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Robert Zoellick With FM Jan Petersen of Norway

Press Conference With
Foreign Minister Jan Petersen of Norway

Robert Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Oslo, Norway
April 12, 2005

MINISTER PETERSEN: Good morning to everyone. We have about ten minutes, we'll have a short statement and then some questions. I just want to start by saying saying it's been a real pleasure to have a meeting with Robert Zoellick in this new capacity. I have had the pleasure of working with him on WTO issues during the past few years, and now we are going to, I hope to, work closely together on a broad range of foreign policy issues and we managed to address quite a few of these issues this morning meaning NATO, Russia, the Middle East, the broader Middle East, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, the whole lot, and I think we identified quite a lot of issues where we really need to work together. As you all know the United States is our closest and most important ally, and it's a real pleasure to welcome and to congratulate you on your new capacity.

MR. ZOELLICK: Well first I wanted to thank Minister Pedersen who has been a close colleague over the past years on the trade side for making time to see me this morning; I know that he has to head off to a meeting in Sweden, and it's my real pleasure to be here in Oslo. I know that this is the centennial year of Norway's modern independence, you've been independent before, and the prime purpose of my visit is for the conference on Sudan, and one of the points I make in my remarks there is that it is fitting that the people of Norway are celebrating their centennial by trying to help others around the world, because that is what Norway has done in so many areas. It's been one of the topics that I had a chance to talk to the Minister about, so I'll save my remarks on Sudan for later today, only I'll add that we will be making a very substantial contribution following the urging of Prime Minister Bondevik yesterday. But I also wanted to come here because I wanted to explain some of the policy challenges that we see ahead for both the north south struggle as well as the efforts in Darfur.

As the Minister said we covered a broad agenda of topics, I think he covered most of them and rather than me go on I'd be happy to take your questions.

QUESTION: Mr. Zoellick, German television ARD; does the United States still have a military presence in Sudan? And is there now reason for finalizing it because of the peace agreement?

MR. ZOELLICK: Well, we have a couple of officers, who I will actually have a chance to visit in Darfur, who are part of the planning effort for the African Union. But as you know, and as I will be emphasizing, we really have two interconnected issues here, one the implementation of the North-South accord, the comprehensive peace agreement, which is the focus of this conference, and there the prime military forces will be the 10,000 person U.N. peace monitoring force that the U.N. Security Council just agreed to put in place. That force should start to become in place this month, and at least the expectations are that over the course of the coming months it will be put in place.

There is also the African Union force and one of the issues that we're facing in the larger province in Darfur is that there was a recommendation coming out of an assessment mission by the AU, the U.N. the European Union and the United States, to recommend an expansion of that mission. That mission will have to be expanded - that's a decision from the African Union to make, I believe it is going to have a session later this month to make it. One of the items that I discussed on my trip to Europe last week, that I'll also be raising today, is how we and others can support that, including possibly through the logistical and the communications side. So this is not an area where you primarily have U.S forces on the ground, but we do expect to contribute very significantly on the financial side and also on the diplomatic side. After my stop in Oslo later this week I'll be actually headed to Khartoum and Rumbeck to talk about the north-south accord and also Darfur, I'll also be visiting Darfur.

QUESTION: Ole Berthelsen from TV2 Nettavisen; Your candidate as a new U.N. Ambassador, John Bolton has met some opposition even in your own Congress. Do you have an understanding for the controversy that that particular nomination has created?

MR. ZOELLICK: Well I'm certainly aware that, you know, it's a subject of debate in our U.S. Senate, but he's got the strong support of many members and you know I've worked with Ambassador Bolton during President Bush 41 administration where he, this was from '89-92, where he served as the Assistant Secretary for International Organizations, and that is our office that works a lot with our U.N. team, and he did a fantastic job, so we have full confidence in his abilities and I hope the Senate will confirm him promptly.

QUESTION: Pierre Deshayes from AFP, you stated several times that your aid to Sudan will be conditional to the improvement of the situation in Darfur. How confident are you that the situation there is going to improve after the new government is settled?

MR. ZOELLICK: Well first to be slightly more precise about we've said, what I've said is that I don't believe that either the United States or parties in Europe, or others around the world will be able to give full support to the North-South accord, if the situation in Darfur does not improve. Now I'll be talking later on today about the size of our support just to give you a sense of this, the March 31 report of the U.N. on the 2005 work plan had the United States providing over half the funds and that's just one of the plans. I think for us and others to be able to sustain this you can't have human rights atrocities and crimes against humanity in Darfur. So part of the message is that we've got to get the government of Sudan and the other parties to work to improve conditions there. I'll be having some meetings here, with vice president Taha and we'll have other meetings when I am in Khartoum, obviously, on the subject, I hope that Dr. Garang can also play a role, but the key policy theme that I'll be emphasizing later this morning is that there is a possibility for an upwards spiral and there is a possibility for a downwards spiral, and the upwards spiral is related to the North-South accord, because, keep in mind, that accord also creates a beautiful framework for dealing with disputes elsewhere in Sudan, including in Darfur, and to deal with the problems in Darfur you must go beyond the humanitarian and immediate security issues, you also have to create a political context; so your final point was how confident, I can't say. That's one of the reasons that we are engaged in this to the degree that we are, we want to improve the likelihood of success.

QUESTION: ..from Reuters, how confident are you that this conference will reach its aim at 2.6 billion dollars, and how much will the United States contribute ?

MR. ZOELLICK: Ok, you have different counts here. You have a 1.5 billion dollar 2005 work plan, which is significantly humanitarian, but not only. The 2.6 that you talked about is over a three year period to support the north-south accord, and I was very pleased to see the very sizable Norwegian contribution yesterday and at least I have seen encouraging reports of others, but part of my message will be that we hope others will step up significantly as well. What I'll be announcing later today is that the United States is looking at a contribution in the range of a billion to two billion dollars over the course of a year or so, so even less than the full two or three year period, and that includes the 853 million dollars that we definitely will come forward with in 2005, but President Bush has also asked our Congress for another 883 million dollars for both money in '05 but some in '06, so that doesn't even count what we we'd probably be asking from our Congress in '07, but I have to split those two up because in our constitutional system we still have to get that from the Congress. But there are very strong voices of support. Now, in pursing through this money, some of this will go to the 2005 plan, some of this will go to the 2.6 billion, some of it will go to other projects like the AU mission, but one that I would want to particularly emphasize because the U.N. is emphasizing it, is the need to get food in. You are already getting into a rainy season in Darfur and you need to be able to bring the food supplies in, so as to help sustain the people. So I think the conference was an excellent idea and I am encouraged by what I have seen so far, but we need to keep the effort up.

MINISTER PETERSEN: Thank you very much, and good luck

2005/402

Released on April 12, 2005


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