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"On so many areas, French leadership is absolutely essential,"
Clinton tells Juppé
Remarks of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe after their meeting:
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
June 6, 2011
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon. And let me begin by
expressing how delighted I am to have been able to welcome Minister
Juppe to Washington again. He is no stranger to Washington, and
I am delighted to be working with him. We just recently met in
Paris, and I know that we will meet again in a few days’ time
in Abu Dhabi. So we are very closely coordinating, and I appreciate
greatly that on this very important 67th anniversary of D-Day,
the Minister will visit the World War II Memorial to lay a wreath
and to present the French Legion of Honor to three American veterans
who fought for freedom that day. It is a very poignant reminder
of our past solidarity, as today is a reaffirmation of our present
and future solidarity.
And we work together with France in so many areas. France just
very successfully hosted the G8, and I am very grateful to the
Minister and his government. We also discussed our work together
in Afghanistan, where our young men and women are working side
by side. I expressed regret for the death of a French corporal,
who was taking part in a reconnaissance operation; yet another
very tragic reminder of French sacrifices in this ongoing effort.
The president – or the prime minister – excuse me.
He’s been everything but the first – (laughter) –
FOREIGN MINISTER JUPPE: Thank you so much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, yeah. I know I haven’t either,
so we have something else in common. (Laughter.) But the Minister
and I also discussed the Middle East Peace Process, and we are
certainly committed to working together with the Israelis and
the Palestinians to reach a peaceful, mutually beneficial outcome.
On so many areas, French leadership, from Cote d’Ivoire
to the Middle East and North Africa to Afghanistan and far beyond,
is absolutely essential, and I’m very proud of this partnership
and very grateful to have this opportunity, once again, to explore
the very comprehensive agenda that we share.
FOREIGN MINISTER JUPPE: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary
of State, for your kind words and very warm welcome. We have
just had a very good meeting. We have met on many occasions since
my recent appointment, during contact group meetings on Libya,
for example, or the OECD ministerial meeting in Paris. Today
we have deepened this ongoing dialogue on the most pressing issue
of the moment, namely on Libya, on Syria, on Iran, and Afghanistan.
On all those issues, we share the same views and we are implementing
the same actions.
I also briefed the Secretary of State on my latest visit in
the Middle East and our efforts to boost the peace process. We
had on this issue a comprehensive and in-depth exchange, and
we agree to work closely together and with the Palestinians and
Israelians. This has been a very productive discussion and further
proof that France and the United States hold close views on the
international situation. Our partnership, our friendship are
as strong as ever.
Today is no ordinary day for the French and the American people.
As you have said, Madam Secretary, 67 years ago, on June the
6th, 1944, thousands of young American men lost their lives on
the beach of Normandy, on the first day of the campaign to liberate
my country. We will never forget those who shed their blood in
D-Day. As we speak, American and French soldiers are fighting
side by side in Afghanistan. My thoughts go to them also. In
a few hours, I will be at the World War the Second Memorial to
present the Legion d’honneur, our most prestigious award
in France, to three American veterans. And it will be for me
a very important moment.
Well, thank you again. And we’ll meet again in Abu Dhabi
in a few days to discuss more precisely Libya and maybe other
issues. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.
MR. TONER: The first question today goes to Elise Labott of
QUESTION: Thank you. For the both of you, you talked about your
close cooperation on the Middle East. Can you talk, Mister Minister,
about France’s efforts on a Mideast peace process conference?
And Secretary Clinton, is this a helpful idea at this juncture?
Would the U.S. support that?
And Madam Secretary, I was wondering if you could talk just
a little bit about Yemen. You said last week that you’re
doing everything you can to get President Saleh to leave power
and get out of the way. Now that he’s in Saudi Arabia on
medical treatment after this attack on the palace, should he
stay out of the country? Would that be helpful for the transition?
And then there are reports about a precipitous and steep withdrawal
of troops in Afghanistan. Are you afraid that that would engender – danger
the fragile gains that you’ve made at peace there? Thank
SECRETARY CLINTON: Let the minister begin on the Middle East.
FOREIGN MINISTER JUPPE: Yes. On the Middle East, why are you
trying to develop our initiative? Our main concern is what would – will
happen in next September. We have the feeling that if nothing
happens before September, the situation will be very difficult
for everybody when the General Assembly will discuss a resolution
about the Palestinian state. It will not be easy for us Europeans,
for Palestinians, for Israelians, and the only way to avoid such
a situation is to boost or to encourage a resumption of the negotiation
between Palestinian and Israelians. And that’s what we
are trying to do. I presented in Ramallah, then in Jerusalem,
a kind of platform of parameters for negotiation. The Palestinians
have reacted very positively. The Israelians are reflecting on
this proposal. We discussed that all together and we agreed to
continue our conversation and our work closely as possible.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as the minister said, we are working
to have negotiations between the parties resume. We’re
consulting the parties. We’re consulting our partners in
the international community, including the Quartet. As I’ve
said many times, we believe the status quo is unsustainable.
