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Rice With Icelandic PM Geir Haarde At Signing

Remarks With Icelandic Prime Minister Geir Haarde At Signing Ceremony


Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
October 11, 2006


SECRETARY RICE: Good morning. I am very pleased to welcome Prime Minister Haarde, Minister Sverrisdttir and Minister Bjarnason and other distinguished guests from the delegation of Ireland -- from Iceland. I see also that the Ambassador is here, and I thank you very much for being here. I thank you very much for traveling to Washington.

Today we take comfort in knowing that the threat of military attack against Iceland and the North Atlantic area is lower than at any time in our generation. The Cold War rivalries that provided the basis for our common defense have been relegated to the books of history. And at the same time, we realize that new threats have emerged that require similar resolve and vision and cooperation. And we're adjusting to this new reality with a transformation of the U.S.-Icelandic relationship, a security relationship that has been very important to us in the past. And in the past year, we've launched some swift and positive changes to make certain that it will be just as important to us in the future.

These are changes that represent not a lessening of security for Iceland but a strengthening of our combined capability to deal with today's global threats. The constructive approach that we've navigated through these changes has helped to ensure that the people of Iceland will have the best possible protection against whatever threat may emerge, whether it crime or terror a natural disaster or other problems. And I'm going to have the pleasure in a moment of signing with the Prime Minister a joint understanding that reflects this advance of our long and close alliance into this new and hopeful century.

I also want to note that the Prime Minister has and the Foreign Minister had invited me to Iceland, and I've said that I would very much like to come. So I see some members of my traveling press corps here. Get ready. I think we will hopefully go soon to Iceland. So thank you very much, Prime Minister. Welcome.

PRIME MINISTER HAARDE: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. Thank you all. I'd like to express my gratitude for the conclusion of these discussions that we've now had for several months. It's been a long and arduous process, and I think we've come to a very satisfactory conclusion which I hope will be to the benefit of both countries for years to come. I'm sure you all know that the defense relationship between Iceland and the United States goes back many years, in fact, all the way back to World War II, that we have a defense agreement, a formal agreement dating back from 1951, and this agreement will continue to be the foundation of our relationship and cooperation in the area of security and defense. And the new joint understanding that we are now about to sign broadens and deepens in several areas this relationship, but the basic change, of course, is that there will be no permanent stationing of U.S. forces in Iceland.

We have tried to build a new framework taking into account this fact and making sure that we can provide for our own security, that we can provide access for the United States in case of need, and also other NATO allies should circumstances arise. And furthermore in this joint understanding we undertake to cooperate in areas of international crime, border control, counterterrorism measures, police work, Coast Guard activity and so on like the Secretary stated.

So we are very pleased with all of this. The Foreign Minister is here with me to conclude this agreement. The Minister of Justice, who has responsibility for police and the coast guard in Iceland, is also here to underline the importance that we attach to this agreement.

So once again, Madame Secretary, thank you very much. I'd like to thank your team also for their hard work. I hope this is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. All right, I think we'll go over and sign.

(The agreement was signed.)

(Applause.)

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, do you have any comment on the P-5+1 conference call this morning? Do you have a list of sanctions drawn up now?

SECRETARY RICE: I don't have a comment on the call this morning.

QUESTION: Thank you.

2006/913

Released on October 11, 2006

ENDS


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