Clinton Defends Husband’s North Korea Trip and Calls Iran Trials Sign of Weakness

Other News Materials 8 August 2009 10:07 (UTC +04:00)
Clinton Defends Husband’s North Korea Trip and Calls Iran Trials Sign of Weakness

In a CNN interview, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton dismissed Republican criticism of a trip by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to free two American journalists held in North Korea, and said Iran's prosecution of protesters showed that the country is "afraid of its own people."

In the interview, which will be broadcast on CNN on Sunday, Mrs. Clinton responded to harsh criticism from John Bolton, an ambassador to the United Nations during the Bush administration.

Mr. Bolton had characterized the mission to free the American journalists as "unwise." In an opinion article published Tuesday, Mr. Bolton criticized the Obama administration for sending Mr. Clinton to Pyongyang to negotiate the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who had been sentenced to hard labor for allegedly illegally crossing into North Korea. "Despite decades of bipartisan U.S. rhetoric about not negotiating with terrorists for the release of hostages," he said, "it seems that the Obama administration not only chose to negotiate, but to send a former president to do so."

When asked about Mr. Bolton's comments, Mrs. Clinton laughed, noted that similar efforts have been carried out before by presidents and members of Congress and summed up Mr. Bolton's position as an attempt to politicize a humanitarian issue.

"If President Obama walked on water, you'd say he couldn't swim," she said, according to Fareed Zakaria, who conducted the CNN interview.

Mr. Zakaria also asked Mrs. Clinton about "show trials" for political protesters and journalists in Iran.

"It is a sign of weakness," Mrs. Clinton said of the trials. "It demonstrates, I think, better than any of us could ever say, that this Iranian leadership is afraid of their own people, and afraid of the truth and the facts coming out."

Mr. Zakaria interviewed Mrs. Clinton on Tuesday in Kenya. Their discussion will be broadcast Sunday on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."