|Interview on Radio Sawa With Samir Nader|
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
July 25, 2007
QUESTION: You and the President, you spoke new language on asking Israel to end occupation. Do you think this will convince the Saudis to be a more active player in the coming international meeting that you are going to host?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I certainly hope that all interested states, states that are devoted to the two-state solution, will look favorably on the international meeting that the President will call. We have work to do. There's preparation to do. There are no invitations that have gone out yet and I want to talk to our allies in the region and our friends in the region about how they see and what they would see to be a useful international meeting.
But the President is just following in the very important tradition that he's begun. He was the first to call, as a matter of policy, for a Palestinian state, for a two-state solution. He was stating very clearly that Israel's future will rest in Israel, in places like Galilee and in the Negev, and that the occupation of the West Bank will have to end and a Palestinian state will need to be established.
QUESTION: How do you feel about the Arab League first visit to Israel today? Are you pleased with this?
SECRETARY RICE: This is a very important step forward -- the Arab League's visit. It is a very good thing that the Arab League is following up on the Arab peace initiative that was reissued, in a sense, at Riyadh. It is a very good thing that Egypt and Israel are going -- Egypt and Jordan are going to Israel.
I hope that there will be more Arab states that will --
QUESTION: The Saudis?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, well, all Arab states that will take advantage of this opening to develop an Israeli-Arab track to go alongside and to support the Israeli-Palestinian track.
QUESTION: Did you decide on the meeting -- where it's going to be? What's on your mind regarding the meeting?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, this meeting will be, as the President said, an opportunity to review our progress. It will be an opportunity to make commitments to support the Israelis and Palestinians in their discussions, in their future negotiations. But one of the reasons that I'm going to go to the region now is to consult with people on how to put this meeting together.
The United States doesn't want Made-in-America solutions. We need the entire population of states that are devoted to the two-state solution to work with us. And so these will be very important consultations.
QUESTION: There is -- do you recognize the Rabin deposit? The Syrians -- Assad gave a speech last week, put a condition that any negotiation with Israel -- Israel should recognize the Rabin deposit that Secretary Christopher --
SECRETARY RICE: No, this is just Syria, again, playing games. I'm quite certain that when Syria shows that it is prepared to engage in policies that are stabilizing to the Middle East, that -- rather than destabilizing, when it stops allowing foreigners to -- foreign terrorists to come across its territory into Iraq, when it stops intimidating the Lebanese, when it stops engaging in activities in the Palestinian territories that are opposite of what is needed for a two-state solution, that it will be entirely possible for Syria to promote its own interests in a stable Middle East.
But while the United States has no problem if Syria and Israel wish to seek peace, and I just want to be very clear, the United States is not standing in the way of Syria and Israel seeking peace. But Syria -- it is Syria's behavior that has kept it isolated.
QUESTION: If we could -- something for history. There are so many books written about you. What would you like to be remembered by at State Department?
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I'll worry about history a little bit later. I've still got 17 months of very intensive work. I hope that in the Middle East we can make real progress on helping the forces of moderation in the Middle East, helping democratic forces in the Middle East. You know, the Middle East is a wonderful region with energetic people, people who are proud, people who want the best for their children. They don't want to live in a world in which young people are encouraged to be suicide bombers. I believe that the people of the Middle East want a better and more prosperous future.
And in the next 17 months, I expect to be fully devoted to that: to helping the Palestinians get at least closer to statehood so that Israel and Palestine can live side by side, helping Lebanon to continue its progress toward democracy and sovereignty, to helping the people of Iraq to put aside their differences and build stability, and to doing what the United States has always tried to do, which is to stand for principle and to help friends who want nothing but a better and more democratic life.
QUESTION: I wish you a successful trip, and thank you so much.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. It was great to be with you.