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Condoleezza Rice Remarks With FMs G-8 Ministerial

Remarks With Foreign Ministers at the G-8 Ministerial

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Moscow, Russia
June 29, 2006

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Distinguished colleagues, first of all, I apologize for the journalists who have not made it to this room because of too great an interest in this meeting, but they can follow the proceedings from adjoining rooms.

I'll express the common view by saying that we are satisfied with the end of the G-8 foreign minister meetings, the last preparatory meetings during the run-up to the St. Pete's summit. We have discussed the entire political spectrum of the agenda, most of the items on which are of interest to the entire international community, and we took into account the positions of other countries in discussing relevant issues.

WMD nonproliferation was prominent on the agenda. In this context we discussed the situation around Iran's nuclear program, around the situation with the Korean Peninsula. We also paid special attention to the Mideast situation, particularly in the context of the recent heightening of tensions between the Palestinians and Israel.

We reaffirmed our support for the position of the Quartet of the international mediators. We called on the parties to make everything necessary to calm down the situation and to ensure the return to security and the resumption of the negotiations on the basis of the roadmap.

We also supported the position of the six countries which made proposals regarding negotiations with Iran and we are looking forward in the near future to a specific official reply, a response from Iran to this offer.

We reaffirmed our support for the permanent government of Iraq. We called on it to continue working towards a national concord, greater security that would create conditions for stable socioeconomic development.

On behalf of the Russian Federation and myself, I would like to thank my colleagues for their solidarity with Russia as well as their condolences to Russia in connection with the slaying of four Russian diplomats. They said that those guilty should be found and punished.

We reaffirmed the need for the effective fulfillment of the commitments of the international community and Afghanistan assumed at the London conference on Afghanistan. We welcomed the results of the international conference, ministerial conference, on the drug trafficking routes from Afghanistan, the second such conference. The first one took place three years ago in Paris.

We also considered the situation in the west of the Balkans and spoke out in favor for the continuation of direct talks between Belgrade and Pristina with the involvement of the Kosovo Serbs.

We continued the discussion of such a traditional item as beefing up the peacekeeping potential of African states, the better partnership with the greater Middle East and North Africa and a new initiative on deeper interaction with a view to conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction. The main results will be found in the chairperson's statement that hopefully will be distributed already at the end of this conference.

Thank you for your attention. The floor is open for questions. Who is in charge of the proceedings?


QUESTION: What is the place of the Mideast settlement in the summit's agenda, particularly in light of the recent developments, particularly regarding Israel's policy of collective punishment of Gaza's population? I ask Madame Rice to answer this question.

SECRETARY RICE: We indeed had an extensive discussion of the situation in the Middle East. We have reaffirmed several commitments, first and foremost our commitment to a two-state solution, the course of which, the pathway of which, is developed in the roadmap and our hopes that all parties will find a way soon back onto the roadmap so that a two-state solution can be found.

Secondly, we affirmed our commitment to the Quartet, our commitment to the Quartet requirements that a Palestinian government that can be a partner for peace must be one that recognizes the right of Israel to exist, that renounces violence and that is indeed committed to a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As concerns the current situation and the current crisis, we also had a discussion of that. That is detailed in the statement that has been released by the parties here. Let me just say that this crisis, of course, just underscores the need to have all parties, all Palestinian parties, work for an end to terrorist activities. We also called on the Palestinian Government and other parties to secure the release of the Israeli soldier. And we are asking Israel to exercise restraint in this circumstance because with restraint perhaps we can get back to a place where there can be hopes again for a peace process.

This began as a terrorist act but we do recognize that it is important to protect civilians so that they do not suffer as a matter of this current crisis, and it is extremely important that every party act responsibly so that the possibilities for peace will be preserved.

QUESTION: Saul Hudson from Reuters. A question specifically, please, for Minister Lavrov and Secretary Rice, and this is about Iran. Do you, among the P-5+1, have full agreement that Iran has to respond to the nuclear offer by the summit? And do you have agreement that the option of disincentives in the package actually includes sanctions?

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: If I may, you will read in the statement (inaudible) we agreed that we support -- as G-8 we support the meeting which is planned between Javier Solana and National Security Advisor of Iran Mr. Larijani on July 5th and we also took note of the fact that the six countries who made the proposal would assess the situation before mid-July based on the outcome of the meeting which I referred to between Javier Solana and Dr. Larijani.

We did not discuss anything beyond the offer which we all made in good faith to Iran, which is a positive offer and we expect a positive official, specific response to this. This is all in the statement. Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, it's all in the statement. Let me remind that this is the G-8, not the P-5+1. We did affirm or reaffirm the statement that Margaret Beckett made on behalf of the six at Vienna in its entirety. We also affirmed that we expect a response from Iran, an official response. We would hope for a serious response. Javier Solana will meet with Mr. Larijani on July 5th. We will then assess where we are.

