Remarks with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov of the Russian Federation, Foreign Minister Josep Pique of Spain in the capacity of EU Presidency and Javier Solana, High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU
Secretary Colin L. Powell
Benjamin Franklin Room
May 2, 2002
SECRETARY POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased to welcome to the State Department today Secretary General Annan, Foreign Minister Ivanov, Foreign Minister Pique, and High Representative Solana of the European Union to the Department to continue the discussion that we began in Madrid on April 10th on ways to end the violence and move towards peace in the Middle East.
I expressed my appreciation to my colleagues for the declaration that we produced in Madrid on the 10th of April, and I expressed to them how important it was for me to have this unified body of opinion and thought behind me as I went through the Middle East and continued my work on behalf of President Bush and all of my colleagues represented here to try to move the process forward in the Middle East.
We also determined that it was important for us to remain together, to continue the dialogue, because this is quite a grouping up here; and I think it is a grouping that, working with the parties in the region, can produce success if we stick with it, if we show persistence and determination.
The United States, the United Nations, the European Union and the Russian Federation are committed to helping bring about a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East. We are working for realization of the vision expressed by President Bush on April 4th of a Middle East where two states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace and security with an internationally recognized border.
Terrorism and use of force only move the parties further from that goal. The only way forward is through negotiations guided by United Nations Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397. Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's important initiative, recently endorsed by the Arab League, should also play a very, very important and helpful role as we move forward.
We are encouraged by the peaceful resolution of the standoff in Ramallah, and we are especially pleased that international diplomacy could play a constructive role in defusing a situation that many predicted could only end in violence. We are pleased that Chairman Arafat now has the opportunity to show leadership. No longer contained in the Muqatta, I trust that the Chairman will now move in a new direction, a new direction that will allow his leadership position to be used to denounce terrorism, denounce violence, and to say to the Palestinian people and to the organizations within the Palestinian movement that this is the time to find a peaceful way forward. And I have encouraged the Chairman to speak and act in this way in the meetings that I had with him, and I hope that now he will speak and act in that way as we move forward.
We are also hopeful that we will see a nonviolent end to the current standoff at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This is a holy place, and all of us will be in touch with the parties to encourage them to find an immediate solution to this problem so that the world does not continue to see this terrible picture on its television screens every evening.
We, the Quartet, as we have named ourselves, are committed to working with the Israelis and the Palestinians, with Arab governments and with the international community to restore the hope of all the people in the region for a peaceful, secure and prosperous future. Our strategy, embracing the principles and goals set forth by President Bush, by Crown Prince Abdullah and by the UN resolutions that I made reference to earlier, consist of three elements to our strategy. First, a restoration of security, security from terror and violence for Israelis and Palestinians. We'll be encouraging Chairman Arafat to rebuild his security apparatus. We will ask for maximum efforts from the Palestinian Authority to restore calm.
To assist in this, the Quartet agrees on the need for making an assessment of Palestinian capabilities, setting clear security performance standards, and working to establish effective and responsible Palestinian security institutions, and to find ways for those institutions to work closely with Israeli institutions as we move forward to restore confidence between the two sides.
Our Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet has played an important role in the past in this kind of work, and I expect he will play an important role in the future. And General Tony Zinni, who has become very familiar with the security situation in the region in recent months, is also available to return to the region in the near future.
The second part of our strategy is to address the urgent humanitarian needs and make sure that get about the task of rebuilding strong, accountable, democratic, and market-oriented institutions for Palestinians as the basis for a vibrant Palestinian state. And I am encouraged by what I have heard from my colleagues here today about their willingness to join in this effort of economic reconstruction and humanitarian relief. The people in the region are in great need. The Palestinian people need access to jobs, need access to markets, need food, need medical supplies, need all kinds of things to relieve their suffering, and we are united in our determination to bring that about.
At the moment, we are particularly concerned about the humanitarian situation in Jenin, and we continue to work with all concerned on an urgent basis to meet the pressing needs in that city, as well as throughout the West Bank and Gaza. We welcome the commitment of the international community at Oslo last week on April 25th to provide over $1 billion in assistance. The United States has over $300 million dedicated to aid the Palestinian people.
