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Powell Remarks En Route to Rabat

Remarks En Route to Rabat

Secretary Colin L. Powell
En Route Rabat, Morocco
December 10, 2004

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm looking forward to this first Forum for the Future meeting in Morocco and I'm very pleased that the Moroccans are willing to host this and I'm pleased at the turnout that will be there. As you recall we had sort of the warm up for this in New York at the tail end of UNGA in September. And I was very encouraged then that there was a realization among the nations of the region that will be participating and the G-8 industrialized nations and other nations participating, and that there was a real demand for this kind of activity. I think it's well understood now that what we have in mind is finding ways to help the nations of the Broader Middle East and North Africa find their way along the path of reform reform as they determine reform to be for the needs of their nation.

A lot of work has been done with the Arab development reports with the Cairo (inaudible) conference in Cairo sometime back. And so this is really generated as much by the nations of the region who want to move out and want the help of the industrialized world. And the G-8 responded to this at Sea Island by saying they would help and this is the first formal Forum for the Future. Co-chaired by Morocco and the United States, Secretary Snow will be joining me tomorrow at the opening session. There will be presentations from the business community. There will be a focus on economic reform. There will be a focus on educational reform and civil society reform and how to grow civil society as an essential component of a reform agenda. And, of course, there'll be discussions on political reform, because all parts of this agenda are complimentary. Political and economic reform have to go hand-in-hand if not at the same pace. Some countries are ready to deal with economic reform before political reform. Other countries are more prepared to move with political reform and the economic reform will catch up.

The general point here is that each country has to design the pace at which it will move. Will we give encouragement to these efforts? Certainly. Will we provide resources? Yes. The Middle East Partnership Initiative is part of that effort and so I think this is an exciting, long-term initiative that really gets its kickoff tomorrow. I think it is going to be something that will gain momentum as we go further. We'll be announcing a couple of facilities that will be setup in Bahrain and Morocco with respect to entrepreneurship training. There will be meetings on dialogue about democracy. There will be another meeting that deals with literacy and the requirements for people in the region to reach the right standards of literacy and education to participate in a 21st century world. So, I'm pretty excited about this and looking forward to it at the beginning of intense and sustained engagement with the nations of the region on the subject of reform and modernization. That's the opening statement, you've got fact sheets on it, so I'll take whatever couple of questions you've got.

QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit about the resources, what kinds of money is going to be put it, where it's going to come from, what it's going to go to?

SECRETARY POWELL: Richard will get you the specific numbers or will get a briefing for you when we arrive from Al Larson and Bill Burns and company.

QUESTION: When we arrive?

SECRETARY POWELL: You ask, you get. But you're familiar with the Middle East Partnership Initiative and the monies that are associated with that. There are a variety of pockets of money, but I don't have all the numbers in mind at the moment.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you talked about political and economic reform and other reforms being complementary to each other, but some of these countries including Iran hope to kind of replicate almost a Chinese model, and that is to provide a better standard of living for their people so that they don't necessarily have to reform politically so fast. Are you worried about that? Egypt as well.

SECRETARY POWELL: There are many models. Chile had a model of economic reform before it really got the political reform. China has done a great deal of economic reforming, but I would submit that they've also done quite a bit politically over the last 20 years. They're not, certainly, in the model of American political systems, or Western political systems, but they are doing things now politically that you couldn't have imagined 10 or 15 years ago. And so, it's each one of these countries will have to determine how much their political system can take with respect to political reform at the same time they're doing economic reform. We have experience in these matters. I know a great deal about the Chinese experience, the Chilean experience. So do my colleagues and I think we can help them shape a program.

Some countries are further along in political reform and are prepared to do more than other countries. I don't want to single them out now. We'll talk about this tomorrow, but you know who they are well as I do. And so, each one will have to design their own model, design their own pace and that's what we're there to help them to do and to give them political support as well as financial assistance. The G-8 is certainly terribly interested in this and I'm pleased about that.

