Albright in SF for fundraiser

April 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The first female secretary of state in this country came to San Francisco Friday to talk about making the world a safer place for children and the global challenges the United States faces.

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"I think Pakistan may be the most complicated place in the world; Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, there's an awful lot to do," Madeleine Albright said.

Albright was appointed secretary of state by President Bill Clinton in 1997, and unanimously approved, becoming the highest ranking woman in the nation's history at the time.

She says the U.S. government is finally turning its attention back to Afghanistan, now that the war in Iraq appears to be winding down. But, Afghanistan, she says, is in trouble.

"The Taliban has come back; a lot of the warlords finance themselves through these poppy crops, which turn into opium, which provides the money to buy arms," Albright said.

Albright is shocked at what has happened to women's rights in the region. Taliban militants flogged a female teenager in Pakistan's Swat Valley, for coming out of a building with a man who was not her husband. Recent changes in Afghanistan have caught her attention as well.

"They have passed a law which now legalizes rape by the husband of his wife, but the amazing part are the women who went out and demonstrated a few days ago," Albright said.

Having such a large presence in the country, Albright recognizes that the Taliban must be considered when looking towards Afghanistan's future.

"That's one of the discussions that people are having, as to whether there's some good Taliban and some bad Taliban," Albright said.

Albright is the highest ranking American official ever to have met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

"When I met with him, it was in 2000; people had said he was crazy, I didn't think he was crazy, I think he is very smart, I do think he is more and more paranoid about what is going on around him," Albright said.

North Korea's recent missile launch heightened world tensions. Albright has some insight on why Kim Jong Il may have done this.

"He had some kind of stroke or illness of some kind, and he has to regain control domestically, so I think he's trying to prove how powerful he is," Albright said.

Albright agrees with the United Nations' condemnation of that launch, and notes North Korean companies could face new sanctions that would cut off global trade deals.

Albright is in town to support the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center. Her daughter, Katie, is the executive director.

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