Secretary of State Clinton: Relief in Haiti Represents the 'Best of America'

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This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 18, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Over the weekend we did go to Haiti with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She went "On the Record."



VAN SUSTEREN: Obviously in a horrible situation.

CLINTON: It is, but I'm very pleased you're here on the ground, as you often are.

VAN SUSTEREN: Obviously, this isn't our country, and we are desperately trying to help, and we need the cooperation of their government. What is the state of the government to help us?

CLINTON: They've been hit very hard, but we just had an excellent meeting with the president and the prime minister. And they were very specific about what they're trying to achieve.

Clearly, their highest obligation is to get necessities to the people who are living, to clear the streets of the corpses, and that is a very tragic job that has to be done, and to begin working on the electricity, the transportation, the telecommunications, you know, the nuts and bolts of how they get up and going again.

VAN SUSTEREN: You are down here just a couple days after this happened. How long can we sustain this? And are we getting help from other foreign governments? And how are you coordinating that so we can collectively make this work out?

CLINTON: We are getting an outpouring of help. First and foremost the United Nations, despite suffering their own horrific losses, are here, are getting stood up. We saw a lot of U.N. trucks.

We have a great group of other countries in our hemisphere and beyond. We are beginning to meet, and I talked with many of my counterparts, the foreign ministers around the world.

So there is going to be an international effort. The key is coordinating it, and to make sure that we are each doing what we can do best.

Watch Greta's interview with Secretary of State Clinton

Now, there isn't anybody who could have gotten this airport open and up and running besides the United States military in the time that we did it. We are going to be looking at the pore to make sure we can take information and expertise we have and try to get that port up and going

So the teams that are here, there are I think 30 search-and-rescue teams, six of those are Americans and the others are from all over the world. Everybody has been saving lives. It is really heartwarming. And from my perspective what the world is doing on behalf of this terrible tragedy is a great tribute us to.

VAN SUSTEREN: In our great zeal to help, and we came in the other day at this airport, you think it would be so easy to take over an airport, but it is not. I don't think people realized we had to work something out. What did you have to be able to have the authority to do that?

CLINTON: We're here as a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission. That's what the United States military is here for. They are here as we all are at the invitation of the Haitian government that knows they need help.

And this airport is a perfect example. There's only one runway. This is not ideal. Thank goodness it was not damaged. If the earthquake had knocked this runway out I don't know where we would be in terms of trying to help.

So we went to the Haitian government. We said we were ready to help. They asked for our help. We negotiated an agreement so that the United States military could get it open and prioritize the flights in and out, because, as you can tell, it's a small airport, but we've made it very busy and we've got to be sure people are safe coming in and out.

VAN SUSTEREN: So we have all these supplies, cargo coming in, and we're shipping it out into the country. But the things like hospitals, and we would like to help in the hospitals -- does the United States have to work out agreements there? Is there any sort of resistance?

If we can help in those hospitals, because we are hearing horrible stories there.

CLINTON: The Haitians have said we need all the help we can get. It's a question of getting to where the help is need, setting up a facility, making sure it's well-staffed and well-equipped. There are military hospitals by a number of countries being set-up around the affected area. There will have to be more.

We are also trying to resupply and support the Haitian hospitals that are still operating. Before I got on the plane this morning I got an e- mail from Dr. Paul Farmer who you has a long history here in Haiti and Partners in Health, which he was one of the founders of. He has a team working in one of the hospitals, giving me a report.

So it is all hands on deck. Everybody in our government and all these other governments are doing our best.

VAN SUSTEREN: We see the men and women of our military here. What is with the U.S. embassy?

CLINTON: Our ambassador is the chief of mission. Everybody in country is reporting to him. He's coordinating the civilian and the military assistance. General Keen, who is the military commander on the ground works closely with our ambassador. Our ambassador negotiated the agreement with the Haitian government to get this airport open and have our folks help to prioritize.

So literally there's more work than any human being can do in a 24 hour period. But everybody is working hard. What we want to make sure we are prioritizing and coordinated, and that's my goal.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think it is interesting to show the all hands on deck -- even your staff was out last night hustling at drug stores around Washington, D.C., buying all sorts of items to bring. So it really is really all hands on deck.

CLINTON: It really is. It is the best of America. And I'm so proud of our State Department, our USAID, our military, all of our private citizens, the generosity of the American people.

This is a terrible, horrible catastrophe for the people of Haiti, but I think that the outpouring from America and beyond should give them some reason to hope.


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