Rice & Jack Straw - Liverpool Performing Arts In.
Remarks at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts With
Secretary Jack Straw
Liverpool, United Kingdom
March 31, 2006
FOREIGN SECRETARY STRAW: Thank you very much for inviting the Secretary and myself to the famous school, the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts. We've had a really interesting visit. The Secretary is the musician amongst the pair of us. I only got to grade five on the piano. But just to see the enthusiasm here and the warmth of the reception which the Secretary has received has been fantastic.
We've also had a terrific visit this morning to Blackburn. We went to BAE Systems and saw the Euro Fighter assembly and the Joint Strike Fighter assembly hall, and we went to Pleckgate School where the reception was phenomenal and then to the home of English football, Ewood Park with apologies to one or two here who are supporters of a couple of other teams in this great city. And we've got a program tonight and tomorrow.
Just to say a word about two sad stories that come from the Middle East. In respect of the sinking of the ship off Bahrain, I said this morning that we understood that 13 British citizens had been killed in that sinking. We're doing everything we can to support their families and their loved ones. A rapid deployment team from the Foreign Office has already gone out there to complement the British diplomats onsite in Bahrain and my Minister of State for the Middle East, Dr. Kim Howells, is also on his way there.
Secondly, we've heard of a suicide bombing which I think four Israelis have been killed. I gather the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, so-called, has claimed responsibility for a desperate act of terrorism. This is an act of terrorism which needs to be condemned by everyone who has any interest whatever in peace in the Middle East, and above all peace for the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Secretary Rice, it's my great pleasure and privilege to welcome you here to the famed school.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you very much, Secretary Straw. And I just want to thank the leadership -- oh, there he is -- of this wonderful school. Mark, thank you very much. This has been -- there you are. (Laughter.)
FOREIGN SECRETARY STRAW: Why not? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, why not? Why not? This has been really a wonderful visit, going around and seeing all of these lovely kids and their tremendous talents. We heard gospel, we heard rock, we saw dance, we heard a group singing Stevie Wonder, one of my favorite songs that they were singing. And they're very talented students and it's great that here at the Paul McCartney School they have the opportunity to develop their talents. So I want to just say how great it's been to be here. It was also wonderful to be in Blackburn where we had the opportunity, as the Foreign Secretary said, to see the center of the center of the world, as I understand it's called, which is Ewood Park. I tend to say stadium, which I guess is not quite right, so Ewood Park. And we also had a chance to talk about the importance of democracy in the world.
I want to join Jack Straw in extending sympathies to the families of those British citizens as well as other citizens who were lost in the sinking of the ship off Bahrain and also to underscore what the Foreign Secretary said about the suicide bombing in the West Bank. Clearly, this is a time when all responsible leadership should condemn any such attacks. Terrorism and peace, terrorism and democracy, do not go together. I know that Abu Mazen has condemned the attacks and I hope that others will follow. We obviously send our sympathies and our prayers to those who have been killed and their families.
QUESTION: Secretary of State, Jon Craig from Sky News. You said in Blackburn, rather intriguingly, "when I return to Stanford." Will that be before or after you run for President? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY RICE: Well, since I don't think the latter is going to happen, I assume I'm going to go back to Stanford, hopefully, at the end of this job. I love being an academic. I think the headmaster here would --
FOREIGN SECRETARY STRAW: Oh, headmaster. Yes, very good. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, headmaster. Yeah, it sounds British. I don't know, somehow it sounded right, yes. The director of the school here would tell you that I love being among students, I love helping them to develop their talents and sometime soon I'll go back to Stanford.
QUESTION: Foreign Secretary, Madame Secretary, Peter Mackler, AFP. Two questions on Iran. We have a report out of Tehran that Iran has developed a missile that can evade radar and attacked multiple targets. Can we have your comment on that?
And the second thing is that you both agreed on the need for sanctions to be on the agenda at some point with Iran in the nuclear issue. Do you think it is appropriate to start threatening sanctions after the 30-day -- right after the 30-day deadline?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, on the reports of these missiles, I think we're trying to discover the facts of what the Iranians might be talking about and I don't have anything further for you on that at this point.
Do you want to talk about the other issue?
FOREIGN SECRETARY STRAW: Just to say that I note rhetoric from the Iranians on the one hand about the fact that they have no belligerent military intentions; on the other hand, these missiles are not part of an air defense system. That's for sure. So let us get some more information about it, but meanwhile I think it demonstrates a certain ambiguity in the Iranians' approach, which is what we've been wrestling with in the international community for a long time.
On the issue of sanctions, we're not putting a time schedule on this. We did discuss it in Berlin yesterday that there is, I think, an understanding, certainly amongst the Europeans and the United States, that -- and I've made this clear publicly -- we'll have to consider the issue of sanctions if the Iranians don't start to bring themselves back into compliance with what the Board of Governors of the IAEA have asked. We don't want to do this. What we want is to see Iran come into compliance, which is what every other member of the Nonproliferation Treaty arrangements has done, and then they can take their full place in the international community. And we've never, ever said they should not be able to generate electricity by nuclear means. Of course, they should. It is compliance that's at risk.
Thank you very much.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.
QUESTION: Are you holding Hamas responsible for the suicide bombing?
SECRETARY RICE: I think al-Aqsa Brigade is the one that has claimed -- but I would hope -- I would certainly hope that anybody who is governing in the Palestinian territories would condemn this kind of violence against people.
FOREIGN SECRETARY STRAW: Thank you.
Released on March 31, 2006