Talks in Jerusalem focused on the continuing search for peace and a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
FOREIGN MINISTER LIVNI: I would like to welcome again to Israel Secretary Rice. We are going to discuss today, like always, some ideas in order to search the best way to promote a process which will be based on true (inaudible), and this is what we are doing and I hope that we’ll see an outcome.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much for having me here. I’m taking an awful lot of your time these days. Thank you for spending the time with me. I think it demonstrates the great desire in this country and throughout the region to find a way to peace, and we will continue to search for peace and to work for peace and I look forward to our discussions in a few minutes.
QUESTION: Could you please explain whether in your current initiative, do you plan to deal also with some of the final status issues? And if you do, aren’t you afraid that this could meet again into a great clash, kind of a dead end, perhaps another intifada?
And one question to Foreign Minister Livni. Does Israel agree to the Secretary’s current idea to take kind of control of the dialogue with the Palestinians, and does Israel agree that to talk right now or in the near future about the final status issues under the mediation of the U.S.?
SECRETARY RICE: If I may, I don’t intend by any means to take control of the Palestinian-Israeli bilateral dialogue. I think it’s extremely important that that continue. I made that clear the last time that I was here. What my role is is to assist the parties and I’ve been doing it this time in parallel, and I think that’s a good way to do it; to explore the issues before them, the possibilities of a political horizon, but also concrete issues of how to deal with their daily lives. We have a lot of issues and the roadmap has issues in it; so too does the movement and access agreement that I negotiated a couple of — well, in November of 2005. So I think we should remain open to all issues. We certainly have a relationship of trust that we can do that.
QUESTION: Including the final status issues?
SECRETARY RICE: As I said, we have a roadmap that is a reliable guide toward a Palestinian state, and I’m quite certain that we’re going to discuss that. And there are issues there, too.
FOREIGN MINISTER LIVNI: Okay. To your question, we believe Secretary Rice said on the bilateral talks, but, of course, we believe that Secretary Rice personally, and, of course, the United States can fulfill these kind of talks as was done in the past. So this is the idea.
When it comes to the issues, of course, the goal is clear: two states, two homelands living side by side in peace. This is the mutual goal. And the roadmap translated into phases, and, of course, it’s clear that the road and the path towards a Palestinian state goes through renunciation of violence and terrorism, as was stated in the first phase of the roadmap and according to the Quartet principles and requirements.
But yet, I do believe, as Secretary Rice said, that there are a lot of things, what we call the political horizons, things which we can discuss in order to find the common denominator and the mutual interests between Israel and the Palestinians, those who want to reach this goal to achieve this goal of two states living side by side in peace and security, of course, to Israel. And we have to explore it. It is part of our responsibility to our people.
QUESTION: Secretary General Ban today talked about the possibility of a Quartet meeting to include the Israelis, the Palestinians and Arab Quartet, with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. How seriously are you considering that? Saudi Prince Saud al-Faisal was quoted today in one report as having said that they are open to additions to the – not amendments, but additions to the Arab peace plan of 2002. Do you welcome that? Do you have any reason to believe that’s correct?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I can’t comment on Prince Saud’s comment because I’ve not seen it, I’ve not seen it in context, and I don’t want to try to put words into his mouth. We we had very good discussions in Aswan about how the Arab initiative can be an active way to pursue peace, but I really don’t want to comment on something that I’ve not seen in context.
In terms of the Quartet, the only decision that has been made by the Quartet is that we will meet at some point in the region. Precisely what geometry we might use has not really been decided or really fully considered by the Quartet or by other parties. And so I think it would be premature to talk about any specific kind of meeting that the Quartet might hold, but we have said that we would like to meet soon in the region.
FOREIGN MINISTER LIVNI: Thank you.