G8 Foreign Ministers Meetings

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G8 Foreign Ministers Meeting
G8 Ministerial Chair’s Introduction and Press Conference
Washington, May 14, 2004 *

SECRETARY POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Let me begin by apologizing for the absence of our colleague Joschka Fischer, the Vice Chancellor of Germany and Foreign Minister who had to catch a plane and our conversations got so long and intense that we ran out of time and he had to rush right for the airport. But he did wish that I extend his apologies to you.

In preparation for the June 8th to 10th G8 Summit at Sea Island, Georgia, I had the pleasure today to meet today with the Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom, as well as our European Union colleagues.

This morning at the White House, the ministers met with President Bush, and he spoke of the importance he places on the G8 process and of his commitment to achieving a substantive outcome from the Summit meeting at Sea Island.

Here at the State Department, my G8 colleagues and I have held very constructive discussions in the course of the morning and afternoon on how we can best meet our shared responsibility to build a freer, safer and more prosperous world. Together, we agreed on a positive agenda to overcome threats of conflict, terrorism, instability and to build new relationships with other nations, especially in the Middle East, based on reform and the pursuit of peace.

We expressed our common support for aspirations in the region for freedom, for democracy and for prosperity. We discussed how to advance at the Sea Island Summit an initiative to work in partnership with governments, businesses and civil society in the Middle East to assist political, economic and social reform through existing and new assistance programs. All of us agreed that a successful partnership must acknowledge local conditions and the unique nature of each of the countries we will be engaging in. Ultimately, change will depend on the countries of the region themselves. Change cannot be imposed from the outside. And we look forward to speaking to the nations of the region and part of my trip to the Middle East this weekend at the World Economic Forum will be for the purpose of meeting with Arab foreign ministers on the reform effort.

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We also agreed that the G8 nations must work to achieve a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. We recognized that progress on reform and resolution of critical issues of security and stability are mutually reinforcing. And we agreed that our efforts to support regional reform must go forward, even as efforts to resolve security and stability issues continue. We reaffirmed our strong support to the vision of two states living side by side in peace and security: Israel and Palestine, and to the work of the Quartet and its roadmap as being the best path to peace.

We also discussed the security situation in Iraq at considerable length and the June 30th transfer of authority — transfer of authority from the CPA under Ambassador Bremer to a new interim Iraqi government All of us share a strong interest in Iraq's reconstruction and successful transition to democracy.

I am also pleased to report that we agreed to advance a Sea Island Summit initiative to increase the world’s capacity to deal with post-conflict situations, especially in Africa. We seek to increase global capacity for peace operations through three concrete proposals: One, a mechanism to coordinate training; two, a gendarmerie training center; and three, a deployment logistics support arrangement. This initiative builds on existing G8 commitments for Africa, and complements other programs already underway. Under the new initiative, the G8 will coordinate, build, and enhance peace operations training and peace exercises, peace training exercises in Africa and elsewhere in the world.

We also agreed on the need for international support for the September elections in Afghanistan and for efforts to stem the production of narcotics.

Finally, we discussed ways to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and we shared our concerns over the nuclear weapons programs of Iran and North Korea.

The focus of this year's G8 Summit at Sea Island is advancing freedom by strengthening cooperation to make the world both safer and better.

Together, nations of the G8 serve as a powerful force for good across the globe. Indeed, there is little that can be accomplished in the world today without the support of the leading industrial nations. And when we work in partnership, there is a great deal that we can do to help men and women across the globe achieve their aspirations for freedom, prosperity and peace.

And now my colleagues and I would be pleased to take your questions.

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MR. BOUCHER: I guess we can start down here with Andrea Mitchell.

QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Secretary — Mr. Secretary and Ministers. Mr. Secretary, can you explain what the practical reasons might be for not giving the Iraqi interim government full control over its own security and over its own security forces, and in fact, over its oil and other natural resources?

