Remarks With Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh After Their Meeting
Secretary of State
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, everyone. It is a personal pleasure and, of course, an honor to welcome back the foreign minister to the State Department, representing a country that is such a valued ally and partner of the United States. Over the past 10 years, His Majesty King Abdullah has carried on the vision and spirit not only of his late father but of the Jordanian people. And under King Abdullah’s leadership, Jordan has continued to be a key partner in the pursuit of peace and progress in the region and around the world.
So today, as we have in all of our previous meetings, the minister and I discussed a wide range of issues. I want to begin, though, by stating publicly what I had told the minister. I expressed both our condolence for the loss of life that was unfortunately both American and Jordanian, and I expressed appreciation for Jordan’s commitment to combating violent extremism at home and abroad.
This is a struggle that unites people of faith, people of peace, people of conscience everywhere. Terrorists have targeted our cities and our citizens and they must be met with unwavering resolve. I well remember visiting the hotels in Amman that had been bombed in 2005, walking through the wreckage, visiting the innocent children, men, and women who had been targeted at weddings. I will never forget what I saw there, as I will never forget what I have seen elsewhere. And the United States, Jordan, and our partners around the world stand shoulder-to-shoulder in this fight.
We also share a commitment to seeking a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution. We are working with the Israelis, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and the Arab states to take the steps needed to re-launch negotiations as soon as possible and without preconditions, which is in the interests of everyone in the region. The United States believes that through good faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.
Both the United States and Jordan are concerned about recent activities in Jerusalem. The United States recognizes that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians, for Jews, Muslims, and Christians around the world. And we believe it is possible to realize the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians for Jerusalem and safeguard its status as a symbol of the three great religions for all people.
On this and other pressing challenges, the partnership between our countries provides a solid foundation for the pursuit of peace and progress. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the foreign minister, with Jordan’s new government, and with His Majesty as we broaden and deepen our partnership and our friendship.
FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. The pleasure and honor are all mine. I am extremely happy to be here at the State Department again and to have this opportunity to have this overreaching exchange of views with Secretary Clinton. And I said back in August when I had the pleasure of seeing Secretary Clinton here that the relationship between Jordan and the United States can best be described as a true partnership, not just a friendship. And I think that this relationship has withstood the test of time and the numerous challenges that we’ve had in our part of the world and globally, and I think that the relationship gets stronger by the day.
This last year, Madame Secretary, we celebrated, as you well know, the 60th year of the exchange of diplomatic relations between Jordan and the United States, and again, this reflects the solid relationship that both countries enjoy. Our partnership is a strategic and solid one based on common values and a shared vision of a comprehensive lasting peace, coexistence, and prosperity in the Middle East, and our firm belief in combating the many challenges that we face around the world.
I thank you, Madame Secretary, for referring to the tragic loss of life that we saw in Afghanistan and, of course, elsewhere as a result of our ongoing and joint, in fact, collective global war on terrorism. Thank you for referring to the 2005 hotel bombings in Jordan. We must not forget that we too in Jordan were and are still a target, and that we will not waver or be deterred in our determination to combat terror, terrorism, and terrorists and – wherever they are. In 2005, we said very clearly that we will not wait for the terrorists to perpetrate their heinous crimes; we will try to uproot them before they get to the implementation stage of their planning.
And our presence in Afghanistan today is twofold: Number one, to combat terrorism and the root causes of terrorism, but also to help out in the humanitarian effort that is needed there. And I would like to say that our presence in Afghanistan will be enhanced and increased in the coming phase. This is something that is ongoing. Jordan was one of the first countries there. We are not only part of a network of countries that are trying to assist Afghanistan and Afghanis, but also trying to combat terror and terrorism. But we’re also there to defend Jordan’s national interests and defend – to defend Jordanians and safeguard them against this growing threat.
So, Madame Secretary, we continue to look forward to working with you and with other governments in combating terror and terrorism.
On the peace process in the Middle East, I had very good discussions with the Secretary, and this morning I had good discussions with Senator Mitchell as well, and their respective teams. And we agreed on the need to re-launch serious negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, negotiations that are bound by a timeline and a clear plan with benchmarks to end this lingering conflict, to establish an independent sovereign and contiguous Palestinian state along the June ’67 lines in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza living side-by-side with a safe and secure state of Israel.
