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Condoleezza Rice Remarks With Jay Lefkowitz

Remarks With Jay Lefkowitz, Special Envoy on Human Rights in North Korea

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
September 6, 2005

(9:00 a.m. EDT)

SECRETARY RICE: Good morning. I am about to have a meeting with Jay Lefkowitz, who is about to become the Human Rights Envoy for North Korea. The President, of course, has noted that people all over the world have a right to live in dignity, to have human rights respected, to have brighter futures. We believe the people of North Korea to be no different. And Jay will have an opportunity, because he is close to a number of us, having been our colleague on the White House staff, and also close to the President, having worked for the President in the policy arena in the White House during the last term -- Jay will have an opportunity to raise the profile of these issues and to see what we can do with the rest of the world to improve the humanitarian situation for the people of North Korea and the human rights conditions there. So Jay and I will have a chance to talk for a while.

Let me just mention one other issue associated with Katrina. I know that there are people who are looking for their lost loved ones, for their relatives. A number of those people are citizens of foreign countries. We are doing everything that we can to assist embassies around the world and governments around the world to help locate their citizens. We have an operation on the ground in Baton Rouge with Ambassador Joe Sullivan, who is going to assist in those efforts. But if there are foreign nationals who have not contacted their consulates or their embassies, we would ask that they do that because, obviously, we would like to have people reunited as quickly as possible with their loved ones, and the way to do that is to either contact the American Red Cross, the International Red Cross, which has a website to this effect, or simply to get in touch with consulate or embassy officials if at all possible. Joe Sullivan is going to be able to assist in that. But we care very much also for what has happened to foreign nationals in this disaster.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, since you were in Alabama over the weekend, do you have any response to the criticism against the federal government for not acting faster?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, this is, obviously, a disaster of enormous proportions, the worst natural disaster, I believe, that the United States has experienced. People are working hard. I think that what we want to do now is to focus on the effort going forward, to make certain that people get what they need. The active duty military, as well as the National Guard, are on the ground. We are working very closely with FEMA and with the military, using some of the people of the United States aid organizations, who are accustomed to doing large-scale relief efforts abroad, to help in those efforts.

There will be plenty of time to assess the response to make that response better, but I think right now it's time to focus on going forward.


Released on September 6, 2005


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