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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > What the Secretary Has Been Saying > 2005 Secretary Rice's Remarks > June 2005: Secretary Rice's Remarks

Joint Press Availability with British Foreign Secretary Straw, Canadian Foreign Minister Pettigrew, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, Japanese Foreign Minister Machimura, French Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy, German Foreign Minister Fischer, Italian Foreign Minister Fini, and EU President Asselborn After Their Meeting in London

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
London, United Kingdom
June 23, 2005

Secretary Rice poses with other foreign ministers of the G-8 in London, United Kingdom, June 23, 2005. State Department photo by Richard Lewis.FOREIGN SECRETARY STRAW: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your attendance. It's been my great pleasure to welcome to London my G-8 colleagues for the G-8 foreign ministers meeting today. We were all delighted that this morning the Afghan Foreign Minister Dr. Abdallah Abdallah joined us. He gave a presentation about progress being made and still to be made in Afghanistan since the collapse and defeat of the Taliban and the beginnings of the Bonn process three years ago.

We have issued a statement on Afghanistan, which you will have, which underlines our long-term support for the transformation of Afghanistan into a democracy with parliamentary and provincial elections, which are due in September. Those elections will bring formally to an end the Bonn process, but all of us were able to reassure Dr. Abdallah Abdallah, his president, President Karzai, and the government and people of Afghanistan that the international commitment -- the international community's commitment to Afghanistan is for the long term.

We then went on to discuss a range of key international issues, beginning with the Middle East. We received a presentation by Jim Wolfensohn, former president of the World Bank and now the Special Envoy to the Quartet, and from General Ward, the United States Security Coordinator in Israel and in respect to the occupied territories.

Mr. Wolfensohn and General Ward have reported to the Quartet of their meeting earlier this morning and Jim Wolfensohn outlined the proposal to ensure that Gaza will become economically viable after Israeli withdrawal.

There's no higher international priority than the Middle East peace process, however weíve got six weeks before disengagement and it's essential that both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority intensify their cooperation with one another to make a success of this major step towards two viable, secure states living in peace side by side.

As you'll see then from the statement, we went on to discuss Iran and today the G-8 reiterated its full support for the work of France, Germany and the United Kingdom together with the EU High Representative Javier Solana. We all agreed that for the process to continue and to build confidence, it's essential that Iran keeps all of its fuel cycle activities fully suspended.

And concerns were also expressed about Iran's ballistic missile program, its attitude towards terrorism and toward the Middle East peace process.

We discussed the Western Balkans in details, United Nations reform. I elaborated on our proposal for an Arms Trade Treaty and we discussed our common concerns about the proliferation of conventional arms in areas of conflict.

We discussed the continuing serious situation in Sudan and we noted current developments in respect to North Korea. We welcomed the outcome of yesterday's International Conference on Iraq and discussed progress in respect of Security Council Resolution 1559 and 1595 on Lebanon/Syria.

We expressed concern about the deteriorating security environment in Haiti and in respect of Zimbabwe we discussed the current situation and the ongoing police operations, which have reportedly left thousands of the most vulnerable homeless and destitute. And we called on the Government of Zimbabwe to abide by the rule of law and respect for human rights.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a summary of what's been a very productive morning and early afternoon of discussions amongst G-8 foreign ministers. I am now very happy to take questions, which will be called by the Press Secretary John Williams.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible) start with a question from the French media.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) U.S. Secretary of State. Can you confirm (inaudible) approving the European approach (inaudible) dealing with the issue with Iran?

Secretary Rice at microphone during G-8 foreign ministers press availability, London, United Kingdom, June 23, 2005. State Department photo by Richard Lewis

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Let's see. Is the microphone on? Can you hear me?

