Marc Grossman Interview by European Journalists
Interview by European Journalists
Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Washington, DC April 17, 2003
(11:00 a.m. EDT)
QUESTION: What's the meaning of the trip, which has been announced by Secretary Powell to Damascus? Do you know where it will happen and what will be the exact purpose of this trip?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: First, the Secretary hasn't yet decided on exact dates or where else he might go. But as he said yesterday, he wants to go and have a straightforward, direct conversation with the Syrian leadership. And since we've been having this conversation over a period of years -- he's been to Damascus twice since he's been Secretary of State -- he wants to go again and make the points that we have to make: make them on weapons of mass destruction; make them on terrorism; make them on the new change in the environment, internationally and in the region. And he felt it would be important to go there directly and speak directly to the Syrians.
QUESTION: Does he has any plans to visit any other Middle East countries during his trip --
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I don't know --
QUESTION: -- and maybe to go anywhere else during this trip or in coming days, in particular, to Moscow?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think as the Secretary has said over the past couple of days, now that he is not locked into, first of all the United Nations and then obviously being part of the President's close advisors on the military conflict, he has the chance now to travel a little bit more. And so I'm not going to be making any news today about his specific travel.
He's got a number of trips under consideration, but I really can't do much for you -- not because we're trying to hide anything -- these things just are not scheduled yet. But he did take the opportunity yesterday to talk about the possibility of going to Damascus.
QUESTION: Sir, have you asked Turkish troops to go in for security -- law and order purposes?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We have not.
QUESTION: The statement by the European Union from Athens on the role of the UN, and actually was, I'm under the impression, of course, it was from Mr. Papandreou, but it (inaudible) what the Germans, the French, the British and the Spanish with signatures in combination these days.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Right.
QUESTION: How do you approach that about the role of the UN in the rebuilding process and not only for humanitarian purposes?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We've always said that there would be a vital role for the United Nations in the future of Iraq. I think as the President and Prime Minister Blair said a couple of weeks ago when the President was in Hillsborough, they talked about a vital role, they talked about it for a humanitarian role, they also talked about it for the political aspect of what goes on in the future of Iraq.
They welcomed at that time, as I know the European Union did yesterday, the appointment of a special representative, so all that's good. (Inaudible) I don't think that it's, you know, central or vital --
QUESTION: That was my next --
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: -- this is not an interesting comparison. I saw what the EU said. It said a central role for the United Nations. We've talked about a vital role for the United Nations. I don't think it's beyond the wit of smart people to figure out what that's all about.
QUESTION: Such a linguistic --
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: It is. Because if you look at the philosophy again, when the President and Prime Minister Blair were standing together, and I can remember the President was asked, "Well, what's vital mean?" He said, "Well, vital means vital. It means humanitarian, it means participation and advice on the political side." We would like -- this is a big opportunity for the UN Security Council to come back together and do something.
And it was a shame about what happened after 1441, but it happened. And now we have the opportunity here to do something different, and we'll see.
QUESTION: May I ask you though --
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Of course.
QUESTION: -- in practice, what are you planning to do to abolish the sanctions? To get the abolishment of sanctions because the Russians, they were not very positive about that. And also, I read that you have under contract some police instructors from private firms in the United States. Does that mean that, for instance, there will be no role for the UN in policing Iraq?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Let me try to take those both in two. First, on the question of sanctions, as the President said yesterday in St. Louis, we would like to see sanctions lifted on Iraq. And I think as President Chirac said, that's been the policy of the French Government, certainly, for a very long time.
So Iraq is free. Iraq is different than it was when sanctions were imposed, and so the fact that we're calling for the sanctions to be lifted seems to me a perfectly sensible position to be in. The practicality of it is is that in the near future we would like to move forward with the right kind of UN resolution to lift those sanctions. I mean this is clearly something that has to come back to the Council. And so at a time that the President directs and the Secretary directs, we will go forward with a Security Council resolution or resolutions that I hope will accomplish that task and lift those sanctions.
In terms of policing, one of the things that we've all learned over the past ten or so years in these kinds of situations is there's always a gap between a military force and policemen on the beat. Both are very important, but there's this middle ground. And so what we are trying to do is fill that middle ground slowly in cities, although many, many more cities in Iraq are now in a situation where there isn't a major challenge. There are still challenges to security and order in Iraq, and so we would like to move quickly and see if we can put policemen in place.
Yes, we have here, through the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, we have a contract with -- I can't remember what company it is. I apologize. But we do have a contract and we're trying to get some police advisors there quickly. Does it mean that excludes a role for anyone else? Not necessarily. But we have responsibility now for security and stability in Iraq during this period and we intend to meet our obligations.
QUESTION: May I ask a follow-up --
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Yes, of course.
QUESTION: -- on the appropriate time and the terms of the resolution because the Russian objection is that the oil, the Iraq oil will be subtracted to international control. So what -- could you expand on terms of the resolution at that time?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, I really can't. All I can say is that our objective is, in the near future, we would like to move forward with a Security Council resolution or resolutions, which would deal with these problems; for example, when you focused on the oil question, and very properly so, but there's also the question of how do you deal with the Oil-for-Food resolutions when you have, now, Iraqis -- many, many Iraqis -- 60 percent by some estimates, of people who get their food through an Oil-for-Food mechanism. And clearly there has to be a time when a market has to come back into Iraq and people should be able to buy and sell freely. And so that has to be dealt with, or oil issues have to be dealt with. There are a number of issues that have to be dealt with.
So in the near future, I think we will come forward, as I say, with resolutions or a resolution, I'm not quite sure which, to see if we can square this up.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up on sanctions.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Yes, please.
QUESTION: One of the conditions, which has been talked about by the UN is the return of inspectors because sanctions were linked to the suspicion that there were WMDs in Iraq. So is the U.S. prepared to admit UN inspectors back on the ground and enable them to check?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We'll have to see what kind of resolution comes forward. What I would say to you is that the situation, to me anyway, is completely different than it was in the past and that the idea that we would take an institution like UNMOVIC and totally, without any change in it, reinsert it, doesn't seem to me very realistic.
And of course, when you look back at resolution 1284, one of the reasons that Resolution 1284 was never implemented, which was the link between inspections and the lifting of sanctions, is because there were countries on the Security Council, including Russia and France, that didn't vote for it.
QUESTION: On the timing --
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Excuse me (interruption).
QUESTION: Can I just ask about where we are in reconstruction? First of all, in terms of the, you know, what Jay Garner has done already, who's -- which of the advisors are in place? Can you give us the names of any of the advisors for any of the ministries and whether any appointments have been made? Where are we in that whole process of --
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Sure. Garner, as you know, is there in Kuwait. My expectation is that Garner and some members of his team will move into Iraq in the near future. That's for them and Tommy Franks to decide.
We have, inter-agency, deployed a number of people to help Garner and to be part of the Garner team from the State Department, from the Treasury Department, from the Defense Department. There are a number of these senior ministry advisors that have been identified and I don't know whether I can give you their names, but I will check; and if I can, I will get back to you. And they aren't all just Americans. An effort here is to internationalize this in some way to other coalition partners. So, for example, there might be people from Australia. There might be people from Britain. There might be people from Poland who were part of the military coalition who also might participate in this senior ministry advisor business.
That, of course, is not the only part of the Garner operation. There's lots more to the Garner operation than senior ministry advisors; we've got a lot of people, but also a number of other countries have made a connection to General Garner and have assigned people there and have expressed a lot of interest in participating in the Garner structure, if you will.
QUESTION: Can you name them? Which country?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think they would have to name themselves but -- let's say that there are a number of countries off this list that we've always considered to be a part of the coalition who've addressed themselves either to us or General Garner and said, "Can we send a liaison officer? Can we participate? How can we help out?" I don't think that's any big secret.
