tv International Programming CSPAN May 25, 2011 7:00am-7:30am EDT
libya, that we engage with, consult with and have the support of the congress and that's why the president welcomed the introduction the legislation along those lines but i'll certainly convey the concern. >> thank you very much. >> thanks very much, senator lugar. mr. secretary, i ask your indulgence. i have a meeting that i need to go to in a few moments. senator casey is going to preside in my absence. and i just want to thank you again. i think it's obvious through the tone here that there's no issue of you being confirmed, i think. and we want to try to move to get it done as rapidly as we can. and look forward to continuing our relationship with you once you get in there formally.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. under secretary burns we're grateful for your public service and for your appearance here today and your ongoing commitment to engage in and accept the responsibility of public service yet again. we don't have time to list all of the positions that you've held but they've all been difficult. and they've all been positions of significant responsibility. and when you serve the public, they do as well by extension and i know the support that they give you so we're grateful for that. i want to turn first to iran. it needs no -- i don't need to recite for you the challenges that iran presents for the region, the middle east and the world. we're, of course, concerned about two basic areas. one is their nuclear capability. and their determination to have a nuclear weapon, in my
judgment, and i think in the judgment of others. in addition to that, what even absent that, even if that were not a threat, as it is, their demonstrated support for terrorism throughout the region and well beyond the region especially when it comes to their support for hezbollah and hamas and others. i guess i would ask a couple questions in this area. there's a 2009 -- or i'm sorry, a 2011 annual worldwide threat briefing. our director of national intelligence, and it states in pertinent part -- i'm reading just a limit excerpt. it says and i quote iran has a scientific technical and industrial capacity to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon in the next few years if it chooses to, unquote. and we know that one strategy
alone does not a successful solution make. but we know we have sanctions in place. i'm one of the senators who is cosponsoring legislation to further enhance those sanctions. but we know sanctions are part of it and they are working and they are necessary even though we want to do more in that area. we also know diplomacy plays a huge role here and your work has demonstrated that. so we've got more to do to hold the regime accountable and i just wanted to get your sense based upon your experience and also in light of the position that you're going to be assuming in the event of your conversation which i'm confident about. what can you tell me how you'll use the assistant secretary of state to be able to push forward an agenda that would lead to both a diplomatic strategy as well as to keep the pressure on the iranian regime in other ways?
>> thank you very much, senator. i think we remain very firmly committed to enforcing all of the many laws that we have available to us now as well as international understanding such as u.n. security council resolution, 1929. to maximize the pressure on the iranian regime to engage seriously in diplomacy on the nuclear issue, something we have not seen to date. earlier today we announced a series of significant new measures with regard to sanctions against iran including seven new entities, companies designated under sisada as well as 16 new entities or individuals designated under the so-called in cna s. i think those are significant steps forward and we're continuing to look at other steps that we can take to demonstrate our seriousness and beyond our seriousness, the
seriousness of the international community on these issues. it's instructive that the european union yesterday also announced about 100 new companies or firms that they're sanctioning in continuation of the international effort against iran. we have a strong platform in which to build over the course of last year. i think an unprecedented set of sanctions based on u.n. sanctions after. what you had, what we did nationally and what other partners around the world have done. it is having an impact on iran. it has not yet produced the kind of seriousness, and willingness to engage in diplomacy that we had hoped for and in the absence of that occasion of seriousness, we're going to continue to try to step up the pressure in every way that we can. >> let me ask in the remaining time i have, first of all, to correct the record, you're seeking the position of deputy secretary and not assistant. i apologize for that.
