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Briefing En route Santiago, Chile

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
En route Santiago, Chile
March 14, 2008

SECRETARY RICE: I’m looking forward now to going on to Chile and Chile is a country that, in many ways, symbolizes several important aspects of American policy toward Latin America. It’s a country with which we have a growing economic relationship thanks to a free trade agreement that was signed several years ago. It’s a country that, for us, connects the Pacific Rim all the way up through Asia, through our relationship in APEC. It’s a country with whom we have very good relations and have sustained good relations demonstrating that the United States really has no litmus test since Chile has – the Chilean leadership has come from (inaudible), so throughout the time with this Administration, we’ve had really excellent relations.

We’ve worked together well in the OAS, worked together well when Chile was in the UN. And so it’s a very solid relationship. Foreign Minister Foxley and I have also been engaged in our common interest in education. We’re going to highlight a couple of new programs that we’ve started as well as the work that Chile has been doing with California to develop a special relationship with California. So I’m very much looking forward to it and I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: Do you have any kind of readout on the negotiations that Chris Hill (inaudible) Geneva now; I guess Sung Kim is going to carry on without him. Any progress, any (inaudible) uranium enrichment (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: My understanding – I haven’t had a chance to (inaudible) readout. But my understanding is that there will now have to be some period of (inaudible) to the capitals and so I wouldn’t expect anything immediate, but it’s time to solve this issue in the declaration and that’s what we’re going to keep doing. The United States is ready to fulfill its obligations when North Korea fulfills its obligations. So North Korea needs to fulfill those obligations.

QUESTION: Are there any plans for any (inaudible) Chris Hill back from Geneva and can you give us any sense – you talked about (inaudible) maintaining about how you were sort of indifferent or flexible on form. Can you give us a sense now of what is left to sort out? Is it a matter of form or is it still a matter of substance that they’re actually --

SECRETARY RICE: I would say it’s still a matter of substance. And Chris doesn’t have any plans to go back to Geneva at this point. It was intended to be a one-day meeting. He’ll come back to the United States and we’ll see where we are when he gets back. I’ll have a chance to consult and he’ll have a chance to talk himself with the allies.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, what are – can you talk about next week in Moscow and what your plans are there and if you’re bringing anything to the table that you think might persuade Moscow on the missile defense plans or assuage their concerns?

SECRETARY RICE: The discussions with political level officials have been going on for some time at the level of John Rood and Sergey Kislyak. And we thought that there had been enough interest shown in those talks and in the conversations that the President had had with President Putin that it might be worth Bob Gates and I going out to see whether or not there is – whether or not we can clarify and develop some of the ideas that we have put on the table. When we were in Moscow the last time, it was to -- concerning missile defense and also concerning START. I don’t – I wouldn’t expect any new proposals. We’ve made a conceptual proposal. It’s been a matter now of developing the elements of that and that’s what we’ll do when we go out with further development and (inaudible) ideas.

QUESTION: Can you give any examples of –

SECRETARY RICE: We’ll talk to the Russians first and (inaudible).

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, my question is on Venezuela. A couple of days ago --

SECRETARY RICE: About?

QUESTION: Venezuela. A couple of days ago in your hearing at the Congress, you say that there is an apparent relation between Caracas and the Chavez government and the FARC. If the United States discovers that there is a true relation, is there any way to manage that situation that it can -- different than include Venezuela on your terrorist list?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'm not going to make any judgments about what the nature of that relationship might be. I think you know we've been concerned about it for some time. And I know that there is further information to be developed on more recent operations that Colombia has carried out. And we are waiting, like everyone else, to see the results of those -- of that investigation. I know, too, that the OAS has undertaken a pledge that is similar to the ones they’ve taken at the UN, that one’s territory should not be used for the support of irregular forces or terrorist forces.

And so there's a lot to work with here and -- but I'm not going to try to prejudge the information until it's been fully vetted, until we've seen it. But the principle is clear. States are – responsible states are supposed to make certain that they're doing everything that they can not to allow their territory to be used for irregular operations against the neighboring states or to help with the financing of irregular forces, terrorist forces. And I think that's something that every state should be held to.

QUESTION: Going back to Russia. At least in public, I discern no easy (inaudible) Russia visit and I wonder if, in private (inaudible) – in private, if you have any sense that they are more amenable or less resistant to your missile defense plans in Europe? Also, are you going to meet President-elect Medvedev while you are there and what do you hope to plan to bring up with him and/or with President Putin if you needed to (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: What do I intend to bring up?

