Rice Briefing En Route to Dakar, Senegal
Briefing En Route to Dakar, Senegal
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
July 19, 2005
SECRETARY RICE: Good afternoon. Something smells good back there. I'll be quick.
QUESTION: It'll be a record-setter.
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, a record-quick briefing because I didn't have lunch yet. We're off to first, to Senegal, where I'm going to both speak with the leaders of Senegal and participate in an event of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, because Senegal is being given the way to think about it is this sort of technical assistance grant on the way to the formulation of a compact and this is going to be a very important step for Senegal, which is a country that is, I think, prospering because it's well-governed, it has fought corruption. We have a very strong and good relationship. I think President Wade is widely viewed as a real African statesman and so, I look forward to going to Senegal. It will be my second trip to Senegal, because the President was here during his African trip in '03.
I'm also going, of course, for the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum. I don't think there's any doubt that AGOA has been a major boon to the development and to economic growth in Africa just one statistic, a 22 percent increase between '03 and '04 of non-oil imports since the United States and so, AGOA is very important to this economy.
Now, overall, the theme of this trip is Africans who are empowering themselves through good governance in their trade and through using development assistance wisely, because we've never viewed Africa as a target or as a victim, but rather as a continent that has tremendous potential. It's why the President has emphasized so much in his Millennium Challenge Account initiative, but also in the Monterrey Consensus that development has to be a partnership between those who are receiving aid and those who are giving aid. And I think in many ways, this trip reaffirms the importance of the whole picture; yes, development assistance, but also trade, investment, and most especially, good governance.
So, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to go to Senegal and to address the AGOA forum and then we'll talk about Sudan, perhaps, tomorrow.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, you can ask anything you want and I'm just not going to talk about it myself right now.
QUESTION: All right. Well, let me do a Sudan question; sorry. When Zoellick went to Sudan the first time, many of the women there that he spoke to complained about violence in the camps both in the camps and also outside when they left. And Zoellick had said on his before his last trip, he was planning to raise that with the Sudanese Government to try to lower that level of violence.
Do you know how responsive the government has been on that issue? And secondly, do you know how helpful Garang has been so far in terms of trying to deal with the Darfur situation now that he's part of the government?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, first, on the violence against women, Bob did raise it and I'm going to raise it again. What the we are talking with the Sudanese Government about concrete steps that they might be able to take to try and deal with the violence violence against women. It's a really awful situation.
Ultimately, of course, the answer is to have better security as well. And one of the things that will be very important on this trip is that the African Union is pulling together its forces, which will then be transported by NATO and the EU into Darfur and I'd like to check on the preparations for that. I was just on the phone with Kofi Annan on my way out to Andrews talking with him about that and I've talked -- spoken to a couple of senators as well about making sure that the AU is making progress toward getting their forces in. Because we know that in areas where there are monitors, the violence, whether it is against women or against others, diminishes.
So, yes, we I am going to have discussions with them about violence against women. They had asked to talk about some specific ideas. We'll see what those are, but ultimately, you've just got to deal with the problem of violence more broadly and try to provide better security there.
QUESTION: Garang --
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, Garang. We met in Washington a few weeks ago and he has been saying the right things about Darfur. We would obviously like to see an active role there. I think that the thing to keep in focus is that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement gives us a framework in which to deal with the Darfur political problem, giving some sense of potential autonomy for regions of Sudan.
I know that John Garang, right now, is very actively engaged in trying to put together a government and you know, July 9th is not that far away and yes, we want him to be very involved in Darfur. We also want to get the government formed in Khartoum, so we'll see how they're doing on both of those.
QUESTION: As Garang joins the government, we'll be effectively seeing regime changes in Sudan? I mean, is it essentially a new government? And a related question, do you think we may be getting to the point where we'll be sending an ambassador back to Sudan anytime soon?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it will, in fact, be a new government because it's now a Government of National Unity. We think that the addition of the elements from the south will be a positive development, but I wouldn't expect things to change overnight as well. They have to worry about ministries. One of the most interesting conversations I had with Dr. Garang was about trying to get some capacity building for them on the creation of their ministries, because this is a government that's essentially been in civil war and now they have to put together a really unified government. So in a sense, yes, it is a, it's a change in regime because there are -- this now a national unity government, but I wouldn't expect an immediate outcome from that.