And perhaps Minister Barnier and Minister Lavrov can explain whether your governments are satisfied that this transfer of authority on June 30th, as the United States contemplates it, will be real rather than virtual.

SECRETARY POWELL: It will be real for the simple reason that the CPA goes away. The government that is there now goes away. Ambassador Bremer will leave. Ambassador Negroponte is not coming to replace Ambassador Bremer. The Iraqi interim government replaces the CPA; therefore, it becomes the government, a government in the hands of Iraqi leaders. Ambassador Brahimi is hard at work structuring this arrangement. He is also working with us and others of our friends in the world to identify individuals who will be seen as competent, committed to democracy and reform for the Iraqi people, and will be acceptable to the Iraqi people.

We spent a great deal of time talking about the nature of a UN resolution that might endorse this arrangement. The transition has really already begun. 11 ministries have now been turned over to Iraqi leadership by Ambassador Bremer, and so I think it's going to be very clear that the United States is anxious to give as much power and authority to this government as it can handle.

We also know very well that the security situation is such that we're confident that this new government will want us to stay in considerable strength in order to help them with the building of institutions, with the preparing of their society for elections by the end of January 2005.

And as part of our process of moving forward over the next month and a half as we work on UN resolutions, we'll also be working with the individuals identified for this new government and arranging letters of agreement or understandings with respect to what our military forces will be doing, how they will work in coordination and cooperation with the interim Iraqi government.

And so I think we had a very good and open discussion on this subject, but I would invite both Sergey and Michel to respond to your question.

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FOREIGN MINISTER BARNIER: (Via Interpreter) Well, if you'll allow me, I'd like to say a few words in my mother tongue.

I would first like to thank Colin and President Bush for welcoming us today. It was important that we should be able to discuss the Iraqi crisis and other issues. Now I think that we have to realize that we are only starting to discuss the draft resolution and we're only just starting to discuss the conditions and the context in which, on the 30th of June, this new Iraqi government will receive authority. Now I don't know if authority is exactly the same thing as sovereignty — in English, anyway, I don't know.

This being said, I do believe that this government should be a sovereign government with all the trappings of sovereignty but also the hard facts of sovereignty. And we have to go on discussing how that will happen.

Now, I — we will make a positive contribution to this discussion. We feel that this has to be done on the basis of Mr. Brahimi's proposals, on the list of ministers, and we also have to check that the ministers are acceptable in the eyes of the Iraqis themselves and recognized by the Iraqis; and we have to make sure that that government has the ability to govern Iraq.

And when I say govern Iraq, it means manage the economy, the law enforcement, the judiciary, natural resources. And we have to make sure, also, that they have some kind of authority over the Iraqi forces during the — in specific period that runs from July this year to January next year. There will have to be some kind of agreements and understanding as to how the multinational force acts and what it does.

But I think that the Iraqi government has to be in a position to govern. And that's why I mean that it has to be a break with the past.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via Interpreter) It is — things that we're discussing now — I agree with what was just said, that the — some kind of schematic, specific schematic, there is none on the table in negotiations, there are no drafts of resolutions. We have a very free and friendly exchange, and this exchange of opinion, we hope, will lead to a common platform. And this way we can come to terms on some essential matters. We think that there are two primary topics: one, that the temporary — formation of the temporary government there be transparent and that it allow us to form a government which would be acceptable to Iraqis themselves, and which will have international legitimacy.

The second is that this government be truly sovereign, about what Secretary Powell just said; and that sovereignty means, among other things, the idea that additional support and further support for the international community for Iraq and the government Iraq should be based upon the requirements, the wishes and desires of this temporary government.

If we are able to provide understanding of these two major topics, the major themes, and this understanding is fully achievable, then the appropriate piece of paper that would reflect this should not cause us a lot of problems to produce.

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QUESTION: A question for Secretary Powell and for the British, Italian and Japanese colleague.

In your mind, Secretary Powell, the new Iraqi government will have the power to ask to the forces of the coalition to leave the country? And, if they do, what will your forces do?