the question that middle east -- or i should say the challenge that present to us got, i think, more difficult in the last couple of weeks and we could point to the last couple months as being a time period within which it got more difficult, more complicated even as complicated as it always is because of a number of developments. one of the developments, which in my judgment makes it exceedingly more difficult is the unity government between hamas and fatah. and what the decision made by president abbas and what that means for the region and for any kind of successful peace process. in light of that, or in the aftermath of that, i and a number of senators sent a letter to president obama. this letter is dated may the
6th. and i won't read all of it, obviously, but the one thing that i think is particularly relevant and important and i wanted to get your reaction to this is, we say in the last paragraph of this may 6th letter and i'm quoting, we urge you, urging the president here, we urge you to make clear to president abbas and the international community, the united states government to form a unity government that do not accept the quartet principles. those principles meaning that hamas must renounce violence, recognize israel and agree to abide by past agreements. in light of that condition or set of conditions, not having been effectuated or agreed to, what can you tell us about how the administration views not just the peace process more generally but specifically the
peace process through the lens of this difficult question? >> thank you, senator. it's obviously a very serious concern. the president was quite clear in his speech last thursday in posing what is really a threshold question for palestinians about what efforts at reconciliation are unity really aimed at because none of us can expect israel to sit down at the negotiating table with the party that's sworn to its destruction as the president underscored. and so i think in the coming days and weeks, the palestinian leadership has some very important questions before it about how -- what this reconciliation agreement means, about how it's going to translate into a unity government, about what the policies and positions of that government are going to be. and whether or not that makes it possible for there to be a resumption in negotiations. we made it clear that we're prepared to do our part but
palestinians need to demonstrate their willingness to be that kind of a partner in negotiations. >> and i'm out of time but i would urge you, of course, and the state department as well as the administration on the president to continually reassert that policy because repetition on a question like this is very important to get that message out. thank you very much. and we'll move to senator rubio. >> thank you. congratulations. the fact that this is not full today is a good sign that your nomination is going well. [laughter] >> and i wanted to personally thank you for your service to our country and to your foreign and what it means being in the foreign service means to families. i have two quick questions and one is your impressions on something. in the time that i've been here and on this committee which has been a great experience so far, it's obviously very apparent the world faces some major issues, big problems. and clearly no nation on earth
can solve these problems by ourselves. the israel-palestinian issue, series, egypt, north korea, you name it. it takes coalitions to address these and coalitions have to be put together and they have been led and right now we are probably the only nation on earth that can do that. my impressions and i think others have discussed in the past and i was wondering what your impressions are. many of the national institutions that are now in place are really creatures of the cold war, post-world war ii. what's your assessment -- it may not be a fair question in this forum. maybe i can ask you later and maybe you haven't given a tremendous amount of thought himself perhaps you have and the institutions how they are able to deal with the 21st century. it's dramatically different than just 20 years ago. they're all-important but the united nations, nato, here in this hemisphere, the oas -- is it in your mind -- have we reached the point where maybe we can start on a global scale having a conversation about
either retooling some of these organizations and institutions to really kind of line up more with the realities of the 21st century and the kind of challenges we're facing? >> it's a very important point, senator and i think, you know, some of that is underway already but i think it needs to be approached with greater vigor and determination. and whether when you look at some of the important regional organizations like the oas, for example, which i think has -- you know, itself made clear the importance of reform and updating to meet a different sort of challenges in the 21st century or a global institutions like the united nations, the u.n. security council where, you know, the administration has made clear the importance of updating the security council to reflect the realities of the 21st century, we're looking at the global financial institutions, the world bank. and a great deal of work has gone do this already but if you look at the economic challenges that we and the countries around the world face, those notion
institutions are going to need to adapt but it's a longer conversation but i think an important one. >> building on that, obviously, there's a lot of concern and you hear a lot of talk about the rise of china, what that means, but also in the context of that, i think -- and i think you would agree there's opportunity to find real partners to take on many of these issues not just china, turkey, brazil, india. i mean, these are countries -- how do we -- what's the most constructive way for us to help -- i don't want to use the word "coax" i guess i already did, kind of encourage some of these other nations that are beginning to find more influence to really kind of realize that part of being at that scale -- what nations who reach that point do is they get involved with other nations who are at that scale to deal with some of these issues and how can we be constructive in that regard? >> i don't think we face a bigger challenge and i think
