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Meetings in London

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
En Route to London, England
May 1, 2008

SECRETARY RICE: I am off, as you know, to a series of meetings in London, quite a few meetings in London, then followed by a trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. We can talk about the Middle East part of this, perhaps, on the way there, but just to describe what we’re doing in London, that I think, in fact, has to set up the trip to the Middle East.

As you remember, Annapolis has a number of pillars, three pillars: first, to have improvements on the ground for the daily lives of the Palestinian people; a second one that looks to Roadmap obligations, including institution building; and then third, the question of the political negotiations. And obviously, it’s a time when we want to try to make and have the parties make progress on all of the tracks.

But London gives us an opportunity to really make certain that there is sufficient international support for what the parties are doing. So there will be a Quartet meeting. There will be a meeting of the Quartet with key Arab states. There will be, most importantly from our point of view, a meeting of the High-Level Committee, the HLC, to take account of how we’re doing in terms of the financial and economic support that has been pledged to the Palestinians. It’s extremely important that people pay their pledges. It’s extremely important that people look for what else they can do to support the Palestinians as they try and move toward economic development.

The meetings in London also include a meeting of the P5+1 on Iran. The way to think about this is that we’ve had a strategy for some time of two tracks: one, the UN Security Council resolution track, we’ve done that now, we’ve had the latest of those resolutions; but the other was to have a track that the Iranians could take should they decide to live up to the obligations that the international community demands, and that means to suspend enrichment and reprocessing.

We will take a look again at what we have offered the Iranians on that second track should the Iranians be willing to suspend their enrichment and reprocessing. But I just want to say I don’t see any evidence that the Iranians appear to be interested in that track, and that doesn't leave us with any options but to continue to pursue the -- to make certain that we’re carrying out the UN Security Council resolutions that have been passed.

And indeed, as you know, the United States continues to look, as do other countries, to questions of designation and to questions of investment and reputational risk for private entities that deal with Iran.

So that will be the Iran meeting. I don’t really expect that there are to be any particular outcomes to that meeting. This is really a chance to review the strategy on both tracks.

And then finally, I’m going to meet with several countries concerning Kosovo. We want to make certain that there are no efforts to partition Kosovo. Kosovo is now an independent state, recognized by all of the countries that will be coming to this meeting. We also recognize that the European police forces need to get into Kosovo, and that requires some work with the UN, with the current UNMIK force that is there, the UNMIK mandate that is there. And so we are going to look at how to move forward more quickly on the deployment of the European forces.

So that’s the agenda in London. I’ll also have in London -- I should say in London tomorrow -- I’ll then also have in London a meeting that sort of starts to set up the Middle East trip with Salam Fayyad and Tzipi Livni. I look forward to that as well. All of these trilaterals are an opportunity to talk to the parties and to hear them talk to each other, because very often when you hear them talk to each other, it’s perhaps possible to see where areas of convergence are emerging and to help them to see those areas of convergence if they can’t necessarily see them themselves.

So -- oh, sorry, didn’t you see you back there. Sorry. That’s the agenda.

QUESTION: The second track in Iran, are you talking with the other P5+1 people about putting sweeteners into this? Is this what the meeting is all about?

SECRETARY RICE: The meeting is to review the entire strategy and to make certain that we stay on course. But I will start by saying that the Iranians haven’t shown any interest -- I don’t care what’s been put before them -- in doing what they need to do, which is suspend enrichment and reprocessing. There is a desire, I think, on the part of some participants to look again at the package that we have and to say: Well, is this everything that we want to do in the package? But I think that’s not the prior question, frankly. I think the prior question is Iran’s willingness to live up to obligations.

QUESTION: Do you think it’s sweet enough?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don’t mind continuing to look at the package, but this is a very generous package. And I don’t, frankly, see why the Iranians shouldn’t find it plenty generous enough.

Let me give Anne, who’s sitting on the couch (inaudible).

QUESTION: Actually, I have the best seat in the house. Great. (Laughter.)

I wanted to ask you, if I could, to follow up just a little bit on something you said at the American Jewish Committee the other night. You were talking about the Palestinians needing to see improvements because they’re starting to lose confidence or express greater frustration. Doesn't that put the onus pretty squarely on Israel to make sure that they are demonstrating to the Palestinians that the peace track is a course worth following? And what are you going to say to Livni or -- and when you get to Israel, to Olmert?

