Rice Remarks With German FM Joschka Fischer
Remarks With German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer After Their Meeting
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Benjamin Franklin Room
June 8, 2005
(1:30 p.m. EDT)
SECRETARY RICE: Good afternoon. I'm very pleased to welcome Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer from the Federal Republic of Germany. We have known each other now for a number of years; worked together for a number of years, both in my capacity at the White House and now here at the State Department.
We have had wide ranging discussions today about the strategic opportunities before us in the Middle East, where I always value, especially, the insights of Minister Fischer who knows that region well and is one of the strongest proponents of the march of democracy and prosperity in that region.
We've talked about the Israeli-Palestinian situation. We've talked about Iraq and the upcoming conference that the United States, the EU and Iraq will sponsor for political support to Iraq. I've also had an opportunity to hear from the Minister about the EU-3's work with Iran, a process that we fully support and hope that the Iranians will, when those talks resume, take full advantage of the opportunity that the EU is giving to Iran to show the world that it is prepared to live up to its international obligations.
We've, of course, talked about the situation in Europe as well and about our joint desire to keep moving forward on the strategic agenda before us because as I've said to Minister Fischer, the President made clear at Brussels that we want and need a strong European partner. Precisely how Europe gets that unity and strength is, of course, up to Europeans. But we have a large strategic agenda ahead of us and we intend to continue to work on it.
So thank you very much for being here, Joschka.
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. It's a pleasure to be here. It's the first time since you have entered your new office here in the State Department. And as the Secretary of State said, we had a very frank and detailed discussions about a whole variety of things.
I explained the situation in Europe and how important it is that we can move forward with the common strategic interests to preserve peace and stability in the Balkans and in the Mediterranean. I think it's important that Europe and the United States collaborate very closely in these issues.
We talked about the Middle East, where we hope that the opportunities which are seen now, especially in the Israeli and Palestinian conflict and Lebanon, but also with elections in Iraq and future democratic stabilization in Iraq and with the talks of the EU-3 and the EU with Iran to avoid nuclearization of Iran, that these opportunities could be used in a positive way. I think this needs close coordination of our policy and to move forward together.
We talked also about other international issues and especially also about the situation in the reform of the UN system, where we think it's an important challenge for the 21st century.
So once again, this was a very frank and friendly discussion and thank you very much for the warm welcome and the excellent lunch.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, is the United States prepared to drop its long held objection to heads of UN agencies having their post for three terms? I'm specifically referring to ElBaradei. And has ElBaradei been tough enough on Iran?
And for the Minister, a similar question. Do you think that ElBaradei has been tough on Iran?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we do have a long held view that, in general, it is better that there be two terms for these positions. Nonetheless, we have worked well with Mr. ElBaradei Dr. ElBaradei in the past and I'm going to meet him tomorrow to discuss his vision for what the IAEA will do in these next extremely important years.
Obviously, how Iran would be handled is an important issue. Also, there have been some very interesting ideas about how to strengthen the Nonproliferation Treaty. The President had a number of them in his NDU speech last year. Dr. ElBaradei has had some ideas, too.
So we will see where we come out after those discussions but I'd like to say that we have, of course, had good relations with him and the United States looks I look forward, on behalf of the United States, to continuing our discussions with him tomorrow.
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: Well, our experiences in the cooperation with the IAEA, especially in the Iran issue, was excellent so I have no reasons to complain.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, does the U.S. object to dealing with groups in Iraq, politically dealing with them, who have been involved in the insurgency before or who may still be involved, as political developments go forward?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, let me make very clear that there's an Iraqi process that is underway and we respect that Iraqi process. The Iraqis are trying to bring about a reconciliation of a society that has been where societal tensions and ethnic differences were exploited by Saddam Hussein during the terrible reign that he engaged in over the Iraqi people. And so there's an Iraqi process and I don't think that we think it our place to interfere in that Iraqi process.
Now, clearly, we believe that there ought to be justice for those who have committed crimes against the Iraqi people, crimes against the coalition forces, crimes against innocents of any number of coalition countries. We have to remember that there have been aid workers who have been killed by insurgent activities and terrorist activities. There have been innocent Iraqis who have been killed by insurgent activities and terrorist activities. And so I would certainly think that that would be taken into account as the Iraqis try to move forward in their process, but I just want to emphasize that it is clearly an Iraqi process and we'll try to be supportive of it.
