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Rice IV on Jordan Television with Nida Ramahi

Interview on Jordan Television with Nida Ramahi

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Amman, Jordan
June 19, 2005

QUESTION: Ms. Secretary of State, first I'd like to welcome you to Jordan. And I know part of the reason that you came to the Middle East region is to try to push the withdrawal plan. Now, you visited Ramallah and Tel Aviv. How do you assess the situation on the ground there?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I had a chance to be with both the Israeli leadership and the Palestinian leadership. I found them very focused on what needs to be done for Gaza withdrawal, both focused internally on what they must do but also they're beginning to coordinate, which is what I really wanted to come here to push. It's important that there be no surprises between the two sides. They each have their responsibilities in order to ensure a peaceful and orderly withdrawal from the Gaza and so I find them making preparations and working very hard at it.

Mr. Wolfensohn, who is the Quartet envoy for the Gaza withdrawal, is meeting with them and we really want the Gaza withdrawal to be a beginning for the process of coming to a final conclusion of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians because, if they can build trust and confidence, then they can move forward. And if the Palestinians can build strong institutions -- political institutions, economic institutions, security institutions -- we'll make more rapid progress once the withdrawal is over.

QUESTION: Do you worry that there will be any complications in implementing the Gaza withdrawal on the deadline that it's expected? Now, we know there have been complaints from the Israeli side that Hamas is going to be more involved in the political process -- they were trying to get them out -- while on the Palestinian side, they're saying that the settlement plan -- Ariel Sharon has not implemented the February agreement.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, there clearly are a lot of steps between now and a successful withdrawal and both parties should concentrate on what they need to do in this regard. Now, when it comes to the Sharm understanding, they'll have opportunity to meet again on Tuesday and we would hope that that would produce further progress on the Sharm understanding. The Gaza withdrawal itself, though, depends more on a secure environment. It depends on the Israelis and the Palestinians working together to deal with the disposition of the various assets that will be left behind. And it depends on the international community supporting the Palestinians in their planning for a Gaza that will be economically viable, that will give some hope to the Palestinian people that they're moving forward in a way that's going to make their lives better.

QUESTION: Yesterday you were talking about an ideal. You said the Gaza withdrawal is a first step. What would you say the two-state solution should consist of as far as territory is concerned for the Palestinian side, for the Israeli side?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, all this will be left to negotiation between the parties at the time of final status. But we have been very clear that a Palestinian state has to be one that is contiguous in order to be viable, territorially contiguous, one that cannot be just scattered pieces of land that there has to be contiguity. And so that will be one of the governing principles. But I do think that while there are certain realities that have happened since the period of '67, the President has been very clear that the parties are going to have the negotiate the boundaries and the other final status issues and that there should be no prejudice now as to what that negotiation will produce.

QUESTION: Do you ideally see Jerusalem as a capital for all?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Jerusalem is an important city for the world's great religions, for all of the world's great religions, but precisely what the disposition of Jerusalem will be, I think we will have to wait for the parties to agree. I think that we -- the Middle East has a tendency to get out ahead of itself and to look at what is out there, rather than what is right in front of it. And right now, we have an historic opportunity in the Gaza withdrawal for the Israelis to turn back land to the Palestinians, for the Palestinians to use this opportunity to strengthen their institutions -- political, economic, security institutions -- to build some trust between the two sides, and then let's see what the next steps are. But no one wants this to be the last step, most especially the United States, but it is a very important step and we have to get it right.

QUESTION: Do you see NATO as playing -- that's been an issue that's been discussed. Do you see NATO as playing a role or is that too soon to even talk about?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I believe it's too soon. I look forward to the day when we are talking about supporting a peace agreement, and then we'll see what the appropriate mix of indigenous forces and international help might be. But NATO does have outreach to countries in the region through the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and through the dialogues that have been going on. The NATO leadership has been in the region talking to people. We want to build bridges but I think it's too early to talk about a role for NATO in a peace agreement.

QUESTION: What -- if the Gaza withdrawal plan does not take place at the time that it needs to, what would be the next step? Do you see complications and what are the possible solutions that what are the possible solutions you would propose in this situation?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, obviously, I think since we believe this is so important, we have to focus on what we need to do to make it happen. I don't think there's any purpose in speculating on what might happen if it does not. All of our energies right now, and I have to say all of the energies of the parties, are on making it happen because it is a historic decision by Prime Minister Sharon and his government. It does lead one to believe that if this could be done successfully, the roadmap, which is the most reliable guide to a two-state solution, could be reengaged and reengaged with vigor. So I think we should just concentrate on making this work.

