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TV Interview from U.S. Ambassador's Residence

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Rabat, Morocco
November 7, 2002

QUESTION: A year following 9/11, how do you view the status of Islam in America?

U/S GROSSMAN: Well, sir, first of all thank you for the opportunity to be with you today. The attacks on September 11 had nothing to do with Islam, and anyone who says that they did have something to do with Islam is not telling the truth. Those attacks were terrorist attacks and Islam is a peaceful religion. Islam is a religion that brings people together. In this past year since the September attacks, Americans have learned so much more about Islam, and about American Muslims. You will remember that after September 11 one of the very first things that President Bush did was he went to the mosque in Washington. What a courageous, intelligent decision that was. And so we are proud of Muslims in America, and as President Bush said in his message this month, Ramadan is a very important time for Muslims around the world and also for Muslims in America.

QUESTION: What is the status of the resolution on Iraq at the U.N. Security Council? Is the U.S. still determined to go to war against Iraq?

U/S GROSSMAN: With all due respect, I would have to disagree with the premise of your question. Everyone seems to think that what we want to do is attack Iraq. It isn't true. What the President said on September 12 to the United Nations General Assembly was that he wanted the Security Council to work on this problem. This isn't an issue between Iraq and America, it is an issue between Iraq and the Security Council. So we want the Security Council to be strengthened, we want Iraq to be disarmed, and if people will vote for a strong resolution over the next couple of days, I believe this can be done without conflict. And so our message to friends and allies like people in Morocco is if we can get a strong resolution in the United Nations we can avoid a conflict in Iraq. So those people who say that we are somehow committed to war and that is the only policy the United States of America will respect, they are completely wrong.

QUESTION: If the resolution passes the UNSC, will the U.S. still go to war against Iraq?

U/S GROSSMAN: Again, I have to respectfully disagree with the premise of your question. If the United States had wished to act alone we would already have done so. But you will remember that on September 12, the President went to the United Nations and what have we been doing for eight weeks since then? We have been trying to create a Security Council resolution to disarm Iraq and to do so peacefully so the idea somehow that it is our policy to have a conflict is, again, quite wrong.

QUESTION: How do you view U.S. policy following the announcement of the results of the mid-term elections in the U.S.?

U/S GROSSMAN: I don't know if I am much of a political analyst but I can see from all of the commentary in our country that both Republicans and Democrats say that the election was a remarkable result. I think it showed the capacity and strength of American democracy and I will say that both Ambassador Tutwiler and I feel, as representatives of the United States today, that we have even more energy to put behind pursuing the President's policies.

QUESTION: Peace in the Middle East. What is the status of efforts towards peace?

U/S GROSSMAN: Well, Morocco and the United States share a great commitment to peace in the Middle East. It is one of the things that brings us close together, and I believe that the President's speech on June 24 of this year lays out a roadmap for peace and the creation of two states in the area, a Palestinian state and Israel, living side by side in peace. Both the Palestinians and the Israelis have a lot of work to do to get to that point and Morocco and the United States have a job to do to help them. But we believe that this can be done, it can be done quickly and should be done for the benefit of both the Palestinian people and also for Israelis.

We believe that if you take the ideas that are out there today, the Saudi peace plan which was endorsed in the Beirut Arab League summit, President Bush's speech on June 24, United Nations Security Council resolutions, that there is exactly as you described a roadmap to go forward. We also, as you know sir, are working closely with the Quartet, which includes Russia, the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States. We think we can make some progress.

QUESTION: What is your assessment of U.S.-Moroccan relations?

U/S GROSSMAN: I think the Moroccan-American relationship is excellent, but one of the messages that Moroccans give me and I hope to reciprocate to Moroccans is that we can do even more between Morocco and the United States. For example, one of the great successes of His Majesty's visit to Washington was the launching of a Free Trade Agreement. We want to go forward with that. We have notified Congress that we are ready to move and we hope that negotiations can begin early next year. And it would be a wonderful addition to U.S.-Moroccan relationship to work together in all areas. Morocco, as one member of this international coalition along with the United States, against terrorism plays a very important role in that area as well.

QUESTION: When do you believe that a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will be concluded?

U/S GROSSMAN: Well, it depends of course on the negotiations. Your system and our system have to do this step by step. We have notified our congress that we intend to negotiate an agreement with Morocco. Those negotiations will begin. His Majesty and our President have instructed us to do this as quickly as possible and so that will be our job.

QUESTION: How can we promote trade and investment in Morocco?

U/S GROSSMAN: The very first thing would be to have a Free Trade Agreement. I believe that can and should bring more American investment but we will see how the Free Trade Agreement works. And also, and this is my personal view, I think that working more with some of the other countries in North Africa, Algeria, Tunisia, so that there is really a Maghreb market, the North African market, will also increase the interest of American investors in Morocco.

QUESTION: What is the U.S. position on the issue of the Sahara?

U/S GROSSMAN: Our position on this is quite clear, which is that we trust in and believe in former Secretary of State Baker. Here is a man of great integrity who has chosen to try and help solve this problem. So we would just ask and encourage all of the parties to this problem to stick with Jim Baker. I believe he is showing the way ahead and will be a fair negotiator, a fair mediator. If people will give him the chance I think he can help solve this problem.

Thank you.

 



Released on November 7, 2002

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