QUESTION: On the timing of the resolutions, because we came to learn that it's not a matter of days, it's a matter of weeks; not weeks, months. In this case, what would be a fitting time framework? Are we talking about -- for the UN resolutions --
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Right.
QUESTION: -- days, weeks, months, I hope not years, but --
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: What we have been saying is, is that in the very --
QUESTION: A month?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, in the very near future. But there's an important date here for you all to watch, which is the expiration of the Oil-for-Food resolution, which is the 3rd of June. So at least in that area, there's a deadline that has to be dealt with. That's not true in, perhaps, other parts of the restructuring of the UN's relationship to Iraq. But there is a June 3rd deadline on Oil-for-Food.
QUESTION: Well, I have a follow-up.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No. I'm going to keep going this way.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Sir, when Mr. Erdogan was here in December, did he make any promises in terms of allowing U.S. troops to go to Turkey? Did he or any of his advisors make any promises, and do you think you were misled by the Turkish Government?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: They made no promises whatsoever. And the reason they made no promises is because the Turkish parliament had to make such a decision. And so no leader of Turkey could have sat here in December and said, "I promise you that this will happen." It wasn't possible. There's a constitutional system in Turkey and the constitution requires that the parliament be part of that decision.
Now, were we misled by the Turkish Government? No, I don't think so. And the reason I say that is I believe that the Turkish Government went to their parliament on the 1st of March to win. They didn't go to lose. And the fact that the parliament voted differently is one of the --
QUESTION: Well, they won, but they didn't win in a way that would be necessary in March, but they did win.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, but I mean it didn't come out the way the government wished it to.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: So I don't feel misled at all. The Government of Turkey promised to go to their parliament and the Government of Turkey went to parliament. And I believe the Government of Turkey went to parliament to win. But parliament had a different view and Turkey is a democracy. Turkey has to make its own decisions. So, in neither case do I feel we were misled or do I believe anyone made any promises to us that they should not have.
QUESTION: I have a follow-up question on the Iraqi -- sanctions against Iraq. They were imposed for -- actually for only one main reason, because of the weapons of mass destruction. Do you think it would be appropriate to lift these sanctions before the international community will get evidence that there are no more such weapons in Iraq? And now it looks like Iraq is abnormal, invalid country. It doesn't have a legitimate government.
Actually, it's an occupied territory --
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Right.
QUESTION: -- governed and managed by the coalition forces and United States. So do you think the sanctions should be lifted before a legitimate government -- or interim, some kind of interim administration -- is installed in Iraq? Because lifting of sanctions means the renewal of the normal trade. And who can guarantee the normal trade relations, their fulfillment of obligations on the Iraqi part; the fulfillment of commercial contracts with these countries after the renewal of the sanctions if there is no legitimate, normal government?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: First, you are right to say that at the moment the coalition is in charge of Iraq and we've made no secret of that. We've said that it was a military action, that General Franks and the coalition are responsible for Iraq at the moment.
But I believe, sir, that we've also very consistently and very immediately said that our objective is to transition to some kind of Iraqi authority and to the sovereignty of Iraqis as quickly as possible.
So don't underestimate the importance of the meeting that took place in Nasiriya earlier this week and don't underestimate the ability of Iraqis to form some kind of interim authority, and then, from an interim authority, to a real government.
So we'll see. The decision to lift sanctions is a decision for the Security Council. It's not a decision for the United States. The President of the United States made his view known yesterday. And as I said to you, in the near future we'll come forward with a Security Council resolution, or resolutions, to try to make that a reality.
In terms of weapons of mass destruction, we clearly believe that there are still weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But I think as everyone has said over this past month, our military forces have been pursuing the objective of getting rid of Saddam Hussein and opening up the ability for Iraqis to be free. I think as we turn our attention now very systematically to finding and destroying these weapons of mass destruction, there's going to be plenty of them.
QUESTION: And a quick one. Who will appoint, if any, the representative of Iraq at the meeting of OPEC on the 23rd of April?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Good question. I don't know.
QUESTION: That's all right.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: That's okay.