that's why you've seen in this administration and the last administration an effort to focus on those relationships like india, brazil as you mentioned as well. both in terms of strengthening our other own bilateral relationships and partnerships with those countries but also encouraging them to play a more active role in the case of india across asia and the pacific where i think india is emerging as a more and more newtial player. and in the case of brazil, working not only on issues in our own hemisphere but also increasingly on the kind of global issues, whether it's in food security or energy where we have a great deal in common. so i can't think of a bigger challenge as we look out over the coming years and decades than spending a lot of time and attention on those relationships and helping to deepen the stake of those countries and the kind of stable international system that serves our interests and promotes our values as well. >> i have two questions on the specifics. the first one, a couple of us
met with some of the folks who were here on behalf of the libyan transition council. they had come and basically asked for access to some of these funds that have been frozen either direct access to the funds or a line of you are credit secured by those funds. is there any update -- and i know senator kerry was working on some legislation on that issue, what's the latest on efforts to -- if any to provide those funds or made something available? >> that's something which we're very committed to. we're working with congress, with a variety of committees here to try to develop legislation which will enable us to do this. in order to get access one way or another to get at frozen adds so it can use on the libyan people. we want to work very much with the congress to do it because there's a real sense of urgency connected to this. >> and the last question and it's one that i think we're doing well on and should continue to build on is the
department, you know, viewed globally as a leader on trafficking and modern day slavery largely in part of the trafficking of persons report that's demonstrated an ability to influence government's capacity. and their willingness to combat this criminal activity. what do you envision some of the states we can institutionalize these policies and procedures and make that an important part of our foreign, you know, core principle of our foreign policy. i think it's an important issue. i think we've taken the leadership on it globally and i would imagine you would consider that to be a priority on that as well. any thoughts on how we build on our successes already? >> no, i think it's a difficult challenge. and, you know, we have work to do in not only streamlining the process but ensuring that it's a high priority in our agendas with other governments and i think as you said, senator, we've made a good deal of progress in countries wherein in their own self interest not as a favor to us but in the trafficking of persons progress
countries that made significant strides to deal with this one. >> it's important but it's topical, yemen, whose resources have been used to assist in the war on terror but also an increasingly dysfunctional situation that looks untenable. what -- and i probably -- it's a much broader question but i know the administration is grappling what the right approach is on. any update? >> to express at this moment anyway deep disappointment with the fact that president salla in yemen chose once again not to follow through on his commitment to make a peaceful transfer of power. this is an issue which we worked closely with the gulf coast council and states will continue that but this is a very fragile moment as you said and we'll do everything we can to encourage movement in the direction of a peaceful transition. there's a lot at stake here in yemen. >> congratulations. >> thank you >> thank you, senator rubio. i will be relinquishing my gavel to senator menendez, who's our
next questioner. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ambassador, thank you for your service to our country. and i appreciate what you've done over a long period of time. let me start off by saying something positive on the state department. i've been one of those who have been pressing really hard about our sanctions regime on iran. and i'm very pleased to see that the department has listed about 7 different companies that who are engaged in activities related to the supply of refined petroleum products to iran, including the supply of gasoline, and they come from various countries. so that is a very good step forward and i'm thrilled to see it. yesterday i've authored legislation with several
senato senators, and it is to further pursue closures of loopholes that we believe exist particularly with the iran sanctions regime. part of what we call for in that legislation is for the state department to undertake a diplomatic initiative to qualitatively expand the u.n. sanctions against the regime. are you committed, if you are confirmed, to robust enforcement of our sanctions regime? and pursuing a more vigorous efforts at the united nations and in our bilateral relationships to ensure that we are succeeding at that? >> yes, sir. i certainly am. >> and since you're going to be the, in essence, in this position the chief counselor, in essence, to the secretary of state is that what you're going to be advocating for in that position? >> no, i certainly will,
senator. i think as you mentioned, the actions -- the further actions that we took this morning under the sasota sanctions, the seven entities designated there as well as 16 under the in cna, i think, underscores the commitment of this administration to follow through. >> now, i want to follow up on your answer to senator casey about the fatah-hamas. i was also the author of that letter. you know, i listened to the president's speech very intently. i re-read it and when we get to the point about fatah-hamas. he feels the palestinian authority will have to convince israel that, in fact, you know, how am i supposed to deal or negotiate with someone who has, as part of that entity, is committed to obliterate my role in essence but that doesn't say, if that is a continuing reality
that we will invoke u.s. law which pretty much says that if you have an unreformed hamas that u.s. taxpayer dollars will not flow to such an entity. is it your understanding that if, in fact, we have an unreformed hamas that u.s. law calls for the suspension of those funds to a palestinian authority that includes hamas? >> senator, we're certainly committed to applying u.s. law and our view of hamas hasn't changed. it's a foreign terrorist organization and we don't engage with hamas. we'll have to see how the so-called reconciliation agreement translates in terms of a government of unity as well as the policies and positions of that government. there's a distance between where we are today and seeing those realities. and we'll certainly have to make our judgments accordingly.
