Remarks by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini (Excerpts)

July 29, 2008

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

SECRETARY RICE: Good afternoon. I have just had the pleasure of welcoming to the Department of State my colleague, Franco Frattini, the Minister - Foreign Minister of Italy. It is the first visit by a member of the new Italian Government, although our President has been already in Rome with the Italian Government, Prime Minister Berlusconi. But it is not the first time that we have met.


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FOREIGN MINISTER FRATTINI: Thank you very much, Condi.

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Of course, we talked about Iran. You know that at last Council of Foreign Ministers in Brussels, Italy was among the main European states insisting on deciding for the full implementation of 1803 United Nations resolution concerning sanctions against Iran. Iran should understand one day that it's simply not possible to keep a negative role by continuing the enrichment of uranium. Prospective of Iran making a nuclear bomb is simply not acceptable. This is the Italian position which is very firm. We believe in the double-track strategy; on one hand, putting up a table, a generous offer, on the other hand, standing very firm on confirming that if Iran does not take seriously negotiations with Europe and with the international community, we cannot accept to stay inactive and we will have to implement in full.

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QUESTION: Thank you. Secretary Rice, you both spoke about Iran. Recently, your positions seemed a bit shifting. So, first of all, the military option is still there, and Italy could have a role in this, even in the negotiation.

(Via interpreter) And on this last matter, I would like to ask Mr. Minister Frattini whether he asked something specific about our possible role in negotiating with Iran.

SECRETARY RICE: The U.S. position, which is indeed the position of the international community, for the Security Council resolutions, and the position of those who have been negotiating with the Iranians, is crystal clear: Iran needs to suspend its enrichment and reprocessing, come to the negotiating table. No one is questioning the right of Iran to have a peaceful nuclear program. This is something that occasionally they tell their public that people are questioning. Nobody questions that. It is a question of not having the fuel cycle.

And the proposal that was made to the Iranians makes very clear - and by the way, the proposal is public - makes very clear that there is wide-ranging civil nuclear cooperation that would be possible with Iran, trade relations, economic relations. This is a very, very beneficial package for Iran.

But Iran can't have it both ways. It can't, on the one hand, try to have the benefits of the international community and continue to refuse to carry out the obligations of the international community. And so the position of the United States has not changed. The position of the international community has not changed. Bill Burns went to receive the Iranian response to the proposal that I sent by letter, and I have to say that the Iranian response was pretty disappointing - not surprising, I might add, but disappointing. And the Iranians should know that this is not going to be a matter that they can stall. The world is watching to see whether they answer clearly the question that Javier Solana asked them.

I just want to be very clear that we have been in very close contact with Italy throughout this period. In fact, the Minister and I spoke just before the Geneva negotiations. I wanted Italy to give me their views, to be fully informed about what Bill Burns was going to do there. Bill Burns was then immediately in contact with his Italian counterpart, I think within hours of leaving the room in Geneva, because we consider Italy to be an extremely important partner in this two-track strategy. And Italy will continue to be a strong voice for Iran needing to do the right thing. And so we've been in extremely close contact and we had a long discussion of the issue today.

FOREIGN MINISTER FRATTINI: Well -- (in Italian). May -- may I answer in Italian? Yeah.

(Via interpreter.) Certainly, Italy is contributing in a very positive way to the cohesion of the international position vis-à-vis Iran. The fact that Italy today is convinced that this double-track approach is the right one, this is strengthening the position of the international community. And it's very true that we are constantly kept updated on the negotiations, not only by our European partners, but also by Secretary Rice, by Under Secretary Burns and their colleagues. What is at stake now, what is very important now is to improve and step up our effort of communications so that sooner or later the Italian - the Iranian public opinion will be aware of the fact that the price of isolation and sanctions will be paid by them. And that's why the Iranian authorities will not be able, given also the position of Italy, try to divide the international community.

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