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Clinton: US policy is that settlements are illegitimate
February 20, 2011 20:03
In televised interview, US Secretary of State condemns "unacceptable" violence in Bahrain, encourages democracy in Middle East.
Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton. (photo credit:Benjamin Spier)

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton called Israeli settlements "illegitimate" in an interview that aired on ABC News on Sunday.

"I think it is absolutely clear to say, number one, that it's been American policy for many years that settlements were illegitimate and it is the continuing goal and highest priority of the Obama administration to keep working toward a two-state solution with both Israelis and Palestinians," Clinton told interviewer Christiane Amanpour. The interview was taped on Friday, after the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning settlements.

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Clinton also addressed the uprisings throughout the Middle East, saying that the US "deplores" the "unacceptable" violence in Bahrain.

"We very much want to see the human rights of the people protected, including right to assemble, right to express themselves and we want to see reform," Clinton said. "Bahrain had started on some reform and we want to see them get back to that as quickly as possible."

When Amanpour mentioned that "America's strategic interests have been with some of these autocratic rulers" in the Middle East, Clinton said that "a really truly functioning comprehensive democracy has historically proven to be agreater force for stability...That transition is something that the United States encourages."

Clinton added: "At the same time, we are also knowledgeable enough about historical experiences to know that this is not an easy journey for any people to make."

"We recognize that this process can be hijacked," she said. "It can be hijacked by both outside and inside elements within any country. I mean, what a tragedy to see what happened in Iran. There was a great deal of hope and pent-up feeling that the time had come in 1979, and look at what Iran is doing today."

Clinton also discussed the State Department's Twitter accounts in Arabic and Farsi.

"What we expect to do is to be communicating through the new social media with literally millions of people from around the world, because we want them to hear directly from us what our policies are," she explained. "We want to use it to rebut some of the falsehoods and accusations that, unfortunately, are made against the United States."

"But mostly we want to be in the mix with this incredible, young, energetic population that is seeking the same rights to express themselves as young people in the United States seek."
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