It is also vital to achieve a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on the basis of the internationally agreed upon terms of reference and the Arab Peace Initiative that will ensure a secure and collaborative regional order. We are all in agreement that there are serious difficulties, but we hope that 2010 will see the continued and much needed leadership role that the United States can play in this regard.
And once again, I would like to remind of the important issues that we tackle – final status issues that include refugees and Jerusalem. Everything should be subject to negotiations. And when it comes to Jerusalem, as the Secretary very correctly pointed out, Jerusalem is potentially a flashpoint and it is so sensitive to all the followers of the three great monotheistic religions. But most importantly, actions on the ground in Jerusalem can turn into provocative and antagonizing actions to the followers of the three great religions. So it’s very important to try and avoid unilateral action in Jerusalem. Everybody is in agreement that Jerusalem is to be discussed in final status negotiations as – I’m talking about East Jerusalem, of course – as occupied Arab territory.
There is a growing sense of urgency to move forward in the talks and to achieve tangible progress, therefore creating a more enabling political environment that would allow us to address, collectively and more adequately, all the regional and global challenges before us today. Absent a successful resolution of the conflict, we will witness further regional instability and divisions that extremists will exploit not only in the Middle East, but worldwide. And I’ll refer to what I said earlier about the global war on terror.
As I told Madame Secretary, under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II, Jordan is fully committed to working hand-in-hand with our partners in the region and ready to assist the United States in its efforts to achieve a regional peace, which is not only in the national interests of the Palestinians and the Israelis and the Arabs, but also of the United States of America. We will spare no effort in doing all we can to ensure the success of this endeavor and to fully support U.S. leadership and ensuring negotiations move fast towards reconciliation on the basis of the two-state solution as part of a comprehensive peace.
Thank you so much, Madame Secretary. I look forward to continuing our good work together in the future.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir.
MR. CROWLEY: We have time for some questions. CNN.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, if I could, a question on the terror report that the President got yesterday. In that report, it singles out what’s called the visa issue, and they point out that the fact that this suspect did not have a visa was not correlated to the information that his father gave – concerns about his son. And then also there was the issue of the misspelling of the name. How serious are these issues and what do you plan to do about them?
And just one quick one on the Middle East, if I could. Have you or are you willing to give guarantees to the Arab countries and to the Palestinians about the Obama Administration’s views on negotiations and also the settlement issues? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, Jill, as to the report, I think that the President made it very clear in his remarks both before and again yesterday that we all are looking hard at what did happen in order to improve our procedures to avoid human errors, mistakes, oversights of any kind. We in the State Department are fully committed to accepting our responsibility for the mistakes that were made, and we’re going to be working hard with the rest of the Administration to improve every aspect of our efforts.
I think it is very clear from the President’s stated resolve that this is the highest priority not only for him but for all of us. The safety and security of the American people, of airline travel, will remain at the very top of our minds and our efforts. And we will be working with all of our other partners inside the government to do all that we humanly can to make sure that we prevent incidents like this and protect people.
With respect to the Middle East, we are absolutely committed and have been from the very first day of the Obama Administration to working with all of our partners. This negotiation is clearly about issues that most directly affect the Israelis and the Palestinians, but it is of great matter not just to the people of the region, not just to the Arab nations, but really to the entire world. There is a hunger for a resolution of this matter, a two-state solution that would rebuke the terrorists and the naysayers, that would give the Palestinians a legitimate state for their own aspirations and would give the Israelis the security they deserve to have.
So George Mitchell will be consulting, as he has been, very broadly not only in the region but in Europe and elsewhere. We are in constant close consultation with friends like our partners in Jordan. But this is a year of renewed commitment and increased effort toward what we see as an imperative goal for the region and the world.
QUESTION: Good morning to both of you. Madame Secretary, let me start with you. Senator Mitchell said yesterday – he talked about a two-year timeframe. Some news report talks about the first nine month will concentrate on borders and Jerusalem, and the refugees will be discussed later. Can you confirm this is the thinking of the Administration?
And secondly, the Palestinians saying that they are not going to come to the negotiation unless it is a total freeze on settlement, including Jerusalem. The Israeli ambassador, he is saying that basically they don’t believe in timeframe. How you are going to bridge the gap between the two sides?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think what Senator Mitchell rightly said is that he wants to move as quickly as possible, that there is an urgency that we certainly feel, but there has to be a negotiation on all of the final status issues. And as Minister Judeh and I discussed earlier, resolving borders resolves settlements; resolving Jerusalem resolves settlements. So I think we need to lift our sights, and instead of being – looking down at the trees, we need to look at the forest. Where are we headed together? We know what a final resolution will have to include: borders, security, Jerusalem, refugees, water. We know what the elements of this two-state solution must include.