QUESTION: So do you not believe that we can set a deadline for the actual existence of a two-state solution where we can say by this time we foresee an actual two-state solution on the ground?

SECRETARY RICE: I'm not very fond of deadlines and timelines because you're either too ambitious or not ambitious enough and conditions can be very different, I believe, after the Gaza withdrawal. We don't know what will happen when you have a stronger Palestinian -- you've got stronger institutions of potential statehood for the Palestinians, when the Israelis and the Palestinians have worked together to bring along something this consequential for the Israeli people and for the Palestinian people, when the Palestinians have had further elections. The conditions could indeed produce circumstances which could have rapid progress. And so I'm not very fond of deadlines but I am someone who believes that we need to really roll up our sleeves and make sure that this withdrawal goes well.

QUESTION: What do you foresee roles being played as far as Jordan is concerned, as far as Egypt is concerned?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, both Egypt and Jordan, as regional states that have been very supportive of the peace process and indeed have been the most important Arab states in that regard, have an important role to play. I know that there will be a role to play in the training and equipping of Palestinian security forces, something that Jordan has participated in before, something that Egypt has. Egypt is in discussions with the Israelis about security in the Gaza and the Philadelphia strip and how that might be administered. Jordan and Israel share economic space and the Palestinians, I would hope, would be increasingly brought into that economic space.

So there is an enormous role here for Jordan to play. I have enjoyed my discussions with the Jordanian Foreign Minister and I look forward to discussions with His Majesty about Jordan's support for this process. There is no doubt in my mind that Jordan will play an important role.

QUESTION: Let's do to the next step, Ms. Secretary, and that is that you're going to be going to Brussels. You're going to be discussing Iraq's reconstruction and it's going to be a very big conference with top-rate countries involved. What do you hope to see come out of this situation? There's been a lot of discussions regarding Iraq, what's going to happen, the troops, how long are they going to be stationed there so on and so forth.

SECRETARY RICE: The Iraqi people have now embarked on a very difficult but really important course toward the creation of a democratic state in the heart of the Arab world, one that would show that people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds can live together in peace and in democracy.

And what I see is the world coming together to support that enterprise, support them politically, to hear the Iraqis' own plan for reconstruction and development. It is not a pledging conference. There will later be a donor conference which, in fact, the Jordanians will host, but this is really have the Iraqis have an opportunity to present their ambitions, their plans for the future, so that the international community can organize to help them. It can be technical assistance, ministries that need support in terms of capability building.

But more than anything, after a difficult period in which there were differences internationally about the liberation of Iraq, the world is now united in the notion that Iraqis deserve a better future than they had under Saddam Hussein and that they are building that future and we're going to have international support to do it.

QUESTION: There is so much I could actually talk to you about. Unfortunately, we're very limited on time so I'm going to allow my final question to you, Ms. Secretary, to be if you would say that I want this Administration, which I'm very involved in, to be remembered in the history books for a particular thing, what would you want this Administration to be remembered for?

SECRETARY RICE: I would hope that the President and the Administration would be remembered for having opened up possibilities for people to seek democracy and freedom on their own terms. I look at a place like Jordan where there are homegrown reforms. The enterprise of democracy is not something that can come from the outside. It has to come from within. And what the President has done is simply to say that the United States is aligned with those people throughout the region who want to have their own aspirations for democracy, who want to be able to say what they think, who want to be able to worship freely, who want to be able, as they do here in Jordan, to educate their children, both boys and girls, and who want to be free from the arbitrary power of the state.

And I think if we work hard at it, the United States works hard at helping to provide an environment, that we're seeing that people across this region are rising up and saying that that's exactly what they want.

Very often throughout the world, certainly in our own history, there were people who were taught to want democracy and people who didn't, who were ready for democracy and people who weren't ready for democracy. Well, in fact, in the great cultures of this region what we're seeing is that people do want democracy, that they are ready for democracy. We have great respect for Islam and for the fact that there is no contradiction between the tenets of Islam and the desire to live in freedom.

And so this President has done what I think American Presidents have tried to do before, which is to open up the realm of what is possible. What is exciting is that across this region people are responding, not to the President but to their own desires for freedom and for liberty, and that indeed is very, very exciting.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Ms. Secretary. Unfortunately, that's all the time that we have but hopefully next time you come to the country we'll have a little bit of a longer period of time --

SECRETARY RICE: I hope so.

QUESTION: -- to meet up with you and also do a long and extended interview. And again, congratulations on (inaudible)

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. I look forward to seeing you again.

2005/T10-9

Released on June 19, 2005

ENDS

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