Back to: G8 Foreign Ministers' Meetings
Note: The following are unofficial notes as transcribed by Madeline Koch. Reporters' questions are summarized and unattributed
Giovanni Castellaneta, Personal Representative for the G8 and Diplomatic Advisor, Italy
Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, United Kingdom
Igor Ivanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Russian Federation
Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada
Colin Powell, Secretary of State for the United States of America
Yoriko Kawaguchi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Japan
Christopher Patten, Commissioner for External Affairs for the EU
Javier Solana, EU High Representative of the Council/Secretary General for the Common Foreign and Security Policy
Gérard Errera, France
Klaus Scharioth, Germany
Moderator: Carl Schwenger
Thank you, I'm pleased to be able to meet you all again. I'm going to make a few opening statement and then we'll open it up to questions.
I'd first like to begin my statement by thanking the government and people of the province of British Columbia, and the mayor and council and especially the citizens of the municipality of Whistler for the warm welcome they have extended to our G8 foreign ministers and our delegations. I am sure you all agree with us that this is a magnificent venue for a meeting and I invite you all to come back in the winter [xxx] I'm sure you would agree that this would be an excellent place for the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler.
Laissez-moi en profiter de cet occasion pour remercier pour mes collègues de G8 de cette rejoindre à moi au cours de ces deux journées et de souligner leur travail affirmer xxx de cette rencontre.
This year as you know we kept ceremony to a minimum and eliminated xxx a communiqué. Instead, I will be issuing a chair's statement which attempts to capture the main items which we discussed. We discussed [counter]terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the very deep concern we all have about paying attention to xxx, recovery of conflict in Afghanistan. There was a great deal to discuss at this meeting. Our talks have been wide ranging and highly productive. We will of course be reporting to our various leaders on the substance of our discussions as they prepare to gather together for their meeting later in Kananaskis in Alberta.
Let me focus briefly on the issues summarized in the Canadian chair's statement. Yesterday we reviewed and issued a report on progress being made in combating terrorism since September. In that report, we highlight our support of UN and the United Nations Security Council Counterterrorism Committee in implementing Resolution 1373. We understand that some countries may have difficulty in meeting their commitment, but we are prepared to help them build their capacity to fulfil their obligation. This includes taking measures cut off all forms of support for terrorists such as financing, recruitment and supply of weapons. In assisting other states and regions we are co-ordinating with ourselves to avoid duplication and ensure the best application of our efforts.
Of particular interest to us is the emerging threat of terrorists using weapons of mass destruction. We must step up and co-ordinate our efforts to ensure that terrorists do not get their hands on these deadly weapons. This may be done by promoting compliance with multilateral treaties, strengthening security measures with regards to related materials and facilities, and strengthening border and export controls on chemical, biological and radiological [xxx] materials. We need to reiterate to our citizens that it will take long and arduous work to make the global offensive against terrorism truly effective. We are determined to ensure the right balance between the values and freedoms we enjoy and the methods which we will use to protect them.
Working in close co-operation with the UN and Afghan authorities, the G8 will sustain our support with political and financial measures to build a secure and prosperous future for the people of Afghanistan. This is a highly critical time in that nation's xxx. We've all been watching closely the proceedings at Emergency Loya Jirga that is underway to choose a transitional administration to govern Afghanistan until democratic elections can be held in 2004. On behalf of all of my G8 colleagues I would like to congratulate Chairman Karzai for his resounding victory in today's election. We are informed that he won by 1,295 out of 1,550 xxx - a percentage that warms the hearts of all the elected officials around this table. We commend the accomplishments of the Afghan interim administration for leading Afghanistan for the past six months on the way to recovery.
The G8 is also focusing in Afghanistan attention on the reform of the security sector to help the Afghan authorities develop the capacity to provide for the security of their citizens and to restore the rule of law. Measures under way include the creation of national army, establishment of national and regional police forces, reform of the justice sector and the demobilization of former combatants. We will pay particular attention to developing effective counters on xxx, concentrating on helping the Afghan authorities eliminate the opium trade and of course the ban on poppies xxx.
