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Rice With French Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy

Remarks With French Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Paris, France
October 14, 2005

FOREIGN MINISTER DOUSTE-BLAZY: (Via interpreter) Ladies and gentlemen, dear Condoleezza, first of all, I would like to tell you that I am most delighted to host my friend, Condoleezza, here at the Quai d'Orsay. We have worked a great deal since our meeting at the Quai d'Orsay a few months ago, first in Washington when I came to meet Secretary Rice for a long and very fruitful meeting, and also in Brussels and London.

So first of all, allow me to say that I very much welcome this regular dialogue that we have and exchange (inaudible) it's very rich, it's very candid and very fruitful, as should be held between countries that have been friends and allies, France and the USA. And this precisely because the United States and France share fundamental values that we must not be afraid of our differences; quite the opposite. And for France, the United States are a friend and ally, a partner. Because we are friends we can speak to each other very candidly about important subjects which show that the American and French know how to work together on a very concrete subject and therefore it's in the spirit of very close cooperation that I intend to continue to go the United States on a very regular basis and I hope that each of my visits will be an opportunity to further tighten links between France and Washington and bring the Americans and the French closer together because Franco-American friendship is, above all, a deep aspiration for two peoples.

And allow me to say to Condoleezza Rice once again how very much the French people were touched by the catastrophe that happened in the United States during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the French people wish to express their sympathy and solidarity to the American people.

As concerns are talked, well, we talked a great deal, in particular about Iran, but also about Lebanon, Syria, Iraq -- these subjects. And I can tell you that there is a continuity in our cooperation and perfect understanding, which becomes increasingly obvious in particular on these subjects, and I now give the floor to Condi. And we agreed to take two American questions and two French questions. Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Philippe, and thank you for receiving me here in Paris. It is very important that we have a continual dialogue. I appreciate that you had come to the United States. It's good to continue here in Paris (inaudible) period in international history, particularly in the Middle East, and we had discussions today of the French-American (inaudible) that has led to new conditions in Lebanon. France and the United States, of course, were the co-sponsors of Resolution 1559 but it has the support of the entire international community. And we talked about how to make certain that it is fully implemented.

We talked about Iran, where the EU-3 continues to seek to use a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue and where we strongly encourage Iran to take advantage of that possibility. We discussed the outcome of the most recent IAEA Board of Governors meetings and the need to use the momentum of the international community's solidarity about that issue to bring about a diplomatic solution.

We also discussed the issues of both the Palestinian territories, the need to support the Palestinians in the post-withdrawal period from Gaza. And as I understand it, President Chirac will soon see President Mahmoud Abbas; President Bush will soon see President Mahmoud Abbas; and so support for the Palestinian Authority as it tries to move toward the development of democratic institutions and seeking peace with Israel was very much on our minds.

We have many other issues: Iraq, the coming constitutional referendum there. But principally this is just an opportunity for consultation to make certain that face to face we have a chance to review where we are and to chart a common course forward. So thank you very much, Philippe, and we will now take questions.

FOREIGN MINISTER DOUSTE-BLAZY: Just one word on Iran, as Condoleezza Rice just mentioned it. I believe that we share views on Iran and I think that together we must make the Security Council option absolutely credible. And in fact, this is the work that we were doing the other day at the Board of Governors.

We also must, as Condoleezza Rice has said, we -- it's a possibility of still believing in negotiation and it is possible to negotiate, let's do it. We believe that sensitive nuclear activities should be -- must be suspended, and to do so you have to stand firm and to be strict and you must -- it's also necessary to avoid declarations which raise the possibility of action outside the multilateral framework. Therefore, it's important to believe in the agency, to make the agency credible, but not to be afraid to say that, if necessary, the prospect of the Security Council does exist. But in the meantime we must give the impression that Iran, which is a great country, is listening to, is hearing what we say, but we also have to give a message of showing that we stand firm.

First question.

QUESTION: A question for Mrs. Rice, Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy. First of all on Iran, Madame Secretary, you are leaving for Moscow and precisely with blocking the negotiation, the President is the Russians attitude, they don't consider conversion activities are an imminent danger. They still want to preserve all possibility of negotiations, saying that it's enrichment that's a problem. Do you think that it will be necessary to refer the case to the Security Council before unanimity is reached?

And for Mr. Douste-Blazy, a question that worries the Europeans at present is avian flu. You are going to meet with your counterparts in Luxembourg. What urgent measures are you going to take in the subject because the U.S. are calling for transparency in this field?

