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Hillary Clinton tells Edmonton audience North America can lead on clean energy

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers a keynote address during a luncheon in Edmonton, Alberta on Wednesday June 18, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

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Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers a keynote address during a luncheon in Edmonton, Alberta on Wednesday June 18, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

EDMONTON - Former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton said Wednesday her country and Canada need to seize the moment to become global leaders in cleaner energy.

"Of course we're going to continue using fossil fuels, but I think we should set the global example for transitioning in some more orderly way away from fossil fuels," Clinton told 1,500 people at a luncheon speech.

"And given the innovation, given the research capacities, given the experiences on both sides of our border, we're in a perfect position to do that."

It was Clinton's first visit to the Alberta capital, part of her promotional tour for her new book of memoirs, "Hard Choices."

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government approved the Northern Gateway pipeline to take Alberta crude to ports on the British Columbia coast — if 209 conditions are met.

Canada also awaits a decision by the United States on whether it will approve the Keystone XL pipeline to take Alberta oil diagonally across the continent to refineries in Texas. Keystone has becoming a polarizing symbol of the future direction of North American energy. Proponents say it's critical to keep competitive, while opponents say it solidifies a reliance on fossil fuels.

Clinton, reiterating remarks she made earlier this week in a speech in Toronto, said Keystone is important but shouldn't be allowed to define the energy relationship between the two nations.

"I think our relationship would get deeper and stronger and put us in a position to really be global leaders in energy and climate change if we worked more closely together, and that's what I would like to see us do."

After her speech, Clinton took questions from a moderator. She was asked for reaction to the weekend capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected ringleader of the 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that killed four Americans.

"To say I'm delighted would be understating it," said Clinton. "(Khattala) was openly boasting about the role that he had in the attacks in Benghazi.

"And as the president said yesterday, this is another demonstration of America's unwavering commitment to track down and bring to justice those who are responsible for killing Americans."

U.S. officials are facing questions over why it took almost two years to capture Khattala, given he had been openly granting media interviews. Clinton said it was because the U.S. needed time to build a case because Khattala will be tried in the U.S. court system.

"This was a very carefully planned operation by both law enforcement and our military," she said.

"He will not be sent to (a lockup in) Guantanamo (Bay). And that is an absolutely necessary decision.

"We have a really good record of trying terrorists in our federal courts."

Clinton did not comment further on whether she will run for the presidency in 2016, but said she will continue her work on other causes, including women's rights.

"In the 19th century there was a great global movement against slavery, and in the 20th century we defeated fascism and communism," she said.

"And now in the 21st century, we need to finish the business of empowering women and girls, and giving them the full opportunities that they deserve as human beings and as citizens," she said to applause.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said 150.

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