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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov
Press Remarks at the State Pavilion - Barajas Airport
Madrid, Spain, January 30, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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FOREIGN MINISTER PRIMAKOV: (In Russian, through interpreter) Of course, the talks have finished between the leaders of the two departments of Russia and the United States. We talked about many questions, but naturally the center of attention was on the problem concerning Iraq. I have to say that we consider the situation rather serious and all (inaudible) that weapons of mass destruction are eliminated, that the commission, the Special Commission inspectors work in an appropriate way. At the same time, we underlined this question in our conversations with each other, and as far as I understand, the Secretary of State also (inaudible) it is necessary to make new (inaudible) so that the commission works in a more (inaudible) and for that we have to have a whole series of measures.

Now, as far as the methods for achieving this, Russia stood for and remains in favor of using diplomatic and political measures for the purpose of solving those tasks which we have set before us. I think that generally our discussions were very useful. We exchanged our visions of the situation. We exchanged various different arguments in support of different approaches. I thank you.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I want to begin by thanking the Spanish Government for facilitating my meeting with Foreign Minister Primakov today. In just a little while I am going to Moncloa Palace to meet with President Aznar and I look forward to that very much. I want to tell the people of Spain that the United States is deeply saddened by the murder of Seville Deputy Mayor Jimenez Becerril and his wife. We condemn this terrible crime absolutely.

As Foreign Minister Primakov said, we had a very good meeting. Russia and the United States share the view that the situation in Iraq is very grave, and we agree that Permanent Members of the Security Council must remain united in demanding that Iraq abide by the resolutions of the Security Council. Iraq's compliance with these resolutions, with the will of the world, is essential for the stability of the region and vital to Russian and U.S. interests.

Yesterday the Foreign Minister of France and I agreed that it is necessary for Iraq to receive a strong message. It is necessary to comply with the resolutions of the Security Council and all options are open if there is not compliance. Today Foreign Minister Primakov and I agreed that Iraq must end its obstruction of UNSCOM's weapons inspections. When Iraq interferes with UNSCOM's work, the country is committing -- Saddam is committing fundamental violations of the Council's resolutions, and this can not be tolerated.

I made clear to Foreign Minister Primakov our considered view that we have all but exhausted real diplomatic options and that the time is fast approaching for fundamental decisions. Unfortunately, there is no concrete evidence that Iraq is negotiating for any reason other than diversion and delay. We have always said -- and we agree with the Russians on this -- that we prefer a diplomatic solution, but I remain skeptical that diplomacy will solve this problem. The Minister and I also discussed other issues of concern to our two countries, and our relationship remains a very important one. By working together we have been able to accomplish a great deal and I must say that, as always, Mr. Minister, it is a pleasure to see you and work with you. I think we have lost track of how many meetings we've had together. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, is the Russian diplomacy ongoing even though you say that Iraq is using it for delay? Is there anything in what Russia is doing in behalf of compliance that gives you any reason to hope that (inaudible) diplomatic (inaudible)?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: (Inaudible) what they are doing.

QUESTION: Foreign Minister Primakov, can you give us a status report on your envoy's progress in Baghdad? Did he come away with any tangible evidence that Saddam Hussein was prepared to compromise on this issue of Presidential sites?

FOREIGN MINISTER PRIMAKOV: I am not going to open up all the details of the diplomatic mission which was made in Baghdad by the Deputy Foreign Minister Posuvalyuk. I think there is no reason to do that, it doesn't make sense because it would interfere with the progress. This is only the beginning of the process from our perspective. We aim to continue with this mission. Thank you.

QUESTION: (In Russian) Russian television. I'd like to ask Mrs. Albright to say how realistic is it that the United States after all will follow a diplomatic path and not follow a path of war in the Middle East after your meeting today with Mr. Primakov? (In English) So, if the United States will rest in the diplomatic way and not in the military way of the solution of Gulf crisis?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say what our position is. We have said all along we prefer a diplomatic option, however that our patience is running out, and that the diplomatic route is all but exhausted. So, as I have said before, all options are open, but we prefer a diplomatic route. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER PRIMAKOV: We are a little bit more patient, you know.

(Laughter)

[End of Document]

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