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Rice Remarks With French FM Michel Barnier

Remarks With French Minister of Foreign Affairs Michel Barnier After Their Meeting

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Paris, France
February 8, 2005

(2:20 p.m. EDT)


Welcome to each one of you, ladies and gentlemen, and after this meeting that Condoleezza Rice has just had with the head of state, Jacques Chirac, the coincidence of our timetables what we have, in fact, with Condi Rice been traveling more or less along the same routes.

She spent the night in Rome. I spent the night in Gaza and all roads lead, almost, I would say, to Paris, which is where we meet again tonight. And I am extremely pleased, Dear Condi, to welcome you here on behalf of the French Government after meeting with the president of the French Republic.

In this house, where so many important things have occurred, even in this room that we call the clock room -- you can see it here -- because it's in this very room, and I often say it -- on that photograph you can see Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet in front of that mantelpiece. And they were the first to launch the quest to create the European Community with the heart and steel -- community and they got six European countries to mutualize their efforts and resources so as to get together, stronger together. And I was very pleased to hear you earlier in Sciences Po to call for a strong Europe, saying that United States needed a strong Europe. You'll allow me to add that the Europeans also need a strong Europe.

Your being here is one of those important events for the Quai D'Orsay. Your movements have been long expected in your important function that you've taken over after the reelection of President George Bush. Our two countries, Dear Condi, are the most ancient allies, the one for the other.

Even more, we have never been at war. Never. And I often quote this phrase of a compatriot, who, after the Second World War was telling you, you, the Americans, we have helped you in your birth some time ago. You helped us not to die.

We often hear what divides us, our disagreements. But also, this afternoon you reminded us of everything that brings us together, everything that we do together on a daily basis: in Kosovo, for the stability of the Balkans; in Afghanistan, against terrorism and also for the renewal of that country; in Haiti, for progress and peace; the war against terrorism everywhere we have together; and recently, with Resolution 1559 for sovereignty and integrity of the Lebanon.

Also, ladies and gentlemen, do you know that France is the second foreign investor in the United States? Today the time has come to open a new phase, to start a new chapter, to start in a new way within this very old relationship and to start in this new way to write this new chapter with, I believe, three objectives: To talk to each other and to listen to each other more. I've just said we're allies. I also think that alliance is not allegiance. And we have reasons to talk to each other and to listen to each other more; respecting the convictions of each one of us, that's the second objective and, of course, we have to ask ourselves what we can each do for the other. But we must also ask ourselves what, together, we can do and we must do in order to bring some solutions and to deal with the major challenges in the world, which are challenges -- the major matters which require us to act and approach based on reality so as to ensure within our world peace and security.

I think that, first of all, and more especially, of the place where we have both been in recent days, the Near East, where, at last, Israelis and Palestinians have chosen to talk together again and where hope is coming back. I'm thinking of the risks of the realities of terrorism, which is a mutual challenge; and I'm also thinking of the risk linked to climate change. And of that struggle for sustainable development, I have made one, or the major priority for external activities of France as the President of the Republic wanted. I am thinking of the risks and the reality of underdevelopment and poverty, especially within the African continent.

Dear Condi, and I'd like to say this in public, how convinced I am that the world works better when the Americans and the Europeans cooperate. The world is better when Americans and Europeans work together, when they exchange their analyses while respecting their sensitivities, whether specific or peculiar, in terms of the exchanges of their world views, but when they're working together. So it's time to -- for a fresh start, huh?

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Thank you very much. I appreciate that Michel. And thank you very much for taking the time to be here. I know that this is a difficult time for your family, and I especially want to thank you for keeping the commitment at this difficult time -- our condolences to you on the death of your father.

MINISTER BARNIER: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY RICE: I want very much to underline what Michel has said. This is a time for a reinvigoration of our longstanding partnership and friendship to turn a new page and to take advantage of the many opportunities before us. France has always been an important ally of the United States. Of course, France was America's first ally, and we greatly appreciate the common values and the common history, the common sacrifice and the common successes that we enjoy as America and France.

This has been an opportunity, and we will continue that opportunity to discuss the broad agenda before us, the desire to have a more democratic and a more peaceful world, to bring hope to those in parts of the world who have never enjoyed the fruits of liberty; but also, to talk about the agenda before us in the Middle East. We were both just there, and I think we agree that this is a time of opportunity.

Today's meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh was the beginning, we hope, of the parties' ability to pursue those opportunities before them. And we have agreed, and I had a chance to talk with President Chirac about the importance of Europe and America and all of us doing everything that we can to support the efforts of the parties for peace in that longstanding conflict.

