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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini

Joint Press Availability, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
August 1, 2000, Rome, Italy
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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FOREIGN MINISTER DINI: Well ladies and gentlemen, good morning. You are all aware that the Secretary of State was coming to Rome and will have an important meeting in the Vatican today but I am particularly grateful to the Secretary of State for having wanted to come to the Foreign Ministry today for a bilateral meeting. I took that occasion first of all to tell the Secretary of State how appreciative we are in Italy, our great appreciation, for the relentless efforts President Clinton and the Secretary of State have made to try to bring to a conclusion the Middle East peace process. It has been a most valiant effort and as I say greatly appreciated and I am sure it will continue to do so and because the United States role in this matter is of fundamental importance. No other country can replace the United States in trying to help in welding an agreement.

This morning, of course, it had been now some time in our frequent meetings and conversations that we havenít had together and therefore the issues of common concern and interest on the international scene are quite a few and many I would say and we went over recent developments, not only concerning the Middle East, but in particular the Balkans, and as you know there is concern on our part on Mr. Milosevicís moves, including the changes in the constitution, the calling for elections, relations with Montenegro and the question of Kosovo where of course things are quiet now but full security has not yet been reestablished. We talked about these matters, we reviewed developments in Albania, and I took the occasion of indicating to the Secretary of State how concerned we are with the flow of illegal immigrants that are coming over from Albania as well as from further away in the Mediterranean east, from Turkey and others which creates major political problems in our country. These and other matters were discussed with the Secretary of State and again I express our appreciation for having come very early this morning to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for this meeting. Thank you Madam.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you. I am very pleased to be here in one of my favorite cities, Rome, and to have the opportunity to meet with my good friend the Foreign Minister. An awful lot has been happening around the world in the last few days and weeks so I think itís very important to have the possibility to consult. Since I was nearby in Tokyo I asked if I could drop in on my way home. As the Foreign Minister indicated we used our time well. I am very appreciative of his kind words about the U.S. role in the Middle East and very grateful for Italyís support in our efforts.

I asked about Prime Minister Amatoís recent trip to Tirana and emphasized how vital we see Italyís aid to Albania. We also reviewed other regional issues as the Foreign Minister just mentioned, including elections in Serbia and we see that as a meaningful test and the importance of providing timely backing to the democratic government of Montenegro. As allies we also discussed other areas of long-standing security concern, including the Gulf and the Korean Peninsula, and finally I was pleased to congratulate the Foreign Minister on the passage by the Italian Senate of anti-piracy legislation. This is a very big deal for the rule of law and very good news for our bilateral economic relationship.

I always enjoy seeing the Foreign Minister and this morning was no exception and Iím very grateful as always for his hospitality. As I said itís a great place to come. Thank you very much Lamberto.

QUESTION: A question in two parts about the Yugoslav elections for the Secretary of State. Are you going to insist with Mr. Djukanovic on the participation of Montenegro in the Yugoslav Federal and Presidential elections and second part what is the position of the United States towards the participation of Kosovo electors in the Yugoslav elections?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say I am looking forward to meeting with President Djukanovic. We have stayed in close touch. We obviously are going to be talking about the elections and I want to get his views and give him some of our ideas. We think that these elections clearly are important and will provide some kind of a meaningful test as I said. I think that we are all discussing what is appropriate in terms of participation.

QUESTION: I would like to ask the Secretary of State, when you discussed about the Korean Peninsula yesterday in Tokyo you said we must be cautious about the openings coming from North Korea. We know that Italy has been one of the countries which has mostly pushed for these changes and for these openings. In your discussions what was the position that he mentioned. You are both convinced that there can be a real change in North Korea?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well let me start. I think that I very much welcome Foreign Minister Diniís views on changes in Korea because he and the Italian government have taken such an interest in what is going on. We have both met with the Foreign Minister, our counterpart, and we have traded views on that. I think that we have to take this on a step-by-step basis as I have said to some.

I think we ought to look at events between South and North Korea in a way of balanced euphoria. This clearly is an important step forward that President Kim Dae Jung and Kim Jong Il have taken but we have to look at it step-by step. We want to have our concerns met. Those have to do with nuclear issues and with missile issues. I found it heartening that the North and South Koreans were able to come to some agreement on liaison offices and are filing out some of the detailed aspects of the agreements that were made when the two leaders met at Pyongyang and we will continue to watch very carefully.

FOREIGN MINISTER DINI: I would like to underline the fact that our views are very close, I would say identical to those of the United States. There are no differences. I think we are all satisfied that the process has been set in motion but we are all very fully aware that it is a long process, that we cannot expect major changes rapidly. However, the process underway must be encouraged and I think we are providing encouragement on both sides. And on one particular issue and that is the support for KEDO on the part of the European Union. That support is not up to Italyís expectations and this is a matter that I would want to raise with the European Union to see that Europeís participation in KEDO financially is going to be raised because that is an important issue, also for North Korea in terms of energy. Thank you.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: And let me say that I am very grateful to the Foreign Minister for his support on KEDO with the increase in oil prices and generally our commitments on fuel deliveries. I think it is very important and I am very grateful for the Foreign Minister saying that the EU needs to up its contribution.

QUESTION: I have a question for Foreign Minister Dini. What role can the Vatican play in solving the issue of Jerusalem in the Middle East peace process? And I wondered if you could also share your views with us on the best strategy for President Djukanovic in fighting the elections. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER DINI: Well on the first question clearly Italyís interest is as much as other European countries in encouraging the parties to find an equitable solution for the Jerusalem problem and that is a solution that is satisfactory to all the three religions that have holy sites in Jerusalem. So itís not that Italy has any magic formula to solve the Jerusalem issue; it has not been found but I understand from the Secretary of State that progress has been made on this issue. For the first time it has been discussed openly and squarely by the two parties concerned and the United States is also canvassing the view of other countries, including our own, and we are supportive of their effort. On the second question about President Djukanovic, the Italian governmentís view is to encourage President Djukanovic and Montenegro not to boycott the elections.

QUESTION: Mr. Amato said on Saturday that there is no solution at the moment for the Milosevic problem. I would like to know what could be your solution.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I didnít hear Mr. Amato say that so I canít corroborate it. I do think that it is very important for the democratic opposition in Serbia to unite and to present a single slate and to participate in the elections. They have an opportunity to do that and they need to unite on a single candidate. That is a solution.

QUESTION: Do you think that the agreement signed last February between the Vatican and the Palestinians which called for an international statute for Jerusalem was contradicted by the Palestinians insistence at Camp David that they would only accept full sovereignty on eastern Jerusalem. Thank you.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, they were not interested in having internationalization though they have called for an open city. I think that the major issues here are, as the Foreign Minister said, that the question about control over the holy sites and that the complications here are that Jerusalem is holy to three religions and how to handle this at the same time as the issues of political sovereignty. Thatís why this gets so complicated. But nobody wanted, at Camp David certainly, the issue of internationalization was not the solution to it.

[End of Document]
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