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Press Stakeout after Meeting with King Mohamed VI

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release

April 8, 2002 Press Stakeout by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell After Meeting with King Mohamed VI Agadir, Morocco

April 8, 2002

SECRETARY POWELL: We began the discussion by congratulating His Majesty on his recent marriage. I am delighted and the American people are very much looking forward to his visit to the United States later this month. The bulk of our meeting, as you might expect, was spent on the situation in the Middle East. We had a good exchange of views. I conveyed to His Majesty that President Bush, as he said in his speech last Thursday, related to a vision where two people can work side by side in peace with the two States of Israel and Palestine. Side by side is a vision we will continue to pursue. And I congratulated His Majesty and his colleagues in the Arab League for the summit statement they were able to publish some days ago which recognized the right of Israel to exist in normal relationships with twenty-two Arab neighbors in due course - which is a vision that we share and the entire international community shares. So we have a very difficult situation in front of us now with the continued fighting that is taking place in the occupied territories. And I told His Majesty that I was doing everything I could to try and bring this to an end. President Bush has said to Prime Minister Sharon, both in his speech last Thursday and the statement on Saturday, and in a private phone call, that he wants to see this operation brought to an end, and the withdrawals to begin as soon as possible and the President meant now. I spoke to the President early this morning and he is expecting action. He is expecting efforts on the part of the Israeli authorities to start bringing this operation to some conclusion and we are hoping, as the Israelis said yesterday in public statements, that we will begin to see withdrawals from some of the cities and villages. We understand that Israel has a right to self-defense, but Israel also has to take into account the implications of its actions in a broader context. The strategic problems that are created by this continuing operation are rather significant and severe when you see what is happening through the rest of the Middle East and we hope that Prime Minister Sharon and his colleagues are taking all of this into account as the President asked them to when this operation began some ten or eleven days ago. I hope that in my conversations later today with Crown Prince Abdullah, tomorrow with President Mubarak, tomorrow evening with Kofi Annan and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov of Russia and with the Presidency of the European Union, the entire international community as a result of those conversations will come together and stand behind this vision of two states living side by side, and with a clear statement to the world that we want to see this violence come to an end. And a clear statement to Israel that we all believe it is time for them to begin withdrawal and to do it as the President has indicated now. QUESTION: The King has issued a statement in his name condemning the Israeli invasion and saying that nothing can be done prior to withdrawal. You had said that you wanted to give your Arab colleagues, to speak to Arafat about a statement condemning the suicide bombing immediately. SECRETARY: I am having those conversations with my Arab colleagues. I spoke to His Majesty today about the kinds of statements we want Arab leaders to make with respect to this kind of terrorist activity. His Majesty is in touch with Chairman Arafat. And we had an opportunity to discuss the kinds of messages that should be going back and forth between Arab leaders and Chairman Arafat, and the messages I have been giving to Chairman Arafat. And I hope that circumstances will permit me to visit with Chairman Arafat when I arrive in that part of the world in the very near future. Thank you very much. QUESTION: Are you concerned that the fact that you are not going straight to Jerusalem has created a bad impression in Arab countries?

SECRETARY: I don't think so. I know people who watch what I am doing understand that it is important for me to prepare for such a trip to Jerusalem by consulting with Arab leaders, asking for their help in preparing my visit to Jerusalem and also by making sure that the entire international community rallies behind a vision as it rallies behind this effort. And I think when those pieces are in place, I'm in a better position to go to Jerusalem as opposed to immediately going to Jerusalem without having done what I believe is appropriate preparation. Thank you.

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