Transcript: Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and Sec. of Defense Robert Gates Speak to Cynthia McFadden


CLINTON: Well they have in the past hedged against both India and an unfriendly regime in Afghanistan by supporting groups that will be their proxies in trying to prevent either India or an unfriendly Afghan government from undermining their position. That is changing. Now I cannot sit here and tell you that it has changed, but that is changing. And again . . .

McFADDEN: . . . And if it doesn't change, would you recommend not giving the $2 billion next year?

CLINTON: Well, what we have done is through intensive consultations with both the civilian, the military and the intelligence leadership in Pakistan, you know, had very frank conversations about what we expect. But I think it is important to note that as they have made these adjustments in their own assessment of their national interests, they're paying a big price for it. It's not an easy calculation for them to make, but we are making progress.

We have a long way to go, and we have to -- we can't be impatient. We can't say, well, you know, the headlines are bad, we're going home. We cannot do that. Part of what we are fighting against, right now, the United States created. We created the Mujahideen force against the Soviet Union. We trained them, we equipped them, we funded them, including somebody named Osama Bin Laden. And then when we finally saw the end of the Soviet Army crossing back out of Afghanistan, we all breathed a sigh of relief and said, okay, fine, we're out of there. And it didn't work out so well for us.

GATES: This is a problem that we have with both Afghanistan and Pakistan. First of all I just note, Pakistanis now have 140,000 troops on on their north western border. They've withdrawn the equivalent of about six divisions from the Indian border and moved them, and they are attacking ah Taliban. They're attacking the Taliban, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, and but they are also attacking groups that, in safe havens, that are a problem for us.

But the other piece of this, just to pile onto what Secretary Clinton said, we face in both countries what they call a trust deficit, and it is because they believe we have walked away from them in the past, at the toughest moments of their history. You can't recreate that in a heartbeat. You can't recreate that in a year or two. They both worry that once we've solved the problem in Afghanistan, or if we don't solve it, that either way we will leave, and leave whatever remains in their hands to deal with. Now we're not leaving. We will drawn down our troops over a period of time, but we have every intention of of being active and aggressively involved in Afghanistan and also a long term relationship with Pakistan. But convincing them that we mean that and that we will deliver on that is something we've been working at. And I think we've made some headway, as Secretary Clinton said, but it's a work in progress.

McFADDEN: So not not to in any way underestimate the problem, but the whole problem of Al-Qaida is almost like a game of Whack-A-Mole. I mean, yes, great, Afghanistan. But when you look at Yemen which has, what, five or six times the number of Al-Qaida, why aren't we in Yemen? Why aren't we in Somalia?

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