G-8 Ministerial Press Conference With For. Min Graham, For. Min Barnier, For. Min. Frattini, For. Min Yoriko Kawaguchi, For. Min. Lavrov, For. Min. Straw, For. Min. Cowen, High Rep. Solana, Commissioner Patten, and Secretary Powell
SECRETARY POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Let me begin by apologizing for the absence of our colleague Joschka Fischer, the Vice Chancellor of Germany and Foreign Minister who had to catch a plane and our conversations got so long and intense that we ran out of time and he had to rush right for the airport. But he did wish that I extend his apologies to you.
In preparation for the June 8th to 10th G-8 Summit at Sea Island, Georgia, I had the pleasure today to meet today with the Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom, as well as our European Union colleagues.
This morning at the White House, the ministers met with President Bush, and he spoke of the importance he places on the G-8 process and of his commitment to achieving a substantive outcome from the Summit meeting at Sea Island.
Here at the State Department, my G-8 colleagues and I have held very constructive discussions in the course of the morning and afternoon on how we can best meet our shared responsibility to build a freer, safer and more prosperous world. Together, we agreed on a positive agenda to overcome threats of conflict, terrorism, instability and to build new relationships with other nations, especially in the Middle East, based on reform and the pursuit of peace.
We expressed our common support for aspirations in the region for freedom, for democracy and for prosperity. We discussed how to advance at the Sea Island Summit an initiative to work in partnership with governments, businesses and civil society in the Middle East to assist political, economic and social reform through existing and new assistance programs. All of us agreed that a successful partnership must acknowledge local conditions and the unique nature of each of the countries we will be engaging in. Ultimately, change will depend on the countries of the region themselves. Change cannot be imposed from the outside. And we look forward to speaking to the nations of the region and part of my trip to the Middle East this weekend at the World Economic Forum will be for the purpose of meeting with Arab foreign ministers on the reform effort.
We also agreed that the G-8 nations must work to achieve a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. We recognized that progress on reform and resolution of critical issues of security and stability are mutually reinforcing. And we agreed that our efforts to support regional reform must go forward, even as efforts to resolve security and stability issues continue. We reaffirmed our strong support to the vision of two states living side by side in peace and security: Israel and Palestine, and to the work of the Quartet and its roadmap as being the best path to peace.