Rice Remarks With European Union Officials
Remarks With European Union President Jean Asselborn, European Union High Representative and Secretary General Javier Solana, and European Union External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
February 10, 2005
PRESIDENT ASSELBORN: (Via interpreter) This has been an important day for Luxembourg and for the European Union. Luxembourg has the presidency of the Council. We had the pleasure and privilege of hosting Ms. Rice's visit. This is her last stop of a trip to ten countries in the last few days. Dr. Rice and I enjoyed a pleasant atmosphere during our meeting today so this tour has come to a very satisfactory end.
During our meeting today we touched on some positive developments. We're seeing events in Israel, in Palestine, where there are glimmers of hope. There are glimmers of hope in Iraq as well. There are areas we must cooperate, cooperate between the U.S. and the European Union. We talked about trends in a whole set of countries. We talked about neighboring countries of Russia, we talked about Iran, we talked about the arms embargo vis-à-vis China.
During all the meetings we talked about international cooperation in many dimensions, including the UN crisis prevention/crisis management. And today we are very interested in forging stronger links across the Atlantic because this will help improve stability and well-being for people in the world.
Issues touched upon today, first and foremost the Middle East peace process and the encouraging signals received from the Sharm-El-Sheik summit. It is essential that the EU and the U.S. continue to press for the implementation of the roadmap and support both parties in their efforts towards peace.
The good and longstanding EU-U.S. cooperation in the Western Balkans, which will continue to be crucial, really crucial in 2005, especially with regard to Kosovo, as you know; our fruitful cooperation with regard to the Ukraine, which shall be an example for the future of good EU-U.S. coordination; the same thing I would tell you about Iran.
We also exchanged views on Russia and I briefed my American and also my European colleagues about the visit I paid to Foreign Minister Lavov yesterday in Moscow. We furthermore had the possibility to exchange views on issues like I told you, China arm embargo, where compared our respective analyses. I think I can say our discussion allowed us to understand each others' point of view better and that we continue our talks in the future.
Dr Rice has also come to Luxembourg to prepare with EU colleagues for the event, one big event really in the Luxembourg presidency, the visit of the American President, Mr. Bush, in Brussels, the 22nd of February. Today we exchanged views on this highly symbolic visit of the President to the European institutions at the very beginning of his second mandate.
I can safely assure you that today the transatlantic relationships which has known -- we know it all -- more difficult times, months and years ago, is today very strong and that the European Union is committed to working with our American partners in a very concrete way to address the challenges of this world.
After the President's visit to Brussels this month, the EU-U.S. summit will be the next very important moment in the transatlantic dialogue and this will be also under Luxembourg presidency.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, and thank you Foreign Minister Asselborn for hosting this meeting. I look forward to working closely with you over the next months, and I am very confident and the President is very confident that the presidency under Luxembourg will be very fruitful for U.S.-European relations, for our common agenda, and we look very much forward to continuing this dialogue with the President's trip here at the -- toward the end of the month.
In fact, I just want to note that after the time here in Europe and culminating in this trip here to the European Union presidency, that I believe the President will find a very constructive, warm atmosphere, an atmosphere in which everyone is ready to look well beyond any disagreements that we may have had in the past to our common future, because we have a lot of work to do. And that's what we did today. We talked about the work that we have to do.
We talked extensively about the Balkans, the need to continue to promote peace and stability and democracy in the Balkans. We talked about the need to continue to work with all parties in the Balkans so that the Balkans can be drawn into the European mainstream. Those were very good discussions. We know that we have some important reviews coming up in the spring and we committed ourselves to preparing for those in a cooperative way so that we have a common position going forward. We're in complete agreement about what needs to be done and we expect to have extensive consultation as we go forward.
We also talked about what we can do to help the people of Ukraine, who are now taking control of their own democratic future under the presidency of Mr. Yushchenko. I congratulate very much the European Union on the work that they have done on an action plan for Ukraine that has been there for a while and can now be taken up in, I think, a very active way.
And so as not to have duplication, but so that our efforts are complementary, we also talked about the need at the expert level to have discussions about how we move forward on respective action plans.
And we did have very good discussions about Russia, our desire to see Russia fully integrated into the European-Russian dialogue and the US-Russian dialogue, which will, of course, make a very big step when President Putin and President Bush meet during the President's trip here, when they meet in Slovakia.