All right. Indeed, the United States has for some time been supportive of the EU-3 negotiations with Iran. We believe that Iran should take advantage of the opportunity that is being provided to them by the European 3 to give confidence to the international community that they are prepared to live up to their international obligations not to seek a nuclear weapons program under cover of civilian nuclear power. And we are very supportive of what the EU-3 is doing and indeed, I believe some time ago, a couple of months ago when the President was here, he and his European colleagues talked about this and indeed the United States tried to put forward a couple of proposals, for instance, to allow the Iranians to make application to the WTO in order to support those negotiations. We continue to be supportive and we call upon the Iranians to adhere to the Paris Agreement to its letter and to not engage in any activities associated with the fuel cycle.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: I wish I could (inaudible). You have all expressed concern in your statements about what's happening in Lebanon and the instability there and expressed concern about Syria. Does any country represented here or any member of the European Union have the confidence that it can assert with certainty that Syria is, in any way, responsible for any of the assassinations that have been happening in Lebanon or that, in defiance of 1559, Syria still has intelligence agents in the country?

And on the assassinations matter, given that Israel has this week resumed its policy of targeted killings, I wonder if the members here condemn the resumption of that policy and, in the words of the Secretary, should "knock if off."

MODERATOR: Right. Let me just ask who would like to comment on that. Philippe.

FOREIGN MINISTER DOUSTE-BLAZY: (In French.)

MODERATOR: Sorry, we can't have all 11 ministers answering one question. I'm sorry; we'd be here till tomorrow. A question from a Canadian colleague.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) have any reaction to reports today that (inaudible) al-Qaida member was reportedly killed by U.S. forces right on the Syrian-Iraqi border? And I believe (inaudible) foreign minister, who attended your conference yesterday in Brussels, reportedly is saying that Syria is serious about cracking down on cross-border insurgents but it's apparently being contradicted by today's announcement.

SECRETARY RICE: First of all, I have seen the reports and I have only seen the news reports. So with that caveat, let me just say that, obviously, there has been a number of operations on the Syrian -- in the area near the Syrian-Iraqi border, which is an area in which there is concentrated activity of the terrorists who are crossing the Syrian border to come into Iraq and are therefore contributing to the instability there and, indeed, causing the -- costing lives of innocent Iraqis.

The Saudis have been very active and have been in discussions with the Iraqis about how to better police their borders. And yesterday I think the Iraqi Government made very clear that they believe that their neighbors could do more. Much of the concern has been about the Syrian border and I would simply say to the Syrian Government, let's not have more words about what they're prepared to do about Iraq, let's have action. This is a government that can take action on its border to prevent these cross-border activities that are really contributing dramatically to insecurity in Iraq. So if they're prepared to do it, they should just do it.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible) television. A question for the Japanese Foreign Minister. You'll be aware that today there was an announcement that North and South Korea have pledged that they will settle their nuclear differences peacefully. What is your response to that and how much confidence do you have that the North will hold to any promise that it makes?

FOREIGN MINISTER MACHUMURA: (In Japanese.)

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible) two children may have died in the demolition in Zimbabwe and may I also ask Secretary Rice, Europe is very much on their minds over here among the European Union. Do you think in your -- what do you think of Europe essentially blowing cold on the admission of Turkey and do you think Tony Blair or Jacques Chiraq has the right vision for Europe?

FOREIGN SECRETARY STRAW: Well, I'll ask what (inaudible) funny. (Inaudible) this is British humor Serge, which is untranslatable. (Laughter.) Yeah. Let me answer your first question. We only received-- I only received the news about the reports that two children might have been crushed to death in the clearances being undertaken by the police in Zimbabwe after our meeting so it obviously could not be reflected either in the discussions or the conclusion. The situation as we reflect in the conclusion however, is that Zimbabwe is of profound concern. I expressed that concern yesterday and I also said speaking on behalf of the United Kingdom Government that we believe that there was a really high responsibility now placed on African leaders, not to continue to turn a blind eye to what is going on in Zimbabwe. And if the reports are simply half true and we believe it's really much more than half true, this is a situation of serious international concern and no government who subscribes to human rights and democracy should allow this kind of thing effectively to go on under their noses.

