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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
16 July 2002
New York, 16 July -- Press Conference with the Secretary-General, the US Secretary of State,
Egyptian and Jordanian Foreign Ministers and the Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia
at the Secretary-General's residence
New York, 16 July 2002

S-G: Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I think that most of you were at the Waldorf, where the Quartet met earlier today. We have had a very good discussion with our three friends and colleagues from the Middle East, where we have gone over what needs to be done for us to achieve the goals that we all seek. We have all agreed on the objective and the vision - the vision that was described in the statement of two States living side by side in security, and we have also discussed the steps that need to be taken for us to get there in three years time and the work that needs to be done for us to get there in three years time. Obviously, lots more work needs to be done for us work out details and what happens and we have discussed the reform plans, the security issues and progress that is being made on that front and the desperate humanitarian situation on the ground, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has offered today to work with us on an international humanitarian effort to alleviate the plight of the Palestinians. I think that I will pause here and I will take your questions, because you have all read the communiqué, I trust.

Q: Mr. Secretary Powell, you spoke about the importance of the security arrangements and that Mr. George Tenet is putting up a comprehensive plan - you need a partner on the other side to implement such plans. In the absence of your desire to deal with President [Yassir] Arafat, who is your partner who is going to implement this security plan which really seems like the essence of your diplomacy?

US Secretary of State Colin Powell: We are in touch with Palestinian leaders and we expect that a partner will be identified that Mr. Tenet can work with. Mr. Tenet has been to the region and he is in touch with leaders in the region, but I don't want to single out particular names at this time. But I think that there is a way to work with the Palestinians and the Israelis, because this is something both sides will have to be involved in and I think that we have a pretty good plan and we will be sharing that plan with our partners here on the stage with me as well as with Palestinian leadership and Israeli leadership in the very near future.

Q: All of you - what could the Arab countries contribute to a new security plan for the Palestinians and are there any countries volunteering? And for Secretary of State Powell, could you confirm that Mr. Tenet is in fact going back to the region shortly?

Powell: Well, Mr. Tenet has no plans to travel to the region. We have this plan designed right now that there are others that can help us with its implementation and discussions with the parties in the region. It doesn't require Mr. Tenet's direct presence there - others are going to be working on it.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher El Sayed: I just would like to say that we have all decided to cooperate in working to reach the vision of two states, two independent states living in peace and security in Palestine and we will do everything we can to help [in] implementing this vision and bringing it true, whether on the political side or on the security side or on the humanitarian and economic side. So this is a comprehensive mission that we have decided to undertake, all of us together, and I think we will work diligently in order to achieve the security for the Palestinians and for the Israelis, and to achieve the hopes and aspirations and rights of the Palestinian people in a Palestine that is safe and secure for everybody.

Q: Every time there is some movement in the peace process, something seems to go wrong - today you met here in the Waldorf and over there, some people got killed. First, do you see any linkage between the two events? Secondly, is there any way to minimize the harm done by the international involvement, and secondly, for Secretary Powell, do you have any confirmation for the story that went out in Israel about $5million or millions of dollars transferred from the Palestinian personalities to European banks?

S-G: I think that on the first one, let me say that we have all condemned terrorism and violence. Obviously, each time we appear to be making progress, we get one of these attacks and I believe this is done by people who are against peace and we should not let them deter us. I think once we have decided to go ahead for peace or made a strategic choice for peace, we should press ahead with determination and persistence, but obviously one will have to deal with the terrorists as firmly as one can. But they should not detract us from our main goal of bringing peace and stability to both Israelis and Palestinians in that region.

Powell: I certainly endorse what the Secretary-General has said. Terrorists kill innocent people but they also kill the dreams of the Palestinian people for the State that we are all working to bring into being. Terrorism does not help them in the slightest. With respect to your question on that report on money going into certain bank accounts, I can't confirm it.

Maher: I would like to say that we all know that there are people on both sides who would like to stop the advance towards peace. So we condemn any attacks on civilians, whether they be Palestinians or Israelis and we condemn the incident that took place today. But there is another lesson to be drawn from this. This accident has taken place while the Israelis are occupying the whole West Bank, have arrested thousands of Palestinians, have said that they have discovered arms caches everywhere and yet they were not able to stop this from happening. So the lesson that I would like to draw is that there is no solution to the problem of violence by violence. The solution is by opening the gates for hope and working to implement the vision of peace and ensuring that the rights of all the peoples of the region are respected. The political solution is the only solution to ensure security and prosperity for all. Thank you.

Q: To the two Secretaries - Secretary-General and Secretary of State - what would make you believe that this time Israel might agree without new demands, conditions, interpretations, just beyond hope - what makes you believe that that might work out sooner?