We are in complete agreement that there are trends in Russia that need to be watched, that we are concerned about that Russia's isolation would be a terrible thing for the international community, and that we intend to continue to work with our Russian colleagues for a better future.
We did continue our dialogue on the Middle East peace, on Iraq, on Iran, and on a number of other issues. But let me just say, in closing, that the United States has always been -- or the founders of the transatlantic relationship, from the point of view of the United States, have always been, were always, very strong supporters of European integration and European unity. They believed that a unified Europe could be one in which war was no longer thinkable, that it would be the best possibility for prosperity and for the strengthening of democracy in Europe after the horrors of the two World Wars.
They believed, too, that there could be a strong relationship between that united Europe and the United States in a transatlantic relationship and believed that two pillars existed to that transatlantic relationship: European Union and NATO.
I believe that the wisdom of that view is now in full view, because we have had very fruitful meetings on how to move our common agenda forward. And our common agenda is one that is based on values. It is one that looks for the spread of liberty and freedom as an antidote to ideologies of hatred and hopelessness that dominate still too much of the world.
So I want to thank my colleagues, you, Foreign Minister, and also my colleague, Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner, and my good friend, Javier Solana, the High Commissioner. I thank you very much for these wonderful meetings and I look forward to the President's trip here to continue our dialogue.
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SOLANA: Thank you very much. I will be very brief because most of the issues that we have discussed today have been touched upon by the previous speakers.
I would like to say that today is the end of, to my mind, a very important trip of the new Secretary of State of the United States, an old friend, Condoleezza Rice. I can tell that I have no doubt that she has deepened the friendship with the old friends that she had, and I am sure that she has made very many new friends in Europe.
At the end of the trip, I think that it has been a very successful trip from all points of view, from the point of view of the atmosphere that has been created between the European Union and the United States, and also from the substantive discussion that we have had in order to prepare well the visit of the President that will take place in the coming days.
At the end of the trip, I would like to say that between the Europeans and the Americans probably what we have to do is to talk less about ourselves, and to talk more about what we can do together. So, to talk more between ourselves on how to solve the problems which are out there, and that we should be able to resolve better if we work together. This, to my mind, is the most important conclusion of the trip: It is more important not so much to talk about ourselves -- and that's also for you -- but to talk about what we can do together to solve the problems which are out there.
The agenda is very broad; it is well known by everybody. And we are determined to try to do the utmost in the results-oriented approach to solve the problems so that the world, by our cooperation, will be a better world. And that is what we are going to do. We are going to do it with the best of our intention. Sometimes we may have differences, but I am sure that the differences will be overcome by the goodwill that have been proven really to a very deep manner in this long trip of the Secretary of State in which, as I said, she has made many good friends and she has deepened the friendships she has had already to many people in Europe.
COMMISSIONER FERRERO-WALDNER: Thank you. I can also confirm that not only was the atmosphere excellent yesterday and today, but also we had very substantive discussions and, of course, we will continue those discussions in the future and the best moment will, of course, be when President Bush comes over very soon.
Today I think it's indeed more vital than ever that the EU and the U.S. work together in order to promote freedom, democracy, stability and prosperity throughout the world. And we have been longstanding partners and allies who share, indeed, the same values and also the same foreign policy goals.
Let me just make a few examples where I think we have already used the opportunities for progress, or where we will have to use the opportunities for progress in the future. We have already done so very well in Afghanistan, for instance, in the West Balkans, that we have spoken about extensively, but also today, again, about the Middle East, the broader Middle East, and also Iraq.
On the Middle East, we have been a longstanding player in the search for peace, the biggest donor, and it is very important that we work together and each of us plays its part in the Quartet. And, of course, we also have been discussing what we can do at the London conference in order to promote this very difficult peace.
Broader Middle East -- there again, we have synergies to build on because we have had the Barcelona process, and there already we have started to do quite a lot, but a lot more has to be done. And I think questions like democracy, education, rule of law, good governance, all that will come up again from the forum, from Rabat, now to Cairo, there is the next path to go.