In this regard, the Quartet underscores the need for immediate action by Israel to lift closures and facilitate the access that I touched on earlier, as well as maximum efforts by the Palestinian Authority to ensure that the situation on the ground remains calm and no new vulnerabilities are opened up by opening up access. It was agreed that the Quartet will follow up at the working level to address the rebuilding of Palestinian institutions.
And third, we committed to ourselves to the promotion of serious and accelerated negotiations toward a settlement. We discussed how best to begin to prepare for an international conference meeting this summer. The United States, with our partners in the Quartet, will spend the weeks ahead to begin to not only talk amongst ourselves, but with the parties and with other interested members of the international community, to come up with a set of principles that can be the basis for a meeting in the early summer. Details with respect to where and when and who the conveners would be remain to be determined. But this is a time for prompt action to take advantage of this new window of opportunity that has been presented to us, and we intend to do just that.
President Bush has said that conflict in the Middle East is not inevitable; neither is peace. The United States will do its part, and I'm pleased that our fellow members in the Quartet have made that same commitment. The Israelis, the Palestinians, our Arab friends, and the international community must also rise to the challenges ahead.
Speaking of our Arab friends in the region, I must say that we are very pleased with the new attitude shown by the Arab League, by their adoption of the Crown Prince's initiative, but more importantly by their willingness to play a more, I should say, effective role and a more aggressive role in representing the interests not only of the Arab world but the interests of the Palestinian people, and we look forward to working with them.
And once again, I would like to thank my colleagues for being here today, and we're prepared to take your questions.
QUESTION: Minister Pique, if I could — I have something for you, Mr. Secretary, but if I could ask you quickly — is the European Union planning anything, any action — like tomorrow, are you going to announce something — regarding terrorist groups, groups the US considers terrorists — Hezbollah, Hamas? You've been talking about terrorism and how of course you're against it; everybody is against terrorism. Are you going to do anything concrete about it in the foreseeable future?
FOREIGN MINISTER PIQUE: Yes. We have already decided to enlarge the list of the terrorist organizations, according to the rules of the European Union. We are prepared to continue with this work. We have enlarged this list today in — I don't remember exactly, but for 12 or 13 terrorist groups more. And we will continue the discussion about the introduction and the integration in this list of some terrorist organizations, or so-called terrorist organizations in the Middle East, and also in Colombia. But we are working on and I think that in the next weeks we will present more results.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, may I, please? The President today spoke, I think for the first time, very concretely about the kind of Palestinian state he would like to see: democratic, transparent, not corrupt, et cetera. Without guessing who he's talking about, how do you do this when at the same time you're trying to move swiftly into an accommodation with Yasser Arafat? Are you going to wait for a democratic state? It doesn't sound like you have that time. I can't put the two together.
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we're going to move quickly, both on the economic track and the political track. The Palestinian Authority needs to rebuild itself in light of recent events. That rebuilding is going to require resources from outside. And as we go about the process of helping the Palestinian Authority and all leaders within the Palestinian movement, to include Chairman Arafat, I think it is not unreasonable for us to help them build a kind of Palestinian Authority that reflects the values that the President spoke to. And I think this is part of our new comprehensive strategy.
Let me also add another word about our strategy. When we talk about a conference — I just want to reinforce this. When we talk about a conference, it's got to be a conference that deals with all elements that I've described: security, the economic reform, humanitarian issues, and the political way forward. They all have to be integrated. And I think that's one of the agreements we came to today, and I hope it's something that the parties in the region will welcome, moving aggressively forward so that people see not only economic hope, but they see political hope as we move forward toward our vision of a Palestinian state.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is the issue of international observers or international process that was called by Mr. Annan still on the table? And is the issue of the fact-finding mission in Jenin totally off the table right now?
SECRETARY POWELL: We talked about observers, international observers, and I'll let the Secretary General speak to the issue as well.
As you know, as part of the United States' commitment to moving forward, we were prepared to put some number of American monitors, observers in place. And that's as far as we had gotten with respect to monitors that would be acceptable to both sides. But now let me let the Secretary General talk to his idea, as well as to Jenin.
SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN: Let me first of all thank you very much, Secretary of State, for hosting this meeting, and ladies and gentlemen for coming this afternoon.
