"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: (Via interpreter) In the name of Allah, I am very pleased to welcome His Excellency, the Secretary of State of USA. He is very close friend for His Majesty the King, and a friend of Jordan and a friend of mine, personally. And his visit – which I believe it is the fifth or the sixth visit for him to Jordan since the beginning of his term as Secretary of State, and I think this is the seventh or eighth visit to the region. This shows his keenness to communicate with His Majesty the King and with the leaders and the senior officials in the region, especially concerning the important files which require consultation and communication and constant contact.
We were honored to meet His Majesty the King, and we have very plain and frank dialogue, comprehensive and in-depth, about all the issues of – common issues, and you know that a few days ago before His Excellency started his visit, there was a phone call with His Majesty, and before the 10 days, there was a meeting with His Excellency in Washington. I met him there and the call of the speech or the theme of the speech before was involving about the nature of this tour and the issues to be debated with the leaders and officials in the region. There was a prolonged speech at the phone call, and before that, Mr. Kerry visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and today, he has just arrived from the Palestinian Territories and Israel, where he met the officials there. Many developments, and we were very pleased in our meeting with His Majesty a while ago.
And in our bilateral negotiations here, we listened to detailed discussions about the negotiations made by Mr. Kerry in the countries that he visited, and we discussed all the common issues – the Syrian issue, the peace process, and other issues in addition to our bilateral (inaudible) relationships, and these distinguished relationships that can be performed by two parties to enhance them in the future.
Many issues happened in the region since Mr. Kerry visited Jordan last time at the summer of this year, starting the negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel about the final peace settlement, and which came as intensive efforts exerted by Mr. Kerry to launch these negotiations under the auspices of the Americans. Our position in the Hashemite Kingdom with the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah, we have affirmed this and – which is linked to the two-state solutions that can result of a Palestinian independent and viable state, which has full sovereignty on its territories and the capital is East Jerusalem, and addressing all the issues of the final settlement to establish this state on the territory – on the Palestinian Territories. And this comes within the framework of the two-state statement, and then the framework of the Arab Peace Initiative.
And here, I would like to point out that His Excellency is very keen to communicate not just with the leaders, but with the committee of the Arab Peace Initiative. We have met for four times in Washington and in the region and in Paris. This shows his keenness to update the committee member about the latest developments in the negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and to focus upon the positive points that will be witnessed for the people and for the countries in the region by applying the items of the Arab Peace Initiative which guarantees peace and security for all, including Israel, including a relationship not just with the Arab states but also with the Islamic states and the whole world, so that all the countries in the region will enjoy peace and security and stability.
We have talked about the latest issues, and there would be a meeting with the Palestinian President this evening, and we have talked about the negotiations and the atmosphere of the negotiations, and we agreed since the beginning when Mr. Kerry launched his efforts for these negotiations to be – to have a reference for this discussion for the media with the American Administration and to be away from the (inaudible) in order to achieve the aspired results. And I think until now, this has been committed to and it proved success in leaving the negotiators to perform the required role and to achieve the required results.
We reaffirm our stance in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan that the settlement is impeding peace, it is illegal, and illegitimate. That is why we have to accelerate the negotiations to address through talking about the final peace settlement – a basic item which is the borders, which will terminate settlements forever, where the globe agrees that it is illegal and illegitimate. And we have a stance concerning the unilateral procedures, especially in the occupied Jerusalem, and the violations we see that would not serve the exerted efforts for the success of the negotiations between the two sides.
We reaffirm always that in Jordan, we have a national interest in achieving peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. We have interest in establishing a viable Palestinian state. We are not monitoring our mediators, but we have interest also in these matters. This is reaffirmed with His Excellency Mr. Kerry and with the USA. So we support the efforts of Mr. Kerry and we reaffirm also the necessity that these negotiations would meet in success.
(In English.) (Inaudible) and to say that we had an extremely productive audience with His Majesty earlier on today, and I believe that your lengthy phone call with His Majesty before embarking on your current trip was extremely productive. We salute your efforts in terms of the peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. We salute your commitment and your dedication. And thank you for briefing us today on the latest on that front. We also salute your efforts on bringing about a political solution to the ongoing crisis in Syria and your efforts towards convening Geneva 2 with the intention, as we are all in agreement, of implementing what was agreed upon in Geneva 1. And I believe that your visit at this time is extremely critical in that regard, and the efforts that are conducted by you and by your colleagues are ones that we support and encourage you to continue trying to bring the parties together at the conference that will herald a political solution that will end the violence and end the killing and end the danger that is ever present on our border.
