,000 Indian students are currently studying in the United States. So there are so many links between us, and we want to promote even more between the young people of our two countries.

I think it’s appropriate to quote from Tagore. People always quote from Tagore in not only West Bengal but in many other places as well. I discovered him when I was in college and have been a fan ever since. And one of the quotes that I liked when I was your age and I like now that I’m my age is, “Age considers, youth ventures.” So since India is home to more than 400 million young people, a remarkable generation – innovative, entrepreneurial, tolerant, connected to each other – we’re hoping you will venture, that you will venture on behalf of not only your own futures but the future of this great country, and that you’ll venture to make the partnership between the United States and India stronger. Under my direction, we are starting youth councils in all of our embassies and our consulates around the world. Here in Kolkata, we have a particularly active group and we would love to have even more people involved.

So with that, I’m looking forward to the conversation, and I think it’s fair to say that I have probably been asked nearly everything in my long life and public life, so just please feel free with Barkha’s lead to have a real conversation for the time we’re together. Thank you all. (Applause.)

MS. DUTT: All right. Just before we get the ball rolling, we’ll just get the podium off stage and we’ll get the Secretary all miked up. But it was interesting to hear her say that she’s probably been asked every question that’s possible. So are we going to surprise her today? We are, right? (Laughter.) She’s going to walk away with some question that she’s never been asked before.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I should never have done that. (Laughter.) What a challenge. That’s a woman who loves a challenges. (Laughter.)

MS. DUTT: Secretary Clinton, thank you so much for your remarks and welcome to India and to Kolkata once again. And before we set the ball rolling today, I’ve got to share with you something that somebody from the state actually characterized us Indians as – economist and Nobel Laureate, Amartya Sen, he said that there’s one definition that fits Indians, and that is: “Argumentative Indians.” (Laughter.) And Indians are argumentative, but my god, Bengalis – (laughter) – are very argumentative and very opinionated, right? (Applause.)

So I hope you’re ready for the questions and the volleys that are coming your way. But before we start the conversation this morning, I want to draw your attention, the attention of our audience here, and the attention of our viewers to something that we forget: Even though you have had a long relationship with India – now 17 years, sometimes we forget that it was not in fact your husband, Bill Clinton, as President who came to India first, but you as first lady.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

MS. DUTT: And I’m going to show you a picture, and the audience can see it on their screens. And that’s you in 1995 with Chelsea in front of the Taj Mahal, an extraordinary picture there. Chelsea was just 15 then, just a 15-year-old kid with her mom at the Taj Mahal. And you always reached out, not just to politicians but to civil society groups. There you are in ’95 with Ela Bhatt, the founder of SEWA. On that trip, you learned how to dye rags. I’m going to ask you how often you did that after you left.

Dyeing rags and block printing – that was Secretary Clinton’s first trip in Kolkata, a long association with somebody we love, miss, and admire, Mother Teresa. Your first visit here in a little bit of tragic circumstances at the funeral and the tribute to Mother Teresa. That was 1997 when you were here first. On a happier occasion, today, of course, in 2012. A long relationship across political dispensations that’s Prime Minister Vajpayee at the White House; Sonia Gandhi whom you’ve known over the years – (inaudible) that great photograph, I love that photograph; Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj. You’ve made friends across different political parties. You like shaking a leg, don’t you? (Laughter.) You make the point to do that in every trip.

But here’s the thing, as you (inaudible) and say goodbye to us, there’s one thing you always say: Every Indian meal that’s coming up leaves you on a diet of carrots and celery for the next many weeks.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s very true. (Laughter.)

MS. DUTT: So that was a flashback. But I’ve got to ask you, because we’re hoping you managed to duck into a hearty Indian meal, how many carrots and celeries coming up in the next few weeks?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I leave here and I go to Delhi, so by the time I get home, I think it’ll probably be at least a week of celery and carrots, don’t you think? And we – my husband and I have just such a great personal affection for India – maybe because we’re a little argumentative ourselves from time to time, but also the extraordinary dynamism and just the thrill of being in the country.

Now, it’s a little difficult actually getting out and around as a first lady or as a Secretary of State, but we’ve really tried to break through the official boundaries. So yesterday, for example, I met with these extraordinary young women who’ve been rescued from the sex trade and who are being worked with by a variety of organizations here in West Bengal. And just to have a chance to hear the stories and talk to them about their lives helps to put the work that I do on the official level into a broader perspective, because for me it’s really about whether or not at the end of the day those of us in these positions have made life better for people or not.

Certainly, we can have a great experience personally traveling and visiting and meeting people, but that’s not why I do this work. And I think most people who care about their own country, or even more broadly global possibilities, knows that there’s a lot of anxiety and insecurity about what direction the world is going in in many places and uncertainty about what the economy is going to be like. And so I think we have an obligation to do as much as we can in the time we have to serve.

MS. DUTT: Now, you’ve made it a point, and I think those pictures told their own story, to step out of the formality of protocol, to meet all sorts of different people, to go to all sorts of different parts of India. But I know a lot of people have been asking me: Why Kolkata? Why Kolkata before Delhi?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, because I was in Chennai the last time I was here. That’s where the dancing pictures were, just an amazing experience we had there. And coming from China to Bangladesh, it seemed very appropriate to stop right here in Kolkata. The economic potential of East India is so great, but also the geopolitical significance of this part of India is increasingly recognized.

When you think about the potential for greater trade and economic integration going east, the markets that would be open for West Bengal by greater trade with not only Bangladesh but on to Burma, dealing with the issues of water and energy that affect the entire region – all of this, to me, is significant, and the United States wants to be a partner with the entire country. And therefore coming here, meeting people, having this opportunity, seeing the chief minister, is a way of demonstrating our commitment to that future.

MS. DUTT: Now, it’s interesting, you of course being named by Gallup and poll after poll as the most admired woman in the United States of America. But as you meet with Mamata Banerjee, one can’t help but look at the symbolism of these two very different women, but two very formidable women coming together.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well —

MS. DUTT: I’m a bit of a (inaudible), you know that. You’re not going to pretend that you’re not formidable.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t think of myself that way, but apparently there are some who do – (laughter) – which sometimes is an advantage, sometimes a disadvantage. I think it’s a great tribute to India that the entire political development of this country at the national and the local, and now increasingly even at the state level with all of the elections, is demonstrating the equality and empowerment that is at the core of the Indian dream.

I mean, this is a country that has embraced democracy, which by definition is endowing individuals with their rights and which has made enormous progress. And women have been at the forefront of that progress. So I’m always happy to meet with another woman leader. And having been in politics myself for eight years as a senator from New York, I know how difficult it is for women to be elected anywhere. This is still a challenging experience and a double standard: You just are judged differently; you’re held to a different standard. We all know that.

So when I meet a woman who’s broken through those barriers, whatever society she’s coming from, whatever her background, and even whatever her political beliefs – because some women in public office I agree with on their policies, other women I have disagreements with – but we share a common bond, if you will, of having gone through the fire of electoral politics in very contentious political systems, which both of our countries have.

MS. DUTT: And isn’t it true, as you said, that there’s an entirely different kind of scrutiny on women in public life? And I remember once, you joked, but it wasn’t really a joke, that the fastest way for you to get a story on the front page was to change your hairstyle.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, that’s true, actually. Yeah. So what do you think? I mean, we’re – (laughter) – it’s – do we want (inaudible)? That’s okay. That’s okay. No, we —

MS. DUTT: No. You don’t need to get any stories on the front page (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, the front page – the story on the front page. Well, it is the fact – I remember being in Finland once. And in Finland, they have taken gender equality to an incredibly sophisticated level. And I was meeting with the president, the finance minister, the head of the central bank, and about – the defense minister, and about four other women who, at that point in time, were the head of the government of that country.

And I said, “Well, now that you’ve reached critical mass, are you feeling that a lot of the comments about your hair and your clothes and all of that are behind you?” And the defense minister looked at me and she said, “No, because still I will go to a defense ministers meeting and it’ll be – coverage in the media will read my name, comma, wearing a spring suit of pastel hues, comma, spoke about the need for — ” and so I think that we just have to keep persevering and not be deterred from and supporting women who have the gumption to get out into the political arena.

MS. DUTT: Absolutely. And there is an institution-like misogyny that I think women like yourselves have shattered through many glass ceilings. But you are still dealing with so many more invisible ones every day, right?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s so true. And it’s true globally; it’s not limited to any one country. Violence against women, unfortunately, is still a problem everywhere. Women are the primary victims now of conflicts – women and children – in places where there are active violence going on. We see efforts by religious and other extremists to turn the clock back on women’s education, healthcare opportunities. We’re still fighting against child marriage. We’re fighting against the devaluation of girl children. We do have a big agenda ahead of us, and it’s very important that both men and women be invested in changing the underlying attitudes that lead to these discriminatory practices.