On Iraq, we have the same goals. We want a democratic Iraq, a stable Iraq, and therefore we have also supported the elections. And therefore we in the European Union have done a lot also to support the political transition process; 200 million have been given by us very recently for the year 2005, and 320 million even last year. So there is a lot we can do for the people, but also for the transition.
On the whole, wherever we work together, I think we are better, and this is what we should aim for in the future. Thank you.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I'm Daniell Font, Tageblatt newspaper, Luxembourg
My question is the following: I listened to you, to your speeches in Paris and in Brussels, and I would need a furthermore explanation. First, could you tell me why nuclear bomb is more dangerous in Iran, under the Islamic dictatorship of Iran, than under the Islamists of Pakistan, and on the other side, freedom is urgent everywhere in the world. But why is freedom more urgent in Iraq and in Syria, than in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, in Saudi Arabia, in Yemen and in Sudan?
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. The challenge of Iran is to deal with internal and external developments that are moving in a direction that are in fact out of step with where the rest of the region is going. It is extremely important to have principles to which we are appealing, and we have talked about the need for freedom and democracy. It is important also to recognize that states are moving at different speeds, that the trends are extremely important. I do not think there is anyone who can argue that the trends in Iran are going in the right direction.
I do think that there are trends in Pakistan, if one looks at where Pakistan was three-and-a-half years ago, that those trends are moving Pakistan away from extremism, toward a policy that recognizes, as President Musharraf himself said after the bombing of the Indian parliament -- or the attack on the Indian parliament, a policy that says that extremism and modernization in Pakistan cannot exist side by side, a policy that has been active in trying to reform the educational institutions of Pakistan, a policy that fights terrorism in places in Pakistan, where the Pakistani armed forces had never fought, like in the frontier areas, policies that have lead to a very delicate and fragile but nonetheless a movement toward a potential rapprochement with India, the world's largest democracy, of course, and trends that we will continue to press toward eventually elections and a full democratic process in Pakistan.
We've been very clear with the Pakistanis that that's our expectation. But I do have to say that if you look at where Pakistan started three-and-a-half years ago, and you look at where Pakistan is now, the trends are moving in the right direction. That is important.
Some of the other places that you mentioned, of course, the President has said that we expect our friends to understand the need for reform and political liberalization. I would note that Crown Prince Abdullah has in Saudi Arabia begun some reforms. There were, after all, municipal elections today. We, of course, look forward to the day when all Saudis can participate in that.
But this is a step forward in Saudi Arabia, and one can go throughout the region and look at positive trends and positive developments in response to a new political conversation that is going on in the region. But returning to Iran, it is, of course, the internal politics are not moving in a positive direction. I don't think that anyone can say that the recent elections in Iran and the ones that are to come are a positive direction, and one can also say that the development of a nuclear weapon in contravention of Iran's international obligations would not be a positive development. And given our long discussions on the Middle East peace today, that support for terrorist organizations, and particularly, the rejectionist organizations is certainly out of step with where everybody else wants to be in the Middle East, which is giving the Israelis and the Palestinians a chance to make a permanent peace.
PRESIDENT ASSELBORN: Just two words. I think the ideal world would be a world without nuclear weapons. And the second point is where the risk exists that nuclear weapons can be developed, we have to intervene in the European Union and I think also in other parts of the world. We, in the European Union, want to avoid that Iran can have a nuclear bomb. That's dangerous for the region, very dangerous for the region, and we negotiate with Iran and to avoid this development and it is very positive that from the American side, there is a cooperation between the European Union and the United States, and we hope that we can avoid this very bad and very negative evolution.
QUESTION: Peter Mackler, Agence France Press.
We've all heard the news, Madame Secretary, today from North Korea about a nuclear bomb and the attacks on the United States. What is the United States concretely doing right now to respond to these remarks? And on a broader level, Madame Secretary, is that we've been hearing a lot about the negotiations with Iran and with North Korea that have been dragging on without any visible signs of progress, certainly not definitive progress. Is this announcement from Pyongyang a wakeup call about the urgency? And how much time do we have before we have to take concrete action to deal with these problems there? And if military action is not the answer, then what are the concrete actions?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I have now seen the North Korean statement and will analyze it, and obviously we will consult with our partners. But this is an unfortunate move, most specially probably for the people of North Korea because it only deepens the North Korean isolation from the rest of the international community. It's very clear that all responsible members of the international community, and most especially North Korea's neighbors, support the six-party framework as a way to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.
