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 Home > News & Policies > July 2001

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 23, 2001

Press Briefing by
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice
the St. Regis Grande Hotel
Rome, Italy

4:45 P.M. (Local)

     DR. RICE:  Good afternoon.  I have no statement to make.  I'm here to take questions, and I'm happy to do so.

     Q    Not on the Berlusconi meeting, but in Bonn today, 178 nations agreed to pursue the Kyoto Treaty.  Have they not effectively sort of put you out there in your own little Elba on the global warming front?

     DR. RICE:  Nice historical reference, John.  (Laughter.)  The President has said, and said to his G8 colleagues that he very much shares the goal of trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, that the United States is developing proposals to do that within the United States.  We've, in fact, already done a lot to reduce carbon intensivity in our economic growth.  But the President has also said that there may be very different mechanisms the different countries choose in order to achieve that goal.

     We have always said that the ratification of Kyoto is up to various countries.  We do continue to believe that any solution to the global climate change problem will have to be a truly global solution, and that developing countries will have to be a part of that solution.

     So we continue to work with our friends and allies and the rest of the world.  We believe that even at Bonn, some progress was made on strengthening the U.N. framework from Rio, from 1992, to which the United States is party.  And we're going to continue to work on the problem.

     We have signed a couple of agreements with the Central Americans, and we've issued with the Italians a joint statement on scientific and technical cooperation that should help us on issues like climate change. So we believe there's a lot of work to be done cooperatively.

     Q    Would you consider dialing back, at least, the rhetoric regarding Kyoto?  Would you stop using the words, "fatally flawed"?  It seems that these other countries really want to press ahead with it and they're going to try to convince you to drop your opposition to it.

     DR. RICE:  I don't think that it's a surprise to anyone that that United States believes that this particular protocol is not in its interests, nor do we believe that it really addresses the problem of global climate change.  And we've said that.  I think we'll continue to say that. But the President has also made very clear that he wants to achieve the goal of reduced greenhouse emissions -- greenhouse gas emissions, and that we're going to work very hard to do so.

     So, John, we're talking with our friends and allies and with others, and we're going to continue to do so over the next several months.

     Q    To follow up on John's question, if I could, there's some ambiguity and uncertainty about what was said at the G8.  Several G8 leaders said that the President made an explicit commitment to, by the time of Marrakesh in November, having an alternative proposal.  He said yesterday, we're working as fast as we can, but didn't specifically address the question as to whether he'd made that commitment.  Did he, or did he -- did he suggest to them that it might be done by November; that if it could be done, they'd present it there?  I mean, fill some of the context in for us, if you can.

     DR. RICE:  As the President said, I think when this question came up yesterday, he told the G8 leaders that he intends to continue the work that his Cabinet-level task force has been doing; that we hope to have some ideas as soon as possible.  I don't think he said a proposal.  We've said we want to have proposals, not to suggest that there's any single way to approach this issue, but that we have several ideas that we would like to put on the table that we're developing.  We're consulting with various constituencies in the United States, consulting on the Hill.

     Obviously, Marrakesh, as well as several other conferences after, will be opportunities to talk about these proposals.  But this is an "as soon as possible," not a view toward trying to get something on the table at any specific time.

     Q    Dr. Rice, leaving aside numbers and that sort of thing, what do you envision in the process of these talks with Russia? How do you get to the point where you can do what you want to do, which is deploy defenses? And, secondly, does the result of those talks need to be enshrined in treaty form, or do you anticipate something more informal?

     DR. RICE:  The first thing that I want to say is that sitting through the meetings yesterday with the President and President Putin demonstrated, I think, yet again that they have a cooperative spirit, which I think is going to serve us very well on this issue as well as other issues.  Because the President sees the new strategic framework as not just about the nuclear issues between us, but about an entirely different kind of relationship with Russia.

     And, indeed, when we talk over the next several months, I think you will see that not only are there discussions on our strategic cooperation issues of military cooperation, but also economic cooperation and relations between the two countries, between the populations.  So we really now have, I think, a broad framework for U.S.-Russian relations, and it's very important to keep this in that context.

     The next couple of months will be important.  I think that I'm going to go to Moscow; I'm going to try to establish a kind of -- set a schedule, if you will, of consultations at the ministerial level -- not arms control negotiations, but consultations and discussions at the ministerial level.

     The President has said all the way back in the campaign that he believes that any framework has to include limited missile defenses to deal with the new threats.  It also has to deal with the reduced need for offensive forces -- in other words, bringing down the levels of offensive forces; has to deal with nonproliferation issues; may well deal with other means of cooperation as well, like nuclear safety.  So there's a big agenda here.  And I think it will move forward.