MS. DUTT: I’m going to start opening the floor for questions with one question of my own to get the ball rolling: Many people expect that part of your focus in Kolkata is going to be about getting this part of the country to open up its markets to foreign direct investment in retail. You’re also coming from Bangladesh. There was to be a pact over sharing waters of the Teesta River. It did not come through at the last moment. How high are both these things on your agenda in Bengal?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they’re certainly on the list of things that I will want to talk about, but I’m also primarily interested in hearing from the chief minister, her vision for the future of West Bengal. Because I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to, on a first meeting, come in and say, well, this, this, and this. I want to know, well, what are you trying to achieve, and what will work and have you thought about this? Because I have been around a very long time now, and I have been fortunate to see a lot of economic efforts tried and succeeded, and tried and failed. And I come with, certainly, a belief that India can compete with anybody, anywhere. And the more open India becomes over time, the greater the rise in standard of living and opportunity for the broader number of people will be.

But I also understand politics, and I understand how lots of these decisions are difficult and have to be weighed. So I will certainly raise the United States’ desire to try to open the market to multi-brand retail. And part of the reason for that is there is an enormous amount of experience that can be brought to India on supply chains management, on developing relationships with small producers so that the production will be then made available in larger quantity and there can be all kinds of assistance, as we’re seeing with the Frito-Lay-PepsiCo factory with farmers on their agricultural production. So I think there are a lot of benefits that may not necessarily be immediately perceived.

And on water, this is an issue around the world that will be increasingly contentious. And we have to do a better job of trying to find win-win solutions for everybody, because the alternative will be, perhaps at the worst end, conflict, but leading up to that, dislocation, destabilization, refugee flows, famine, other kinds of problems that we are seeing in places like North Africa. So we have to work together as the international community – and the United States doesn’t have any interest in how the water issues are resolved, but we know from looking at our own projections of what will be hot issues – literally, hot issues in the future, that unless water is put on the list to be dealt with, it can cause all kinds of dislocation that needs to try to be headed off.

MS. DUTT: Okay. That was very candid and there are going to be lots of other questions coming up about the region and so on. But I think we’re ready to take our first questions from the audience. And let’s go here to the young man in the first row. I’d request you to stand and ask your questions, and just hold the mike close like that.

QUESTION: Hi. I’m Samuel from Mumbai, actually Bombay, and are part of the Youth Advisory Council of the U.S. Government. I have a question, rather a suggestion, is that why doesn’t the U.S. Government make constructive efforts to reach out to grassroot-level Indian youth? Because in this room, we don’t even represent one percent of the demographics that India has. Because if you want to push FDI-level nuclear plans, it’s the new youth that opposes it for whatever reasons.

And the second quick question I have, just from my learning as a socially change – because what is the role of youth or influence of youth in American policymaking?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Two great questions, and thank you for participating in our efforts at creating more interaction with Indian youth. It is, as you point rightly out, easier to do so in urban areas. You can have convening opportunities; there can be all kinds of connectivity that is what we are seeking. So we are certainly focusing on that, but we are looking for ways to reach out to world youth, not only in India but other places as well. And we really need the advice of our youth council advisors about how best to do that.

The spread of social media gives us an opportunity to do that, but that’s not universally available, right? So we need other ideas about how we can reach out, because I think you’re right – in most places in the world, people in rural areas often have less opportunity, even with their own country’s leadership, let alone with people from outside the country. So please help us come up with ideas about how we can better do that.

And certainly on the specific issues that you mention, we want to have a greater debate and dialogue about these issues. The – you mentioned FDI and the nuclear – civil nuclear issue, those are issues that we’ve been in conversation with the Indian Government about for a very long time. It’s not something that the United States – I had a one-sided discussion about. In fact, the Indian Government was very anxious to do the civil nuclear deal with the United States. When I was a senator from New York, I strongly supported it, because in the first instance, I wanted to demonstrate a growing relationship with India. And India Government officials and representatives of various aspects of Indian society made it very clear that India wanted this.

So we need to have an open conversation, but we also want it to be based on evidence and facts, because we can disagree about the policy prescription. But increasingly in my own country – and I think this is starting to happen around the world – people are trying to avoid the facts underlying these discussions and substitute ideology or partisan political perspectives or even commercial advantage, and I have been calling for evidenced-based decision making. Again, we can disagree about the policies that will be derived from that. But in a democracy, well, it’s essential that you have an informed citizenry, and there needs to be as good a base of evidence on which decisions are made. And so we want to try to do more to create that foundation.

MS. DUTT: So would you say briefly, Secretary Clinton, that you’re disappointed with where the liability bill stands, given how hard Washington pushed for this nuclear deal?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’ve made it clear to the government that under the legislation that was passed, it would be difficult for United States companies to participate, because we have private companies that are in the market place and other nuclear companies are backed up by their national government. So they are, in effect, subsidized so that the liability is not as big a problem for them, because they have their government standing behind them. So we’re still discussing this, and we’re hoping that there will be a way to work out the remaining kinks in this.

MS. DUTT: All right. Question – I want to get some young people in, and let’s go to the girl here in the third row, if we can just reach her the mike please? Can we just run and get her a mike please? Yeah.

QUESTION: I’m (inaudible). I’m a practicing gastroenterologist in Kolkata. My question to you is: I believe that in India we need to educate women to empower them. U.S. being one of the most advanced societies in the world, we see most women being educated, then why don’t we see them in top positions in the country? I mean, in the U.S., you do not see women in politics, in top positions in corporate world, in medicine. I’ve trained in U.S. myself, and I was the only female liver fellow out there. And for example, for yourself, I would have loved to see you create history by becoming the first women president of that country, and we haven’t seen you doing that. (Applause.) So what is the reason for that?

MS. DUTT: 2016 may happen yet.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, dear. (Laughter.) She’s going to get me in so much trouble. (Laughter.) Not only in your country, but my country. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: We have to make India and U.S. partner to empower women, especially in our country.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. No, I – well, I think there are two very interesting models here, because women have held the top positions politically in your country in a great display of women’s empowerment for decades now. But you still have a lot of women who need to be educated who don’t yet have the basic protections in their families, in their community in order to be able to fulfill their own human destiny. In our country, we have a broad base of education and ability for people to make decisions, but we still have a pretty hard glass ceiling that has not yet been broken at the presidential level, and certainly in our experience, we don’t yet have a commensurate percentage of women in our Congress or in our state offices. Increasingly women are in responsible positions in many fields, but we have our own work to do.

So I think we have kind of the mirror images of each other about the challenges that we confront. And I’ve been impressed in reading about what India did with its law to require a certain number of women on village councils. And I have followed that because there’s a big debate always – do you have quotas or requirements for women? And in many places from Rwanda now to India, having a requirement at least gets women in the door. They get their chance to demonstrate their abilities. So I think for your country, that’s worked out very well. That’s not something that would work within our political system.

MS. DUTT: I just got a question on Twitter from (inaudible) is the handle: Secretary Clinton, you broke more than a few glass ceilings in the Democratic Party primaries last time and since then. But do you think the United States is ready for a woman president, or is it still a long, long way to go?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I hope it’s not a long, long way to go. (Laughter.) I really want to see that in my lifetime. I just – our political system is so difficult, because individual candidates have to raise all the money that they use in their campaigns. So you not only have to be facing all the challenges of running for office, you also have to be out there raising money, and I raised tens of millions, more than a hundred million dollars in my campaign. So when you run for president, you start off on the same level, and it’s really a money race and a vote race.

And I was very excited to run for president, very pleased that I had a chance to do that, and obviously honored by the votes that I got. But I think that there will be an election that will elect a woman, but I think our political system is about the most difficult to navigate for men and women, but particularly for women. So we’re going to keep trying to encourage that final glass ceiling to be broken, but in the meantime, we’re running a lot of women for Congress, we’re running women for state offices, and we’ll just keep trying to fill the pipeline with a lot of women in the political environment.

MS. DUTT: So why have you been saying no to 2016?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I feel like –

MS. DUTT: You’re going to be that woman who’s going to break the final glass ceiling.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I really – (laughter) – I mean, no. (Applause.) I’m very flattered, but I feel like it’s time for me to kind of step off the high wire. I’ve been involved at the highest levels of American politics for 20 years now, and I’d like to come back to India and just wander around without having – (laughter) – the streets be closed and a lot of security around. I just want to get back to taking some deep breaths, feeling like there’s other ways that I can continue to serve.

MS. DUTT: Well, we hope you change your mind. One week is a long time in politics. Well, the young girl here in the pink shirt, let’s just stand up and reach you a mike, please? Can we reach you the mike?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Here comes a mike.

MS. DUTT: Here comes a mike, yes, please.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Here it is.

MS. DUTT: Yeah. Just hold it close.

QUESTION: Yeah. This is Dr. (inaudible) from National Association for the Blind. I have one question. And that is: Whenever we talk about the youth council or women empowerment, one sector of the society is always missing. That is the person youth with disability or women with disability. How U.S.A. Government deals with this youth or women with disability? And what is the role of NGOs in the United States to deal with this problem? What the government (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, doctor. Thank you for the question. I’m very proud of the work that our country has done, starting in the 1970s, to pass legislation requiring that first children with disabilities could not be denied schooling. One of the first jobs I had as a young lawyer leaving Yale Law School was to work for the Children’s Defense Fund, and we were part of an NGO effort around the country to catalogue, to build the evidence for why this was a problem. And I and hundreds of other young people went knocking on doors and asking families: Do you have a child who is not in school? And we found a lot of children. We found blind children, we found children in wheelchairs, we found children with behavioral problems, we found children whose families couldn’t afford the medication or treatment that they needed to be able to attend school. So we passed legislation requiring that every child was entitled to an education and that they had to be, what we called, mainstreamed into our classrooms wherever possible.

