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Hillary Clinton Talks Foreign Aid, Reflects on Nelson Mandela

State Department photo by William Ng(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday morning pushed for an increase in coordination between government agencies focused on development and foreign aid, saying “If we don’t better coordinate and integrate what we’re doing, we won’t get the biggest impact.”

“When I came in, I said I wanted to elevate development and diplomacy to be on a par with defense, that we needed to start thinking about the so called three Ds as part of our smart power framework for foreign policy and national, and I really believe we’ve gone a long way toward achieving that and we need to continue. We can’t rest. We need to keep making reforms. We have to ask hard questions. We have to be unafraid to expose our own shortcomings and the problems that we have,” Clinton said in a speech to the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Clinton said she is unable to predict how upcoming negotiations on Capitol Hill will affect the foreign aid budget but stated her commitment to promoting the international affairs budget known as the “150 account.”

“The negotiations going on over the lame duck are going to affect every program and I can’t, standing here, determine what is going to be considered proportionate or disproportionate obviously,” Clinton said during a question and answer session. “We have no way to predict what’s going to happen, what’s going to be the final decisions on how the pie will be sliced and what will be cut off in order to meet the spending cuts that will have to be made in order to reach a deal in the congress. It’s going to be a very difficult negotiation and I know that the president and the White House are doing everything they can to shape it in a way that reflects our values and our interests at home and around the world and MCC will be a part of that.”

Asked to name the most memorable person she’s encountered in her travel around the world, Clinton cited Nelson Mandela, saying “the great privilege of my life was getting to know him.”  Clinton recounted her trip to Mandela’s inauguration in 1994 and described a speech he delivered at a luncheon following his swearing in.

“The three most important people to him at the lunch were three of his former jailors, and he pointed to these three white men and asked them to stand and he said there were many people who were in charge of us on Robin Island during the time that I was in prison but these three men treated me with dignity and I will never forget that and I wanted them to be here,” Clinton said. “And sitting there listening to that and knowing how easy it is when you are in public life, let alone someone who’s a leader of a movement who loses the most productive years of his life to being in a very small cell, which I have visited twice, and the level of self awareness and forgiveness and humanity and compassion and smartness that that represented was just breathtaking to me.”

During a three day trip to South Africa this summer, Clinton visited Mandela, 94, at his home, a moment she described to the audience.

“That smile is incandescent and even though he’s over 90 and not in great health, he still just conveys such a sense of authority and presence,” Clinton said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio