Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Department Of State
June 24, 2008 - 4:10pm

SECRETARY RICE: Good morning, everybody.

QUESTION: How are you?

SECRETARY RICE: Good. All right. I would like to begin by saying that I was deeply saddened to hear that Peter Mackler died. And he, of course, was with us on a number of trips, a truly good guy. And – yes, he was, and a great journalist. And I think, really, did a great service in organizing the foreign service – the foreign correspondence for the State Department. And so I hope you’ll pass on to everybody at the AFP how much we were deeply distressed to learn of his passing and we’ll remember him very fondly. Yeah. Thank you. And I’ll send a note to his family.

We are going to go first to Berlin for a conference that was an idea that Chancellor Merkel had and, in fact, announced in a press availability that she held with Prime Minister Olmert. It’s a really very good idea that follows on the course of several conferences that have been aimed at getting the Palestinians in a position for statehood by building their institutions. We had, of course, Annapolis, which launched that track, but then the conference in Paris, which was a very successful donor conference that was dedicated to the various aspects of the Palestinians’ own national development plan. They then held the Berlin – I’m sorry, the Bethlehem conference, which brought a number of private sector supporters to support Palestinian economic development.
And now this conference, which will look at the chain of prevention, not just the building of the Palestinian security forces, which is going along, I think, well. The forces continue to train in Jordan. Some of them have been deployed into Jenin and to Nablus and that will continue, but also to build the full range of security capabilities. So twelve police stations have opened in the West Bank. And this conference will also take on issues concerning the building of a justice system. So it’s not just the ability to carry out security operations, but the entire chain of being able to carry out the full range of justice and security. And so we’re very much looking forward to this meeting.

We’ll also – I’ll have a chance on the margins to talk to the Palestinians and to the Israelis. And of course, I will be able to attend a Quartet meeting that I’m sure will look at Annapolis and perhaps other tracks that are emerging in the Middle East toward peace. So I’m very much looking forward to this and I’m glad the Germans had this idea.

QUESTION: What is it that the United States is expecting out of this conference? I mean, the Germans are looking for some people – for some money from some countries. You guys aren’t doing that because you’ve done it already. But what is it that you think will emerge new from this conference?

SECRETARY RICE: I would think of this more as an effort to organize an effort on behalf of not just the security forces, which are, as you said, being funded by a number of countries. There is, for instance, a Euro-cops effort on the police.
But this is really about trying to find the technical expertise to help the Palestinians organize the other aspects of security. You really can’t have an effective security effort if you don’t have police stations, if you don’t have prisons, if you don’t have a court system that can be seen to be free and fair, but can also seen – be seen not to allow impunity when people are arrested. It’s very often been the case, and the Palestinians would be the first to admit it, that sometimes people are arrested and they don’t have the means in a fair and just way to try people or to – even to detain them for trial.
And so I see this more as an organizational effort and the European Union is in a perfect position through Germany to be a kind of focal point for the effort.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what you expect from the Quartet meeting? What’s the agenda there as far as you’re concerned?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the Quartet meeting – we’ll be able to review where we are in all of these tracks of Annapolis. But I think also, I would hope that given that – even though the Quartet maintains the Roadmap, which deals with Palestinian-Israeli issues, those issues, of course, are intersecting now with the efforts on the Israeli-Syrian track and intersecting with the need for the United Nations to – the United Nations Secretary General to complete his work on 1701 and the Lebanese track. And so I’m sure we’ll have a chance to discuss the intersection, but I hope we will not lose track, or not lose focus, on the Palestinian-Israeli piece, which is, of course, still the one that is most advanced.

QUESTION: Is it true you’re going to discuss Gaza at the Quartet meeting? And exactly what will you discuss?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I’m certain there will be an opportunity to discuss Gaza, where we hope that the calm will hold, but where there have also been some ideas on the table about how to make certain that the Palestinian Authority, which, after all, spends 58 percent of its budget in Gaza, is acknowledged as the legitimate governing authority for all Palestinians, no matter where they live. And so I’m sure we’ll have an opportunity to discuss how that works in relationship to crossings and so forth.

QUESTION: I want to ask about two separate issues. One, what are you doing now that Morgan Tsvangirai has pulled out of the election in Zimbabwe? Give us a sense of what you’ve been doing on that. And secondly, in an op-ed in The Washington Post today, Fred Hiatt wrote that the U.S. is considering opening an interests section in Tehran. Can you give some – you know, explain that a little bit?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, on the first issue, as you know, I held a meeting at the UN last week. I’ve also been in touch with Foreign Minister Zuma of South Africa over the weekend. The United Nation – the United States intends to introduce onto the Security Council agenda today the issue of Zimbabwe. I think you’re seeing growing concern in the international community and growing concern in Africa about the course of developments given the brutality of the Zimbabwean regime. It is, as a number of Africans have said – a number of African delegations said when we met on Thursday, it’s very difficult to imagine how that runoff would have been free and fair given the extremely high levels of intimidation, violence against the opposition, arresting people, calling them treasonists, et cetera. And we were distressed to learn that the MDC felt so unsafe and unprotected that it had to withdraw, but we certainly understand.