QUESTION: A meeting was scheduled for, I think it was today at the White House, about the future of relations between the U.S. and France. I understand that this meeting has been postponed. Can you update us on the positions on the views which are discussed as regards relations with France, inside NATO, outside NATO? What are the positions in the U.S. Government?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I certainly wouldn't comment on a meeting at the White House and its scheduling, nor would I really comment on positions inside of the United States Government. The President of the United States -- was it yesterday or the day before? -- spoke to the President of France. The White House spokesman said on a number of occasions France is an ally of the United States, we share a lot of values with France, we've got huge connections and relations with France, and we'd like to live with France. And so we're going to go forward here and do the best we can.
When you talk to me about various pieces of this, I don't think it's any surprise that the debate that took place in NATO in February about whether or not to invoke Article 4 for Turkey and support legitimate, it seemed to me, Turkish concerns about the defense of their country, was a bruising debate. But I think Lord Robertson's got it about right, which is to say it was a hit above the water line and not below the water line. We now need to move on. It seems to me that the decision that was taken at NATO yesterday to have NATO more heavily involved in the International Security and Assistance Force in Afghanistan, which was taken at the NAC and not the DPC, is a good thing.
QUESTION: Talking about weapons of mass destruction, am I to think -- I should fully understand the kind of modalities of how you're going about finding them. And is it not the case that, actually, international inspectors would be quite useful? Figuring in the event that one hasn't really found any yet, would it not be useful to call on their expertise at the earliest possible opportunity for them to supplemental the U.S. expertise and the military expertise that is already there? Would it not make sense to bring them in at an early date to kind of supplement the objective of finding these weapons?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Obviously, for the moment, right now, the situation is that the United States and its direct coalition partners who have participated in military activity have to stay in control of this situation because the security situation is not yet ready for other people to be involved. For example, some of the humanitarian workers are concerned about going in. We need to fix that problem first.
Second, I do think it's important to recognize that the military effort of over the past four weeks has not been a military effort to find hidden weapons of mass destruction, and we are turning to that now. And if you ask me what the modalities are, we've been searching sites, we've been searching sites that we've had intelligence information on, we've been searching sites where Iraqis have come up to us and said go look in this place. But there are a very, very large number of sites to be searched, and to be searched systematically, and I believe that over time here we will turn our attention to that.
If you ask me if there's some kind of role for international inspectors or if there are people who can help the United States, I'd say that we would be open to that. For example, last December when Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz went to NATO, what was one of the things he talked about there? He talked about the possibility of NATO being involved in weapons of mass destruction security, storage, destruction. Those issues are still on the table for NATO and we'll see what the North Atlantic Council wants to do.
QUESTION: Was that in the context of Iraq (inaudible)?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I'm sorry, it was absolutely in the context of Iraq. You'll recall that Paul went to NATO -- I think it was the 4th of December last year -- and he made four or five propositions about how NATO might -- might -- be connected, involved in Iraq. Secretary Powell was there last week and reiterated that those invitations were still on the table.
But this is up to the North Atlantic Council to decide what to do. So, we'll see. It's our job right now to deal with this question, to search for these weapons of mass destruction. We're going to do so systemically. I wouldn't close the door to some kind of international assistance at some point, or us calling on international expertise, and I give you NATO as one of the examples.
QUESTION: From a technical point of view, the inspectors have a mandate from the United Nations Council. I don't recall (inaudible) I know that Mr. Blix is leaving at (inaudible). But there could be -- he said a need for a resolution that changes or voids the mandate? Is it -- what's the situation there?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We'll have to consider that. I would put it in the category of things that have to be squared up, if you will, over Iraq, just like Oil-for-Food, sanctions.
But as I said to our colleague from France here, I think we shouldn't underestimate the fact of the changed situation there. It can't be that we're going to take exactly what we had before and send it to Iraq as if nothing had happened over the last four weeks.
QUESTION: To follow up, and then I have a Cyprus question.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Please.
