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Rice With Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid

Press Conference With Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
July 28, 2006

FOREIGN MINISTER HAMID: Secretary Rice and members of the media, first of all, let me thank you members of the media for your patience and kind presence at this joint press conference between Secretary Rice and myself. And I think we are very happy that Secretary Rice has decided to come to Malaysia for the -- our PMC meeting as well as the ARF meeting. And I think this is her first visit here. I hope she will have a very positive impression, and I think so far as the bilateral relations between Malaysia and the U.S. is concerned, bilateral relations is very good, positive. There is a lot of progress on what we can do together.

And Malaysia, also I think we are very happy with the participation, because she has contributed to the discussion and the discussion was enriched, the current situation, looking at the regional as well as international issues. And I think we are very happy with that. And we were able to also sign the enhanced partnership agreement between ASEAN and U.S. and this just now we signed the Mutual Legal Assistance and Criminal Matters.

So I thank you all, and I think -- Secretary Rice, welcome to Malaysia and I hope this is not going to be your last visit. We look forward to more visits from you to Kuala Lumpur. Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Mr. Hamid. Thank you so much for, first of all, the excellent organization of the conference. It's been most enjoyable. I think we had a really very good three-hour retreat with the ministers this morning that was a very good exchange. I indeed hope to come back to Malaysia, to Kuala Lumpur. It's a beautiful city. And obviously, the deepening of our relations is something that is taking place and something to which I would like to continue to contribute along with you. We have, of course, met on a number of occasions. But this is our first time in Malaysia. So thank you for having me here.

I just want to note that, in addition to signing of the Mutual Legal Assistance and Criminal Matters Treaty that we just signed, we are also making a contribution today to an environmental conservation facility for Borneo and that, too, I think is an example of our deepening relationship.

We've discussed a number of matters. I want to just on one matter in particular say I recognize the tremendous concern that the Malaysian government and other governments here have about the unfolding situation in the Middle East. I want you to know that we have, of course, heard precisely your concerns. We all are concerned about the humanitarian situation there, would want to see as early an end to the conflict as possible, because the Middle East is a region that has had too many spasms of violence and people -- whole generations have grown up without the prospect for peace. And we cannot rest until that prospect for peace has improved. And so I recommit to you that, not only in this immediate crisis will we work immediately and tirelessly to try to bring an end, but we will do the same to try to bring a broader and more comprehensive solution to the problems of the Middle East.

Thank you again for the wonderful organization here. Thank you for your hospitality, and I look forward with you to taking questions.

FOREIGN MINISTER HAMID: Thank you very much. I will allow, at the beginning, I will say, so you will not be asking me too many times, there will be only two questions that I will allow, one from here -- I think I will try to create a balance, one from a lady, the other one from the man there, so you will be equally balanced.

Please, go ahead. Only two. That's it. The one in front. Please, you have the floor.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Andrea Mitchell from NBC News.

Madame Secretary, can you explain to us what the conditions are that would warrant your returning to the Middle East, possibly to Jerusalem? You have envoys there right now working very, very hard. What have you heard about the situation? Does it yet warrant your returning this weekend for further talks?

And if you could share what you hope to accomplish there? What are your goals once there this weekend, in terms of whether you could better define how a cease-fire and the insertion of a multinational force would work in anticipation of the U.N. talks this week on a resolution and talks in Brussels on the composition of such a force.

FOREIGN MINISTER HAMID: Okay, thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you, Andrea. First of all, I will, of course, assess whether or not it is time to return to the Middle East. Let me be very clear. I'm going to return to the Middle East. The question is, when is it right for me to return to the Middle East? And I'm going to talk with David Welch and Elliott Abrams. I've not had an opportunity to do that. It's, of course, several hours earlier in the Middle East, so they're just beginning or have just been working today with the various parties.

What would we hope to achieve? We hope to achieve an early end to this violence. That's what we hope to achieve. That means that we have to try and help the parties establish conditions that will make it possible for a early cease-fire that does not -- nonetheless does not return us to the status quo ante. I think coming out of Rome, everybody agreed that we can't return to the circumstances that created this situation in the first place. Everyone in Rome agreed that the foundation, the framework for moving forward is the extension of the authority of the Lebanese government into its full territory, the extension of the Lebanese armed forces, those that are ready, and a program for reforming them. And that a multinational force, under U.N. mandate, would have an important role to play in creating the conditions in which Taif and 1559 can be achieved.

So many of the elements are there. I think the question is to get them arranged in a way that can support and sustain a cease-fire. And those are the conversations that I would expect to have. I do think it's important that groundwork be laid so that I can make the most of whatever time I can spend there. But there is no doubt in my mind that we want to achieve this and achieve it as soon as possible.

I also want to note that we hope that all states will be supportive of a solution based on the G8 statement and based on Rome.

FOREIGN MINISTER HAMID: Okay. Jonathan. No, there is only one question. After this, I'm closing --

QUESTION: I'm from BBC World Service, Burmese Language Radio.

Dr. Rice, are you happy with the ASEAN statement on Myanmar? First ASEAN sounded very tough, but when the actual joint statement came out, it's quite softened again. They are going to engage -- continue to engage with Myanmar government, Burmese government. Are you happy with that ASEAN stand? And what sort of position from ASEAN are you expecting? That is my first question.

And my second question is, why United States is not giving humanitarian assistance to Burma for example, the HIV/AIDS assistance? Are you relating political situation and the humanitarian assistance --

FOREIGN MINISTER HAMID: Okay, thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. First of all, I have been around international diplomacy and conferences enough to know that a statement like the one that ASEAN has made on Burma is an important evolution of the ASEAN position to one that I think is becoming more clear about the challenge that the international system faces with Burma. I know, too, that members of ASEAN have spoken quite clearly about the need for the junta to make political reform and that Aung San Suu Kyi should be released and released unconditionally and as quickly as possible.

I have had extensive discussions with my ASEAN colleagues individually as well as as a group about the need to press the Burmese regime to make changes, and I am confident that those conversations are going on. The -- one can't be in a position of even thinking about assistance for a regime that behaves in the way that the Burmese regime behaves.

The United States is seeking a U.N. Security Council resolution that would make very clear the world's condemnation of the activities of the Burmese regime, particularly in relationship to the opposition and to Aung San Suu Kyi, and we will continue to seek that means.

FOREIGN MINISTER HAMID: Thank you very much.

2006/T19-11

Released on July 28, 2006

ENDS


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