     Now, as to what that means, how this gets enshrined, as you said, I think we're open as to form, but it is strongly our belief that the arms control treaties of the past between the United States and the Soviet Union reflected a highly abnormal relationship between two adversaries, where, frankly, everything else was zero-sum, and the only thing on which they could agree and cooperate was to keep each other from annihilation.

     So we don't see the need for a treaty regime here.  We would really rather do something that looks more like defense planning talks.

     Q    The President said time is of the essence.  How long do these talks have to succeed or fail?

     DR. RICE:  Well, we're not putting a time limitation on this, but I think we've also made very clear that the treaty itself is so constraining, that as we move to a more robust testing and evaluation program -- research-development testing and evaluation program -- we do not want to be in the position of being constantly accused of violating the treaty.  It is a very restrictive treaty.

     I would just draw your attention to the language which just about anything that you test in an ABM mode that is not ground-based is, in fact, in violation of the treaty.  So we're going to have to work at this with some urgency.

     Q    President Putin said that there must be an absolute assurance that if arms are reduced, that they are reduced.  That seems to imply that he still wants a legally binding or verifiable sort of agreement.  Is the administration willing to accept a legal agreement between the two leaders?

     DR. RICE:  It's such that we are open, currently, as to the form that this would take.  We really do believe that there is a lot of possibility for transparency built into the relationship, because we are no longer enemies, that we can certainly make it clear to the Russians what we're doing, and that they can make it clear what we're doing.  We also have a long history now of experience through certain verification measures -- in, for instance, START I -- that have given us a lot of -- a base of experience on how to understand each other's forces and each other's operations.  So I'm quite confident that we can come up with a means to assure both sides that we're doing what we're saying we're doing.

     Q    The President has only been in office six months.  You've made a lot of progress bringing Russia around on this idea.  Why risk all that by rushing ahead with a testing program, on something that's still years down the road anyway?

     DR. RICE:  The President has, I think, made very clear that the urgency to do something about the lack of a viable set of technologies that we can pursue, in order to deal with the new threats, is a matter of some urgency for his administration.  Let's be realistic; we are in office for hopefully several years, but Presidents only have limited amount of time to leave a legacy to their successors.  And he feels very strongly that we've lost a lot of time because the testing and evaluation program has tried so hard to remain treaty-compliant that it really hasn't explored the full range of options.  That's the urgency.

     And I think that President Putin understands that this President went to the American people during the campaign, told them that this was going to be high on his agenda, and that while we want to have time for consultation, while we want to come to an agreement, we don't expect this to be a set of discussions that goes on for a very, very long period of time, taking years to get to what should be a fairly simple matter.

     Q    Two questions, one on this and one on Indonesia.  On this, did President Putin yesterday follow up on the interesting comments he had made after the last meeting, where he said that he did not feel that this system would threaten Russia for 25 years or so?

     And, secondly, on Indonesia, the President said, of course, that he would look forward to looking to working with President Megawati.  I know there's been a lot of work done within the NSC on what form that support would take.  Could you begin to describe to us what you can now do, do differently, that you have Wahid off the stage?

     DR. RICE:  Well, first, David, as to the comment by President Putin, we obviously would be in complete agreement with him.  In fact, since we don't think that missile defense is to advantage the United States over Russia, we would probably extend that period of time.  But to the degree that the Russian leadership understands that this is not aimed somehow at undermining the Russian strategic deterrent, we think that's a very good thing, and so we welcomed President Putin's comments and his reiteration of those comments yesterday.

     Q    Did you discuss that yesterday either in the Russia context or the China context?

     DR. RICE:  We have had discussions about this.  In fact, the President again reiterated to President Putin his view that this is a limited defense against certain kinds of threats.  And I think that President Putin is beginning to understand that.  He, himself, has even said that there are new threats out there that need to be examined in light of the new conditions.  So I think we are moving ahead -- and to go back to something Ron said -- I think we are moving ahead quite effectively with the Russians.

     Let me just use your question on Indonesia, David, to say that as the President said earlier, this is a process that the Indonesian people are going through for a peaceful resolution of their leadership crisis.  It is ours to try now to support the decision of the Indonesian people through their properly-elected representatives.  I think that it has long been U.S. view that we need a positive relationship with Indonesia.

     We are urging the Indonesian government, the new Indonesian government, as we urged the prior government, to find peaceful ways to resolve the separatist tensions within Indonesia; to be respectful of human rights in doing so; and to really undertake economic reform in a very aggressive way so that Indonesia can return to economic growth and prosperity for its people.  And I think that agenda has not changed.    We will look forward to working with the new leadership of Indonesia, just as we had with the past.