QUESTION: On the debate now about the role of the UN also is based on the idea accepted by a lot of people in the administration, not all of them, that the UN legitimizes whatever happens on the ground. And not only in Europe or elsewhere, but mainly in, you know, the Arab world, the Arab street, it's much easier to have results or decisions by UN people than the U.S.
So, in that context, international inspectors and the results of the search for weapons of mass destruction, they add some legitimacy because, I am sure you realize that there will be questions on the results of American troops finding or not finding things, while, if you have somebody from the UN maybe alongside with them, that would give it a different kind of legitimacy, especially to the Arab world, which is to the interest of the U.S. So that's my first question.
And then secondly, on Cyprus, we had the signature yesterday and all that. Now, Turkey is, hopefully, moving ahead towards Europe. Can you foresee Turkey starting -- getting a date at the end of '04 without previously having a Cyprus solution, getting a date from the EU to start negotiations without, before that, having agreed on some kind of solution?
Go with the easy one.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, I guess that's not really for me to say. I mean, we voted for the UN Security Council resolution on Cyprus the other day, which passed 15-0. The important part of that resolution was that we support the Secretary General's plan. And I was encouraged, actually, today by statements I saw from Turkey that there is a desire to keep focused on the Secretary General's plan for Cyprus. That's good.
And so I don't speculate on what happens all these months from now. If everyone agrees that the Secretary General's plan is still to go forward, then it ought to be that people should be able to talk on the basis of the Secretary General's plan. That's why we voted for the Security Council resolution.
In terms of your first question, that's why I tried to answer Steve's question in that way, which is, number one, I think there's going to be no question when American troops start to find weapons of mass destruction that they are weapons of mass destruction. I really have not much doubt about that.
Second, I believe that if we were to decide that there was some kind of international help or assistance that we needed, like NATO, I think we'd be open to that. Not my decision to make, but I believe we'd be open to it.
And third, again, though, I would just emphasize that we do need to realize that something happened over the last four weeks, and whatever system we put into place in the future won't be the same system that it was in the past.
QUESTION: I have two, sir, with your permission. We are hearing a lot of provocative statements from Kurdish leaders in Iraq. How would you respond to those? Provocative in terms of Turkey.
And second is the President has signed the supplemental.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Right.
QUESTION: As you know, there's $1 billion of grant for Turkey.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Right.
QUESTION: That is left up to the Secretary of State.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Correct.
QUESTION: Where do we go from here? Will that be released?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: On the first question, obviously our message to the Kurds has been to recognize the importance of what they say and, very importantly, what they do in terms of their relationship with Turkey. Turkey is a neighbor to Iraq and the Kurds live in Northern Iraq, and we need some way for the Turks and Kurds to manage this relation successfully.
As you can imagine, we have tried to impress upon our Kurdish friends, first of all, the need for them to be clear about terrorism, be it PKK or KADEK. Second, we've tried very hard to have everybody recognize that one of the things that Turkey feared the most, and that we feared and the Kurds feared -- a massive refugee flow -- has not occurred. And so we believe that's a positive thing. As Secretary Powell said when he was in Ankara last week, or now ten or so days ago, we made some promises that we would send forces to Northern Iraq, and we have done so. We made promises we would be in touch with the Kurds. We have done so. We said that we would keep an eye out for massive refugee flows because that is obviously a concern to Turkey. There have been none of those flows. And that we would keep in close contact with Turkey. You remember the Secretary talked about a coordinating group in Turkey -- us, Kurds and Turks -- and we want to keep that going to so that everybody is working off the same information.
But if you ask me, I think what's happened in Northern Iraq over these last three or four weeks has actually been pretty good, because the things that worried Turkey and concerned Turkey the most have not occurred.
QUESTION: And the grant?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Sorry. Yes, the President signed the bill yesterday. The money is there for the Secretary of State. I think, as the Secretary said, he now needs to consider, along with the Turkish Government, how this goes out, because one of the possibilities for that money is that it could be leveraged into a much larger loan. But that's something that now the Turkish Government and we will have to talk about and decide what we want to do.
