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Rice Briefing En Route Shannon Ireland


Briefing En Route Shannon, Ireland


Secretary Condoleezza Rice
En Route Shannon, Ireland
November 10, 2005


SECRETARY RICE: Let me just start with a few words about the bombings in Jordan, which we continue to follow and to offer any assistance to the Jordanian Government that is needed. This is obviously a terrible tragedy and it again underscores that these terrorists will attack innocent people without remorse. In fact, I understand that there have been demonstrations in Jordan against terrorism. It shows, I think, that ordinary people are really tired of these killers who are just determined to attack innocent people in the service of this extremist ideology.

We are also noting that the Jordanians have been very stalwart fighters in the war on terrorism and so anything that we can do, we can do to help, we will. But it's a very sad thing when people attack a wedding party, for instance, and it should have been a great moment of joy and unfortunately turned into a great tragedy. So we stand with the Jordanians, with the Jordanian people. I am about to be in contact with my Jordanian counterpart and with others to see what we can do.

Well, very much looking forward to going to the Forum for the Future in Bahrain. We are going to establish the first two institutions of the Broader Middle East Initiative: the Fund for the Future, which will be a set of equity investments in small businesses and medium size businesses to try and help stimulate private economic development. It is a fund that is anticipated to be at about $100 million. We will also establish the Foundation for the Future, and that foundation will make grants -- it's anticipated to be about a little over $50 million -- anticipated to make grants to democracy organizations, NGOs in the region that want to promote equality for women, that want to promote the development of political parties and free press, and so forth.

And the remarkable thing about this is that we're going to have Arab partners, Middle Eastern partners, in both of these ventures. And so I'm very much looking forward to that.

We will then, of course, go on to Saudi Arabia and in Saudi Arabia we will have the Strategic Dialogue that I opened with my counterpart some months ago. There have been working-level discussions about everything from promoting economic development and activity of the kind that the WTO accession of Saudi Arabia would promote to the discussions about a reform agenda in Saudi Arabia. And so I look forward to doing that.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, just on another subject, there's a report that there has been a solution that might be proposed to Iran involving the treatment of their fuel outside, perhaps in Russia, and that you have set a deadline of two weeks to give them to respond, according to the report. Can you respond, please?

SECRETARY RICE: Let me make a few comments about the story that was there this morning. The first thing is there is no U.S.-European proposal to the Iranians. I want to say that categorically. There isn't and there won't be. We are doing what we have been doing for some time, which is keeping our partners -- our diplomatic partners are keeping us apprised of their thinking about the future of their negotiations with the Iranians. It won't surprise you that we have constant contact with the European 3 about the kinds of ideas that are being explored. We also are discussing with the Russians ideas that they have had, but I want to underscore there isn't and there won't be a U.S. proposal. We are not parties to these negotiations and we don't intend to become parties to the negotiation.

We are supportive of a diplomatic solution to this problem but it has to be a diplomatic solution in which the Iranians do not acquire the technological capacity to break out and make a nuclear weapon. Now, in that regard, everybody is most concerned about enrichment and reprocessing, what the President has called a loophole in the NPT. But we are also concerned about other parts of the fuel cycle and I think it's fair to say that we would be very concerned if the Iranians were left with stockpiles of UF-6 that could be used in nuclear weapons. But I don't want to get any further into details about what may be being contemplated by other parties to the negotiations -- by the parties to the negotiations.

We do hope that if there is a way for the Iranians to accept a way forward that would give confidence that they are not, in fact, trying to seek a nuclear weapon under cover of a civilian nuclear program, that they would take that. And we've said that.

Now, we believe that we have the votes in the IAEA for a referral. As I've said before, we'll do it at a time of our choosing and it, of course, depends on what the course of the diplomacy looks like. So we're following it very closely. We're talking to people.

Finally, there was something about assured fuel supply. And we've been in discussions with a number of parties about assured fuel supply as a way to close the loophole in the NPT for some time. I think you'll remember that the President talked about potential assured fuel supply all the way back in his NDU speech. Mohamed ElBaradei has talked about that. We did indeed talk about that when I saw him. It is a very good way for countries to fulfill their needs for fuel for a civilian reactor without the kind of proliferation risk that's attendant to enriching and reprocessing. And the Russians structured the Bushehr nuclear deal in that way, and as we've said, we think there are favorable characteristics to the way that deal was structured. So that's what's going on.

QUESTION: Just one precision -- the two-week deadline that's mentioned that you might have said, can you come back to that?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, while I am not going to talk about what I said in meetings, I have said and I continue to say that this is -- that we'll do this at a time of our choosing. And you know, probably when you read the story this morning you thought, "But I thought she didn't talk about deadlines." I don't. I don't talk about deadlines. I believe that that is not the way to conduct diplomacy. But obviously there is a meeting coming up on November 24th and we'll have to decide what to do. But this is going to be at a time of our choosing.