SECRETARY RICE: You know, it’s interesting. First of all, it’s a point I’ve made before and it’s really -- it was really the broader question of how long the window will stay open for a two-state solution. But it is also the case that I think it’s important for the Palestinian people to see improvements in their lives.

The interesting thing is that I don’t find any – anyone who would make a contrary point in the Israeli Government and who would make a counterpoint to that. Throughout the Israeli Government, you hear that they believe that the lives of the Palestinian people need to improve, and in fact, it’s pretty broadly throughout the political spectrum in Israel. I think the question is how to do it. And it’s obviously complicated. It’s why we have a combination of – we have several different mechanisms to do it. The Roadmap obligations are one way to do it. And Will Fraser, with whom I’ll meet when I get out there, has been very systematic in looking at the easements that have been promised by the Israelis and what effect they’re actually having and how they could have more effect. That’s one set of mechanisms having to do with Roadmap obligations.

We are also working hard on improvements on the ground through work that Salam Fayyad and Ehud Barak are doing that, as I may – as I said last time, integrate the need to bring Palestinian security forces, to ease movement and access, and then to bring in economic projects of the kind that Tony Blair is working on. And Jim Jones has been the person who has been helping to bring all of that together. And I think they anticipate being able to do that, for instance, in Jenin, fairly -- fairly soon.

So those are ways to improve the lives of the Palestinian people. It also helps if the international community actually pays its pledges to improve the lives of the Palestinian people. So it’s not just a matter for Israel, although, obviously, Israel has a very important responsibility, probably the lead responsibility, in helping to improve the lives of the Palestinian people. But it’s a shared responsibility. And by the way, it’s a responsibility that is shared by the Palestinian leadership itself. It needs to continue to fight corruption. It needs to make sure that the – its political and economic and military institutions are sound – I mean, security institutions are sound. So it’s a shared responsibility, but I don’t think that the Israelis would argue with the point that they have the lead responsibility.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

SECRETARY RICE: Clearly, I believe that there is more that can be done. And I – you know, that’s why we keep pressing – pressing forward. But frankly, there’s more that could be done by everyone, and we’ll see that, I think, when we start talking to the international community about its (inaudible) pay its pledges (inaudible).

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, the Russians have deployed more troops in Abkhazia and South Ossetia today. Is it something you are going to speak about with Lavrov tomorrow?

SECRETARY RICE: I certainly will speak with Foreign Minister Lavrov about the situation in Georgia. I spoke with him – I guess we were together at – last week -- about the situation in Georgia. It is extremely important that Russia respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. Abkhazia and South Ossetia are integral parts of Georgia. They are not lands that are somehow disconnected from the Georgian state. And so, when things are done, they need to be done through the Georgian state.

Now, what the Russians are doing is a part of a peacekeeping mission that they’re involved in. But given the tensions between Russia and Georgia, it would certainly be helpful if Russia and Georgia maintained direct contact. They have from time to time. This is not a time to excite the environment. And so we were very concerned about the movement of those forces. We have talked to both Georgians and Russians to say let’s not let any of this get out of hand. What is needed is a broad solution for Abkhazia and South Ossetia that can speak to the needs, the legitimate needs, of these very diverse populations. But that has to be done within the context of Georgian sovereignty.

QUESTION: Did you ask the Russians to withdraw these troops?

SECRETARY RICE: We have talked to the Russians about the problem that this kind of behavior really does bring and that it – the tensions that it raises. The fact is, as I understand it, it’s still within certain limits permitted by the peacekeeping arrangements there. But since I don’t believe that Georgia intends to attack Abkhazia, I don’t see the necessity of it.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, (inaudible) international support and particularly Arab support, are you dismayed that you have not seen more political support provided by Arab states for this process? For example, I think it’s only the Qataris that have made a very significant gesture in inviting Foreign Minister Livni. And, in particular, are you dismayed by what I’m told is their lack of coming through on the money that was pledged in Paris?

And on Iran, at the AJC speech, you also talked about the need for an intensification of diplomacy. And yet today, it sounds as if you think a sweetened offer of the 2006 incentives is really unlikely to lead anywhere.

