X Posted from the Terroristan thread.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:“Pakistan is still an important and valued partner of the United States”
Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary of State
I. Steven (Steve) Goldstein
Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
Dean Acheson Auditorium
December 12, 2017
STAFF: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Secretary of State. (Applause.)
SECRETARY TILLERSON: Good morning. Good morning, all. Please, have a seat. ………………..
……….. So in that region of the world, obviously, a heavy, heavy emphasis on counterterrorism. That’s really the big threat that we’re dealing with there.
Out of that also emerged the new South Asia strategy for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. And I think the President took a very bold decision by asserting that we will be in Afghanistan with our military presence and continue to fight terrorism and fight the Taliban on a conditions-based effort. There is no timeline. We’re there until this thing is brought to a conclusion. It’s not a blank check. It’s not a forever. But we’re going to stay on the ground and support the Afghan Government. The Afghan Government has to continue to deliver on the needed reforms and create the conditions to have an inclusive government that allows for participation of all the ethnic groups in Afghanistan, including the Taliban. When the Taliban are ready to come to that negotiating table, there will be a place for them to participate in a future Afghan government.
And so the policy there in Afghanistan and in that region is to deny any safe haven to terrorist organizations, because there are a number of terrorist organizations operating in the Afghan-Pakistan region. Our policy is deny them the ability to have a safe haven where they can organize, they can recruit fighters, they can raise money, they can plan and carry out attacks against our allies, our own homeland, as we know they did in the past. So the entire policy in South Asia is to achieve that. And we achieve that by eliminating the safe havens, having some organizations who today have been fighting decide they don’t want to fight anymore, they’d rather talk about how to live, and create the conditions for a reconciliation process within Afghanistan and ultimately a peace process.
In our efforts with Pakistan, Pakistan is still an important and valued partner of the United States. Over the last decade, the relationship has drifted, and we’ve got to bring this relationship back to one of common interest. Today that’s just not the case. And so we’re engaged in very, very frank discussions with Pakistan over the concerns we have about their own stability and their own future and the threat they’re under by allowing terrorist organizations to operate in their territory, and how we can work together to bring stability and peace to the whole region. And again, we’ve got a great team working in that region as well. A lot of work left to do.
SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, I’m smiling. (Applause.) I am learning to enjoy it. (Laughter.)
Look, it’s – this is a hard job. I mean – I mean, it’s difficult because of the issues, the complexity of the issues that you deal with. You wake up every morning, and the team that works closely with me in my front office know, because I say this many times to them, I start every morning with the thought, “How can I keep someone from being killed today?” I never had to start my mornings with that thought for 41 and a half years. I did worry about people’s safety in my old career, because there were a lot of risks, and we did lose people, regrettably, due to operation problems. But this is a different – I didn’t have to spend a lot of time worrying about civilians being killed, children being killed, people’s rights, their dignity being violated in unimaginable ways. So I start every day with that simple question: What can I do today to keep someone from being killed? And I’ve had a – I’ve had to really struggle with getting used to that, because I take it very seriously.
When I say I’m learning to enjoy it, I am. I’m learning to enjoy it because I’m getting to know all of you better. And one of the things that you get enjoyment from are the people that you have the privilege to work with every day, and that was true for 41 and a half years of my life. And so coming to a place where I didn’t know anybody and I don’t know much about you, that’s why I say I’m learning to enjoy it. Because now, having gone through everything I just described to you and have had great colleagues of yours supporting me and helping me through this year, I am enjoying it more. I enjoy the people. I enjoy you. And that’s why – when you say, “Do you enjoy it?” The actual task at hand of dealing with North Korea? I don’t enjoy that. I mean – (laughter) – but I enjoy working with Susan Thornton on it. Dealing with [b[Pakistan[/b] – I don’t enjoy that. But I enjoy dealing with Alice Wells and Ambassador Hale on it. You’re great people, and I’m – because I’m now making more and more acquaintances and connections, and I have more time with people, I’m beginning to understand them – I enjoy that. That’s what I enjoy, is I enjoy you. And we’ll get some things done. (Applause.) ………………..
From the US State department Website here: Remarks at Town Hall