George W. Bush photo

Remarks by Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to the Press Pool

June 04, 2003

King Hussein International Airport
Aqaba, Jordan

4:15 P.M. (L)

Q: Did you get a sense that the two leaders trusted each other to carry out these objectives that they announced?

SECRETARY POWELL: My sense is that a degree of trust was created today, and they both left here understanding that what they both have to do is perform. Only results will build on the initial level of trust that was recreated over the last two days, and both sides left here knowing action is required, results are required. And if they are both are able to deliver, then I really think we have -- we are moving forward, we have a way to move forward. And both sides will be anxious to move forward.

DR. RICE: There was also quite a bit of interchange between members of the two delegations, and I think that was a good thing, as well.

SECRETARY POWELL: While we were outside -- while they were outside on the lawn, inside there were a lot of conversations going on. I sat with the Minister of Defense and with Minister Dahlan -- and Condi did, as well. Condi was with him for about 10 or 15 minutes, and then I sat with him for another half hour, talking about security, let's move forward. So I think that was very important, too.

Q: Where do we go from here?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, first and foremost, we're going to get our team in to provide a mechanism so they can talk to each other directly and have someone in the room who can sort of make calls and monitor progress and help them connect back to us and to other members of the international community to get them the resources they need.

But it's beyond just security and intelligence exchange and monitoring. There's going to be an economic component to the team that's coming in, because we've got to look just beyond security to the economic needs of the Palestinian people and the Israel people. So get the team in place.

And, frankly, we have asked both sides to start doing things right away. And Prime Minister Sharon said he would start doing things. The outposts, we expect some of them to be dismantled in the very, very near future. And he'll be taking other steps. They said they would be taking more of the steps of the kind that Prime Minister Sharon presented to me a couple of weeks ago. And Minister Dahlan knows that we are expecting him to take some steps right away -- not months from now, right away.

Q: Does the removal of the outposts go far enough, initially?

SECRETARY POWELL: It's a start. I mean, we've got to get started. I think it is a good start. It will show to the Palestinian people and to the world that Israel is prepared to do things that they were not prepared to do before this meeting occurred.

DR. RICE: And the Prime Minister also made important statements about territorial contiguity of the Palestinian state and so forth, in a kind of forward-leaning way.

Q: What did he mean by that? And is his notion of territorial contiguity the same as the Palestinians? Does it include bridges and tunnels, or does it include a solid chunk of land with no pocket?

DR. RICE: A lot of these are issues for negotiation. But the important thing is to commit to the principle that Israel understands that its action should not pre-judge any questions that are there for the negotiation. But we have hard negotiations ahead, obviously.

SECRETARY POWELL: A contiguous state has to be a state that both sides accept and that is viable. It can have an economy, people can move back and forth freely. And both people feel they have achieved their objective. They have a state that they can call their own, living in peace with another state.

But what it's going to look like remains to be seen. But I think we have a pretty good understanding and they, ultimately, will make the decision.

Q: How quickly will the implementation group start? How quickly will John Wolf get here?

SECRETARY POWELL: John will be here -- I'll have to get home and tell him to pack his bag. He's been preparing for the last two weeks. He's known about this for two weeks. So John is preparing himself, a team is being organized. We've got two very competent envoys here now in Ambassador Kurtzer, and the acting Consul General, General Jeff Feltman. Jeff will be playing an active role with John, because permanent Consul General is on the way out. So we're going to have a strong team here and we'll be on the ground and operating in the very near future. I don't want to tell you tomorrow or next week, but certainly very soon.

Q: -- of Prime Minister Abbas' statements about security? Did he go farther than they had in the past in promising an end to terrorism?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think he has. I have never heard coming out of previous leaders of the Palestinian people and Authority that kind of unequivocal statement about ending terror, not because the Americans want us to or the Israelis want it, because we need it. The Palestinian people need it. And he said it in Arabic and he said it repeatedly. He's been saying it for the last several days and I think it was an important and powerful demonstration of his intent.

Q: Can he do it? Can he pull it off?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, he is committed to it. The Palestinian people and the Palestinian legislature put him in this position to do so, and he has got the people who can do it in Minister Dahlan. And the international community and now the President of the United States said we're going to help him. And Prime Minister Sharon says, I'm here to help you too, let's get going.

DR. RICE: And the Arabs yesterday committed to helping, too, and that's very important.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit more about the atmospherics, the mood between Sharon and Abbas in the room?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think it was good. It was a formal setting with ministers at the table and then behind. And they both laid out their positions rather briefly. The President led the discussion.

But I think the atmospherics, once we got rid of all of the ministers and went outside, the atmospherics as you could see from whatever was on the screen, was very, very good. They got down to talking as three men committed to peace, committed to trying to find a solution. The situation we are in now is unsustainable for any of the parties.

Q: Do the prime ministers trust each other? Do you believe the prime ministers trust each other?

SECRETARY POWELL: You know, I think a degree of trust was built up over the last couple of days. Real trust is going to come from performance and you'll have to ask them. But I think they both left here believing that we have gotten off to a good start in this new process, and they're looking forward to working with each other, and that's a tremendous achievement of these couple of days.

DR. RICE: They spent 40 minutes together, outside alone.

Q: Thank you.

DR. RICE: Thank you very much.

END 4:22 P.M. (L)

George W. Bush, Remarks by Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to the Press Pool Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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