SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, hello, everyone. And once again, it is a great delight for me to welcome a colleague and friend here to the State Department. The Foreign Minister and I have had an excellent working relationship. Earlier this year, I traveled to Brazil for the third meeting of the U.S.-Brazil Global Partnership Dialogue as well as the Rio+20 Conference, and I commend the Brazilian Government for its excellent stewardship of the Rio+20 Conference. And today, the Foreign Minister is here for the fourth meeting of the Global Partnership Dialogue.
It is our assessment that this dialogue has strengthened and broadened our relationship and helped us make progress in many areas of shared concern by bringing both our governments and our people closer together. We have not only worked bilaterally but regionally and globally. For example, we have signed Memoranda of Understanding on cooperation in third countries, including in development and food security. We're working to support greater agricultural development in Honduras.
We are strong supporters of the Brazilian plan, the Scientific Mobility Program, one of President Rousseff's signature initiatives to send top Brazilian students in science and math to universities abroad. We are similarly focused on implementing President Obama's initiative, the 100,000 Strong in the Americas, and have welcomed thousands of Brazilian students to the United States and are eager to welcome more. And because social inclusion is critical to both of our societies, we are working together to ensure that we promote social inclusion as part of the missions of our foreign relations as well as, of course, domestically.
We are also working very -- in great cooperation in Haiti, and I thank the Minister for the excellent leadership that Brazil has provided for MINUSTAH and so much else that Brazil has done for Haiti.
So there's a lot that we have covered, and our teams have gone in-depth into. And Antonio, it's a great pleasure for me to have you here.
FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Thank you so much. Let me say how pleased I am to be in Washington for this fourth edition of our Global Partnership Dialogue. We've had frequent high-level contacts between Brazil and the United States over the past two years. We were very happy to welcome President Obama last year to Brasilia, and President Dilma was delighted to come to the White House this year. We had two visits by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Brazil: one in the context of the Global Partnership Dialogue and also the Open Government Partnership that we have been working on together; then for Rio+20. And of course, we appreciated greatly the U.S. participation and Secretary Clinton's statement at the Conference on Sustainable Development.
This is my second time in Washington. We are not only having frequent high-level contacts, but I think the quality of the dialogue has also been improving and more in-depth discussions on issues such as possibilities for cooperation in Africa. This time around, we concentrated on the Middle East and the Far East, and I know that the two Under Secretaries who came with me, they found this extremely useful. So we would like to pursue and institutionalize, as you said, Hillary, this mechanism so that we continue deriving the greatest possible benefit from these discussions.
On the bilateral front, President Dilma, of course, is extremely interested in enhancing our relationship with the United States on science, technology, and innovation. We're looking forward to two events on innovation in 2013 that come out of this agenda and that will bring in the private sector as well as government officials. We're very pleased with the advances that we've identified in our aviation partnership. There are new initiatives on energy, on sports. If you look at the joint communiqué that we are putting out, it actually is very eloquent on a number of fronts and shows that from April to October there have been many advances. So this is the spirit in which we would like to continue moving forward.
Of course, we're extremely grateful for the U.S. in their readiness to receive an increasing number of Brazilian students in the sciences. Already 2,400 are studying under the Science Without Borders program. We'd like to take that number to 48,000, and I think we can get there. We can reach this goal.
Let me just mention that on another front, there have been discussions on visas and how to facilitate travel between the two countries. This is a discussion that has started in a new spirit, also under instructions from our leaders, President Obama and President Rousseff, and we are confident that they will continue advancing over the coming years.
Thank you for mentioning Haiti. I think it's a good example of how Brazil and the United States can work today. And today, we discussed some new ideas for looking at energy in Haiti, food security, trade, business. I am confident that we will also continue cooperating very effectively.
And finally, I think it was very useful for me to have a discussion on the Middle East. We're, of course, concerned with lack of progress on the peace process between Israel and Palestine. I've just come back from the region extremely concerned with the situation in Syria. But I think it's extremely important that with these discussions we're having with the United States and a number of -- a growing number of countries, among which the Permanent Members of the Security Council, our partners in IBSA, India and South Africa, that we can mobilize international diplomatic strength to resume the peace process and to find a negotiated solution for Syria.