The same questions for the other three ministers.

SECRETARY POWELL: Right now, under UN Resolution 1511 and the Administrative Law that the Governing Council put into effect, we believe there is authority for us to continue providing our military forces in a security role through the 30th of June and even beyond.

It is really when the national assembly is formed in January 2005, and it puts in place another government — a transitional government replacing the interim government — at that point we would expect that that transitional government would want to discuss with the multinational force leaders issues such as SOFA, such as other arrangements. And it might also say: "We believe we can handle this ourselves now, and you should go home. Thank you very much."

At that point, we would say, "Glad we've been able to help you," and we would return our forces back to the United States.

The question that has come up is what about during this interim period between 1 July and the election of the national assembly next January. I think the answer is the same. We are there to support the Iraqi people in protecting themselves, protecting their new government.

I have no doubt that the interim Iraqi government will welcome the continued presence and operation of coalition military forces. So I am losing absolutely no sleep thinking that they might ask us to leave during this interim period while we're building up their forces.

But, just to make sure I'm not ducking the hypothetical, which I usually do, to make sure I'm not ducking the hypothetical here and causing any confusion, were this interim government to say to us, "We really think we can handle this on our own, it would be better if you were to leave," we would leave.

Yeah, Franco.

FOREIGN MINISTER FRATTINI: (Via Interpreter) I just would like to add one observation. I do agree with what Secretary of State Powell said. Italy, too, does not intend by — to remain at all against the wishes of a government, which is a transitory government.

With the new period that starts on July 1st it is obvious that should that new government, which will be created at the beginning of the year in 2005, and again, I repeat, after the transition period, if that government were to decide that it does not need the contribution for stabilization purposes, for security, for support purposes; that the forces, which at that point will no longer be occupying forces but will be invited to be there, if we are not invited, we will not desire to remain against the will of a legitimate government. This is a hypothetical, but it is right that we take this into consideration.

If that government, that legitimized government does decide to invite and continues to desire the presence of receiving assistance for security and stabilization purposes, obviously, we will take that request under consideration since that government will be a legitimate one.

FOREIGN MINISTER STRAW: Let me just endorse what the Secretary has said and say this: I know of nobody in Iraq, as well as outside, who cares about Iraq's future stability; who believes that that stability would be best-served by an abrupt withdrawal of the multinational forces which are there. But to underline what the Secretary has said, on the 30th of June, sovereignty transfers to the Iraqi people and to the Iraqi government. And were they to ask us to leave, we would leave. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER KAWAGUCHI: (Via Interpreter) What I'd like to say first of all is that the Japanese Self Defense Forces are not there to occupy. The Japanese Self Defense Forces are there to reconstruct Iraq and to extend humanitarian assistance. As a practical matter, the people of Samawa, where the Self Defense Forces are, are desirous of continued support from the Self Defense Forces. They have been telling us this. Therefore, a situation posed in your question, I think, is not likely. However, if it were to come about, then as the other ministers has said, we would go back to Japan if requested.

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QUESTION: This is a question for the Secretary of State, but anybody else who cares to chip in — you've spoken in the past, or members of the Administration have spoken about limited sovereignty for the Iraqi government. You, yourself, have spoken about giving some of the sovereignty back or borrowing some of the sovereignty back. What is the formulation now on that end? Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: It — I think it principally deals with the issue of the military force that will be there from the multinational coalition after the 1st of July. The new government takes over but, in effect, it has invited the coalition forces to remain and help provide security. The bulk of those coalition forces are United States with very meaningful contributions from a number of other countries, several of whom are represented here today.

Those forces have to remain under the command of the multinational force commander, who, we expect, will continue to be an American. And that American commander has to be answerable through our military chain of command, so he has to be free to take whatever decisions he believes are appropriate to accomplish his mission. To some extent, therefore, in that situation, the new Iraqi government is yielding some of its sovereignty or its authority, the authority of its sovereignty, back to that multinational commander.

