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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2001 Under Secretary for Political Affairs Remarks

Consultations with the Italian Government

Ambassador Marc Grossman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Remarks at a Press Availability at the U.S. Embassy
Rome, Italy
May 10, 2001

AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: Let me first of all thank you all for coming. I apologize for keeping you a couple of minutes late. What I wanted to do today was give you a very short report on what it is that we accomplished during the day in our consultations with the Italian government and tell you a little bit about why we are here. Before I do that I would just like to say thank you to all of the people at this Embassy and to the people at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who have been so hospitable and made this day possible. We really very much appreciate it.

We came here really as a follow-up to the commitment that President Bush made in his speech on the first of May to promise allied consultations on how best to meet the opportunities and threats in this new world. We wanted very much to come as soon as we possibly could, here to Rome, because of the importance of Italy to the alliance, the importance of Italy to the United States and the importance of consultations with the Italian government. So Rome is a key capital in our tour.

As you know from having followed the press, we also have teams in other parts of Europe, and Deputy Secretary of State Armitage is consulting with friends and allies in Asia. The importance of these core relationships in Europe, in Asia, alliance relationships, friendly relationships, are extremely important to us.

I have a team of people with me today, and we met for two hours with Italian government representatives, hosted by Ambassador Baldocci, and we made a series of presentations to our Italian hosts, and those presentations had two themes. Theme number one was consultations Ė that what we were doing here was presenting the point of view of the United States, but very importantly, listening to the point of view of the Italian government. The second theme that ran through all the presentations we made today is that the world of 2001 is not the same world that it was in 1972, that Russia is not our enemy, that the whole structure of European security and defense can change, and that this change is something that we all ought to be working together to think about and to consider.

There are huge plusses, obviously, to the fact that the world of 2001 is not the world of 1972, but there are some minuses as well, and with our Italian colleagues we discussed some of those minuses, primarily the challenge that comes to us all now from missiles and weapons of mass destruction, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We talked a lot about our alliance relationship and the relationship of NATO, and we confirmed to each other, obviously, that the reason this Alliance has been so successful for all these years is because we believe in deterrence, we believe in consultation, we believe in collective defense, and we believe in trying to find new ways to meet threats and opportunities.

I will obviously let the Government of Italy and its representatives speak for themselves, but in the Alliance consultations that I have done since I was in Brussels on Tuesday, I think its fair to say that allies have certainly welcomed this consultation. They would like to have more consultation, and we are prepared to do that. I think generally allies recognize that this is a new world, that we do have new threats and we do have new opportunities.

I think, by and large, allies have welcomed the comprehensive approach of the United States. This isnít just about missile defense. Itís about the reduction of offensive forces. Itís about defense. Itís about non-proliferation. Itís about politics and economics and all the ways that our countries can stay secure. I think also itís fair to say that allies very much welcomed the Presidentís offer to consult with and work with the Russians in this area. So let me stop where I started - which is today was a day for consultations. Today was a day to see if, with Italy, we could start to think through the challenges of this new strategic framework so that we could have a new strategic stability for a new time. With that I would be very glad to answer a couple of questions.

QUESTION: (Reuters): Will you characterize the sort of doubts or requests that have been raised by European governments about this missile defense system?

AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: No. I think European governments will have to speak for themselves. I am not going to put words in anybodyís mouth. What I have tried to list for you is what I have heard and what we have been trying to say.

QUESTION: (Reuters): What have you heard from them?

AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: What I have heard from them was just what I went through. I think they will have to speak for themselves.

QUESTION: (Il Giornale): Can you just tell me whatís the use of meeting with representatives of our government who in a few days will be out of office?

Ambassador Grossman: Whenever in democracies we try to deal with one government at a time, and we are here today and we dealt with representatives of the Italian government.

QUESTION: (Il Giornale): Are you planning to meet with representatives of the new government?

AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: Well, whenever there is a new government in Italy, we would be pleased to meet with whatever representatives of the new government of Italy wish to meet with us. I think as Secretary Rumsfeld said yesterday, and as Secretary Powell has said and as the President promised, this is a consultation that will continue for some time. And so we are here today. We met with whom we met with. There we are.

QUESTION: (APTN): What are your expectations about the meeting with the Russian government tomorrow in Moscow?

AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: Let me refer you to what the President said on the first of May. What he said was we need to think through a new kind of relationship with Russia. A relationship thatís not based on the requirement, or the need or the philosophy, that we have to incinerate one another in order to get along. So, we are hoping that when the part of our team that is going to Russia arrives there that they will find a receptivity to this, so that people will begin to have a conversation about new ways to think about strategic stability. Weíll see.

QUESTION: (APTN): What do you think about President Putinís recent statements that disagreed with (inaudible)?

AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: As I tried to describe to your colleague from Reuters, Iíll let other people speak for themselves. I would say, though, that one of the interesting things for me anyway in listening to Lord Robertson, the Secretary General of NATO, on Tuesday was how interested he was in what President Putin has been saying about missiles, about the threat from weapons of mass destruction. And I thought it was very interesting that the Secretary General of NATO would highlight this for us. Iíll take one or two more.

QUESTION: (RAI-2 TV): Mr. Ambassador, do you think that the European allies will have any active role in the decision-making, or just be consulted and informed?

AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: One of the challenges here about using this word consultation is that it means that we are both talking and listening. But if I were here to say hereís the plan, hereís the timetable, hereís the cost, hereís the end of this, then I think people would rightly say, "well, this is not consultation, somebodyís made a decision." But as the President has said, as Secretary Powell has said, as Secretary Rumsfeld has said, this is real consultation. We are very interested in what people have to say. This change in the way people think about deterrence and strategic stability is a big question. This is not a small matter and this is going to take some time and some consultation, and as our friends in Italy today said, this is a very important subject and they welcome the consultation. I think there will be lots more of it.

QUESTION: (AGI): Did you discuss with your European allies whether there could be a role for European companies within this project?

AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: We have not, I think, come to anything that specific, sir. What we have said is that we hope that those European allies who are interested will participate in ways that will be helpful to them. For example, we already have an alliance project on theater missile defenses. We ought to get rid of this conversation about them being theater missile defenses. Theyíre missile defenses. I think lots of people will be interested in participating in this project in many ways.

Anyway, I thank you all very much. I apologize. I am supposed to go to Bratislava. Thank you. 

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