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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Nov 29th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow US and Western Governments arrow Remarks Sec Rice with French FM Kouchner
Remarks Sec Rice with French FM Kouchner PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 24 June 2007

Secretary Rice
Secretary Rice

Press Availability With French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner After Their Meeting

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Paris, France
June 24, 2007

FOREIGN MINISTER KOUCHNER: (In French.) (In progress) We had opportunity to see that we very much see things eye to eye (inaudible). And even if we're not entirely in agreement, I think it's good that one country is able to speak frankly to one another. So I will be answering your questions after the Secretary of State will have said a few words. I should like to say that we (inaudible) condemn (inaudible) according to our latest information, unfortunately (inaudible) perished, died (inaudible) and which is not simply a (inaudible) not be killed by a landmine, but by a remote-controlled bomb. This needs to be verified. (Inaudible.)

So, Condi, please be very welcome here. I will give you the floor and (inaudible) questions (inaudible).

SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you very much. It's wonderful to be here with you and it is indeed my first trip here to meet with the new government. I want to first offer my great congratulations to President Sarkozy and to you, Bernard, in assuming your responsibilities.

Let me join you in condemning the attack on the Spanish soldiers who were part of the UNIFIL mission. Obviously, the UNIFIL mission has been very important in helping to bring an end to the Lebanese war of last summer and in helping to bring security so that the people of Lebanon could return to normal life. And I join you in absolutely condemning any attack that was launched against them.

I am indeed delighted to be here and to talk about the wide-ranging interests that we share. It's always good to talk about wide-ranging interests when you're doing so with friends who share values, because whatever differences there may be about this tactic or that tactic, there is rarely a difference about the importance of democracy and freedom and rarely a difference about the really crucible and crucial times that we face now in helping to promote democracy and freedom around the world. And I want to thank you personally for a life's work in that regard, not just in your word as an official but also in your work with Doctors Without Borders, which is really one of the finest organizations I think ever created. And your personal commitment to human rights and to alleviating the worst suffering in the human condition is something that I have very much admired for many years.

That is coming through again in the leadership that you are showing in calling together the ministers tomorrow for a conference on Darfur, one of the true humanitarian disasters that we face in international politics and one that the international community has simply got to act more quickly and more responsibly to stop the killing and the devastation in Darfur. And I look forward to working with you in that conference and in going forward to address that situation.

We have talked about many other issues of interest: our common interest in Afghanistan; our common concerns to find reasonable solutions to the problems of the Middle East; we've talked about Kosovo and we have many other subjects for dinner. So without further ado, let me thank you again for welcoming me here, let me thank you for the renewed friendship between France and the United States. We do share common values and, of course, a very common history. I think some would say that there might not have been a United States of America but for your help. So thank you very much for all that you have done and that you will do as we try and address the common challenges. Thank you.


QUESTION: You said on the plane that you will ask the people who talk to Syria to address a strong message because of Syria's intervention in Lebanon. Could you really specify concretely what does a ‘strong message’ mean to Syria? And if you allow me, how that can divided Lebanon survive the intervention of Syria day to day?

(Via interpreter) A question to Mr. Kouchner. Mr. Kouchner, you have launched an initiative to convene a conference in mid-July bringing together the various Lebanese parties. Do you believe that the failure of Mr. Moussa is likely to either change your mind about this conference or at least will it change the configuration of this conference? Perhaps you'll think about some alternative to a conference? Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: The message to Syria should be the message that was there in Resolution 1559 and has been also embodied in Resolution 1701, which is the very clear view, very clear message, that foreign influences should not be involved in Lebanon, that Lebanon's future should be one for Lebanese, and that efforts at intimidation of the Lebanese -- particularly Lebanese political figures -- should not be permitted. Syrian forces left Lebanon. They left Lebanon under pressure from the Lebanese people and from the international community. France and the United States were successful in our cooperation in reversing decades of Syrian occupation of Lebanon; on behalf of the Lebanese people we worked. And so that's the message and indeed it is a message that I think everyone who talks with Syria should bring.

As to a divided Lebanon, there is -- certainly it's a difficult political situation and has been a difficult political situation for decades. But there is an elected government in Lebanon, and that elected government should be allowed to function. That elected government is working to broaden its appeal to the Lebanese people. It is working with the support of the international community. The last time that I was in Paris, I was here for a large conference, a donor conference that supported the Lebanese people with more than $7 billion in donations and assistance because everyone recognizes that the Lebanese Government is under pressure from extremists and under pressure from those who would make it impossible for the democratically elected government there to function.

