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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2002 Under Secretary for Political Affairs Remarks

Press Conference from U.S. Ambassador's Residence

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

Ambassador Tutwiler introduces U/S Marc Grossman: I believe you are also aware that U/S Grossman is the third ranking individual at the State Department. We are delighted for his visit. With that I will turn it over to the Under Secretary.

U/S GROSSMAN: Thank you very much for taking time out of what I know is a very busy day here in Morocco to visit with me. Ambassador, thank you very much. And let me at the outset say Ramadan Mubarak to you. I just had a chance to say on Moroccan television that this is a very important month obviously, not just here in Morocco but in America as well. Secretary Powell and others, including our President, will be hosting important events to mark this important holy month for Muslims around the world and Muslims in America. In fact, yesterday Secretary Powell hosted an Iftaar at the State Department with a delegation of women leaders in the region involved in politics and civil society, including five participants from Morocco.

I want also to thank the Government of Morocco for their hospitality. I know that it is a very busy time for them and I appreciate the attention they have shown me. And I want also to take the opportunity to pay tribute to Ambassador Tutwiler and the very great team of Americans and Moroccans that we have who represent our interests here.

The purpose of my visit is to highlight the importance of the relationship between Morocco and the United States. And my visit is part of a series of engagements which show the importance of not only Morocco but also of other countries in North Africa. His Majesty had an extremely successful visit with President Bush earlier this year and Ambassador Tutwiler and her team will be receiving Secretary of Commerce Evans here on Monday.

All of this demonstrates our commitment to working with Morocco and the Maghreb on important regional and international issues including the Middle East process. And later today I hope to have the honor of having an audience with His Majesty King Mohammed VI as well as meetings with other members of the Government. I hope to discuss in these meetings a broad range of issues that are of special interest to our nations, both political, economic, bilateral and regional. And I also want to take this opportunity both personally, and as a representative of our government, to reiterate again that President Bush and the American people so much appreciate the genuine expressions of sympathy and solid support that His Majesty, the Government of Morocco and the Moroccan people, as part of the international coalition against terrorism, have given the American people and government since September, 11, 2001.

That Morocco is part of this international effort against terrorism is very important to the United States. Relations between Morocco and the United States are based on a long history of friendship and cooperation. Morocco is an important friend and ally of the United States and I join our Ambassador in applauding Morocco’s recent parliamentary elections. Moroccans are justifiably proud of the development of democratic institutions in Morocco and I know that these developments will continue because that is what the Moroccan people wish.

I also join the Ambassador and others in applauding Morocco’s economic reforms. It is surely true that the more open and liberal Morocco’s economy the greater interest U.S. companies will show in trading with and investing in Morocco. And the planned U.S.- Moroccan Free Trade Agreement which was one of the great outcomes of His Majesty’s visit to Washington will significantly deepen our bilateral economic relationship. We are very proud to be negotiating a free trade agreement with Morocco. I know that you all have a lot to do and I would be glad to answer any questions anybody might have.

QUESTION: Did you come to the Maghreb region for a specific purpose, or to discuss the many regional and global concerns?

U/S GROSSMAN: I have come to North Africa, to Tunisia, Algeria and to Morocco to highlight in each country the importance of the relationship between each country and the United States. But very importantly, to stress the importance of this region to the United States. One of the themes that has run through my visit is the importance of regional economic integration among these three countries to attract investment, and especially American investment.

We are great supporters of clearing away the obstacles to this integration so that American investors can come here and provide jobs and provide development and the countries in this region can export their goods to the United States and other places in the world. But of course, I have taken the opportunity to discuss issues like Iraq and the Middle East, answer questions, discuss our views. But I will say to you sir that over 90% of the time that I have spent in meetings has been about how we can do more together economically. This is the news in North Africa and I believe it is the news here today as people look forward to the negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement.

QUESTION: The Arabic Secretary General this week in reference to a possible war against Iraq said it would destabilize the region and increase the fury of the people. What is your view of this assessment?

U/S GROSSMAN: With respect to the Secretary General’s statement, I have not read it and really wouldn’t comment on it. But with regard to the comment that somehow the purpose and the policy of the United States of America is to have a war against Iraq, I must with all due respect disagree with that assumption. In fact, our assumption is exactly the opposite, and President Bush’s speech to the United Nation’s General Assembly on September 12 was not a declaration of war but was a declaration of purpose. And the purpose was to strengthen the Security Council, to disarm Iraq and to do so without a conflict. And I would submit to you, sir, that the policy that we have pursued for the past 8 weeks in trying to get a security council resolution has been a policy to achieve those objectives. And our message to everyone is that if you wish to avoid a conflict with Iraq then you should support the strongest possible Security Council resolution in New York. And we believe we introduced just such a resolution yesterday. So my message is simple: we can achieve these objectives without conflict if the Security Council is united and passes a resolution that declares the fact that Saddam Hussein is out of compliance with security council resolutions, that makes for a new and stricter inspections regime and says there will be consequences if Saddam Hussein does not comply and we can do all of those things without conflict.