The six-party talks have given to the North Koreans an opportunity to find a different path than they're on with the international community. It has given to the North Koreans an alternative to continued isolation. The North Koreans have been told by the president of the United States himself that the United States has no intention to attack or invade North Korea. The North Koreans have been told that they can have security assurances on a multilateral basis. Those security assurances will of course include the United States, if they are prepared to take a definitive decision to dismantle their nuclear weapons programs and to do so in a way that is verifiable. So there is a path ahead for the North Koreans that would put them into a more reasonable relationship with the rest of the world.
Now the fact is that we have for some time taken account of the capacity of the North Koreans to perhaps have a few nuclear weapons. There is no definitive -- you know, I can't go into the intelligence here -- but there is no definitive answer to how many, but this has been since the mid-90s that the United States has assumed that the North Koreans could make such steps. But the fact of the matter is that the world has given them a way out and they should take that way out.
We would hope that there will be six-party talks again, and six-party talks soon, so that we can resolve this issue. We are confident that the United States, with our alliance with the Republic of Korea, with the South Koreans, with our deterrent capability on the Korean Peninsula, that, of course, the United States and its allies can deal with any potential threat from North Korea, and North Korea I think understands that.
But we are trying to give the North Koreans a different path. The Chinese, the Russians, the South Koreans, the Japanese are trying to give the North Koreans a different path. And I know that we have support from the rest of the international community in saying to the North Koreans that they ought to take what is before them, a path to a more reasonable relationship, a path to a better life for their people, a path to security assurances from their neighbors, including from the United States, and very clear statements from the President of the United States that there is no intention to invade or attack North Korea.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, just follow up on that point.
SECRETARY RICE: Let him follow this up.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Specifically, on that point, you are saying that stressing for North Korea that they can have security assurances from the United States, but all along what we've heard is that you're -- you go out of your way to avoid taking the military option off the table for Iran. Isn't the lesson in what you are sending the different messages, isn't the lesson for Iran: Get yourself a nuclear bomb and you can have U.S. security assurances?
SECRETARY RICE: It's very clear to the North Koreans that no such security assurances would be forthcoming if they were not prepared to take a decision to dismantle their nuclear weapons in a -- the nuclear weapons in their programs -- in a verifiable and irreversible way.
As I understand the discussions between the EU-3 and the Iranians, who, by the way, are at a considerably earlier stage here, that the message to the Iranians here is: you can have a different path with the international community if you are prepared not to go the route of nuclear weapon and to dismantle whatever activities might be devoted to building a nuclear weapon under cover of civilian nuclear power.
So the message is the same. The international community believes that the creation here of nuclear weapons programs cannot be acceptable. In both the six-party talks and in what the international community -- and its not just what the EU-3 is doing, it is what the IAEA is doing and so forth -- there is a very clear message: give up these aspirations for nuclear weapons and, you know, life can be different.
I do have to say that the Libyans, of course, understood this message. They gave up their weapons of mass destruction programs, and they are now on a very good course toward better relations with the world. There are many issues still with Libya but they are on a better course.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, do you have any understanding of what the North Korean intentions may be? Do you think that the decision to suspend the participation in the six-party talk might be bluster, might be a bargaining technique? What is your analysis having been a student of this for so long and having watched their behaviors?
SECRETARY RICE: Well I am not sure that anyone gets very far by trying to second guess the motivations of the North Korean regime. The fact is that we will have to consult with our allies and consult with those who perhaps have closer contacts with the North Koreans than we do. But I would hope the North Koreans, when they step back and look and the prospect of greater isolation, not just from the United States, but greater isolation from the other members of the six-party talks, as well, will reconsider their decision.
One of the reasons that it important that this is a six-party framework in which South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan, along with the United States are involved, is that unlike the bilateral discussion with the North Koreans, North Korean decisions to further isolate itself and to refuse to take the path that is before them is not just something that they are saying to the United States. They're also saying that -- and it should be very clear -- they're saying this also to China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. And so I hope that when they think about that prospect, they will reconsider and then we can get back on the path of the six-party talks.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. The time is up for questions. Thank you very much. 2005/173
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Released on February 10, 2005