We talked, also, about the elections in Iraq and the opportunity before us now to support the Iraqi people as they try to build a better future, and about the many democratic changes that are taking place across the world, the elections that have taken place in the Palestinian territories, in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I think that we agree completely that Resolution 1559, on which the United States and France cooperated, which really does speak to the importance of non-interference by foreign forces in Lebanon's affairs. We agree that there should be elections, perhaps a fourth reelection, in the Middle East, and that should be Lebanon. And that election should take place under circumstances that are free of that interference. And so, we look forward to the many opportunities before us.

I want to thank you very much for hosting me so well here. And I want to thank President Chirac for the time that he has spent with me.

When the United States and France work together, there is a great deal that we can achieve. We've talked about Kosovo, about Afghanistan, but of course, we have also been partners in Haiti and in Cote d'Ivoire. And of course, together, we will continue our attention on fighting the scourge of AIDS, on poverty alleviation, on countering terrorism and proliferation of dangerous weapons and of promoting opportunity and change worldwide.

Thank you again. I look forward to many, many months now of work ahead of us.

MINISTER BARNIER: Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: A few questions.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, if you want to go first. Thank you. All right.


QUESTION: Christian (Inaudible) from France Trois. Question to you, Ms. Secretary.


QUESTION: Secretary Barnier just said a few minutes ago that the European, United States, are together fighting against terrorism. My question is the following one: How do you plan to convince the Europeans that we cannot deal with a terrorist regime like Iran, which is, of course, backing terrorism and which is not reliable?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think it's well known that we are deeply concerned about both the external and internal behavior of the Iranian regime. It would be a destabilizing matter were Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon under cover of civilian nuclear power development in contravention of its NonProliferation Treaty obligations.

It is also enormously important as we begin just the first steps toward what could be a very fruitful outcome for the people of Israel and the Palestinian territories, that states who are supporting terrorist activities, states who are supporting the very groups that would try and destroy the possibilities for peace, get a clear message that that is not acceptable in -- from the international community.

We have worked closely with the European-3 on their efforts to convince the Iranians to live up to the international obligations. And I have said before and I will say again that the Europeans are giving the Iranians an opportunity to demonstrate that they are prepared to live up to those obligations. I hope the Iranians take the opportunity before them.

QUESTION: Follow up question on Iran.

SECRETARY RICE: We'll come back.


QUESTION: Peter Mackler, Agence France Presse. Mr. Minister, on the part of our colleagues, our condolences, as well.

You -- a question to you, Mr. Minister. Secretary Rice did mention about the need -- well, with Europe -- to play a part and be a partner. But there is also talk that in the United States they want to have Europe as a partner but not see it as a counterweight. So what is your reaction to Secretary Rice's remarks today? Also, what is actually needed to be done concretely on the part of the United States to get France to reengage concretely in Iraq?


First of all, one word on Iran. Since the situation of Iran, it's a big country and a vocal country, major peoples with the question of stability in that region. We're going forward with our eyes open in this negotiation. And British, German, French, we are in the forefront of European diplomacy, which works, and in the forefront of international community. We believe this political and diplomatic work with which we are committed is by far the best way.

But we're going forward with our eyes open in order to convince the regime in Iran that they should renounce nuclear weapons. That region doesn't need them. And also, we should get involved in an economic process and energy process, political process, which will give it its true, peaceful position supporting stability. And to succeed we need the confidence, the support of Russia, of China, of international community. But we need the confidence and the support of the United States in this very delicate phase within which we are. And that's what the message is that we conveyed to Condi Rice.

Why in your question about Iraq do you say that France should recommit itself, as if we had not been committed for months and months with other members of the international community for the success of the political process?

We believe that it's not possible to get out of that tragedy -- that Iraqi crisis -- through weapons, through extra soldiers. We will get out of it through politics, through diplomacy, elections, international law. And that's why, for many months -- and what I'm saying, these aren't words, these are facts -- I worked with Colin Powell in a very constructive way, and with others, on the resolution of 1546. And that's why -- and the President reminded Condi Rice about it earlier -- we've made an effort, which was not obvious, especially with respect to other problems in Africa, in terms of the debt of Iraq, and yet alleviating 80 percent.

Well, that's why I took part. That's why I prepared in a constructive way the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting, another Sharm el-Sheikh meeting, dealing with Iraq because it was all those stages which committed Iraq into a political process among which the first step has been taken successfully, thanks to the courage and determination of the Iraqi citizens who went to vote.

So we are committed. We don't need to recommit, as your question suggested. We are committed for the success of the political process. And the President confirmed, as we told the Iraqi President a few weeks ago, that we were going to be involved, apart from the training of security forces, that we were ready, within the framework of assistance we're going to work on with the U.S. and other countries, to work for economic reconstruction, the creation of a state of law. We want the country to get back to stability and sovereignty.