QUESTION: My question is, are you satisfied with the position of the North African nations you’ve visited regarding the Iraq question, in other words, do you believe that they support the United States or have reservations.

U/S GROSSMAN: I believe that the North African countries as I understand their position support the proposition that President Bush laid out on September 12, that this is an issue for the Security Council, that inspectors should return to Iraq and carry out their obligations, and that the time has come to deal with this issue.

QUESTION: So you are satisfied with the North African countries response……

U/S GROSSMAN: The North African countries have to speak for themselves. I can only tell you that President Bush laid out a very effective and very proper course of action on September 12, and I believe that around the world there is an acceptance of this. Don’t forget that we spent 8 weeks now negotiating the Security Council resolution. I believe the resolution will pass and when that Security Council resolution passes, I believe that most, a vast majority of countries in this world are going to say that is the right approach.

QUESTION: How is the U.S. promoting economic integration, trade, and investment in the countries of North Africa, especially given the issue of the Western Sahara?

U/S GROSSMAN: We are trying to focus our attention in two areas in order to increase economic integration and the creation of a market in North Africa. First, as you say, there is the question of the Western Sahara and here our policy is absolutely clear. We support the efforts that the United Nation’s representative, former Secretary Baker is making to solve this problem. Here is a man of creativity and integrity who has offered himself to try and solve this problem and we hope everyone will listen carefully to his views. If there was a settlement of this problem, I think it would be a very great incentive to this kind of integration.

But there are other avenues as well. We are interested in political reform and economic reform in North Africa. These will open doors to integration. We are interested in pursuing agreements with countries in North Africa like trade and investment framework agreements or free trade agreements. And these will also promote integration and investment. So there are political, economic and democracy questions and we believe that there is a great opportunity here, first and foremost for the people in each country of the region and also for the United States.

QUESTION: Could you please give us information on the results of the Assessment Team that was recently in Morocco?

AMBASSADOR: Do you want me to help you on this?

U/S GROSSMAN: Sure.

AMBASSADOR: In all fairness to the Under Secretary who has a lot on his plate, I am not sure he is as familiar with the specific team that was just here. It was an AID funded team assessment team and they just turned in their first draft report that we just received.

U/S GROSSMAN: If I could just follow up with two points on what the Ambassador has just said. The Ambassador and our mission here are committed to providing technical assistanceas Morocco moves forward with this Free Trade Agreement. And I think the important thing is that teams will come and go but we are committed to beginning the negotiation of this Free Trade Agreement.

QUESTION: Back to the Iraqi solution, do you believe that given the many changes that the U.S. had to make to the draft resolution before the UNSC, you will actually have a resolution that meets Presidents Bush’s demands?

U/S GROSSMAN: We would never have proposed a resolution at the United Nations that did not meet the President’s requirements. As Secretary Powell has said a number of times over the past few weeks, we have been talking and listening to the concerns of other members of the U.N. Security Council. That is the job of international diplomacy. But I assure you that this resolution meets our objectives.

QUESTION: Will the resolution be adopted tomorrow?

U/S GROSSMAN: I believe that there will be a resolution adopted, yes. But given that we are here in Rabat, and these negotiations are taking place in New York, I can’t tell you precisely when. But I am sure that there will be a resolution adopted.

QUESTION: We note that there is a great deal of discrepancy in the position of the members of the UNSC on this resolution. Because of unexpected opposition, did the U.S. have to do much work to convince the others?

U/S GROSSMAN: The UN Security Council is not the old Soviet politburo. The President of the United States set out a path on September 12 to participate in a negotiation in the Security Council for a resolution. If we had wished to dictate to the Security Council, then on September 13 we would have put down a piece of paper and said vote for this. That is not what we did. We have spent, at the President’s direction, the last eight weeks talking to members of the Security Council, listening to members of the Security Council, taking the views of members of the Security Council into account, and I believe as I said to the gentleman before, that we have a resolution that will be adopted. And I believe that, at the end of this process, the President’s objective of strengthening the Security Council will be achieved.

QUESTION: Arabs are mystified at the U.S. position on Iraq which differs from your position on North Korea even though it admitted that it has weapons of mass destruction? Why do you treat the two regimes differently?

U/S GROSSMAN: We don’t have the same foreign policy for every country around the world. In the case of North Korea, we are working with our Japanese and South Korean allies, and with other countries in the region to deal with that question. You will know that President Bush met with the leaders of those countries in Mexico last week. But we have a path on North Korea, and we want them to also come into compliance with their obligations. But you can’t do the same thing in every case all around the world.

AMBASSADOR: I regrettably have to end this conference as the Under Secretary has a schedule to keep, but I want to once again thank you all very much for coming here today. I know you are pulled in a lot of directions and it is a big day in Morocco and so I greatly appreciate it. Thank you.  

 


Released on November 7, 2002

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