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CONDOLEEZA RICE, Secretary of State of the United States
JEAN ASSELBORN, President of the Council of the European Union and Luxembourg Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration
JAVIER SOLANA, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union and High Representative for the CFSP
BENITA FERRERO-WALDNER, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy
RICE: Good afternoon.
I am happy to welcome the E.U. presidency, Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn; the EU external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner; and the EU High representative, Javier Solana, here to Washington.
We've been working actively together over the last months, and I appreciate the excellent leadership of Luxembourg during this EU Presidency.
So, Jean, thank you very much for that. It's been a great pleasure to meet with my colleagues again.
Today Europe faces important questions about its future course, and this is, of course, a matter for Europeans to decide. But I do want to say that the United States of America is very glad that we have a strong partner in Europe to work on vital issues of peace, of hunger, of poverty, of opportunity and of freedom.
We are confident that this partnership will continue to grow and to be put to use in the service of great goals.
Today we have talked about the spread of freedom and democracy, particularly in the Middle East. We have discussed the situation in Lebanon and the need to support the Lebanese people as they move forward from Sunday's elections.
We've reaffirmed our commitment to the quartet process to implement the road map in order to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
We also had good discussions on our ongoing efforts to get Iran to meet its international obligations under the Paris agreement.
We've talked about our support for the Iraqi people as they work to build a free society.
At the request of the new Iraqi transitional government, the United States and the European Union have agreed to cohost, with the Iraqis, an international conference in Brussels on June 22nd. And we talked about the opportunities that we will have there to gather international support for this government as it manages the important transition for the Iraqi people.
Freedom and fresh hope are advancing in Ukraine and Georgia and the Kyrgyz Republic. We're supporting these countries as they face many challenges in building free societies.
RICE: We've also had an opportunity to talk about our joint efforts to help the suffering people of Darfur.
Today's discussions prepare us for an upcoming summit of heads of state on June the 20th in Washington.
We have an ambitious agenda before us. We have a lot of work to do. This partnership is growing and developing, and I'm very glad to have hosted my colleagues in yet another effort to move our work forward.
Thank you very much.
ASSELBORN: Thank you, Condi.
I am very happy to be here in Washington with my colleagues Javier Solana and Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
It's the second time this year that we had an EU-US MInisterial Meeting together. The first time was in Luxembourg, the 10th of February, and there we prepared the meeting with President Bush on the 22nd of February.
And I thank you, Dr. Condi Rice, for your hospitality and for the very fruitful discussions here.
Now, our meeting today, we concentrated, as you said, on the preparation of the summit and we wanted to establish a global agenda for this summit that could be very, very important to show that trans- Atlantic relations are very important and very comprehensive too.
Middle East was in the center of our discussions. In particular, we exchanged also views on the recent developments in Lebanon that is on the ongoing legislative elections and on the state of implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, which must be full and complete.
We explored ways in which the E.U. and U.S. can support the Lebanese government after the elections.
And then the 22nd of June in Brussels is an important day. We would have this conference with Iraq not only to speak about Iraq but above all to speak with Iraq.
The conference will be a prime opportunity for the Iraqi transitional authority to present its strategy and the priorities to the international community, and for all of us to reiterate our continuing commitment to a safe, to a stable, to a unified, prosperous and democratic Iraq that upholds human rights, fully exercises its sovereignty and cooperates constructively with its neighbors and with the international community.
But let me tell also -- it was not on the agenda, but a word about what happens in this place in Europe. We can say that Europe is a little bit hesitating. The people in France and, yesterday, in the Netherlands, they gave us a message. But, Europe is not denied, not rejected by these two countries. But it seems to be misunderstood.
We have a mixture of national interest and European aims which make these negative results possible.
Now, in Europe, we have to work very hard. Problems in the world are not changed; they remain.
The U.S. is still able, on the other side, to play its role inside of Europe but also on the international side.
The presidency, as you know, perhaps, said -- and I will repeat it here in the States -- that we will continue the procedures of ratification.
The next referendum now will be Luxembourg, the 10th of July. This day will be very important because a lot of people will look to Luxembourg in Europe and even in other countries in the world.
In Luxembourg, we know that more Europe gives always more influence to our country. And we hope that we can reverse this dynamic, this negative dynamic in our mind, and make it possible that with a new constitution we would have a better Europe in a world that is better organized.
We know that (...) this constitution mentions that if 20 of the 25 countries ratify, the European Council can take a decision as what to do with the other five countries, in this case, if 20 countries do ratify.
So we will continue with our work but we have also the listen to what people told us. And the next European Council, the 16th and the 17th in Brussels, will be a very important council, not only to speak about money, not only to speak about financial perspectives, but also to speak about a deeper understanding of Europe. We will have a general affair meeting the 12th and the 13th of June in Brussels and there we can start this work.
I hope that in June we can give a message to the Europeans that we found the solution about the financial perspectives. That would be a very, very important signal to reverse this misunderstanding of Europe in the two countries, and maybe also in other countries.
But I remain optimistic that we can reverse this negative dynamic.
SOLANA: I don't have much to add. The agenda that we have been dealing today is well-known, has been well-explained by Dr. Rice and by the minister of foreign affairs from Luxembourg.
The only thing I would like to emphasize in the same line that has been done by the minister of foreign affairs from Luxembourg, that the problems that we are facing together and trying to resolve together with the United States in a very profound cooperation are the same today that they were a month ago. And the determination of the European Union countries and the European Union institution is the same: to continue trying to work to solve these problems, to do it with our friends, to do it in cooperation with the United States and to try to get this world a better place. These will continue to be our aim.
FERRERO-WALDNER: Thank you very much.
This meeting was a very good point to prepare the summit on the 20th of June, which I think would give us the chance to have an even more strategic perspective as global partners in the world on our common agenda that so well has been outlined by Dr. Condoleezza Rice.
I would like to say that the Iraq conference that is coming up on the 22nd of June is, I would say, an example of our new dynamic between the European Union and the U.S.
And you can check out today's joint announcement on the international conference on Iraq. There you will see that the atmosphere is very good and also the objectives that we want to achieve: We want Iraq to be in the center. We want to have inclusiveness. We want to have more cohesion, also, with the neighboring states. And I think this will be very, very important.
Another word on the economic side: I think we have a huge trade relationship, but we have an even stronger potential. And in order to make this potential even improve, there was a communication of the commission working on the question of how do we give regulators, how do we give businessmen an even better chance for investment.
And this should also be looked at the next time. This is working on the borders, because there, on the one hand you have security, on the other hand you have to have a facilitation of trade. On the other hand, I think it's the question of avoiding obstacles.
And I think for the future there are many chances to still do better. Maybe we can prepare this agenda for the next summit, which will be the summit in Vienna.
Finally, let me also say a word on the constitution.
Of course, the vote in France, and now especially in Netherlands -- these are real, important, serious setbacks. But at the same time, of course, we continue to work and nothing does prevent us from carrying all the important work in cooperation with the U.S. And I think this meeting shows it.
We are able to work with you as well today as we did yesterday. And some people have suggested we will now be too absorbed in our own crisis to pursue our external policies. I promise you this will not be the case. All the agenda items that have been mentioned show it clearly.
RICE: Thank you very much.
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