QUESTION: So you don't see any problems?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, I don't see any problems at all. What I see is the need for a conversation between Turkey and the United States to try to decide how that money would go out. It might go out in tranches. So Turkey and the United States, in the end, need to decide. Don't forget that one of the biggest concerns of Turkey late last year and early this year was that a long conflict would disrupt the Turkish economy. Well, it hasn't been a long conflict and so I would assume that Turkey's got some different calculations than it did last December or January. But that's also a Turkish decision.
QUESTION: Yes, I have a question on the agreements and commercial contracts that were signed by Saddam Hussein's regime, the contracts in particular with Russia and France in the oil sector. You said before -- I don't mean you personally, but the U.S. administration said before that it would be up to the new Iraqi government to review these contracts to take decisions on the situation.
But my question is would you encourage the new Iraqi administration to look positively at that issue if these contracts, these deals, can be considered legitimate from the point of view of international laws? Or do you think that any agreements, any contracts that were signed by Saddam Hussein government, should be considered illegitimate just because it was a criminal regime?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: That's up to the Iraqis. I wouldn't presume to give the new Iraqi government advice on that. I think Iraqis, the new Iraqi government, will have to make its own decisions about what's in its interest or not. So, as you said, these are issues for Iraqis to decide, not for Americans to decide. I wouldn't presume to give advice one way or the other. They will decide what is in their interest.
QUESTION: There seems to be some imbalance regarding the roadmap because I understand that there was a meeting in Washington two days ago or three days ago with an Israeli delegation, so (inaudible) discussions between the U.S. and Israel on this roadmap, whereas there is (inaudible) roadmap has not been released and there are, to my knowledge, no discussions with the Palestinian side.
So do you think that there will be a kind of equivalent process with both sides before the release, or how does it -- what is the schedule?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: The schedule now totally depends upon the confirmation, if I could use that American word, for the Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen and his government. The President has said that as soon as that government is confirmed, the Abu Mazen government, the people who are in government, that we will publish the roadmap. And I think that Secretary Powell said the other day we're going to publish the roadmap as it was finalized by the Quartet last year. I think what's going to happen then is that there are obviously going to be comments from Israel, from the Palestinians, probably from lots of other people too, about the roadmap. And what the President said and what the Secretary said is we would welcome these contributions.
But then, the discussion between Israelis and Palestinians about the roadmap has to take place between them, not with us. So once we publish the roadmap -- it's a Quartet roadmap, it's ideas on how to go forward -- then it's not a negotiation with us or the Quartet or Russia or the United Nations any more, it's a negotiation that has to take place between the Israelis and Palestinians.
QUESTION: But you are mediators, right? Or you're going to leave them just bilateral? I mean, somebody will -- the UN or the U.S.?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We'll see what they want to do. I was just trying to answer the gentleman's question about the roadmap. And I don't want to leave the impression that once the roadmap is published then people come to us or to other Quartet members to negotiate the roadmap. No, they have to then talk to each other.
QUESTION: But the roadmap has (inaudible) to have that kind of (inaudible) status from the Quartet. The Quartet is really imposing it, to a certain extent.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, I think the idea that anyone can impose some solution and lay down a piece of paper and say here, we've spoken, and now everybody has to live with this just because we say so -- that doesn't seem very realistic to me, sir. What the Quartet has done is bring together, it seems to me, a very good set of ideas, a way forward to achieve the vision that President Bush put out on the 24th of June last year -- two states side by side, a Palestinian state and an Israeli state. But I think we'd be naïve people if we thought that the roadmap was going to be published and on the next morning everyone in the region would say, oh --
QUESTION: That was the solution we were looking for?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Or, no one ever explained it to me that way. That's not going to happen. There's going to be a negotiation. And so the idea that it's a mandate or should be imposed, I don't think that's realistic.
I'll take one more quick round, and then I need to go.