So these have to be Lebanese processes. We are in complete agreement with that. But there has been support from the international community and there needs to continue to be support to do whatever we can to help this young democracy survive.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOUCHNER: (Via interpreter) Perhaps I could answer the question that was put to me just a minute ago. Of course, we are not ignorant of Syria's role in Lebanon, Madame. (Inaudible) the point that Franco-American determination a (inaudible) years ago made it possible to ensure the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanese territories. (Inaudible) had there not been Lebanese determination after the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri (inaudible) Franco-American determination.

Nor do I forget that here in this (inaudible) house I was involved in the (inaudible) of Syria. I'm thinking of Taif Agreement to put an end to the fratricidal wars in Lebanon. So it's a very complex issue. Mostly I would say that Syrian influence is negative and there is no question of renewing dialogue with Syria if indeed this country does not give evidence, concrete evidence of the fact that it is prepared to participate in peace process (inaudible). We don't suggest that (inaudible) do with this. We simply suggest that (inaudible) could welcome on its territories representatives from all Lebanese communities which (inaudible) with the agreement of Prime Minister Siniora, whom we continue to support. And by the way, Mr. Siniora is coming on Tuesday to have lunch with the President of the Republic and I will be there in order to show, to prove that we continue to support and endorse the Government of the 14th of March. That is abundantly clear.

Lebanon is a country close to our hearts. The Lebanese are close to the hearts of the French. We continue to be so and felt that what we needed to do. But what we needed to do especially after the UN resolution with France and (inaudible) achieve together which enabled us to set up an international tribunal to (inaudible) and Mr. Hariri, it seemed to us that we should be constructive and positive on both sides, and insofar as we wish to do this, we should bring people together in a very informal manner. There is no formal structure, no formal communiqué that is already been prepared, and we invited them to come to France. (Inaudible) take place.

You mentioned the failure of Mr. Moussa’s -- the Arab League’s representatives efforts. Mr. Moussa (inaudible) going to be attending the Darfur conference tomorrow. We'll (inaudible) with him. But I believe in the offer that has been made has simply been turned down because (inaudible) murder, unspeakable murder (inaudible) referring to (inaudible) so we decided that possibly we would postpone this until the 15th of July. The decision will be taken tomorrow.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, Arshad Mohammed of Reuters. The violence in Darfur is now in its fifth year. It is now nearly three years since the Bush Administration called it genocide. Why should anyone expect or believe that the conference tomorrow or a new UN Security Council resolution, if there is the will to pass one, will actually make a difference to the lives of Darfuris?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I have seen first-hand the devastation and the difficult circumstances in which people live in Darfur. And I will be very frank; I do not think that the international community has really lived up to its responsibilities here. And what the President has been doing is to continue to try and rally the international community to do precisely that. You note that the -- you will note that the United States, of course, recently sanctioned again certain -- sanctioned -- further sanctioned Sudan and certain individuals there as well as certain companies. We will look at resolutions and we are indeed working with our colleagues on a resolution.

But ultimately, this is going to come down to will. It's going to come down to will to insist that the government in Khartoum permit the UN hybrid force with the African Union to come into being because I've said to the government of Khartoum that they are unable or unwilling to provide security for these people and therefore they must accept international help to do so.

It also requires that there be international will to continue the efforts on the peace negotiations. The United States was very involved in bringing about a peace agreement, but it is obviously an agreement that is weakened by the absence of the participation of certain rebel groups and we have to work on that piece as well.

But it really is going to come down to will. Are we prepared to make the difficult choices in the international system that will, I believe, persuade and compel Khartoum to do what it must? And one reason that I am so pleased to be here for this Darfur conference is that I think this is a renewed push from France. And my colleague, the Foreign Minister, knows the situation well in Darfur. And it is a renewed push in which we can come together and look again at what we need to do.

And there is one other piece. We need to generate the forces in the UN so that we can get them in. We need to support the African Union forces that are there. There is a lot to do, but I would be the first to say that I do not think that the international community has yet, as of yet, discharged its responsibilities very effectively.

QUESTION: Yes, Madame Secretary of State. I am a Palestinian journalist (inaudible) ask about the situation in Palestine. I would like to ask you, Madame, do you believe that your policy in the Middle East, it is (inaudible) what's going in Palestine? Now we have to (inaudible) of Gaza and (inaudible) of West Bank. In Lebanon (inaudible) same problem. So do you think that the policy of your government is the one? What do you think?

