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Diplomacy in Action

Remarks With Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh After Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
August 3, 2009


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, hello, and let me start by expressing how delighted I am to welcome once again Foreign Minister Judeh to the State Department. We are celebrating 60 years of relations between the United States and Jordan, and our partnership is based on mutual respect and mutual interest, and our work together enhances the security and prosperity of both our nations and, we hope, the larger region and the world.


Today, the foreign minister and I discussed a wide range of issues. I thanked the foreign minister for Jordan’s leadership in the effort to achieve a comprehensive peace for all the people of the Middle East. The vision and courage of the late King Hussein continues to provide inspiration to all of us who knew him and who are still on the path towards seeking peace. And now, under the courageous leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah, Jordan has continued to play a strong and vital role.


The United States is committed to a comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution. We are working with the Israelis, the Palestinian Authority, and Arab states to take the steps needed to make that possible. The foreign minister and I discussed this effort, and I expressed our deep appreciation for Jordan’s leadership in working with other Arab states to support peace with deeds as well as words.


I also thanked the foreign minister for the efforts that Jordan has made to build a stable, sovereign, and self-reliant Iraq, and especially the assistance that Jordan has given to Iraqi refugees. We are working to assist the Iraqi Government with the return of Iraqis who left their country but now wish to return home and to be part of a new Iraq, and we are grateful for Jordan’s hospitality and leadership.


After six years – or six decades of relations, our partnership has proved both durable and dynamic. We will continue to work together in areas ranging from assistance with education, healthcare, and water programs, to border security, good governance, and regional security. And I look forward particularly to continuing to work closely with Foreign Minister Judeh as our two nations deepen and strengthen our partnership and that partnership then continues to demonstrate the way forward on a comprehensive, two-state solution for the Israelis and the Palestinians.


FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary, for your gracious welcome and for your kind words. It is truly a pleasure to be here. And speaking of being here in the State Department, I notice that in welcoming other guests at the State Department a couple of days ago, there was reference made by your good self as to how much time they spent in this building. Well, may I please belatedly join this discussion and say that I, too, spent a long time admiring this building, albeit from outside – (laughter) – when I was a young student at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown here, and I was wondering if one day I’d be standing here and who I’d be standing next to. It is truly an honor to be standing next to Mrs. Clinton today, a dedicated public servant and a committed Secretary of State.


Madame Secretary, when I was here with His Majesty the King in April, we had excellent discussions, but that was not the first time I met you. I met you on the 26th of October 1994 in Wadi Araba on a hot day that was full of promise and hope. That was the signing of the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty. Needless to say, there have been raised hopes and shattered aspirations and many ups and downs since that day, and this brings me around to our discussion today. And as you said, the relationship between Jordan and the U.S. is one that can be described as beyond friendship, but rather, a true partnership in the search for peace and in our commonality of vision and interests. And this relationship has been put to the test many times, but we have sailed through it, and it gets stronger and more solid by the day.


So, Madame Secretary, if you’ll allow me, and as you said, we discussed a whole range of issues today, at the heart of which is the U.S.-led effort to re-launch peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians within a comprehensive regional context. Ending the Arab-Israeli conflict is, as correctly put by President Obama, a U.S. international interest as well as an Arab and Israeli one. In our view, this is the only gateway through which we can collectively address and meet other challenges on problems in the broader region.


His Majesty King Abdullah II and Jordan have tirelessly worked for the realization of comprehensive peace in the Middle East, a peace that would guarantee Palestinian statehood, ensure the return of all Arab territories occupied in 1967, and guarantee Israel’s security. This will bring about normal relations between Israel and 57 Arab and Muslim states, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative.


We are very, very grateful, Madame Secretary, to President Obama, to you, to Senator Mitchell, and to all our friends in the United States for your serious, focused, and intensive early engagement from day one. We in Jordan fully support these efforts and we are committed to doing everything we can towards this noble objective. The U.S.’s leadership and demonstrated commitment present a real, true, and rare opportunity to cross the finish line once and for all. We all have a responsibility to assist in word, in action, and indeed, in demonstrating leadership this effort, and to ensure its success.


Our mission, Madame Secretary, should not be to move forward to get to where we were. And our goal must rather be, this time around, to move forward to where we should have been in the late 1990s as envisioned by the Madrid process and even beyond. The shape of the future Palestinian state and the parameters for comprehensive peace are quite clear: The adoption of all the Arab countries and the Muslim world of the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002 and every Arab summit thereafter emanated from collective Arab recognition of those parameters and collective commitment to them too. Now in 2009, many would say it is time for Israel to reciprocate.