MS. NULAND: We'll take two today. We'll start with CNN. Elise Labott, please.
QUESTION: Two per each two people. (Laughter.) Mr. Foreign Minister, it's nice to see you again. I'm sure you're following our political campaign with great fanfare, I just want to ask you: We had a debate the other night on foreign policy, and the hemisphere and the continent wasn't even brought up once. And I'm just wondering, given the robust partnership with Brazil -- Brazil's a rising power -- and the cooperation with the region and a lot of other dynamic, growing countries, whether that's symptomatic of some -- of a problem in America that you think this -- the American people don't -- aren't interested in or don't understand how important this cooperation is.
Secretary Clinton, on Syria, I was wondering if you have any thoughts on the ceasefire, whether you think the government or the rebels will adhere to this. What are you advising the rebels? And whether you think the current Lebanese Government is able to protect the Lebanese sovereignty from getting involved in this Syrian crisis.
And just beg my indulgence, one more -- (laughter) -- just beg my indulgence. I just want to ask you very quickly about these emails that have surfaced from the State Department on the night of the Benghazi attack. Given the fact that there was some information that an extremist group with links to al-Qaida affiliates was -- could have been involved, why wasn't this more heavily weighed in your assessment in the days after. Thank you. (Laughter.) Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I may forget one or two of the questions.
FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Well, briefly on the debate, of course, well, as the two largest democracies in the Americas, we are firm believers in pluralism, and elections are always an interesting moment for us to identify that. (Laughter.) But yes, it's true that Latin America was not present, to my knowledge, and Brazil was not mentioned, but I think that the debate concentrated really on problem issues and concerns. And today, Brazil, South America in particular, is more of a region of the world that offers solutions than problems. So we interpret that in this positive light.
At the same time, I think it's very important to note that the contacts have been frequent, at high-level, the quality of the dialogue between Brazil and the United States is improving continuously, the agenda's broadening, as Secretary Clinton was saying. So we are confident that whoever wins, and it's up to the American people to choose, the relationship will continue to thrive, and we will have at our disposal a number of dialogues and mechanisms to continue to enhance this relationship.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That was such a good answer. We don't need any more. (Laughter.) That was brilliant. That's right, it is about problems, and I can't say enough to support the Minister's positive description of our relationship and really what's happened in our hemisphere, which has been remarkable.
Regarding Syria, let me begin by expressing thanks to Brazil for their support of the Syrian people. This is an important call by Brazil, which has consistently said the government must stop the ongoing violence and has provided much needed humanitarian support. And, in fact, I think it's right to say that Brazil is home to one of the largest Syrian diasporas anywhere in the world. So they know better than many what is at stake.
Now we're looking forward to hearing the details of Special Envoy Brahimi's report to the UN Security Council today. We have been in close touch with him and his team. We support his call for a ceasefire for the Eid al-Adha holiday so that Syrians could celebrate in peace. We'd like to see the violence come to an end, there's no doubt about this, and we'd like to see a political transition take hold and begin. We've been calling for that for more than a year. We worked very hard in Geneva, as you know, some months ago to come up with a framework for ending the violence and beginning a political transition. And we would like to see the Security Council adopt such a framework, but to include some consequences for all parties in the event that there is not a ceasefire respected or a political transition begun.
Now we are supporting and increasingly, actually, that support for the Syrian opposition through nonlethal assistance and training, including working directly with local councils inside Syria so that they can learn what they need to do to serve their people in areas that they have taken over from the regime. And we are also working extremely hard and closely with a number of likeminded countries to help support a leadership council to come out of meetings beginning in Doha in a few weeks so that we can have a leadership structure that endorses inclusion, democratic process, peaceful political transition, and reassure all Syrians, particularly those who are in minority groups, that there is a path forward if everyone supports it. And that's of particular concern to us, and I discussed it with Antonio. And we want to make it possible for there to be a credible interlocutor representing the opposition and prevent extremists from hijacking a brave revolution that is meant to fulfill the aspirations of the Syrian people.