Now, in terms of an ambassador, we'll just have to see. I do think we need more from the Sudanese Government, the North and the South, to address some of the issues. But we're looking to the day that we can send a representation there, because obviously, things are changing pretty quickly in Sudan.
QUESTION: Are you also looking to the day when you can revisit the sanctions issue and what would what steps, what are the thresholds or the markers that they would have to meet?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the sanctions issues will eventually be revisited. There is a terrorism list issue that still has to be addressed and, of course, we continue to have concerns about Darfur. I think that we're proceeding on two tracks here in parallel that we think will help each other. On the one hand, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and getting the government set up and getting a government that can respond as a whole to the situation in Sudan is very important. And so you do need to support that process to the degree that you can and the Congress has appropriated some funding to be able to do that.
On the other hand, we still have to hold the Sudanese Government accountable for what is going on in Darfur and the UN Security Council Resolution, if you remember, holds out the prospects of further sanctions if we can't get movement on Darfur. So, these tracks are in parallel and I'll admit that it's not the easiest thing to manage between the two tracks, but they really are very much related. And to the degree that the Comprehensive Agreement gets firmly embedded and you get a new government, I think it will be easier to deal with the Darfur situation.
QUESTION: A follow-up on a previous answer. You said you had spoken to some senators about the slow process of getting the AU troops in. Were they calling you?
SECRETARY RICE: I didn't say about the slow process, I said about the progress of getting the troops in. I talk to people all the time about it, but I just want people to understand that we believe they talked to the AU mission, that the AU had said it would take it on. But we also believe the AU has to move and cannot get caught up in any bureaucratic or political concerns. They really do have to be able to move. My understanding is that there are some forces that are very nearly ready to move, but I'll have a better sense of that when I'm out there.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you mentioned concrete steps that you will be asking the Sudanese Government to take. Can you elaborate on those? Are you satisfied with what the Vice President Taha has said, that they have not been responsible for any of the attacks involving Jingaweit and others?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I said that they wanted to discuss some concrete steps. I think it's going to come* the other way, right, yeah. They have -- they want to discuss some concrete steps. We have some ideas, too, that also relate to the ability to provide security in relatively narrow areas and to try to keep people in those areas. Sudanese -- in fact, no, AU monitor is proving security. Because remember, again, when there are monitors in an area, the violence tends to go down. And so, a lot of this has to relate to that, but I'll we'll see what they are talking about when they say they would like to make some special elements or special efforts on violence against women. I would hope that, for instance, a public statement against such a public campaign to isolate an approbation for those who engage in it and a very strong willingness to punish anybody caught doing such. Those would be among the types of things that we would mostly be talking about.
I'm sorry, you were -- Andrea?
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, well, we have made clear that we hold the Sudanese Government responsible for what happens on its territory, including in Darfur. I do understand that there are forces -- rebel forces and militia forces that are not always, daily, under the control of central government. But that doesn't mean that one can absolve the Khartoum government for maintaining security in the Darfur region. I do believe that there's some combination of the AU monitoring force and the Sudanese Government doing what they can with their own elements that the situation can be controlled. And so that's what this has all been about.
QUESTION: On the English-language daily in Sudan that's been closed for two weeks and the government keeps saying that it's going to reopen it, but it hasn't done so; do you expect to raise that issue, in particular, and the wider issue of press freedoms while you're there and what will you say?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, of course, because it goes back to the question that John was asking. As the new government comes into being and as the -- it becomes the Government of National Unity, it also should become a government that is more open and respects human rights and respects basic freedoms like press freedoms. So of course, I will certainly raise it.
QUESTION: Today in the Palestinian territories, there are more clashes between Palestinian police forces and those groups that espouse violence in Iraq, the Israeli. Do you think that Abbas is doing enough to rein in the violence from the Palestinians?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think anybody who is, in any way, associated with the Palestinian rejectionists ought to be doing everything that they can to rein them in. There was, as we understand it, an agreement of calm that President Abu Mazen thought that he had negotiated with responsible parties. People need to respect the calm. But it's also the case that the neighboring states need to make certain that it's understood that breaking the calm is unacceptable and we have urged the Palestinian Government to not permit these rejectionist forces to run unchallenged in the Palestinian territories.
