Condoleezza Rice With Jordanian FM Farouq Qasrawi
Remarks With Jordanian Foreign Minister Farouq Qasrawi After Their Meeting
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
June 19, 2005
FOREIGN MINISTER QASRAWI: Good afternoon, welcome to the Foreign Ministry. I would like to say that we had a very good meeting. This was the first time for me to meet Secretary Rice. It was my pleasure to talk to the Secretary about our bilateral relations and problems in our region. Our relations with United States and very warm and close. I hope to work with the Secretary to strengthen these relations, not only between our two governments but between the Jordanians and the American people.
In this regard, I wish to express our thanks to Dr. Rice for the financial support United States extends to Jordan. I explained the impact of higher oil prices on the Jordanian economy and the effect on the budget deficit, and expressed the hope that United States will take this into account when deciding on the level of support to Jordan.
We discussed the Gaza withdrawal and the search for peace in the Middle East. I explained that we believe that this withdrawal should be in coordination with the Palestinian Authority and should also be a part of a larger political process, which is the process of the roadmap. This is very important, in our opinion, and this linkage is important for the search for peace.
On Iraq, Jordan supports the present political process in Iraq and is keen to have the strongest possible relations with Iraq. We hope that the drafting of the constitution will proceed successfully and swiftly within an inclusive process that represents all segments of the Iraqi people. I reiterated our firm condemnation of terrorism and the violence in Iraq, and expressed our hope that Iraqi people will overcome this violence through their unity and resolve.
Finally, I explained ongoing process of reforms in Jordan and the priority the present cabinet attaches to this reform in all its aspects, whether political, economic and administrative.
Thank you, Dr. Rice. You are welcome. You have the floor.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister. I appreciate very much the hospitality and I am looking forward later on to seeing His Majesty and Her Majesty. It's great to be in Jordan, a very good friend of the United States. I am delighted to be here in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan because we have no better friend than Jordan, a good friend and a strategic partner in a shared vision of peace and stability and, increasingly, a shared vision of reform in this region.
We value the friendship of the Jordanian people and our shared interest in promoting peace between Israel and the Palestinian people, as well as the emergence of a free Iraq. And I would just note that in a letter to His Majesty, the President underscored this, noting that the people of Jordan and the country of Jordan have important interests at stake in any settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and in the emergence of a free Iraq, and that the United States Government views Jordan's security and prosperity and territorial integrity as vital and will oppose any developments in the region that might endanger Jordan's interests.
And so we have had an opportunity to talk about the many issues that we share in common. Jordan is a strategic partner in the region in the fight against terrorism and the search for peace, but also a place that is making a lot of very important reforms, political and economic reforms. We laud King Abdullah's January 26th announcement on the formation of several developmental regions with directly elected councils. These and other measures, including the development of a ten-year national agenda, will ensure broad political participation and strengthen grassroots democracy here in Jordan.
Jordan has been a strong supporter of the Middle East Partnership Initiative and of our efforts through the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative. We welcome Jordan's leadership, particularly in the vital area of education reform. And Jordan's education initiative, the innovative approach that was taken there to addressing the challenges of education and education for youth in the 21st century, really does serve as a model for the region.
We know that this is a time in which Jordan is trying to make important economic reforms and the United States wants to be a partner with Jordan. Jordan has long been a regional leader in economic reform. The U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement signed in the year 2000 was our third such agreement and the first with an Arab state. From 2000 to 2004, Jordanian exports to the U.S. grew from $63 million to $1.1 billion. I think this shows that the FTA has been a success for Jordan and for the United States, and the FTA has helped to diversity Jordan's economy along with the qualified industrial zones and has led to the creation of thousands of jobs.
I look forward to further discussions with the Jordanian Government. We have a lot on our plate, a lot of common interests, but we proceed from a strong and deep friendship and relationship. And I thank you very much, Minister, for welcoming me here to continue our dialogue.
FOREIGN MINISTER QASRAWI: Thank you.
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. On the second question, yes, we are very much supportive of Jordan's reforms, the economic and political reforms. We believe that in this region the political reforms do, in fact, serve as a kind of model for what can be done in the region. The President quite often cites Jordan's political reforms, the education here, the role of women and a number of other issues. And Jordan has been one of the most important sponsors of the Forum for the Future and the Broader Middle East Initiative. So, yes, we are very supportive.
And in terms of economic reforms, as I said, we have a free trade agreement with Jordan, the first in the Arab world. We also have with Jordan a very considerable aid package. We have about, I understand in this last fiscal year, about $460 million in aid for Jordan and an additional $300 million that will come from the supplemental that has passed the U.S. Congress, which recognizes Jordan's role as a frontline state in the war on terrorism.
We also share a very strong interest in Palestinian-Israeli peace. I was just in Israel and in the Palestinian territories, and as I said to the Minister, the really important work before those two parties right now is to make a success of the Gaza disengagement. It is not that Gaza is the last step, by any means. Gaza can be, though, a first step toward greater acceleration on the roadmap because if it is a successful disengagement, and by successful I mean peaceful and orderly, it will mean that the parties will gain greater confidence and trust in one another, that the Palestinians will strengthen their institutions politically, economically and in terms of security.
But we all have to work very hard. I think they will work in coordination to make this a success. But we all have to say to any who might reject this and might try to disrupt the withdrawal, and I mean by this terrorist organizations, that it's simply unacceptable to the international community, and particularly in the Arab world, that the Palestinian people be denied this chance to make a better start.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you just left Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Within minutes of your leaving, the Israeli Housing Ministry, I believe, announced a tender offer for 700 new homes in two settlements, Maale Adumim, and I think it's another one, Beitar Eilit. What is your reaction to that, and secondly, did you discuss the issue of settlements and the wall with Prime Minister Sharon, and what did you tell him?