MODERATOR: All right. Secretary Rice.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. First, let me strongly associate myself and my government with what the Foreign Secretary has just said. The events in Zimbabwe are tragic and I appreciate the leadership of the Foreign Secretary in speaking out against these outrageous -- and I also hope very much that the African Union, that the other African states will do the same because this obviously, if itís as reported, even partially the numbers here or the activities, it simply cannot go on and I would hope that there would be really outspokenness about this on the part of the international community.

As to Europe, the United States is very much in favor of a strong united Europe that can be a good partner for the United States and for others in the (inaudible) demands of global leadership. And there are tremendous demands these days, whether it is in the war on terrorism or the fight against proliferation or the efforts to finally bring peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, the efforts towards democratization and reform in the broader Middle East. I could go on. There are long lists of demands for leadership.

And with our European partners, who share our values and constitutes in the European Union along with NATO, the two pillars of the strong transatlantic relationship that we've tried to build, we have every interest in a Europe that is impressive and strong. Precisely how that will play out in the institutions of Europe, I think is up to Europeans.

Obviously, we're not members of the European Union. But we have always hoped to encourage a Europe that would be outward looking, not inward looking, that would take on the responsibilities of global leadership. I would note that the European Union has been an important lodestar, an important North Star, if you will, for reforming and democratizing states in Europe.

It has been in its willingness to continue its expansion as something to which a lot of states look for, their views about how to reform, about domestic changes that need to be made. And I would sincerely hope that that would continue, including the promises and obligations that the European Union has made to a number of states including Turkey.

MODERATOR: One over there please.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) from Al-Jazeera newspaper (inaudible). My question, Secretary Rice, how you evaluate your last visit to Middle East, and Saudi Arabia especially, and are you going to discuss the broader Middle East in the G-8 summit? Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. And indeed, we had a discussion today about the Broader Middle East Initiative. The agenda for reform in the Middle East is of potential importance to the G-8. I might note that we underscored something that I tried to emphasize when I was in the Middle East, which is that we believe very strongly that these are values and aspirations that are universal, but that their expression will, of course, be homegrown or indigenous, that the people themselves will determine the course. It is our responsibility to speak out for those values to provide opportunities for reformers in the Middle East to connect with other people, with human rights groups, women's groups, business groups.

On the outside, the Forum for the Future is one of the ways that we do that. The European Union has had the Mediterranean dialogue, which is another way to do that. And so I think there is very strong support for the need for reform and democratization in the Middle East, recognizing that the impulse to this really does come from the people and that it's expression will be that of the people of the Middle East.

I would just add that I had very good discussions in Jordan and Egypt, indeed, in Saudi Arabia. The government, of course, there knows that this has become an important item, an important agenda item for the United States. And I would just note that there was no government there that -- who would be unwilling or in the least bit shy about discussing these issues in our bilateral dialogue and will continue to be an important part of our bilateral dialogue with all of the countries of the Middle East.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (In Russian.)

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Dr. Rice, youíve been recently in the Middle East and you've heard the determination by the Israelis to pull out of Gaza. Both of you say how important it is. But there's been an ongoing barrage of suicide bombing attempts right throughout this period. The Israelis want to pull out of Gaza but they're petrified that security will be compromised. Can you, Dr. Rice, tell us from the Quartet angle what can be done to avoid (inaudible) to this ongoing terrorism (inaudible)?

And Dr. Straw, could you tell us from the G-8 perspective, what can be done internationally to support the Palestinianís crack down on terrorism because otherwise it looks as though its going to be an ongoing problem.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. First of all, let me say that I think it is an historic and indeed courageous decision that the Government of Israel has taken to pull out of Gaza and four settlements in the West Bank. It does give us an opportunity, or it gives the parties an opportunity, to build trust and confidence in this process, which I believe very strongly could lead to an acceleration of progress between the two sides and an acceleration of activity on the roadmap. And after all, the roadmap is a reliable guide to a two-state outcome.