And so indeed, they should take them on when they violate Abu Mazen's own very strong statement that there has to be one authority and one gun. He made, I thought, a quite remarkable and very good speech the other day to the nation. I think it is what the Palestinian people want to know, that the Palestinian Government is going to maintain order and the Palestinian people have a great deal at stake in a Gaza withdrawal that is successful and peaceful. And so the Palestinian Authority needs to be sure that it's doing everything that it can to fight terrorists who are -- seem determined to try to break this apart, but everybody else in the region should be doing so as well.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, a succession of U.S. leaders, starting with Secretary Powell a year ago and now you, have gone to Khartoum and asked the Sudanese Government to rein in the militias and the Jingaweit. And as Deputy Secretary Zoellick said a few weeks ago, they're still in the field, still completely unchanged and training new members. Do you think when the Sudanese Government tells you they're going to do what they can, they're being sincere, or are they just mouthing words?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think we've been unwilling to accept representations of whether or not the Sudanese Government is living up to its obligations. That's why we sought UN Security Council Resolutions that would punish war crimes and would also permit sanctions if necessary, and we continue to weigh those things.
Now, it is true that we are in something of a new era in Sudan because we do have a new government coming into being based on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. And so that's a new tool that we did not have before.
We also have the AU prepared to strengthen its mission and to get significant support from the international community through NATO and through the EU to get those forces into place. So we have some tools that we've not had in the past and I believe that the Sudanese Government, which now, as a whole, has every interest in making sure that there is support for their Comprehensive Peace Agreement, I hope will be more responsive.
QUESTION: Yes, Madame Secretary, the last time that you were in the Middle East you suggested that time was running out to nail down the coordination mechanisms for the Gaza withdrawal. In the intervening time, have you seen any real progress in nailing down those coordination mechanisms and is time becoming critical at this point?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's later than when we were there before, so obviously time is very important. That's why I thought that it was a good thing to go out now. They have been doing a lot of work, though and I think it would be a mistake to suggest that they have not been doing a lot of work on coordination. Jim Wolfensohn has been doing a lot of work on coordination. They're making some progress on the agenda items that Jim had put on the table.
They do have, by the way, an agreement -- the Israeli Government says about the destructions of the houses. They're now trying to just figure out what to do with the rubble. So, it is, in a sense, a complicated process between parties in which there hasn't been a lot of trust for very good reasons over the last several years, but Wolfensohn is working very hard. Ward is working very hard. And I do think they're working at the ministerial level and at levels below, consistently meeting a lot to try to work on these issues. And so my job, as I go out there, is to keep reminding people that they want to have this tied down by the time the withdrawal begins.
QUESTION: Can you say now with confidence that all the conditions will be nailed down by the time the Israelis are ready to withdraw?
SECRETARY RICE: I'm not a prognosticator, so I'm not going to go there. We'll work as hard as we can to try to make that happen, but ultimately the parties have got to get this done.
QUESTION: Are you taking any new monies to Sudan? Any new offers, (inaudible) -- carrying any --
SECRETARY RICE: No. I think the United States, and here I want to thank very much the Congress -- the funding that was in the supplemental, the funding that was there in '05, the funding that will be there in '06. We actually have considerable funding and no one has been at all, in the Congress or any place else, stingy about humanitarian assistance. I mean the United States is providing, I think, something like 85 or so percent of the food aid in Sudan. So I don't think this is really a matter right now of resources.
I do think we have to get the framework right. And that framework means working on the comprehensive agreement so that you have a political context in which to fit Darfur, working on getting the African Union forces in so that you can diminish the places in which the violence takes place and then continuing the humanitarian assistance.
I should also mention that the EU has accelerated some of its funding for humanitarian -- accelerated disbursement of some of its funding for humanitarian efforts.
QUESTION: I want to do a follow-up.
SECRETARY RICE: Okay, follow up.
QUESTION: Stick with -- when you raised the issue, you had an answer, the previous answer about Sudanese rejectionists, you said that the neighboring states have to do everything possible on their (inaudible) new evidence or increasing evidence about Syrian or Iranian sponsorship of (inaudible) or in the recent violence?
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, I really meant two things: First of all, that even though states, if they're not responsive, need to make clear that the Arab world is against the kinds of things that the rejectionists are doing. But obviously, we have considerable concern about both the Iranian and Syrian funding. And in the case of Syria, of course, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad office because they're in Damascus. I think a good start would be to make sure that they're not operating out of Damascus. Thank you.