As you might have expected, the tensions between India and Pakistan were a major issue on our agenda. A number of my colleagues have recently been in the region and their firsthand accounts of the situation were very helpful in informing our discussions. In the statement the G8 issued late last month we expressed grave concern about the risks inherent in this crisis. We called on Pakistan to take concrete actions immediately to [through unusual trading] across the Line of Control and stop terrorist groups from operating from territory under its control. We also called on India and Pakistan to continue to work with the international community to ensure that there will be a diplomatic resolution to the current crisis. Our concerns remain deep and undiminishing. There is a real risk of xxx escalation if both sides are not willing to step back from the brink and continue the dialogue. We will therefore continue our sustained, co-ordinated diplomatic efforts to diffuse the current pressure. We also discussed how might support both parties in dealing with the fundamental issues and longer term problems that continue to be source of tension and conflict.
We also of course discussed the Middle East. Several of us have recently been to the region and have met with Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Sharon and other regional leaders. We were able to share personal assessments of the situation. Secretary Powell was able to brief us all on the recent visits of Egyptian president Mubarak and Israeli prime minister Sharon to Washington. We agreed on certain several core principles. Terrorism must end is if there is to be an end to the problems in the area. We affirmed the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognized borders. We underscored our commitment to help co-operate with all the parties to support the conditions for peace, prosperity and dignity and security in the region. We welcome the Arab leaders [commission] adopted at the summit at Beirut and the intention of the U.S. to convene an international conference on the Middle East.
[The following two paragraphs are taken from the simultaneous translation of Minister Graham's comments, which were delivered in French.]
This morning ... we know that we are now living in a new international environment. We focussed on the proliferation of arms and weapons of mass destruction. We discussed the range of mechanisms we have at our disposal, a range going from multilateral agreements to controls on export.
Permit me also to deal with a few other regional issues that we discussed this morning, the Balkans and the Korean Peninsula.
The Balkans are a good example of the way in which the international community can be engaged to convince combatants to put an end to violence and destruction. We are pleased to see the progress in the ongoing negotiations between the two leaders. We are also pleased to see the renewal of dialogue between North and South Korea. Of course, there remains work to be done, but we know what can be done when old enemies see value of dialogue.
I will stop there. We would welcome your questions. I would ask you to wait to be recognized by Karl Schwenger sitting at the far end. Please state your name, media affiliation and the particular minister to whom you're addressing your question.
Q: Are there any impediments left to holding an international conference on the Middle East?
Graham: There are certainly questions concerning the conference, calling the conference on the Middle East. We welcome a great deal the initiative of the U.S. and the personal engagement of Mr. Powell and President Bush. Clearly, they as the principal convenors but working with the quartet - our Russian colleagues and others - will be ensuring that people attending the conference are capable of making decisions that will bring this matter to a fruitful decision. So I think the impediment to the conference is making sure that the necessary parties recognize both the need for the conference and accept [xxx]. All of that work remains to be done, but I'm confident that with good will and particularly with the support of the major parties at this table that will be achieved.
Powell: There are a number of modalities that have to work out. I wouldn't call them impediments so much as call them modalities, that have to be worked out with respect to venue, agenda and a number of other issues that have to be dealt with. But before all that comes into play the President Bush is assembling all the various advice and views that he has heard from various leaders and will be in due course communicating his view of a way forward. That will drive the timing and the other modalities with respect to how to move forward and how the conference will be held [xxx].
Q: How have summits made a difference?
Ivanov [through an interpreter]: All the participants at this meeting - my colleagues and ministers of foreign affairs - have mentioned how important these summits are and welcome the recent agreements between Putin and Bush in Moscow on the treaty of the reduction of strategic arms. We also welcome the establishment of the Russian NATO council. This all represents a new environment emerging in international relations. We have stressed that this new environment helps us to solve the issues facing us and affects the interests of every state, above all in the fight against terrorism and other issues, including disarmament and arms control. [xxx] These are very important for the world.
Q: Please comment on the debate between countries and within Washington on the international conference and the establishment of a temporary state of Palestine.
Powell: I am pleased that my colleagues, as you saw from the chairman's statement, are supportive of such a conference and that shouldn't be surprising. The idea of a meeting of such a conference was announced some weeks ago back in Washington and we have remained committed to moving forward. With respect to an interim state, as we have been saying, both myself and the White House spokesman and other members of the administration, this is an idea that has always been out there. It is an idea that has surfaced on many occasions on both sides over the years, and it is one of the ideas that the President has under consideration. I have nothing to add at this point. The President has all these ideas under consideration and will make his decision and ideas, views, known in due course.