And then when my husband was president, we passed the Americans with Disabilities Act so that it affected all people with disabilities, not just children in school, so that we began to take a hard look at ourselves. If you run a store or an office building, how difficult is it for someone with a disability to get into your store, to get into your office, and we began to require people to build ramps or to have other physical renovations made so that people with disabilities could be mobile. And the NGO community has continued this work, and we have a lot of NGOs that provide education, skills training, employment to people with disabilities.

So I’m very proud of the work we’ve done. We still always are taking a hard look at what more we need to do. It’s not perfect by any means. But we’ve laid a good foundation, and it’s an area that we stand ready to talk with any other country about our own experience.

MS. DUTT: All right. I’m going to take a question from some school students in the last row. Now, these are students from the La Martiniere Boys School. We’re in the La Martiniere Girls School by the way – (laughter) – asserting our agenda (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: There are some of the girls over there. (Inaudible.)

MS. DUTT: We’ll come to them. We’ll come to them. And this school, by the way, guys, completed 175 years last year.

Go ahead with your question.

QUESTION: Morning, ma’am. (Inaudible) from across the road. And well, please pardon me if you think this question inappropriate as I come to know that you are a very formidable lady. But the question I would like to ask is: As you know that India is a non oil-producing nation and does not have many oil reserves, and the major part of these oil reserves has been a growing economic – come from the Middle Eastern nations and African nations, and Iran being a major exporter of oil within the nations.

So the question I’d like to ask is: Why is USA pressurizing India to reduce its oil imports from Iran? Because you are – India is in a great deal to – needs a great deal of oil right now. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Very good question, and let me give you a little context for that question. When President Obama took office in 2009, we knew that Iran’s continuing development of a nuclear weapons program would be very destabilizing in the region because there would be an arms race with the nations in the region who had pre-existing enmity between themselves and Iran, and that it would also cause a great threat to Israel.

And our goal was to try to persuade Iran to change its policy, because it was already under international sanctions and violating international obligations to the United Nations Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Association, because it was a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and it had not complied with all of the obligations that it had assumed.

So we began putting together an international coalition. We passed very strong sanctions in the Security Council. And the entire world understood that if we could pressure Iran to change its behavior, that would avoid perhaps a serious disruption of the oil production and supply coming out of the Gulf.

So fast forward to today. We have international consensus. The pressure has brought Iran back to the negotiating table. The first meeting was in Istanbul. The second meeting will be in a few weeks in Baghdad. And there is unanimity among the permanent members of the Security Council and the European Union and Germany to negotiate a resolution to the Iranian nuclear weapons threat.

We do not believe that Iran would have come to the table if there had not been sanctions and pressure. We do not believe that Iran will peacefully resolve this unless the pressure continues. So the reason why India, China, Japan, European countries who are the primary purchasers of Iran oil being asked to lower their supply is to keep the pressure on Iran. Japan, which went through a devastating earthquake, tsunami, shutdown of their nuclear programs, has worked very hard to do just that. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and other suppliers are putting more oil into the market, so there is oil available for India and others.

So we think India, as a country that understands the importance of trying to use diplomacy to resolve these difficult threats, is certainly working toward lowering their purchase of Iranian oil. And we commend the steps that they have taken thus far. We hope that they will do even more, and we believe there is an adequate supply in the marketplace. So we think that this is part of India’s role in the international community. It’s not just what the United States is doing or asking; it’s what the international community is doing and asking.

MS. DUTT: Secretary Clinton, are you disappointed with India’s response thus far? Many people believe that today, the biggest irritant in the relationship between Delhi and Washington is India’s position on Iran. There has been, as you said, a move to reduce the oil imports, but it’s obviously not gone as far as you’d like.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, but it has moved and, I mean, we’re encouraged by what we’ve seen the Indian Government being able to do. I mean, if there were not adequate supply, if there were not the ability for India to go into the market and meet its needs, we would understand that. But we believe there is adequate supply and that there are ways for India to continue to meet their – the energy requirements. So we appreciate what has been done, and of course, we want to keep the pressure on Iran, so whatever India or other countries can do will help us achieve that.

MS. DUTT: India is hoping for a sanctions waiver. Is that going to come through?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s too early to make any comment on that because that’s not for more than – it’s about two months from now before a decision would be made.

MS. DUTT: Okay. A question there – all right, there in the last row, please. If we can just get a mike – yes.

QUESTION: Good morning, ma’am.

MS. DUTT: Just hold the mike a little closer.

QUESTION: Good morning, ma’am. I’m (inaudible) I’m a student at La Martiniere for Girls. Seeing as we’re talking about foreign policy now, my question to you is that you’ve spoken about Iran, and you feel strongly about taking action against it. But what about Israel? Why hasn’t U.S. taken any active action against it despite the fact that it is in violation of 25 UN resolutions? And at the same time, why hasn’t it convinced Israel to sign the NPT, which Israel is yet to sign?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well – (applause) – I don’t think we’ve been able to convince India to sign the NPT. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Touche. But —

MS. DUTT: I just saw in the response in this room, this is a serious question in this part of the world.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it is, and obviously, the United States believes that whatever differences one might have with the situation in the Middle East, Israel has been defending itself now for 60 years, and has made numerous overtures to try to bring about a peaceful resolution of the situation, and it has thus far been unsuccessful in doing so. We continue to try to press for a resolution, particularly on the Palestinian issues, which the United States also cares deeply about.

So we think that the proliferation of nuclear weapons is one of the biggest problems facing the world, and it’s not only one country that we worry about. We worry about nuclear weapons proliferating in other countries, a nuclear arms race that would be very damaging. Even though we look at this on primarily what states are doing, our biggest fear is that nuclear material could fall into the hands of terrorist groups.

So we believe that at this moment in time, the principal threat is a nuclear-armed Iran, because Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. There was a recent incident here in India with Iran-supported state terrorism. They work through proxies like Hezbollah. We broke up a plot where the Iranian Government was trying to murder the Saudi ambassador to the United States by hiring a drug trafficker hitman. So the problems with Iran go far beyond even this region. They recently were engaged in bomb building in Thailand. They bombed a facility in Argentina some years back.

So I just want everybody in India to understand we have nothing against the Iranian people. President Obama reached out to the Iranian people from the moment he came into office. He said we want a different relationship. He has reached out to the Iranian leadership asking if there can’t be a different relationship. So far, we have had no reciprocity. And what we hear from the region around Iran is a great deal of anxiety because they’re not worried about the possibility of something happening in the future; they’re dealing in the here and now with what Iran does to destabilize them, to support terrorism, and they believe a nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to world peace.

So we can point fingers at other countries, but that doesn’t in any way undermine the focus that needs to be put on the dangers posed by Iran. Look at the fact that we have unity. Russia and China are just as concerned as the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. So this is – this may be, in India, a problem that you think of as being kind of far off, that you don’t think Iran would have any reason to cause you trouble, but then why did they send their terrorist agents to your country to try to kill Israeli diplomats and other civilians?

This is a regime that has a history of aggressive behavior, and I don’t think you deal with aggressors by giving into them. So part of our goal is to resolve this peacefully and diplomatically, and that’s why we need India to be part of the international effort.

MS. DUTT: Are you worried, Secretary, about a military – (applause) – you can clap. If you like the answer, you can. (Applause.) Are you apprehensive about a possible military conflict between Israel and Iran?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I am apprehensive. We’re on public record. I’m not saying anything that has not been in our press. I mean, if you put yourself in Israel’s position and you have leaders of a country saying they want to wipe you off the map, they want to destroy you, they want to end the presence of the Jewish people, it would make you a little worried, I think. And certainly, India knows from your own experience that you have to pay attention to threats, and you have to be prepared for them in your own neighborhood.

So I think that Israel is very worried that if Iran were to get a nuclear weapon, there might be a decision by some future leader to actually use it, and that would be devastating. So yes, of course they’re worried, and they are supporting our efforts to try to resolve this peacefully and convince Iran that they do not – they could – they have a right to civil nuclear power. They have that right, and they are a member of the NPT and that comes with being a member.

So we would like to see them join the international consensus for the peaceful use of nuclear power, but give up irrevocably their right to weapons, and that’s what we’re hoping that they would eventually do.

MS. DUTT: All right. Let’s move on. A question here in the front row – the second row, sorry. Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: So – good morning, ma’am.

MS. DUTT: Hold the mike closer. Just hold the mike closer.

QUESTION: Good morning, ma’am. I am also a part of the youth advisory council of the U.S. Government. So I have two simple questions for you. The first one is with the possible cut-down outsourcing, it leads to a lot of protectionism and (inaudible) about their jobs? And —

MS. DUTT: Okay. Let’s take one question at a time so we can get other people to —

SECRETARY CLINTON: So you’re talking about outsourcing —

MS. DUTT: Outsourcing —

SECRETARY CLINTON: — from the United States to India?

QUESTION: (Off mike.)

MS. DUTT: One minute, please. Excuse me, we’ll try and give everybody a chance.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Outsourcing from the United States to India. Well, it’s been going on for many years now, and it’s part of our economic relationship with India. And I think that there are advantages with it that have certainly benefitted many parts of our country, and there are disadvantages that go to the need to improve the job skills of our own people and create a better economic environment. So it – like anything, it’s about pluses and minuses.

