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Remarks With Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul After Their Meeting

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
July 5, 2006


SECRETARY RICE: Good morning. I am very pleased to welcome my colleague, the Foreign Minister of Turkey Abdullah Gul, to Washington to the State Department. It was not very long ago that I was in Turkey and he received me there and we continue our discussions based on our tremendously strong friendship, our strategic relationship, our commitment to common values. I especially want to note for you that we will issue shortly a statement of the strategic vision for U.S.-Turkish relations. It is indeed a relationship that has a great deal to contribute to regional stability and indeed to global stability.

The Foreign Minister and I have had a brief discussion of some issues of interest, the situation in the Middle East. I have had a briefing on some of the work that the Foreign Minister has undertaken to convince Iran that this is a time to accept the international community's offer to solve this by diplomatic means. I want to say too that the Foreign Minister has been stalwart in his support for young democracies like Afghanistan and Iraq, and I thank him very much for that. So we will have further discussions over lunch and I look forward to many more opportunities, Abdullah, to be with you as Turkey is such an important and strong partner of the United States. Thank you.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER GUL: Good morning. I'm really pleased to meet once again my friend Secretary of State Dr. Rice shortly after her visit to Turkey. Since our last meeting, we had several talks over the phone and exchanged views. We will continue our discussions over lunch, as she just said, and we will have the opportunity to talk further about bilateral, regional and international matters of common concern, including Iraq, Iran, combating the PKK, recent developments in the Middle East, Cyprus and energy issues. The result of our joint efforts on Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan will be integrated on 13 July in Ceyhan and we hope to see a representative from the United States over there. During our talks, I expressed our gratitude for the support given by the U.S. to matters that are important for Turkey. I also emphasized my strong belief and hope that this support will continue to strengthen.

Our discussions have reaffirmed that our deep-rooted alliances is well grounded. It's based on strategic partnership, cooperation and mutual trust. We have once more confirmed our common desire to advance this relationship, which is based on universal values such as democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and principle of market economy.

I am very happy to announce here today with Dr. Rice that we have finalized a shared vision document, which we had agreed to work on during her last visit to Turkey. This shared vision document will enable our countries to conduct closer intensive consultations on many levels. It will provide for a structured dialogue that will enable us to address more effectively the issues of bilateral, regional and international concern.

This document is not an action plan; therefore, it does not contain details on various issues. The shared vision document sets a broad agenda between the two countries and launches a process of intensive dialogue on different levels.

To summarize our contacts, I've said that we have seen once again that our relations are indeed based on mutual trust, hence moving on within a constructive agenda. Thank you.

MR. MCCORMACK: The first question for Anne Gearan from AP.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, what do you think is the motivation for North Korea to launch the missiles it launched yesterday? Are they trying to get the U.S.'s attention? Does this mean the six-party talks are dead? And going forward, what can you really do to punish or coerce a regime that is as impoverished and isolated as North Korea already is?

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. First of all, I can't really judge the motivations of the North Korean regime. I wouldn't begin to try. But I will note the effect that their actions are having and the effect is that they are being throughout the world, of course in the region, but also at NATO, we've had expressions from countries all over the world of concern about this provocation that the North Koreans have engaged in. Concern that I think is being expressed now in the Security Council. I believe a meeting is going on as we speak. And it simply demonstrates that the North Koreans, if they may have -- perhaps have miscalculated that the international community would remain united. But in fact there has been a very strong response to their actions. So whatever their motivations, whatever they thought they were doing, they've gotten a very strong reaction from the international community.

As to the six-party talks, what the six-party talks provide is now a diplomatic infrastructure that can be used to resolve problems of this kind and it would still be incumbent on the North Koreans to use that kind of infrastructure to address these issues. I might note that Chris Hill will soon be talking with his counterparts from the six-party talks in the region. And that simply demonstrates that the wisdom of the six-party framework is that it is now not a matter of the United States and North Korea; it is really a matter of the region saying to North Korea that it has to change its behavior.