In the Middle East, there has been in the past an over investment perhaps by the parties in pursuing confidence building measures, conflict management techniques, including transitional arrangements, and an over emphasis on gestures, perhaps at the expense of reaching the actual end game. As His Majesty the King puts it, Madame Secretary, there has been too much process and too little peace, a situation that most certainly is no longer sustainable. And what is required now and needed more than ever is to achieve peace. What we need is confidence-building measures – confidence-rebuilding measures, I should say, that resurrect people’s faith in negotiations and that create a conductive environment for launching negotiations. We need to focus on ensuring stopping detrimental actions, more than just bold gestures, equally and importantly.


In this context, the continuation of settlement activity in the occupied territories is not only illegal and illegitimate, but also does not help restore faith or generate this needed environment. Equally, other unilateral measures in occupied West Bank in general, and in East Jerusalem in particular, such as home demolitions, evictions, excavations around and under the most revered Muslim and Christian holy sites is not acceptable. By the same token, inflammatory rhetoric on both sides of the divide is equally counterproductive. All such action must stop.


Tried, tested, failed formats, as have been discussed here during His Majesty the King’s visit in April, should also be avoided, including piecemeal approaches that never lead to peace, and that have proven repeatedly to be confidence eroding rather than confidence building. This time, the restoration of faith and the creation of the appropriate environment can only be achieved through clearly highlighting the end game and skillfully guiding the parties to expeditiously crossing the finish line.


President Obama’s statements, Madame Secretary, regarding peace in our region in general and his speech in Cairo University last June, in particular, your unequivocal support and your principle statements regarding the need to stop all settlement activity are resonating very well and restoring faith to the Arabs and the Muslims in the impartiality of the U.S. and the great good that its value system represents.


The principled approach taken by President Obama and his Administration marks the kind of needed change that we can all believe in, reflect on, and build upon. Serious and committed benchmarked and timeline peace negotiations must be launched promptly on all tracks from the point at what they had stopped and in which all parties would be willing and encouraged to take the necessary concurrent steps towards each other to expedite the achievement of the desired progress.


Madame Secretary, I wish to express gratitude for the invaluable U.S. support and assistance provided to Jordan. This assistance has facilitated our drive forward in expediting the implementation of the ambitious homegrown transformational reform agenda of His Majesty King Abdullah II. Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity, Madame Secretary, to have this rich and extensive discussion with you. And once again, in concluding, I assure you that you will find in Jordan, as always, a reliable, sincere, and steadfast partner, ally, and friend,


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister.


QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary. A couple of questions on Iran, if I could. The first one would be: Do you have an update on the situation of the Americans being held in Iran? And is it still correct that it’s not officially confirmed by the Iranian Government? And then the other question would be: What is your opinion on this idea of having very strong sanctions which would include sanctions on gasoline and other refined petroleum products?


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, as of a few hours ago, we did not yet have official confirmation that the Iranian Government, or an instrument of the Iranian Government, was holding the three missing Americans. And we asked our Swiss partners, who represent our interests in Iran, to please pursue our inquiry to determine the status of the three missing Americans. Obviously, we are concerned. We want this matter brought to a resolution as soon as possible. And we call on the Iranian Government to help us determine the whereabouts of the three missing Americans and return them as quickly as possible.


With respect to the potential actions that might be undertaken by the international community, we’re not going to be commenting on what might or might not be done. We’ve made it very clear that we wish to engage with the Iranians in accordance with President Obama’s policy to discuss a broad range of issues. That would be a bilateral channel, which we have communicated to the Iranians. And we continue to engage in multilateral channels, most importantly, the P-5+1 discussions. And as you know, the P-5+1 representative, Javier Solana, put forth a proposal some months ago that we still have not yet received a response to.


So we are looking closely at developments in Iran. I held a videoconference this morning with a number of our diplomats around the world who have expertise with respect to Iran. And we discussed what they saw happening, what they thought would be the responses coming from the Iranian Government, what was going on inside Iran. So we’re not prepared to talk about any specific steps, but I have said repeatedly that in the absence of some positive response from the Iranian Government, the international community will consult about next steps, and certainly next steps can include certain sanctions.


QUESTION: Thank you. Mina al-Oraibi, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper. I’d like to ask you both, if I may, about the issue of evictions from East Jerusalem. These are steps that are taken almost to force a status quo in the territories that are disputed and, you know, the occupation continues to move so many Arabs and makes them very angry and emotional. At a time when Arabs are being asked to take confidence-building measures and trying to move towards Israel, how much do actions like that disrupt what the U.S. is doing?


