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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal Edward S. Walker, Jr., Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs

Remarks After Meetings at Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ankara, Turkey, April 14, 2000

Assistant Secretary Walker: I've had extremely good consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is part of a bi-annual set of talks that we have in which we cover the entire area that I am responsible for--the Middle East. We go a little bit further a field occasionally to discuss some related problems. We had very thorough discussions over the last two days. And I am very satisfied with the results. I think we've got a common interest in the region. We have common concepts on how to proceed. And this is very encouraging.

Question: Did the water issue come up?

Assistant Secretary Walker: We talked in general terms about water in the region, which has been the subject of a multilateral group, of which Turkey is a member. Those meetings hopefully will be held sometime again in the spring. In terms of water, with regard to the Syria-Israel discussions, that's much more localized.

Question: And you were together with Frank Ricciardone. That means that you had talked and concentrated also on Iraq. Would you please elaborate?

Assistant Secretary Walker: We had a good discussion about the situation in Iraq. I made it clear that our policy has not changed. We are strongly in favor of a unified Iraq. We do not see separatism as being the answer. And we will continue to operate on that basis. We discussed the northern problems in Iraq as well, and our approach to the humanitarian problems there.

Question: Ankara was uneasy about the organization of some United Nations programs. Was it also raised during these talks?

Assistant Secretary Walker: Which UN programs?

Question: (Inaudible)

Assistant Secretary Walker: We had a pretty thorough discussion of the problems that we have been facing with regard to Iraq. We had a particularly good discussion about the question of the sanctions--both in terms of how they affect the Iraqi people and our efforts to try to improve the situation for the Iraqi people through 1284, and through our own efforts to review our own processes. And we talked about the importance of maintaining the sanctions that impact directly on Saddam Hussein. And I think we had a very good common position on these issues.

Question: And the Iraqi opposition ...(inaudible)

Assistant Secretary Walker: Well, yes we talked a bit about the Iraqi opposition, keeping in mind that our approach has been to try to deal with the Iraqi opposition as a unified effort of all Iraqis, both inside and outside of Iraq. We are not looking to seek to deal with individual organizations. We are trying to deal with a comprehensive whole and pull them together, that was the whole idea of the INC.

Question: Do you think the...will be successful in toppling Saddam Hussein?

Assistant Secretary Walker: I don't know--I'm not in the business of predicting. We have a policy that we feel that in order for Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a valued member--we don't believe that Saddam Hussein can be the person who does that because of his background, history and the way he has approached problems in the past. And so we have favored a changing of regime. But I am not in the business of predicting how or when that might happen. Thank you very much.

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