Warning Issued For Possible Anti-American Violence

Originally published on May 2, 2011 12:16 pm
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says extremists in Afghanistan should draw one key lesson from the death of Osama bin Laden.

Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (Department of State): Our message to the Taliban remains the same but today it may have even greater resonance. You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us but you can make the choice to abandon al-Qaida and participate in a peaceful political process.

MONTAGNE: Clinton spoke this morning at the State Department. And joining us now is our diplomatic correspondent, Michele Kelemen. Good morning.

MICHELE KELEMEN: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: What was Hillary Clinton's main message here?

KELEMEN: Basically that the fight doesn't end with the death of Osama bin Laden. She's been trying to encourage this peace process in Afghanistan and as you just heard she thinks the Taliban should respond to this news by cutting ties with al-Qaida and negotiating.

Clinton also said, you know, as far as the State Department's role in all of this is was to create what she called a worldwide anti-terror network and she said that cooperation with Pakistan has been key in this.

MONTAGNE: Now did she give any sense of how much coordination there was with Pakistan?

KELEMEN: No. You know, President Obama spoke last night and said that he spoke with Pakistan's president and that his team has been in touch with their Pakistani counterparts, but both he and Secretary Clinton have only talked in these very broad terms about cooperation. We don't really know how much coordination there was, if any with the Pakistani government when it came to the actual raid. And remember, this was not far from Islamabad.

MONTAGNE: Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden turned out to be hiding out. The State Department also issued a travel warning to Americans to be aware of possible anti-American protests in the aftermath of bin Laden's death. What does it tell Americans to do?

KELEMEN: It generally urges them to keep away from crowds and from demonstrators, administration officials. You know, have been alarms that there could be some attacks from sympathizers of al-Qaida that want to seek out revenge. But, you know, when we heard Secretary Clinton at the State Department today she really didn't talk at all about that and she tried to end on a much more hopeful note. Let's take a listen.

Sec. CLINTON: This is a day, not only for Americans but also for people all over the world who look to a more peaceful and secure future - yes, with continued vigilance but more so with growing hope and renewed faith in what is possible.

KELEMEN: So, she is really is trying to - not to make people very concerned but to alert them that this was a big victory, but we have to continue to be vigilant. The State Department's urging people to stay in touch with embassies and warning that embassies might have to close periodically but they're going to continue to open as much as possible.

MONTAGNE: Now we've just been hearing Hillary Clinton speaking this morning at the State Department in relation to the death of Osama bin Laden in a city not too far from the capital of Pakistan. What more, just briefly, did she have to say about all of this?

KELEMEN: Well, she talked a lot about how much coordination there was within the U.S. government; that diplomats played a role, intelligence officers. So it was a real victory for the administration at this time. And talked a lot about the partnerships that the U.S. has had to build up, in that the relationship with Pakistan is key.

How it goes forward from here will be very interesting to see - if they can make sure that everybody comes out with a victory in this.

She talked about the need for cooperation with Pakistan continuing on.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much. NPR's diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.