SECRETARY RICE: First of all, let me just add on avian flu, about which you asked. We also are very concerned. The President has been mobilizing our pharmaceutical community to try to take on this challenge. Health and Human Services Secretary Leavitt has been traveling.

We believe firmly that there has to be complete transparency about what is going on with avian flu. The world should not be caught unaware by a very dangerous pandemic because countries refuse to share information. And so that is our very strong concern.

As to Iran, I just wanted to underscore what Philippe just said. We have to have a very strong message to Iran that, of course, there is always the course of negotiation. That is what the EU-3 has been trying to do for two years. But there is also the course of the Security Council. It is a course that is available to the international community and it is therefore that important that Iran negotiate in good faith.

It is also the case in speaking with the Russians that I take note of their concerns about the fuel cycle in Iran. It is evident in the way that they have structured the Bushehr arrangement with a fuel take-back provision that they are very concerned about the fuel cycle in the hands of the Iranians.

Look, this isn't an issue -- the issue of rights is not the issue here. The issue is the confidence of the international community in what Iran would be doing with its civil nuclear activities given that it has a history of having violated its obligations and a history now of noncompliance.

FOREIGN MINISTER DOUSTE-BLAZY: Well, I repeat it here, we have a community of aims with the Americans. It's to avoid (inaudible) over the fuel cycle for Iran. And to do so, as I've just said, it has to be done through the multilateral system and the option of the Security Council for the Iranians must be a sufficient deterrent to convince them to abandon their sensitive activities but (inaudible) to do so with the Russians and with the Chinese.

Now as to avian flu, I think this is a subject of concern for the world at large and the Americans as well. So you know the problem avian flu today is practically -- well, it's very clear for everybody it is the possibility of the virus mutating. To date, the virus has not mutated. It is not transmissible from man to man. And therefore, as I say, to reassure in saying that this is not a virus that has mutated because it hasn't.

Allow me to say as Foreign Minister and standing by Condoleezza Rice that if we do not want the virus to mutate, we must do everything to prevent it from mutating. In other words, there will be places in the world, the poorer places, places in the Southwest and Asia and Africa where, of course, sooner or later, there will be poultry that will be hit by H5N1. And here we have to be there to show international solidarity to make sure that in those places as well that there are public health systems, prevention systems and antiviral systems such that the virus does not mutate. Because if it does mutate, it mutates for those regions, for the continents, but for ours as well. Not only is it morally and ethically scandalous, and furthermore it's absolutely preposterous from the point of view of global health for all the citizens of the world, and to do so there will be a meeting in Geneva which is obviously very important which is a meeting on the 7th and 8th of November at the invitation of the three multilateral (inaudible) the WHO, the Veterinary World Health Organization and the FAO, Food Agricultural Organization, so as enablers to mobilize our assistance for the poorer countries. I'm saying this because we never hear it said.

And also I wanted to ask the British presidency, and this is what I did yesterday, asked Jack Straw to organize a general affairs councils for WTO and for avian flu on Tuesday as you're recalling, as from 10 o'clock we'll have a discussion on avian flu to know what the international community, what the European Union, decides to do both as (inaudible) countries of the south, talking about 150 million Euros, which will have to be donated on a global scale, perhaps more, in fact. We'll see. And at the same time, how it will be possible to organize, regulate and harmonize our plans to control avian flu on a global (inaudible).

QUESTION: Are you confident that the Sunni minority will play the rule of democracy, the rule of the game on Iraq, and that neighboring Iran won't be a troubleshooter in the area?

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, we have always said that Iran is a neighbor of Iraq; it should behave as a good and transparent neighbor. And I think the one troubling development is what the British have noted, which is that they are concerned that there may be technology to support terrorism coming in from Iran. And I think this is an issue that the international community should raise and raise clearly with the Iranians.

As to the Sunnis, the Iraqis are dealing with a situation in which Iraq as a country was essentially drawn on the fault line between Shia and Sunni and with Kurds thrown into the mix as well. And they are trying to replace what has been a history of dealing with their differences through violence, oppression, repression, with a means of dealing with their differences through politics and compromise. And I think it's extraordinary what they are achieving. They have even gone further now after the draft constitution to try to accommodate Sunni interests, to give the possibility of review and amendment of the constitution. And I would hope that all Iraqis would now see how hard all Iraqis are working to come to a common future.

There is going to be a long-time, long-scale evolution in Iraq of how the constitution will be implemented. Much will be determined by the next national assembly, so the really important election that comes up in December is an opportunity for all Iraqis to participate in the future evolution of the constitution.

