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Rice & Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay

Remarks With Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
December 21, 2006

(1:50 p.m. EST)

SECRETARY RICE: Good afternoon. I'm pleased to welcome my colleague, the Foreign Minister of Canada, Peter MacKay. Peter, welcome. We've had an extensive discussion this afternoon of a number of issues on the bilateral agenda. Of course, because Canada and the United States share a long border, share extensive trade, share extensive movement of people and indeed share a friendship and a border that's quite unlike any other in the world, we have a lot of issues but they are, of course, issues of neighbors and we've been talking about those.

We, of course, also share a global agenda and we are just delighted to have -- and very grateful to have a friend like Canada, a friend with which we, of course, share values, but with which we are also now sharing many of the duties and responsibilities of the global struggle in the war on terrorism. I particularly want to note the sacrifice of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, a sacrifice that has been noted for its bravery and for its courage, because the Canadian forces have been stalwart fighters in the war to defeat those who would try and undo the progress that has been made by the young democratic government of Afghanistan.

Peter, I know that for the people of Canada these sacrifices are mourned one by one. I want you to know, too, that in the United States these soldiers are remembered.

We had an extensive discussion of Afghanistan, of NATO's responsibilities there, as well as a number of other issues around the world. But I'm very glad, Peter, that you took the time to come down just here before the holidays so that we could spend some time on this very broad agenda. Thanks very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER MACKAY: Thank you very much, Secretary Rice. And as you've stated, we share not only a common border but we share a common cause in the promotion of democracy and human rights not only in our own countries but around the globe. And we've been very fortunate to have been able to forge a very close working relationship over the years. Our two countries have worked very closely on so many important matters.

The discussions today and the bilateral issues that we touched upon are of importance and significance and by your willingness to greet us here today, and your officials have been very gracious and you yourself always have been very inviting when it came to these discussions, so I appreciate that a great deal. I know the Prime Minister and the President of the United States have also had important discussions of late on these matters of common interest.

And when it comes to the ongoing challenges in Afghanistan, again, I appreciate how forthright you've been and how respectful you've been in expressing the appreciation of the United States of America to Canada. We continue to hope that we will see greater progress in the stability and elevation of the people of Afghanistan to the point where they will be able to walk on their own with our assistance.

And so again, the progress that was made today I know will only continue, and I would take this opportunity to express again our season's greetings and our great thanks. I know we'll continue to work into the new year on these important bilateral and international matters as well.


MR. MCCORMACK: We have time for a few questions. NBC.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you. On Iran, do you support the latest UN draft resolution that drops the mandatory travel ban? And will there be a vote at the UN tomorrow with Russian support?

SECRETARY RICE: We are very supportive of the European Union draft. There are some changes that are still to be made to that draft, even though it is in so-called blue, and we're working on that draft. We are going to support a resolution that is a Chapter 7 resolution and that is strong in showing Iran that the international community is not going to tolerate its defiance of the international community's desires and the international community's demands which were stated some time ago.

I think it's been no secret that we would have preferred to have had this happen earlier. Had we been the lone drafters of the resolution, of course, there might have been other things in it. But I am quite satisfied and quite certain that the resolution that will be adopted will be one that both says to Iran, you cannot defy the international community, and imposes penalties on Iran for that defiance.

I just want to underscore a Chapter 7 resolution puts Iran in some very unwelcome company in terms of the international community, in terms of the decisions that people will make about Iran as a partner in the international economy. And that, more than anything, is the importance of this resolution.

QUESTION: Do you have the Russians' support, Madame Secretary?

SECRETARY RICE: I will -- am not following the moment to moment discussions in New York, but since I believe and have heard from the Russians that they want to stop the Iranians from acquiring technologies that could lead to a nuclear weapon and I've heard from the Russians that they're concerned about Iran's continued defiance of the Security Council, continued defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency, that Russia will support a resolution that says to Iran that defiance is not acceptable.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.) Sorry for the confusion.

SECRETARY RICE: That's all right.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary and Minister, the Canadian Government, as you know, Madame Secretary, has cleared Maher Arar of any wrongdoing, any charges. It made representations to your Department to have his name cleaned from the files. Your Department, however, has said that it was a very deliberate decision taken on behalf of the State Department to keep him on a watch list and as a person non grata to enter the United States.

