September 18th, 2009
01:25 PM ET
13 years ago

Clinton outlines sweeping agenda for U.N. conference

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlines sweeping agenda for U.N. conference."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out an ambitious U.S. agenda Friday for next week's United Nations gathering, citing issues such as nuclear non-proliferation, climate change, women's rights and ongoing wars.

She also strongly defended the Obama administration's decision to scrap Bush-era plans for a missile defense shield in Europe, calling it a decision that will ultimately leave the United States and its allies better positioned to defend against a potential threat from Iran.

"Our agenda is ambitious," she told an audience at the Brookings Institute when discussing the highly anticipated U.N. session. It stems from
President Barack Obama's belief that the United Nations is "a critical, central institution."

Obama is slated to makes his first appearance before the U.N. General Assembly next week. He is scheduled to address a meeting on climate control on Tuesday, address the General Assembly on Wednesday, and chair a special session of the U.N. Security Council dealing with nuclear non-proliferation on Thursday.

Obama's U.N. engagement marks a sharp shift in emphasis from George W. Bush's administration, which generally placed a lower priority on the need to act through international institutions.

Emphasizing the issue of non-proliferation, Clinton said that Iran's failure to prove that its nuclear program will not be used for military
purposes remains a source of "deep concern" to the international community. She promised continuing "costs" for Iran in the form of diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions if Tehran does not allow greater international oversight of the program.

Clinton defended the administration's decision to open the door to talks with the Iranian government, which has been criticized for cracking down on domestic political opponents in the wake of its disputed June presidential election.

"Dialogue along doesn't guarantee any outcome," she conceded. But she added that Bush's refusal to engage with Tehran didn't yield any progress on the nuclear issue or reduce Iranian support for terrorist groups.

At the same time, she warned, the Obama administration is not seeking greater diplomatic engagement "just for the sake of talking." She stressed that U.S. officials are hoping for "some movement" on Iran's part by the end of the year.

Clinton defended the U.S. troop drawdown in neighboring Iraq, noting that the relationship between Washington and Baghdad is entering what she termed a "period of transition."

A "new, sustained and more mature partnership" is coming, she said, one in which a stable, sovereign Iraq can contribute to peace in the Middle East.

Turning to central Asia, the secretary emphasized the continuing need to roll back al Qaeda and other extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Afghanistan's recent election - with its charges of corruption and a disputed outcome - illustrates both the possibilities and challenges in the embattled Islamic republic, she said.

"Corruption is as big a national security threat as I can imagine," she said. The United States has "to take some of the responsibility" for it in
Afghanistan. "We aided and abetted it in implicit ways by not demanding more earlier."

Regarding the quest for a comprehensive Middle East peace, Clinton said it is fitting that next week's U.N. gathering is happening at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and amid the Jewish high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The administration is "very patient and very determined" to bring Palestinians and Israelis to the bargaining table, she said. But ultimately,
she noted, the decision to reach an agreement is not in U.S. hands.

Clinton opened her remarks by raising the administration's controversial decision on missile defense.

Obama is not "shelving" missile defense plans, she argued. The Pentagon will instead deploy a more comprehensive, proven system on a faster timetable than had been proposed under Bush, she asserted.

"We would never, never walk away from our allies," she said. "We believe this is a decision that will leave America stronger" and more capable of defending against the threat posed by missiles launched by Tehran.

Clinton denied critics' claims that pressure from Russia - which had opposed the previous system - was a factor in the decision.

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. A Democrat of 51 years who has finally got smart to their follishness.

    Hillary walk away as fast as you can from OBAMA. Your career is on the Line for ruination.

    September 18, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. Dont forget! Settlements Are a no no

    dont forget to pull back Nuttinyahoo and his Encroaching/Settling Terror Teams......

    "Give the land back! it was never ya'lls, it was a gift from the French British and Americans......and you completley abused the situation"

    The great mistake.