SECRETARY RICE: Diplomacy has many forms, Arshad, and it’s not always a matter of sweeter -- efforts to sweeten packages. I’m all for it. If there are things that could be done to improve the chances that the Iranians will do what they should have done and ought to do, fine, let’s look at it. But what I’m saying is, nothing has been able, so far, to change the fundamental problem, which is not the United States and the P5. It’s not the United States, Germany, France, Britain and Russia and China. It’s not the UN. It’s not Iran’s neighbors. It’s Iran. That’s the problem. It’s Iran that has refused to live up to the obligations that the UN Security Council has placed on it.

Now, I also believe that we’ve got to intensify our efforts on the UN Security Council resolutions themselves. I believe there’s plenty in the Security Council resolutions that, if fully implemented, fully executed, fully used, will increase the pressure on Iran. I believe that there is still much to be done in terms of the collateral effects of a Security Council resolution on private activities where, clearly, people have concerns about the reputational and financial risk associated with dealing with Iran. So I think those are all parts of a diplomatic effort as well.

But it is indeed a two-track strategy. And my only point in saying that I didn’t expect a major outcome from this meeting is that I’m perfectly happy to review the package and perfectly happy to see whether or not the package continues to make sense. But I also think that we have to review whether or not we are fully making use of the Security Council resolution sanctions that we’ve already passed.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, on Arab support. Well, David Welch will probably have more for you and – to say in detail. But I just – I would just encourage everybody to really carry through on their pledges made at Paris, but also to see what else could be done. Countries that have resources and that have an interest in the establishment of a Palestinian state need to put those resources to use now in order to lay the groundwork for the establishment of that state. There are Palestinian security forces to be trained. There are Palestinian entrepreneurial funds that need to be developed. Salam Fayyad has a whole list of projects in villages, whether they are health clinics or schools that he wants to refurbish. There’s a broad, national plan that the Palestinians put together and that Salam Fayyad presented in Paris. And the Palestinians, by the way, need budget support. These are all things that, even if you’ve made a pledge in Paris, by all means, pay it. But then I think that states that have resources ought to be looking not for how little they can do, but how much they can do.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, first, do you support the Turkish mediation between Syria and Israel and will you mediate between Israel and Syria in the future? And second, there were stories yesterday that there was a meeting in Jordan between Prime Minister Olmert and a Syrian official. Do you have anything on that?

SECRETARY RICE: I don’t. I’m not going to comment on other people’s meetings or non-meetings. I don’t have anything on it.

But in terms of the reports of Turkish mediation between Syria and Israel, we have confidence in Turkey, we have confidence in Israel. I think it’s quite clear that we don’t have much confidence in Syria. But we have long said that the United States has no intention or no desire to stand in the way of efforts toward peace on any of their – the tracks.

I would just make the point that the Annapolis process made clear that the Palestinian track is the most mature; it is the one that must be pushed forward, whatever else is pursued. And I might just note, too, that Lebanon, which is still awaiting Syria’s demarcation of its border, which is still awaiting proper diplomatic representation, an Ambassador from Syria to Lebanon, must not be left at the sidelines, whatever else takes place in this process. Because 1701 is extremely important. It also has certain issues that the UN is trying to deal with about territory. But the most important thing is that Syria needs to demarcate that border. And I would hope that this would not get lost. Let me put it this way: The United States will insist that it not get lost, whatever else is going on, but we are not going to ever stand in the way of peace, if that is the case, if people wish to pursue it.

QUESTION: Are you planning to visit Lebanon during this trip?

SECRETARY RICE: The schedule is (inaudible).

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, a few things in there. How do you assess (inaudible) the reference to a (inaudible) agreement this year and a basic (inaudible) as a peaceful Palestinian state, my question was the language has changed a little bit over time (inaudible).

SECRETARY RICE: Just different words. You know, we’ve always talked about the fact that, first of all, the establishment of the state and the implementation of any agreement is subject to the Roadmap obligations. That’s the first thing. Secondly, I don’t think anybody believes that you could fully implement or maybe even settle every detail when you have an agreement. But the purpose is still to get an agreement. And when one talks about the contours, I simply mean you need to know what the Palestinian state is going to look like.