But I think you will note that the statement also expresses some disappointment that we have not yet heard from the Iranians on what we consider to be a very favorable offer. And so the Vienna declaration stands in its entirety, as does the hope that Iran is preparing to respond in a positive way. The P-5+1 will assess the situation when we have heard from the Iranians after Javier's meeting.

QUESTION: I'm Ellen Jentek from CTV News. This is a question, first of all, for Mr. MacKay. I'd like to know whether you shared the U.S.'s concerns about democratic backsliding in Russia, whether that was raised at your meeting and how Canada feels about certain movement coming from the United States that even went as far as to suggest perhaps that the U.S. should boycott this G-8 Summit. And also for Condoleezza Rice, any comments on that issue as well. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Peter, careful, you are being provoked. (Laughter.)

FOREIGN MINISTER MACKAY: Let me begin by saying what a gracious host Mr. Lavrov has been. And I would suggest to you that we did have a very open and frank discussion about the situation in Belarus. We touched upon the regions of Moldova and Georgia. We had discussions, as you would expect, around concerns that Canada raised, in particular, in what is happening in Belarus. There was a discussion about Georgia as to their aspirations, if you will.

But this was not a provocative or unpleasant discussion. It was a discussion, as you would expect, in a mature way around a table with G-8 countries that share similar values, democratic principles, respect for rule of law. And so to that extent, I viewed it as very positive and I think that Chairman Lavrov took the discussion in the light in which it was intended.

SECRETARY RICE: Let me just add that we did have a very good discussion. We believe we can raise anything among our G-8 colleagues. I should also note that it's no secret that the United States and others have had concerns about how the transition is going in Russia. This is after all a new democratic transition in its own right. And we have raised those concerns on many occasions and we'll continue to raise them. They're raised in a spirit of respect for the Russian Federation, for how far this society and this country have indeed come. I was first in the Soviet Union in 1979. I assure that there have been massive changes in this country since that time and since the Russian Federation was born in 1991. But we won't hesitate to talk about our concerns about nongovernmental organizations or freedom of the press, and we do so in a spirit of candor and cooperation.

As to those who have called for the United States to boycott the G-8 process, we're clearly not boycotting it. I'm here and President Bush, of course, looks forward to coming to the St. Petersburg summit. But it is important when we do that, given the fact that the G-8 is an organization of industrial democracies, that we raise any concerns that we do have about democratic course.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Since Russia has been mentioned, I have to speak up, too. I have answered some of my counterparts' questions in connection with the South Ossetia, Trans-Dniester conflicts and the situation in Belarus. I supplied a sufficient number of facts that underlie our approach to all these issues. I hope that our colleagues have found this useful.

As regards to the situation in Russia, it has not been discussed at this meeting. But as our President said and other ranking officials, we are not shunning sincere discussions with our partners. Condoleezza Rice said that she first came to the Soviet Union in 1979 and she has noticed -- seen a change in the country. By not coincidence, I also first visited the USA in 1979 and I have been taking note of changes, many of which we strive to discuss with our American counterparts.

QUESTION: In an interview to the Kommersant newspaper you mentioned a criticism of the democratic process in Russia. The critics often forget the fact that Russia has accomplished a lot over the past few years. Can you level similar criticism against the United States that seem to fail to notice the importance of transformations in Russia?

FOREIGN MINISTER STEINMEIER: Secretary Rice has said in no uncertain terms that changes that took place during the period have been enormous. This does not mean to say that we would not discuss the necessity of change. These subjects will always be on our agenda and we'll pay considerable attention to these topics and we'll continue to do so.

QUESTION: I have a quick question to the Japanese Foreign Minister. Between China and Japan at this stage, there is -- there are certain frictions or tensions even in the relations. What are the possibilities of resolving them?

FOREIGN MINISTER ASO: On the 14th of March Wen Jiabao gave a press conference. On the 31st of March Hu Jintao, addressing Japanese organizations, delivered an address in which the position of the Chinese People's Republic vis-Ã -vis Japan was set out. At the end of March Li Zhaoxing in Doha, Qatar had a very useful meeting. You are all aware of these facts and the next meeting will take place in July. These are heartening developments so far as the relations between the two countries are concerned.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, it has become (inaudible) to say that Russia has resorted to energy blackmail against Europe. Maybe you have a clearer view of the situation from beyond the ocean. What is your view of this?

SECRETARY RICE: Let me repeat what I said: We will talk about any issue that concerns us.

Sergey, when did you go and where did you go in the United States in 1979 that you saw so much change? That's really interesting. (Laughter.) Oh, in New York. Now I understand. (Laughter.)