Now, you're right to raise Lebanon because it was a terrible blow to the Lebanese people one more time to see a high-level assassination carried out by a brutal bombing that devastated a neighborhood in Beirut and killed others and injured many more. I spoke with the Prime Minister over the weekend to express our condolences. We were asked for support to provide FBI investigative services, and we will -- and are doing so. The Lebanese armed forces has actually performed admirably in restoring order, in going after anyone who is attempting to commit violence or disrupt that order, and urging all parties to remain calm. We don't want to see a vacuum of legitimate political authority that could then be taken advantage of by the Syrians or by others that could create even greater instability and violence. So we call on all parties in Lebanon to support the process that President Suleiman is leading to choose a responsible, effective government that can address the threats that Syria faces and hold accountable those responsible for last week's bombing.
So we're not going to prejudge the outcome of what the Syrians themselves are attempting to do. This must be a Lebanese process. But the Lebanese people deserve so much better. They deserve to live in peace and they deserve to have a government that reflects their aspirations, not acts as proxies and agents for outside forces.
Now finally, on Benghazi, look, I've said it and I'll say it one more time. No one wants to find out what happened more than I do. We are holding ourselves accountable to the American people, because not only they, but our brave diplomats and development experts serving in dangerous places around the world, deserve no less. The independent Accountability Review Board is already hard at work looking at everything -- not cherry-picking one story here or one document there -- but looking at everything, which I highly recommend as the appropriate approach to something as complex as an attack like this.
Posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence, and I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time and continued for some time to be. What I keep in mind is that four brave Americans were killed, and we will find out what happened, we will take whatever measures are necessary to fix anything that needs to be fixed, and we will bring those to justice who committed these murders. And I think that that is what we have said, that is what we are doing, and I'm very confident that we will achieve those goals.
MS. NULAND: Last one today, Luis Fernandez (inaudible) from Globo TV, please.
QUESTION: Minister Patriota, Madam Secretary, I would follow the example of my colleague.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Don't pick up bad habits, please.
QUESTION: Minister, if I -- if you don't mind, I would ask the question in English and be so -- if you could give the answer in Portuguese. This is, as one would assume, the very last time that the two of you meet at these particular posts that you are holding. Are you -- is -- are you less than happy with the fact that Brazil and the United States do not have a trade agreement? I would like to know as well, when will Americans be able to get into Brazil without a visa and Brazilians get in to the United States without a visa?
Madam Secretary, once Brazil and Turkey brokered a solution to the problem of Iran, and that was an initiative that was met with less than enthusiasm. If Brazil were to broker a solution for the problem in Syria, since there is this partnership established with Turkey and, as you pointed out, Brazil has many Lebanese and Syrians in Brazil, how would the United States Government react to that?
FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: (In Portuguese.)
I essentially said that the absence of a free trade agreement does not prevent trade between Brazil and the United States from thriving. In fact, the figures have been better than those for countries with which the U.S. does have free trade agreements. The visa situation is being discussed in a constructive way, and even in the absence of an agreement on foregoing visas, the days that are taken for the processing have diminished considerably at U.S. consulates and Brazilian consulates. There are new consulates that the United States has opened in Brazil to help processing, and Brazil has 10 consulates in the United States.
And on Syria, I just mentioned our support for the communiqué of the Geneva Action Group, which we believes continues to provide a good platform for progress through peaceful, non-militarized means.
SECRETARY CLINTON: He's an all-purpose Foreign Minister. (Laughter.) I'm very grateful to you.
And on your question, we would, of course, welcome Brazilian participation in any effort to bring about the ceasefire, to implement it, to help with the political transition. The Minister and I discussed the ways in which both the United States and Brazil, as large pluralistic democracies, stand as examples for what we hope could come someday in Syria.
So the Minister mentioned the communiqué that came out of Geneva as a result of our meeting there several months ago. I'm in close touch with Special Envoy Brahimi. And we are looking for a way to support his work, and this kind of framework will need the strong support of Brazil, which has a very important voice in trying to resolve this ongoing tragic situation.
Thank you all very much.