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Foreign Policy Analysis
Remarks With French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at a Press Availability

Remarks With French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at a Press Availability


SECRETARY TILLERSON:
Thank you very much, Foreign Minister Le Drian,
and I want to thank the foreign minister for his
very warm welcome to France, my first visit as
Secretary of State, certainly not
my first visit. We just had a lovely
luncheon and I appreciated the opportunity to enjoy
some fine French food while I was here as well. As the foreign
minister indicated, this meeting’s a
continuation of many, many discussions he and
I have had together, and we will meet yet again
before the end of the year. Also, I think it’s important
to reflect on the very warm relationship that exists
between President Trump and President Macron. They speak often. And I think, as the foreign
minister described, the relationship that the
United States and France has is one of an alliance
that is so strong, so deep and steadfast. So we’re two centuries long
now of shared values that we are able to be very frank
and open with one another. And on almost all
things, we agree, but on those that we don’t,
we are very open to express those disagreements, and I
think both of us benefit from the richness of
those discussions. And I know President
Trump values very much President Macron’s views
on issues and that’s why they speak often as well. As the foreign
minister indicated, and I won’t take a lot of
time repeating what he said, on so many issues we are
very well aligned dealing with the threat of the
nuclear weapons program in North Korea. We appreciate France’s
steadfast support. We appreciate the strong
support that we share in the war to defeat ISIS and to
contain terrorism wherever it shows itself, certainly
in our joint efforts in the Sahel, and we appreciate
France’s leadership in the Sahel to counter terrorism
and to contain ISIS showing its face in that part
of the world as well. I think, again, on
many issues we agree, and on those we don’t, we
have very open discussions and we value the
relationship. And I’m going to stop there
because I don’t need to repeat the issues that the
foreign minister addressed, because I know we want
to have time for your questions. FOREIGN MINISTER LE DRIAN:
Je vous en prie. MODERATOR:
Vous faites de la police. Alors, allez. QUESTION: Greg Viscusi
from Bloomberg News. For the Secretary of State,
I just want to know, what steps and when are you
taking to comply with the President’s moving of
the Israeli capital to Jerusalem? Can you move the embassy on
your own or do you have to make a request to
Congress for the funding? And finally, would you be
open to stating or accepting that part of Jerusalem
remains – or not remains, but falls under
Palestinian control? SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well,
the President has directed in his statement that he
made that he has asked State Department to begin the
process of making the move of the embassy to Jerusalem. This will take some time. We have to acquire a site,
we have to develop building plans, construction
plans – as you point out, ensure we get the
authorizations, although I do not anticipate
any difficulties getting those authorizations,
and then actually build an embassy. So this is not something
that’s going to happen this year, probably
not next year, but the President does
want us to move in a very concrete and steadfast way
to ensure the embassy is located in Jerusalem when
we are able to do so at the earliest possible time. I think with respect to
the rest of Jerusalem, the President indicated
in his statement that his decision to recognize
Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his direction
to the State Department to begin the process of moving
the embassy did not indicate any final status
for Jerusalem. And in fact, he
was, I think, very clear that the final
status of Jerusalem is a matter that would be left
– including the borders, would be left to the parties
to negotiate and decide. MODERATOR:
Dave Clark of AFP. QUESTION:
Thank you very much, Mr. Minister and
thank you very much, Secretary of State. [INAUDIBLE]. What clarity did you gain
today about the chain of events that led Prime
Minister Hariri to resign in Saudi Arabia,
fly here to France, and later to un-resign? What was accomplished
in today’s summit? And when you call for
preserving Lebanon’s sovereignty and preventing
foreign interference, does that warning apply
to Riyadh as well? SECRETARY TILLERSON: I think
what was important about today’s meeting with Prime
Minister Hariri is that he affirmed that he had
rescinded that resignation and his full intention to
remain as prime minister and continue to work with the
Government of Lebanon to move Lebanon forward in
terms of its journey towards a stronger coalition
government, prepare for
elections next year, strengthen their security,
and through the decision to call for disassociation
to have Hizballah end its involvement
in Yemen as well. So there were a number of
important issues that we discussed, all of which I
think are positive when it comes to Lebanon’s future. QUESTION: (via interpreter)
A question to both of you from CNews. Do France and the United
States have the same approach regarding
Hizballah? And if so, is there
removal from Syria? Would that be a first step? What, as a matter of fact,
could be the first step to be required from Hizballah
in the current situation? SECRETARY TILLERSON:
Is that to me, or – I didn’t catch the
first part of the question. FOREIGN MINISTER LE DRIAN:
(via interpreter) It is meant for both of us, and
there will be only – it was meant for both of
us and then there will be one more question. So quickly: Like we
said this morning, we are attached and
extremely determined to be attached to the sovereignty
and the security and independence of Lebanon. This requires – this concept
of disassociation requires that no one, domestically
or internationally, challenges the stability
and the security of Lebanon. And this applies as
well to Hizballah, both inside and
outside Lebanon. Next, regarding the
forces involved in Syria, the position of France is
to hope for a political transition scheme as soon
as possible in order to guarantee the integrity of
Syria and to guarantee Syria from any outside
interference. SECRETARY TILLERSON:
The U.S. position I think is – mirrors
that of France’s as well in terms of the –
as I just indicated the importance of the decision
of disassociation to affirm what Hizballah’s role should
be and what Hizballah’s role should not be. I think the U.S. also recognizes
that the Lebanese Armed Forces are the sole protecting
force for Lebanon, and it’s important that
that role, I think, be strengthened and be
affirmed in order to protect Lebanon’s sovereignty. FOREIGN MINISTER LE DRIAN:
(via interpreter)
One more question. QUESTION: Thank you
both for doing this. Mr. Secretary, you’ve been
placing a big emphasis on limiting Iran’s
interference in Lebanon. But I want to ask you about
Saudi Arabia in particular. The Kingdom has
energetically asserted its influence over Lebanon,
over Qatar, over Yemen, where your administration
is now pleading with the Kingdom to end its blockade. What do you make of Saudi
Arabia’s recent aggressive moves, both inside and
outside of the Kingdom? And is Iran the only
aggressor in the region? And Mr. Foreign
Minister, if I may? Between its recent moves to
decertify the Iran deal, pull out of the
Paris climate deal, and recognize Jerusalem,
what kind of an ally is the U.S. these days? SECRETARY TILLERSON:
Well, the U.S. strongly supports the
reforms that are being undertaken in the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We think they’re important
to the future of Saudi Arabia, in terms of not just
its stability but also its prosperity for the future. I think with respect to
Saudi Arabia’s engagement with Qatar, how they’re
handling the Yemen war that they’re engaged in,
the Lebanon situation, I think we would encourage
them to be a bit more measured and a bit more
thoughtful in those actions, to I think fully consider
the consequences. I think we’ve been clear
when it comes to Yemen we have called for, and
President Trump himself called for this week, a
complete end to the blockade of Yemen, a reopening of
all the ports to not just humanitarian assistance but
commercial delivery as well, because about 80 percent
of the food comes in on commercial shipments. We are asking that Saudi
Arabia allow that access. I think as to Lebanon,
things have worked out in a very positive way, perhaps
even more positive than before, because there have
been very strong statements of affirmation about
the future of Lebanon, which can only be helpful.

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