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Briefing En Route Madrid, Spain

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
En Route Madrid, Spain
June 1, 2007

SECRETARY RICE: Good morning. Okay, Helene's still in the middle of her breakfast. (Laughter.) So is Glenn. Yeah, the Times and the Post are competing, as usual. So I'll just take your questions.

QUESTION: Did you see anything positive coming out of the Solana-Larijani meetings yesterday? There seemed to be some somewhat conflicting accounts of their own afterward as to whether they made any progress.

SECRETARY RICE: I've not had a chance to talk with Javier. I'm sure that I will sometime today or tomorrow. I note that they're going to meet again in two weeks and I note that, as you said, there have been some conflicting reports. But I think the only question is: Are we getting to a point at which the Iranians are prepared to suspend so that negotiations can begin. But I hope they were constructive. I don't see any evidence of it, but I frankly haven't had a chance to talk to Javier since the talks concluded.

QUESTION: Hi. There's this theory out there that Russia has become what some call a revisionist power, kind of eager to undo or take -- go back on the treaties of the 1980s. Now, is Russia becoming like the new enemy of the United States?

SECRETARY RICE: The what?

QUESTION: New enemy.

SECRETARY RICE: No.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's parsimonious. Look, as I said, as I said last night, we have areas of cooperation with Russia and we have areas of friction, and in a relationship that is as complex and as big and as global as the relationship with Russia, I think that's to be expected. I don't think that there's any doubt that when it comes to what I'll call some of the big global issues like terrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, cooperation on North Korea, even increasingly cooperation on Iran, we have very good and positive relations and essentially seem to be on the same page. Even when it comes to the Middle East, even though there are differences in tactics there, I think within the Quartet we've worked extremely well together.

But on some issues we do have differences. I think many of them revolve around questions of the independent countries that are on the periphery of Russia. So that, for instance, on Georgia we've had differences, although our role has been to encourage Georgia and Russia to have positive relations.

And clearly, on the issue of Kosovo the disagreement isn't with the United States; the disagreement is with the United States and Europe about what should happen in Kosovo.

On something like missile defense, I do think there that this is really a holdover from an analysis that best dates from the '80s, not from 2007. Because the notion of strategic stability as being one in which small missile defenses are somehow a threat to large-scale nuclear arsenals, I think is just -- it just doesn't pan out.

But we're prepared to keep talking about it and I don't think that you have the kind of fundamental conflict at the base of the U.S.-Russia relationship that you had at the base of the U.S.-Soviet relationship, where I really do think with the Soviet Union, with the exception of not wanting to annihilate each other, there was really very little that we had in common. I think we have a lot in common now.

The other major area of friction is that we continue to and will continue to talk about how we see internal developments in Russia. We do it from respect. But as I said last night, it's not out of a desire to see Russia weak, but to see Russia strong. And strong states, strong countries, have strong, independent institutions that can fully unleash the creativity of their people.

So it's a really complex relationship, but it's not the relationship of two adversaries.

QUESTION: Why has it taken you so long to make this visit to Spain?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I had hoped to make it once before and I think, actually, Bob Gates and I were going to the Congress and there was a -- you know, but look, I'm not going -- there's no secret that we have had differences with Spain on a number of issues. But we've also had very good cooperation with Spain on a number of issues. One of the things that I'm going to be able to underscore is that Spain has contributed to the Basra Children's Hospital, which is a project that's been very important to the First Lady and to me. Spain is a contributor in Afghanistan as a member of NATO.

So there are many things on which we agree, but one on which we don't is Cuba. And I think when you have disagreements, you have to sit down and talk about them so we will. There hasn't been any absence of contact between the United States and Spain. I've seen Miguel Moratinos a number of times, both in the United States and on the margins of various meetings, so we've had plenty of contact. I talk to him frequently, talk to him frequently about the Middle East. But, you know, coming out of the disagreements that we had about how Spain exited Iraq -- not that they exited Iraq but how they existed Iraq -- we had our differences. We've overcome those differences with almost everybody and we've overcome that with Spain.

QUESTION: Do you see this trip as an opportunity to kind of put the past behind you and move forward with the kind of close relationship that you have with some of your other European allies that you seem to be working very well with, like Germany and France? Or do you think that this issue over Cuba is going to continue to be a thorn in the side that might stop you from moving ahead?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think we have moved ahead -- as I said, NATO ally, working together with us in Afghanistan, working together with us on projects in Iraq, working together with us on issues in the Middle East, on issues having to do with Kosovo and European Union issues. I expect that the issue on Cuba is going to continue to be an issue between us. It's going to continue to be one in which we're going to make our views known. I'm sure the Spanish will want to make their views known. But there's a major transition coming in Cuba. And I think democratic states have an obligation to act democratically; meaning, to support opposition in Cuba, not to give the regime the idea that it's just going to be transition from one dictatorship to another. And in that regard, you know, I've been able to say that to Miguel because we are colleagues and we are friends, and I'll say it to him again today.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, do you think that there's some wiggle room with Iran? There are lots of discussions out there on terms of partial suspension, you know, freeze for freeze, suspension for suspension and there are a lot of different terms out there? What do you see as sort of your wiggle room in terms of negotiating with Iran?

