Condoleezza Rice Press Conference

Mar 16th, 2006, in News, by

Condoleezza Rice seems to me to be just a bit dumb, or maybe her position forces her to mouth platitudes and drivel, or perhaps it’s a combination of both. The record of her press conference in Jakarta, for posterity’s sake, is to be found herein.

U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
March 14, 2006


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
And Indonesian Foreign Minister Noer Hassan Wirajuda

March 14, 2006
Jakarta, Indonesia

FOREIGN MINISTER WIRAJUDA: Good afternoon, friends and members of press and media. It is indeed a great pleasure for me to personally host Dr. Rice, who is not only colleagues but also friends, upon her visit to Indonesia in her official capacity as Secretary of State of the United States of America. Allow me, Dr. Rice, for me to speak in Bahasa Indonesia for the benefits of my fellow Indonesian media.

(In Bahasa Indonesia.)

Dr. Rice, you have the floor.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you very much, Foreign Minister Wirajuda. It’s been a very fruitful discussion here in Indonesia. As the Minister said, we
have met on other occasions, we have talked by phone on a number of occasions, and of course our presidents have had several meetings and I look forward to meeting with the President later in the day.

We have had wide-ranging discussions as befit the growing strategic partnership and strategic relationship of the United States and Indonesia. Indonesia is, I think, an inspiration to those around the world who struggle with the many differences in which people come in terms of race and ethnicity and religion.

Here in Indonesia, the deserved reputation for tolerance and inclusion and for the celebration of diversity is indeed an inspiration to the entire world; and that that celebration of diversity now takes place within the context of a growing and maturing democracy is also a cause for celebration and we very much admire the democratic process that is going on here in Indonesia and we want to be a good partner for the Indonesian people as that work goes forward.

We talked about our bilateral relationship. We have increased our ties
bilaterally. Our military-to-military relationship is again an important
element of relations between the United States and Indonesia. The Minister and I talked about trying to increase educational and cultural exchange,

particularly of young people and university students, and that is something that I think we will want to work very hard to do.

We talked about our bilateral counterterrorism cooperation, which has been
excellent, but I must note that Indonesia has also been a place where others
come to work and develop capacity as well for the counterterrorism fight.

And of course, as the Minister said, we have a lot of work in trade and economic development. We are actively pursuing with Indonesia the Millennium Challenge Corporation possibilities. Indonesia is a threshold country and we look forward to those continued discussions because the Millennium Challenge really does reward good governance, it rewards efforts at fighting corruption and it rewards investment in one’s citizens in health and education.

And in that regard I was really delighted to visit an Indonesian Islamic school and to see the wonderful kids there, boys and girls, doing their mathematics and doing their science experiments and all involved in the national curriculum of Indonesia but also within their own Islamic traditions. And it was really very heartening and we did, as the Minister mentioned, make a grant for a Sesame Street program here, a grant of $8.5 million, and I had a chance to shake hands with Elmo as well as with the kids, so it was a very nice visit to the school.

We talked as well about our regional agenda. We are, of course, active through ASEAN and here I want to thank Indonesia, and particularly President Yudhoyono, for his efforts concerning Burma. Great democracies like Indonesia and like the United States cannot turn a blind eye to those who still live under oppression, and I know that Indonesia, through the President and through the efforts of the Minister as well, have been trying to convince the Burmese, the junta in Burma, that it is time to join the international community and to respect human rights.

We also had a broad discussion of global issues. As I said, this is a
relationship that is bilaterally strong and strengthening, that is engaged in
the region but also engaged in the world. And we talked about the challenges
facing the Israeli and Palestinian people as they seek to find a way toward
peace and the desire that any government would be, of course, committed to peace in the Palestinian territories so that we might once again engage the roadmap and engage again toward a two-state solution and the building of a Palestinian state.

Finally, we did discuss the situation in Iran and our desire for Iran to accept
the will of the international community and to develop its civil nuclear program within the context of the NPT, within the context of an international
arrangement that would not permit the Iranians enrichment and reprocessing on their territory. The Board of Governors has spoken to this and so I need not go further. But there is a lot of work to do in nonproliferation, there’s a lot of work to do in counterterrorism, there is a lot of work to do in the promotion of democracy and tolerance among peoples, and we have an excellent friend and partner in Indonesia in doing so.