QUESTION: Among Arab countries, will Syria, Iran, the Palestians, Libya, will they all be there? Are there absentees that you'd like to point out?

SECRETARY POWELL: The Moroccans were the chair and the inviter and they invited all of the countries that you mentioned. The exact attendance list we'll have Richard get it to you as soon as I'm finished.

QUESTION: Two very brief things. One of the countries that they didn't invite, in fact the only country that they didn't invite from this region is the only democracy, well with the exception of Turkey maybe, the only real democracy in the region of the Broader Middle East, North Africa is Israel. Do you have anything to say about that?

And the second thing is, what exactly are the Italians, Turks, and Yemenis doing in this dad, or the Democracy Assistance Dialogue? What exactly are they doing? Are you guys happy with what it is? Have they done enough?

SECRETARY POWELL: Israel and Sudan are not expected to be there. Practical issues with respect to getting the kind of attendance that we thought would be a good way to start the Forum for the Future and I hope in due course as the forum grows and its scope grows that it will become more and more inclusive of the entire region. With respect to dialogue about democracy, let's wait and see what the dialogue looks like tomorrow before I speculate on what might be discussed and what people are bringing to the table.

QUESTION: What are you, what would you consider a success? Is it just getting these people around the table or do you need more, to achieve more, to come away a success?

SECRETARY POWELL: Certainly, from where we were earlier in the year when the idea for this sort of exploded on the world stage and there was a great deal of unease about it and it looked like America once again, in the eyes of some anyway, dictating to the world. We have progressed to the point where this rather disparate group of nations can come around the table and talk about this issue. I think that makes it a success. But there will be deliverables of the kind you saw in the fact sheet that we put out and they will be launching literacy initiatives, dialogues, entrepreneurship centers and a variety of other follow-up meetings that will be held and have been already scheduled, as you know, a second Forum for the Future for next year.

So, I think we'll see some initiatives come out tomorrow and we can call that a success. But the very fact that we have gone from where we started in the spring of this year to where we are now shows that there is a desire for this kind of cooperation between the industrialized nations and the broader Middle East and North Africa. I consider that a success in and of itself. And we'll see what the parties talk about tomorrow and what the concluding statement from the chair says about the achievements of tomorrow and what comes next.

Oh, okay, alright.

QUESTION: It has been expressed in the region that progress really cannot be made on the political reform unless progress is made on the Arab-Israeli conflict. In that context, the Israelis under their current plan

SECRETARY POWELL: Let's make it fast, I have an important call to take.

QUESTION: Should the international community ask the Israelis when they leave Gaza not to destroy the settlement homes, since that would conflict with electricity and what have you?

SECRETARY POWELL: Let me stick to the subject. We can talk about that at another time. The issue really is, the basic question is, can there be progress on reform as long as the Middle East Peace Process is not moving as people would like to see. The answer is: of course there could be. We can't keep pointing to the Middle East Peace Process as the reason we don't undertake reform efforts that are needed by these nations and as these nations have identified for themselves. The very fact that they are coming tomorrow to talk about these issues and so many nations are moving down a correct path, suggests to me that they understand that as much as we would all like to see progress in the Middle East Peace Plan they also know that they can't wait for that solution to occur and not move forward.

I think that the fact we're able to assemble this kind of a group to talk with the G-8 and the industrialized world suggests that there is a desire on the part of these nations for reform and modernization, and a willingness on their part to talk to us and work with us and allow us to assist them as they design their reform efforts. That is a significant achievement and that, I think, is the most significant outcome. That we're talking about reform and modernization: political, economic, educational, civil society, in a way that we have not discussed before, and we're bringing in the Barcelona process, the Mediterranean dialogue, NATO is going to have a piece of this as you heard yesterday. And that, I think that is quite an achievement. With respect to what the Israelis do to settlements, we'll just have to wait and see how that turns out. I don't have any comment on it.

Thank you.



Released on December 11, 2004

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