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Source: Secretary-General
Quartet
20 December 2002

Washington, DC, 20 December 2002 - Remarks by President Bush,
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller,
and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov at a press encounter with the
Quartet Principals, The White House Oval Office, [this transcript was
prepared by the State Department)

Also attached is the text of a Joint Statement issued by the Quartet following their meeting on 20 December 2002:

President Bush: The Vice President and I are honored to welcome the Quartet Principals to the Oval Office. I want to thank you all for coming. I appreciate so very much your working with us to move the Israeli-Palestinian issue forward to a peaceful resolution of what has been a longstanding conflict.

I am strongly committed to the vision that I outlined on June the 24th. I believe it is in everybody's best interests that there be two states living side by side in peace. And this government will work hard to achieve that. And I want thank you all for joining us in working toward that important vision.

There are some keys to moving forward. All of us must work hard to fight against terror so that a few cannot deny the dreams of the many; that we must encourage the development of Palestinian institutions which are transparent, which promote freedom and democracy; that we must work together to ease the humanitarian situation. There's -- too many Palestinian moms and dads grieve over the future for their children because of hunger and poverty, lack of health care.

I appreciate the fact that the Quartet is working on what we call a road map. I view the road map as a part of the vision that I described. It is a way forward. It sets conditions. It's a results-oriented document. It is a way to bring people together so that they share their responsibilities.

We're assuming our responsibilities. The people in the neighborhood must assume their responsibilities. All nations must be committed to peace in order for us to achieve peace; must be committed to the vision of two states side by side in order to achieve the vision of living side by side.

The road map is not complete yet, but the United States is committed to its completion. We are committed to its implementation in the name of peace.

I want to thank you, all, for coming. We're on our holiday season. It is the season of peace on Earth. We confirmed that today in this meeting.

Kofi.

SG: Thank you, very much, Mr. President. We've had a very good meeting this morning, and we are very close to finalizing the road map. And we believe that this is a road map that can help bring about the vision of two states, Israel and Palestinian, living side by side. It will require sacrifices from both sides. And it will demand parallel steps by both states for us to be able to move forward.

The Quartet has indicated that this road map and the approach of the parties has to be performance-driven, they have to perform. But it also has to be hope-driven. And I believe that this vision of two states, living in peace and security, will be the dream that will keep that hope alive. And all of us, working with our friends in the region, will work hard to ensure that we achieve this day within the three-year period that we have set ourselves.

And, Mr. President, we want to thank you for your support. And I think working together we can all be able to achieve this objective. Our intention is to release the road map and give it to the parties as soon as possible. And I think the communique we'll be putting out will say clearly what we intend to do next. So I will pause here. Thank you very much.

President Bush: Mr. Prime Minister, welcome. Good to see you, sir.

Q: Mr. President --

President Bush: Hold on a second, please. Some of our guests will be speaking.

FM Moeller: Thank you very much, Mr. President. I'm very glad that you're so dedicated to the peace process in the Middle East. Your vision of the two states is very important. It's very important for European Union that the people in the area know they will get two states which have to live quietly, peacefully, side by side.

What we are trying to do is to pave the way to the two states. And that's why we have endorsed this road map and worked with this road map, because it's good thing with a vision, but you must know how to go there. And that is what we have in working it. And it has been a very good cooperation -- the United States, Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union.

And I think it's very important that Israel knows it will live there forever in security. But they can only have that security if they give a political solution to the Palestinians, that the Palestinians know that their day will come where they get the state, which make them sure of their future. They both have a future, and we have to help them with a future.

Thank you, Mr. President.

President Bush: Igor. In Ingles? (Laughter.)

FM Ivanov: Thank you for receiving us, first thing.

President Bush: Thank you, sir.

FM Ivanov: The second thing, before we had a lot of interest, good documents, but we couldn't implement. Now we have good document, and the most important thing is to implement. This is our main objective now.

President Bush: Thank you, sir. Very good.

Sandra, quick question.

Q Mr. President, your administration concluded yesterday that Saddam Hussein pretty much blew his last chance to come clean on his weapons of mass destruction. Are we now on a path to war?

President Bush: One thing is for certain; we will fulfill the terms and conditions of 1441.

The world spoke clearly that we expect Mr. Saddam Hussein to disarm. Yesterday's document was not encouraging. We expected him to show that he would disarm. And as the Secretary of State said, it's -- it's a long way from there. And we're serious about keeping the peace. We're serious about working with our friends in the United Nations so that this body, ably led by Kofi Annan, has got relevance as we go into the 21st century. And yesterday was a disappointing day for those who have longed for peace.

Listen I want to thank you all for coming.

Q Trent Lott question?

President Bush: I would have -- but we ran out of time. (Laughter.) We ran out of time. They eat up your time. We had only so much time available. They ate up your time. I'm sorry. (Laughter.)

Q You can drop by later.

President Bush: We could do that, you're right. But we're due at Christmas parties.