As to what steps will be taken to reverse North Korean behavior, to address the nuclear issue and the missile issue, that's what we're going to be talking about over the next couple of days. But of course, the international community does have at its disposal a number of tools to make it more difficult for North Korea to engage in this kind of brinksmanship and to engage in the continued pursuit of its nuclear weapons programs and of its missile programs.

QUESTION: Why do the United States and Turkey need a strategic region document? Why now and what's the importance of this document for both countries? And Turkey has expressed its concerns about the PKK terror in northern Iraq. Will the United States do more on this matter?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER GUL: Turkish-American relations have a long history and also we have common grounds, common visions and democratic developments and market economy and we are both interested in about events in the region and international, so we wanted to put all of our visions, all our shared values, our alliance into a paper and share with others.

SECRETARY RICE: And I would just add that sometimes it's very important to step back from the day-to-day issues and to look at the broad relationship and to remind ourselves and to remind our populations that this is a relationship that is broad and deep, and based on values and based on strategic interests, and that's really what this document allows us to do.

As to the PKK, which the United States does declare as a terrorist organization, we will work very actively with Turkey and also with the new Iraqi Government to deal with this problem because, as I have said before and as I said when I was in Turkey, no one wants the PKK to be able to operate, to carry out terrorist attacks against Turkey anywhere, but most especially from northern Iraq.

MR. MCCORMACK: The next question, Elise Labott from CNN.

QUESTION: Thank you. Madame Secretary, you and your partners in the P-5+1 process gave Iran today as a deadline to answer your offer of an incentives or disincentives package, and that deadline has passed. Is Iran stringing the international community along here? What makes you think that they might answer by your July 12th meeting of the foreign ministers? And if they don't, will next steps be considered at that point? Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Elise, we gave -- what was to happen today was there was to be a meeting of the Iranians with the -- with High Representative Solana. We will see what takes place over the next couple of days. But if indeed Iran is trying to stall, it's not going to work. The international community has said that we need to get an answer, an indication of where Iran is going with this. We need to know if the path of negotiation is open or not. It is really incumbent on Iran now to take what is a very good and respond to it.

And so I will, in fact, be talking to my colleagues a little bit later today, but I can assure you that we still intend to have a substantive response from Iran before the middle of July when the heads of state will meet in St. Petersburg. It simply makes sense for the world to have some kind of indication of whether Iran intends to pursue the negotiated track or not.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, Turkey has sent a message to Syrian leader Assad concerning the rising conflict, rising tension in between Israel and Palestine. Within this context, have you received a response or message from Assad through Turkey, through Minister Gul? And how do you evaluate Turkey's role in order to calm down the tension of Iran and Middle East? Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, I want to thank -- did thank -- the Turkish Foreign Minister for responsively -- responsive to the desires of the governments in the region, the United States, to say to the Syrians as directly as possible that there are many countries that believe that Syria has a lot of leverage that it could use to get the release of this Israeli soldier, that they really ought to do it and they ought to do it now, because this is how this conflict started. Let's remember that this began with a tunneling into Israeli territory, the abduction of an Israeli soldier. That release needs to take place and we need to get back on ground where we can pursue a more hopeful future for the Palestinian people and for the Israeli people. But really, what Turkey did that was very helpful is to go to Damascus and to say to the Syrians that they need to use all of their leverage to help this take place.

Now, the situation in Gaza is indeed a tense one. We are continuing to exercise -- are continuing to call upon the Israelis to exercise restraint. I would note that there were enormous numbers of Qassam rockets that were falling on Israeli territory yesterday, and so it would also be incumbent and helpful if there is pressure on Hamas to stop those attacks.

We are also calling on the international community to help Prime Minister -- President Abbas, and I think that is helping -- is happening, but most especially to help the Palestinian people. We are trying to keep the crossings open so that the humanitarian assistance can get into the Palestinian people. We are trying to do what we can to help to get their electricity back on and the like because we don't want to see the Palestinian people suffer.

But their government, Hamas government, needs to respond to root cause of this problem, and the root cause of this problem was the attack that took place and the Israeli soldier that was abducted. It is high time for Hamas to return that soldier. It is high time then for everybody who has any influence on Hamas to make sure that that happens, and then we can get back on track.

Thank you.



Released on July 5, 2006

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