Remarks With Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado After Their Meeting
FOREIGN MINISTER AMADO: (Via interpreter.) A very good afternoon to you all, ladies and gentlemen of the press. It is a particular pleasure for me to welcome the American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the occasion of her first official visit to Portugal. We exchanged thoughts and points of views on our bilateral relations, but particularly in the light of the role we now play as presidency in office of the European Union exchanging views on the main topics of the common agenda between the European Union and the United States of America concerning matters of international import. The main subject matter is, of course, related to the fact that on this very day the Quartet will meet in Lisbon for the first time with the presence of the Special Envoy Tony Blair, appointed to (inaudible) in connection with the situation in the Middle East.
The fact that this Quartet meeting also will take place after an important statement made by President Bush on the American Government's view vis-à-vis the Middle East peace process, of course, we exchanged points of view and ideas on the Kosovo situation and the way in which both the European Union and the United States envisage their immediate cooperation, with a view to looking for a definitive solution for Kosovo as well as the stabilization of the Western Balkans, a situation which from the very beginning has been the center of a very close cooperation between the United States and Europe, namely in the context of the Atlantic Alliance. …
SECRETARY RICE: …
I look very much forward tonight to the Quartet meeting that you have arranged and want to thank Portugal for hosting that meeting. And it will be a very good meeting because I think we do have a kind of momentum now in the Middle East issue. …
QUESTION: This is for Foreign Minister Amado. In the light of the Quartet meeting today, do you think that in the — do you think that the time has come to deal with Hamas if this would push the peace process forward? And Madame Secretary, do you think that your policy of total isolation of Hamas has worked?
FOREIGN MINISTER AMADO: Well, I would just like to say on this particular issue that we need certainly to deal with the Palestinian camp. But now we are dealing with the President Abbas and we know we have a lot of work to do to achieve state capacity on the Palestinian camp. As you know, we have decided at the European Union Council last month that we would support strongly President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. So this is our position. We have no other position at the moment than cooperate strictly with President Abbas. And you know, there was a division in the Palestinian camp, a dramatic division, provoked by Hamas. I see no conditions at the moment to engage a new relation with Hamas without a new position from them.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes. And let me just add that it is Hamas that has isolated itself by being outside a set of international norms, concerning the desire for a two-state solution, concerning the renunciation of violence, concerning the acceptance of agreements that Palestinian leaders signed on to over the last decade and the acknowledgement of the right of Israel to exist.
Let me be very clear, no one is saying the recognition of Israel. But when you can't even acknowledge the right of your partner to exist, it's going be very hard to have peace talks. And just to underscore what the Minister has said, we have a very good partner in Mahmoud Abbas who, after all, is the elected President of the Palestinian people. He was elected by the Palestinian people by something around 64, 65 percent of the vote. And he is also the chairman of the PLO who has the negotiating authority on behalf of the Palestinian people. And so it makes very good sense to work with him. And Hamas, I think, knows what is expected for international respectability.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) from Portuguese News Agency, (inaudible). I'd like to ask Secretary Rice if you could tell us when President Bush announced the meeting, international meeting on Middle East, we spoke about some Arab countries that could take part in that meeting. Which are those countries? Thank you.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the President left open the invitation, so to speak, for the conference because there's a lot of work to do. But it is clear that if you're going to have an international conference to support the Palestinians and the Israelis in their effort to get to a two-state solution, that you would want participants in the conference, the meeting, to be in fact devoted to the two-state solution. And that means the acceptance of international agreements that have all — that, in part, formed the foundation for the two-state solution.
We think that there are many elements that will be helpful here. The Arab Peace Initiative which was reissued this year in Riyadh has some very positive elements as well that could help to form the foundation of what is discussed at that meeting. And I would hope, therefore, that this would attract countries that are prepared to really move forward. But the real key is that this cannot be a meeting in which people have particular agendas. It has to be a meeting in which people are there to support Israelis and Palestinians in their agenda, which is to get to a two-state solution. Thank you.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.