     Q    Can you be specific?

     DR. RICE:  No, I think I can't go more specific than that.  This is very new, this has just happened.  We're just grateful that so far it's been peaceful, and we would urge everyone to continue to do this by peaceful means.

     Q    Two unrelated questions.  The Vatican Secretary of State asked the President to help facilitate relations with China, between China and the Holy See.  Did he make a commitment to do that?  And what does he plan to tell the KFOR operations tomorrow?  Is it anything more than, we came in together, we go out together, or does he bring to the table some plan to get them out?

     DR. RICE:  On KFOR, I think that, first and foremost, the President wants to thank our troops for their service there, thank the command for the excellent way in which it has comported itself.  The President will restate that we came in together and will go out together.  He will also say, as he said several times, that it is important that we look to a future in which we can move to civilian institutions to do the work of police forces, the work of building civilian institutions, and that it's important for the leaders of all of the countries involved in KFOR to do what they can to move that work along.  But this is really an opportunity to thank the troops.

     On China and the Vatican, the President has long said that religious freedom in China is an issue.  He and Secretary of State Powell have raised the issue of the Catholic bishops who have been detained.  He is going to continue to raise it with the Chinese.  We really do believe that China will be best served by an atmosphere in which there is religious freedom, press freedom, human rights, that it will go hand in hand with the dramatic changes in the Chinese economy, which we believe are inextricably linked, really, to political freedom.  So the President is very happy to take on bringing up religious freedom, because he's constantly done it.

     Q    Did he specifically ask to help establish contacts between the Chinese government and the Holy See?

     DR. RICE:  The President is going to raise the issue with the Chinese. He is more than happy to raise the issues of religious freedom, as well as issues of how relations between the Vatican and China might be made better.

     Q    Dr. Rice, at some point, the U.S. reaches a point in time where you have to move ahead with R&D if a missile defense system is going to come into existence any time while you're in office, at least, maybe.  Is that point one year down the road, three years down the road, five years down the road?  I mean, I know you can't commit to a specific timetable for the whole thing, but R&D has to start at some point, right?

     DR. RICE:  This is the reason that there is some urgency about getting on with -- moving to a new framework, moving to a way to allow the exploration of the various technologies that might actually help us in this way.

     The guidance that is now being given to the ballistic missile defense office is to design a test and evaluation program that will bring us the most effective defense at the earliest possible time.  And we understand fully that the United States has legal obligations under the treaty.

     We do not want to be accused of violating this treaty.  And this treaty is a very restrictive treaty.  It was intended to prevent the development of ballistic missile defenses.  It was intended to prevent, for instance, the ability to test mobility, to test sea-based systems in an ABM mode.

     So it is very restrictive.  And there will come a time, and we don't know precisely when that is, but there will certainly come a time when a robust testing and evaluation program will come up against the limitations of the treaty.  Now, the President's goal and the President's strategy here is to work with the Russians as intensively and aggressively as possible to come to an understanding about how we move forward in this new environment. And we started that in Ljubljana.  We made some progress yesterday in Genoa, and I think we will continue to make progress over the next several months.

     Q    Will this happen if he's in office for two terms?  Will this be up and running by the end of the administration?

     DR. RICE:  I think that nobody can give you a date certain at which the President is going to believe that he has something that enhances America's security.  But we would like the freedom, when we have something that enhances America's security, and the security of our allies, and the security of our forces, to be able to move forward with it.  And that's the strategy.

     Q    Dr. Rice, three quick ones on that.  What role do you see for the Senate throughout the course of these consultations, and on the conclusion of these consultations?  Second, the President has yet to win the public endorsement of any of his G8 partners for this plan.  I'm wondering if you got a sense at the G8 meeting that Russia is the linchpin to that support? And just second, quickly, did you get an agreement on a time for a Crawford meeting with President Putin?

     DR. RICE:  First of all, the President, I think, believes that he has moved this debate very, very far forward with our allies.  I think that you are starting to hear, in the comments of Prime Minister Blair, Prime Minister Berlusconi and others, an understanding that the President's logic about this is right, that the situation has changed, that missile defenses ought to be considered as a part of a broad strategy for dealing with the new situation, rather than being hung up in the old.

     Now, there's no doubt that everybody, including the United States, believes that it is better to do this cooperatively, and that the Russians, as the other signatory to the ABM Treaty, need to be consulted in a special way.  But the President's also made clear that he does intend to consult with other interested countries.  We've already consulted with a number, and I think you will see consultations intensify with other countries that have a particular interest -- other nuclear powers; China for instance.

