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Condoleezza Rice With Canada's FM Peter MacKay

Remarks With Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay After Their Meeting


Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
April 13, 2006

(2:30 p.m. EDT)


SECRETARY RICE: Good afternoon. I am delighted to welcome Foreign Minister Peter MacKay of Canada to the United States and to the State Department. We have just had an extensive discussion and I think a very nice lunch; I hope you enjoyed it and we have talked about, of course, the great friendship that the United States and Canada enjoy. The fact that our populations are in constant contact with one another, our tremendous trade relationship. This is truly a relationship that is broad and deep.

We've had a full discussion of our neighborhood, the Western Hemisphere, issues of trade and democracy here in the Western Hemisphere and of Canada's very important role in Haiti, where we hope that the parliamentary elections that will be held will be free and fair so that the Haitian people can finally have a chance to turn the page on what has been a very difficult chapter and to move on to a stable and democratic government.

We also have talked more broadly because our relationship with Canada is again a global relationship. It is one that uses our common values and our assets to try and affect change across the world. And in that regard, we talked about the importance of the development of stable democratic governments in regions in the Middle East and Iraq and, of course, Canada's substantial contribution to the efforts of stabilization and democratization in Afghanistan.

We had an extended discussion also of the Middle East and the prospects for peace in the Middle East and of the need for the Palestinian Government to accept the obligations and requirements that the international system insists upon as international norms so that the peace process can move forward. It was an extensive discussion, it was a good discussion and I very much look forward to many like it in the future. Welcome.

FOREIGN MINISTER MACKAY: Thank you very much. Well, I would begin by expressing our great appreciation to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for her hospitality, her warmth, her intelligence on so many of these issues in which Canada has a deep and abiding interest. And I would also very much describe this as a positive and productive meeting that allowed us to not only discuss in some detail these many important issues for both our countries, but also to establish a personal rapport, which I think is extremely important, and indicative of the relationship that does exist between our countries. Our Prime Minister and President Bush had a very similarly productive meeting in Cancun, the trilateral that took place there, and discussed, again, many of these same issues that are of great mutual interest to our countries. Our commitment to continue with the efforts to elevate the quality of life of people in Afghanistan, our efforts as well in Haiti, and in some of the other troubled spots throughout the world in which, once more, we share a great deal of passion and interest to try to find solutions.

And as far as some of the issues that will require continued lines of discussion, I'm extremely encouraged by the very welcoming attitude that we have received here in Washington today and in previous meetings and more meetings that will come. Because this is a historic relationship that has matured, that will continue to grow, and continue to foster what I think is so important here on the continent of North America, whether it be issues in the areas of environment, education, how we can work collaboratively and cooperatively to the betterment of our people and to the betterment of the international community. Because as the Secretary has indicated, we have a lot of bilateral interest in issues, but we work very well on the international stage and I know that that is going to continue.

And so I'm delighted to be here. I've always been a fan of yours and much of our discussion today confirmed what I already knew about you from having followed your career, so we're very grateful and I personally extend my thanks to you for your generous and very kind invitation to be with you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Sean.

MR. MCCORMACK: The first question is with Ann Gearan with the Associated Press.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, Mohamed ElBaradei is in Tehran this week for talks on the nuclear program. What message can or should he carry that the regime might not have heard elsewhere? And can you elaborate a little bit on your remarks yesterday about the Security Council needing to take strong steps? Do you have anything particular in mind?

For the Foreign Minister, did you talk about Iran today? Do you have any thoughts about what the West can do, perhaps, that hasn't been done or said already?

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you, Ann. The Director General is indeed in Tehran and he is carrying, I'm quite certain, the message of the international community. There was, after all, an IAEA Board of Governors vote that referred the Iranian case to the Security Council with a set of requirements that had been established by the IAEA. Those requirements include the suspension of enrichment and reprocessing activities in Iran, a return to negotiation so that Iran can begin to reestablish some confidence in the international community after the 18 years in which it deceived the IAEA about activities there.

I want to just note that the Iranian regime is, of course, isolating itself. It is doing this despite the great desire of the international community to engage and to reach out to the Iranian people. The Iranian people do not deserve to be isolated. And in fact, the Iranian regime continues to try and make this an issue of rights for civil nuclear power. No one questions the right of Iran to have civil nuclear power to increase its energy supply. But any civil nuclear technology would have to be one without the kind of proliferation risk. That is the case in the Russian proposal and the EU proposal. So I'm quite certain that Director ElBaradei will carry those messages from the IAEA and from the international community.

