FM Tzipi Livni and US Secy of State Condoleezza Rice met in Jerusalem in preparation for the trilateral meeting (Rice-Olmert-Abbas) to be held on Monday, February 19.

 Remarks by FM Livni and US Secy of State Rice prior to their meeting


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FM Livni: It’s a pleasure to welcome Secretary Rice to Israel. We’re going to have a preparatory meeting before the trilateral summit this week. This is a very sensitive point in time after the agreements between the Fatah and Hamas and before the formation of the future Palestinian government, as the understandings do not meet the requirements of the international community. It is crucial to understand that Israel and the international community expect any Palestinian government to meet these requirements fully and completely. These requirements are not an obstacle to peace, but they are the basic conditions and the foundation for the vision of two-state solution.

I think that also the moderates in the Palestinian side need to understand that the path to a Palestinian state goes through renunciation of violence and terrorism and not by compromising with terror. So we are going to discuss all these matters in preparation for the upcoming trilateral meeting.

Secretary Rice: Thank you very much for welcoming me again to Israel. I look very much forward to our dinner tonight and we will have a chance to have preparatory talks in advance of both my bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Olmert tomorrow and then also the trilateral meeting. And I look forward to that meeting.

As I have said, it is, in fact, a complicated time because we are between the announcement of the intention to form a government and the actual formation of the government. The Quartet has, of course, reiterated the importance of its principles because they are foundational principles for peace. It only makes sense that you have to renounce violence. It only makes sense that you have to recognize the right of your partner to exist and to respect international agreements. And so those principles remain the foundational principles for the formation of two states and, in fact, for the formation of leadership that can lead to that two-state solution.

We, of course, have said that we will await the formation of the government before making any decisions about it, and I think that is generally the view that is held in the international community as a whole. But I have said that if one waited for the perfect time to come to the Middle East, perhaps you wouldn’t get on an airplane; and so despite the complications, it’s an important time to have these discussions, it’s an important time to talk about how we advance the vision of two states living side by side in peace and in freedom. And I look forward to exploring, probing the political horizon with Prime Minister Olmert and with President Abbas.

And so thank you very much for welcoming me here and I look forward to dinner tonight.

FM Livni: Thank you.