MS. DUTT: There’s a new advertisement in the election campaign of President Obama that’s causing a lot of heartburn here over outsourcing.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s an election campaign, and there is an obligation of any election campaign – (laughter) —

MS. DUTT: To overstate a little bit?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, not overstating – I wouldn’t go that far – but to talk about what’s on people’s minds. And it’s more directed toward the fear that a lot of Americans who were in manufacturing, who don’t feel like they have any other job possibilities because they weren’t trained for any other job possibilities, so it’s a legitimate issue. It needs to be aired.

But I think the President has been very clear that he wants to improve our own exports, when we’re on the way to doubling our exports. He wants to improve education, skills training so that people can have the jobs of the 21st century. So it’s fair to talk about, but you also have to have a solution that looks at what’s really going to work.

MS. DUTT: Okay. I’m getting another question on Twitter, and this says: With the United States terminating Usama bin Ladin last year, what is the next big target for America in the war against terrorism? And as you answer that, I’m actually going to get up that very definitive image there. I’m going to ask you a few questions about what you were thinking in that moment.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.

MS. DUTT: What’s the next big target?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, look, we want to disable al-Qaida, and we’ve made a lot of progress in doing that. There are several significant leaders still on the run. Zawahiri, who inherited the leadership from bin Ladin, is somewhere, we believe, in Pakistan. So we are intent upon going after those who are trying to keep al-Qaida operational and inspirational. But the network of terrorism, which India knows all too well from your own experiences, is more broad-based than any one group.

And I think you have to do three things. You have to have the very best possible intelligence, law enforcement, judicial, defense response so that you protect your people. I mean, the first obligation of any government is to protect your people, and you’ve got to do that. Secondly, you do have to go after those who are trying to kill you. You have to be focused on that. I recently authorized a $10 million award for one of the people we believe was the mastermind of the attack in Mumbai.

MS. DUTT: Hafiz Saeed.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, killed 166 people, including six Americans, and we want everybody who was associated with that brought to justice. And it may take longer than any of us would like, but we’re going to be standing with you in trying to make that happen.

And then thirdly, though – (applause) – you have to change the way people think. India and the United States are the greatest rebukes to religious extremism because we are pluralistic democracies, because you have people of every religion like we do. And that drives the extremists crazy. They hate tolerance. (Applause.) They hate respect for people’s religious beliefs. They want us all to believe what they believe. And we stand against that. So we have to be really working toward greater religious tolerance, greater interfaith understanding, ending any remnants of discrimination and prejudice or bias, and make the case broadly across the world that the extremists are a dead end, that the way for a better future is one where people are listening to each other, working with each other, and respecting each other.

MS. DUTT: I’m so glad you brought up the example of Hafiz Saeed and the decision you authorized that was announced in the U.S. Justice Department, and you saw the response here. There’s been some confusion. Initially it was announced as a bounty on his head, then it turned out to be a reward for information that could lead to his arrest or conviction.

Indians say we’ve handed over dossier after dossier, and all the information that is needed is there in those dossiers. Are you saying there isn’t enough information?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, but we’re saying that – this is the way our system works. I mean, that’s what these rewards are. They are rewards for information that can lead to bringing somebody to justice. We’re well aware that there has not yet been the steps taken by the Pakistani Government to do what both India and the United States have repeatedly requested that they do. And we’re going to keep pushing that point. So it’s a way of raising the visibility and pointing out to those who are associated with him that there is a cost for that, and it is a cost that they themselves will have to bear going forward.

MS. DUTT: Now I’m just going to go back to the audience, but that picture – if we can just get that back again, because I wanted you to share with us two things: What were you thinking in that? And I will have it up in just a second. And also, President Bill Clinton recently said that he had no idea from you, you did not share with him that the OBL operation was going to happen. And there’s that picture back again. What were you thinking there?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, when I first saw it, I had no idea when it was taken or what was going on, and I didn’t even know if I was coughing or – I had no idea. But then we did the timeline, and we think that that was around the time that one of our helicopters had a problem. We send in our Navy SEALs on helicopters, and one of the helicopters had a problem going into the courtyard of the bin Ladin complex, and it got its tail caught on the wall, disabling it. And that was a very stressful moment because we had to get another helicopter in, in order to take out the men who were on that helicopter. We had to blow up the helicopter. Before we blew up the helicopter, we had to get the women and children out of the house so that they would not be endangered by that, something I’m very proud that the SEALs did. So there was a lot going, and I think you can see the intensity of expressions on everybody’s face.

MS. DUTT: And could there be another OBL-type operation needed in Pakistan or anywhere else?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not going to comment on that. I mean, we’ve made it clear that we would like very much to have the kind of counterterrorism partnership with Pakistan where we went after the targets that were killing Afghans, Americans, and others in Afghanistan, and after the targets that were killing Pakistanis in Pakistan. I mean, Pakistan has lost far more people in the last 10 years – more than 30,000 to terrorist attacks than either India or the United States have. And it is in their interest and it is in the interest of their sovereignty to go after terrorists who are operating on their territory, and you have to demonstrate that you’re not going to cede authority or territory to terrorists. So we’re going to continue to work to try to have a mutually beneficial framework for them.

MS. DUTT: All right. Question here, the young lady in the first row.

QUESTION: Welcome to Kolkata —

MS. DUTT: Hold the mike closer.

QUESTION: — the City of Joy. I’m (inaudible) and I’m a Bengali and I’m a designer. My question to you is that the (inaudible) and the fashion industry is still very much disconnected with reality, reality of global warming, and so many other important issues. So what my question to you is: How we can connect these two worlds? I’ve been working a lot with Jute, which is a very, very eco-friendly fabric from Eastern India, so my question is: How we can promote this fabric in U.S. and how these two countries can work better with other textiles?

My second question is that how important —

MS. DUTT: Wait. We’ll take one question at a time, there are other hands up.

QUESTION: Yes.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I mean, I think that’s a very interesting idea and I believe the best way is to connect up our fashion designers with their counterparts here in India. And I – you all have like a fashion design council or something –

MS. DUTT: Yes, we do.

SECRETARY CLINTON: — and trade information about more environmentally sustainable materials and means of production, and I would be happy to encourage that.

MS. DUTT: Question here. Yes?

QUESTION: I’m the (inaudible) general secretary of the Indian National Congress. I just wanted to ask you a question because I was very encouraged when you set the northeast policy. I come from the northeast; I’m not from Kolkata. I come from the northeast of India. You’ve spoken about Iran and the foreign policy. There’s one country which your successes been able to, let’s say, soften, which is Burma, and the northeast of India and Burma and the northeast ASEAN country, can you tell us how you could match both the regions India with northeast, as well as Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia towards working for a better economic as well as cultural relationships? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that’s one of the most important questions to answer for this century, because if you look at South Asia and Central Asia, if you go from Turkmenistan and the other countries in Central Asia through Afghanistan, Pakistan, into India, into Bangladesh, into Burma, this region does not trade or exchange on cultural or other bases as much as other regions of the world do. There are longstanding, historical differences. There are still simmering disagreements and even potential for conflict if not managed correctly.

So one of the things we’re doing, and I spoke about this in my speech in Chennai last year, is promoting the idea of a new Silk Road, that India is on the old Silk Road, Burma was on the old Silk Road, (inaudible) Bangladesh was on the old Silk Road. And think about – to go back to the gentleman’s question about oil – think about a pipeline that came from Turkmenistan, which has a lot of oil and gas, through Afghanistan, Pakistan, into India, through – into the southeast and to Bangladesh and the like. Think about the port here in Kolkata being repaired and restored and turned into one of the great ports looking east. Think about the way of enhancing transportation connectivity from East India to the northeast down into the countries you mentioned. I mean, this is the kind of vision that I believe should occupy the minds of the leaders of the region right now because we all have to lift our heads up. We cannot just keep being preoccupied with our own internal political problems because a lot of the solutions lie outside with having greater peace, stability, and prosperity that we are a part of, and I would hope that would be on the agenda for India to lead.

MS. DUTT: And not time yet, though, to lift sanctions against Burma? Not time yet?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are lifting sanctions against Burma; not all at once because we want to watch what happens and encourage the continuing reform.

MS. DUTT: All right, a question there, the gentleman with the spectacles and the check shirt. Just get a mike for yourself, yes.

QUESTION: My name is (inaudible). I’m a musician and I have a question from the world of music. I’ve been involved in international collaborations with many countries – with musicians of many countries across the world. Now I’ve seen – I’ve been to the United States many times performing all across the country. Now what I see is that the music of India is probably less served in the mainstream than music from other parts of the world.

I would like to ask you generally how much of a cultural ally is India considered, and what sort of forums are available for artists to reach out to directly with the United States Government, apart from ICCR – because we don’t really get a lot of help from the ICCR – so that we can collaborate better with musicians from your country and perform for the mainstream?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am a very strong believer in cultural exchanges, cultural and artistic exchanges. And I would like to connect you up with our consul general, who is over here, so – afterwards. Because we are trying to enhance the number of such exchanges, and we know that those kind of connections between people are really what makes your relationship enduring over time. So we will follow up with you.

