Well, thank you. It’s a pleasure, once again, to welcome a friend and colleague, Foreign Minister Judeh, back to the Department to have an in-depth discussion on the range of issues that are subjects of intense work and consultation between our two countries.
His Majesty King Abdullah is a strong and effective voice for tolerance and cooperation in a region that sees too little of both. And his government has been a steadfast partner against the violent extremism that threatens the cities and citizens in Jordan, the United States, and around the world. Our two peoples may have different histories, Mr. Minister, but we are united and have been in our hopes for a better future.
We share a strong commitment to achieving a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on the two-state solution that provides all of the people in the region the chance to pursue their full God-given potential in security and dignity.
And once again, today, the foreign minister and I discussed important steps that must be taken to achieve a real and lasting peace.
We know that the recent meeting that President Obama had with Prime Minister Netanyahu reaffirmed the commitment that the United States has to this process. We commended the progress in allowing more goods into Gaza. We think it is possible to meet Israel’s legitimate security needs while preventing Hamas from continuing to build up arms in Gaza. And Jordan and other Arab states are crucial to this effort to foster conditions for further progress. Investments in the Palestinian economy, political support for the Palestinian Authority, and condemnation of violence will all help improve the situation for the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.
The foreign minister and I discussed the ongoing talks and we both believe that moving to direct talks as soon as possible is in the interest of Israelis, Palestinians, the region and the world.
We believe that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent, viable, and contiguous state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements. So we continue to encourage the parties to move toward negotiations to reach an agreement on the permanent status issues.
Jordan has been an active participant in the Arab Peace Initiative and we’re very grateful for not only all that His Majesty and his government do on behalf of these regional and global issues, but in Afghanistan, in the search for a greater understanding among people, in education, healthcare, water, border security, good governance, and so much more. There’s a broad and deep partnership. And we very much appreciate that partnership and friendship.FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH:
Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. It is a true honor and privilege and a real pleasure to be here at the State Department and to meet with you again.
As you know, we are always very keen to have a continuous consultations with you. And so my visit here today comes in that context and in the context of the very solid and strong strategic relationship, which I referred to in this very room on my previous visits, as not only a friendship but a true partnership.
And my visit also comes in the context of a follow-up to the talks that His Majesty the King had with President Obama when he was here in April for the Nuclear Security Summit and also the discussions that His Majesty has had with you recently both in person here in Washington when he was visiting privately and on the phone.
And I have to say that it is always important to remind the world of this special relationship between the United States and Jordan. It has been a strong and solid relationship for over 60 years. And I have said previously that it has withstood many tests, but gets stronger by the day. And certainly the commonality of vision and interest that we have is the basis of this relationship. And we always appreciate the support that this country provides for Jordan and the unity of vision and objectives that we have for the future.
And as you said, Madam Secretary, maybe different cultures and different history, but certainly a common future, I hope. I have to say that on the subject of the peacemaking efforts, the United States’s role is not only crucial, but is very much required. We share the vision of the two-state solution that happens to be the only solution to the Palestinian problem, which rests at the heart of the broader Arab-Israeli conflict.
We view the U.S. efforts in this context as pivotal and central, and we fully and unequivocally support the leading U.S. role in this regard. We are committed to helping in every way possible. When His Majesty met with President Obama back in April 2009, he said that we cannot leave the U.S. to do the heavy lifting on its own. We are there to help and do our fair share of the heavy lifting, and I think we have modestly tried to do as much as we can in continuous consultation and coordination with our U.S. friends.
We are in agreement that direct talks addressing all final status issues including borders, security, Jerusalem, and refugees must resume quickly. In Jordan, we stress that direct talks should resume from the point at which they stopped in the past and build on previous agreements and understanding. Such talks have to be time-bound, benchmarked, and conducted in good faith in order to expeditiously arrive at the two-state solution, whereby, a sovereign, viable, territorially continuous Palestinian state emerges on the 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital living in peace and (inaudible) security with Israel and all its neighbors.
And I have to remind you, if I may, Madam Secretary, of what His Majesty said which is, that will bring about peace between Israel and normal relations between Israel and 57 Arab and Muslim nations. I recently said peace in the Middle East is peace of mind for the rest of the world. It’s important to remember that the Arab-Israeli conflict can no longer be looked at as a local or regional conflict; it is a global conflict with global repercussions and global ramifications. And it is in our interest, and we are heartened by the fact that the President and Secretary of State always remind us that peace in the Middle East is a vital U.S. national interest. And it is from that perspective that we highly value the U.S. role.