What information do you have that Canada doesn't have about Maher Arar and have you shared that information with Minister MacKay?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Minister MacKay brought this question up of Mr. Arar. We obviously value our counterterrorism cooperation with Canada and our information sharing and we value the accuracy of anything that we do. This is a case that we have discussed. And what is more, I've said to Peter that I have asked Mike Chertoff, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary and the Justice Department to examine this and to get back to me so that we can share anything further. I think our Interior, our Homeland Security secretaries are also in touch. But I talked with Mike Chertoff about this just this morning and he said that he would examine this and he will be back to us.

FOREIGN MINISTER MACKAY: On the subject as Secretary Rice has said, we discussed Canada's position on this where there has been a finding by a judicial inquiry. Justice O'Connor's report exonerated Maher Arar. As a result of that information, we acted upon all 23 recommendations. But most importantly with respect to the watch list in Canada, Mr. Arar, his family members, certainly removed from that list; there are no restrictions on his travel in Canada. We've made that very clear to our colleagues.

Secretary Chertoff has also had communications with our Public Security Minister Stockwell Day on the subject. I've spoken about it today, raised the issue, in fact wrote to Secretary Rice and also had our Ambassador deliver a copy of the report. So there's clarity as to Canada's position and the findings with respect to Mr. Arar. We've removed him from our watch list. We've urged the United States to take the same steps. And I was grateful to hear today that the subject will be re-examined by the State Department and Homeland Security.

(In French.)

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, on North Korea, have the financial issues and the BDA designation proven to be an insurmountable stumbling block to making progress in the six-party talks this week?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we've been very clear that these are two separate issues. The BDA issue arises out of investigation of illicit North Korean activities. The North Koreans asked for and have -- we have granted a working group that will examine these issues. The working group, I think, met twice in Beijing. It's likely to meet again in January. And that's the appropriate track for the examination of issues that are related to Banco Delta Asia.

In terms of the six-party talks, those talks, of course, are related to the agreement that the parties signed in September of 2005 which lays out a very clear set of responsibilities and obligations that should be undertaken, and that is what is being negotiated by Ambassador Hill in Beijing. I have said before that it will undoubtedly -- these are difficult issues -- it will take some time. But I understand -- I see fully that the other countries are very devoted to getting an outcome that is concrete for the six-party talks. No one wants to simply have talks for the sake of talks again. As a matter of fact, when Peter and I were last together in Hanoi, we had a breakfast with all of the ministers there for APEC, and around the table there was a very clear message to those of us who were engaged in the six-party talks to have six-party talks that produced results. Now, diplomacy sometimes takes time, but we should not be diverted somehow by an issue that is clearly in another lane and is clearly being dealt with in a way that the North Koreans themselves asked that it be dealt with. We cannot be diverted from what we need to do in the six-party talks, which is to have the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, the Prime Minister of Canada said quite flatly this week that you're wrong about Maher Arar, that this is no way to treat a Canadian citizen, especially a neighbor where the ties and the antiterrorism struggle is so close. What do you say to him and what do you say to Maher Arar himself? How do you explain how he's been treated?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I would say what I've said to Foreign Minister MacKay, which is that the United States values its counterterrorism cooperation and we value accuracy in cases. But we do have our own processes as well. Canada has its processes. The United States has its processes. That is in the nature of these things.

Our process includes a consultation between the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security about who is listed on what lists. I think it needs to be understood that in the post-September 11th circumstances, we are determined to protect our borders. We're determined to protect the American people on all our borders. We are -- we've been very pleased to receive the information that the Canadian Government has provided. It will, of course, be looked at.

And as I said, just this morning I talked with Secretary Chertoff, who said that he would personally review the information that we have as well as the information that Canada has given us. But I think you do have to understand that the United States has to follow its own processes and has to come to its own conclusion and to its own satisfaction about the nature of these cases.

Thank you.


QUESTION: Madame Secretary, happy holidays.

SECRETARY RICE: Happy holidays, everybody.


Released on December 21, 2006


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