MS. DUTT: All right. There’s a question here, the young girl in the front row. Yes.

QUESTION: Welcome to India, Madam Secretary. The question that I have is a little different from what everyone has said. I work with young people, and part of your youth council as well. I work on youth and active citizenship, and I’ve been following you for a very long time since I was in school, and I’ve seen you transform in terms of how young people have been able to associate with you, especially the Texts to Hillary, the whole Tumblr, memes that went viral. And even you sent in a meme, and that even finally sort of – so what I want to ask you is there’s something that I face in India all the time – is how do the young people to sort of engage with politicians? Because if we are 60 percent young, that means that we are going to be occupying power but no one wants to occupy power. So how do you get young people to engage, and how do you get politicians to engage with young people? (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think about this question a lot, and I don’t know that I have any conclusive answers at all, but let me just make a couple of general points, and thank you for raising it. I mean, first of all, historically, certainly in my country but around the world in democracies, young people are the least likely to participate, the least likely to vote, the least likely to run for office, the least likely to be involved in the political process. Usually in our country, the voting rate is pretty low of young people, and President Obama raised it a little bit but not as much as all of us had even hoped for.

So I think the first thing is we got to keep trying to convince young people who are preoccupied in their own lives – finishing their studies, getting their first jobs, having relationships, getting married, having children – I mean, there’s a lot going on in the lives of young people during that period. So we have to convince young people that it is worth participating in politics.

Now, secondly, young people often have very strong feelings about issues, but they don’t necessarily connect those issues to the political process, and that’s something we have to do a better job of – trying to make – and I’ll give you a quick story from Egypt. There’s no doubt young people and social media lit the fuse for the Egyptian revolution. They’re the ones who were first into the Tahrir Square; they’re the ones who kept the revolution going. It was clear that this was a young person’s cry for freedom, democracy, opportunity.

But when we began talking with the young people who were in the revolution about participating in politics, they all said the same: We don’t want to participate in politics. That’s not for us. And we made the case, but if you don’t participate in politics, people you may not agree with will participate in politics. And it was very hard to convince them to transfer their revolutionary energy into that. The Occupy Wall Street movement – very much against politics, but in a democracy, like it or not, politics is the means by which we make the decisions that determine what direction our country is going. So we have to do a better, smarter job, and maybe we can use social media more effectively.

MS. DUTT: Now, she spoke, Secretary Clinton, about your transformation, and I’ve got a bunch of images I want to take you all through. Now that’s you on a secret —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

MS. DUTT: — mission to Tripoli, and that set off the meme that was being spoken about, Texts From Hillary. Those were the two guys —

SECRETARY CLINTON: They did.

MS. DUTT: — that were kind of spoofing you ‘til you joined in on the joke prompting Maureen Dowd to write a whole column on your cool quotient.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.

MS. DUTT: Just things like that. Do you think that’s a good idea for people who don’t actually know what’s happening? There’s the bionic woman sort of image there —

SECRETARY CLINTON: right.

MS. DUTT: — secret mission to Tripoli, and that’s you joining in on the joke on you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right, right.

MS. DUTT: Have you changed?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t think so. I just – obviously, that was very funny. (Laughter.) And I don’t – I didn’t know the two young men. They made it up one day, and all of a sudden, it started appearing, and I thought it was pretty funny. So I wanted to meet them because it was so clever, and it was funny without being mean or hurtful to the people that it made fun of, myself included. So I liked how they did it, and so they came in and we spoofed it.

But it – that’s – I mean, the internet and obviously social media has so much potential for communicating messages that can be impactful. And we can do funny things, but I think the young woman’s question was serious. How do we do more serious communication that will – that people will actually follow up on? So now we’ll – so maybe we’ll ask those two young men to do it, because they clearly – (laughter) – understood it.

MS. DUTT: But interestingly, I think the point also being that there – if we can queue up the next set of images, we’ve got a little less time now – that’s of you literally letting your hair down, and it got a lot of traction in the American press, a lot of commentary on how it’s so refreshing to see a politician who can have a little bit of fun. (Laughter.) You’re all right with that? I mean, that spoke to young people.

Let’s just get a mike. You —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, yes.

MS. DUTT: Did those – once again, did those images change that for you?

QUESTION: I mean, I think the thing was that with a lot of the times when you cannot associate with your politicians, right, and the fact that you went out and you did something like that, or the fact that the President of the United States is on Instagram and on Twitter, and I’m on – and we have politicians on Twitter and on Instagram and on all of those things as well.

But I think it’s just about how you can engage more coherently and how – what do you do to get you or the politicians to engage with —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.

QUESTION: — the young people, and with lesser walls, I guess? So I think that is what it was about.

MS. DUTT: And those pictures President – prompted President Obama to say you were drunk-texting him. (Laughter.) A joke of course, a joke of course.

But as we end, Secretary Clinton, has it got easier in your many decades in politics to laugh at yourself? In your book, Living History, you quoted Eleanor Roosevelt and you said, “A woman in politics has to have a skin as thick as a rhinoceros.”

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.

MS. DUTT: Has that got easier to deal with the tough things, the bad things, the mean things?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it has, because when you’ve had as much experience as I have, you either figure out how to deal with it or you don’t get out of bed in the morning. And I think for me criticism, which kind of comes with the territory of being in politics in either of our countries, you have to take it seriously, but not personally. And by that I mean sometimes your critics actually have a lesson for you. Maybe what you were trying to do was not being communicated effectively and they are pointing that out, so you want to take it seriously. But you can’t take it personally and that’s why I quote Eleanor Roosevelt, one of our great American leaders, about growing skin as thick as a rhinoceros if you’re a woman in politics.

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১৭ আগস্ট ২০১২

লন্ডনে ইকুয়েডরের দূতাবাসে যখন জুলিয়ান অ্যাসাঞ্জে আশ্রয় নিয়েছেন তখন পশ্চিমাদের এত তোলপাড়ের কী আছে?

Ecuador would offer political asylum to WikiLeaks website founder Julian Assange, who has sought refuge in the country’s embassy in London, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said Thursday.

The decision came only one day after the British government threatened to storm the London embassy to arrest Assange. The British government has ordered Assange be extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about allegations of rape and sexual assault.

Patino said the Ecuadorian government would keep “loyal to its tradition to protect those who seek refuge with us at our diplomatic missions,” he told a press conference.

He said the decision was made after Britain, Sweden and the United States refused to guarantee that Assange would not be extradited to the United States for trial over his release of a mass of classified U.S. documents.

Patino said Ecuador was worried, if Assange was extradited to the United States, he would not receive a fair trial, adding it was a “sovereign decision” protected by international law.

“Ecuador feels … that he could be the victim of political persecution because of his decisive defense of the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press,” he said.

খুব বেশি দিন আগের কথা নয়, এবছর মে মাসের শুরু দিকে চীনের অ্যাকটিভিস্ট চেন গুয়াংচেং-এর বেইজিং-এ আমেরিকান দূতাবাসে অবস্থান ও তাকে হাসপাতালে ভর্তি করা নিয়ে স্বয়ং আমেরিকান পররাষ্ট্র মন্ত্রী হিলারি ক্লিন্টনের জড়িয়ে পড়ার কথা আমরা জানি। এবং তখন পশ্চিম সম্পূর্ণ নিশ্চুপ ছিল।

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১৬ অক্টোবর ২০১২

সেপ্টেম্বর ১১, ২০১২এর রাতে লিবিয়ার বেনগাজিতে আমেরিকার দূতাবাসে হামলা নিয়ে আমেরিকার প্রেসিডেন্ট নির্বাচনের রিপাবলিকান প্রচার উত্তপ্ত হয়ে উঠেছে গত কয়েকদিন ধরেই। এতে সরাসরি ক্ষমতাসীন ডেমোক্রেট প্রেসিডেন্ট ও ভাইস-প্রেসিডেন্টকে দায়ী করা হচ্ছিল এবং হিলারি ক্লিন্টনের দায়িত্বে অবহেলার কথা বলা হচ্ছিল। এপ্রসঙ্গে হিলারির নিশ্চুপ থাকায় দলের উপর আরো চাপ বাড়ছিল। শেষ পর্যন্ত গতকাল সিএনএন-এর সাথে সাক্ষাৎকারে হিলারি মুখ খুললেন এবং বেনগাজির দূতাবাসে নিরাপত্তায় অবহেলার সব দায় তার নিজের বলে উল্লেখ করলেন।

Hillary Clinton takes the rap for security lapse in Libya

After Vice President Joe Biden, it’s now the turn of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to save the president under attack from his Republican challenger Mitt Romney over the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The bucks stops with her when it comes to who is blame for a deadly assault on the US mission on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, she said in a series of interviews ahead of the second presidential debate in New York.

Clinton, who as America’s top diplomat has stayed away from the campaign, insisted Obama and Biden are not involved in security decisions. “I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha,” she added, noting that it is close to the election.

“I take responsibility” for what happened Sep 11, Clinton said soon after arriving in Lima, Peru for a visit.

The interview, one of a series given to US television networks Monday night, were the first she has given about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. The attack killed Chris Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans at the consulate.