Joint Statement by the Quartet, Washington, D.C., 20 December 2002

“United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, High Representative for European Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, and European Commissioner for External Affairs Chris Patten met today in Washington with President Bush and Secretary of State Powell. In his meeting, President Bush expressed strong support for the efforts of the Quartet and his firm commitment to the Quartet's roadmap, which would realize his vision of two states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side-by-side in peace and security.

“Reaffirming their previous statements, the Quartet members reviewed developments since their last meeting, on September 17, 2002. They condemned the brutal terror attacks carried out by Palestinian extremist organizations since the last meeting, which aim to diminish the prospects for peace, and only harm legitimate Palestinian aspirations for statehood. The Quartet deplores the killing of innocent Palestinian civilians and UN employees in IDF security operations, and calls on the Government of Israel to review its rules of engagement and disciplinary procedures to avoid such civilian casualties.

“The Quartet took stock of the results of the ongoing consultations with the parties on the elements of a three-phase performance-based and goal-driven roadmap to realize the vision expressed in President Bush's June 24 speech of two states -- Israel and an independent, viable, sovereign, and democratic Palestine -- living side-by-side in peace and security. The Quartet commended the constructive spirit that characterized its discussions with all parties. The Quartet, based upon a common understanding on the content and goals of this process, made substantial progress toward finalizing a roadmap for presentation to the parties in the near future. The Quartet agreed to further intensive work to develop a credible and effective monitoring mechanism. In the meantime, the Quartet calls on the parties to carry out as rapidly as possible their responsibilities to restore calm, pursue reforms, and improve the humanitarian situation -- steps that will lead to a political process culminating in Palestinian statehood.

“Specifically, the Quartet calls for an immediate, comprehensive, cease-fire. All Palestinian individuals and groups must end all acts of terror against Israelis, in any location. In this regard, the Quartet welcomes the initiative of Egypt to work with Palestinians to achieve this end. Such a cease-fire should be accompanied by supportive measures undertaken by the Government of Israel. As calm is established, Israeli forces should withdraw from Palestinian areas and the pre-Intifada status quo on the ground should be restored. The Quartet calls on the Palestinian leadership to work with the U.S. and others to restructure and reform the Palestinian security services.

“Recognizing the importance of well-prepared Palestinian elections to the process of building strong, democratic, institutions in preparation for statehood, the Quartet supports the accelerated work of the Constitutional Committee to draft a Palestinian constitution. The Quartet notes the progress made in the reform process under difficult circumstances and calls for increased efforts by the Palestinian Authority to move forward in a comprehensive and sustained manner, in cooperation with the Task Force on Palestinian Reform, on institutional reforms. In this context, the Quartet welcomes the initiative of the United Kingdom and Prime Minister Blair to convene a meeting early next year to encourage and accelerate the reform process.

“The Quartet expresses concern at the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the West Bank. It calls for increased effort by the Government of Israel to ease the humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza. It also calls on Israel and the Palestinians to implement fully the recommendations of the Bertini report. The Quartet welcomes the recent transfer by Israel of VAT and other revenues due to the Palestinian Authority, and calls on Israel to continue these monthly transfers, including arrears. The Quartet reiterates the importance of immediate Israeli measures, consistent with legitimate security concerns, to improve the lives of Palestinians, including allowing the resumption of normal economic activity, facilitating the movement of goods, people, and essential services and lifting curfew and closures. The Quartet calls on Israel to avoid actions that undermine trust and create further hardship for innocent Palestinian civilians, including demolition of houses and civil infrastructure.

“The Quartet welcomes efforts to re-organize and update donor coordination mechanisms in order to simplify and strengthen an already unified international effort so as to revive and support peace efforts.

“The Quartet reiterates the critical importance of sustaining hope on the part of Israelis and Palestinians for the vision articulated by President Bush, and supported by the Quartet in its previous statements and ongoing engagement with the parties and in the region, of a future in which both peoples can live -- in their own states -- in genuine peace and security. Consistent with this goal, the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 will be ended though a settlement negotiated between the parties and based on resolutions 242 and 338, with Israeli withdrawal to secure and recognized borders. For this goal to be achieved, violence and terror must come to an end. Israeli settlement activity must stop, consistent with the recommendations of the Mitchell report.

“The Quartet will continue to encourage all parties in the region to seek a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the foundations of the Madrid Conference, the principle of land for peace, UNSCRs 242, 338 and 1397, agreements previously reached by the parties, and the initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah -- endorsed by the Beirut Arab League Summit -- for acceptance of Israel as a neighbor living in peace and security, in the context of a comprehensive settlement. This initiative is a vital element of international efforts to promote a comprehensive peace on all tracks, including the Syrian-Israeli and Lebanese-Israeli tracks.

“The Quartet looks forward to continuing consultations on achieving the above goals, and a further meeting of the Quartet principals in the near future to adopt the roadmap and present it to the parties.”


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