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Condoleezza Rice With Philippe Douste-Blazy

Remarks With French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy After Their Meeting

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Winfield House
London, England
June 23, 2005

SECRETARY RICE: Good morning. I'm very pleased to welcome the new French Foreign Minister, Phillipe we will be on a first name basis - here to Winfield House, which is of course is the United States territory in London. I also know that the Minister will soon visit the United States and I look forward to that as well.

We've had a long and fruitful relationship between France and the United States, of course, and we have vowed to continue our cooperation.

Particularly we talked today about the Middle East, about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, about the disengagement. We also talked at length about Lebanon and about the importance of the full implementation of Resolution 1559; about the importance of Syria living up to its obligation to contribute to stability - not instability - in Lebanon. We expressed concern about the assassinations that have been going on in Lebanon. Also about the need for Syria to make certain that all of its forces are withdrawn from Lebanon. And finally underscoring what the Iraqi delegation noted yesterday, that it is extremely important the Iraq's neighbors, most especially Syria, do everything that they can to stop the terrorists from crossing their territory into Iraq to kill innocent Iraqis.

We have many more things that we could talk about, but we have other schedules today, but I look very much forward to continued discussions with the Foreign Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER DOUSTE-BLAZY: (official translation) I am very pleased, also, to be able to meet Condoleezza Rice and to work with her for the first time. We have telephoned on several occasions but this is the first occasion that we have been able to meet.

The relations between France and the United States have very much improved in recent times and I think, particularly in view of the fact that the international scene has changed, this is very welcome.

The European Union may have some problems, currently, with its budget and constitution but, quite clearly, it recognizes and defends the same values as the United States. We may not always be in agreement, we may sometimes say that we are not in agreement, but we are friends, and friends can sometimes disagree.

Regarding what has been said about the Near East and Lebanon, in particular, I'm very pleased to see that for the first time in a very long time we have had free elections in Lebanon with the election of an anti-Syrian majority and a government will be formed in due course. I think it is very clear that the United States, France and the European Union must do everything they can to assist that country and we must make sure that all of Resolution 1559 is respected and the international community must show a great deal of firmness with regard to Syria. We must not allow that country to destabilize Lebanon.

A word about the assassinations, particularly in recent days, the assassination of Mr. Kassir, it is a hateful thing and that has been said both by France and by the United States and, indeed, by the United Nations.

With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict we have said how important the withdrawal from Gaza is, but I think it is extremely important that straight afterwards there should be a political process. And I think that it is extremely important to note that this is a positive element, that there should be withdrawal from Gaza, but, nonetheless, we have some fears for the future and we must take particular care and attention to any new settlers moving into the West Bank. 2005/T10-24

Released on June 23, 2005


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