QUESTION: On a different issue, it appears that that Prime Minister Maliki is sending emissaries to Iran. Can you tell us about that? What happens if their message to the Iranians doesn't reduce Iranian influence on Iraq?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I can’t speculate about the future here, just to say that Prime Minister Maliki has told us that he intended to do this. He told us -- told us before it was announced. My understanding is that he is engaging his neighbor in a discussion about what it would be useful to have Iran do and the concerns that they have about the support for militias.

But, you know, this is really for the Iraqis to comment on. And I assume that he will fully inform us as to what he learns. But, you know, our policy remains unchanged, which is that we are countering Iranian efforts to arm and equip militias and special groups, those violent extremists who threaten the innocent Iraqi people and who threaten coalition forces. And we’re going to continue to pursue them in Iraq, as a matter of force protection as well as a matter of helping to deliver population security.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) on a personal (inaudible), can you tell us what your assessment is so far since independence? After the Belgrade Embassy (inaudible) the media have not really been paying that much attention to it. And more specifically, there were reports yesterday that Britain was going to send -- to send troops to supplement -- to complement the NATO forces in Kosovo. I understood (inaudible) police force (inaudible) separate. (Inaudible) necessarily (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: Nick, I have not been able to – I’ve seen the report. I don’t know what it’s referring to, actually, in terms of British -- (inaudible) British forces. Look, I think that given the complicated nature of this enterprise, the recognition of Kosovo, under these circumstances, that things have gone not too badly. It’s really my assessment of it. I think the Kosovars, in particular, have acted with restraint and reacted responsibly. There have been some incidents which we’ve encouraged the UN to respond to, like the taking over of the courthouse.

We do need to get the European police forces in. And there are some issues concerning the UNMIK mandate and so forth. So we’ll try and sort through those. But I would point to the fact, for instance, that the Serbians have gone ahead in their SAA agreement with the Europeans.

So look, it’s a little bit turbulent. But I don’t think that anybody expected that there would be no turbulence. And so far, people have reacted – people have acted pretty responsibly, and I would hope that they would continue to. We continue to have discussions with the Russians. I’ve talked with Kosovo, also with Sergey Lavrov when I was with him in Kuwait. And we’ll continue to try to make sure that, despite the differences that we have on Kosovo, that we -- that those differences don’t fuel, in any way, further conflict there.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)


QUESTION: Madame Secretary, on Kosovo still. Do you have any sign--you mentioned -- you want to make sure that there are no efforts to divide Kosovo. Do you see any increasing signs of that? And on the pledges and – for the Palestinian aid, who – can you give any indication of -- more specifically on what your concerns are about not paying and specifically who, obviously, if you can say?

SECRETARY RICE: I don’t want to overstate the case. David will tell you, I think that -- in his numbers that -- you can get the numbers -- you know, it’s about half of it has been -- has been paid, which, you know, is not bad several months after Paris. But the Palestinians are in a situation in which they are very dependent on the international community for resources, so we have to make sure that all of it is paid, not just half of it.

In terms of Kosovo, the -- I don't think that, at this point, one sees all-out efforts to try and partition, and that's good. But, for instance, the move toward the -- on the courthouse was a disturbing incident. There have been, as I understand it, some incidents that try and show that parts of Kosovo are acting as if they were independent.

One has to make a judgment on when something really challenges the sovereignty and integrity of Kosovo, and when something is simply, maybe just a kind of protest. But what we can't let happen is that there is a sort of -- any kind of slippery slope toward questioning the territorial integrity of Kosovo.

QUESTION: Just one more on Iran and the discussion about incentives. Who is particularly interested in discussing incentives? Is it just one country? Is it more than one?

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

SECRETARY RICE: We all agreed -- (laughter) -- that we would continue to discuss both tracks and that we would continue to look for ways to make the Security Council track effective and to make the incentive track attractive. But again, I don't think that the problem is the package. I think the problem is Iranian will. Because if you look at everything that has been offered to Iran, if indeed what they want is a civil nuclear power -- is civil nuclear power, they can have it. They can have it quickly. They already have the reactor. The Russians have already delivered the fuel. They could have civil nuclear power. So I think we continue to suspect, or I continue to suspect, that this is not at all about a civil nuclear program.

When you're sitting there with what's essential for a civil nuclear program and you keep saying you have to enrich and reprocess, despite the fact that the Russians have now, with the agreement of the other members of the P5+1, delivered the fuel, one has to wonder what's going on here. So I don't actually think the problem is the package, but I'm perfectly happy to look at the package.