And also, if I can ask Mr. Judeh regarding how that leaves Arab nations and Arab politicians trying to push forward to peace, what can be done beyond just condemnation? Thank you.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think these actions are deeply regrettable. I have said before that the eviction of families and demolition of homes in East Jerusalem is not in keeping with Israeli obligations, and I urge the Government of Israel and municipal officials to refrain from such provocative actions. Both sides have responsibilities to refrain from provocative actions that can block the path toward a comprehensive peace agreement. Unilateral actions taken by either party cannot be used to prejudge the outcome of negotiations, and they will not be recognized as changing the status quo.


FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Thank you very much. First of all, let me thank Secretary Clinton for the clear position that the Administration has taken on this issue, particularly when we’re talking about Jerusalem and, as the Secretary pointed out, eviction, demolitions of home, excavations, anything to change the current status quo in the city, again, with emphasis on changing the demographics, thus prejudicing the outcome of the efforts that are currently undertaken to re-launch negotiations.


Let me just say that the position is very clear. East Jerusalem is occupied territory. It is part of the territory that was occupied militarily in 1965 – 1967, and it is very, very important that people bear in mind that this is part and parcel of the discussions that will take place when negotiations are re-launched. And any action on the ground that presents obstacles in this endeavor are not only unwelcome and condemned, but we hope that they will stop and stop immediately.


QUESTION: Michel Ghandour with Al-Hurra Television. Mr. Judeh, Prince Saud al-Faisal said on Friday that the question is not what the Arab world will offer Israel. The question is: what will Israel give in exchange to the Arab initiative? How do you view his comments? And is Jordan planning to take some steps towards Israel to push the peace process?


FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Let me start from the second part of your question. Jordan and Israel have a peace treaty, and this was signed in 1994. And like any relations between countries, it’s had its ups and downs. And in order for that peace treaty and the relations between Jordan and Israel to make regional and international sense, what we need is a comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the two-state solution being the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the establishment of an independent, viable, and geographically contiguous Palestinian state on Palestinian soil.


I think His Royal Highness Prince Saud clearly articulated the Arab Peace Initiative which Saudi Arabia played the key role in launching in 2002 and which subsequent Arab summits have reaffirmed as recently as the last summit in March. The Arab Peace Initiative is very clear: it is an end of occupation, establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and after which there will be normal relations – full normal relations between Israel and not only the Arab world but also the Muslim world.


So I think Prince Saud was very clear in articulating what the Arab Peace Initiative stands for, which is normal relations at the end of the game. But we all agree that we have to create a conducive environment to launch negotiations to arrive at a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict through direct negotiation, and the role of the United States is essential in this.


MR. CROWLEY: Last question goes to Al Jazeera.


QUESTION: Madame Secretary, do you think that – how much damage do you think it does to your efforts to build confidence among states like Jordan to have the Israeli prime minister reject U.S. calls to stop the development of new settlements in East Jerusalem? I mean, isn’t this something that is seriously damaging to your efforts to instill that confidence?


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think everyone understands that there has to be sequential actions taken, and we are working very hard under Senator Mitchell’s leadership and guidance to get to the negotiating table. And once there, everything concerning a comprehensive peace agreement is on that table; nothing is off the table. And we’ve been down this road before. We came close in 2000. There were renewed efforts in the last several years between then-Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Abbas.


So the parties well know what the outlines of this comprehensive two-state solution are. What is different in two ways now is, I think, the United States beginning from the first day of our Administration to say this is among our very highest priorities, and the commitment through the Arab Peace Initiative, which did not exist in the ‘90s and has been reaffirmed, as the minister said, several times, so that the Arab countries are at the table, in effect, as well.


So, look, we want both sides to refrain from any actions that might make it more difficult to negotiate our way through all of the issues that have to be resolved. There are, what are called final status issues. Everybody knows what they are and everybody knows that neither side is going to get everything it wants. Negotiations don’t work that way. But working in good faith and being committed to the two-state solution, and with the support of the Arab leaders as well as the United States and other interested actors, I think holds out great promise. And that’s why we’re working so hard and why we believe that this time we have a very strong chance of achieving a goal that has long been sought.


Thank you.


QUESTION: But, Madame Secretary, is that a gesture of good faith, though? I mean, you’ve talked – you say many times that this is an issue of good faith. So, I mean, is this an example of something that’s not working in good faith?


SECRETARY CLINTON: Everyone needs to refrain from provocative actions that might interfere with the path forward. And that’s on all sides, and that’s what we expect. But we also know that – and I was a lawyer in a prior life – very often, people try to stake out even more strong and difficult positions going into negotiations. We understand all of that. And we intend to continue on the path that we are on, and we have a lot of support in achieving what will be a two-state solution.


Thank you very much.


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PRN: 2009/807

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