Clinton on U.S. Hostages in Iran & Cuba

Friday, March 4, 2011
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton comments on American hostages being held by Iran and Cuba:

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, are you concerned about the situation in Libya developing into a long-term, violent civil war that could be disruptive to the region? And do you see any value in Venezuelan mediation on that? And very briefly, what do you hope Iran can do in the case of Robert Levinson. And finally, Alan Gross. Alan Gross is going on trial in Cuba for seemingly innocuous activities that could get him 20 years in prison. If you could address those, please.

SECRETARY CLINTON: First, on Libya, of course we are concerned with the ongoing violence and the actions that are initiated and perpetrated by Qadhafi and his regime against his own people. We are considering a number of ways that we can be of assistance with respect to that.

But we are now focused on the humanitarian situation. At President Obama's direction, USAID has charted additional civilian aircraft to help people from other countries who have fled Libya to find their way home. We have two United States C-130s on their way to Tunisia right now. We have sent humanitarian assistance teams to both border regions with supplies, like water containers, blankets, medical supplies as well. We are closely coordinating with the United Nations and NGOs, and of course, the United States, as is usually the case, is providing a great deal of the resources to provide humanitarian assistance.

We know that there is a lot of confusion on the ground that is often difficult for us to sort through to get to what the actual facts are. But the United States remains deeply concerned about the welfare of the Libyan people, the Libyans and those who are fleeing Libya are the subject of our outreach. And wherever possible, we will be directly providing assistance. And we continue to consult with our NATO allies, our Arab partners, our UN mission, to determine what are productive, constructive ways forward to try to deal with the situation we see developing there.

With respect to the Robert Levinson case, let me say this is an ongoing investigation. I cannot comment any further. What is important is that we work to bring Bob Levinson home safely to his family in Florida. His family misses him dearly. He does have medical issues. And we continue to welcome any help that the Iranian Government can provide in determining Mr. Levinson's welfare and whereabouts, so that he can be reunited with his family as soon as possible.

Now, we also, as you know, are deeply concerned about our American citizen, Alan Gross. He's been unjustly jailed for far too long. We call on the Government of Cuba to release him, and unconditionally allow him to leave Cuba and return to his family, to bring an end to their long ordeal. It is a matter of great personal pain to his family and concern to the United States Government, so we're going to hope that he will be also reunited soon.