The solution has to be the product of negotiations between the parties themselves, and is indeed one that would be more permanent and stable than any solution that is imposed or prescribed. But our role is important in bringing the parties to talking to each other. And again, I need to remind that the sense of urgency is one that compels us to do this as soon as possible. All actions that are prejudicial to the resumption and the success of direct talks – provocation, unilateral measures in occupied territories – all provocation has to end. All prejudicial action has to stop to ensure that the atmosphere is right to resume negotiations and to ensure the success of these negotiations. And as we have said recently, perhaps in the last eight – sixteen months, we have seen an emphasis on Israeli-Palestinian track, but I think we have to remind again of the comprehensiveness that is needed.
Madam Secretary, thank you very much, and thank you for hosting me. I look forward to our continuous engagement and consultation, and hopefully seeing our common objectives through.SECRETARY CLINTON:
Thank you, my friend.FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH:
Thank you.MR. TONER:
Time for just two questions. First is Jon Decker, Reuters TV.QUESTION:
Thank you, Secretary Clinton. There are numerous reports that a Russian researcher serving a 14-year sentence for providing information to a British company was notified by Russian officials that he would be among a group of Russians convicted of spying for the West, to be exchanged for the 10 Russians arrested by the FBI last month. What can you tell us about the nature of a spy swap discussion, when such a spy swap would take place, what the U.S. would gain from such a spy swap?
And if I may, Secretary Clinton, about Cuba – (laughter) – there have been – (laughter) – thank you. I appreciate that. There are reports that Cuba plans to release 52 dissidents. What can you tell us about that? And there have been many calls in Congress for lifting the 50-year embargo on Cuba. Is this something that the U.S. is either pursuing or would like to see happen?
Thank you.SECRETARY CLINTON:
Well first, as to your initial question, I’m going to refer all inquiry about this matter to the Justice Department. And as to the second question, we were encouraged by the apparent agreement between the Roman Catholic Church and the authorities in Cuba for the release of 52 political prisoners. I spoke late last night with the Spanish Foreign Minister, Minister Moratinos, and we welcome this. We think that’s a positive sign. It’s something that is overdue, but nevertheless, very welcome.QUESTION:
(Inaudible.) Madam Secretary, I wanted to ask you – President Abbas has been calling on Prime Minister Netanyahu to endorse the parameters on security and borders that has come from Annapolis Conference. What is your position on that?
And Mr. Foreign Minister, I want to ask you – President Obama has asked the Arab states to have a bigger role in the peace process now. I know you’ve talked about the Arab Peace Initiative, but what more tangible steps can the Arab states take at this point to push the process forward?SECRETARY CLINTON:
Well, we believe that all the issues that need to be resolved between the parties must be discussed in direct negotiations. The sooner that the Israelis and Palestinians get into direct negotiations, the sooner they can actually make decisions. That’s the way it’s worked in the past. That is the only way it can work today. And it’s very clear from what the United States has said and done that we continue to urge the parties to get into direct negotiations as soon as possible. And I’m hopeful that that will be agreed to and that direct negotiations can start in a timely manner.FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH:
Thank you. I think when you say that of peace initiative, this is a peace initiative that was adopted in the Beirut summit of 2002, reaffirmed in every single Arab summit since then and endorsed by the Organization for the Islamic Conference, which is another 35 states added to the 22 Arab states. So this is, again, why we say the 57-state solution, the 57 nation that will support this peace.
And I totally agree with the Secretary of State that we need to now arrive at a conducive environment that will see a sliding from these proximity talks, which are very, very important because it reflects the total commitment of the United States to this endeavor, to direct talks, which is the only way you can get a deal on the table. And I think that all Arab states will support this process. We have meetings that are upcoming of the Arab Peace Initiative Committee and of the Arab foreign ministers plenary. I think we’ve provided as much support and endorsement for the Palestinians to engage in this effort, and the Palestinians have been not only engaged, but extremely forthcoming. The atmospherics that we’re hearing about in these proximity talks provide a lot of room for hope and seem to be encouraging.
But I think what we need to refrain from now is unilateral action and provocation, whether it is in the form of deportations or evictions or demolitions or any unilateral action.
I think once direct negotiations resume, you’ll see an engagement by the overall Arab (inaudible) and the tangible support that you refer to. But let’s not put the cart before the horse. Let’s try to get the process going, not another open-ended process, not another timeless kind of engagement. We need to see benchmarks and we need to see traction on the ground.SECRETARY CLINTON:
Thank you all very much.