Joint Press Conference with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez (Excerpts)

March 24, 2006

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QUESTION: I'm sorry. Madame Secretary, yesterday when you were speaking about Iran, you expressed some impatience saying that this is not a time for stalling in the talks. Are you saying that China and Russia are doing the stalling and did you make any progress in this area in your conversation with Foreign Minister Lavrov?

And on another aspect of relations with Iran, last year you authorized Ambassador Khalilzad to reach out to the Iranians. Last week, they took up the offer, but so far we haven't heard -- haven't had the least sign that anything is going on. Are you having second thoughts? Is there anything holding up the process?

SECRETARY RICE: Right. Well, on the second point, those meetings will take place, I'm certain, at an appropriate time. It's an authority that has been there for a while. And the issues are not going to go away. I'm quite certain that at some point, they will meet. It has been the case that Ambassador Khalilzad has been able to do this in Iraq for sometimes. He did it in Afghanistan, we think to good effect, and indeed Ambassador Neumann has the same authorities in Afghanistan. So in this narrow set of issues about security in places where we find ourselves in a sense on their border, it's important that we not have any miscommunication or misinformation and so it's important that we have a chance to talk about our concerns.

Now, as to the issues that are being dealt with in the Security Council in New York and the timing of that, I think it is extremely important that we not have delays. We need to have action by the international community in the Security Council now that the dossier for Iran is there because we need to send a very strong message to Iran that the Security Council is going to support the calls of the IAEA for specific Iranian actions under the February 4th board resolution.

That's what we're doing is we are taking up what the IAEA has asked Iran to do in the February 4th resolution and then adding the weight of the Security Council to that to make certain that it gets done. The Security Council, of course, has at its disposal tools that are not there for the IAEA, but in this first order of business is to get a presidential statement that will make very clear that it is the international community's very strong demand of Iran that Iran adhere to these requirements.

I did have a conversation with Minister Lavrov. It was a good conversation. We agreed to ask our negotiators to work again over the next couple of days, really deciding that maybe they won't even have a weekend because we need to work on this text. And we've taken into account, or the EU-3 has taken into account, comments from the Russians and the Chinese as well as comments from the United States, and I think they will turn in a draft and at that point we hope that our negotiators can go back and see if we can agree on a draft.

I don't think there is any difference of view that the February 4th -- I know there's no difference of view that the February 4th resolution embodies the requirements of the international community for Iran and that Iran needs to act on those requirements. So on that we have very, very broad agreement.

QUESTION: Do you think they're stalling?

SECRETARY RICE: Look, I think that everybody just needs to get to work and let's get this done so that the Iranians have a very clear message about what's going on.

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