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Rice: ASEAN Post-Ministerial Joint Press Briefing

ASEAN Post-Ministerial Joint Press Briefing

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
July 27, 2006

FOREIGN MINISTER ALBAR: (In progress) -- ASEAN-Post Ministerial Conference Plus One Session with ASEAN Dialogue Partners, Australia, Canada, European Union, New Zealand, Russian Federation and United States, and the ASEAN PMC Plus 10 working lunch was held in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.

I would just like to highlight some of the things that we have completed. With Australia, we welcomed Australia's accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in South Asia in Kuala Lumpur on 10th of December 2005 and we express our appreciation for Australia's contribution of 1.3 million to the ASEAN Development Fund received in April 2006.

In respect of Canada, we have adopted the 2005-2007 ASEAN-Canada Joint Cooperation Work Plan. The meeting also endorsed the Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism between ASEAN and Canada for signing tomorrow. The meeting noted the significance of the signing of a joint declaration between ASEAN and Canada. And this completes all declarations to combat international terrorism between ASEAN and all its 10 dialogue partners.

With the European Union, let me on behalf of ASEAN express our appreciation to the EU for being the largest contributor in providing assistance to implement the Vientiane Action Program. Both sides look forward to the convening of a 16 ASEAN-EU administrative meeting in 2007. The meeting also will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the ASEAN-EU dialogue in 2007.

New Zealand. New Zealand had established the ASEAN Security Fund with an initial allocation of New Zealand 500,000 to support, among others, activities to implement ASEAN-New Zealand joint declaration to combat international terrorism. The adoption of the ASEAN-New Zealand Framework for Future Cooperation is another testimony of New Zealand's commitment to intensify its relations with ASEAN.

With the Russian Federation, the meeting lauded the successful convening of the first ASEAN-Russian Federation Summit in Kuala Lumpur and its outcome documents. The meeting welcomed the ratification by all the ASEAN member countries and the Russian Federation of the ASEAN-Russian Federation Agreement on Economic and Development Cooperation, which they had signed on 8th December 2005. The meeting noted the various activities planned for 2006, in commemoration of the tenth year of ASEAN-Russia Federation dialogue relations.

With the United States, the meeting recorded issuance of a joint region statement on ASEAN-U.S. enhanced partnership with the aim of elevating the ASEAN-U.S. dialogue on 17 November 2005 in all ASEAN capitals and Washington, D.C. In this regard, the foreign ministers of ASEAN and the U.S. Secretary of State signed the framework document for the plan of action to implement the ASEAN-U.S. enhanced partnership on 27th July, just now. The meeting looked forward to the early implementation of the plan of action which serves as a five-year master plan from 2006 to 2011, aimed at pursuing joint actions and measures to enhance cooperation. Both sides also supported the early conclusion of the negotiation on the ASEAN-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement or TIFA, which would further enhance ASEAN-U.S. economic cooperation.

On the Korean Peninsula, the meeting expressed concern over the test firing by the DPRK of ballistic missiles on 5th July 2006, and noted that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1695 of 15 July 2006. The meeting supported the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks and the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue in a peaceful manner. The meeting strongly urged the DPRK to refrain from any action that might aggravate tension, return immediately to the talks without precondition and work towards the expeditious implementation of the 19 September 2005 joint statement, as was unanimously agreed upon in this resolution. The meeting also believed that ASEAN Regional Forum can contribute to promoting peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and expressed the hope that members of the Six-Party Talks can utilize their presence to promote the resumption of the talks.

On the Middle East, the meeting expressed grave concern over the deteriorating situation and escalation of violence in the Middle East. The foreign ministers of ASEAN member countries recall and reaffirm its joint communiqué of the 39th ASEAN ministerial meeting on this issue, and a separate statement on the situation in the Middle East. The meeting also welcomed the presence of Her Excellency Dr. Condoleezza Rice for the PMC as well as for the RAF tomorrow and will discuss further on the subject and the situation, where she will be able to update us on the actions taken and the desire to see a lasting and durable peace can be achieved.

ASEAN centrality, the Dialogue Partners acknowledge ASEAN centrality and recognize ASEAN rule as a driving force in all dialogue processes initiated by ASEAN.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have given some of the highlights. Now I would like to open the floor for questions by members of the media. And you please identify yourself and direct your questions to the person that you would like to respond.

Please, go. You have the floor, members of the media. And please be precise and to the point. Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you, Excellency. My name is Sultan from Radio Free Asia. I would like to address my question to Mr. Minister from Myanmar.

Could you tell us if you have a specific time schedule to complete your national convention, and when the elections and the referendum will be held?

FOREIGN MINISTER ALBAR: Mr. Nyan Win, please respond. It's on, it's on.

FOREIGN MINISTER WIN: Yeah. Presently, I can say before the coming ASEAN Summit, we can tell you that our national convention will be finished the possible time.

FOREIGN MINISTER ALBAR: Okay, the next question, please.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, what do you hope to accomplish when you return to Jerusalem this weekend, and will you try to broker talks between Prime Minister Olmert and Prime Minister Siniora?

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. I have not yet made a determination about my further travel. Obviously, I am willing and ready to go to -- back to the Middle East at any time that I think we can move toward a sustainable -- a sustainable cease-fire that can end the violence.

I said to my colleague ministers here that the United States is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation. We are working urgently to try and make it possible for aid supplies to get to the people of Lebanon. We are, of course, concerned about the deaths of innocent civilians, Israeli and Lebanese and Palestinian. And we remain committed to urgent work to try and bring a resolution of that conflict.

I would hope that any work there would bring all parties, as the Rome conference noted yesterday, to an understanding that the key to a resolution of the Lebanon situation is the extension of Lebanese authority, Lebanese government authority, throughout their country; the ability of the Lebanese government to control all forces, all arms within their country, there should be no militias; and that Lebanon can have the assistance of a U.N. mandated international force. And so that's the basis for trying to come to a resolution. And I'm more than happy to go back at any time and try to bring about that resolution.

FOREIGN MINISTER ALBAR: Okay, the last question, please.

QUESTION: To Mr. Javier Solana, I have a question.

FOREIGN MINISTER ALBAR: Okay, please. Go ahead.

QUESTION: President Jacques Chirac yesterday he said he's not preferring to send NATO peacekeeping forces to Lebanon. Is this a final position of E.U. in facing the problem of Lebanon now?

SECRETARY GENERAL SOLANA: Well, the situation, as has been said already by Dr. Rice, is a situation complicated, in which we are very much engaged in trying to find a durable solution. Part of that durable solution may be, and we are ready to do it, to deploy some forces to cooperate with the Lebanese army in order to -- for the Lebanese government to have full control of the geography of the country, including the southern part of the country, including the northern border with Syria, and also to have control of the security of the country. And of that -- for that aim, we will be willing to -- to help, if the U.N. Security Council adopts a resolution in that direction.

If that resolution exists, and we hope it will be possible, we will be willing -- the Europeans will be willing to take some responsibility. Not alone, the Europeans; will be others, probably, going too. But the structure of the force is not yet finalized, as I said. And therefore, that question is a little bit premature. But the Europeans, we are ready to contribute to that force, yes.

FOREIGN MINISTER ALBAR: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, could we just get you to answer that previous question about whether --

FOREIGN MINISTER ALBAR: Thank you very much. You already said the last question. Thank you.


Released on July 27, 2006


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