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U.S. Not Planning on Making Changes to the Roadmap

Excerpt: Powell Says U.S. Not Planning on Making Changes to the Roadmap

(Secretary of state participates in G-8 media briefing May 23)

Secretary of State Colin Powell took part in a press conference at the G-8 meetings in Paris May 23. Excerpts from that briefing follow:

(begin excerpt)

Questions and Answers at G-8 Press Conference

Secretary Colin L. Powell Paris, France May 23, 2003

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, are there any changes in the roadmap that might elicit an acceptance by Prime Minister Sharon, any adjustments at all that you think might be able to be made that could get Israel to accept this? And how do you feel about the European position that communications should still continue, dialogue with President Arafat?

And I'd like to ask you, Mr. de Villepin, you're planning to go to the region on Sunday, you are planning to meet with Yasser Arafat. Does that undercut the American attempts to try to build up the authority of Mohamed Abbas and change direction by the Palestinians?

Thank you, both.

SECRETARY POWELL: With respect to the roadmap, we are not planning on making any changes to the roadmap. I might mention that just a few moments ago in Washington the United States issued a statement, and in that statement we took note of the fact that Israel has made certain comments with respect to the roadmap.

And we had asked the parties to let us know if they had comments concerning the roadmap, and we have told the Israeli Government that we would take their comments into consideration and address them fully and seriously as we went forward in the implementation of the roadmap, but this does not require us to change the roadmap. It is a good document that leads to the President's vision of two states living in peace side by side, the vision that I think all of us here hold.

We are expecting a response from the state of Israel to our statement within the very near future.

With respect to Mr. Arafat, we have made our position well known since last June that we would not be dealing with him. We felt it was important for us to have a new interlocutor representing the Palestinian people with whom we could deal in a reliable way, somebody who was committed to peace.

We recognize the position that President Arafat holds within the eyes of the Palestinian people and his elected position, but we don't believe that he has lived up to the expectations of his people and he has not brought them one step or one day closer to a Palestinian state. It is for that reason that we have been encouraging the Palestinian Authority to come up with a new Prime Minister, which they have done, and so we'll be investing our time and energy with Prime Minister Abbas. And my colleagues, of course, are free, sovereign nations and make their own choices in such matters.

QUESTION: A question for Mr. de Villepin and Mr. Powell. Can you comment on the state of Franco-American relations? How would you characterize them now?

SECRETARY POWELL: The United States and France have been friends and allies for many years, more than two centuries, and we remain friends and allies. We have had a serious disagreement in recent months. We're not going to paper it over and pretend it didn't occur. It did occur. And we're going to work our way through that. But we will always be pulled together by the strongest ties of common values, a belief in the individual rights of men and women, democracy, the free enterprise system, and all that our two nations and two peoples have been through together for the last 225 years.

QUESTION: Again, a question for Secretary of State Powell and Mr. de Villepin. I'd like to ask them what they expect to get concretely out of the Evian summit which could really progress the Doha trade talks.

On the French suggestion for a moratorium on export subsidies on farm goods to Africa, Mr. Powell, what is your view on that and whether there's an agreement we can get in Evian?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think I have much more to add. President Bush is looking forward very much to being at Evian and discussing these issues with his colleagues -- security, the global war against terrorism, that we are making progress in that war but there is much more to be done, as we can see from recent events.

How do we energize the Doha process? And I am sure there will be a full discussion, and I won't get into it now, of economic policy, agricultural policy, genetically modified food and things of that nature, but I'll leave that for the heads of state and government to discuss next week.

QUESTION: Going back to the roadmap for a moment, do you have any evidence that the Palestinian Authority is able, on its own, to stop the terrorism incidents? If not, does the Quartet have any concrete plan to help the Palestinian Authority?

Whoever.

SECRETARY POWELL: We have been in conversation with the Palestinian Authority with Prime Minister Abbas, as well as his Minister for Security Mr. Dahlan, and they have come up with a plan. To execute that plan will require assistance to rebuild their security forces, their security apparatus, the infrastructure of the security organization. And the United States, working with other interested friends in the region and from Quartet membership will assist the Palestinian Authority in that regard.

I think it's also been made clear by Prime Minister Abbas' early statements as Prime Minister that he will be speaking out clearly to the Palestinian people about the need to end terror and violence as a way forward. And so we are looking for, and believe we will receive from Prime Minister Abbas, 100 percent intent and 100 percent effort to bring terror and violence under control. And then we have to all help him and Mr. Dahlan and others put in place the capacity to do that, and also make sure that they are working closely with the Israelis because there has to be a coordinated, cooperative effort with the Israelis as well in order to be able to recreate Palestinian security forces that both sides can have confidence in.

As Prime Minister Abbas has said publicly, and he said to me, the end of terror and the end of violence is not just something we are doing for the Israeli people; it's something we are doing for our own people in order for us to be able to move forward, rebuild our economy, rebuild our society, and move toward that goal that we all have, that vision that we all share, of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with the state of Israel.

QUESTION: Mr. Powell, do you agree that perhaps we should have a specific roadmap for Lebanon and Syria to involve the international community towards global peace, as you have been requesting for a number of years? Does Mr. Bush, perhaps, want to go to Riyadh during his next trip in that region, and how do you see, how do you assess the first measures taken by the authorities of Saudi Arabia after the recent terrorist attacks?

SECRETARY POWELL: What the Arab League has expressed in their Beirut statement last year is for a comprehensive solution in the Middle East that would include not only Israel and Palestine, but also Syria and Lebanon. A couple of years ago, some progress was being made on the Syrian track especially, but that came to a halt when the Intifada reached such a level of violence that no progress could be made on the Palestinian track.

With progress on the Palestinian track, hopefully that will, in due course, lead to progress on the Syrian track. But let's simply not overlook a simple fact that it is the Palestinian-Israeli track that is the major stumbling block, the major problem that we have to solve now. But we have not lost the vision of a comprehensive settlement that would include Syria and, ultimately, Lebanon.

With respect to that issue, you asked one more question concerning Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is responding fully now to what happened with the bombs a week or so ago, and we are satisfied with the cooperation we are receiving from them.


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