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Diplomacy in Action

Remarks on Syria and Iran Following a Security Council Stakeout


Remarks
Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
June 7, 2012

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(As Delivered)

Ambassador Rice: Good evening. You’ve heard from a number of colleagues. And you’ll hear from more, so let me be brief and say that we had what was a very candid and forthright discussion in which we heard from all of the gentlemen that were here before us -- the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Joint Special Envoy Annan, and Secretary-General Ban -- that this initiative we have all supported, the Annan plan, is nearing a critical point. And indeed it is not succeeding because the government of Syria is not fulfilling is obligations under the Annan plan. And we had a very sober and very objective assessment of the circumstances on the ground and the reasons for that failure.

But what was most notable is that all three in essence said to the Security Council that for Council unity to be maintained -- for there to be an enduring potential for a political resolution to this crisis as opposed to full-scale conflict -- that the Council needed to come together and apply pressure and impose consequences for the non-compliance of the Syrian regime. That was an important, unified message that we have to take on board. It happens also, as you know, to be consistent with what the United States and other members of the Council have now been saying for some while. And so it will undoubtedly inform our considerations and deliberations going forward. Mindful of my colleagues waiting, I’ll take two questions.

Reporter: Madame Ambassador, Mr. Kofi Annan was asked about the participation of Iran -- the possible participation in any contact group -- and he said Iran is an important country in the region and he hopes it will be part of the solution. Does the United States think that Iran can be part of that contact group and part of the solution?

Ambassador Rice: Well, I think Iran is part of the problem in Syria at the present. There is no question that it is actively engaged in supporting the government in perpetrating the violence on the ground. Now, were it to stop, obviously that would be significant. But it hasn’t shown any propensity to stop, and it continues to be actively engaged. So we think Iran has not demonstrated to date a readiness to contribute constructively to a peaceful political solution.

Reporter: Iran -- Iran is excluded. You say they’re playing a destructive role. Wouldn’t they play -- be the spoiler if you left them out of the talks and you didn’t take their interests and the fact that they’re a stakeholder in mind? Wouldn’t that induce them to play the spoiler and to continue to play a destructive role?

Ambassador Rice: They are playing the role of the spoiler.

Reporter: But if you bring them in…

Ambassador Rice: Let me say this. As you heard from others, this is a very nascent idea. It is just being considered in capitals for the first time. I think there are many aspects of it -- much more significant, frankly, than its composition -- that need to be considered before it is embraced. For example, you can have all kinds of meetings and all kinds of conferences, and there are no shortage of those. But unless it occurs in a context where the violence is ended and where the government adheres to its obligations, then there’s very little that can be done to launch a political process which is the purpose of the suggested contact group. So before we get into the size and the configuration of the table, let’s be clear about whether the circumstances are ripe. The purpose has to be to fully support the Six-Point Plan, and for that to be viable, the principal protagonist, the perpetrator of the violence, the government has to indicate its readiness to actually adhere to its commitments under the Six-Point Plan and that’s been lacking to date. Thank you.



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