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Remarks With Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos of Spain After Their Meeting

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
June 19, 2006


Secretary Rice with His Excellency Miguel Angel Moratinos, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain speak to the press after their Bilateral and working lunch. State Department photo by Michael Gross.SECRETARY RICE: Good afternoon. I'm delighted to welcome my colleague Miguel Moratinos, the Foreign Minister of Spain, to Washington and here to the State Department. Miguel and I have, of course, met on a number of occasions, including at our NATO meetings and when we've had an opportunity to meet at various international meetings as well. I am delighted that we've had this opportunity because we have talked about the entire world because Spain and the United States, as allies, NATO allies, are, in fact, engaged in many activities around the world.

We have talked about the prospects for peace in the Middle East. We have talked about Afghanistan, where Spain is playing an extremely important role. We have talked about how to support the new Government of Iraq. And we have talked a great deal about Latin America, where Spain and the United States share both interest and heritage.

Miguel, it is terrific to have you here. I should also note that Miguel has been here before. He has invited me to come to Spain and I look forward to doing so, Miguel, at the earliest possible convenience. Thank you very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER MORATINOS: Thank you. I'm extremely delighted to be back in the State Department in my third visit to Washington, D.C., and I had with Dr. Rice an extremely positive and fruitful exchange of view: on bilaterals, on regional issues that both Spain and United States are working together, fight against terrorism, our presence in Afghanistan, our support to the new Iraqi Government, on the Middle East Israeli-Palestinian issue, on Iran, on North Africa and of course on Latin America, where both United States and Spain wants to have a complementary role because we want progress and democracy to be absolutely established and consolidated in this important part of the world.

I think we have expressed our extremely satisfactory exchange of view. We are going to work together. I invite Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to visit Spain. She agreed to come to Madrid in this year and I have the sense that both United States and Spain are working together in the main challenges that are confronted in this, today's world.

So again, I'm extremely happy. We have a tremendous agenda both on North Africa with Morocco and Algeria, Western Sahara, on the Middle East, on the Latin America, and I think working together the best answer to anyone who thought that U.S.-Spanish relation are going extremely well.

MR. MCCORMACK: The first question to Anne Gearan from the Associated Press.

QUESTION: Hello. Madame Secretary, how imminent do you think a North Korea test launch would be? Do you regard it as a test and not as some sort of hostile act? And what would the consequences be? What would the United States do if, in fact, they do go ahead with the test?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Anne, we are working very closely with our allies. I, over the weekend in the last few days, have had several conversations with regional allies. Indeed, Foreign Minister Moratinos and I talked about the North Korean situation.

We regard it as abrogation of obligations that North Korea undertook in the moratorium that they signed onto in 1999, that they reiterated in 2002 that is clearly a part of the framework agreement that was signed in September of this past year between the six parties. And so it would be a very serious matter and indeed a provocative act should North Korea decide to launch that missile.

We will obviously consult on next steps, but I can assure everyone that it would be taken with utmost seriousness. I think it is already taken with utmost seriousness by regional states and by the world because it would once again show North Korea determined to deepen its isolation, determined not to take a path that is a path of compromise and a path of peace, but rather instead to once again saber-rattle. And so from our point of view it would be a very serious matter indeed.

QUESTION: Hello. Madame Secretary, this is a question actually for both of you, but starting with Secretary Rice. Since this government in Spain was selected on the withdrawing of troops on Iraq, the relationship between our two countries have been more tense than they were before. And in Spain we see, like, proof of that, the fact that our president has never been invited to the United States to meet with President Bush. Since the relationship seem to be much more smooth now, I wonder if that was a topic in your discussion today, or do you have any plans for that in the future?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we obviously are here working together. We're determined to look forward. There's no secret we had our disagreements in the past. But I am impressed with the degree to which the Foreign Minister came prepared to talk about the future agenda, including how to support the democratically elected Government of Iraq. After all, this is now a government that has been elected by more than 12 million Iraqis. It's a national unity government. It's a government that the entire international community ought to be prepared and ready to get behind and push to success and that's the attitude that I saw expressed by the Foreign Minister. And as I said, I expect to be visiting Madrid fairly soon, so let's take it from there.

FOREIGN MINISTER MORATINOS: (Via interpreter) No, we have not discussed anything regarding that specific issue but I would like to reiterate, as I have said before, the excellent level of our relationship, the intensity of the agenda that we have discussed today, the level of our commitment. We have discussed issues like the new Government of Iraq. We are firmly committed to supporting them. I have, in fact, promised the new Iraqi Foreign Minister to visit his country in September and we're going to be working on issues such as support for them in communications, health issues, education and others.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, what efforts are being made to find the two soldiers that have been kidnapped in Iraq? And also, you met with your Italian counterparts last Friday, but now we're hearing that the Italians would like to prosecute those responsible for the killing of Nicola Calipari last year and do you have any response to that?

SECRETARY RICE: I am not going to respond on a legal matter, but we are in discussion with the Italians. We have consistently respected our partners and, of course, discussed matters when they arise. But I'm not going to get into that -- that issue.

I will, on the matter of our missing soldiers. This is obviously a matter of great -- great concern to all of us and the American military has made very clear that they are going to do everything possible -- I think they've said, air, land and sea -- to try and find them. And obviously their safe return is something that everyone will work for and their safe return is something that everyone will pray for.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, have you talked with Mr. Moratinos about the future of the military base in Guantanamo, the prison in the military base?

SECRETARY RICE: We actually did not talk about this. I can, however, answer your question if you would like. And -- look, the United States doesn't have any desire to be the world's jailer. We've said that many times. But we are in a different kind of war where we have picked up very dangerous people, either plotting terrorist plots or fighting in Afghanistan, engaged with terrorism and you'll have to have a place to put people like this. I don't think anyone wants to see Guantanamo open one day longer than it is needed. But I also expect suspect nobody wants to see a number of dangerous people simply released out onto the streets. A lot of people have been released from Guantanamo to -- in several cases, to their home countries when adequate provisions could be made for them. We continue to discussthe release of others to their home countries with adequate security provisions. And in cases -- some cases, we have relocated some people when we thought that their release to their home countries was not the appropriate course. So we're working through this population.

We also, of course, very much want to have trials for people. We understand the concerns about what's called indefinite detention. But we are currently awaiting a decision by our own Supreme Court on the constitutionality of military tribunals, which would be one way to try these people. And I can assure you that we want to bring people to justice, we want to bring them to a process in which their cases can be heard and we'll do that as soon as possible.

Thank you very much.


Released on June 19, 2006

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