Absolutely, the Israeli people, the Israeli people, the Israeli settlers of Gaza should not be subjected to any kind of violence or terrorism at any time, but most especially during the withdrawal. Israel is leaving Gaza freely and this has to be a peaceful and orderly withdrawal. And we've emphasized that with both parties.

Now, I will -- my colleague, Jack Straw, will talk about the G-8, but let me just say that, first of all, the Palestinians have responsibilities and those responsibilities include using their security services in whatever way they can, in whatever state they are, to fight against those who would try and destroy the process that will now be underway for withdrawal.

And General Ward is working with them and with others, including the Egyptians and the international community, to try and help provide a secure environment in which the Palestinians contribute by fighting those who are firing Qassam rockets or trying to destabilize the region.

Secondly, the region, the regional states have an obligation to speak clearly to those who would be disruptive to this process. That means those who have declared themselves to be outside the Palestinian consensus for calm. That means that there cannot be a blind eye to the activities of states that are supporting terrorist groups, whether it be the Syrians, where the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is headquartered in Damascus, or the Iranians, who have never supported the peace process and continues to support terrorism.

Finally, the international community can speak with one voice about the terrorism and to the states that are supporting terrorism and say that it is simply unacceptable when the Palestinian people represented by Mahmoud Abbas, who is, after all, the freely elected President of the Palestinian people, and the Israelis decide that they want to try to make progress of this kind.

Now, to be sure, the context is important. The political context is important. I've spent time with both leaderships. I've encouraged both to take this opportunity. I've encouraged the Israelis to do everything that they can to strengthen the hand of moderates in the Palestinian territories, to be able to make a better life for the Palestinian people, to ease closures, to deal with the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people, and to do all of those things. And indeed, Israel does have responsibilities to not to try to prejudge a final status agreement with its activities and to support a Palestinian leadership that has cast its lot with a peaceful outcome.

But fighting terrorism is fighting terrorism, and the Palestinians, the regional states and the international community have an obligation to make sure that there's a very clear message that terrorism is not to be tolerated.

FOREIGN SECRETARY STRAW: I'd simply like to endorse that comment and statement by Secretary Rice and to say that we're all very grateful to the fact that the United States has taken a practical lead on issues of security by the appointment of General Ward and (inaudible) we in the United Kingdom have been happy to assist (inaudible) helping the Palestinian Authority strengthen its security.

Terrorism remains the single greatest threat to the peaceful disengagement from Gaza and all the great things that could follow from that. In other words, it's the start of a separate, viable state of Palestine living in peace alongside a neighbor, Israel, which is guaranteed its own security. And many of the terrorists are as anxious to disrupt the work of the Palestinian Authority as, tragically, they are to kill innocent Israelis.

We (inaudible) heavy responsibilities for the Palestinian Authority as well as on others, and you see from the second paragraph of our -- of my statement about discussions on the Middle East that we say we call on the Palestinian Authority to press ahead with the reform agenda, in particular to deliver on their security commitment in respect to the roadmap.

Ladies and gentlemen, could I thank you all -- sorry, Jean. Very quickly.

FOREIGN MINISTER ASSELBORN: Two sentences. I am not everyday in the UK and you know that our presidency of the European Union, the Luxembourg presidency, comes to an end. I wish, really, all the best to our friends from UK and above all to my friend Jack Straw. I think that Europe can digest more UK, and UK can digest more Europe. Thank you.

FOREIGN SECRETARY STRAW: And, Jean, can I express that European humor? Thank you. (Laughter.) We have periods of reflection and periods of digestion. (Laughter.) (Inaudible) all my colleagues, but particularly my European Union colleague, and on this Philippe, Joschka and I are unanimous (inaudible) our deep appreciation to you, Jean, for the way which you have headed the general affairs of the External Relations Council and the lead which you and your government have given to the European Union over the last six months.

And thank you all very much for your attendance and thank you to my colleagues for making this day a success.

2005/T10-25



Released on June 23, 2005

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