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Condoleezza Rice Remarks at the Waldorf Astoria

Remarks at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
New York, NY
September 20, 2006

(3:05 p.m. EDT)

SECRETARY RICE: Good afternoon. I am delighted to join my fellow ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council. This is an annual meeting of the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council. We will discuss the many issues effecting the region. It's a time of great change in the region, a time of great challenge, and so it's only fitting that we have an opportunity for a strategic dialogue about how we move forward to a more prosperous region and a region that is at peace.

I might just mention since we had to forego the press conference for the Quartet because of scheduling conflicts – it's a very busy time for everyone – that we did have a very good Quartet meeting in which we discussed and indeed welcomed the efforts of Abu Mazen to deal with the difficult circumstances in the Palestinian territories. We noted again the importance of the formation of a Palestinian government that would be devoted to and respectful of the principles of the Quartet (inaudible) some time ago, it only goes without saying that you cannot have peace if you do not recognize the right of the other partner to exist and that the renunciation of violence is a key to negotiations (inaudible).

We also looked at ways that we might be able to help the Palestinian people in this difficult time. It was a very good meeting and now perhaps I can take just a couple of questions.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, what gives you any confidence eight months after the election that Hamas will in any way moderate itself if they haven't done so so far?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, what we're seeing, Ann, is that it's been difficult for the government, the Palestinian Government, Hamas-led government, to actually deliver on its promises of a better life for the Palestinian people. And the Palestinians need a government that is committed to the decade-long effort between the Palestinians and the Israelis to find a route to peace, to commitments that have been taken on behalf of the Palestinian people, and quite simply to a set of agreements that the international community indeed supports. And until there is such, it's going to be very difficult for that government to function and function (inaudible) international.

QUESTION: So that pressure brings them to (inaudible) to change (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: The point is that if indeed there is going to be a government that is able to govern, it needs the support of the international community and it needs to be committed to peace.

QUESTION: President Bush yesterday reached out to the Muslim world in the General Assembly and received quite the kind of curt response compared to maybe a warmer response that Hugo Chavez received today when he called President Bush the devil. What does that say about the world view of the United States right now and of the Administration? Are you concerned?

SECRETARY RICE: I'm not going to dignify a comment by the Venezuelan President towards the United States (inaudible). I think it's not becoming for a head of state.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, how long are you going to give Iran to respond to the demands that you have made? I understand that early October is the deadline.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'm not going to talk in terms of deadline, but I will talk in terms of process. We have been very committed as a group, the six, to the strategy that we developed some time ago really beginning in London but culminating in the Paris accord and then being memorialized in Resolution 1696. And that is that everyone wants to solve this through negotiation, everybody wants to solve this diplomatically. There is a really excellent opportunity for Iran to engage the international community if it will simply meet a condition that has – that is not a U.S. condition, it's a condition of the IAEA, it's a condition of the Security Council, that they suspend their enrichment and reprocessing activities and then come to negotiations.

We are of course, given that this was to be done by August 31st, we are working on what measures might be – the international community might take should Iran not make that choice. As you know, Javier Solana has been seeking to have discussions with the Iranians. It seems to have been difficult to get some of those scheduled and we would encourage the Iranians to take him up on his offer to meet with him and to clarify any remaining questions. But this cannot go on for very much longer. The international community has spoken and the credibility of the international community is at stake when a Security Council resolution says suspend and then we will negotiate, that really is what the international community means, or we will have to go back to the Security Council and seek measures under Article 41 of Chapter 7.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) suspension (inaudible)

SECRETARY RICE: Suspension for suspension. If there is to be – if there is to be negotiations, they need to suspend.

QUESTION: Thank you.



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