Appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faced a barrage of questions about whether the U.S. is making progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Committee chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said that the U.S. relationship with Pakistan is at a turning point—Washington can’t continue the partnership if Islamabad doesn’t get fully on board with eliminating safe havens. Clinton said she was quite clear with officials in Pakistan last week: “I explained that trying to distinguish between so-called good terrorists and bad terrorists is ultimately self-defeating and dangerous.”
Also yesterday, the secretary of state urged Congress not to slash aid to the Palestinian Authority. Aid freezes were put in place after PA President Mahmoud Abbas made a bid for statehood at the UN. Warning of “unintended consequences,” Clinton said, “We certainly don't want the collapse of the Palestinian Authority and a vacuum that could then be filled by radicals like Hamas.”
Again today, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned North Korea about behaving aggressively. He met with his South Korean counterpart Kim Kwan Jin and stressed Washington’s commitment to “extended deterrence” for Seoul. South Korea and the United States are, according to Panetta, working on a “counter-provocation plan” to respond to future aggressive North Korean actions. Panetta said the plan should be ready “within the year.”
Back at home next week, Panetta is scheduled to give House members a classified “national security update” that is expected to run the gamut of current U.S. operations. He’ll speak to the lawmakers on Tuesday.