This week Secretary Clinton congratulated two countries, Qatar and Kazakhstan, on their important anniversaries. Today, Dec. 18, is Qatar's National Day, marking the anniversary of when Jassim bin Mohammed al-Thani came to power in 1878 and founded what ended up being the modern state of Qatar. Two days ago, Dec. 16, was the 19th anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence from the Soviet Union. To mark both occasions, Clinton released the following statements earlier this week.
For Qatar (which earlier this month was celebrating its designation as host of the 2022 World Cup, as seen in the photo above):
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Qatar on your National Day this December 18.
The relationship between our nations has grown stronger and more dynamic over the past few years as Qatar and the United States work together to build a future that is more peaceful, more prosperous, and more secure for all our people. As partners, we have increased trade, promoted educational and cultural exchanges, and enhanced scientific and technological cooperation between our countries. I was honored to visit Doha earlier this year for the U.S.-Islamic World Forum to deepen the understanding between the United States and Muslim-majority nations, and to witness Qatar's rising presence on the global stage.
Under the leadership of His Highness Amir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Qatar has become an international leader in areas from investing in educational infrastructure to increasing agricultural productivity in arid regions. Your successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup is a further testament to Qatar's bright future.
I wish all the people of Qatar a joyous National Day celebration, and I look forward to finding new ways to strengthen the vibrant relationship between Qatar and the United States.
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of the Republic of Kazakhstan as you celebrate your independence on December 16.
The United States was honored to be the first nation to recognize an independent Kazakhstan and welcome you into the community of nations 19 years ago. Recently, I witnessed the great progress Kazakhstan has made during my visit to Astana for the first summit of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe in 11 years. Chairing the OSCE and hosting this summit are important milestones in Kazakhstan's ongoing development as a regional and world leader.
Kazakhstan has accomplished a great deal since independence. Our people have worked together to improve economic ties, chart a responsible and reliable energy future, ensure regional security, and reduce the threat of nuclear weapons. The United States also is proud to work with Kazakh civil society and private sector leaders as well as government officials to improve human rights and help build a more stable, secure, democratic, and prosperous world for all our citizens. The strategic partnership between our nations will continue to grow and deepen as we work together to fulfill the promise of a bright future for Kazakhstan and its people.
I wish the people of Kazakhstan a safe and happy Independence Day celebration.
MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton is in Astana, Kazakhstan, today, attending the summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where she has been doing a "reassurance tour" (read: awkward conversations!) after WikiLeaks' recent disclosure of candid State Department cables. In a news conference today with Kazakh Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev, she said that no country has decided not to work with the United States any longer or have discussions with it. Implying that her damage-control work is going well, Clinton said in her remarks:
I have had the opportunity to meet with many leaders here at the summit in Astana.… I have certainly raised the issue of the leaks in order to assure our colleagues that it will not in any way interfere with American diplomacy or our commitment to continuing important work that is ongoing. I have not had any concerns expressed about whether any nation will not continue to work with and discuss matters of importance to us both, going forward.…
And I anticipate that there will be a lot of questions that people have every right and reason to ask, and we stand ready to discuss them at any time with our counterparts around the world.
Of course, there's a big difference between not continuing to work with the United States at all and simply being more restrained and less forthcoming.
Meanwhile, Saudabayev seemed cool as a cucumber in his remarks and displayed an "it's no big deal" attitude toward the WikiLeaks revelations, even though some cables were not so flattering about Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev (seen at left greeting Clinton). Saudabayev said:
I believe that what has happened is part of a normal cost, or a normal price, that one has occasionally to pay while we lead our work. That is why we will be able to live through this incident, as we have through others. And, as head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in my country, now declare that this will have no effect for our strategic partnership between the United States and Kazakhstan.
Something tells me this nonchalant tone is all a facade. Everybody now has documentation of how diplomats really speak.
ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were on the phone yesterday discussing the situation in Kyrgyzstan, where fighting between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks has resulted in an estimated 2,000 deaths and almost 400,000 ethnic Uzbeks fleeing to or across the border with Uzbekistan. The country still plans to hold a June 27 referendum on a new constitution, despite a state of emergency in some regions.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement yesterday:
[Clinton and Lavrov] agreed that the issue of the upcoming referendum is the sovereign decision of Kyrgyzstan to make and agreed to encourage the authorities of Kyrgyzstan to conduct it according to international standards with the monitoring support of OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] and others. The ministers also discussed coordination of U.S. and Russian humanitarian assistance and other support to Kyrgyzstan to help its authorities restore security, stability, and reconciliation among all citizens of Kyrgyzstan.
(In the photo above, Kyrgyz refugees sit under their tent on the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border on June 19.)
VICTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images
On the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, celebrated by Iranians, Afghans, Kurds, Azeris, and other people across Central Asia and the rest of the world, Secretary Clinton delivered a message, which included these remarks:
The spring equinox is a time of reflection and renewal across cultures and continents -- signifying the hope of rebirth, health, and prosperity. This is an opportunity to remember how much we have in common -- the aspirations we all share for a peaceful and prosperous future -- and to reaffirm the human rights and fundamental freedoms that are our universal birthright. As the Iranian poet Simin Behbahani writes, "we are all parts of the same body, similar in essence." On this Nowruz, we honor those common bonds.
President Obama also once again delivered a Nowruz message. For what Obama should have ideally said to the people of Iran in his Nowruz message, check out Karim Sadjadpour's FP piece, "The Message Obama Should Send to Iran."
In the photo above: Goldfish swim in bowls at a market in Tehran on March 20 as Iranians shop for Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Traditionally, goldfish are among the items that Iranians buy during Nowruz celebrations.
ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images
Following four weekdays without any public appointments on her schedule after breaking her right elbow, Secretary Clinton is back in business today! With her arm in a cast, she's back to bilateraling, though shaking hands and taking notes will probably be limited.
10:00 a.m. Bilateral with His Excellency Rashid Meredov, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan
Madam Secretary is an obsessive blog about all things Hillary Clinton. From her policies to her pantsuits, Madam Secretary delivers up-to-the-minute news, analysis, and gossip about America's top diplomat.