Straw: We support the conference and [xxx] as I have said to Secretary Powell before that, as I have before. On the program for a transitional Palestinian state, as Secretary Powell said, this idea has been out and around for quite some time, [xxx] and has been since Crown Prince Abdullah's report [and others]. We think that there is a lot of merit in the proposition and also some disadvantages. In the British government we have not yet come to a final view but it ought to be considered.
Solana: I think there is an agreement that a political initiative is necessary at this point in time. What form that political initiative may take - a conference, what is the level, etc. - these questions have not been closed. With the second question, pertaining to the recognition of the state, as you know [xxx] this idea has been floating around for a long time and it started in negotiation between the two sides. Therefore, it is something that can be taken into consideration in the future. But no decision has been taken about how or what is the level of the conference, etc. Therefore less on the content [xxx]. At any rate, [xxx] we think it is necessary.
[The following is the interpreter's version, as Mr. Ivanov spoke in Russian.]
Ivanov: The idea of a Middle East conference itself is enjoying broad international support. It is quite natural that Russia with the rest of the quartet supported this idea in Washington. Intense work is being put into putting material content into this idea. [xxx] That's why we're diligently working on it and [xxx] achieve this outcome. On the basis of the preparation, the participants and the venue and dates will be determined. As for the provisional state, it is premature to talk about it.
Q: Any consensus on the need to deal with Arafat?
Powell: As you know, Chairman Arafat is seen by the Palestinian people as their leader and he is the head of the Palestinian Authority. He has been taking actions in recent days to xxx that party including changing the size and composition of his cabinet, suggesting a schedule for upcoming elections and other actions as well. In that capacity, I believe we do have an obligation to deal with him and not only with him and with other Palestinian leaders as well. President Bush has often said, the United States government [xxx] been disappointed in Chairman Arafat's performance and we hope that his performance will improve and we will work with other Palestinian leaders as well as recognizing the role that [our] country plays within the Palestine community.
Straw: Our view is quite straightforward on this: It's not in our gift to determine the nature of the leaders with which we deal, either from the [state or] administration or the occupied territories. There is an important agenda there for President Arafat [particularly to] reform the way the Palestinian Authority operates and very significant improvement in the security [realm] of the organization within occupied territories and the world is looking to him to implement those reforms.
[The following is a reply to a question about the international conference asked in Japanese.]
Kawaguchi: So far, the details have not been set on the international conference. It is still to be discussed. We feel there are three elements: security, humanitarian assistance and reconstruction, and the three element is the political process. Japan feels these three processes have to be treated at the same time, concurrently. We feel that all the countries - many countries are interested in the process, including Japan - have so much to contribute and Japan is a country which we ourselves have reconstructed after the devastation of the last year. Therefore we feel we have so much to contribute. In these three processes Japan would be happy to [xxx] and constructively contribute. As I said, sushi can be edible without soy sauce but is complete with soy sauce.
Q: As the representatives of the EU that has provided much of the financing of the Palestinian infrastructure, are you concerned that the U.S. may be marginalizing Chairman Arafat?
Patten: You are entirely right in saying we have been big contributors of reconstruction assistance, of humanitarian assistance to the authorities in the Palestinian territories and we've also been, with the Norwegian government, the principal supporters of the task force which recommended the reforms in the ways the Palestinian Authority conducted its affairs and secondly in actually putting those reforms in place. And we will continue to support reform, taking into account in particular the most recent task force report on council of foreign relations. I very much agree with what the secretary of state and the British foreign secretary for dealing with Arafat: you can't choose the leaders you deal with, you have to take reality as it is and that is what we will continue to do.
Q: Is it possible to make progress on the international conference, in light of serious terrorist attacks in Israel?
Powell: It makes it much more difficult to move forward toward a political settlement when you see these horrible acts of terror committed against innocent people. [The attack that took place during my recent visit] slowed down my mission at that time, the way the work I was undertaking by about 24 hours. So that is why we call on Chairman Arafat to call xxx leaders and Arab leaders and the Palestinian people to turn away from terrorism and violence, because all those actions do is delay the day when we can might arrive a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people living side by side in peace with Israel. That is why we must deplore that kind of activity. At the same time, we have to find a way to move forward even in the presence of this kind violence and terror while we are going after [xxx]. Otherwise we allow the terrorists to make a judgement for the rest of us as to what is acceptable and whether you can or cannot move forward. So while condemning terrorism in any form, and we have certainly done that in the course of our deliberations over the last 24 hours, we must find a way not to let the terrorists to win by setting a bomb which is there way from keeping us from working towards political settlement. As my colleagues said to me, and we reaffirmed our views: There has to be a political way forward and we will not be deterred from finding the political way forward by acts of horrible terror committed on innocent people.