I do want to emphasize, though, we have -- we believe we've got the votes in the IAEA should we decide to try and call for referral.

QUESTION: Can I draw you out on Syria? The Syrians have first called for some kind of memo of understanding with Mehlis to get the six people, six Syrians, into some -- to an investigation. Then they launched their own investigation and that would prevent the six from going to Beirut to be questioned by Mehlis. Are you concerned about what kind of game the Syrians may be playing? Do you have -- do you believe that they are trying to stonewall (inaudible) -- and are you concerned about it?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, let me just say I don't think this constitutes cooperation. The UN Security Council couldn't have been clearer. The resolution couldn't have been clearer and, in fact, more detailed about what was expected of the Syrians. They are expected to answer affirmatively, positively, yes, to whatever Mehlis needs to complete his investigation. And I do not believe that the UN Security Council resolution contemplated the Syrians negotiating how they would say yes.

So, you know, it's perhaps not surprising given the speech that Dr. Al-Shara decided to give in the Security Council meeting, which I still think was remarkable given that everybody around that table supported immediate and complete cooperation with Mehlis. So that's what's expected. That's what was anticipated in 1636 and that's really what the Syrians should do.

QUESTION: Do you anticipate another (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: I think we'll just have to see what transpires over the next couple of weeks. Of course, Mr. Mehlis has the ability to come back to the Security Council at any time. That's also made clear. But let's just see what happens. I think right now I hope that everybody is encouraging -- everyone who talks to the Syrians is encouraging them to do what the Security Council resolution said they should do: cooperate unconditionally and immediately.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY RICE: I can't judge Syrian motives. I just know that it, at this point, doesn't look like cooperation. They should stop trying to negotiate and cooperate.

QUESTION: Just a quick loose end on Jordan. Is there any update on American casualties?

SECRETARY RICE: I think -- look, I think that we need to -- I need to be careful because I'm not on the road and I don't know if there's been any confirmation of what we suspect might have been one dual national, and I think I'll get back to you, hopefully before you file. But obviously since they need to do notifications to families and the like, I'd like to be careful.

QUESTION: Also on Jordan, you mentioned you'd like to do whatever you can. Would that include making a trip there on this swing, and what statement would you be sending if you did so?

SECRETARY RICE: I do want to do whatever I can to help on behalf of the President and the country, the American people. Obviously it's a complicated situation, not unlike the situation in Pakistan. I do not want to do anything that would get in the way. And so I'll talk to -- we're talking to the Jordanians, but if they believe that it would be helpful, then we would probably make the stop. And the message would just be one of solidarity, that the American people know what it's like to go through a tragedy like this and we stand with the Jordanian people and those who were -- those who died, those who have been injured and their loved ones, as well as Jordan as a whole.

QUESTION: A question about the Forum and the Fund. A fairly large chunk of the MEPI program is being spun off into those. Do you see those programs as an eventual substitute for MEPI or as a supplement, working together in some way? How do you see that?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, MEPI has been very successful in its own right, I think, but we do want to make sure that we've got a real coordinated, single-focused U.S. Government program. And so over the last year, through Liz Cheney, who of course was one of the founding mothers of MEPI and also of BMENA, I think we've gotten very close coordination of those programs.

I think we'll see how distinct we need to keep various aspects of this, but I think the important thing, Steve, is to be putting as many resources as we can to support what we know are the needs for political party development, for NGOs that protect the rights of women, for protection of minorities -- all of the things that MEPI has been doing and as well that I think the Foundation will be doing. So I think these have been working so closely together in any case that I don't think it really, in fact, matters very much.

QUESTION: Hi, I wanted to ask you about our detainee policy. In order to clarify it for the world and in view of the fact that Saddam Hussein is being tried, there may be trials for the Hariri killers, do you think there will ever come a time when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other high-value detainees now in U.S. custody can be tried somewhere in the world?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, without commenting on who we do or do not have in custody, let me just say that obviously everybody wants people to be brought to justice and the way that they're brought to justice, when they're brought to justice, is a function of when that can be done in a way that will have -- that there will be confidence even for people who clearly have been killers and have been murderers on a scale that it was unimaginable. I think we will want to make sure that people know that they also got a fair trial and that's why we've gone to so much -- such great extent in working with the Iraqis to try and make sure that the Saddam Hussein trial meets certain standards.

The other issue is, of course, that we want to remember that we're still in a war, that we still need to be able to talk to people who have intelligence value, because if there is anything that can be done to avert another attack on the United States, or for that matter on one of our friends or allies around the world, or any country around the world, then we want to be able to do that. But I don't think there is anybody who wants more to see people brought to justice than the President.

QUESTION: What is your message going to be to both the Israelis and the Palestinians in your talks with them and what are you hoping to achieve by this trip?

