Remarks With Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad al-Sabah After Their Meeting
Secretary of State
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. Well, once again, it is an honor to welcome His Excellency the deputy prime minister to the State Department. I first met Dr. Muhammad when he was serving as Kuwait’s ambassador to Washington back in the 1990s, and it is such a pleasure to work with him. Today as always, we had a very productive and constructive exchange of views that covered a wide range of common concerns.
Kuwait is a trusted and valued partner of the United States. Our countries share a bond forged during the U.S.-led liberation of Kuwait in 1991 and strengthened by years of partnership and mutual respect. We appreciate Kuwait’s leadership as the chair of the Gulf Cooperation Council. We look forward to continuing to work with Kuwait on our shared goals of peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and beyond.
The deputy prime minister and I discussed recent political developments in Iraq and the ongoing process of forming a new government. The security and stability of Iraq is critical to the security and stability of Kuwait, but of indeed the entire region. The United States recognizes that there is still work to be done to address some of the outstanding issues related to the Iraq-Kuwait relationship, and we are committed to working with Kuwait and the new Government of Iraq and the United Nations in the months ahead.
I also updated the deputy prime minister on our ongoing efforts, along with our international partners, to secure a United Nations Security Council resolution on Iran. We discussed the importance of diplomatic efforts to encourage Iran to abide by its international nuclear obligations. On Monday, I will attend the conference in New York reviewing the Nonproliferation Treaty and we will be underscoring once again the importance of all nations upholding their responsibilities.
We also discussed our shared goal of achieving a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. As I said last night at the American Jewish Committee, the Middle East will never realize its full potential, Israel will never be truly secure, the Palestinians will never have their legitimate aspiration for a state, unless we create the circumstances in which positive negotiations can occur.
We are also seeking not only a two-state solution negotiated by the parties, but a regional peace between Israel and Syria, between Israel and Lebanon, and normal relations between Israel and the Arab states. We believe that through good faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree to an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the ’67 lines with agreed swaps and Israel’s goal of a Jewish state with the secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israel’s security requirements.
Simultaneously moving toward a broader regional peace will help set up the conditions for that outcome. I commend Kuwait for its support of the Arab peace initiative, which offers a vision of a better future for all of the people of the Middle East. And I look forward to seeing it advanced by actions as well as words.
Now, we are very committed – deeply committed – to a prosperous, secure, democratic future for the people of Kuwait. We will continue working together to broaden the partnership between our governments and deepen the friendship between our people. We are very grateful for Kuwait’s support of our efforts with our troops and the many difficult challenges that have faced our ongoing actions in Iraq. And Kuwait has been a stalwart supporter and friend. So thank you again.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AL-SABAH: Thank you, Madam Secretary. It’s always great being back to the States and especially to the State Department. I value your friendship and your advice. We – I think I don’t have to, again, say what we have discussed because that has been fully covered by the Secretary’s statement. But I would like also to emphasize the kind of bilateral relations that we emphasized in our discussion. I also raised the issue of Kuwait’s desire to acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, and we are going to work very closely with the United States on that issue.
Also, we have raised the issue of our detainees in Guantanamo, and this is an area that is – present continuous hardship, I think both for the United States Government and the Kuwaiti Government and the people of Kuwait. And we have agreed on a ways to resolve this issue in the near future.
I thank you very much, Secretary Clinton, for your friendship and I look forward to work with you on all the issues that you have mentioned.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you so much.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AL-SABAH: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: (Inaudible.) We have time two questions. One (inaudible).
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, the Palestinians said they received a letter from President Obama about the peace process. And I’m wondering can you tell us if the U.S. is making any new commitments to President Abbas to get him back to the negotiating table, and are you confident that proximity talks may start again soon?
And for the deputy prime minister, Secretary Clinton last night made a pretty strong call for more help from the Arab states to get the peace process on track. I’m wondering from your perspective what you think the Arab states can do in order to get the proximity talks underway.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andy, I’m not going to comment on any correspondence between President Obama and President Abbas. I think we’ve been very clear in our efforts that the resumption of talks is absolutely essential for the progress we seek toward a two-state solution. We will be starting with proximity talks next week. Senator Mitchell will be going back to the region. And we look forward to the meeting of the Arab follow-up committee in Cairo tomorrow night to support the commitment by President Abbas to move forward with these talks.
Ultimately, we want to see the parties in direct negotiations and working out all the difficult issues that they must – they’ve been close a few times before. I remember very well the Camp David experience, and I know that President Abbas negotiated with former Prime Minister Olmert. So we are looking to see the resumption of those discussions.
DEPUTY PRIME MINSTER AL-SABAH: Well, the United States has indicated that peace in our region is of national security interest to the United States. We are strategic partners and strategic allies to the United States, so it is incumbent on us to help the United States achieve that. This is something that would benefit us and the people in the region as a whole. We have supported the proximity talks during early March. Unfortunately, the response from Israel was an announcement to build 1,600 houses in East Jerusalem, as if it was a response to our support for the proximity talks. Yet we did not be discouraged by that during the Arab summit in Tripoli where we confirmed our commitment to the proximity talk to help United States achieve this strategic objective by resuming the discussion on the parameters that was stated by President Obama during his speech to the United Nations. I think this is something that we all support, and that we support fully the position that the United States has taken.
MR. CROWLEY: (Off-mike.)
QUESTION: My question is (inaudible) statement – my question is: Can you specifically say to the people of the region what the United States is (inaudible) of the (inaudible) about the peace and stability of this region, taking into consideration this threat (inaudible)? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: Another question after that (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, do you want to ask that question, sir, and then you want to ask the question to the deputy prime minister?
SECRETARY CLINTON: You know, as the deputy prime minister said, Kuwait and the United States are strategic allies and we work together to address the challenges and threats that our strategic ally faces. There’s no doubt that a great deal of concern is merited within the region concerning Iran – Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, Iran’s efforts to support terrorism, Iran’s unfortunate behavior undermining governments across the region and beyond.
So we know that we have to work together and we are doing so. We are working to isolate Iran through the United Nations. We’re in the midst of negotiations over a Security Council resolution that will impose consequences on Iran for its unwillingness to follow the IAEA or the United Nations Security Council requirements about its nuclear program. We are working to support the defense and territorial integrity of our partners and allies in the Gulf, and we consult closely.
The deputy prime minister will be also meeting with Secretary Gates. I mean, our whole government is committed to working with Kuwait to provide Kuwait with the support it needs to deal with any of the challenges or threats it faces.
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
(Via interpreter) Your Excellency, there are many issues that you have discussed with the U.S. Secretary of State, Secretary Clinton. Are there any new positions? Are there any new views or it is just a recurrence of all the point of views put forth again?
DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER AL-SABAH: (Via interpreter) I believe that we have discussed with Secretary Clinton many very important issues that have been on the agenda of the region for a very, very long time. I believe that the ideas that were put forth were those ideas of President Obama during his speech at UNGA, at the UN General Assembly, last September in his remarks to that institution. And I believe that these ideas reflect the Arab ideas.
What is needed is peace. We need to bring about peace, a peace that is based on a two-state solution for an independent and viable Palestinian state with its capital, East Jerusalem, and a state that would live in peace and security with its neighbor.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all.