Q: Is there a specific role for Canada to play in the Middle East?
Powell: Canada has been very helpful as a member of this organization, the G8 group, the experience of meeting at the ministerial level and giving us their advice and counsel. The visits that Canadian leaders and most recent the foreign minister have made to the region help to convey message of anti-terrorism and the message of reconciliation, and the message that once again describes the need for a political solution and all that is good. I think that as we move down the road and find things that we can do, as my Japanese colleague said, in the security basket and in the humanitarian and reconstruction basket, I am sure that Canada will be able to play an effective role in that regard as well, especially in the capacity of the humanitarian and reconstruction basket. I will leave to the Canadian authorities of course to determine how best they can contribute. We value very much the support that we have received from Canada and the role that the Canadian ministers have played in the past in engaging with leaders in the region.
Graham: You'll recall of course that we still remain as chair of the - gavel, I think, is the technical term - of the refugee working group, which is an extremely important issue to resolve in the struggling to having peace and establishing two states within secure borders, and we will continue our work, which we are doing as this meeting is going on and in that very important area. We certainly remain more than willing to support the U.S. and everyone in efforts to bring peace and, as Secretary Powell put it so well, bringing this to the level of a political dialogue and not that of suicide bombers in the street.
Q: Here in BC the forest industry is crippled because Canada trusted the U.S. to be fair and trust negotiators but behind the scenes, I'm told, the U.S. is a bully. If you treat your friends like that, why would the rest of the country place their trust in the U.S.?
Powell: I think we treat our friends and especially our Canadian friends fairly on the basis of open trust. We have the strongest trading relationship imaginable with Canada, which results in a surplus of sales from Canada to the U.S. Canada benefits from this trade. Canada has a surplus from the U.S. on this trade. I think this demonstrates the quality of this relationship. Does that mean there will not be disagreements that come along from time to time? Yes, those disagreements will come along. In the case that I think you're referring to specifically, of course, softwood lumber, I understand how that is of particular concern to the western provinces and I know that President Bush and Prime Minister Chrétien are doing everything they can - and various ministers are doing everything they can - to try to find a solution to this problem. This is a difficult and complicated problem. There are equities on both sides of this issue, but we will find a solution on the basis of the strong relationship that exists between our two countries, which is found first and foremost on trust.
Graham: I'd like to briefly add that I certainly never lose an opportunity, as the Secretary will say, to raise this issue. It is an extremely important one and impress upon him that some 25,000 jobs in our country are riding on the decision to which we do not - well, we can discuss whether it's fair or unfair - we do not believe it is in the spirit of the free trade agreement that governs us. I just want to say that in that context there is a positive matter: We are resolving this as neighbours by going to an issue, taking it through the dispute resolution mechanisms that we have established in civilized countries, and we will resolve this in court. We believe strongly that we will win that position but we are treating this as a matter we will argue as argues through the court system, rather than resorting to other measures that would be different perhaps in other circumstances.
Powell: I will not prejudge the court outcome.
Q: What kind of an example does this set to those countries that are not as friendly to one another?
Graham: Our European friends can tell you some of the disputes they've had. The European Court of Justice has about a dispute a day between one or another European countries.
Powell: The example we are setting is that the rule of law prevails. The example we are setting is that two friendly democratic countries, who have been friends for so many, many, many decades have a disagreement. They have not been able to resolve that disagreement but we know how to resolve this disagreement: through the rule of law, letting it be argued and the answer will be forthcoming. This is not unusual. This happens, as the minister just said, with almost every country at this table and within the EU context. It is part of having a vibrant trade relations between two sides. We should also be talking about all of the trading opportunities and all the exchanges of products back and forth that generate no negotiation and no problems whatsoever, and that represents 99.99 percent of the trade that goes back and forth between our two countries and between all the countries represented at this table.
