January 13, 2009

CARDIN SUPPORTS SWIFT CONFIRMATION OF CLINTON TO BE TOP U.S. DIPLOMAT

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and incoming Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), issued the following statement today regarding the nomination hearing of Senator Hillary Clinton to be the next Secretary of State.

"As a member of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee, I am proud to be participating in the confirmation hearings for my colleague, Senator Hillary Clinton, nominee for Secretary of State. President-elect Obama has chosen bold, talented and experienced leaders to carry out his national security policy on behalf of the American public.

"I have been privileged to know and work with Hillary Clinton for many years.  This weekend, we met specifically to discuss her nomination hearing. Our conversation served to reinforce my ongoing respect for her and her qualifications for the vital position she is about to undertake. We concurred on the urgent need to rejuvenate U.S. diplomacy to better advance American priorities around the world and make our nation more secure. The last eight years have diminished our standing in the world, particularly in the areas of human rights and global climate change, and that has put our nation at risk. Senator Clinton also is a strong friend and ally of Israel and will work toward a viable and sustainable peace in the Middle East.

"During our private meeting, and during today's hearing, Senator Clinton and I discussed the positive role the U.S. Helsinki Commission could play in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. Formally known as the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, with members from the Senate, House of Representatives, as well as the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce, the U.S. Helsinki Commission monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords and works to address and assess democratic, economic, and human rights developments firsthand.

"I expressed to Senator Clinton how the positive relationships built between U.S. and our global partners through the U.S. Helsinki Commission could be helpful as we work to restore our nation's credibility in the area of human rights, as we strive to define a 21st century relationship with Russia, and many other areas.

"I urge my Senate colleagues to swiftly confirm Hillary Clinton as the next Secretary of State so that she can begin her work on behalf of the American people as soon as possible. I look forward to working with her as a partner, helping to rebuild our nation's position as an active and responsible member of the global community."