     But the Russians are, and have been, our partner in the Old World. We're hoping to bring them into partnership in the New World.  Right now we are focused very much on doing that, and doing that in an aggressive and intensive way.  And I think we've made a lot of progress.  I think the allies are seeing that.

     We're still working schedules for Crawford, but President Putin said again yesterday how much he looked forward to coming in the fall.  So I'm pretty sure that we'll have a date for you fairly soon.

     Q    And the Senate role?

     DR. RICE:  The Senate obviously has a role to be consulted.  We are doing Hill consultations.  We have been doing Hill consultations thorough this entire process, and I think that those, also, will intensify.  But as I've said, the form that this understanding with Russia takes is still somewhat up in the air.  And so, obviously, when we get to that point, we'll also want to consult the Senate on that issue.

     But right now, we are not yet at the point where we're actually talking about what form this is going to take.  We're talking about its content.  And we are consulting with the Senate and with the House on the content of this agreement, and of the test system, as Paul Wolfowitz testified just very recently.

     Q    I'm curious about the budding relationship between Mr. Putin and President Bush.  President Bush has said that he's looked into his soul and seen a man that he can work with, and he talked in very upbeat and friendly terms about Mr. Putin again yesterday.   Has he specifically mentioned any reservations that he has about dealing with a man that many Americans feel is not someone that can be trusted?

     DR. RICE:  One of the great things about this budding relationship, as you called it, is that neither the President, nor President Putin has failed to be clear about this agreement. You are seeing a lot of interest in, and a lot of goodwill to try to get agreement, to try to move the relationship forward in a cooperative way. But there are, frankly, still disagreements.

     The President talked about Iraq yesterday and he talked about his great disappointment that we were unable to bring the Russians along on Iraq.  They have talked about proliferation issues in Iran.  The President talked about the situation in Chechnya, and while respecting Chechnya as a part of Russia, recognizing that Russian tactics there have actually probably made the extremism worse.

     The President also has talked with President Putin about press freedom.  And I just want to say, because I understand that one of the great institutions of the Italian press here, Mr. Indro Montanelli, died. And he's just a symbol, I think, of the fact that in most free societies, there are these great consciences of the society that come from the press. We've certainly had them in the United States; the Italians have had one in Mr. Montanelli, who died.  We believe that this is integral to a free society.  And the President has not hesitated to tell Mr. Putin that.

     So, yes, it is a good relationship, it is a budding relationship, but it is also a relationship that's based on honesty and straightforwardness. And that's very important as we move forward to be able to deal in a friendly way with difficult issues.

     Q    Isn't the President headed down the road that you've warned about during the Clinton years of pinning his policy hopes on one man in Russia?

     DR. RICE:  No one has ever said that it isn't a good thing to have a good relationship with the President of Russia.  The issue is to recognize that you use that good relationship to promote your interest.  And the President is very clear about that.  If you notice, his first really good meeting with the President of Russia took place after a speech in Warsaw in which he had unabashedly said that NATO ought to enlarge, that the EU ought to enlarge, and in which he talked about missile defense.

     So he is not in a position of trying to soften, if you will, U.S. interest to keep a good relationship with Mr. Putin.  Rather, it is the use of the good relationship with Mr. Putin to further U. S. interest.  That's the way that it should work.  We've always said that a good relationship is better than a bad relationship, and I think you're going to see that this is going to serve us very well.

     Q    Two things.  One, going back to Bonn a little bit, with momentum building for Kyoto, isn't there concern on the part of the administration that proposals that the President is going to propose in the fall, that there might not be much support if momentum is really building for Kyoto? And secondly, other European leaders have spoken out after the violence in Genoa about the need to change the format, the forum, maybe make the developing countries more part of the meeting all the time for future G8s. What does the President believe, after seeing the violence on the streets? What changes does he think future meetings need to take into account?

     DR. RICE:  On Kyoto, the United States has not taken the position of trying to block others from going to ratify Kyoto.  We've said we share the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the United States wants very much to do that.  But the mechanisms may be different that we pursue and that others pursue, and that's really quite all right.

     We are a very different country.  We are -- yes, we're 20 percent of the world's emissions.  We're also 25 percent of the GDP.  And so, it's a very big country with a different history and a different heritage and different problems.  And so, we may pursue other alternatives.

     I think that you will see that many of the ideas that we have will draw a lot of support because the technological possibilities to deal with greenhouse gas emissions are really quite dramatic if we can mobilize on those issues.  We already have brought down our carbon intensivity through better technology.  And so I think that you are going to see that the U.S. will bring forward ideas; we will lead on some of the technological aspects.  We're going to join with other technologically-advanced countries to try and think about how to get developing countries on board so that we don't have, for instance, a China sitting outside of the framework, which is now number two in terms of emissions.

