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Roundtable with Travel Press

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Ambassador's Residence
Algiers, Algeria
September 6, 2008

SECRETARY RICE: This is a nice dwelling, isn't it?


QUESTION: Did Guantanamo issues come up at all in this session?

SECRETARY RICE: We did discuss Guantanamo transfers.

QUESTION:  I mean, there are these two that were released that Human Rights Watch was thinking about. They were returned home on July 2nd, and we have no idea where they are, and –


PARTICIPANT: I was told that they had been located by –

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, I think this is -- we believe this is okay, Glenn.

QUESTION: So, are we going to send more U.S. –

SECRETARY RICE: We are working on it. You know that our goal is to -- with the right security provisions, and the right protections for the people, the right human rights protections for the people -- is to return as many people to their homes of origin as possible. And so we are working with everybody in that regard, and we are working with the Algerians on it, as well.

QUESTION: Did you make any break-through –

SECRETARY RICE: I think we feel we have a good working relationship with Algeria on this issue, and we hope that we can move it forward soon. You know, we would like to move as much of the population of Guantanamo out as we possibly can, but it is important to have both security assurances and human rights protections. And I think we feel we have done well with Algeria on both those scores.

QUESTION: Has Guantanamo Bay, trying to get the detainees out of Guantanamo Bay, been a key theme in all of your meetings? Is that one of -- is that on your checklist while you're here?

SECRETARY RICE: It's been one of the issues. I wouldn't call it a key theme, you know. It doesn't take very long, generally, to discuss it, because these things are dealt with by the -- our person, Clint Williamson and John Bellinger's office. And so, generally, it's just a matter of a couple of issues, and I've raised them in both Tunisia and here, in Algeria.

QUESTION: Do you think that Guantanamo Bay will be closed by the end -- you will be able to –

SECRETARY RICE: The important thing is the President said we would like to. But you also have to remember that we have an obligation not to have dangerous people on the streets. And so, we are trying to find solutions for all of them.

QUESTION: Could I ask you about the –

QUESTION: Wait, wait, hold on. Before we go off India -- because this is somewhat related to that -- is it not fair or is it fair to say that part of -- when you're discussing Guantanamo, the goal is to get these people done, so you can close it while you're still –

SECRETARY RICE: No. The President has been clear that he would like to have it closed. But we are going to do this in a way that is rigorous and that gets the protections that we need, and that the detainees need.

And so, the question of is it on our watch or not I think is not what really -- it's more the issue of making sure that dangerous people are not on the streets, making sure that, if you return somebody, that you've got the proper assurances for us, in terms of our international and our domestic obligations, legally. 

So, we are working through the population, and we have had a lot of good cooperation. But there is still a lot of work to do.

QUESTION: And in the broader sense, the broader theme of this kind of counter-terrorism theme, it's obviously something that is –

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, very important here.

QUESTION: -- that you brought up, and that you will bring up again Morocco.


QUESTION: And in Tunisia?


QUESTION: And it was threatened -- it was lodged against you while you were here. What are you looking for more from these three countries, or four –

SECRETARY RICE: Four -- well, it will be four when we finish Morocco; it's three right now.

QUESTION: Right, right. You know, you seem -- you said so far, thus far, that it's good, that the cooperation is good.


QUESTION: But are you looking for more?
SECRETARY RICE: I think people generally -- our counter-terrorism people -- I think you had a quote from Dell Dailey earlier -- I think our counter-terrorism people think that the cooperation here is good. But there is always more that you can do to tighten sharing of information, to make sure that you've got all the right channels, to give technical support in terms of the terrorism threat.

Look, it's no secret that it is a problem that has really been very salient in the Maghreb for – even more salient over the last several months, as we have seen more terrorist activity here. And so we just want to make sure that we're doing everything that we can. But we don't have any quarrel at all with the level of cooperation.

QUESTION: Did you get a sense from the leaders why they think there is an –

MODERATOR: All right, guys, we're just going to do two more questions.

SECRETARY RICE: I think that, you know, that the terrorists try, and they -- you know, they pick targets. And unfortunately, there have been a series of bombings here. But, you know, it's happened in other places at other times. I don't think it is anything in particular in this area.

Yes, Helene, India?

QUESTION: When we're going -- we're going back -- when we go back, you're going to have a very short amount of time to get this –


QUESTION: -- through Congress. What specific steps do you plan to take to try to get this done?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the first thing is that we still have a little more to do on the determinations for the Hyde Act, and we will try to complete that. I also will -- I have already talked before this NSG, several weeks before, to relevant committee chairs about trying to get it done, and I will have those conversations again, most likely on Monday or Tuesday, as well as trying to see whether the leadership believes that this can go forward.

But, look, we understand that the time is very short. We knew that in the summer, when the Indians were able finally to move this forward in their domestic process. But I think we have demonstrated the commitment of the administration to this agreement, because we have worked this with the very, very strong help of partners through the IAEA and through the NSG in very rapid order. I don't think most people thought that we were going to be able to get this through the NSG this weekend.

And I want to thank, especially, the German chair for the way that they have worked on this, but also we have had, frankly, good cooperation with Britain, France, and Russia on -- in -- their delegations were very helpful. And I want to thank also the heads of delegations even who had difficulty: for instances, Norway. I talked several times with Foreign Minister Store, who had very strong views about the principles of the non-proliferation regime, but helped us find a way forward.

So, it has been a good week for those negotiations. But we will just have to see whether it is still possible in Congress. In any case, we will have left a very good package, and I hope that it will be taken up.

MODERATOR: All right guys, thanks.


PARTICIPANT: Thank you very much.



Released on September 6, 2008

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