    September 18, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. Karen - Missouri

    I agree 100% with Clinton and Obama. The Republicans refuse to let Americans have affordable healthcare yet want to waste money imposing expensive Bush crap in Poland. At least Obama and military have a better idea that Europe can live with. We all know Bush had that policy of trying to conquer the world...Bush wanted to be king of the world and everyone resented U.S. for least Obama and Clinton have brains and use them!

    September 18, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  4. pc

    Go Hillary, you can do it!

    September 18, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  5. Grrr-awful-o

    This is just sad all the way around. I thought more of Hillary than this a few months back. But she has disappeared into the cloud of weak socialism coming out of this administration. But I doubt she'll still be in this administration by the next presidential election. She's too marginalized here and it's pretty obvious that that's deliberate. I'd be humiliated if I were her. She did better work as a senator.

    September 18, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. Steve (the real one)

    I hope this marks a turning point of US-UN relations
    It won't change anything! The UN will still want US billions, will still be anti US, will still coddle dictators, will still pass useless resolutions without action, will still allow nations with horrrible human rights records to lead UN commissions on human rights! Change we can believe in?

    September 18, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  7. Carl

    I wonder what SOS Clinton's thoughts are of the UN seeking to end the US as the reserve currency, which will be addressed at this meeting?

    Oh wait, they wont' report that right?

    September 18, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  8. Nevada dude

    Hillary will do a good job and be the most qualified candidate for pres in 2016.
    all you detractors, what do you know about foreign policy anyway? you all are living in the pat, the america your grandfathers fougth and sacrificed for, which was pre-eminent in the world. but the landscape has shifted and that world is gone forever. new threats exist that missiles in eastern europe cannot deter. and if these 2 countries were such allies, where ist their unfailing support in iraq and afghanistan? in palestine? in darfur?

    September 18, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  9. Reformist

    That missile defense system was nothing more than a payoff to the military-industrial complex that survives on fearmongering. I am just so scared that Iran is going to launch long-range nuclear missiles at the United States that I am building a fallout shelter!

    Honestly, when are the people of the United States going to get smart and start shutting off this outrageous flow of OUR money to these worthless companies who do more harm than good to the United States by alienating the world against us? Soon I hope, and then we can pay for health care and reduce the national debt!

    September 18, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. Glennis

    I would like to see something done about the corruption at the UN. Until that sorry body addresses its own problems, I don't have much use for it. Nor are they a friend of this country. I would love to see them off our shores for good.

    September 18, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  11. zap01

    Thank you hugo! I amglad to see you support the prosecution of the former administration. They were corrupt on an epic scale. Thanks again Hugo!

    September 18, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. zap01

    It amazes me, everyone prays for world peace but the minute anyone sticks out a hand in truce, they get it bitten off by their own people.

    September 18, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  13. mike

    Hillary is the right person for the right Job! President Obama definitely made the right choice when he selected her for Secretary of State.

    September 18, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. blue j

    Its about time we started respecting our allies as equals, and actually attempting to negotiate a compromise with our "enemys" is good too.
    It will be a good thing for americans to not be shunned as they travel abroad. Funny though that the hatred for Hillary is now so lukewarm from the far right now that President Obama has some how been labeled a Nazi.... lol.... please go read a book nubs.... nazi=fascist....fascist=right wing extreme.
    Obama is not right wing therefore Obama is not a nazi..

    September 18, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  15. earle

    She looks great!

    September 18, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  16. Lola

    The same UN where Gaddhafi is going to address? The same UN that welcomed Ahmadinejad who insulted our president? UN is useless and our government continues to waste billions of our tax dollars to run it....for what? So these pathetic countries can continue to bring down the greatest society ever existed! And to see our elected officials continue to support it is unbelievable...I doubt Hillary will be taken seriously. John Bolton once told a story that a UN official from another country who overtly opposed the US for the Irag war admitted how he couldn't wait to get out of his UN post so he could start finding a consulting work in America...go figure!

    September 18, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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