So when it’s introduced onto the Security Council agenda, we will have that discussion. I hope that we will bring greater international weight to bear behind the calls that are being made for the Zimbabwean authorities to find a way to bring a legitimate government to its people; clearly, a government that emerges out of elections in which the opposition can’t even participate would not be considered free and fair or legitimate. And so I think we have to – with these new developments over the weekend, it’s a very good thing that it’s on the Security Council agenda.

We obviously are very concerned about the continuing violence in Zimbabwe. And we will undoubtedly support and signal support for the mission of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General who’s trying – who’s in the region and is trying to work on these issues. So that’s the way forward in the short term, but we’re watching it very carefully. And I’m in – I also talked to David Miliband, by the way, on the weekend. We’ll see each other and have a chance to share notes.

I don’t want to comment on internal deliberations in the U.S. You know our policies toward Iran. The regime continues to isolate Iran and, therefore, isolate the Iranian people who should not be isolated. This is an old and respected civilization. These are people who deserve better. The United States has been, for some time, trying to reach out to the Iranian people in various ways. We do have the station in Dubai where they can get visas. But we know that it’s difficult for Iranians sometimes to get to Dubai. We want more Iranians visiting the United States. We want the efforts that we’ve engaged in to have Iranian artists in the United States, American sports people in Iran. We’re determined to find ways to reach out to the Iranian people.


QUESTION: Thank you. I have two questions on North Korea. First, we expect so much things will happen this week out of North Korea. But the Japanese people feel – some Japanese people feel some sort of disappointment because we don’t – we haven’t got any real progress on the abduction issue. We – you are ready for removing North Korea from the sponsors terrorist list. So my question is: How do you explain to Japanese people on U.S. intention and how will U.S. facilitate the progress on abduction issue from now?

And the second question is: Could you tell me about the timing of the ministerial meeting on the six-party talks?

SECRETARY RICE: There has been no ministerial meeting set at this point. We will see when it is appropriate to have a ministerial meeting for the six parties.
In terms of the ending of phase two of the denuclearization efforts vis-à-vis North Korea, we will see if North Korea, indeed, delivers to China, which is after all the chair of the denuclearization group, if they deliver to China a declaration that, as we’ve said, would have to be verifiable as complete and accurate. It would be an important step. The North Koreans – we also have to do a verification protocol with North Korea so that we could make certain that we did have the means to verify. And so we’ve not – the Chinese have not received that yet, and so it’s premature to judge what steps the United States and the other members of the six-party talks would take.

As to the abduction issue – or I should say, of course, if the declaration is there then the second phase does anticipate that the United States would, as a part of several actions that others – that states are taking, that the United States would, indeed – the President would notify the Congress of our intention to de-list. That takes then 45 days before it goes into effect, in which time we would continue to monitor and assess what North Korea’s doing to live up to its obligations.
Now, we’ve been very clear that the United States is not going to set aside or forget the Japanese abduction issue. Indeed, I think it’s fair to say that the bilateral talks that Japan and North Korea have had are in no small part due to the efforts of the United States to press North Korea on this issue.

And so I would hope that Japanese people would recognize that, that this was an issue that was going nowhere until the United States pressed the issue. In fact, it is my understanding that the North Koreans took some – I think they were described by Japan as small steps. And Japan, in return, took some steps. So we will see. But this issue is not going away. It’s not going away for Japan; it’s not going away for the United States and we’re going to continue to press North Korea to make certain that this issue is dealt with.

Japan is America’s – one of America’s strongest allies in Asia and we recognize the – I should say one of America’s strongest allies in the world – and we recognize the sensitivity of this issue. It is a deep humanitarian issue. It is a wounding issue that this kind of thing could have been allowed to happen. And the President has met with family members of the abducted. We have never – we’ve never made a statement in which we did not raise this issue publicly and privately. And so the Japanese people can be assured that it is an issue of extreme importance for the United States and we’re going to continue to press on this issue.

Thank you.

QUESTION: By the time we land – I guess this will be old news – the Security Council will have met already on Zimbabwe, or not met. But you said it was on the agenda. Do you – are you pretty sure, after your –

SECRETARY RICE: (Inaudible) we land at nine-thirty, so that’s six hours –

QUESTION: (Inaudible)


QUESTION: (Inaudible)

QUESTION: Four, right. But the South Africans have agreed to allow this on the agenda? Is that what –

SECRETARY RICE: The United States is determined it will be on the agenda. It means that we believe that it will be on the agenda.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017