In order to make sure that we do this in a proper manner, we will be setting up political consultative processes; we will be setting up various liaison organizations and cells so that the Iraqi interim government is fully knowledgeable about what our military activities are and what we're planning to do, and that we will have full insight into any sensitivities that might exist within the Iraqi interim government concerning our military operations.

You can see us doing that right now in places like Fallujah and Najaf, where it's close collaboration between the military side of the house and the civilian side of the house, and I would expect that we will see situations like that to emerge in the post-1 July period. That's why I mentioned earlier, before 1 July we will have to enter into various agreements setting up these liaison functions and making sure we have a common understanding of how political-military discussions will take place. And, of course, we will have military commanders there as well as an American Ambassador, John Negroponte, representing the political side of the United States Government to participate in those deliberations.

Whether there are other areas that might fit into that category of some yielding of sovereignty might well be the case. For example, we are going to be helping them train their police forces. Their police forces will be entirely under the Ministry of the Interior, but we'll continue to support the training of them so we'll have some say-so there.

The Iraqi military forces and paramilitary forces themselves will be under the command of Iraqi officers and under their Ministry of Defense, but for purposes of unity of command and working with the multinational coalition forces, they will report to the single commander of the overall force; otherwise, you would have chaos.

We have had arrangements like this in a number of countries over the years and we think we know how to do it, and we think it's workable.

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QUESTION: My name is Toshi Matsui. I'm from Fuji TV, Japanese network. My question is for Secretary Powell and Japanese Foreign Minister Kawaguchi.

I am just wondering if you had any discussion on the North Korea's nuclear program; and also, I'm wondering if you had discussed on the Japanese abductees issue, especially the Japanese Government decision by the Prime Minister Koizumi to visit Pyongyang again this month. Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: We did have a discussion on both issues. As you know, the working group has adjourned after three days of work — the six-party working group. They had good, open discussions. No particular breakthroughs occurred.

The five — five of the six members of the group are committed to the need for North Korea to have a complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of their nuclear weapons programs, their nuclear programs, and we have made it clear to North Korea, once again, that there is no hostile intent or aggressive action coming from any of us, especially from the United States, and it would be in their best interest to go down this path with us, beginning with a freeze on their part, and get into a process of discussion and dialogue. So the six-way process is continuing to work. It's work in which we have to be patient and keep applying the pressure.

With respect to Prime Minister Koizumi's announcement, I will yield to my colleague, Yuriko.

FOREIGN MINISTER KAWAGUCHI: (Via Interpreter) Regarding the nuclear issue, it is just as Secretary Powell told you. I have nothing in particular to add.

With respect to the abductees, Japan is now undertaking efforts. We were able to talk about that and to request the assistance of our G8 colleagues.

Thank you.

MR. BOUCHER: For one or two more, let's go to ITAR/TASS, please.

QUESTION: (In Russian followed by interpreter) And for the Secretary of State, we wanted to ask you, sir, around this table, everyone has to right to free travel to the United States without a visa. How soon do you see such a right for Russia?

Thank you.

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QUESTION: (inaudible)

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via Interpreter) Responding to your question about the International Conference on Iraq, we've always said that the Conference is not a purpose in itself, but a means to achieving an end: the end of transparency and the formation of a provisional government is so that it would be, to a maximum extent, acceptable to Iraqis themselves, their neighbors and the world community so they would be legitimate. As I already said, we, today, discussed in detail on how to create a provisional government in a transparent way, and we are continuing to discuss this issue.

SECRETARY POWELL: (Inaudible) Conference is in the process of moving forward so that the new leadership of the Iraqi interim government will have a chance to explain to the world, both in regional conferences or in other fora what their plans are, how they plan to go about doing their business, and as Sergey said, this will show transparency, and it will help the international community understand what has been done by the Brahimi process. So I think that's all a useful effort on our part.