SECRETARY RICE: Where we've been flexible is on how we get to suspension, agreeing, for instance, that it was perfectly logical for Solana to continue his talks to try to get to suspension. We have not been opposed to discussions between our European allies and the Iranians prior to suspension to see if you can get to suspension. So where we have been flexible is on myriad ways that a consultation process could lead the Iranians to a position where they could suspend.

What we can't do is to have negotiations take place while the Iranians continue to perfect their nuclear technology and use those negotiations as cover to keep UN activity at bay, to keep the international community off balance as to what is going on. That's what we can't accept.

The other issue will be, once we're in negotiations, what kind of nuclear program -- civil nuclear program -- can Iran establish that would be acceptable to the international community and that would meet Iran's needs. We've made very clear that the enrichment and reprocessing activities cannot be on Iranian territory, but there is a lot of room for discussing how Iran could have a civil nuclear program. So I would say the flexibility after negotiations is to think about what kind of civil nuclear program Iran could have that does not involve the fuel cycle. And the flexibility before is to be very flexible on what means of consultation you use to get to suspension as long as it doesn't involve the United States. Because given, frankly, the extraordinary nature of the offer that we've made to change 27 years of our policy, I think that that really should only happen once we've gotten to a place that we know negotiations are really going to lead some place.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you are going to meet the King Juan Carlos, what do you plan to discuss with him?

SECRETARY RICE: First of all, I've met him on a couple of occasions. I'm very fond of him and Her Majesty as well, and he's been a really good friend of the United States. He obviously is an important historic figure in the role that he played in allowing the transition of Spain from authoritarianism to dictatorship1. And I will talk about whatever is on his mind because he's just someone that I admire a lot and I've always enjoyed the interactions that I've had with him.

QUESTION: Thank you. A completely different topic, Turkey -- there's been increasing troop build up on the border with Iraq and the Prime Minister is saying that he supports the military's concerns. What kind of concerns do you have about that? How worried are you if something happens? And what kind of conversations are you having with the Prime Minister or the Foreign Minister now?

SECRETARY RICE: We've been having extensive discussions with the Turks at all levels about the situation in northern Iraq. We are very concerned that the PKK not use the territory of Iraq for terrorist attacks against Turkey. General Ralston has had as his principal -- really his only responsibility -- to work with the Turks on this problem. We have established coordinating mechanism that is U.S., Iraq, Turkey to try and deal with this situation. We're going to continue and expand that. I talked with Abdullah Gul, I think, about, oh, I lose track because I've been on the road. But it was just prior to -- I think it was when I was in California, so sometime last week. So the contact is pretty frequent about this problem and we consider the PKK a terrorist organization. We understand that everyone has a responsibility not to let the territory of Iraq be used for terrorist activities. It's been going on for a long time. It's not new to the current situation in Iraq, but it's something we take very seriously, and our contacts with the Turks are very extensive about it.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, are you warning them not to take --

SECRETARY RICE: We are just working with Turkey to try and deal with the situation. Listen, nothing -- it's not going to help stability in Iraq to have further conflict on that border, one way or another. But we are really working very, very, very closely with the Turks.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you've mentioned a couple of times in this trip how satisfied you are with the Spanish cooperation in Afghanistan. You do remember that last February, Spain was asked to raise its persons there and to assume some commanding posts, and Spain refused to do that. Are you nonetheless very happy with how it's doing it?

SECRETARY RICE: I would like to see all of the allies do more in Afghanistan, and Spain is included in that list. But Spain has done a lot of good work in Afghanistan. I frankly hope they'll do more. But as a part of NATO, every state has an obligation to do as much as they can. This is an alliance of equals, and the burdens need to be shared equally as well as the benefits of the alliance.

MR. MCCORMACK: Last one.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up, Madame Secretary, on what you said about Iran. The point about the United States opposing any enrichment or reprocessing on Iranian territory -- is that a fixed red line? Because as you know, there have been discussions about an international consortium, other ways of an inspection-type regime that would -- even if it were on Iranian territory, it might be able to ensure that it was not misused.

SECRETARY RICE: The issue is that any Iranian civil nuclear program really can't have the fuel cycle attached to it or the ability to have access to it and perfect that technology. That's really the issue. I think if you look back, for instance, on some of the consortium proposals that had been made -- for instance, the Russian consortium proposal had the technical work being done on Russian territory with some of the scientific and other work on Iranian territory and financial-shared responsibilities. I think there are many, many different ways to think about this. But we aren't going to be able to do that until we're in negotiations, and we're not going to be able to do that until the Iranians follow the UN guidelines.

But I think what kind of civil nuclear program Iran might have is something that we'd be interested in hearing from the Iranians about. It may well be that even in these pre-consultation -- or these consultations prior to negotiations, Solana will get some idea of that because nobody wants to enter in negotiations even that would be fruitless. But the real question is not having Iran have access to the fuel cycle.

QUESTION: Thank you.

2007/T9-11

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Released on June 1, 2007

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