QUESTION: You said a few weeks ago, I think, that you -- I can't remember your exact word -- that you hope very much that a new Iraqi government would recognize Israel. How likely is it, do you think, that a government that truly reflects the aspirations of the Iraqi people is actually going quickly to recognize Israel? And doesn't that point up a tension between what you're trying to do and -- or that you say you're trying to do, the democratization of Iraq, and U.S. interests in presumably having a pro-Western, pro-Israel government in Baghdad?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I wouldn't define the government in Iraq that way. The government in Iraq would be the government of Iraqis. What I said was that it's the policy of the United States that countries, all countries around the world, should recognize the state of Israel. And so now that Iraq returns to being part of the international community, since it's our policy that all countries should recognize Israel, we hope that they would. For example, if you look at the peace plan put by Saudi Arabia from the Beirut summit that was now 18 or so months ago, it talked about the recognition of Israel. Egypt recognizes Israel. Jordan recognizes Israel. So it's the policy of the United States that countries should recognize Israel, and so if you ask me do I hope that a future government of Iraq, taking their own decision, should recognize the state of Israel's existence, sure, absolutely, of course I do.
QUESTION: But isn't there is a tension though between -- potentially a tension between a democratic Iraq and one that actually reflects U.S. security interests?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Iraqis have to make their own decisions. You're asking me for what I think. What I think is that we believe that all countries should recognize Israel.
QUESTION: But isn't there a potential tension between what Iraqis -- a democracy in Iraq and the U.S. national security interest?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: It's hard to speculate on the future. I mean, that could be true of a whole range of issues, not just on one issue or another issue. We're not dictating to Iraqis what they're supposed to be doing. You've asked me whether I'd like to see Iraq be part of a general policy of the United States that all countries, in their way, making their own decision, should recognize Israel. The answer to that question is yes.
QUESTION: Can you tell us, what's your agenda for Evian? (Laughter.)
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: The answer is what s the French agenda for Evian. (Laughter.) No, I know that France has talked a lot about that they want to -- and it's really not for me to say. I know the French have wanted to keep the focus on counterterrorism, keep the focus on security, follow up some of the issues in Kananaskis, for example, the Global Partnership with Russia. I know, since it's a G-7, G-8 meeting, there will be a lot of conversation about the world economy. And I think also the French have an interest in continuing the work that was started in Kananaskis in connection to Africa and to highlight the challenges that Africans face in their development. It's only fair that the French answer that question.
QUESTION: But I was asking about the Americans.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Those are all important issues on our agenda, too. We'd very much like to see the Global Partnership continue. Terrorism, obviously, very important. The transportation security initiative. And, if you look at what we're doing in Africa, we're glad to share with others our own efforts in Africa, like the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the Millennium Challenge Account.
QUESTION: If I may have just a quick follow-up. Any bilaterals with Schroeder and Chirac? It will be interesting.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I have no idea what the schedule is.
QUESTION: Okay. Greece is the presidency of the European Union these days.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Right.
QUESTION: I was wondering, because of the rift between the U.S. and the Europeans, or many of the Europeans, especially the two big powers, although the Brits would probably disagree with the description, two of the biggest, is there anything, or what's the role of the presidency in the following -- the upcoming months, and has Greece played any role towards the -- because the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Greece have mentioned the Euroatlantic alliance, or bringing the two sides together, is a major part of the presidency. That was probably the wrong time to have that as a goal, but is there still time, and what could the Greek presidency do? Since I'm coming from Greece, I was wondering.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think the Greek presidency has actually done a lot. Secretary Powell went last night to Ambassador Savvaide s, and I think the statement he made there is pretty clear, which is that this transatlantic relationship is one that's based on real interests and real dialogue. And as he sat there, we sure proved we can do the dialogue part of this. And fair enough. This isn't the Politburo we're running here, and the European Union isn't the Politburo and NATO's not the Politburo, the transatlantic relationship is not the Politburo. So it shouldn't be surprising that there is this conversation going on.