I think we all know, certainly we in the United States, that the key to the first constitutional document is to get the institutions in place, to secure the rights of individuals vis-à-vis the state, and to launch the new political enterprise on its way. But it is a long process of politics and compromise that is ahead of them.

I believe that the Sunnis, some of whom now say that they will support this constitution, are demonstrating that they are ready to really be a part of the political process. They are registering in large numbers for the elections. I think that's a very positive sign. And the Iraqis have demonstrated that they want to live as one Iraq: Sunni, Shia, Kurds and other minorities. It is outside powers, like Mr. Zarqawi, who seem to want to foment civil war in Iraq. So let's be very clear on who it is that wants to break up Iraq. It's not the Iraqis, who have demonstrated that they want to live together.

FOREIGN MINISTER DOUSTE-BLAZY: So still on the same subject, just to say that on the one hand is the constitutional process which is being created and the more the political process being created, the better it is. But on the other hand, the situation which concerns security and the political-social situation of the country is of concern to us, and therefore it seems important to us to try and consider something to get them out of the crisis which allows an inclusive process which can bring together all the components of Iraqi society so as to have them gathered around a political process once again and so as to save the unity of Iraq.

Last question.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, is the United States or are the United States and its European allies considering any new steps to ensure that the Iranians finally do comply?

And to the Minister, the Iranians have repeatedly been part of the process, then walked away from it to join it again and walk away. Is there anything that gives you confidence that the new government's latest pledge to participate in the talks is actually going to produce anything?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, as you know -- sorry. As you know, we have -- the United States has supported the EU-3 in its efforts and we continue to support the EU-3 in its efforts. We hope that the Iranians will return to the table, discuss with the EU-3 what negotiated solution might be there. But one thing that is very clear is the Security Council is an option; it is an option that was put on the table at the most recent meeting. The Iranians are not in compliance with their obligations. That was a step that was taken. And the Iranians need to get involved in negotiations and restore the confidence of the international community that they're not trying to build a nuclear weapons.

The fuel cycle is the core of this problem. The international community has no reason to trust that Iran would deal responsibly with the fuel cycle.

QUESTION: But nothing -- no new steps are being considered?

SECRETARY RICE: Robin, we are in discussions and I think there will be further discussions in Moscow. But we're not today talking about new steps. The EU-3 is in the lead on this negotiation.

FOREIGN MINISTER DOUSTE-BLAZY: In very few words and to add to what you've just said, I think that no program, civil nuclear program, can justify the fuel cycle in Iran. That's the problem. The subject is that today, if we stick to civil nuclear activities or peaceful nuclear activities, there's no reason, given the partnership with the Russians which the Iranians have, there is absolutely no need for them to have the fuel cycle. At least that's what we think and that's what we told them, including we told this to the new government.

QUESTION: One of your topics here today is Syria. There is a widespread expectation that the Mehlis report -- this is for both of you -- that the Mehlis report next week will implicate senior Syrian officials. What are you talking about doing in that case? A Security Council resolution? Is that enough?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, Joel, I don't think it helps to get out ahead of the Mehlis report and try to prejudge what the Mehlis report will say. This is a prosecutor who rightly is keeping to himself what his findings will be. He will then report those findings. We will then have an opportunity in the United Nations and possibly in the Security Council to debate those findings and to determine what they dictate.

But we have been having discussions about the need to make certain that 1559 is fully implemented. We have been having discussions about making sure that there is full cooperation from Syria for the Mehlis investigation. And I don't think we should try and speculate on what will come out of this, but we will know soon enough what is in the Mehlis report. What is very clear is that the international community is demanding of Syria that it fully implement 1559 and that it not engage in activities that destabilize its Lebanese neighbor.

FOREIGN MINISTER DOUSTE-BLAZY: Our objective is very clear on this matter. It is sovereignty of Lebanon and therefore we are more than ever determined to have 1559 and 1595 respected. And the absolute priority on 1595 is to enable Judge Mehlis to do his job and do his job fully. We absolutely -- we have full confidence in him that this report requested by the United Nations be -- well, (inaudible) before the Security Council (inaudible) the consequence. But the first thing would be to politicize it. It is a criminal investigation which must be completed and afterwards it must be necessary to give the judiciary every mean possible to be able to draw a consequence from what Judge Mehlis says.

Thank you very much.

2005/T15-14

Released on October 14, 2005

ENDS


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