Secretary Rice, On-the-record Briefing, Israel
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Tel Aviv, Israel
November 3, 2007
QUESTION: Do you feel like you've gotten the commitment, a firm commitment and one that the Turks have confidence in, that there are actually going to be actions, specific actions, taken on the border?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we clearly are going to have to take action to deal with the PKK threat. Now, the conversation has really been about how you can take effective action because you don't want to just do something that is just for the purposes of, kind of lashing out or whatever. You know, you want -- you really want to do this in a way that is going to be effective.
And I think that the Turks understand that. They are understandably concerned about the continuing terrorist attacks. They're understandably concerned that it doesn't appear that anyone has been able to stop the PKK. But I do think we made very clear our commitment that we really do consider this a problem for us as well, and that therefore we're going to have to find a way to resolve it. And we're working also on what steps the Iraqis might be able to take.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, on Pakistan, did President Musharraf give you or the President any indication whatsoever that he was actually going to make this move? And if so, did he address the issue of quick elections, which you addressed in your statement?
SECRETARY RICE: First of all, we've had multiple discussions with the Pakistani leadership, including with President Musharraf. I'm not going to get into details about discussions except to say that we made very clear that extra-constitutional means wouldn't be supported by the United States, and that we were expecting fulfillment of the promise for free and fair elections as soon as possible, and for getting back on a democratic path as quickly as possible.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) did he give any indication whatsoever that this was going to take place?
SECRETARY RICE: I don't want to get into the details of what we talked about.
QUESTION: When you say expecting fulfillment, you mean if something like this happens, quickly afterwards?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, even if something happens, that we would expect the democratic elections to take place. Because Pakistan has got to return to a constitutional order as quickly as possible, and Pakistanis have to have a prospect of free and fair elections.
QUESTION: In other words, just to clarify, you said it was clear that they were thinking of this; and you said, well, we don't want you to do this, but if you do, we want to make sure it doesn't last very long?
SECRETARY RICE: I'm not going to characterize how the conversations went, but we were clear that we did not support it. We were clear that we didn't support it because it would take Pakistan away from a path of civilian rule, the democratic path -- by the way, a path that President Musharraf himself has done a lot to prepare, and that it was absolutely essential that those elections be held.
QUESTION: When was the last time you talked to President Musharraf?
SECRETARY RICE: Recently. First of all, the Ambassador has talked to him very recently, but I -- a couple days ago.
QUESTION: Back on Turkey and the PKK?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
QUESTION: Did you make the case directly to your Turkish counterpart in today's three-way that a cross-border invasion of any sort is a bad idea?
SECRETARY RICE: You know, we have met several times and sent both a public and private message that anything that would just make northern Iraq unstable is not going to serve our longer-term interests here or our broader interests. And so rather than talking so much about the speculation about what Turkey may or may not do, we really did talk to the Turks about spending some time trying to develop a comprehensive approach to the PKK.
The problem is that, you know, we've learned this the hard way. When you have terrorists burrowed into villages or towns or operating in remote locations, the term "actionable," it follows, doesn't really have meaning, a meaning. And so we've talked a lot about how we can better share information.
I understand that they are looking to act. So are we. But we would like to act in a way that fulfills two conditions: first of all, that's going to have an effect on the PKK; and secondly, that it's not going to contribute to destabilization in the north.
QUESTION: I just wondered if -- you know, they're in that -- you know, everybody who matters in the room at the same time, whether you basically, like, said, you know, okay, don't do it or --
SECRETARY RICE: I've said all I'm going to say about that.
QUESTION: And you think military action on the U.S. part would not be effective?
SECRETARY RICE: I think that you need to be very careful about how you think about effective action, because we've learned that when terrorists are burrowed into a village or when they are, you know, operating remotely, that you have to have very well-planned ways of disrupting them, well-planned ways of preventing their movement. And so that's the goal here.
QUESTION: In your conversation with the Foreign Minister today, did you speak to him quite firmly about Lebanon and what you think Syria should be doing?
SECRETARY RICE: I spoke to him quite firmly about Lebanon. I made very clear that everybody was watching, that it was expected that Syria was going to adhere to its international obligations not to interfere, to allow Lebanon to continue to have a constitutional process for the election of a -- election of a president, and that it was also the expectation of everyone that there would be no intimidation and, as I said, interference.
And by the way, we then met the group -- which was Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the United States, France and the Arab League -- and we prepared a statement that says essentially what I just said to you. That statement will be releasable pretty soon. We'd like to deliver -- it's going to be delivered to the Syrians on behalf of all of us. We had hoped that the Syrians were still around; we would have liked to have delivered it in person.
QUESTION: Tonight you go to Jerusalem. What do you expect from this visit? Do you expect to reach an agreement on a document, a joint document?
SECRETARY RICE: No, I don't expect to reach an agreement on the document. They're still working. And like with anything of this kind, you know, they're going through some knotty discussions. And I think those knotty discussions are going to continue for a while, but I will go out and see if there is anything that I can do to help move this along. But no, I absolutely don't expect that there will be agreement on a document.
QUESTION: Will you go back before the conference?
SECRETARY RICE: Conceivably. But I don't know that it it'll be necessary. They're working. They're working a lot. I just want to help make sure that they're working in a straight line ahead.
QUESTION: Do you see these as intractable sort of problems that they have, or do you think that these are things that they could work to? And what are they?
SECRETARY RICE: (Laughter.) Nice try. I do think that these are issues that they can work through. But I want to remind everybody that we're also being very clear that the document is important, that Annapolis is important, but there's also going to have to be a day after. So how they go into this meeting in terms of confidence building, in terms of having worked to just let the world know that they have an understanding that it's time to move forward, I think that's really the importance of what they're doing now.