On the question of the multinational force, which we also discussed briefly this afternoon, my proposal was based on the premise that the mistrust and the enmity between the two sides is so deep that they are going to need a third party mechanism, a third party presence to help them as we move ahead.
And the idea of the force was to help create a secure and calm environment that will allow for reconstruction, delivery of humanitarian assistance, and as we try to strengthen Palestinian institutions, including security, so that they can honor their commitments, as you have heard the Secretary of State talk about reconstruction and rebuilding of institutions. And I thought the presence would also give us the space that we need to continue political and diplomatic discussions.
And so it is part of the package, not separate from the efforts we are trying to make to find a solution. I'm encouraged that there are US and British wardens on the ground monitoring the imprisonment of the six.
Let me now turn to the Jenin issue. I think my position and intentions have been made very clear through my letter to the Council and the discussions that we held in the Council yesterday. The Council is still deliberating and are going to write to me today. I hope I will get a letter from them at the end of the day. I don't know what next they will do, but there is a paragraph in the draft letter which I have seen which would require that we proceed and prepare a report on Jenin with all available information, implying do it even if you cannot get on the ground.
I have not received the letter yet, and they are discussing it. I don't know whether that paragraph will survive or not, but it is likely to survive. Once I get that mandate, I will have to determine who undertakes that work.
Thank you very much.
QUESTION: I wanted to do a follow on Jenin, just very quickly, if I could, then. Just very quickly on Jenin, in Madrid two weeks ago, three weeks ago, you said that you thought the international community would be appalled by what it discovered there. Have you changed your evaluation on the basis of what you know now?
SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN: I think we have all seen the reports and the pictures that are coming out of Jenin, and I think my description then was not exaggerated.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, today President Bush said that Yasser Arafat had disappointed him in his inability to prevent violence in the Middle East. And Mr. Sharon has also said that he created a terrorist state.
In rehabilitating the Palestinian Authority, how can you prevent this from happening again? What fundamental change do you expect from Mr. Arafat? How do you know he won't do the same thing?
And another question is, if you're going to make peace in the Middle East, don't you have to get rid of many of the Israeli settlements? Are you ready to address that hard question of persuading Israel to give up settlements?
SECRETARY POWELL: On the second point, the issue of settlements is a very real one, and it will have to be dealt with. There will have to be a cessation of new settlements, and something will have to be done about the settlements that were done, that are there now. And that has always been part of the various negotiating efforts that have been underway.
With respect to Chairman Arafat, it's not a question of me rehabilitating him. He knows what is expected of him. I have had the most direct conversations possible to have with another person, with Mr. Arafat, with respect to what we will expect from him now that he is free from the Muqatta. And he will either live or not live up to those expectations. If he lives up to those expectations, if he speaks out against terror, if he speaks out against violence, if he now starts to lead his people in a way toward peace, and if we give his people something to look at in terms of a better life economically, hope for their children and a state that will be theirs, I hope that the Palestinian people will want that and will insist to their leaders — all of their leaders, to include Mr. Arafat — that that's what we want you to get for us.
But we have to provide that hope in the form of a state that they can call their own, and a better life for their families and their children, and jobs and health care and all the things that we want for our families. And Mr. Arafat, I hope, will understand that he doesn't have many more chances to seize this kind of an opportunity.
Thank you. Allow me to just invite my other colleagues to say a word. Let me start with Foreign Minister Ivanov. You're okay? Javier? You're never without a word.
MR. SOLANA: Nothing to say. Everything has been said, and well said. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you.
QUESTION: Can we ask one more question about the conference, please? One more question? One more question, please? Please, just give us a sense, is this a conference that is to be — to open a peace process, or is it to try to get the whole thing done in one fell swoop?
SECRETARY POWELL: That's what we're talking about. I'd rather not give you an off-the-fly answer. I'll have more to say about it.
Released on May 2, 2002
Document Sources: European Union (EU), Quartet, Secretary-General
Country: Russian Federation, United States of America
Subject: Humanitarian relief, Middle East situation, Negotiations and agreements, Palestine question, Peace conference, Peace process, Peace proposals and efforts, Quartet
Publication Date: 02/05/2002