SECRETARY RICE: I discussed both the issue of settlements and the wall with the Prime Minister, with the Foreign Minister and with anybody else who would listen. The fact is that the United States has very clear policy on this and we don't expect to see any activities from the Israelis that try and prejudge a final status agreement. I think the President has spoken clearly on this, I've spoken clearly on this, and I understand that there is a tendering process sometimes but the Israelis need to understand, and I think that they do, that the United States Government has a very strong view on settlements.
QUESTION: Your visit is very important, mainly as it will continue eight days. Do you have any political deals or reform packages to the area?
On the other side, I hear about there are widespread rumors that you have a plan to solve the problem of refugees through spiriting them to the Europe and Arab countries. Do you have any information in this regard?
SECRETARY RICE: First of all, reform is not an American project; it is something for the people of this region to do. The United States wants to be a supporting partner for governments that are trying to reform and for peoples that are clearly demanding and wanting to aspire toward a more free and democratic life. So there's no plan here; it is just that the President believes very strongly that the values of democracy and liberty and freedom and the desire to live in democracy and liberty and freedom are indeed universal values that all people share.
The United States, for 60 years, did not do all that it could to promote a free and democratic Middle East, and very often people talked about the Middle East somehow being different, that what we needed to worry about in the Middle East was stability. And what we learned is that we were getting neither stability nor liberty and freedom; we were getting instead a growth of extremism because people did not have channels through which to express themselves politically
When we say that Jordan has many aspects that could be a model, it is that it is a state that is trying to reform. I will have a chance when I'm in Egypt to talk more about the need for reform, about the need for the Middle East and Middle Eastern leaders to hear the voices of their people and their people's desire for reform. But there is no plan. We are hoping that this is a call that will be taken up by people of the Middle East and by their governments, and indeed I think that you're seeing the conversation change pretty dramatically in the Middle East about the need for reform.
QUESTION: John Karl, ABC. (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY RICE: I'm sorry, I didn't --
QUESTION: And a plan to solve the refugee --
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, solve the refugee problem? In the Palestinian territories -- is that what you mean by the refugee issue?
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, yes. This is a final status issue and at the time of the final status negotiations I am sure that there will be an opportunity to find a just and feasible solution to the refugee issue. The major change here is that there will be a Palestinian state and that is, if it is a state that is vital and viable and progressing, that too will make a difference for Palestinians worldwide.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, there was another bombing today in Baghdad, at least eight people killed just outside the Green Zone. What do you say to those that look at this continuing violence and say that it was simply inaccurate and also not a good thing to do to describe the insurgency in Iraq as being in its "last throes," as we heard the Vice President say, and in general is the kind of optimistic tone we've heard coming out of this Administration? Many are saying it's time to, you know, level with the American people and make sure they understand that there is a very strong insurgency still there that, you know, is going to take American sacrifice to defeat?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, John, I think that you can be at once realistic and optimistic about the future and the source for optimism about the future is that the Iraqi people, in really a very short time -- we have not even been -- it's not even one year since we transferred sovereignty and they have held an election, they have now a government that is broadly representative, they are making progress on their constitution, they just created a constitutional commission structure that will bring Sunnis and others into that structure, they're going to write a constitution and then they're going to hold elections in the fall. And that political course that they are on is a source for optimism because it means that every day more and more Iraqis are seeing their political future, or their futures and their interests, as defined by a political process that is moving forward.
On the other hand, of course, this is a so-called insurgency and terrorist groups that determined that the Iraqis are not going to pursue that future. They have no alternative for the Iraqis. What they want to do is they want to blow up little children and they want to blow up brave men and women who have volunteered for the Iraqi security forces and they'd like to cause more casualties among coalition forces because they don't have a viable alternative for the Iraqi people. Their alternative is carnage and chaos and mayhem.
And yes, it doesn't take very many people in the years -- in the days of suicide bombing and improvised explosive devices, IEDs, to cause headline-grabbing kinds of carnage against innocent people. But the Iraqi people have a different future in mind and they voted in huge numbers in January to show that they had a different kind of future in mind. Now more of them, including the Sunnis, are coming into that process. You don't defeat an insurgency by military force alone; you defeat an insurgency politically as well. Because an insurgency is defeated when the people will no longer turn a blind eye to it, when they begin to turn in insurgency leaders, when they begin to give intelligence to coalition or Iraqi forces. And that is happening.
The other source for confidence is that the Iraqi forces are getting better. They are not there yet but they managed the election protection essentially on their own. They are engaged with us and other members of the coalition in fighting the insurgency. We've made some progress against the Zarqawi network, taking down a number of his lieutenants.
Yes, it is a very, very difficult course. But the goal here is to put the Iraqi people in a position where, based on their political progress and their improved security forces, they can show the Iraqi people that that is the future and assure the Iraqi people that that is the future. That doesn't mean that every act of violence is going to be gone from Iraq or that every insurgent is going to stop trying in Iraq before the bulk of this belongs to -- the bulk of the responsibility belongs to the Iraqi people. But it does mean that one has to keep in mind not just what you're seeing on your television screens in terms of the violence but what's harder to see on your television screens in terms of the political process that is evolving there and giving the Iraqis a way to finally deliver themselves on the promise that the liberation gave them.
Released on June 19, 2005