QUESTION: The question, a follow up question on Iran. Unfortunately, neither European diplomatic efforts or American threats seem to be having any effects at the moment on the will of Tehran to pursue its nuclear business. So the question is, isn't it time that Tehran and Washington have or entertain some kind of direct dialogue?

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. The Iranians know what, precisely what they need to do. And I do want to say we are appreciative of the efforts that the EU-3 is making with the Iranians to give them a path to international -- back to the international community because they clearly are engaged in activities that make everyone suspicious about what they're doing.

But we have several fronts on which we are cooperating and working on the Iranian issue. It is not just the EU-3 effort, though that is very important. It is also the IAEA Board of Governors, which continues to watch the situation, continues to insist on verification measures.

We have had very good cooperation with the Russians, who I think have recognized the proliferation risk of civilian nuclear cooperation with the Iranians if there is not a means by which to take back the fuel and if the Iranians do not sign the additional protocol.

So you are getting a lot of common effort with the Iranians to get them to do what they must do, which is to foreswear any desire or effort to build nuclear weapons under the cover of civilian nuclear power, and to get back to -- to adhere to their international obligations.

We have diplomatic tools before us. What we need is unity of purpose and unity of message to the Iranians. And we should not let the Iranians continue to create new conditions that have to be fulfilled somehow before they are prepared to live up to their international obligations. Everybody knows what the Iranians need to do. They just need to do it.


QUESTION: Madame Secretary, my question is about NATO, and also for Mr. Barnier. It seems that NATO is expanding its role, its influence, and you mentioned it today in Sciences Po, beyond its traditional borders. Is NATO destined, in your view, in the American view, to become the policeman of the world now to intervene in conflicts?

And I'd like to know how you see this role beyond Iraq. You're already in consultations with many Gulf countries. I'm from the Kuwaiti News Agency, incidentally, so that's why I have the question.

And also I'd like to ask Mr. Barnier: Are France and the United States on the same wavelength on what NATO should be doing in the world today and what its future role is? Thank you. SECRETARY RICE: Well, NATO's role is evolving and it is really evolving rather quickly. It is evolving, in part, because it is an expanded alliance now with states who have interests in different kinds of activities for NATO. It is transforming in that the member-states of NATO have committed to changing the nature of their military forces to be more in common with the needs of today.

You mentioned the NATO Istanbul Outreach Dialogue, which I think is extremely important to the Middle East. And, of course, NATO is heavily involved in Afghanistan and now involved in the training in Iraq.

NATO has a very bright future. You know, I'm an old specialist on the Warsaw Pact. And I can remember that at the time of German unification and the collapse of the Soviet Union that people said, well, the Warsaw Pact will go away, but so will NATO.

Who would have imagined that we would have such a vibrant NATO, expanded now to the Baltic states, expanded into Southern and Central Europe, that is participating and is contributing, not just in Europe but in the Middle East and in the broader Middle East?

How NATO's role will evolve, I think, is still an open question, but we need to be open to new roles that NATO might play. I do not think that NATO needs to become the policeman of the world. I think that would be asking too much of this alliance. It needs to be focused. It is a bulwark for democratic states, and it can therefore play an important role in the spread of democracy and liberty, but we have other means.

One thing that we agreed at the G-8 is that we needed robust peacekeeping forces for regional conflicts like some of the conflicts that have been taking place in Africa, where the French, of course, have been very involved in Africa, and the United States very involved in Liberia, the French in Cote D'Ivoire, DROC. And we need more robust peacekeeping forces for the regional players.

The African Union is prepared to do work in Sudan. They need to be allowed, by the way, by Khartoum to do that work. The ECOWAS was the lead, with the United States, in Liberia. And so it would be -- and by the way, the Brazilians are leading the effort now in Haiti. So there are many other actors, many other players, who can play a very positive role in peacekeeping around the world.

And we have agreed that there should be a global effort to improve the peacekeeping skills of African nations, of Latin American nations, and the like. So NATO has a very important role to play, but we should be very clear that there are many others who need to play these roles as well.


I said earlier that we were allies, the French and the Americans and with others, since the beginning, as far as we're concerned, in the framework of that alliance since the end of the second world conflict of the 20th century. It's the NATO organization of which we are a member and within which we act.

As it happens at the moment you are asking me, France is managing the NATO operation in Afghanistan as we are now managing a NATO operation in Kosovo. So we have no complexes and no particular anxieties about this transatlantic organization, which was constructed within a geopolitical situation after the World War, which has changed. So it's not surprising, as Condi said, that the missions or vocations of NATO might evolve on the basis of what the world is becoming today.

