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Announcement of General James Jones as Special Envoy for Middle East Security

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
November 28, 2007

(3:15 p.m. EST)

Secretary Rice speaks from the podium with General James Jones, Special Envoy for Middle East Security at his announcement ceremony. [State Dept. photo]SECRETARY RICE: Good afternoon. Today it is my pleasure to announce General Jim Jones as my new Special Envoy for Middle East Security. Building security in the Middle East is the surest path to making peace in the Middle East and General Jones is the best individual to lead our efforts in this essential endeavor. General Jones is taking up his post at a time of renewed hope. Yesterday in Annapolis, Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas agreed together that they will launch negotiations to establish a Palestinian state and seek Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Earlier today, I was at the White House where President Bush had invited the parties to inaugurate their negotiations. Any lasting peace must be built on solid foundations of security. Israelis must be confident that a Palestinian state will increase their security, not detract from it. Palestinians must be capable of standing on their own and policing their territory and countries in the region must be invested in the success of this state-building effort, for their own security depends on it too.

For all these reasons I believe that we need an experienced leader who can address the regional security challenge comprehensively and at the highest levels and who can provide the full support of our government to the partners, as they work to meet their responsibilities. General Jones is the person we need to take up this vital mission.

General Jones, of course, brings decades of experience and illustrious service to his new post. He distinguished himself as a U.S. Marine over 40 years of active duty service. He is a decorated combat veteran. He has been Commandant of the Marine Corps and he has held a number of significant command positions in uniform, ultimately rising to be Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and Commander of U.S. European Command, which included Israel as a part of his area of responsibility. So General Jones is deeply familiar with the Middle East. The General is also fluent in French, but I understand that was no thanks to the Marines.

In this new role, General Jones will advance our objective of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He will work with Israelis and Palestinians on the full range of security issues and he will work to strengthen security for both sides. General Jones will work with Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, who will continue his mission of helping the Palestinian Authority to build and rationalize its security forces.

General Jones will also engage with key countries to support Middle East security. He will design and implement a new U.S. Government plan for our security assistance to the Palestinian Authority and our security cooperation with the Israeli and Palestinian governments.

In all of these efforts, General Jones will report directly to me and I will look to him for candid, independent advice and assessments of our efforts. In accepting this position, General Jones will be adding to his responsibilities at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where he leads the Institute for 21st Century Energy. I want to thank Tom Donohue and the Chamber for recognizing the importance of our current work in the Middle East and for graciously letting us share General Jones.

It is clear that we will have a superior commander, a seasoned diplomat, a brilliant strategist, experienced leader who understands the security challenges of the Middle East and how to meet those challenges successfully. As we work to help the Palestinians and the Israelis design their future, we hope that the work that General Jones will do will help them to better design a security concept that can make that future one that is clearly one of better security and peace for both sides.

I am honored that General Jones has accepted this new opportunity to serve his country, and I look forward to his getting to work as soon as possible.

GENERAL JONES: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here. It's a great honor to be asked to be of assistance in this very, very important matter. I look forward to forming a team and working with both the State Department and Defense Department as the need arises to complete our task. I'm grateful to my boss, Tom Donohue, and the U.S. Chamber for understanding the seriousness of the moment in terms of the situation that we face. And I'm looking forward to getting back to a part of the world that I spent some part of my last 17 years in uniform since 1990 getting to know. It is critically important. It's great to see the -- our country play such an important leadership role and I look forward to doing whatever I can to assist in bringing my responsibilities to the Secretary in a timely way so that it can be useful.

So thank you for asking me to do this, Secretary -- thank you very much.


Released on November 28, 2007

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