S-G: I think that, first of all, we start on the basis that both parties have accepted the vision of two states living side by side and we are determined to work with them to attain that objective. In fact, in our discussions today we not only discussed what needs to be done, but we indicated that we as a Quartet and people who are trying to facilitate the process must be seen as genuinely working for a Palestinian State and working to give them hope and vision and stick with it. At the same time, we should be seen as working to ensure that there will be security for Israel and the two states can live side by side in peace and security. I hope that, given what has happened in the past two years, the military option - the option of force - has been so totally discredited that now that we are moving ahead firmly with the peace option, the dynamics in the region will shift and the leaders will work with us in this direction.

Powell: The only thing that I would add is that there is no hope, no promise, nothing but despair in the current situation. Neither side is happy with the conditions they find themselves in and so we come to them once again with the way forward - a path to peace - with all of us united; Europe, Asia, United States, Arab friends - all united, to help them on these three parallel tracks - security, humanitarian aid, economically helping people in need, and a political solution. They are not always synchronized at the same rate but all three tracks are important and we are committed to pursuing all of those tracks in order to find a solution. We cannot give up and we cannot let violence stop us.

Q: Yes, could I ask a question of the Egyptian and Jordanian Ministers? Ministers, what do you think of the American policy to sideline Yassir Arafat. Is that a viable policy?

Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher: Well, I think that the issue is not the person of Mr. Arafat, but the occupation and what we all want to do is to sit down and try to work out a plan of action that would move us forward towards the end of the occupation without focussing on persons, but on the issues. I think that we have made good progress towards that. I think that we are very encouraged by the fact that, not only did we see a commitment today to the end game and to a timeframe of three years, but we also saw a commitment to developing a work plan that would take us through a series of stages, going through Palestinian reform and security definitely, but also starting a political process to give hope for Palestinians that they will witness the end of the occupation and that we can have a work plan with benchmarks and with obligations asked of both sides. So that we make sure that both sides go on the road to see that end game achieved within a timeframe of three years.

Maher: I think that our position on the question of Mr. Yassir Arafat is well known - the position of the Americans is also well known - but this should not prevent us from working for peace and for security for all the peoples in the area. I think we have to respond to the aspirations of the Palestinian people. We believe that they are the ones who should determine what their aspirations are, who should determine who their leaders are and should decide on the reform that the Palestinian people have decided that they need them. We support the reforms - I know the United States supports the reforms - maybe we do not agree on all the details, but we are determined to work together for peace and I think we will succeed to bring peace to this area under the banner of legitimacy, democracy and prosperity for all.

S-G: One last question.

Q: Let's make it a follow-up, if I may. Both Arab Foreign Ministers spoke of a plan of action, comprehensive settlement; exactly what are you willing to give within that, exactly what are you expecting back from the Israeli side, and Mr. Secretary, also, do you think you can move forward - do you agree to such a plan of action? Have you given a clear commitment to make it happen? Where does it start? Where does Israel fit into it? Will you pressure Israel to comply? And Mr. Secretary-General, will you be the man directing the plan of action?

S-G: How many questions? (laughter)

Muasher: I think that we are talking about a plan of action that would have obligations met by both sides, not by one side alone. Otherwise it will not work. There are commitments asked of both sides, whether in the area of security, humanitarian needs or a movement towards the end of the occupation in three years. And to do that, we all have, and when I say all, I mean the international community, have to agree on some benchmarks by which we can monitor progress and performance and by which we can see whether these commitments by both sides, Israelis and Palestinians, are being met. This is the only way that would ensure that we don't keep talking about political visions, but that we have the commitment to translate these visions into a workable plan of action. And after the meetings today, I am encouraged that we are well on our way to do that.

Maher: I would like to say that there are obligations on both sides. They are well known - they are determined by agreements between them, by Security Council resolutions, by the will of the international community, and we expect them both to abide by these obligations. In our opinion, the Israelis have not lived up to their obligations - we hope they will do that. The Palestinians have obligations and I am sure that they will abide by these obligations. This will help us and we are willing to help both sides to abide by their obligations in order to achieve peace. This is the meaning of this very important meeting which allowed us to discuss very frankly and openly and honestly the different points of view and we came to a consensus that it is incumbent upon us to help both parties to reach a peaceful settlement based on international legitimacy and on the respect of the rights of everybody, as I said, to live in independence, in peace and in prosperity.

Powell: As has been said, both sides have obligations and as we go forward in the work plans, there will be actions that both sides will expected to take and we will be monitoring carefully to make sure that those expectations are met.

S-G: I think the last question has been answered. You heard the Secretary of State say that we should monitor it carefully. I think the Quartet would work with the parties and work with them in moving towards that objective that they both share, and we all share, but it will be up to them to implement and we will work with them and encourage, monitor and make sure it happens. Thank-you.

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