|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at the Ministerial Meeting of the
Gulf Cooperation Council
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, September 14, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman in Abha, Saudi Arabia
U.S. Department of State
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, I am very pleased to be here.
Let me begin by thanking His Majesty King Fahd and His Royal Highness Prince Saud and the Government of Saudi Arabia for making such fine arrangements for this meeting. I also want to express my appreciation to Minister Hamad-al-Thani for his country's leadership of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) this year, and my gratitude to all the foreign ministers for making possible my first joint session with the Council.
This opportunity is important to me and to my responsibilities as Secretary of State because the United States values deeply its friendship with members of the Council. I know that President Clinton places a high priority on our relationship. And I appreciate the opportunity to share with you the views of the United States and to listen to your views about matters that concern us all.
The United States has basic interests in common with the Gulf States and with many other countries in the Arab world. We all want our peoples to live in peace free from the threat of war. We believe nations have a responsibility to uphold the law in their relations with each other. We abhor extremism and condemn terrorism. We have strong economic ties and we want our citizens to work together to take advantage of the opportunities created by the increasingly integrated and dynamic global marketplace.
As your excellencies know, this is my first visit to this region in my present job. I arrive in these ancient lands pre-occupied with the future. My trip has given me the opportunity to meet with young people both in Jerusalem and Ramallah. And before I left Washington, I met with another group of young people, including some from your countries, who were participants n the Seeds of Peace program. I will begin by saying to you what I said to them, and to Prime Minister Netanyahu and to Chairman Arafat.
For the Middle East, peace is the only option. The path of conflict is fertile only in the production of sorrow and grief. For Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs alike, it is a dry well. It offers a future only of more violence, more victims, more suffering and more hate. That is a future the people of this region do not deserve and will not accept. Although the road to peace can be very difficult to travel, it offers a different future, a future rich with the promise of mutual respect, increased cooperation and dignity for all peoples.
That is why it matters so much that the current crisis in confidence be ended, that leaders break through the paralyzing cycle of recrimination and begin again to take the pragmatic steps needed to move the peace process forward. For that to happen, all those with a stake in peace must meet their responsibilities.
The Palestinian Authority must do everything within its power to prevent and punish terrorism and to deepen the irrevocable commitment it made at Oslo to treat Israel not as an adversary but as a partner in peace. As Chairman Arafat has said, no one suffers more from the effects of terrorism than Palestinians.
Israeli leaders must refrain from unilateral actions that undermine Palestinian confidence in their intentions, and they should bear in mind--even as they strive to safeguard their people's security--that no nation has a greater stake than Israel in helping Palestinians to prosper.
The United States has a responsibility, which we recognize, to support peace without attempting to impose peace. And as President Clinton has made clear, we will continue to meet that responsibility by supporting a comprehensive peace consistent with the principles outlined in UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, including the principle of land for peace.
Finally, the Arab States have a responsibility, which you also have recognized, to support the peace process and work against the enemies of peace. To do your utmost to ensure that no assistance of any kind reaches the practitioners of extremist violence, such as Hamas. To provide generous assistance to the Palestinian Authority as it attempts to develop its economy and create a society based on law. To do more to break down the barriers that exist between your societies and that of Israel, the Palestinians' partner in peace. And to join the United States and others in sustaining the trend towards regional economic cooperation and growth.
On this last point, I want to reiterate strongly our hope that members of the Council will participate in this year's Middle East North Africa summit, which the Government of Qatar has graciously agreed to host.
The effort to increase regional economic cooperation is not--as some seem to suggest--a kind of concession to Israel. It is a vital underpinning to the long term prospects for peace. Shared prosperity will build a shared commitment to peace and deny nourishment to the violent extremists who feed on deprivation. Increased commerce and investment between and among the region's peoples will also strengthen relationships, build confidence and make it easier to overcome setbacks to peace.
For the last three years, MENA summits in Casablanca, Amman and Cairo have succeeded in attracting outside investors to the region, and in diminishing the distrust that has long divided governments and prevented private sectors from working together for their mutual benefit and that of their societies.
The Doha summit is another opportunity to convey a message to the world that the Middle East can be a source of economic dynamism and opportunity and that the Gulf States are active in diversifying their own interests and building regional prosperity. And it will send a message to the opponents of peace that they can neither dictate policy nor hold back progress towards a region in which all will share the benefits of greater stability and rising prosperity.
As we strive to shape a brighter future through our economic cooperation, we must also build a safe future through our continued diplomatic and security cooperation.
That requires working together to identify and respond vigorously to terrorist threats and to bring those responsible for acts of terrorism to justice.
And it requires that we maintain our joint determination to safeguard the peace and stability of the entire Gulf region.
The United States will oppose any effort from any source to coerce or intimidate our regional friends or to interfere with freedom of navigation through the Gulf's international waterways.
The United States remains determined that Iraq never again threaten you or others in this region. We continue to insist that the regime in Baghdad demonstrate that its intentions are peaceful and that it respects the rule of law by complying with all relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Unfortunately, Iraq continues to fall far short of that standard. The United States is pleased, however, that the Security Council has approved a plan that allows the sale of limited quantities of Iraqi oil to finance the purchase of food and other humanitarian supplies for the benefit of the Iraqi people.
Our cooperation on security also requires that we keep a watchful eye on events in Tehran.
The election of Seyyed Mohammad Khatami as Iran's new President is an intriguing and possibly hopeful development. The people of Iran have made clear their desire for change. What remains unclear is whether, and to what extent, change will actually transpire.
In recent times, Iran's policies have fed instability and violated international norms in three areas: support for international terrorism violent opposition to the Middle East peace process; efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction; and efforts to destabilize friendly states. From an international perspective, it is in these areas that the test of President Khatami's new government will occur.
Although we hope for positive change in Iran, we cannot count on it. We will measure it not by what is said but by what is done. And we need to stand together, including support for the UAE and Bahrain against Iranian intimidation.
In closing, I want again to stress how important our continued partnership is if we are to maintain stability, safeguard vital interests that we share and promote peace with security and dignity for all the peoples of this region. Because our partnership began more than five decades ago, we know it is durable. Because our partnership can help ensure a prosperous future for our citizens, we know it is smart. Because our partnership serves the interests of law, we know it is just. And because our partnership is devoted to peace, we know it is right for our children and for our children's children.
Thank you once again for the opportunity to participate in this conference. I deeply appreciate your hospitality. And I look forward to working with you to strengthen our partnership further in the months and years to come.
Thank you very much.
[End of Document]
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