Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at a Press Gaggle on Syria outside the UN Security Council

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
February 1, 2012


Ambassador Rice: Well, we have more work to do, but I think it was a constructive session, conducted in a good spirit. It’s way too soon in my judgment to know whether ultimately there will be agreement, but I think people are in the spirit of rolling up their sleeves and trying to get to work in a serious manner.

Reporter: The issue regarding the transition of power, [operative paragraph] 7b. Was progress made in that area?

Ambassador Rice: That’s one of the more difficult issues. It’s still being worked.

Reporter: Any sense that this might be moving along fast enough to have a vote by the end of the week as some of you have been saying before?

Ambassador Rice: Not clear. I wouldn’t be wedded to one day or another. I think it’s moving at a pace that indicates seriousness. But this is also, obviously, an issue of great importance in capitals, and people are going to have to get instructions. There will undoubtedly be more discussion, and then probably another round of instructions. So I think this could—we’re not talking weeks, but we’re not talking, you know, tomorrow.

Reporter: Was there any issue you felt you made a breakthrough on—is there any issue you felt you made a breakthrough on?

Ambassador Rice: All of the changes that were discussed were in the context of reaching an overall package. So none of them were taken in isolation, so that remains to be seen.

Reporter: Ambassador, bedrock language between sort of “fully support” and “note” the Arab peace plan, any progress at all on that?

Ambassador Rice: I said on the way in that the United States, for one, doesn’t discuss its redlines in the press, unlike some others, so I’m not going to start now. But I think that, as I said, everybody is trying to approach this in a constructive and rational way and that has—that, in itself, is progress.

Reporter: What’s driving that?

Ambassador Rice: I’ll let others speak for themselves. For the United States, we think the situation in Syria is dire. We have been saying for months that it’s long past time for this Council to take meaningful action. We have a thoughtful, well-intentioned, constructive proposal from the Arab League, for which they seek the Council’s support. And we think that it’s deserved and should be granted. So that’s what motivates us. We want to see the end to the bloodshed and a peaceful political transition in Syria in which the people of Syria can realize their legitimate aspirations.

Reporter: But as you said, this has been going on for months. Do you sense a different mood, this time in the talks than you have had in the previous discussions about this?

Ambassador Rice: All I want to do is characterize what happened today. I don’t want to predict, because this has been quite an unpredictable situation. But today’s discussions were conducted in a constructive and roll-up-your sleeves manner, and if that can continue, then there’s a possibility that we’ll reach agreement. But there’s no certainty. These are tough issues, and there are issues of interest and principle that still divide the Council. So it’s really too soon to know.

Reporter: But this proposed new language that—

Ambassador Rice: It was a discussion about all kinds of different parts of the—

Reporter: But there’s a new text coming out this evening?

Ambassador Rice: We’ll see. We’ll see. Thanks, guys.


PRN: 2012/022