Thank you very much for having me here, Minister.


QUESTION: Welcome, Minister Condi. Her Excellency, Mrs. Condi. U.S. has done so many things to assist Indonesia in democracy and also in development, but it seems that anti-U.S. sentiment is still growing in Indonesia. What’s your comment about it and how to overcome this issue?

And the second question will be about Hambali. Your government has promised to give access to Indonesia to Hambali. When you will give the access? Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Let me say that on counterterrorism cooperation, including with Hambali, we are cooperating, we are sharing information and we will continue that cooperation and discussions of how we can best make certain that we are using this opportunity to bolster our counterterrorism operations and efforts.

As to Indonesia and sentiment, I see many Indonesians who are friendly toward the United States. I think that the United States and Indonesia share a great deal. I understand that the United States has had to do things in the world that have not been popular in much of the world. We are fighting a very tough enemy, an enemy that has been felt here in Indonesia with bombings in Bali and Jakarta, that has been felt in London, that has been felt in Madrid, that has been felt in Russia and, of course, in Washington and New York. And so I don’t think there is any disagreement that we need to fight this common enemy.

Sometimes I think there is a lack of understanding of how much the United States respects the people who are of Islamic faith and countries in which people overwhelmingly express Islamic faith and are members of Islam. In fact, the United States — the large and growing Islamic population in the United States is a part of our history and heritage. And what we respect about Indonesia is that, along with other religious groups, people live in harmony here and in tolerance. I can remember back when the President was in Bali, he met with religious leaders from across the spectrum and they all had the same thing to say: We are all Indonesians, we are all working together.

I would hope that it would be recognized that the United States — the heart of
the people of the United States is demonstrated when something like the tsunami happens. The United States was very, very prompt and quick in trying to respond. And I want to note something, that it was not just the American government that responded, as important as that was, but American people responded. The American people gave in huge amounts and huge numbers from their churches and from their synagogues and from their mosques.

And so I would hope that while some of the policies that we pursue may not
always be popular, that there is an understanding that we have a deep and
abiding respect for the Indonesian people, for their various faiths, and a
desire to see this great democracy prosper.

MR. MCCORMACK: Next question to Anne Gearan from Associated Press.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you. Madame Secretary, on Iran, it looks as though China and Russia are not supporting the idea of a statement ahead of the first
Security Council meeting this week. Can you talk a little bit about that and
whether you still feel that you have consensus going into the Security Council?

And for the Foreign Minister on Iran as well, do you think the idea of an
eventual Iranian nuclear bomb is inevitable?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Anne, I’m content to let the diplomacy continue for a while before we determine what the outcome is going to be. The United States, the Europeans and the Russians and the Chinese are in discussions in New York as well as we are in discussions between capitals.

I do think that it is important having in London agreed that we would postpone a discussion in the Security Council until after the last Board of Governors report. We’ve fulfilled that part of the bargain and now it’s time for this to be discussed in the Security Council. And I’m quite certain that when everyone has a chance to think about the importance of sending Iran a very strong message that it’s time for Iran to heed the call of that resolution that was voted on February 4th telling Iran to suspend its activities, telling Iran to go back to negotiations, that we’ll find the appropriate vehicle for doing so. But we’re in the Security Council. That’s the whole purpose of the London agreement, the whole purpose of the February 4th resolution. And the Iranians have done nothing to demonstrate to the world that this should not be in the Security Council.

And so I’m quite certain we’ll find the appropriate vehicle for expressing the
international community’s solidarity because I’ll let the Minister answer your question about Iran’s nuclear weapon but I don’t know anyone in a responsible community of states that wants to see them have a nuclear weapon.

