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Powell Remarks With French Republic FM Barnier

Remarks With French Republic Foreign Minister Michel Barnier After Their Meeting

Secretary Colin L. Powell
C Street Entrance
Washington, DC
December 15, 2004

(6:52 p.m. EST)

SECRETARY POWELL: It's a great pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Barnier, who has made a very short trip to consult with me and with Dr. Rice, and we're deeply appreciative that he would come over. The Foreign Minister and I have done a lot together in recent days. We were at the Forum for the Future in Morocco and we had NATO meetings last week, and I think that gives you an indication of the closeness of consultations that the United States has with France.

We are looking forward in President Bush's second term to making sure that we have resolved any of the difficulties and differences that we have had in the past and remind ourselves once again of all we have been through together as two nations. And so, I want to extend to the Minister my best wishes for the holiday season, but especially to thank him for making this trip.

It's a great pleasure to have you here, Michel.

FOREIGN MINISTER BARNIER: Thank you Colin. I made this special trip to say goodbye and thank you to Colin Powell. We have made great jobs over the last eight months together. We became friends, and I just want to say thank you for that.

And now, let's opt for the good work to continue.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you sir.

QUESTION: Mr. Minister, did you take up with Secretary Powell your -- France's interest in pushing Mideast negotiations, and specifically a Mideast peace conference? Did you float that idea, discuss that idea with the Secretary?

FOREIGN MINISTER BARNIER: If you don't mind, I'd prefer to answer in French.

QUESTION: Could someone translate?

SECRETARY POWELL: We are.

FOREIGN MINISTER BARNIER: Yes, what we want to do, of course, is to look to the future in our relationship between France and the United States and the relationship between the Europeans and the United States, and that clearly is the frame of mind that we want to develop and build on.

But of course, the test of an enhanced Euroatlantic relationship will be the ability to relaunch the peace process between Israelis and the Palestinians, and I'm convinced that that will be our priority in the coming weeks, and indeed, in the coming days, as soon as the elections on the 9th of January occur.

QUESTION: Yeah. Is there a peace conference --

SECRETARY POWELL: We had a brief discussion about the conference that the United Kingdom is planning to hold early in the New Year with Palestinian officials, but we did not have a discussion about a broader international conference. What we have to do is see the election take place on the 9th of January, watch how the Palestinians form their government, and make sure that Israel shows flexibility and cooperation with the Palestinians during this election period, get ready for the next series of Palestinian elections, and we talked about that. But we did not talk about, at this meeting, but we have talked previously, about the utility of a conference at some point in the future.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, did you discuss --

SECRETARY POWELL: Okay.

QUESTION: Did you discuss upcoming -- your decision about Turkey's negotiation talks? And Mr. Foreign Minister, you said a few days ago that Turkey should recognize the Armenian dead. If there is a refusal from Turkey, do you think that should be a reason to end the negotiations? And what do you expect is the decision on the 17th?

SECRETARY POWELL: We did discuss it. There is a historic opportunity coming up later this week and the Minister is flying back to participate in these discussions, but I think I will yield to him for his comment on this matter.

FOREIGN MINISTER BARNIER: I'll be leaving immediately, I mean, this evening, back to Brussels, where I will be tomorrow and where the decision will be taken, this very important decision to start the negotiation talks with Turkey. And as President Chirac himself said this evening, we want to open the talks and our ambition, of course, is to succeed and the outcome of the talks should be accession. But we shouldn't be complacent, rest on our laurels, or take any shortcuts in the negotiation.

SECRETARY POWELL: One last one. Yeah.

QUESTION: Yes, Mr. Secretary, I would like to know what will be in your memoirs about this relationship with this, let's say, difficult French, and do you feel relief or regrets not to see them anymore?

(Laughter.)

SECRETARY POWELL: Je ne regrette rien. Thank you. (Laughter.) I regret nothing.

I have given many speeches on this subject. The United States and France have been friends and allies for well over two centuries. They were instrumental in us achieving our independence. We came to Europe twice in the last century to help our French friends. We will remain friends. We will remain allies. We will have differences from time to time, and the disagreement that we had last year, that was not the first time we have had disagreements and differences with France or with our other European friends. And the values and the ties that bring us together are far stronger than the disagreements that come along from time to time. Merci.


FOREIGN MINISTER BARNIER: And could I maybe just add a few words and say that -- and recall that I said earlier my -- expressed my thanks and gratitude to Colin Powell for the friendly relationship we've manage to establish over the last eight months, but I also wanted to acknowledge his great awareness and understanding of individuals and situations which was very valuable. But I -- to complete -- to come to your point, I must say, of course, that there may be disagreements, there may be talks, there may be differences amongst us but we should never ever forget that France and the United States have been allies and friends since the very beginning.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you.

2004/1365

[End]

Released on December 15, 2004

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