On the matter of energy, the open access to energy through market processes, particularly given the importance of energy markets to international growth, is an appropriate issue, particularly for the industrialized democracies, to discuss. Russia is an extremely important energy supplier and there have been concerns about what the rules of the game are in terms of reliable supply of energy, and that is a discussion that I think our heads of our state will have, I know that our political directors have had, that our sherpas -- the people who deal more with economic issues -- have had that discussion. It is perfectly appropriate for a big energy supplier like Russia to have a discussion with many who are indeed very dependent on reliable energy supply, of how that reliability of the supply is going to be maintained and that it is going to be maintained without reference to any political motive but rather to market forces that should drive energy markets.

And, you know, this is not just a concern that the United States has had. It is a concern that has been there in global markets and a concern that has been there from some of the partners. And I think you will find that the documents that are being worked on for the heads of state summit in St. Petersburg address this issue in a sober way and in a way that is aimed at trying to reassure that indeed there will be reliability of supply. But that there have been concerns on this matter, I think is well known and is incontrovertible and people will continue to want to discuss it.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: I have a few words since Russia has been mentioned. I'm fully in support of what Condoleezza Rice has said. We must abide by the common rules of the game and that are dictated by the market and this is 100 percent the stand of the Russian Federation. As over the past 40 years, we'll continue ensuring the reliable supplies. We want this to be well reciprocated by the stability of demand. We have a strong reputation of a firm supplier. We have not been in breach of our contracts, not by a gram, not by a cubic meter. We want this to be appreciated by our customers.

The energy security agenda has been initiated by Russia as one of the central items on the agenda of the summit. I am sure that it will be supported not by the Group of 7 but other countries of the world that are actors in an energy market. And there is time for one last question. There were no -- there were few ladies among the press.

QUESTION: Hello, Benjamin Cornell from Le Soir, the Belgium paper, and La Croix, the French paper. Did you talk about Chechnya during the meeting today and what is -- that's a question to each of us -- each of you. Do you share Russia position and strategy about Chechnya at the moment?

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: We have not discussed this and I give the floor now to my colleagues. But I cannot force them to speak, so one last question.

QUESTION: You represent the most powerful countries in the world or -- why your pressures are unable to obtain the release of the Israeli soldiers that have been kidnapped close to Gaza?

And the second question for Mrs. Rice, do you expect more soldiers, more efforts for Italy in Afghanistan or less soldiers for our missions? Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: All this is in the statement. We agree -- we are one in our demand -- I was listening English and the English was the language of the original, right?

SECRETARY RICE: I understand.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: As it may, we have a common position regarding the need to have this Israeli hostage released. I might add that Russia is one of the countries that are working towards this goal bilaterally.

SECRETARY RICE: To answer the Afghanistan portion, I was just in Afghanistan. I think it's important that we note what is going on in Afghanistan, first of all. Yes, there is some insecurity in the south, a push by the Taliban. But I believe that our military commanders are quite confident that we have the coalition and the Afghans have adequate force to deal with that situation. As you may know, NATO is in the process of redeploying, or deploying, to the south. In addition, there are Afghan forces that are deploying to that region as well.

There is a very carefully drawn plan that has been approved by NATO and is now being executed for what forces will go into that region and every reason to believe that it is more than adequate to the task. And so there will be some changes in the force deployments there over the next period of time, but it is a planned deployment of forces to that region.

FOREIGN MINISTER DOUSTE-BLAZY: I should also like to say a few words regarding Gaza. It is obvious that our position should be a balanced one. We must ask the Palestinians to return the soldier and the possibly other hostages. I must repeat that this soldier has dual citizenship. He is a French citizen and we are also demanding his release.

I am also satisfied with the text that we'll sign today as ministers of foreign affairs of these eight countries. There is also reference to the arrest of several members of government and members of parliament of Palestine. We thus show that violence used by either side will not lead to the stabilization.

SECRETARY RICE: Also, I'm sorry, I did not -- on the Gaza point. The diplomatic efforts are continuing for the release of this soldier and everyone is calling upon the Palestinian Government and Palestinian factions to indeed obtain the release of this soldier. And to the degree that there is other activity of this kind, it really must cease. I believe that you will see that responsible Palestinians are also engaged in efforts to get this soldier released and that's a very important point to make, as well as some regional actors that are engaged. And so there's a full-scale diplomatic effort that is continuing.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: All this and a lot more you'll find in the statement. You'll have it in a few moments.

In conclusion, I would like to sincerely thank my colleagues for cooperation in holding this meeting. We've done everything we could. Thank you for your attention. 2006/T17-8

Released on June 29, 2006


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