QUESTION: What do you intend to bring up with Medvedev if you meet him and what do you intend to bring up with President Putin on your visit there?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, in private, we've had good discussions with the Russians. I wouldn't go so far as to say that their opposition is diminished. But the reason, with clarification, (inaudible) that we made when we were last there is that they've shown some interest in those proposals. And so we'll go and we'll develop it further. We've got to work internally to see how we might develop it. (Inaudible) acceptable proposal when we went for the first time and so we'll see.

With President Putin, I expect that we will talk about these issues, but also the range of U.S.-Russian bilateral issues as well as a number of regional concerns the Russians have had. And I think, for instance, it's probably -- Kosovo is something that we've done and the Russians are not very fond of the outcome – fond of the outcome. But I suspect it's a good thing to talk about (inaudible) at this point and we’ll talk about a whole range.

I believe that we will -- I hope to see President-elect Medvedev. I haven't myself had a chance to catch up with his schedule, so I've been concentrating on Latin America. But I've met him several times. This will not be the first time that I've met him. I spent substantial time with him (inaudible) my trip to Moscow. And I'd be interested in hearing how he thinks about not just the future of U.S.-Russian relations, but because he’s been very involved in domestic affairs in Russia and how he sees the evolution of domestic politics and economics.

QUESTION: Do you think that he is any more interested in restoring civil liberties and genuine political participation and access to the media and so on? It's interesting; I’ve seen criticisms from a couple of senior Russian officials essentially arguing that to maintain the economic progress, we really have to have more political (inaudible). Do you sense Medvedev is any more inclined toward this and (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the proof will be in the pudding, right? I did note some of the comments that he made in his speech about wanting to see greater openness in Russia. I hope that’s true. I happen to agree that the economic benefits or economic progress, which isn’t dependent simply on national resources, requires a different kind of organizational society and the ability to tap creative people.

And I’ve never believed (inaudible) anytime saying that you can tell people that they should think at work but not at home. And I also look at a growing entrepreneurial and burgeoning middle class in Russia. And I have to think that those are going to be elements of Russian society that are going to want to be able to defend their rights in the political process to get some access to their leadership, to petition their leadership on behalf of their interests.

So we’ll see. I can’t judge and I certainly hope so and it’s one of the messages that I would hope the new leadership would take, that the United States remains interested in a good relationship with Russia, but that we see or (inaudible) see that a really deepening of our relationship comes on the basis of a greater emergence of common values concerning human rights and liberties.

MR. CASEY: Hey guys, why don’t we – one more – one more question, maybe something on Latin America?

SECRETARY RICE: Right. (Laughter.)

MR. CASEY: All right.

QUESTION: He asked all my questions, so I’m --

MR. CASEY: Go ahead.

SECRETARY RICE: Okay, so then you've got the last question.

QUESTION: Last question is on Latin America. I wonder if you can comment President Correa’s proposals to create an OAS without regarding the United States?

SECRETARY RICE: The United States is the biggest country in the Western Hemisphere. It’s the most powerful economy in the Western Hemisphere and it has some of the strongest relationships in the Western Hemisphere. I think the OAS is safe and I think America’s role in the Western Hemisphere is safe.

QUESTION: That was an easy one. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I don’t think any results are yet in on the Iranian elections and (inaudible).

SECRETARY RICE: I haven’t. Have you?

QUESTION: No, I haven’t, frankly. I mean, how – I can read (inaudible) the story. How dismayed were you, if indeed you were, that Defense Minister Barak did not choose to attend the meeting with General Fraser? And how tough was the United States on Israel and Palestinians in that assestment?

SECRETARY RICE: We have known for some time that the counterpart would be (inaudible). That was expected, so -- and I talked to Defense Minister Barak about that several times. So that was expected. We’ll see what General Fraser reports to me. I – the report is (inaudible), let me make that very clear, but I’m not (inaudible) to the fact that there is a lot of room for improvement on both sides concerning roadmap obligations. Frankly, not nearly enough has happened to demonstrate that the Israelis and the Palestinians fully understand or somehow are fully acting on the – to what is a very clear view to me that without following roadmap obligations and without improvement on the ground, it’s very hard to sustain this process. And so I’ll see what General Fraser says. General (inaudible) has also been out there and we'll talk to him when he gets back and we'll see if we can’t (inaudible).

MR. CASEY: Okay, guys.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.

2008/T9-4



Released on March 14, 2008

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