FOREIGN MINISTER WIRAJUDA: Like Iran, Indonesia is a party to the NPT Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that not only supports the rights of NPT parties to develop nuclear technology for peaceful uses. In our context with Iran, especially during my visit to Tehran and also during the visit of the Foreign Minister of Iran to Jakarta some weeks ago, we at the same time conveyed strong message to Iran that Indonesia, being a faithful party to the NPT, would be among the first to tell Iran not to put their nuclear — peaceful nuclear uses to develop nuclear weapons.

I understand that during the Board of Governors of the IAEA meeting in Vienna, Indonesia was for more time to be given to Iran to take necessary steps to really make the nuclear — the development of nuclear technology in Iran is truly for peaceful uses. We encourage Iran to talk, to continue their
discussion with Russia because the agreements to enrich the Iranian in Russia would be a good solution on this issue. Likewise, we also very much encourage Iran to continue their discussion with the EU-3. And for that matter, we hope that the current situation could be solved peacefully and, for that matter, time must be given for the peaceful resolution of this situation.

MODERATOR: The last question from Indonesian media from Kontan.

QUESTION: Good evening, Ms. Rice. I want to ask you about non-surrender
agreement. Have you already discussed non-surrender agreement to our
government? With whom and what is the result? More specifically, what is the content of the agreement and what does the U.S. propose in doing this?

SECRETARY RICE: Non-surrender agreement? I’m sorry, I’m not certain what you’re referring to. He’s going to — oh, I see, Article 98. Article 98. Thank you. I understand.

Yes, well, we have had those discussions and we will continue to have those
discussions. Our view is that no state that has chosen not to be a party to the
ICC should have its citizens or its personnel subjected to that treaty or to the
reach of an unaccounted for or unaccountable prosecutor. We simply do not
believe that this is the way to go about international justice. We prefer
solutions that are either regional, as has been the case with Yugoslavia, with
the ICTY, or in some cases even local as has been the case with the Rwandan
prosecutions of those who were engaged in the genocide.

And so we may have differences about the ICC but to this point we have tried to continue to work on the issue and we are concerned to try and keep our very important cooperation going.

MR. MCCORMACK: Last question to Nicholas Kralev from Washington Times.

QUESTION: Thank you. Madame Secretary, actually, I think perhaps both of you can answer this question, going back to the Muslims in Indonesia. Obviously there are quite a few in this country and they obviously also have problems with the U.S. policy in the Middle East, but they are probably some of the most moderate Muslims in the world and I’m wondering what you think they can do or what your message is to the Indonesian Muslims in terms of working with the United States to perhaps improve your relationship with the Muslim world. Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, first of all, this is an issue that the
Minister has brought up with me. I didn’t even have to bring it up with him.
Indonesia, I believe, has attached great importance to toleration here, to its
moderate policies, its moderate policies internally that have really led to the
ability of a lot of people of very, very different faith to live in harmony
here. And Indonesia has been reaching out through its interfaith efforts,
through its efforts to convince people that Islam must be associated, as it is,
with peace and not with extremism.

It was remarkable to visit the madrasa today because here — and I know
Americans have a certain thing in mind or a certain image in mind when they hear the word “madrasa.” Well, I wish Americans could see this madrasa, this Islamic school, because here you had young boys and young girls in their traditions that are learning the national curriculum, working together, quite joyful, and I am sure they are going to be young people who are going to be very capable in the world and that they are going to carry attitudes with them about tolerance of other peoples. And so I think Indonesia has a very big role to play as an example of what moderation and tolerance and inclusiveness of a society can be.

The interesting thing is that that’s something we actually share with Indonesia and perhaps that’s the message that should get out more. You can go along many American streets and one house will be a Muslim family living next door to another home in which there is a Jewish family and across the street there will be a Protestant or a Catholic family. That’s true of the United States. You can go to the United States and, as I was a professor at Stanford University, and meet students who have come there from all religious faiths around the United States.

And so this is something we share with Indonesia is a sense that you can be
Muslim or Catholic or Protestant or Jewish and still be a citizen of single
country. That seems to me to be the most important message that could be
delivered to the world; and in many ways Indonesia is just in a very strong
position to do so, not because they talk about it but because they live it every day.

FOREIGN MINISTER WIRAJUDA: Thank you for being here. (In Bahasa Indonesia.)


(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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