Address by Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Daniel Fried: The United States and Europe: Addressing Global Challenges Together (Excerpts)

September 19, 2005

MR. FRIED: Thank you very much.

This is a good news day, but it is not news for which I am personally responsible. So I have to apologize in advance that I am not going to get into detail about the North Korea understanding recently reached, nor am I a specialist on Afghanistan and the elections. But I did want to talk about some of the - about the U.S.-European relationship in general and what we've been doing here with the Europeans on the margins of the UNGA.

This is a story which is - it's a set of stories which is often overlooked and should not be. Since President Bush's reelection, the United States has made a concentrated and sustained, and I think successful, effort to reach out to Europe as a whole. This continued through his trip - Secretary Rice's trip to Europe in February, the president's trip in February, a series of successful meetings, and it has very much cleared up a lot of, in some cases - forgive me - media-generated speculation about transatlantic rifts, which was very much a story last year. Now we are working with the Europeans on a common agenda and working very, very well together.

There are a massive number of meetings with Europeans going on on the margins. Myself and Undersecretary Burns have been having meetings, some together, some separately. Tomorrow, the secretary will have a ministerial meeting with her European Union counterparts, followed by a lunch with the foreign ministers from NATO, the European Union, and we have also invited Switzerland. So this is a lunch between the United States and Europe as a whole. The secretary met with Lavrov over dinner last night. Nick Burns and I met with the EU- 3 to discuss Iran yesterday morning, following Ahmadinejad's speech. There's a contact group on Kosovo meeting tomorrow. There's - this evening - a senior-level group Nick Burns and I are holding between - with our European Union counterparts.

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So I will stop there and take your questions.

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Q Could you - Mark Turner, Financial Times - could you - there's a couple of things - give us a sense of how you see the next week going with regards to Iran and U.S.-European cooperation? And also, I'd like a little bit more details on Lebanon and where we're heading. I know there were some discussions about the possibility of holding trials outside Lebanon. Anyway, those two subjects.

MR. FRIED: Yes. On Iran, I will defer to the secretary and Nick Burns. But I will say that Ahmadinejad's speech was so harsh as to be - I don't know whether I would call it surprisingly harsh, but it was a harsh speech. And that kind of a speech demands an expression of solidarity among the nations of the world concerned about Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions.

We are going to be discussing this week - well, we were discussing yesterday with the EU-3, and this topic will be discussed intensely the coming days. I don't know precisely the forum. This will be - this will be discussed at the IAEA Board of Governors. It will be discussed here in New York. But it is important that we build on the growing consensus that Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions are a grave problem.

I note that this consensus has indeed grown. If we were having this discussion a year ago, your question might have been - and I recall questions at the time that focused on differences between the United States and the EU-3. You remember that period. And that was - that was - that was then, this is now. We have been working very closely with the EU-3. We intend to work closely with them and to build out to deepen an international consensus on the problem that Iran has presented the world.

Q Where do you see China and Russia as this debate goes on?

MR. FRIED: I don't want to predict how they will - how they will come out on this, but the Russians clearly have their own concerns about Iran. They're now wrestling with the right way to proceed, and I hope that they face this clearly.

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Q (Name and affiliation inaudible.) Coming back to the Iran thing, the Iran problem, how you are you going to deal with the division inside European Union in terms of how they have to deal with this problem of Iran?

MR. FRIED: With Iran.

Q Yeah.

MR. FRIED: Well, the EU-3 is not divided.

Q The EU-25, yes.

MR. FRIED: Sandro Pozzi, El Pais, There may be some different approaches, but I think that - well, we are the ones - our European friends have recommended to us repeatedly that we work with the European Union, that we treat the European Union with respect, that we try to work with Europe as a whole. We will try to do so. I hope that European nations come to see things - all European nations come to see things the way the EU-3 have and understand that Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions are a major, major problem for the world and that this is going to require some difficult decisions and considerable resolve.

This is a serious diplomatic problem, and we need to be serious about it.


Q Yeah. Also Iran - (name inaudible) - with the German Public Radio, but not responsible for the outcome of the election. (Laughs.)

MR. FRIED: I would not think so. It had not occurred to me until now that you even might be.

Q Is it a problem that Iran doesn't claim anything that the NPT Treaty does not allow? I mean, what is your reaction to the fact that not only media people but also politicians say, oh, there's a double standard. America, for example, is fine with members - or nonmembers, like Pakistan, India, and even Israel, and in the case of Iran just say, oh, it's a horror to think about that they might have nuclear weapons one day. What would be a horror, probably, but, you know -

MR. FRIED: Right. As you said -

Q Yeah, but the others already have, and others come up and may have to buy into a special danger in this case, is my question.

MR. FRIED: You used - you yourself used the words - these are your words - that it would be "a horror" to contemplate a nuclear- armed Iran. Those are your words. It is - when President Bush came to Europe in February, he asked all of the leaders - the three leaders of U.K., France, and Germany - whether, at the end of the day they could accept an Iran with nuclear - a nuclear-armed Iran. And they all expressed their grave concern about such an event. And it was after that that we decided to work even more closely with the EU- 3, based on a confidence that we shared a common concern, and indeed, we do. I don't know of any - any government in Europe - to recall the question of our Spanish colleague - which does not contemplate a nuclear-armed Iran with grave trepidation, to say the least.