     So I think that the U.S. is going to be very timely over the next several months, indeed over the next couple of years, as we try and deal with this issue.

     Kelly, the other question was about --

     Q    About any changes the administration thinks for future summits.

     DR. RICE:  The President, I think, was very clear that while he respects the right people to protest, he does not respect those who turn to violence.  That's not part of the bargain of civil protest.  And the President did make very clear that he thought that the argument that was being made there that, somehow, trade hurts the poor, was simply wrong. The Presidents from the developing countries that were there that somehow trade hurts the poor was simply wrong.

     The Presidents from the developing countries that were there, Mbeki, Obasanjo, Flores, as well as the leaders who were at Quebec at the Summit of the Americas, spoke so eloquently about trade and global growth as being the only way out for their peoples, that it was dissident to listen to people in the streets arguing that there should not be trade and further integration of the economies.

     This was a particularly bad summit in which to make that argument, since so much of it was devoted to poverty elevation.  The President left on the heels of a World Bank speech that talked about our responsibility to deal with poverty alleviation.  They announced over $1 billion in a global AIDS and health fund.  This was the wrong summit to make the argument that the people in the streets were somehow representing the poor, rather than the duly-elected leaders, not just of the industrialized world, but of these developing countries themselves.

     And so I would say to all of those in the streets, as the President said, listen to people like the former President of Mexico, Zedillo. Listen to Fox.  Listen to Flores.  Listen to Obasanjo.  And you will hear the call for greater global growth, for greater trade and for a shared partnership between the industrialized countries and the developing countries.

     Q    Dr. Rice, I just want to be clear on what happens if, in fact, we feel Russia is dawdling in these consultations.  It seemed to me the President today indicated that we would push ahead with our testing.  At the very least, if we thought they were dawdling, whatever the time frame is, what happens?

     DR. RICE:  Well, the President has stated it best.  As he said, we do believe that this is a matter of some urgency because we have to go ahead and find a way to deal with the threats.  But nobody needs now to speculate on what might happen if, because we have the beginnings of an important process with Russia to try to come to a historic understanding, to move beyond the Cold War, to change the very nature of the relationship of Russia and the United States to one that is based on cooperation to one that doesn't try to paper over differences, but that clearly understands that we have a lot in common.

     Frankly, we had nothing in common with the Soviet Union, except trying to prevent annihilation.  Everything with the Soviet Union was a zero-sum game.  We are not in that position with Russia.  And so I think that we won't speculate over the next several months about what happens if.

     I think that our goal and Russia's goal -- and it was a shared goal yesterday of the two Presidents; that's why they decided on a joint statement -- is that they're going to intensify and aggressively pursue a way toward a common understanding.  And I think that's where we'll put our concentration.

     Q    Just very quickly, he has said all along that with or without allied support, we were going to press ahead with this.  Are you saying that now maybe he won't press ahead if for some reason Russia dawdles?

     DR. RICE:  No, I said that the President has been very clear throughout this entire period, since his election, that this is an important goal of the United States, and that we are going to find a way to pursue this important goal of the United States.  But my point to you is that all the speculation about what we might or might not do if this or this doesn't happen -- I think now we in the United States government are going to put our energies and our concentration, and I believe, given what the Russians said yesterday, that they're going to put their energy and their concentration, on seeing if we can find an understanding about how to move forward.  And that's that we're going to concentrate on for the next period here.

     Q    -- the President didn't discuss stem cell with the Pope.  What did they discuss?

     DR. RICE:  A private meeting between the President and the Pope probably ought to remain a private meeting.  The President has made clear that he -- I think he said to you in the press conference that the Pope was very interested in a number of his ideas in what happened in Genoa.  You know that the Pope has a very big agenda around poverty alleviation.  And so the fact that they've just come from a summit that was dedicated and devoted to poverty alleviation I think did form some of the discussion.

     But the President also pointed out that just to be in the presence and to be with this man who has had such tremendous impact on the world, in thinking back to his election as the first Polish Pope, thinking back to his election at a time when communism was failing in Eastern Europe, and the moral leadership and guidance that he provided, the beacon that he provided in that period of time -- thinking back to all that he has said, to be the conscience of the world about the plight of the poor, I think you have to give the President some scope to have simply taken kind of sustenance from that, in his very difficult job as President of the United States, to be in a presence of such a remarkable figure.  Thank you.

     END  5:20 P.M. EDT