The Obama administration has been heavily criticized after Biden said during last week’s vice presidential debate that the White House did not know of requests to enhance security at Benghazi, contradicting testimony by State Department employees that requests had been made and rejected.

Following the debate, the White House said the vice president did not know of the requests because they were handled, as is the practice, by the State Department.

Clinton also sought to downplay the criticism that administration officials continued to say the attack was a spontaneous product of a protest over an anti-Muslim film, a theory that has since been discarded.

In the wake of an attack, there is always “confusion,” Clinton said. But the information has since changed.

Clinton said her mission now is to make sure such an attack will never happen again – but also that diplomacy, even in dangerous areas like Benghazi, is not stopped.

“We can’t not engage,” she said. “We cannot retreat.”

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২৮ জানুয়ারী ২০১৩

২০১৬ সালে আমেরিকার রাষ্ট্রপতি নির্বাচনে ডেমোক্রেট প্রার্থী হতে পারেন হিলারি ক্লিনটন, এটা আজ আরো জোরালো হল, সিবিএস-এর সাখে ওবামা-ক্লিনটনের জোড়া সাক্ষাৎকারের মতো বিরল ঘটনায়। সাধারণত আমেরিকার নিয়ম অনুযায়ী ভাইস-প্রেসিডেন্টই পরবর্তী নির্বাচনে দলের মূল প্রার্থী বিবেচিত হন, কিন্তু তখন জো বিডেনের বয়স হবে ৭৩ বছর, ওই বয়সে প্রতিদ্বন্দ্বিতায় যাবেন বিডেন? অবশ্য তখন হিলারির বয়সও কম হবে না, ৬৯, ততদিন থাকবেন আজকের মতো ‘রকস্টার’? এসব সময়ের উত্তর সময়ই দেবে, আমরা শুধু বুঝতে পারছি এই সাক্ষাৎকার অনেকটা পূর্বাভাস, সবকিছু ঠিক থাকলে ওবামা তার মেয়াদ শেষে হিলারির রাষ্ট্রপতি পদপ্রার্থীতার সমর্থন করবেন।

WITH only days left until she steps down as America’s top diplomat, Hillary Clinton has left the door open to a possible future run in the 2016 presidential elections.

And, in a rare joint interview with CBS, she appeared to win the endorsement of none other than President Barack Obama, the man who beat her in the 2008 race to be the Democratic Party’s nominee.

For months, 65-year-old Ms Clinton has insisted that after more than two decades in the political spotlight she intends to step back into the shadows, catch up on some rest and enjoy some downtime for a change.

But with her popularity riding high – at around 65 per cent according to a Washington Post-ABC poll last week – many believe she will bounce back to take another shot at being the nation’s first woman president in 2016.

“I am still secretary of state. So I’m out of politics,” Ms Clinton told CBS television’s 60 Minutes carefully, leaving herself the option of reviving her career once she leaves government.

A woman who has devoted much of her life to public service, as first lady and as a New York senator, she stressed she still cared “deeply about what’s going to happen for our country in the future.”

Ms Clinton said neither Mr Obama nor “I can make predictions about what’s going to happen tomorrow or the next year,” in comments bound to rekindle speculation that she could be preparing a 2016 run.

“What we’ve tried to do over the last four years is get up every day, have a clear eyed view of what’s going on in the world. And I’m really proud of where we are,” she added.

Mr Obama did nothing to dampen speculation, heaping praise on Clinton and saying he believed she “will go down as one of the finest secretaries of state we’ve had.”

“It has been a great collaboration over the last four years. I’m going to miss her,” he added, saying he wished she was staying on.

“I want the country to appreciate just what an extraordinary role she’s played during the course of my administration and a lot of the successes we’ve had internationally because of her hard work,” Mr Obama added.

The joint sit-down interview, which was filmed at the White House, was apparently Mr Obama’s idea, and some observers saw it as an early endorsement should she choose to run for president in 2016.

Mr Obama will have to stand down after serving the statutory maximum of two terms, but his endorsement is likely to give any candidate a big boost.

Often the vice president becomes the natural choice as the incumbent party’s presidential nominee. It is not clear yet if Vice President Joe Biden will make a tilt for the White House, but he will be 73 years old come 2016.

Mr Obama hailed Ms Clinton for having been one of his “most important advisers,” saying she had established “a standard in terms of professionalism and teamwork in our cabinet, in our foreign policy making.”

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৩০ জানুয়ারী ২০১৩

উত্তর আগেভাগেই চলে এসেছে হিলারি ক্লিনটনের কাছ থেকে, না, ২০১৬ সালের রাষ্ট্রপতি নির্বাচনের প্রার্থী হওয়ার পরিকল্পনা তার নেই।

Virtually putting to rest all speculations about her contesting the next US presidential elections, outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she has “absolutely” no such plans and is just focusing to finish her current term in office.

“Well, I have absolutely no plans to run (for presidency). Right now, I am trying to finish my term as Secretary of State,” she told a news channel in an interview, when asked about reports of her contesting the elections in 2016.

“I don’t know everything I’ll be doing. I’ll be working on behalf of women and girls, and hopefully be writing and speaking. Those are the things that I am planning to do right now,” she added.

Clinton said she does not know what the new life entails for her Monday onwards, when there are no appointments for her.

“I don’t know. It’s been my whole life. I mean, I’ve had a job ever since I was 13 years old. When I wasn’t in school, I was working,” she said.

Clinton said she had been talking to her colleagues who had earlier in the government to know from them the necessary adjustments that are required in life after leaving a job.

“So when I wake up to have the luxury of nowhere to go, nothing to do, no frantic call about calling some leader about some impending crisis, I’m actually interested to see how that goes. It’s going to be fun to talk it through and figure out what our next adventures might be,” Clinton said.

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১২ সেপ্টেম্বর ২০১৩

সিরিয়া আক্রমণ নিয়ে আমার খুব মনে হয়েছে বারাক ওবামা কেন জানি এখনো হিলারি ক্লিনটনের গোপন শলা বেশি নিচ্ছেন এবং জন কেরিকে দ্বন্দ্বে ফেলছেন, হিলারি ক্লিনটনের রাজনৈতিক ভবিষ্যতকে উসকে দিয়ে হিলারি ক্লিনটনকে ২০১৬-এর জন্য প্রাসঙ্গিক রাখতে বারাক ওবামা কেন জানি সচেতনভাবেই তৎপর। অন্যদিকে ফ্রান্সের পররাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রী লোরঁ ফাবিউস রাশিয়ার পররাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রী সের্গেই লাভরভের সাথে কয়েক বছরের উষ্ণ সম্পর্ক কেন শীতল করে তুললেন — তা আমি ঠিক বুঝতে না পারলেও আমার মনে হচ্ছে ফ্রান্সের আফ্রিকানীতিতে চীনের সাথে দ্বন্দ্বই তাকে বর্তমানে সের্গেই লাভরভের সাথে সম্পর্কের শীতলতা সৃষ্টিতে কূটনৈতিকভাবে বাধ্য করছে।

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৬ জানুয়ারী ২০১৪

বিএনপির চেয়ারম্যান ইসলামি মাওবাদের চেয়ারম্যান। [ বাংলাদেশকে কোনোভাবেই ‘ইসলামি’ তকমায় দ্বীন = রাষ্ট্র করে তোলা যাবে না। ইসলামি মাওবাদের সেটাই লক্ষ্য। ] আমার খুব মনে হয় যারা ‘জামাত ছাড়া বিএনপি’কে সমাধান ভাবছেন তারা ভুল করছেন, জামাত ছাড়া বিএনপির জন্য অসম্ভব আমি এদিক থেকে কথাটা বলছি না, আমি বলছি এদিক থেকে যে সেই অসম্ভবকে বিএনপি সম্ভব করেই ফেলল তা ধরে নিয়েই, আমি এটাও ধরে নিচ্ছি শুধু নিবন্ধন বাতিল নয় জামাতের রাজনীতিই নিষিদ্ধ করে দেয়া হল, কিন্তু বিএনপি ইসলামি মাওবাদের পৃষ্টপোষকতা ছাড়ল না, তাহলে তো সন্ত্রাসবাদ গেল না, বরং ইসলামি মাওবাদ বিএনপির নেটওয়ার্ক ধরে তলে তলে বিকট ব্যাপ্তিতে ছড়িয়ে গেল, কাজেই সন্ত্রাসবাদ নির্মূল করতে গেলে যা এখনি করতে হবে — বিএনপির চেয়ারম্যানকে ইসলামি মাওবাদের চেয়ারম্যান হতে কোনোভাবেই আর দেয়া যাবে না, বালুর ট্রাক জলকামান তুলে জাল দিয়ে চেয়ারম্যানকেই মাছের মতো তুলে নিতে হবে।

