Sec. State Clinton Admits U.S. Created Mujahideen that Became al-Qaeda



July 19, 2010

A good relationship with Pakistan is vital to the United States' economic interests as well as its security, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an interview with Fox News.

"This is where the principle terrorist threat to the United States emanates from," Clinton told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren during a recent trip to Pakistan.

But concerns that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are using parts of Pakistan as a haven coincide with economic concerns, Clinton said. The war on terrorism costs money, and new terrorist attacks on U.S. soil "on top of an economic challenge would be devastating to us," she said.

Clinton arrived in Kabul on Monday to attend an international conference on Afghanistan after two days of talks in Islamabad. She has said she would urge Afghan President Hamid Karzai to follow through with pledges to improve governance and fight corruption.

She told Fox News that she still believes that "elements" in the Pakistani government may know where Usama bin Laden is hiding, but she also sees progress in the United States' partnership with the country.

"We have been getting, with Pakistani cooperation, a lot of the top (Al Qaeda and Taliban) leadership," Clinton said. The U.S. and its allies may not have Bin Laden or his inner circle yet, "but we've made a lot of progress."

Watch the second part of Greta's interview Tuesday night on "On the Record."

Earlier, aboard her plane from Pakistan, Clinton said U.S. efforts to convince deeply skeptical Pakistanis that American interest in their country extends beyond the fight against Islamist militants appeared to be gaining ground. To boost that shift, she announced a raft of new aid projects worth $500 million in Islamabad.

The projects, which include hospitals and new dams for badly needed electricity, are part of a $7.5 billion aid effort to win over Pakistanis suspicious about Washington's goals there and in neighboring Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are being killed in ever greater numbers in an insurgency with roots in Pakistan.

Mistrust over U.S. intentions in Pakistan is in part due to Washington's decision to turn away from the nuclear-armed country after enlisting its support to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

"Of course there is a legacy of suspicion that we inherited," she told reporters in Islamabad. "It is not going to be eliminated overnight."

But after a town hall meeting with Pakistani students, academics and businesspeople, Clinton said she noticed a slight change in opinion from a her last trip to Pakistan in October when she was hit by a barrage of intense and hostile questions at a similar event. She said Pakistani officials she had spoken with had noticed it, too.

"I don't want to overstate this but (the Pakistani officials) all said we really believe that the people are understanding that the United States wants to be a real partner to us and that it's not just killing terrorists," she told reporters traveling with her to an international conference in Afghanistan.

"I happen to think one of the best ways to kill terrorists is by being a good partner and by creating an atmosphere in which people have trust and confidence that what you're doing is in their best interests as well," she said. "Therefore, they are prepared to support their own government in those efforts. I could feel a change."


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