Foreign Secretary William Hague Washington meeting press conference

Foreign Secretary William Hague and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the UK-US special relationship

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Rt Hon William Hague

Hillary Clinton: Some months ago so this is not the first time that we’ve had the opportunity for a substantive discussion about a, a very broad range of important matters. The election of a new Government in the United Kingdom and the smooth transfer of power this week were two powerful symbols of the enduring democratic traditions that our two nations share. And we’re very intrigued by and will follow closely the latest incarnation of this long democratic tradition. We’re reminded again that our common values are the foundation of an historic alliance that really undergirds our common aspirations and our common concerns.

The Obama Administration looks forward to working with the new British Government, we will continue to build on the deep and abiding trust that has existed between the British and American people for a very long time. The Foreign Secretary and I had a lot to talk about today. We discussed our shared mission in Afghanistan and he reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to working with the international community and the Afghans to achieve long term stability there.

The United States is deeply appreciative of the British contributions in Afghanistan and we honour the sacrifices of the British service members who serve their country with such distinction overseas.

The United States and the United Kingdom are also firmly committed to the NATO mission in Afghanistan and we support the efforts by the Afghan Government to fight corruption and build a stable and secure Government and country. We will continue our very close consultations on these matters going forward.

We also remain united in our insistence that Iran fulfil its international obligations and prove that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only. Contrary to recent suggestions Iran has not indicated any interest in or accepted the standing offer of the P5 plus 1 to discuss international concerns over its nuclear programme. Rather Iran’s senior officials continue to say they will not talk about their nuclear programme with us. So we are working closely with our UK and other partners on a new Security Council resolution affirming that there are serious consequences should Iran continue to flout its international obligations and fail to comply with both IAEA decisions and UN Security Council resolutions.

The Foreign Secretary and I also discussed the importance of finding a way forward in the Middle East peace process. Our countries will continue working together to encourage all parties to resume direct negotiations. We seek a two state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict with an overall goal of securing a comprehensive peace in the Middle East that requires everyone at the table.

And, of course, there are so many other issues that we touched on. We share a mutual interest in restoring confidence in the financial sector in Europe and in the Eurozone as well as the global economy. We will continue working together to restore economic stability. So I look forward to a very strong working relationship with the Foreign Secretary and it is a great pleasure for me to have this opportunity to begin what will be a long, close and at times intense consultations over the months and years ahead.

William Hague: Thank you. Well it’s an immense pleasure for me to be here today. I was here not so many months ago as a Shadow Foreign Secretary and we had a very good meeting then but it was always one of my hopes that we would have the opportunity to work together in Government and now we do have the opportunity to do so.

It’s been an extraordinary week really in British politics, it’s only a week since the election results were coming in. Now we have a new Government created in a new way in Britain and one of the things that has struck the Prime Minister and I is the, the sheer warmth of the welcome we’ve had from the United States. The first person to call David Cameron when he entered 10 Downing Street was the President of the United States and the first person to call me when I entered the Foreign Office was Secretary Clinton and Vice President Biden has had an excellent chat on the telephone with our new Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. And one of the reasons I wanted to come here so quickly and have our meeting is, is to show that we reciprocate that warmth and we are looking forward to exactly the relationship which the Secretary of State has been describing.

This new British Government has some real ambition and energy and determination to rebuild our economic strength at home which is, of course, the foundation of any successful foreign policy, but also to deliver a distinctive British foreign policy abroad. And I’m aware coming in to this job that the, the challenges of foreign policy are uniquely tricky and that is why I’ve always had such huge admiration for Secretary Clinton. The leadership she has provided to the international community as Secretary of State, the energy, the ideas, her advocacy of women’s rights, education, development and effective diplomacy are in, an inspiring example to other Foreign Ministers and would be Foreign Ministers around the world and I pay tribute to her for that.

And today we’ve had very productive talks that reflect this very wide agenda of issues on which the United Kingdom and the United States work in partnership on. We talked, indeed, about our joint effort in Afghanistan which the Prime Minister has made our top priority in, in foreign affairs where we will give the strategy, the NATO strategy and the agreements made at the London Conference, the time and support to succeed. We discussed the closely related situation in Pakistan where we and the United States share common goals and, indeed, have been, have already started discussing ways to enhance and strengthen our cooperation in the support that we give to Pakistan.

We discussed Iran where we, of course, agreed on the need to send a strong and united signal about Iran’s nuclear programme to secure the passage of a UN Security Council resolution. And the United Kingdom will thereafter, of course, play a key role in ensuring that there is determined action by the European Union to follow up such a resolution.

We spoke about the Middle East peace process where I expressed my firm and full support for the President’s efforts to re-launch negotiations and what we as a leading member of the EU can do to buttress these efforts. We’ll work together on the crucial issue of nuclear proliferation and the progress we hope will be made in New York and we discussed developments in Europe and I, I reiterated my determination that the European Union should be a strong partner with the United States in meeting our shared challenges and the determination of the new British Government to play a highly active and activist role in the European Union from the very beginning.

And, finally, I just want to say a few words about what the President has called the extraordinary special relationship between Britain and the United States and we’re very happy to accept that description and to agree with that description. The United States is without doubt the most important ally of the United Kingdom, fundamentally it is a relationship rooted in strong alignment of our national interests and the scope of our cooperation is unparalleled; our, our military, our diplomats, our intelligence and security agencies work hand in glove together. It’s not a backward looking or nostalgic relationship it is one looking to the future from combating violent extremism to addressing poverty and conflict around the world. So I believe the UK and the US share common priorities to an extraordinary degree and we will continue to pursue these priorities in what I think we can confidently say is an unbreakable alliance. And it’s on that basis that I’ve so much enjoyed our talks today.

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Published 14 May 2010