So I think to the extent that Greece, as the presidency country, and Italy to follow along, can play a role in working out the transatlantic dialogue, it's a good thing.
QUESTION: Can they play any specific role in bringing, like Germany and France -- I mean, can they play a mediator role between the U.S. and powers like Germany and France, given they are the presidency --
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I actually don't think that allies, like France and Germany and America, need mediators. I really don't. And President Bush and --
QUESTION: Who would be mediating?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: -- President Chirac spoke the other day. I don't think there's a need for mediation here. There's a need for people to refocus on common values.
QUESTION: What's going to be on the agendas in June? The Greek Prime Minister is coming to meet the President here. Or your European Union-U.S. summit. Any idea of the agenda for this, or what could be on the agenda between --
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: It's a huge agenda between the European Union and the United States. There's a lot of politics involved, obviously, and things we're going to be doing, I'm sure, together in Iraq. There's a vast trade agenda. There's a huge, trillions of dollars, trading relationship. And there's some new things out there, too. I think it's a very interesting thing and a good thing that the European Union has taken over the stability force responsibilities in Macedonia. This is 2003, and so that headline goal of the European Union is supposed to come this year, 60,000 forces deployable over 60 days and sustainable for a year. So, there's a lot of conversation -- political, military, economic.
QUESTION: Is there a place for Turkish businesses in the reconstruction of Iraq?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Yes, there's going to be a place for businesses, I think, from countries all around the world. USAID has let some master contracts, but all of the subcontracting is then open to competitive bidding.
QUESTION: There was a -- I don't think it's true, but there was a headline today in one of the Turkish papers that U.S. Government has banned U.S. companies to subcontract with Turkish companies.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: No, that is absolutely not the case. In fact, in terms of competition, I think that this is an open competition and people should go on AID's website because it's all right there, the contracts that we've let and the amount of money that they got, how the subcontracting works, how people can find out to get on the subcontract bidding. This is actually a very transparent system for the competition.
QUESTION: Yes, a little bit on other subjects, Mr. Secretary. North Korea. There are coming consultations in Beijing between the United States, North Korea and Chinese officials. There were statements yesterday that United States would welcome the participation in these talks of Japan and South Korea, and some people in Moscow are wondering whether there should be or can be any role for Russia in these multilateral talks (inaudible). So how would you answer this question?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I'd answer it today by saying let's see how this first round goes. And Assistant Kelly will go and have a day or two of conversation there. We're not going to solve all the problems of North Korea in a day or two. And so we'll see how this goes and see what structures or possibilities exist after that.
QUESTION: And what should be done next, right?
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Right.
QUESTION: Last point. (Inaudible) feeling you have about this, the politics of the policies of the United States, including one who is closely linked to the interests of Israel. Is it something that concerns you, and will there be some point where the U.S. Government will be sending a message that it is also acknowledging the grievances of the Arab side towards Israel and that, in a way, its policies are more balanced maybe than they do now.
UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: First of all, what we accomplished in Iraq and will accomplish in Iraq in the future was done for Iraqis. It wasn't done for anybody else. And I think that's a very important point and I believe that the more stories and talk that come out about what life was like under Saddam Hussein for all of these years, people will recognize that this was the right thing to do, not for anybody else but for Iraqis. And that's an important point.
Second, in terms of what our message is to people in the Arab world, it's, first of all, one of democracy and development and freedom. But also, let's not underestimate the impact of the President's speech on the 24th of June last year when you had an American President stand up and say we're for two states, an Israeli state and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace. That's not a small matter.
And the fact that we've worked successfully with the Quartet, that there is a roadmap which we hope will be put out soon, I think speaks to a lot of these issues. And so, we are very proud of the relationship we have with Israel and we're proud of the relationship we have with people in the Arab world, and I don't think these things are at all contradictory. What we're looking for is a Middle East that is at peace and is democratic and is prosperous. And I think both Israelis and Arabs -- Israelis, Palestinians, others, and now Iraqis -- can participate in this. [End]
Released on April 28, 2003