QUESTION: Can you speak specifically about what ideas you have related to the Security Council resolution (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, it's not to -- for a new Security Council resolution. But look, there are clearly -- and to be fair, we've had some bureaucratic challenges ourselves in making sure that we're fully carrying out the Security Council resolutions. So I'm not accusing anyone of bad faith. I'm just saying that we have to make sure that the lists are actually being carried out, and when there are designations that the lists are communicated to all appropriate. It's really the blocking and tackling, if you will, of making a Security Council resolution work.

But I'd also like to look -- I'm hoping that colleagues will understand that it is also important for commercial enterprises and for international financial institutions, as many have done, to fully recognize the reputational risk of dealing with Iran. And so, what the German Government has been doing in cutting back export credits is also very important, although that's not demanded by the Security Council resolution.

Okay. Oh --

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I just wanted to go back to the Middle East.


QUESTION: Oh, thank you. I'm Kim Ghattas. I'm with the BBC. I'm new.

SECRETARY RICE: Nice to meet you.

QUESTION: I'm very pleased to be here on my first trip.

President Abbas came to Washington last week with what seemed to be a very clear message. He's very concerned about the fact that the continuing settlement growth by the Israelis is undermining the credibility of the talks, and he seemed to think that he -- or what we understood from, you know, what we were hearing from the Palestinians is that they were going to ask for some kind of American pressure on the Israelis to try to at least halt settlement growth at this stage. Is that something that came up? It didn't get a promise? Is that something you're going to raise in your talks in Israel?

And a follow-up on that. There's a real pressure, it seems, to try to make some kind of agreement happen before President Bush leaves office. The expectations were quite high. They're starting to become a bit lower. Is there a fear that if, you know, there isn't an actual agreement, is there a fear of what the alternative might be? Do you feel you're racing against time as, in the region, it really does appear as though moderates are losing ground and there is more and more worries about chaos.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I've said, and I think the President has said, that it is important to give reasonable people and moderate forces reason for hope, and that hope takes the form of articulating and agreement on the establishment of a Palestinian state. And there is great urgency to that because, as I said in the speech the other night, I do believe that the window for the two-state solution will not be forever open. And in (inaudible), I think you could argue that it has -- it's gotten narrower and narrower over time.

Now, that is going to require difficult choices, but not just difficult choices by the Israelis. It's going to require difficult choices by the Palestinians, too. And so it's not surprising that it hasn’t happened in a blinding flash since Annapolis. I have sat in now discussions with -- a very long discussion with the Palestinians when they were in Washington, with the Israelis, and then with Israelis and Palestinians together. And I find it instructive and I find it actually reassuring that the depth of their discussion about what will have to be overcome and how they might overcome some of their differences is pretty intense in this period.

So I think one of the problems that everyone has is that there are very good reasons they are trying not to be out in front of the press, or, frankly, out in front of the international community every day, with what they're talking about, are they making progress, what are the differences. It's not a very good way to negotiate on what are very, very difficult issues. And so, the fact that one can't see churning under the rudder, I think has led people to believe that there is nothing -- no progress is being made. And I just think it's not right. I think they are making progress.

Now, our responsibility, my responsibility, the President's responsibility, is not to try and step in and make the agreement for them. That's not going to work. But one of the reasons that I like the format that we've been using the last two times, which is to sit in a trilateral format, is that when you hear them talk to each other, rather than just to you in a bilateral format, it's possible to hear where there may be areas of convergence, not to try to resolve them but to help them to see. And I think they appreciate that kind of help. But I think it is far too early to start any sense of despair about the end of the year that -- that has been set as a goal -- a goal by both sides.

As to the settlements, you know, we've spoken to it several times. I raise it all the time. Look, it's not helpful. The United States has very clear policies on this. I do think that, ultimately, the best answer here is to determine what's going to be in Israel and what's going to be in Palestine. And since I do not, and the United States Government does not, accept that anything that is done prior to an agreement can, in fact, now present a fait accompli or determine the final outcome of this, I think that needs to be understood, too. But the best thing we can possibly do is finally -- finally determine what those borders are going to be.

All right, thanks everybody.


Released on May 1, 2008

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