With respect to visas, we continue to work hard to make sure that we have secured our borders, but we have made it easier and easier with each passing week to people — for people to get visas and travel here. It's been a difficult issue for us, but I can assure you that it occupies a good part of my day every day to make it easier for people to come to the United States. We want you to travel here as often as you wish, especially journalists.

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MR. BOUCHER: Okay, let's finish up with Teri Schultz from Fox.

QUESTION: My question is first for the French Foreign Minister. Could you elaborate on what you meant by "there needs to be a break with the past," in your earlier comments? And to any of those leaders who do not have forces in the coalition at the moment, have you decided to send troops? Have you decided whether to send troops to help protect the United Nations, as the U.S. has been discussing with you?

FOREIGN MINISTER BARNIER: (Via Interpreter) Well, the issue of French troops on the ground is a non-question from our point of view, and I can say and will say again here that there will be no foreign — no French troops in Iraq — not tomorrow, nor later.

We consider that the exit strategy for this crisis is a political approach, not a military solution. I have said this already, and I am saying once again that there will be no French troops — not here, not now, not tomorrow.

This being said, I will say, once again, in public, that we will share — take our burden in the political and economic reconstruction of Iraq. This whole reconstruction process will start as soonly as possible and it will start in parallel with the stabilization process on July 1st with this new government; and then, in a second phase with a fully legitimate government whose legitimacy will stem from the people of Iraq in general.

So France, alongside its European partners, will shoulder its burden training police officers and being involved in economic development programs and managing the Iraqi debt; so we will do our job.

Now, when I say that there is a break or that there must be a clear break with the past, I am only saying that there is a difference between today, when there are occupation forces on the ground, and a situation wherein there is a sovereign government. That is the break that we hope will, indeed, occur so that the political process starting on the 1st of July be successful.

Now, as Sergey Lavrov said, it has to be a transparent process; the Iraqi government has to be a legitimate one — a government that is accepted and credible in the eyes of the Iraqi forces. And that is precisely why I feel that a conference may be in a number of stages: first of all, a roundtable in Iraq that would, so to speak, check the acceptability of the government in the eyes of the Iraqis on the basis of the proposals made by Mr. Brahimi; then, in a second stage, an inter-Iraqi conference; and then, in a third stage, maybe a broader conference, Berlin style, with the support and sponsorship of countries in the region and the international community.

But we hope that this can be a very sincere and honest process. We feel that we have to be successful in that first stage, which is the establishment of a sovereign government on the 1st of July.

FOREIGN MINISTER GRAHAM: When this was discussed between the Prime Minister and the President two weeks ago when the Prime Minister was there, we made it clear that we're fully engaged in Afghanistan, Haiti and other theaters on the sides of our allies. We do not intend to supply troops for Iraq, but we are fully committed to a substantial contribution to the reconstruction of Iraq, and that is already taking place in the form of training of police, which is presently taking place in Amman, but it is quite likely to envisage that after the transfer of sovereignty police and other forms of institution building will take place in Iraq itself, in which case we'll be present in those operations.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via Interpreter) Russia does not intend to send its forces to Iraq. Russia wishes to help the Iraqi people in reestablishing its economy, rebuilding its economy, and Russian companies are working at energy projects, which is especially important in the summer period when the heat begins and you need electricity during this period. Unfortunately, their work in Iraq is faced with the lack of necessary security and those of them who decided voluntarily to leave the country are doing so now. And some of them, some of the specialists, remain there. We hope that the security situation improves there, and then they will be able to return and continue their work at these very important, critically important, projects for the Iraqi economy and Iraqis themselves.

*The conference was attended by Foreign Minister Bill Graham (Canada), Foreign Minister Michel Barnier (France), Foreign Minister Franco Frattini (Italy), Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi (Japan), Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (Russia), Foreign Minister Jack Straw (UK), Foreign Minister Brian Cowen (Ireland/EU), High Representative Javier Solana (EU), Commissioner Christopher Patten (EU), and Secretary Colin Powell (U.S.).

Source: U.S. Department of State

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