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, first of all, it's the policy of our government to support democratically elected leaders who want to live in a world in which there is tolerance, in which people can live in peace with one another. And it is a policy, by the way, that is not just the policy of the United States Government. It's the policy of the international community as a whole. For instance, in the Palestinian situation there is a process of moving to two states that is internationally accepted, and the part of the Palestinian political leadership that accepts that is the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas, who is the president of all the Palestinian people.

And I simply don't accept the notion which some are saying that there are two Palestinian leaders, leaderships, or two Palestinian governments. There's one president of the Palestinian people. It's Mahmoud Abbas. There is one government of the Palestinian people. It is the emergency government that Mahmoud Abbas has put in place. There will be one Palestinian state that will have the territories of the West Bank of Gaza together.

And we are I think -- the United States -- demonstrating our belief in that because while we are determined not to support Hamas, which caused this problem and tried to, in a sense, overthrow the legitimate government, the legitimate power of the Palestinian Authority, we are giving $43 million in humanitarian assistance to the people in Gaza through the United Nations. Because we're not going to forget about the people in Gaza. We are not going to condemn 1.3 million people in Gaza to live under Hamas without the support of the international community for their humanitarian needs. And so I don't believe for a minute that there can be two Palestines. There will be one Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel.

It is the same with Lebanon: supporting a united Lebanese government elected by the Lebanese people.

FOREIGN MINISTER KOUCHNER: I might just add that France immediately (inaudible) keenly aware of the difficult situation in which (inaudible) living on a day to day basis. We always supported (inaudible). We called for (inaudible). And I’m happy that the European Union should have done likewise. (Inaudible.)

But you Americans -- there is all Americans asking questions. What about the others, the French? Thank you.

QUESTION: Sylvie Lanteaume from AFP.


SECRETARY RICE: But we count her. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, to expand on the question of my colleagues. One year ago, you described the war in Lebanon as one of the (inaudible) of the new Middle East. Today, one year later, seeing what's happening in Gaza, in Lebanon, in Iraq, how do you see the baby doing?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I see democracy is hard. And I see it is especially hard when there are determined enemies who try and strangle it. And I'm not in the least bit surprised that there are those in Iraq who do not want to see the Iraqi Government, which 12.5 million Iraqis voted for, be able to govern. They are some of the same people who sow violence throughout the Middle East, for instance in those camps in Lebanon.

So I'm not surprised that there are extremists who are fighting back. I'm not surprised that it is difficult for the Lebanese Government. But I would just note that from the year that -- since we were here, the Lebanese Government, with the help of the international community, and again I give my condolences to the Spanish for what has happened, but the Lebanese army is in the south in the Lebanon for the first time in decades. The Lebanese army has fought in those camps for the first time in decades. The Syrian forces are out of Lebanon for the first time in decades. And yes, it's hard. But it would be absolutely wrong to say that the Lebanese people have gained nothing and have achieved nothing in the last year since they decided that Syrian forces had to leave their territory. They've gained a great deal.

It would be wrong to say that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, one of the most brutal murderers of the 20th century, that the Iraqi people have gained nothing. And it would be wrong to say that in the Palestinian territories that despite the difficulties there, the rise of a man who believes in a proper road to peace in which the Palestinians and the Israelis can live side by side in peace and security, means nothing to the Palestinian people.

But yes, it's hard. But when I think back over history and I think about how hard it has been to achieve many of the outcomes that we now take for granted, I realize that when people say, ‘Well, the Middle East was stable’, what stability? The stability in which Saddam Hussein put 300,000 people in mass graves? That was stability? The stability in which Syrian forces were embedded in Lebanon? That was stability? The stability in which Yasser Arafat turned down an opportunity for the Palestinian people to have their own state? That was stability? The stability that produced al-Qaida to, on one September day, cause 3,000 American deaths? The stability in which we never spoke about democracy in the Middle East, allowing unhealthy extremist forces to be the only politically organized forces in the Middle East?

Yeah, it's really hard. It's hard for democracy to take hold in a place in which it has not taken hold before. But I am confident about the triumph of these values because I've seen it happen before. I am confident that there is nothing wrong with the people of the Middle East, that indeed under the right circumstances and with the right support that they can indeed triumph and triumph democratically. And I am exceedingly aware that it is a rare circumstance in which today's headlines are consistent with history's judgment.