Iran has been found out to be dissembling to the international community for some time, and to the IAEA, and it does need to be called to account. Secretary Rice was very clear about this. There are numerous reasons why the world community feels the way it does about Iran. These have to do with the same reasons that prompted you to say that a nuclear-armed Iran would be "a horror." This is a problem we must deal with squarely. I think Ahmadinejad's speech did nothing to increase confidence in Iran's intentions - quite the opposite.

And the French foreign minister's reaction, I think, was instructive. The French have been accused of many things, but not excessive fidelity to American government views for the sake of that fidelity. And the fact that the French reacted so strongly and so clearly and so quickly indicates the depth of this - of our common view, which I think is the right one.

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Q. Kirsten Larsen, Danish Radio, I would like to go back to the question of my colleague here concerning Iran, because you spoke before about nuclear power. Isn't it a problem, or could it be a problem that Iran seemingly not doing anything in breach of the NPT treaty?

Furthermore, about the talks on trade, Tony Blair said Thursday that it was time to call the bluff.

Where do you see the solution between, especially EU and the U.S. on trade relations?

MR. FRIED: Well, we have - I'm not going to get into the trade relations issue because that involves a whole other army of American specialists. So let me stay away from that one, except to say that these are tough issues and we do need to find a way to move ahead to keep the global economy moving. It does no good to fight poverty in the long - well, it does good to fight poverty through assistance, but long-range solutions involve economic development trade, and we have to keep this in mind.

With respect to Iran, we believe that Iran clearly is in - is not in compliance with its obligations, and I think that that view is shared widely across European - by European governments.

And we need to find a way to express this international concern very clearly and very loudly so that the Iranians get the message, especially after this speech by Ahmadinejad. They don't have that message; they need to get it.

Q Sandro Pozzi. Do you think after the North Korea - that maybe it will be easier to resolve the problem with Iran?

MR. FRIED: Well, I hope the Iranians see that there are ways that negotiated solutions can be reached. I don't doubt the secretary will - my secretary will have more to say on this topic. It's a tremendous achievement. Chris Hill did - my counterpart for East Asia is a first-rate diplomat, did a tremendous job. This is a great achievement; we have to see how it works. And I hope that the Iranians are paying attention.

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Q Back to the U.N. and Iran. Isn't it contradictory on the one hand that not only the United States, Arabs too are very much concerned for seeing the possibility of nuclear weapons in Iran, and on the other hand, there was not even a little mentioning of the nonproliferation issue and together with disarmament in the famous paper that many people, first of all, Kofi Annan was very much disappointed about? I mean, if you are so concerned, why there's nothing about nonproliferation? It's been such an important -

MR. FRIED: Well, Kofi Annan's sense of disappointment has been much exaggerated, at least according to Kofi Annan, and I refer you to his article published, I think, today in The Wall Street Journal where he talked about all that we had achieved. I'm not going to go back and do a negotiating history of this document. Happily, the negotiations succeeded. It's a good document. The fact that we couldn't agree on precise language about nonproliferation hardly means that the United States is not concerned with it, it's that there were obviously some - there may have been some differences of approach.

But the Iran - we should not be distracted by other issues when we are grappling with this very serious challenge to international peace and security. Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions are a problem. They have been and will continue to be a problem. The way to deal with this problem, as my president and Secretary Rice said, is diplomatically, but those diplomatic steps need to be clear. They need to be strong. We need to face squarely that we have a problem, and the international community needs to deal with it and focus on it.

Q To follow up on my colleague's question, you were talking about strategy and tactics earlier. I mean, so where does Iran fit in in terms of a broader U.S. strategy regarding, you know, the unraveling or the perceived danger of unraveling the NPT regime, the tension between the right to peaceful nuclear power, and the price of new technology of uranium enrichment? And you know - and countries had - this was part of what was trying to be addressed. The Norwegians put together a proposal with a group of other countries, including South Africa, Australia, Britain. The U.S. basically rejected it.

Is there an alternative in terms of the broader strategy as to where the U.S. and Europe might be going on some kind of system to provide enriched uranium to countries that want to, you know, use nuclear power, without actually giving them the power to - ability to make bombs?

MR. FRIED: Well, we think that resolving the Iran nuclear weapons program is critical to the strengthening of the NPT and the credibility of the NPT. I notice that there was language - well, there was language in Ahmadinejad's speech that suggested Iran would be happy to share its technology more widely as it was developed. And of course the word for that is "proliferation." So he's announcing in front of the U.N. that he believes in nuclear proliferation. (Laughter.) Odd approach!

We need to strengthen the NPT regime, and one of the ways you do that is by showing that the NPT and the IAEA is going to stand up and face squarely challenges like this that are presented to it.

The North Korea understanding suggests that there are diplomatic solutions that can be reached, even in very difficult circumstances. Secretary Rice has said, during her statement to be confirmed as secretary of State, that the time for diplomacy is now. And what she meant by that is that we need to be firm in our diplomacy, work with our allies, work through multilateral institutions, and address squarely the problems of security that have been presented to us.

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