Brussels, 20 April, 2004
Remarks to the press by
Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the CFSP,
and Colin Powell, US Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State, Washington D.C., 20 April, 2004
The following remarks were made this morning (09.30 a.m., local time in Washington D.C.) at the end of the meeting between Javier SOLANA, European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and U.S. Secretary of State, Colin POWELL.
COLIN POWELL: Good morning. I just had a good conversation with High Representative Solana of the European Union. We discussed a variety of issues. We are both looking forward to a Quartet meeting in the not too distant future, as soon as we get all of our schedules arranged, to go over the situation in the Middle East and to have an opportunity to discuss recent actions. I reaffirmed to the High Representative that the President's position on the Middle East Peace Process is unchanged. He is committed to the roadmap and to a Palestinian state being brought into being, that lives in peace with its neighbour, Israel. He is committed to the proposition that all final settlement issues have to be resolved between the two parties, mutually agreed upon between the two parties, taking into account the realities that exist in the area. And I look forward to continuing my consultations with the High Representative and the other members of the Quartet.
Mr. High Representative, it is always a pleasure to have you here with us, and I ask you to say a word.
JAVIER SOLANA: …
Let me also say that we discussed the Middle East Peace Process, the latest meeting of President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon, its consequences and how we see the withdrawal from Gaza. We look forward to the meeting of the Quartet, which is going to take place at the beginning of May, a meeting in which we would very much like to give an impulse to continue to create the conditions for a better situation in the Middle East. We would like to get the European Union engaged in the withdrawal from Gaza and in the future stability of Gaza.
I want to thank the Secretary of State for a wonderful discussion this morning. In the coming days and the coming weeks, we are going to be together on several occasions, so, as always, thank you very much, Colin.
QUESTION: This is for both the Secretary of State and Mr. Solana. With the Jordanian King postponing his visit, a very strong statement yesterday from Jordan, Nabil Shaath also cancelling his visit, how are you going to get over the perception in the region that the U.S. is completely siding with Israel on a final settlement? Now Israel just announced that it will be investing and expanding in the settlements, further emphasising that perception. Thank you.
COLIN POWELL: I spoke to King Abdallah twice yesterday and he has postponed his visit, but we look forward to welcoming him back in early May, and the date is being worked out now. So it is a postponement. He wanted to go back and consult with members of his government, but we value his friendship and we look forward to his return. And the concerns that he has, I'm sure that we can address. The concerns that others have expressed, I think we can address. The fact of the matter is the President is absolutely committed to his June 24th, 2002, speech: the creation of a Palestinian state. That is our commitment. We have not stepped away from that.
But we have to face the realities on the ground, and what we have to take a look at is not just the disappointment of the moment, but the fact that, for the first time in decades, that which has been asked for is going to happen: the removal of settlements from Gaza, some from the West Bank. And that is the beginning of a process.
The President has stated repeatedly that as the process goes forward, it has to be consistent with the roadmap and all final settlement issues have to be mutually agreed upon by the parties. But, you know, for years we have been trying to move forward while ignoring the realities on the ground. And we decided it was time to explicitly talk about these current realities on the ground and use that as a way to go forward, not a way to go backwards.
JAVIER SOLANA: I would like to say three things, very briefly. Firstly, it is fundamental that we continue to say that the final arrangements correspond to the negotiation of the parties. The final status negotiation belongs to them, and it is very important that we keep on saying that.
Secondly, it is very important that the Quartet meets, and that is going to take place, and analyse the situation and then give a push in that direction.
And thirdly, it is very important that we get the withdrawal from Gaza done in an appropriate manner. The European Union is ready to co-operate on that.
I think that if we put the three things together, the insistence on the final status negotiations, on the roadmap and the Quartet meeting, as well as the withdrawal from Gaza, we may get the momentum which is needed to move the process forward.
QUESTION: How could you say that the U.S. position has not changed when you, the President, this Administration, are publicly taking the Israeli position on settlements? We are not talking about Gaza. Nobody is disagreeing with Gaza. The problem is the West Bank and East Jerusalem. There are four major settlements that house over 100,000 Israeli settlers, and the U.S. position is pro-Israel on that and the right of refugees. How can you say that this will not jeopardise or influence the final status solution? I mean, you're publicly endorsing the Israeli position.
COLIN POWELL: The President said nothing about what settlements should remain. The President said that we are taking note of the fact that the settlements are coming out of Gaza; four are coming out of the West Bank in the north. It is the beginning of a process. Every previous negotiation recognised that, as a result of population changes and other changes on the ground, adjustments would be appropriate and necessary in due course to find a solution. And the parties have to mutually agree to these adjustments. It all rests on the agreement of the two parties, and that is what the President has said. But he says to the parties that we must recognise that these adjustments will be required because of the changes that have taken place, and he has not endorsed any particular outcome at this point because the outcome has to be mutually agreed upon by the parties.
FOR FURTHER DETAILS:
Spokesperson of the Secretary General, High Representative for CFSP
_ +32 (0)2 285 6467 / 8239 / 6217 / 5150 / 5151 _ +32 (0)2 285 5694