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The Annapolis Conference: Remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

(November 27, 2007)

Secretary General Ban, Prime Minister Blair, Fellow Ministers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: Good afternoon, and thank you for coming here to Annapolis.

It is our hope that Annapolis will represent a significant step to realize our common vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. And it is our hope that Annapolis can provide positive momentum toward our goal of a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace between Arabs and Israelis.

These efforts were significantly advanced earlier today. We have just heard from all three leaders. It is clear that all are committed to ending the conflict, ending the occupation that began in 1967, and creating two states that can live side by side in peace and security. It is clear that negotiations for peace will proceed as the parties also work simultaneously and intensively to fulfill their obligations under the Roadmap. And it is clear that, to succeed, these efforts require the sustained and vigorous support of both regional states and the international community more generally. Providing that support is one of the main purposes that brings us all here to Annapolis today.

As President Bush said, Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas have agreed to an ambitious work plan to negotiate and resolve all outstanding issues, including all core issues, without exception, as specified in previous agreements, by the end of next year. These issues include borders, refugees, security, water, settlements, and Jerusalem.

As the President also said, the parties have agreed to immediate implementation of the Roadmap, and they have asked the United States to help monitor and judge their progress. These are extraordinarily important developments, and a sign of the two leaders’ commitment to move forward together as partners. We here today must do everything in our power to support them.

Let me now describe briefly how today’s sessions will proceed.

After lunch, we will hear from Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, UN Secretary General Ban, and EU High Representative Solana, who along with the United States make up the Quartet. We will then proceed to the afternoon plenary sessions.

In our first session, we will consider how regional states and the international community can increase the prospects for success of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. We look forward to hearing from Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, as the Chair of the Arab Summit and the Arab League Follow-up Committee, as well as the Foreign Ministers of Egypt and Jordan. We will also hear, among others in this session, from the Arab League Secretary General.

In our second session, we will consider how regional states and the international community can support the Palestinian Authority in its efforts to build the effective institutions of a democratic state. We will hear from the Quartet’s Special Envoy, former Prime Minster Tony Blair, about what international support is needed to support Palestinian reform and institution building efforts, and we will get a progress report on these ongoing efforts from Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will also speak in this session, among others.

This discussion is particularly important as we consider how to make the upcoming Paris Donor’s Conference a source of tangible support for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people.

Finally, in our third session of the day, we will discuss how our renewed efforts for Israeli-Palestinian peace can also stimulate positive progress toward a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace between Arabs and Israelis.

This session will begin with Turkish Foreign Minister Babacan, followed by a number of other speakers, and concluding with Israeli Foreign Minister Livni and Palestinian lead negotiator Ahmad Qurei. We look forward to constructive ideas for building on progress between Israelis and Palestinians to bring peace, security, and recognition to all countries in the region.

In all of our discussions, we who are gathered here today must affirm, as President Bush said, that Annapolis is the beginning, not the end, of a renewed effort to realize the two-state vision of peace and security. So we must be prepared to commit to the work of tomorrow with equal energy and urgency as we approach the work of today. We must all be ready to rise to our responsibilities for the sake of peace, and to ensure that regional and international support is forthcoming.

One of our most important goals today is to define as clearly as possible how our support for peace will proceed the day after Annapolis, just as the parties have described to us how they will embark on sustained efforts together to resolve their differences.

So welcome again to Annapolis. I look forward to a serious and substantive Conference today. And I am confident that, by tackling the challenges before us with honesty, goodwill, and a genuine desire for peace, we can seize this real opportunity for progress.

Sources: U.S. Department of State