U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says it remains unclear whether Middle East nations will make genuine political and economic reforms, or whether the "Arab Spring" will ultimately prove to be a mirage, with no real change implemented.
Speaking to Arab and U.S. policymakers in Washington at the annual U.S.-Islamic World Forum on April 12, Clinton urged the region to embrace economic and political reforms following the popular uprisings that earlier this year toppled the long-time authoritarian rulers of Tunisia and Egypt.
Clinton said "the long Arab winter has begun to thaw."
"Will the people and leaders of the Middle East and North Africa pursue a new, more inclusive approach to solving the region's persistent political, economic and social challenges?" she asked. "Will they consolidate the progress of recent weeks and address long-denied aspirations for dignity and opportunity. Or, when we meet again at this forum in one year or five years or 10, will we have seen the prospects for reform fade, and remember this moment as just a mirage in the desert?"
Clinton said the Obama administration also plans a new effort to promote a comprehensive peace between Arabs and Israel, and said America's core interests and values in the Middle East remain the same -- backing human rights and countering threats from Iran and defeating Al-Qaeda and other extremists.
She said President Barack Obama is expected to speak in greater detail in the coming weeks about America's policy in the Middle East and North Africa.
compiled from agency reports