Joint Press Conference with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and E.U. High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana

January 18, 2006

SECRETARY RICE: I am very pleased to welcome my good friend and colleague from the European Union Commission, High Commissioner Javier Solana. I think we have met, I won't even say how many times we've met in the last year, but it has been a lot. And it is always been an opportunity to share and to discuss the many issues that the United States and the EU face together. We are, of course, together members of the Quartet and I'm certain we will have a discussion about the upcoming Palestinian elections and the need to make certain that we move forward with Middle East peace. I know that Javier shares my desire to continue to pass along to the people of Israel and to Prime Minister Sharon's family our hopes for his recovery. We will also have an opportunity to discuss our increasing cooperation in Afghanistan and Iraq and of course we will discuss the situation with Iran.

We were just a couple of days ago on a VTC to discuss -- a videoconference -- to discuss the situation in Iran. The EU has made quite clear that the Iranians have crossed an important threshold, that it is now important for the IAEA Board of Governors to act so that Iran knows that the international community will not tolerate its continued acting with impunity against the interest of the international community. Iran must not be allowed to get a nuclear weapon, it must not be allowed to pursue activities that might lead to a nuclear weapon and on that we are fully united. And so I look very much forward to further discussions with Javier on those matters.

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SOLANA: Thank you very much, Condi. I don't have much to add, to say that it's a pleasure to be here again. I think it is rare -- the month and time of year -- but this is the type of relationship which we have been constructing that works very well and I'm very happy that I have today the opportunity to look at the agenda that the Secretary of State has mentioned. And maybe also to talk with her in due time also about Sudan and Africa, in particular the situation in Darfur. But the main topics, without a doubt, will be the ones she has mentioned: the Middle East peace process; Iran, in which we are working hand in hand and we hope very much, as she has said, that common sense would come back to the people of Iran and will take the route that it was negotiation and not breaking with the agreement that we already had with us or with the International Atomic Agency in Vienna. They have to comply with all that. On Iraq and Afghanistan, we are on the same wavelength, therefore what we have to is to just continue reviewing periodically the situation so that we continue working with success.

Condi, thank you very, very much, once again.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, Iran has said that it's interested in discussions on the nuclear crisis and they also said the Russian proposal now is very interesting to them. Should you be pursuing that track as well as pursuing a UN referral?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think it is up to the Iranians to demonstrate that they are not just talking, that they are serious. I think the EU has already -- France has already responded concerning whether or not they think it would make any sense to have discussions with the Iranians at this point. And my understanding is they believe it would not because it is the Iranians who walked away from the negotiations, who broke the moratorium and, as that condition exists, I am sensing from the Europeans that there's not much to talk about.

QUESTION: Mr. Solana, is there a --

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SOLANA: Permit me to follow up. We received a letter from the national security advisor from Iran telling us to continue having another meeting that we had fixed time ago. We are now replying that it doesn't make much sense to have another meeting if there's nothing new in what they are going to put on the table. So I think the position now is and actually we have said and the Secretary has said today, which is to have the decision: (a) to call for an extraordinary meeting of Vienna -- of the agency; and then to refer (inaudible) to the Security Council.

QUESTION: Mr. Solana, is the EU have you taken any part in discussions with Russia and China, like the Secretary is in these next few days, to try to bring them on board? And do you have any sense that Russia and China are any closer to supporting a referral for the UN?

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SOLANA: We have participated in the same discussions. In fact, Monday, two days ago, was the last meeting with --

QUESTION: Beyond that.

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SOLANA: -- and we are going to continue doing it, not only collectively, but also bilaterally, visiting the capitals. We are going to make a division of labor - with all of us -- so that everybody, every member of the Board of Governors, is aware of the importance of the decisions, which are going to be taken in the extraordinary meeting.

QUESTION: Any progress on Russia and China?

SECRETARY RICE: We're continuing to talk to the Russians and the Chinese. I think they've both expressed their very grave concern about what Iran has done and we will continue to work with them on a future course. Thank you.