QUESTION: Does the United States Government support a permanent seat for Germany in the Security Council, in particular with respect to what we have just learned; that there is a new draft resolution out that those countries who have pushed for reform will not seek a veto right for the next 15 years?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we had an extensive discussion of this question and I think we are, first and foremost, agreed on the importance of UN reform. There is no doubt that this venerable organization that is of great, great importance to all of us needs, after some 60 years, to undergo thorough reform. There are many reforms on the table. There is a reform consideration of how to do better peacekeeping and peace-building. There is a reform on a UN on the UN Commission on Human Rights, which really must be reformed because, unfortunately, when you have a Sudan on the Human Rights Commission at a time that it's being investigated for genocide, something is wrong with that picture. Management reform and reform of the Secretariat has been something that has been important to Kofi Annan and we think extremely important.
Now, in that context of broad reform, we also think that Security Council reform definitely needs to be examined. What we would like to do and we are not against any proposal. What we are for is to look at the various ideas that are on the table, to have a sober and reflective discussion of that so that we might drive toward the broadest possible consensus on how to move forward on what would be a very fundamental change to this extremely important institution.
And so our plan at this point is to try, through the appropriate channels at the UN, the Presidency of the GA and so forth, to promote that dialogue on what it is that we are trying to achieve in Security Council reform as well as in the broader UN Security Council UN reform.
QUESTION: I was, in particular, pointing to the discussion between those who advocate a European seat and those that advocate just a German seat.
SECRETARY RICE: No, we have first, the only country that we have said unequivocally that we support is Japan, having to do with Japan's special role in the UN and support for the UN. But obviously, we are going to look at how to think about UN Security Council expansion within the context of these broader reforms and we've made no determination or decision beyond the one that I've just enunciated.
MR. MCCORMACK: We have time for one more. Barry Schweid from AP.
SECRETARY RICE: Where's Barry? Oh, there he is. He's leaving.
QUESTION: The Minister spoke of the need of closer coordination the U.S. and the EU-3 on Iran. That might be code for the U.S. it strikes me, for the U.S. making some offer to be part of an economic incentive package. Is that correct and is there something well, I'm asking the Minister if that what he means. And I'm asking you, Madame Secretary, isn't it possible that the U.S. could be urged to do something more than just say sort of, we're with you, go ahead, go get 'em.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, Barry, let me just say I've never known the Minister to speak in code. I've always that he is one of the more straightforward people that I know and we had a very straightforward discussion about Iran.
The United States, as you know, a couple of months ago, did put into the mix some changes in our policy to support the EU-3 negotiations. We carried through on that obligation when we did not use our objection to Iran's application for WTO membership, and of course we are ready at any time to pursue the issue of spare parts for civilian aircraft, which is what, at this point, we have on the table.
We are saying more than go get them. I think I have talked to my European colleagues about this Iranian situation during the negotiations on an almost daily basis because it is very important that there be a united front with Iran so that Iran understands its obligations to live up to its international commitments. And I might just say that we've also had the benefit of discussions with the Russians from time to time.
And so I think we are where we are and my understanding from the EU-3 is that they will resume negotiations with the Iranians at some point on this broad set of discussions having to do with nuclear and there are other working groups as well. And we'll keep in very close coordination and stay abreast of them, but we aren't considering anything else at this point.
QUESTION: Excuse me. Mr. Minister, will that resumption, or at least where you're looking for the resumption, during the six, seven-week period of Iran continuing its suspension of uranium enrichment? Can you do it this summer, do you think?
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: Well, I mean what I said. Close coordination is essential and we did that in the past. Secretary of State just mentioned that directly the day after our agreement in Geneva, our last agreement in Geneva, there was a decision in WTO to open the negotiations about the accession of Iran, so I think this made quite clear how close we cooperate and coordinate and this is crucial for future success.
And we think the negotiation should continue as long as the conditions for these negotiation process exist and these are two: first of all, that both sides are negotiating based on the Paris agreement between the EU-3 and Iran; and secondly, that there is no change on the ground. Natanz, Isfahan nor the other nuclear sites are under control of the IAEA inspectors and as long as they are not there are no activities there, as long as we have a suspension of the activities, I think the conditions are given to move forward in the negotiations. The negotiations are not easy, they are complicated, but I think with the close coordination with our American friends, with the Russians, it's also very important, Russia contributes a lot to the progress of these negotiations, and with our friends in Europe and with the backing of the EU, I think we can move forward.
Released on June 8, 2005