but we will certainly apply u.s. law. and i think in the meantime, it's important for us until we reach that point to continue to plan to provide support to the very worthwhile efforts of people like prime minister fayed who has made enormous progress in the last few years that would have been impossible of a few years ago to create a palestinian state. >> i appreciate your answer. let me just say i think it would be very hard for those of us who have cast votes in support of helping the palestinian authority as part of a middle east package to be voting to send u.s. taxpayer dollars to an entity that includes a terrorist organization or recognized by the united states government as such. and i always understand the diplomatic speak and i get nervous about it. and i think it should be very clear that i think there will be
a very strong will in the congress of the united states to not have u.s. taxpayer dollars go to such an entity and so, you know, what the definition of a unity government is may be of interest to the state department. what is of interest to those of us who have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of this country is not to have u.s. dollars flow to a terrorist organization. and so i hope that -- you know, i understand distinctions, but i hope distinctions at the end of the day will be so blurred that it doesn't cause a collision course. we are losing our assistant secretary for the western hemisphere which i share that subcommittee. we don't have an ambassador to mexico. these are incredibly important assignments and i don't get a sense that at a time in which the hemisphere is continuously a challenge to us, that we are as
committed as necessary to fill -- i know one has just become a reality but the other one just existed. what is your expectation and what is it that you will do when you get state department to make this a critical focus? >> senator, you're absolutely right. they're extremely important posts. the secretary is firmly convinced of the high priority that needs to be attached to both of those posts and we're moving as quickly as we can working with the white house toward sending up nominations 'cause it is very important to fill those posts for all the reasons that you said. this is a critical moment for the hemisphere and for our interests in it. >> i hope we will, especially, on mexico which has been open, i hope we get someone who understands the u.s. and mexico relationship, will not have the challenge that we had most recently and can be very meaningful. finally, and i'll be pursuing that with the secretary's office
and hopefully with you upon your confirmation. this is the one thing that's pretty outrageous to me. and that's something that i have been pursuing for the 19 years that i have been in the congress of the united states and the house and the senate and that's diversity at the state department has the worst -- the worst record of any of the federal departments, so much so was that it was incredibly disappointing to me and to show indifference of these issues is that the state department even failed to provide data for 2009 at the opm for its annual report to the president on hispanic employment. it was the only -- only underlined federal agency not to respond. >> well, senator, i'm not aware of the lack of response. but if that's the case, we'll fix that because the secretary is certainly not indifferent to the issue of diversity. and has made extraordinary
efforts to try and ensure that the state department, both the foreign and civil services reflect one of the great strengths of the united states, which is its diversity. certainly the department foreign service in particular is a more representative place than when i joined the foreign service 20 years as and it's not only the efforts of the secretary clinton, secretary powell, secretary rice before. so i promise to make this a high priority because i share your conviction that it's extremely important and i do believe we've made progress in recent years and we'll keep at it. >> i appreciate that. and i raise it because you're going to be in a position, you know, i chair the -- and i'll close on this, the nomination hearing for deputy secretary knights when he was -- his confirmation process was before the committee. and i asked him about the department's dismal record. this is a record that goes back in time and it's still the worst
department in the federal government. and in his own written response he agreed that this is a priority for the department to respond to. and that there is more that could be done and that the department was going to find innovative ways to improve minority recruitment and attention and the subjectiveness about whether or not you can orally express yourself, which i always found interesting. but yet, we don't even have a response to opm. only federal department that didn't do that and i hope we can change that and i look forward to working with you to do so. >> i'll certainly to do anything i can with tom knights and the secretary -- >> i prefer -- i prefer that we get a response that we can work with versus a legislative response to make it happen. senator? >> thank you, master burns, congratulations. i can think of -- i can think of no one who is better qualified to do the job that you're about
to undertake. i have great admiration for your adroitness. [laughter] >> as a diplomat but also your wealth of knowledge. i want to get in three or four questions here. not in terms of great length remarks but i have two concerns about the liberalsian situation. as you'll recall, the last time you were before the committee -- or the day of the u.n. vote on the libyan situation. this is sort of in the middle of an exchange that we would. and i said so in terms of international law it becomes rather awkward when we are supporting a movement as yet to be fully defined in its attempt to overthrow a government to which we still formally recognize and your answer is, yes, it's certainly a complicated proposition, which is very burnsian, shall we say,
but precise. do we still have diplomatic relations with the gadhafi government with the definition of international? >> senator, we've suspended our diplomatic relations -- >> so it's basically where we were on march 18th? >> yes, sir >> we have diplomatic relations. we have suspended them. we have not broken them? >> that's correct, sir. >> are we then considering recognizing this other entity? has it been vetted or what's going on here? >> well, we're -- you know, the we have the issue of recognition under review, the transition national council. i mean, what we've done over the last couple months is strengthened the practical ties we've done with that group. we've developed a much clear understanding of it. i think it's a credible of a wide spectrum of