Thank you for your friendship, Mr. Secretary. Thank you for your efforts and for your dedication. Thank you for your visit.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Foreign Minister Judeh – I got it right this time. (Laughter.) He lacks confidence in me. (Laughter.) Foreign Minister Judeh, my friend, Nasser, I really appreciate your warm welcome, your generous comments, and I appreciate your terrific food. Thank you for a wonderful lunch.
Nasser is really one of the foreign ministers I have come to know the best over these last months, and I’m particularly grateful to him for his constant willingness to engage and help all of the parties. Not just with respect to the peace talks, but in the region, he has been particularly creative, particularly engaged. And I especially want to thank His Majesty, His Royal Highness King Abdullah II for his tremendous engagement, his creative engagement in this process. We had a very constructive conversation this morning. His Majesty put a number of ideas on the table that have possibilities, and was really engaged in a very important way in this.
And I want to emphasize there is a reason why I have come here to Jordan as many times. Jordan is not just a neighbor, not a passive bystander in this process. Jordan is integrally involved in and has high stakes in the outcome of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the questions of peace. Jordan has a long border with Israel and the West Bank, the Palestinian Territories, and Jordan has been a partner for peace with Israel, with the United States, and with all those people who are looking for stability and peace and an end of conflict in this region. Jordan is already engaged in a major security relationship with the parties, and whatever resolution there is with respect to the issue of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Jordan will be a partner in that process.
So it is important for the President of the United States, and through me to him, for the United States to be able to be engaged in this process with Jordan. And I came here today to Amman on President Obama’s behalf directly from Jerusalem and Bethlehem, where I held meetings with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and with President Abbas. The meetings obviously are about the critical question of how we can bring peace to Palestinians and Israelis – long overdue, long consuming, now, generations.
And I’m pleased to say, that despite difficulties – and we all understand what they are – these discussions were productive, and they will continue even today. Tonight, I will see President Abbas yet again, and tomorrow morning, as I leave the region, I will have breakfast with Prime Minister Netanyahu. And the purpose of this is not just to have a meeting for the sake of a meeting. The purpose is to explore and discuss and examine the various possibilities of how we can resolve very complicated issues in ways that meet the needs of both parties, in ways that lead us to the kind of compromise that will be necessary in order to achieve peace. President Obama and the United States are deeply committed to this peace effort, and we are committed to a peaceful, prosperous future for the people of Israel and the people of Palestine.
Now, both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas reaffirmed their commitment to these negotiations despite the fact that at moments, there are obviously tensions over one happening or another in one place or another, whether it’s in Israel or in the territories. No secret that these negotiations are always difficult, particularly this kind. But I want to say something that I think is important for Palestinians and Israelis to really think about.
What is the alternative to peace? Prolonged, continued conflict? The absence of peace really means you have a sort of low-grade kind of conflict, war, whatever you want to call it. And as long as the aspirations of people are held down one way or the other in one place or another, whether it’s the aspirations of the people of Israel to be free from violence, free from rockets, free from the diversion of their lives to the energy of maintaining security, or whether it’s the aspirations of young Palestinians who want to go to school, get an education, have a job, have a future – as long as there is this conflict, and if the conflict frustrates yet again so that people cannot find a solution, the possibilities of violence, of other kinds of confrontation, of other alternatives, become more real. This region has been there before, and this region consciously has made decisions and choices to try to move away from that in a different direction.
So this is really important. It’s important not just for the Palestinian Territories or for Israel, but it’s important to people all through the region, which is why there is an Arab Peace Initiative. It’s why the follow-on committee of the Arab League has been taking time to meet, I think four or five times now. It’s why they have reaffirmed their commitment to peace. It’s why they have said that if we can achieve peace, they are ready to make peace with Israel.
The stakes here are huge, and obviously, the lack of peace confronts everybody with choices, frankly, that nobody wants to contemplate. This region does not benefit by continued conflict. The possibility of a peace agreement with 22 Arab countries and 35 Muslim nations, 57 countries in all, brings a whole new economic possibility to this region. At one of the meetings we had recently, I heard one Arab minister, foreign minister, say to his fellow ministers at the meeting that if peace could be made between Israel and the Palestinians, that this region would be one of the wealthiest regions in the world, one of the most visited regions in the world, with economic opportunity that dwarfs the imagination today.
So that’s what these stakes are. That’s what we are pursuing. And nothing, I think, is more worthy of our time. We will continue this work in the days ahead with the close cooperation of King Abdullah II, who is following in his father’s great legacy of seeking peace through the important work of the Arab League as a whole, as well as the Arab Peace Initiative Follow-up Committee.
FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: We’ll take a question from the U.S. side, perhaps.
SECRETARY KERRY: Karen DeYoung.
FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Karen, yeah.
SECRETARY KERRY: Karen DeYoung, Washington Post, yep.
FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Good to see you again, Karen.
QUESTION: For the Secretary, when you began the peace process, you said your objective was to achieve final status agreements over the course of nine months, and you rejected suggestions that only a partial or interim agreement was acceptable. Do you still think that that’s possible? On the current trip, you told King Abdullah this morning that you thought some clarity had been achieved during your meetings over the past two days. Can you provide us of any sense of what is clearer now than it was when you arrived?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me answer the last part first and then come back to the first part of your question on the peace process.
With respect to the peace process and clarity, do I believe, with respect to a final status element – absolutely. An interim agreement, only if it embraces the concept of the final status, might be a step along the way, but you cannot just do an interim agreement and pretend you are dealing with the problem. We’ve been there before. We’ve had interim agreements. We’ve had roadmaps. But if you leave the main issues hanging out there, mischief-makers will make the most of that and bad things will happen in the interval that then make it even harder to get to the final status. It is imperative that we keep final status and settle this before it can’t be settled because events on the ground or other events interfere with that possibility.
So I remain absolutely committed to this ability to get a final status solution. And do I think it is possible to do it? The answer is yes. I believe when I say clarity is coming to things, as we surface ideas in discussions with the leaders, we begin to see what range they have for moving or what possibilities there are for another alternative, or for something you haven’t thought of. And that brings a clarity to the range of choices that you have and therefore it defines in a sense the needle that you have to thread as you are proceeding forward. So I think listening to everybody – frankly, we made significant progress in our discussions about a couple of the areas of concern in the panorama of concerns that exist. But these are some of the principal ones.
And so I have promised I’m not going to go into the details of the negotiation. By agreement, all the parties are not going to discuss what we are discussing. And since I’m the one who invoked that rule, I’m not going to stand up here and break it. But it is important for us to be able to proceed carefully, quietly, and secretly, frankly. And that’s what gives the leaders the ability to be able to explore different possibilities. But I’m convinced, in my own judgment, that what happened here over the course of the last day, and it’s not over yet, has opened up a number of different possibilities for things that could be included as we proceed forward, and that’s a constructive way in which this goes on.
Now I can’t tell you precisely – maybe in a few weeks I can give you a better sense of timing about what we’re thinking about one thing or another, but for the moment we still have a nine-month period. We’re only three months into this. So we have a considerable amount of discussion that has taken place, and we’ve got, obviously, a decent road ahead of us to continue to march down, and we intend to continue to march down it.
FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Thank you very much for that. And if I may just add a comment on what John has just said, first of all, I agree that he shouldn’t break his own rule, and one of the secrets for the success of this – I hesitate to say process, because we’ve had too many processes in the past. But this is a serious negotiating process, the success of which depends on avoiding these negotiations across the airwaves, as we have seen in the past. So this is a rule, I think, that all parties are accepting and respecting, and it’s important that it continues.
Now on your question, Karen, I don’t know what you mean by “partial solutions.” I – whether it’s the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or any other dispute, partial solutions, in my book, that leave issues hanging which could potentially come back and fly at our throats in the future, are not solutions. And therefore when we talk about the Middle East, and I don’t want to go back to nuances of U.S. foreign policy at different milestones by talking about linkage or no linkage, but everything in the Middle East is connected. So there may not be a linkage when it comes to a certain file with another file that happened to be parallel, but there is a connection somehow. This is the Middle East. Everything is connected. And the overall picture is certainly one that consists of many dots that have to be connected.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) You said we are not observing or not mediators. How can we get our rights while we have continuous settlement and the problem of Jerusalem is still continuing? So we are facing a full Israeli rejection. Do you think that we have practical steps to face such rejection and reluctance by the side of Israel? And is there any American assistance concerning the Syrian refugees?
FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: (Via interpreter) The most important issue when talking about (inaudible) is that there is a timeframe. This timeframe work mentioned by Mr. Kerry for nine years started in July last year – this year, and has been there for four months. And there is an end for this road after these nine months when both sides look for the comprehensive pictures, although we have bilateral procedures on the ground that handle the peace process, but there is an end for this road. And this is expressed by Mr. Kerry frankly and clearly and with commitment.
The settlement is illegal and illegitimate. This is the position of the whole world, including the USA, and we have heard the speech of Mr. Kerry. Although the settlement should stop, but it should be solved from the root through the negotiations and whether we like or not. But we like that whether the settlement is continuing because of the occupation, the occupation should be end. And the negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis have gone through real examination through some declaration of settlements and some violations for the sacred places and resulted in some killing and death. However, the more comprehensive framework and the commitment from the USA for final settlement, this would put an end for this rejection and for the suffering, and we are full of hope that this would happen.
Thank you very much.