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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: NBC
2 May 2004


Source: Political Transcript Wire Date: May 02, 2004


MAY 2, 2004



[*] RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary General, welcome to "Meet the Press."

ANNAN: Thank you very much.


RUSSERT: Mr. Brahimi, your special adviser, said that his efforts in arriving at a settlement in Iraq has been hampered by an outside factor. And this is what he said.

"There's no doubt that the great poison in the region is this Israeli policy of domination and the suffering imposed on the Palestinians, as well as the perception of all of the population of the region and beyond, of the injustice of this policy and the equally unjust and thoughtless support of the United States for this policy."

Do you agree with that?

ANNAN: No. Mr. Brahimi, I have spoken to him since he got back. He has his own views, but on this occasion what he indicated to me, that, as he travels around the region and talks to people in the Islamic world, their perception is that the lack of progress in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has undermined all other efforts in the region.

And I think this is something that we've all said we should try and do whatever we can to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, work with the road map of the quartet, to see how we can move the parties toward the ultimate objective of two states living side by side, Israel and Palestine.

And, in fact, in my discussions, he said this is really the message he was trying to get across, to indicate that it is undermining other efforts in the region.

ANNAN: And, of course, even when the U.S. came up with the initiative of creating the Greater Middle East Initiative, we had comments of people saying, why don't we resolve the Israeli- Palestinian issue first and then move on? Whether it's legitimate or not, it is a kind of feeling and reaction one gets in the region.

RUSSERT: But do you believe that President Bush's endorsement of Prime Minister Sharon's policy on settlements is helpful to the situation in Iraq?

ANNAN: We are going to have a quartet meeting on the 4th of May...

RUSSERT: "Quartet" meaning what?

ANNAN: Quartet is a group of four, made up of the United States, the Russian Federation, the European Union, and the U.N. that I will represent at these meetings to discuss the Middle East situation, and we -- it is also the group that came up with the road map, a road map that both the Israelis and the Palestinians have accepted, that we hope will lead us to the creation of two states living in peace and security. And the group will discuss this issue.

I know that there was some reaction to the president's statement indicating that he has compromised some of the long-term issues which must be negotiated between the parties, in particular the issue of refugees. But in the discussions we are going to have in that same document there was also a statement, the president document, that long-term issues must be mutually agreed to by the two parties. And the quartet will be discussing these issues and try and see what we can do to get the parties back on track.

RUSSERT: The fact that Mr. Brahimi uses the word "poison" for the Israelis and "thoughtless" in terms of the United States, are you concerned that he cannot function as an honest broker in Iraq?

ANNAN: I think it would be unfortunate if those words were to be used against him and prevent him from doing an effective work in Iraq. He's a very experienced man who has done a lot, in many trouble spots, from Haiti to South Africa to Afghanistan recently, Lebanon, and now in Iraq.

I think in the circumstances that we have in -- the situation we have in Iraq, I can't think of a better person. One may disagree with the words he used, and I'm sure he himself probably would not use those words again, but I think to use his statement to prevent him from playing a constructive role will be a mistake.

RUSSERT: Bob Herbert, a columnist for the New York Times, wrote this in October of 2003: "There's widespread feeling at the U.N. that the policies of the United States, its invasion and occupation of Iraq, its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, its frequently contemptuous attitude toward the U.N. in particular and international cooperation in general, have made the Middle East and parts of the rest of the world substantially more dangerous, rather than less."

Do you agree with that?

ANNAN: I think, before the war, as you may know, there was intense debate, which led to divisions between the major members. Now we are beginning to try to heal it.

And of course, when you look at the situation in the Middle East and the countries around, the violence has increased. There is more terrorist attacks. We've seen it in Saudi Arabia. We've seen recently in Syria, they oppress against Jordan. We have a difficult situation in Iraq, and of course we've seen terrorist attacks in Europe.

Would these have happened without an attack on Iraq? Is the attack on Iraq responsible for that? It is difficult to say precisely. But the fact is, we do have a very difficult security environment around the world, not just in Iraq.


RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary General, we thank you for joining us and sharing your views with us this morning.

ANNAN: Thank you.

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