Remarks After the United Nations Security Council Meeting on the Middle East Peace Process
(6:15 p.m. EST)
SECRETARY RICE: The P-5 just concluded, I think, an excellent session of the Security Council in which we discussed the situation in the Middle East and there was unanimous affirmation for a movement in the process of resolving differences between Israelis and Palestinians and also for making certain that Resolution 1701 from the Lebanon crisis this summer is fully implemented. There was a good deal of discussion about the importance of the roadmap. There was affirmation of the Quartet statement yesterday, some of the elements of the Quartet statement, in particular for instance the Quartet principles that a Palestinian government should follow so that it can reengage with the international community, and also an appeal to be able to deal with the difficult humanitarian situation that the Palestinian people are facing. All in all, I think it was a very good meeting, very , very positive spirit, and one that really did underscore the commitment of the members to peace but also an understanding that there’s a commitment on the part of President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert to peace.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, Iran says that it will negotiate a suspension if it gets a fair guarantee. What is your reaction to this?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I’ve not seen the full statement. The terms here are very clear. Iran has been told by the international community through a Security Council resolution that they should suspend, and if they suspend the negotiations can begin. It’s as simple as that. I don’t think we need any further conditionality. We need to have a suspension of enrichment and reprocessing and then we can move to full-fledged negotiations.
QUESTION: Do you see any indication that Iran may meet your new deadline that was agreed at dinner the other night?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, as you know, we’re not speaking in terms of a deadline. We are, as the six parties, committed to full implementation of Resolution 1695 so that we can – 1696, sorry, 95 was North Korea; it was a good week, we got two resolutions in one – 1696 so that we can either begin negotiations or go to the Security Council, and that was the outcome of that meeting. I don’t know whether the Iranians are going to comply or not. I certainly hope that they’re going to.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, the Palestinian people are suffering in spite of the mechanisms trying to help them. President Abbas, and surely you know he’s trying to form a unity government in order to help lift the – to get to the financial aid from the Americans and the Europeans. In the light of these efforts, in the light of the suffering of the Palestinian people, are you going to support his unity government? Are you going to recommend a lifting of sanctions on financial aid to the Palestinians?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we have welcomed his efforts to bring an end to the crisis through the formation of a unity government, but a unity government would need to reflect the Quartet principles because you can’t have peace unless you recognize the other partner for peace and renounce violence.
That said, we have been very supportive of President Abbas. We have been supportive of the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people through direct assistance to the Palestinians people for humanitarian needs. And we supported in the Quartet, of course, the expansion of the temporary international mechanism which could allow then for assistance to get to the Palestinian people for specific needs.
QUESTION: What incentives are you giving Hamas to – besides killing their leader or kidnapping their leader and killing their people? What incentive? You are putting more conditions on them now.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the incentive for Hamas should be to be able to live up to the promises that it made to the Palestinian people in the elections that they would have a better life. And clearly a better life is only going to be won on the basis of the roadmap, on the basis of a two-state solution, and that two-state solution can only be achieved if both parties are committed to peace.
QUESTION: What can you tell us about the deal that was reached today between Republican lawmakers and the White House and what your role was specifically?
SECRETARY RICE: I’ll have to refer you to the White House. I’ve been tied up all day.
Last question here.
QUESTION: Are you planning to visit the Middle East soon and how do you assess the Arab speech today?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I’m certainly going to visit the region. I don’t know specifically when. But as you know, the President directed me to work with leaders in the region, moderate leaders in the region, and also to assist the parties to the degree that we can to resolve outstanding differences between them.
We really want to see the conditions created where we can have acceleration of work on the roadmap, where we can return to the access and movement agreement that was negotiated so that economic life can return to the Palestinian territories. We hope that there will be an effort to release the captured Israeli soldiers so that progress – so that the atmosphere can be created, but I expect to go to the region fairly soon but I don’t have a date for you.
Thank you very much.