We have said that to the Israelis, we have said it to the Palestinians,
and therefore a return to negotiations is the only path forward.
Unilateral action at the United Nations will not create a state.
And I appreciate how difficult this is because we all know it.
We have lived it and certainly understand that the United States,
France, the international community, we cannot impose a solution
on the parties. They have to decide between themselves how to
have two states living in peace and security next to each other.
So it is ultimately up to them, and any way we can encourage
them to get back into negotiations might create the environment
in which these very difficult decisions will have to be made.
And as the minister said, we discussed that and we will be certainly
With respect to Yemen, we know that President Ali Abullah Saleh
is currently in Saudi Arabia receiving medical treatment. The
civilian government remains in power in Yemen. The vice president
is currently serving as the acting president. Our ambassador,
who’s been very actively involved along with other Embassy
personnel, are continuing to meet with a broad cross-section
of Yemeni officials as well as civil society to try to better
assess what this means to the country. Obviously, I can’t
speculate on what President Saleh is going to do or say, but
we do want to emphasize we’re calling for a peaceful and
orderly transition, a nonviolent transition that is consistent
with Yemen’s own constitution. And our position has not
changed. It continues to remain the same. We think an immediate
transition is in the best interest of the Yemeni people, because
the instability and lack of security currently afflicting Yemen
cannot be addressed until there is some process that everyone
knows is going to lead to the sort of economic and political
reforms that they are seeking.
And, finally, with respect to Afghanistan, there have been no
decisions made. Obviously, we have said consistently that our
transition will be in accordance with the agreement reached at
the Lisbon summit. That was a very firm commitment by NATO and
ISAF partners to a transition that will end the combat mission
in 2014. We know it needs to be conditions based. There will
be transitioning to Afghan lead security.
But speaking for the United States, we have absolutely not made
the specific decisions, because we’re still gathering our
best assessment. But we will do what we do in consultation with
our partners in the NATO-ISAF partnership. And we will do it
in consultation with the Afghans, because ultimately our goal
here is to try to create conditions where Afghanistan can defend
MR. TONER: Second question goes to Lorraine Millot of Libération.
QUESTION: To Secretary of State, first, are you ready to attend
a conference proposed in Paris by Mr. Juppe? Do you think such
a conference would be helpful? Could it help prevent a vote at
the U.N.? And with due respect to this house, don’t you
think that if you would send President Obama, it would give more
weight to such a conference, because he was in charge of the
negotiation until now?
And to Mr. Juppe, in French if I may. (In French.)
INTERPRETER: So the question in French was, to Mr. Juppe, what
do you expect to obtain in this conference, so that you would
kind of avert the vote of the UN or convince the Palestinians
that it is not a good idea to have this vote at the UN?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say that there is no
agreement that the parties will resume negotiations. And I think
the idea of any gathering, a conference or a meeting, has to
be linked to a willingness by the parties to resume negotiating.
And I know that Minister Juppe raised that with both parties
when he was recently in Ramallah and Jerusalem.
We strongly support a return to negotiations. But we do not
think that it would be productive for there to be a conference
about returning to negotiations. There has to be a return to
negotiations, which will take a lot of persuasion and preliminary
work in order to set up a productive meeting between the parties.
So right now we are still in a wait and see attitude, because
we don’t yet have any assurance from either party that
they would return to negotiations. And speaking just for the
United States, we continue to have serious concerns about the
role, if any, that Hamas might play in a Palestinian government.
It is not enough for us that it would be called technocratic
if Hamas is involved. We think that undermines the whole purpose
of negotiations, because you would have a party that rejects
Israel’s right to exist.
Now, Hamas knows very well what it can and must do. If it wishes
to be part of a process, it must recognize Israel, it must renounce
violence, and it must agree to abide by the prior agreements
entered into by the Palestinian Authority.
So we are waiting to see how this develops. But there is no
doubt whatsoever that the United States agrees with France that
we want to see the parties return to negotiations.
FOREIGN MINISTER JUPPE: (Via interpreter.) So as – I’m
going to answer in French. As you could notice, there’s
agreement between the U.S. and France. There is also perfect
agreement between Mrs. Secretary and myself. And we have to convince
the Palestinian that, indeed, the two parties at the status quo
is not a good solution – that is no solution at all – that
it is not a good idea to try to go through the UN to have this
resolution. And we have to convince both parties of this fact.
When I went to the Middle East, I didn’t expect an immediately
enthusiastic welcome from all parties. I was rather pleasantly
surprised, because the Palestinians were happy with what I said.
The Israelis didn’t say no, and Mrs. Secretary told me,
wait and see.
So we agree to keep on working. We have not decided to invite
anybody right now to the conference in Paris. So there is no
question of who is coming and who is not coming. And we are only
going to have this conference if there’s sufficiently – sufficient
work done so that it is well prepared.
As for the rest, it is way too early to talk about it. We’ll
see in September, and then we’ll see if we take a decision.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER JUPPE: Thank you.
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