এবং এটাকে এরকম কোনোভাবেই ভাববেন না জামাতকে আড়াল করার জন্য এসব বলা হচ্ছে, আমার মতে বাংলাদেশে জামাত ইসুটা নিয়ে একটাই কথা হবে একাত্তরের আন্তর্জাতিক অপরাধের কারণে দলটি নিষিদ্ধ হতেই হবে। কিন্তু আমাদের লক্ষ্য যখন হবে সন্ত্রাসবাদ নির্মূল করা তখন শুধু এটুকুতেই কাজ হবে না। ইসলামি মাওবাদকে নিশ্চিহ্ন করতে হবে। এবং সেকাজ করার সময় হাতে আছে তিন বছর, ২০১৬এর শেষে বর্তমান প্রক্ষেপ অনুযায়ী হিলারি ক্লিনটন আমেরিকার প্রেসিডেন্ট হওয়ার আগেই একাজ সম্পন্ন করতেই হবে। হিলারি ক্লিনটন হবেন আমেরিকার রকস্টার প্রেসিডেন্ট, এবং তিনি অনেক সিদ্ধান্তগ্রহণ তুড়ির দ্রুততায় নিজের দিকে আনার দক্ষতা দেখাবেন উন্মাদের মতো, তারপাশে আরো দুটো প্রক্ষেপ ভেবে নিন — একজন মমতা ও আরেকজন সুকি, একজন ২৫ ভাগ মুসলিম ভোটের জন্য আল্লামামুফতিইমামদের কব্জায় পুরোপুরি তখন হবেন পর্যবসিত আরেকজন রোহিঙ্গা সমস্যার সমাধান করতে গিয়ে হবেন চূড়ান্ত নাস্তানাবুদ, এদুজনকেই সাহায্যের হাত বাড়িয়ে নিজের মন্ত্রে চালিত করতে চাইবেন হিলারি — একবার ভাবুন তখনও যদি একই দুর্বলতা থেকে যায় আমাদের সাতক্ষীরা রামুতে, বুঝতে পারছেন কত দাপটে তখন খেলবেন হিলারি?

কাজেই প্রাণপ্রিয় দেশের জন্য সর্বশক্তি নিয়োগ করুন — বিএনপির হাতের মোয়া ইসলামি মাওবাদ এখনই বিনষ্ট করুন — আর দেরি না করে সংকল্পবদ্ধ হয়ে হিলারি আসিবার পূর্বে সন্ত্রাসবাদ মারিয়া ফেলুন।

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৩ সেপ্টেম্বর ২০১৫

গ্রামীণ ব্যাংক নিয়ে হিলারির দ্বারস্থ ছিলেন ইউনূস

গ্রামীণ ব্যাংক নিয়ে সরকারের সঙ্গে টানাপড়েন নিরসনে যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের সাবেক পররাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রী হিলারি ক্লিনটনের সহায়তা চেয়েছিলেন ব্যাংকটির পদচ্যুত ব্যবস্থাপনা পরিচালক ড. মুহাম্মদ ইউনূস।

সম্প্রতি হিলারির ফাঁস হয়ে যাওয়া ই-মেইলগুলোর বেশ কয়েকটি প্রকাশ করেছে মার্কিন পররাষ্ট্র দপ্তর। প্রকাশিত কয়েকটি মেইলে দেখা যায়, গ্রামীণ ব্যাংক প্রশ্নে বাংলাদেশ সরকারকে প্রভাবিত করতে হিলারির কাছে বারংবার তদ্বির করেছেন মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের সর্বোচ্চ বেসামরিক পদকজয়ী মুহাম্মদ ইউনূস।

শান্তিতে নোবেলজয়ী ইউনূসের সঙ্গে ক্লিনটন পরিবারের বন্ধুত্ব দীর্ঘদিনের।

মার্কিন পররাষ্ট্র দপ্তর হিলারির প্রায় সাত হাজার ইমেইল প্রকাশ করেছে, যার মধ্যে তিন শতাধিক ইমেইলে বাংলাদেশ প্রসঙ্গ এসেছে। এর মধ্যে বেশ কয়েকটিতে গ্রামীণ ব্যাংক প্রসঙ্গ রয়েছে।

বেশকিছু মেইলে হিলারির জবাব গোপন রেখেছে তারা।

হিলারির কাছে পৌঁছুতে মেলান ভারভিয়ার নামে একজন কর্মকর্তার কাছে মেইল পাঠিয়েছিলেন গ্রামীণ ব্যাংকের প্রতিষ্ঠাতা ব্যবস্থাপনা পরিচালক।

এমন একটি ইমেইল হিলারিকে পাঠিয়ে মেলান লিখেন, “ইউনূস এখনো গ্রামীণ নিয়ে উদ্বিগ্ন।”

তৎকালীন পররাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রী দীপু মনির সঙ্গে হিলারির বৈঠক এবং জাতিসংঘ সাধারণ পরিষদে শেখ হাসিনার অংশ গ্রহণের ফাঁকে গ্রামীণ ব্যাংক নিয়ে আলোচনার অনুরোধ জানিয়ে ইউনূসের পক্ষ থেকে পাঠানো ওই মেইলে লেখা হয়েছে, “প্রিয় মেলান, বাংলাদেশের পক্ষ থেকে শুভেচ্ছা। জাতিসংঘ সাধারণ পরিষদের সভায় যোগ দিতে বাংলাদেশের প্রধানমন্ত্রী হাসিনা ওয়াজেদের আমেরিকা সফর নিয়ে বাংলাদেশের পররাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রী দীপু মনি ১৬ সেপ্টেম্বর হিলারি ক্লিন্টনের সঙ্গে সাক্ষাৎ করবেন। সে সময় বন্ধুত্বপূর্ণ পরিবেশে গ্রামীণ ব্যাংক ইস্যু নিয়ে আলোচনার অনুরোধ রইল।

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১০ সেপ্টেম্বর ২০১৫

পদ হারিয়ে ব্যাংক এমডির অপপ্রচার: প্রধানমন্ত্রী

গ্রামীণ ব্যাংকের সাবেক ব্যবস্থাপনা পরিচালক মুহাম্মদ ইউনূসের দিকে ইঙ্গিত করে প্রধানমন্ত্রী শেখ হাসিনা বলেছেন, মামলায় একটি ব্যাংকের সামান্য এমডি পদ হারিয়ে ক্ষিপ্ত হয়ে সরকারের বিরুদ্ধে সমানে অপপ্রচার চালিয়েছেন তিনি।

যুক্তরাষ্ট্রে বাংলাদেশি পণ্যের জিএসপি সুবিধা ফিরে না পাওয়ার পিছনে ‘অন্য কোনো পরাশক্তির’ ইন্ধন আছে কি না- এক সংসদ সদস্যের এ প্রশ্নের জবাবে বুধবার জাতীয় সংসদে প্রধানমন্ত্রী একথা বলেন।

তিনি বলেন, “কোনো পরাশক্তি নয়, বরং কিছু অপশক্তি; দেশের বাইরের নয়, বরং দেশের অভ্যন্তরের তাদের কারো কারো ব্যক্তি স্বার্থে আঘাত লাগায় বাংলাদেশের বিরুদ্ধে তারা অপপ্রচার চালায়। আর অত্যন্ত দুঃখের বিষয়, এই বাংলাদেশে যিনি এক সময় প্রধানমন্ত্রী ছিলেন, বিরোধী দলের নেতা ছিলেন। অবশ্য এখন এ ধরনের কোনো পদে নেই কিন্তু একটি দলের নেতা।

“সেই দলের নেতা যুক্তরাষ্ট্র সরকারের কাছে চিঠি দিয়ে জিএসপি যাতে বন্ধ হয় তার আবেদন করেছিলেন। তিনি ওয়াশিংটনের কোনো এক অখ্যাত পত্রিকায় একটি প্রতিবেদনও প্রকাশ করেছিলেন, যাতে বাংলাদেশের ভাবমূর্তি নষ্ট হয়।”

শেখ হাসিনা বলেন, “বিএনপি-জামায়াত আর ব্যাংকের এমডি মিলে বাংলাদেশের ভাবমূর্তি ক্ষুণ্নের অনেক চেষ্টা ও অপকর্ম করেছে কিন্তু অগ্রযাত্রা বন্ধ করতে পারেনি। অহেতুক বিনা কারণে পদ্মা সেতু নির্মাণ বন্ধ করতে চেয়েছিল।

“কিন্তু তারা সেতু নির্মাণ ঠেকাতে পারেনি, আমরা নিজেরাই এই সেতু নির্মাণ করছি।”

কারও নাম উল্লেখ না করে তিনি বলেন, “কোনো কোনো ব্যক্তি হয়তো একটি পদের জন্য। একটি ব্যাংকের সামান্য এমডি পদটি মামলা করে হারনোর পরে তিনি এতই ক্ষিপ্ত হয়ে যান যে সেখানে সরকারের বিরুদ্ধে সমানে অপপ্রচার চালান।”

সম্প্রতি যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের সাবেক পররাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রী হিলারি ক্লিনটনের ফাঁস হওয়া ই-মেইলে মুহাম্মদ ইউনূসের মেইলও পাওয়া গেছে, যাতে গ্রামীণ ব্যাংকে পদ ফিরে পেতে হিলারির হস্তক্ষেপ কামনা করতে দেখা গেছে তাকে।

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১৯ এপ্রিল ২০১৬

‘প্রভাব খাটিয়ে’ ইউনূসকে অর্থ দিয়েছিলেন হিলারি

পররাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রী পদের প্রভাব খাটিয়ে হিলারি ক্লিনটন তার ঘনিষ্ঠ নোবেলজয়ী বাংলাদেশি মুহাম্মদ ইউনূসকে এক কোটি ৩০ লাখ ডলারের তহবিল জুগিয়েছিলেন বলে যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের একটি সংবাদপত্র দাবি করেছে।