Straw: I'm going to add, by way of comfort, that the United Kingdom, in the EU we occasionally have our differences of opinion. We are good friends from Gerard Errera representing the foreign minister of France. We are very close to France, not least because we are close to them, we sometimes have a neighbourly disputation. The way to resolve this, however, is by proper procedures laid down and that is what we're doing in the European Union. I know for certain that the same on this of the Atlantic.
Q: The Arab leaders are pressing for a timeline for a conference. What is the U.S. response, as well as that of the EU and Russia? Was a timeline discussed?
Powell: There are many points and ideas as I've said, and there are those who believe you have to put forward as soon as possible a political horizon that has a timeline. Other points of view suggest that's not the way to move forward. We are examining all that and in due course the President will reach his conclusion and will communicate it to the world.
Solana: A timeline would be very helpful.
[The following remarks were delivered by the interpreter, as Ivanov's response was given in Russian.] Ivanov: A deadline would be advisable because it would open up very much clearer prospects for a settlement to this problem. But this is not an end to the process itself. The important thing is to have [something] to allow us to move forward, to agree on the most important issues for the settlement of the conflict. There is no disagreement with my colleagues in the U.S. and EU. We are acting in a co-ordinated manner.
Powell: Every aspect of this issue was discussed last night.
Q: Two questions: Could you comment on the issue of the right of return? Was there any discussion on disarmament and commercial use of plutonium?
Powell: The right of return is one of the most difficult issues to be dealt with in any negotiation going forward. We did not spend any time at the conference discussing it, recognizing it as one of the most difficult areas has to be dealt with later in any negotiation.
Graham: The right of return is [a principal concern of both] the parties. Nobody from the outside can impose a solution on them. We can work with the parties on that. On disarmament, we had extensive discussions on disarmament and we concentrated on accessibility to not only plutonium but also chemical, biological and other weapons of mass destruction and potential weapons of mass destruction and terrorism as to how we can collaborate together to eliminate access to them in particular parts of the world. We particularly had a productive discussion with Mr. Ivanov on that issue and we will continue to work on that issue. It is a matter that will be discussed by the leaders at Kananaskis as to how we can get together an effective program for the disposal of all of these materials that are a potential threat to all of us.
Q: Did the subject of Iraq come up? Is the EU concerned about political pressure in the U.S. to act against Iraq?
Powell: We discussed Iraq in the context of proliferation and its continuing desire to develop and acquire weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. We did not have a discussion on the particular actions that might or might not be taken in the future.
Patten: I don't think there are any of the concerns which you reflected and I am sure we'll continue to discuss the issue of Iraq as constructively as we have at the United Nations.
Q: Can you explain how you all seem to agree on two states and Arafat as negotiator, yet it seems there is quite a lot of confusion in Washington on this issue?
Powell: There is no confusion. The President has spoken about two states - look at his political speech. He went to the United Nations last fall and for the first time the President of the United States stood before an international body and called for a state for the Palestinian people by the name of the Palestine to be created. So he has been consistent and we have been consistent that there is a need for a state for the Palestinian people to live side by side in peace with the Jewish faith and the [republic] of Israel. So there is no confusion about that. People often may like to write about there being confusion, but there is no confusion. That's been the consistent position of President Bush and he has reaffirmed it on a regular basis. The difficulty is how do you move forward on that vision. Moving forward on that vision is made more difficult by the violence and terror that takes place. This is why it has to be brought under control. I think the vision is clear: two sides living side by side in peace, end of terror, end of violence. President Bush in his political speech also called for the end of occupation and for the end of the settlement activity, which is one of the most difficult things to move on. And what we are doing now is determining the best way to move forward on the vision that President Bush has laid out and the international community has laid out, and all of my colleagues here in this conference understand and are also committed to. With respect to Arafat, the position I gave earlier is the position of the administration.
Ivanov [through the interpreter]: Given that there are no more questions I'd like to note that our final meeting, all the participants have expressed our appreciation for the way this meeting has been organized, especially in the way that Minister Graham performed as chairman - in a very strict way so we could move through our agenda.
Graham: There you have the perfect image: At one end the Russian bear, at the other end the American eagle and the little Canadian beaver in between. We managed to chew our way through a few trees. We had an excellent message, and I thank our colleagues very much for their participation and their co-operation at this press conference, and I wish you all a safe return home.
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