So I think Senator Mitchell was being very prudent in saying these are hard issues. They require a lot of back and forth between the parties, guarantees and assistance from the rest of us who are trying to move this forward. So it might take as much as the time he mentioned, but obviously we hope to be moving much more expeditiously. But first, we have to get negotiations re-launched. Nasser and I can stand here and talk about what we would like to see happen, but at the end of the day there are two parties that have to make it happen. So our goal is to persuade the two parties to get into this very in-depth negotiations on all of these issues as soon as possible.
QUESTION: Coming to the foreign minister on Afghanistan. You lost a member of the intelligence service and there is controversial issues about Humam al-Balawi. Can you just shed some light about him, whether he was a double agent or not and whether this were going to affect the sharing of intelligence between the United States and Jordan?
FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: May I start, first of all, by just picking up on the very positive statement that the Secretary of State has made on the pursuit of peace in the Middle East, and just say that in the final analysis, in the final analysis, time is of the essence. The President of the United States and the Secretary of State, from the beginning of 2009, expressed the sense of urgency and said that peace in the Middle East is U.S. national interest. Time is not on our side.
You asked about timeframes and setting deadlines and whether people agree or disagree. I think His Majesty King Abdullah II, the Secretary of State has said it before, Senator Mitchell has said it before, you cannot just have another open-ended process. Some deadlines have to be put on the table, and these deadlines help to serve the parties rather than present obstacles in the path towards peace. They help the parties put things in the right timeframe and the right perspective.
We’ve said it in the past: we’ve had too much process and not enough peace. What we don’t need in the region right now is another open-ended process that leaves issues unresolved and leaves loose ends without being tied. So it’s important. And yes, final status issues as the Secretary listed them are known to everybody, but if you sort out borders, if you resolve the question of borders, then you automatically resolve not only settlements in Jerusalem but you identify the nature on the ground of the two-state solution and how it looks like. And then all other things fit in place. That’s on the peace process, and I hope that with the many difficulties that we saw in 2009, and this is not the first year that we see difficulties, this is a 60-year-old conflict, we’re going to have difficulties and more difficulties, but our resolve should not be affected by this. We will have more difficulties, but let 2010 hopefully be the year of negotiations that lead to the establishment of the Palestinian state and security for Israel and peace for the entire region.
On Afghanistan, neither the Secretary nor I are intelligence officers. I’d like to think that we’re intelligent officers – (laughter) – but we’re not intelligence officers. And I can’t presume to speak on behalf of the Secretary, but I’ll speak for myself in saying that I am not at liberty to discuss intelligence operations or ongoing shared intelligence between like minded countries. However, I have said very clearly that in the global war on terror and terrorism, Jordan is at the forefront, and we’re there as part of that global network, and we’re also there to protect our national interest.
We were a target of terror and terrorism many decades ago, not just recently, and we’ve had to be not only creative but we’ve had to be extremely effective in our pursuit of those who want to do harm to our country and to our citizens. Most recently, in 2005 we had the hotel bombings, but let me not count the tens of attempts that were foiled or thwarted. And this is a result of our commitment and our ongoing operations, whether it is military personnel or intelligence work or whatever, or humanitarian work, because in our pursuit of terrorists we are saving humanity. And I think this is where the United States and Jordan and other like-minded countries are fully on board together.
We’re not just talking about counterterrorism. We’re not waiting for terrorists to carry out their plans. We’re talking about terrorism prevention. We’re talking about finding the root causes, finding the root of where terrorists plan and plot, and trying to stop them right there and then before they get to us and attack our citizens and our interests and kill innocent civilians.
So there is a Jordanian presence in Afghanistan. It’s been there for many years. Again, a humanitarian presence, a logistical presence, and intelligence operations to protect our own citizens and to prevent terrorists from carrying out their heinous crimes. And information is power, they used to say, but sharing information is also power, and I think that sharing information between like minded countries is just as effective in combating terror than – as combating terror directly.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.
FOREIGN MINISTER JUDEH: Thank you. I hope that wasn’t too long of an answer. (Laughter.)