And as to what might happen next, there is no doubt that Iran continues to defy the will of the international community. There is no doubt that Iran has continued salami-slicing tactics, a little bit here and then a little bit more and then a little bit more, despite the fact that the international community has said very clearly, "Stop."

Now when the Security Council reconvenes, there will have to be some consequence for that action and that defiance and we will look at the full range of options available to the Security Council. One thing that the Security Council has that the IAEA does not have is the ability to compel, through Chapter 7 resolutions, member-states of the UN to obey the will of the international system. And I'm certain that we'll look at measures that could be taken to ensure that Iran knows that they really have no choice but to comply.

FOREIGN MINISTER MACKAY: I might add just briefly that Canada very, very strongly believes that there has to be a clear and consistent message coming from the international community, of which we very much see ourselves as part of that one voice that should be sending a message to Iran that they must comply with the IAEA and they must also very much send a signal that they are listening to the message that is coming. Because as Secretary Rice has said, they appear to be consistently crossing the line, step by step, and becoming less and less communicative.

The Security Council is now seized with this issue. They have talked about measures and consequences. And we remain hopeful that Iran is going to get the message. That seems to be where there is a breakdown in communication. They do not appear to be responsive or communicating now in a positive way. They seem to be simply ignoring the messages that are coming from the international community. So Canada supports the efforts of both organizations to have Iran comply and to stand down in their proliferation.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, I wanted to ask you, how important is it that Canada adopt an identical border identity card in this security initiative, the same as the U.S. is devising? And how can this security initiative possibly be ready on time when even some State Department officials are worried about the very tight deadline? And for Minister MacKay, I'm wondering if you pushed the Secretary for any kind of delay or changes in this program?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we have a law and the first point is that we're going to uphold the law. And we in the State Department have an obligation to uphold that law. And yes, it may be hard, but I'm quite certain that everyone in the State Department is working to make certain that we're able to comply with the law.

Now the law -- we've already had a delay in the implementation of the law. What we are trying to do is to make sure that we are using the full range of possibilities for fulfilling those obligations under the law to give an answer to how we fulfill that that will not have a detrimental effect on people trying to travel across the border. We're looking for something that's inexpensive, something that is not so hard to get, but that is nonetheless secure, because the origin of this law was that we had a problem on our borders, not knowing who was in the country.

I talked with the Minister. He made very clear that this is of great concern to the people of Canada. It is also of great concern to people in the United States who want to cross into Canada. And I'm sure that we can through constant discussion of this and, indeed, keeping each other fully apprised of the evolution of this issue, that we can arrange for something that is secure and that allows travel to continue without a detrimental effect and that's what we're working toward. And I did give my assurance to the Minister that we would do everything that we can to make sure that Canada is not just fully informed, but that Canada is able to comment on these issues as we go forward.

FOREIGN MINISTER MACKAY: I was very encouraged by the discussion around the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative insofar as we, I believe, have established a much better line of communication. I believe that without sounding partisan, the previous government perhaps could have done more to engage at an earlier stage. We now have an opportunity, I believe, to ensure that we will lessen the impact of any changes around passport requirements. We did talk about some of the various ways in which we can do that.

There will be further discussions in the very near future. Michael Chertoff will be meeting with Stockwell Day, our Minister of Public Security, as early as next week. This issue was also discussed, as you know, in Cancun between the President and our Prime Minister. And it is fair to say that we have concerns. Clearly, we want to lessen the impact that it may have in terms of security concerns, in terms of economic concerns. We have a very important stake, of course, in the travel as far as tourism and that goes for both sides. And we think that the impact can be felt on both sides if we don't get it right. And so the level of cooperation, I think, is what's key, cooperation and communication. I'm very encouraged by the openness that Secretary Rice has demonstrated in talking about it and being very forthright in their plans. And I know that that's going to continue and flow into next week's discussion between our two ministers that are tasked with this important issue.