SECRETARY RICE: We'll have more time to talk about the Israel-Palestine part of this, but let me just say that obviously the Gaza withdrawal went well. There are still a couple of outstanding issues concerning Rafah and crossings that are making a lot of progress and frankly I hope will possibly be even taken care of before I get there. The parties are working very hard and I know that they're working on fairly technical issues at this point. I think there is a lot of political will to get them resolved.

It is also a time when the Palestinians are trying to get ready for elections and I think it's extremely important that we follow up on some of the efforts that are being made to make the Gaza a clear -- to make a clear indication in the Gaza that life is going to get better for the Palestinian people as a result of the withdrawal and as a result of PA leadership.

And I was just reviewing a list of projects that are going on. We have water projects underway through USAID. There are housing projects that are underway. There are projects that are underway with the Palestinian Authority leadership itself to give it better capacity to communicate with its people. There is, of course, security reform. And so I'd like to take the temperature really of all of those as well and to talk to President Abbas about what more can be done to make sure that his own decree of one authority and one gun is actually being carried out.

I look forward to talking to Prime Minister Sharon as well about what more can be done on the Sharm el-Sheikh agenda and in what time frame that can be done. Now, I understand that there are continuing security concerns and we are mindful of those and we are, of course, not going to ask Israelis to do anything that endangers the security of their people. But we would hope that there is more that can be done on those Sharm el-Sheikh arrangements and we'll talk about that.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, looking forward to Saudi Arabia, where on your list, on your agenda, is the issue of Saudi help with respect to Sunni participation and the Iraqi election?

SECRETARY RICE: It's very high on my agenda to talk to all the parties in the region. In fact, I'll be in Saudi Arabia but, of course, I will get to see a number of the neighbors of Iraq at Bahrain. And in all of those cases, I'll make the -- we'll have a discussion of the importance of the integration of Iraq into its neighborhood, into the Arab world. I would note that Amre Moussa was just there from the Arab League, which I think was an important signal for the Iraqis.

And obviously we want as much Sunni participation as possible in these next elections and the Saudis have a lot of contacts, tribal and other contacts, that I would hope they would use and would press the Sunnis to be involved and to be involved in a constructive way. So it's very high on my agenda.

It's also high on my agenda to discuss with the entire neighborhood what more we can do once there is a new Iraqi government to support the needs of the Iraqi people in reconstruction and development.

QUESTION: Does that come from any sense that the Saudis are holding out?

SECRETARY RICE: No, I think if you talk to Ambassador Khalilzad, he will tell you that he had good discussions with the Saudis even before the constitution and before the referendum and that they were, in fact, quite active, as were a number of other neighbors, in trying to encourage political participation. So it's not an issue of the Saudis holding out but it is an issue of we've got now about -- what is it? -- six weeks, not even that, five weeks, to the elections. Everybody needs to redouble their efforts to maximize participation by the Iraqis.

QUESTION: The trial of Saddam Hussein. Just about a quarter of his defense team is either dead or wounded. Is it time -- can he have a fair -- can you make the show of a fair trial in Iraq or should it be moved outside?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we've been very careful that this is an Iraqi process and I think that the Iraqis are going to make decisions about this trial. I think they believe that it is important to conduct it in Iraq and what we've been trying to do is to support that process. I might just note that, you know, it is obviously a tragic thing that these people were killed. There are, unfortunately, any number of people who are using high-level assassination as a way to try and disrupt any number of processes. I was just with Adil Abdul-Mahdi a couple of days ago, whose brother was assassinated.

And so it's just another indication of how these violent people are trying to disrupt processes in Iraq that are moving pretty inexorably toward a political outcome in which Iraqis, more and more Iraqis, are seeing their future in their politics, not in violence. And so I think people will look again at security. They'll look again at ways to support the trial process. But I think the Iraqis have to make any decisions about it, but it's their hope that this -- it's their very strong view that it needs to be conducted in Iraq for a number of reasons.

QUESTION: When you were talking about asking the Israelis to further the Sharm el-Sheikh agreements, which part? Are we talking about the withdrawals from the other West Bank towns or other parts?

SECRETARY RICE: I want to see where they think the Sharm el-Sheikh arrangements are. You know, there are a lot of things in the Sharm el-Sheikh arrangements, including prisoner releases. There are issues about closures and about freedom of movement. I think we will want to review that.

Frankly, I don't want to try to make a judgment that really has to be a kind of security judgment about the handover of cities. I think that there I'll obviously discuss with the Israelis and with the Palestinians about how they think about it, but I think the prior issue is can we get Palestinian security forces to a point that they can reliably provide security in any place that they are primarily responsible for security. And so I'll probably spend more time on that and getting the Israelis to try to aid the Palestinian -- or trying to assist those who wish to help the Palestinians reform their security forces, and their work with the Egyptians in the same way. 2005/T19-1

Released on November 10, 2005

ENDS


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