ওয়াশিংটনভিত্তিক দি ডেইলি কলার সোমবার তাদের অনুসন্ধানী প্রতিবেদন প্রকাশ করে বলেছে, ক্নিনটন ফাউন্ডেশনের অন্যতম দাতা ইউনূসকে রাষ্ট্রীয় অর্থ জোগানোর মধ্য দিয়ে হিলারি স্বার্থের সংঘাত ঘটিয়েছেন।

গ্রামীণ ব্যাংকের প্রতিষ্ঠাতা ব্যবস্থাপনা পরিচালক ইউনূসের সঙ্গে ক্লিনটন পরিবারের ব্যক্তিগত ঘনিষ্ঠতা রয়েছে। ২০০৯ সালে হিলারি পররাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রী থাকার সময় তাকে যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের সর্বোচ্চ বেসামরিক সম্মানে ভূষিত করা হয়।

গ্রামীণ ব্যাংককে ইউরোপের দেওয়া তহবিল সরানোর অভিযোগ উঠার প্রেক্ষাপটে বয়সসীমা অতিক্রমের কারণ দেখিয়ে ২০১১ সালে ইউনূসকে ব্যবস্থাপনা পরিচালকের পদ থেকে সরানোর পর হিলারির ক্ষুব্ধ প্রতিক্রিয়া এসেছিল।

ইউনূসকে সরানোর কারণে অন্য দেশ থেকে চাপ এসেছিল বলে প্রধানমন্ত্রী শেখ হাসিনা পরে বিভিন্ন সময়ে বলেছেন। গত বছর হিলারির ফাঁস হওয়া ই-মেইলেও তার এই তদ্বির চালানোর বিষয়টি প্রকাশ পায়।

অব্যাহতি দেওয়ার সিদ্ধান্তের বিরুদ্ধে আইনি লড়াই চালিয়ে ইউনূস হেরে যাওয়ার পর থেকে গ্রামীণ ব্যাংকের কর্তৃত্ব নিয়ে আওয়ামী লীগ সরকারের সঙ্গে ইউনূসের শীতল সম্পর্ক চলছে।

এই প্রেক্ষাপটে হিলারি যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের আগামী প্রেসিডেন্ট নির্বাচনে ডেমোক্রেটিক দলের প্রার্থী হতে অনেকটা এগিয়ে যাওয়ার মধ্যে তার প্রতিদ্বন্দ্বী রিপাবলিকান পার্টিঘেঁষা ডেইলি কলার এই অভিযোগ তুলল।

প্রতিবেদনে বলা হয়, ইউনূস গ্রামীণ ব্যাংকের পদ হারানোর পর যুক্তরাষ্ট্রভিত্তিক তার নানা প্রতিষ্ঠানকে ইউএসএআইডিসহ ১৮টি সংস্থার মাধ্যমে অনুদান, ঋণ কিংবা কাজ হিসেবে রাষ্ট্রীয় ১ কোটি ৩০ লাখ ডলার দেওয়া হয়েছে।

এ্ বিষয়ে গ্রামীণ ফাউন্ডেশন, যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের প্রতিক্রিয়া চেয়েও পাওয়া যায়নি বলে ডেইলি কলার জানিয়েছে। হিলারির প্রচার দল কিংবা ক্লিনটন ফাউন্ডেশনও কোনো মন্তব্য করতে রাজি হয়নি।

ক্লিনটন ফাউন্ডেশনের তথ্য উদ্ধৃত করে সংবাদপত্রটি বলেছে, ইউনূস এক লাখ থেকে তিন লাখ ডলার দান করেন ক্লিনটন ফাউন্ডেশনকে।

ইউএসএআইডি থেকে আরও ১ কোটি ১০ লাখ ডলার ১১টি প্রতিষ্ঠান পেয়েছিল জানিয়ে ডেইলি কলার বলেছে, “এই সবগুলো প্রতিষ্ঠানের সঙ্গে ইউনূসের ব্যবসায়িক সম্পর্ক রয়েছে।”

হিলারি কীভাবে সরকারি পদের সঙ্গে নিজ-সংশ্লিষ্ট ক্লিনটন ফাউন্ডেশনকে মিলিয়ে ফেলেছিলেন, তার উপরই গুরুত্ব দেওয়া হয়েছে ডেইলি কলারের প্রতিবেদনে।

এই ধরনের আচরণ উন্নত দেশগুলোতে নিন্দাজনক হলেও সরকারি অর্থের অপব্যয় নিয়ে এফবিআইয়ের তদন্তে বিষয়টি গুরুত্বের সঙ্গে আসেনি বলে ডেইল কলারের ভাষ্য।

“যদি ডেইলি কলার এই তথ্যটি পেয়ে থাকে, তাহলে খুব সম্ভবত এফবিআইয়েরও তা পাওয়ার কথা,” বলেন এই সংস্থাটির সাবেক সহকারী পরিচালক রবার্ট হোসকো।

তবে এই সম্পর্কে এফবিআইয়ের আনুষ্ঠানিক প্রতিক্রিয়া চাইলে তদন্তাধীন বিষয় বলে ডেইল কলারকে এড়িয়ে যায় সংস্থাটি।

এদিকে ইউনূসের জন্য ক্লিনটনের এই পদক্ষেপে হিলারি স্বার্থের সংঘাত ঘটিয়েছেন দাবি করেছেন রক্ষণশীল সমর্থকদের গ্রুপ সিটিজেন্স ইউনাইটেডের নেতা ডেভিড বশিয়ে।

রিপাবলিকান এই নেতা বলেছেন, “পররাষ্ট্র দপ্তরের কাজ এবং ক্লিনটন ফাউন্ডেশনের ডোনারদের সুবিধা দিয়ে নিজের স্বার্থ উদ্ধারের এই কাজটি একটি বড় উদাহরণ (স্বার্থের দ্বন্দ্বের)। ই-মেইল ফাঁসের সঙ্গে এটারও তদন্ত করতে পারে এফবিআই।”

হিলারির প্রভাবে ১৮টি অনুদান ও ঋণ ইউনূস সংশ্লিষ্ট গ্রামীণ ফাউন্ডেশন ও গ্রামীণ আমেরিকাকে দেওয়া হয়েছিল বলে যুক্তরাষ্ট্র সরকারের ব্যয় সংক্রান্ত বিভাগের (usaspending.gov) তথ্যে দেখা যায়।

এই বিষয়ে কথা বলতে চাইলে ইউএসএআইডির মুখপাত্র রাফায়েল কুক ডেইলি কলারকে বলেন, এই বিষয়ে সামগ্রিক তথ্য দেওয়ার মতো কেউ এই মুহূর্তে নেই।

ডিপার্টমেন্ট অফ ট্রেজারি ৬ লাখ ডলার গ্রামীণ আমেরিকাকে তহবিল হিসেবে দিয়েছিল বলে ডেইলি কলারের তথ্য। তবে সে বিষয়ে কোনো মন্তব্য করতে রাজি হননি এই দপ্তরের মুখপাত্র।

‘স্মল বিজনেস অ্যাডমিনস্টেশন’ ২০১১ সাল থেকে গ্রামীণ আমেরিকাকে ৯ লাখের বেশি ডলার অনুদান দিয়েছে।

ডেইলি কলার বলেছে, যে রাজ্যে হিলারি সিনেটর সেই নিউ ইয়র্কে প্রতিষ্ঠান চালাতে ও কর্মীদের বেতন দিতে এই অনুদান ব্যবহার হয়।

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2 Comments
    • Senate chairman demands documents on Clinton contacts with Bangladesh about donor
      http://circa.com/politics/sen-charles-grassley-seeks-documents-on-clinton-contacts-with-bangladesh-about-donor

      The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday demanded the State Department turn over documents showing whether former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressured the Bangladesh government on behalf of a donor to her husband’s foundation.

      Sen. Charles Grassley’s request came after Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina confirmed to Circa last month that Mrs. Clinton called in March 2011 to demand that Dr. Muhammed Yunus, a 2006 Nobel Peace prize winner, be restored as chairman of the country’s microcredit bank.

      The bank’s nonprofit Grameen America, which Yunus chairs, has given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative. Grameen Research, which is chaired by Yunus, has donated between $25,000 and $50,000, according to the Clinton Foundation website.

      Federal conflict of interest laws prohibit government officials from intervening in matters that could impact the finances of their spouse’s business interests.

      Separately, The Daily Caller reported the prime minister’s son was threatened with an IRS audit if he didn’t help pressure his mother.

      “If the Secretary of State used her position to intervene in an independent investigation by a sovereign government simply because of a personal and financial relationship stemming from the Clinton Foundation rather than the legitimate foreign policy interests of the United States, then that would be unacceptable,” Grassley wrote.

      “Co-mingling her official position as Secretary of State with her family foundation would be similarly inappropriate. It is vital to determine whether the State Department had any role in the threat of an IRS audit against the son of the Prime Minister in retaliation for this investigation.”

      Grassley asked for details of whether any State Department official directly or indirectly suggested an IRS audit over the Bangladeshi investigation, and whether the department’s internal watchdog had investigated the matter.

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