QUESTION: This is a question for both of you. Did you discuss Darfur and what can be done to try and convince the Khartoum Government to accept a UN hatted mission? And how long do you think that this kind of stalling tactics of the Sudanese Government can continue? And are you concerned that this is going to become yet another situation as we had in Rwanda a decade ago where the world took far too long to intervene?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we have indeed have discussed Darfur. As a matter of fact, Canada has been very clear that it wants to be as helpful as possible in Darfur. And of course as we look at ways to support the blue-hatted mission of the United Nations, what role NATO can play in helping with logistics or mobility or those kinds of issues, Canada's also a member of NATO, and so we have discussed it. We will have more of a discussion of this, I'm sure, when we are in Sofia, Bulgaria for the NATO summit.

The world needs to act. The United States has been pressing very hard in the Security Council to get movement on a number of issues, and most especially there needs to be movement on a blue-hatted force, planning for it, troop generation for it. We really can't afford to wait. We are doing what we can to support the current African Union mission. We are prepared to try to do more to support that mission until the blue-hatted force is able to arrive. But everybody recognizes that you need a more robust force that's going to come from the UN and we are pressing very hard to get that moving.

Now, I understand that the Sudan Government sometimes says that they don't favor this. But they have failed in their obligation to protect the people of Darfur and they clearly need international help to do it. And so it's going to be very important that they get international help to do it. The AU has said that there should be a blue-hatted force, and I can assure you, we're working on all of the political levels, all of the diplomatic levels to try and get a peace agreement as well at Abuja. But it doesn't obviate the need for a more robust security force and everyone will continue to press the Sudanese Government that they need to comply with what clearly is everybody's will, because we need to take care of the people of Darfur.

FOREIGN MINISTER MACKAY: Well, I would echo that sentiment that Canada very much recognizes the need that exists to assist Sudanese people, even over in some cases the obstacles that the government has put in place in Sudan. We have an abiding interest and we've had a presence there in terms of equipment support for some years, and I can assure you that the people of Canada have a great well of compassion and interest in helping in the region. It is going to be a multinational and multilateral effort that will be required. The transfer or the transition period that we're seeing right now between the African Union and the NATO force is going to be a critical period, I would suggest. And so it may very well call for increased international involvement.

Canada has played a part, will play a part and are currently, as they are in the United States and other countries, assessing just what we can do to make the most difference. But it is an area and a region of the world that we're very closely linked to and one that we want to continue to make a contribution towards assistance.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

FOREIGN MINISTER MACKAY: There has been no request, no ask for troops on the ground. In fact, I visited NATO headquarters some time ago and I would agree that blue helmets are the solution. But I'm not sure that those are North American or even European soldiers that should be wearing those blue helmets. I think at this point in time, the support is in the area of equipment, possibly training, and the humanitarian aid and injection of support that is required in the short term. In the longer term, I don't think anybody can say with certainty what that UN force is going to look like.

QUESTION: I have to ask a question in French to Mr. MacKay, but I will translate it, because I would like you to comment after, if you will. (In French.)

Ms. Rice, I asked Mr. MacKay, is -- if Canada approves the idea of sanctions against Iran if Iran doesn't get the message, since it doesn't seem to be getting it?

FOREIGN MINISTER MACKAY: (In French.)

QUESTION: Can you translate?

FOREIGN MINISTER MACKAY: Yes. Very briefly, I believe that Canada is in the position that we do support the international need to respond with one voice, the need to demonstrate to Iran that we very clearly want them to comply upon paying of sanctions. If sanctions are necessary, we do believe -- and I think the important message is that there will be progressive response and progressive consequences. I don't believe we want to take any drastic steps that would destabilize the very volatile situation right now, but I do believe it's necessary to start weighing all of these options. And if, in fact, there is not a response in very short order, I believe that through the Security Council, this will be the appropriate response.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.

QUESTION: Could you comment on this, Madame Secretary?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I find nothing with which to disagree. Obviously, we are still in a diplomatic phase, but we have set the end of the month, essentially, for Iran to respond to a presidential statement. At that point, the Security Council has got to take this back up. The Iranians have done nothing to demonstrate that they are going to adhere to the international guidelines that have been established for them. And therefore, we're going to have to have a response and it can't be another presidential statement.

Thank you.

2006/371

# # #

Released on April 13, 2006

ENDS


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