I agree with what has been said to say that the vocation of NATO is not to be the world's policeman. And no one, in fact, has that vocation apart from the Security Council of the UN and the General Assembly of the UN. It's within the framework of international law that you have the NATO interventions in Afghanistan, for example, and it might be NATO here if we think that it's the best way. It might also be, as Condi said, an African force for peacekeeping or a European force. That's already happened in Africa, a coalition of national forces as happened in Haiti. And I want to say, since I'm speaking of instruments, that this alliance which links us is not incompatible, or should be compatible, with the efforts that we make -- that I'm making -- for Europe to also be strong in terms of its defense in the new European constitution. And the French are going to look at that in a couple of months. And there is a chapter within which I did a lot of work for a true European defense policy; and we seek this.

The Europeans need it for their own security in order to be able to act externally in some circumstances so that it should be compatible with our commitments and our alliances. And the famous (inaudible) text, a European defense policy of solidarity, in which it's also complementary. That's our spirit within which we work in NATO.

QUESTION: You spoke of 1559.


Just a minute.

QUESTION: You spoke of 1559 and the cooperation between France and the United States on Lebanon and free elections in Lebanon that you expect. What if Syria refuses the implementation of 1559? How would you initiate another moving towards the elections and towards freedom?

Second, Minister Barnier said, when Europe and the United States cooperate, the world is better off. Do you -- will you allow France and Europe to have a role in the Middle East peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis? But you, as administration previously did not want a European role.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, of course, Europe already has a role in the Middle East peace process through the Quartet, through the EU membership in the Quartet, the Quartet, of course, the United States, Russia, the UN and the European Union; of course, European countries have a role. The foreign minister was just there speaking with President Abbas and giving, I think -- and with Prime Minister Sharon -- and so there is obviously a role. We are going to need everyone's help. The parties are going to need everyone's help to take advantage of this very fragile opportunity to move forward.

We have had many opportunities in the past that did not end in peace, and if we are going to seize the opportunity this time, we will have to mobilize ourselves to support the democratization of the Palestinian territories, as President Abbas wishes to do, to rebuild the Palestinian security forces, to give reconstruction assistance to the Palestinians. The President just recently said that the United States will devote $350 million to trying to help with reconstruction.

The European Union has been a major contributor. The Gulf States need to pay their -- the pledges that they've made so that reconstruction can go forward. We need to support the Israeli disengagement plan from the Gaza because if you -- the Gaza and the four settlements in the West Bank -- because if you think of it, what is different now is that the parties have made some fundamentally difficult choices. The Palestinian leadership today talked about an end to the armed Intifadah, talked about the need to live in peace with Israel. The Israelis recognize that they cannot stay in all of the territories that they have occupied, and you have now a new dynamic with the new Palestinian leadership and with the Israelis having made some pretty fundamental choices on disengagement. So this is a time that everybody should be involved.

Lebanon is a situation in which there is the potential for a very fragile democratic situation to be stabilized and supported by us. And that's why France and the United States sponsored Resolution 1559. There should be a very clear message to the Syrians that it is out of step with where the rest of the region is going to interfere in the democratic processes in Lebanon, and that those elections should go forward. The 1559 speaks to these issues and it should be followed.

The Syrians also, of course, need to stop supporting from Lebanon the rejectionist groups that are a threat to the very peace process that we all want to see go forward. The United States has already used the Syrian Accountability Act to levy sanctions against Syria. We are constantly looking at what more needs to be done in that regard. Because it is just not acceptable that Syria would continue to be a place from which terrorists are funded and helped to destroy the very fragile peace process in the Middle East or to change the dynamic of events in Lebanon.


I said earlier, greeting Condi Rice, that, for me, the priority of this new state of mind between us, the Europeans and Americans, French and Americans, is that together we should contribute to peace in the Middle East since this conflict is a key one. And the fact that it hasn't been resolved for so many years has consequences not only in that region, but in all our societies. It encourages fear and insecurity in Israel, and despair and humiliation on the Palestinian side. We must get out of that situation, which is possible today thanks to the dialogue which is being renewed between Mahmoud Abbas and Ariel Sharon at Sharm el-Sheikh, and it's really symbolic that we should talk about it today since we were, Condi Rice and I, in that region yesterday and even today.

And peace requires direct dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, which is what's now happening. Peace requires that we should support the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority, who are showing courage, both of them, both of them. Ariel Sharon is courageous in his decision to pull out of Gaza and the Palestinian President, who's just been elected in a democratic way by the Palestinians, is showing courage in restructuring his security services, in what he's doing to reduce violence, in the reforms that he has started.

And finally, peace demands that the members of the Quartet should be involved -- the Americans, Europeans, Russians and members of the UN -- as well as the countries in the region. It's a fragile thing, as Condi said, but it is possible in 2005. 2005/167

# # #

Released on February 8, 2005

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