QUESTION: (In French.) A question for Minister Kouchner (inaudible) Secretary Rice about Darfur. Don't you think it's time that United States, France and other country exert pressure or ask the Chinese, who plays a tricky game in Sudan, to exert reliable pressure upon the Khartoum regime?


SECRETARY RICE: Yes, I just --


SECRETARY RICE: No, no, I agree with Bernard. The Chinese will be here. They are members of the Security Council. They have special responsibilities, of course, as members of the Security Council and because of their special relationships in Africa. And I think that they have recently begun to speak more forcefully about this issue and I hope that that will continue and indeed intensify.

Last question?

QUESTION: (In French.)


QUESTION: (In French.)


SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, we are discussing how best to go forward and we will have an opportunity to discuss this with ministers again tomorrow. I think that's very important. But a couple of things are clear. Martti Ahtisaari did a very good job, I think, of trying to bring the parties together and he's put forward a report that we accept and that we believe is the basis for moving forward because the status of Kosovo has got to be resolved. And it is -- it has got to be resolved in accordance with the reality that Serbia and Kosovo are not going to be part of the same body again.

Now, in doing that, it is perfectly logical and acceptable, I think, to continue to work with the parties about that reality. It is certainly perfectly acceptable to work so that Serbia understands that it has a European future ahead of it that I am very grateful the European association talks are beginning again. I think that's a very important signal to Serbia, as was the Partnership for Peace from NATO.

But ultimately, this has got to get resolved. It is very clear that it has to be resolved in a way that will be stabilizing in the Balkans. And as President Bush has said, that means ultimately there will be an independent Kosovo. How we get there over the next several months, I think we are perfectly willing to talk about periods of time or whatever. It's a good thing to have talks and hope that the parties can come to some understanding on their own. But we do have to recognize that there's a lot of history already here. A lot has gone -- a lot of water, so to speak, under the bridge. And we are going to have to exercise our international responsibilities. I think that the suggestion that we give this a little more time is certainly acceptable to the United States.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) What are your -- the question is to Secretary of State and Foreign Minister Kouchner. What are your expectations of tomorrow's Sharm el-Sheikh summit? Is there any meeting of the Quartet scheduled in Paris or elsewhere? And finally, is there any green light of the American Administration to Israel to start talks with Syria?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, we aren't in the habit of having to give green lights to anybody to do what they think is in their national interest. And I think I've made clear on a number of occasions that if and when the Israeli Government believes that it wants to move forward with talks with Syria, then that is something that it should do. When Prime Minister Olmert was in Washington, I think he said -- I don't want to put words in his mouth -- but that he wasn't -- he didn't think that the time was now because the Syrian Government didn't seem to have an attitude that would suggest that those talks could be successful. But this notion that somehow the United States is standing between Israel and Syria in trying to make peace is simply wrong.

Secondly, when it comes to the meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, I recently had a discussion with my Egyptian counterpart, as a matter of fact, just yesterday. I am very pleased that the King of Jordan and the President of Egypt have invited the Prime Minister of Israel and President Abbas to this meeting. I think it is a show of support for the Palestinian leadership, and I want to emphasize again for the Palestinian leadership which is the leadership of all the Palestinian people, to make this difficult circumstance in which Palestinians find themselves, one in which they will be able to get through this because they will have the support, we say always of the international community, but this is even in many ways more important. This is core Arab support, and that Arab support needs to be there for the Palestinians in this difficult time.

I know that they are going to talk about what can be done to ease the circumstances of Palestinians. The Agreement on Movement and Access which I negotiated back in November of 2005 is an important piece of that. I know that they will talk about financial support for the government and tax revenues, and that's important. I hope too that they will affirm what the United States fundamentally believes, which is that these day-to-day issues are extremely important but so too is a political horizon for the Palestinian people so that they can see that there is a viable state, a viable Palestinian state that is possible for them and that will available to them.

And I want to just underscore that ultimately that Palestinian state is the best guarantor of security for both the people of Palestine and the people of Israel, because two states living side by side in peace and freedom will be very important to the future of both countries, both peoples. And so I'm certain that this will be a very good event. I'm grateful to the Egyptians for organizing it. And we'll see about the outcomes, but I know that the parties are going with some enthusiasm.



Released on June 24, 2007

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 26 June 2007 )
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