Good afternoon everyone.
We have heard once again about the vastly deteriorating situation in Syria resulting from the Assad regime’s intensification of the violence against its own people. The violence must stop and the process of transition to a post-Assad Syria must finally begin.
Key elements of a political transition plan were identified in Geneva on June 30th. We must now ensure the conditions are present for the plan to finally be implemented. In our view, it is therefore imperative that the members of this Council heed the recommendations that we’ve heard from the Secretary General and again today from the Joint Special Envoy that we insist on full and immediate implementation of this Council’s prior resolutions 2042 and 2043 and the Annan plan itself—the Six Point Plan—and the Geneva plan and ensure, as the Joint Special Envoy said today, that there are in fact consequences for non-compliance.
When the United States voted to authorize this mission, as you’ll recall, we expressed skepticism about the prospects for its success given the Syrian regime’s brutality and its record of broken promises. The fact is that UNSMIS, regrettably, is not at present able to do the job that this Council mandated it to do because of the regime’s persistent refusal to take the basic steps to halt the violence. Without this Council taking concrete measures to increase the pressure for the Annan and Geneva plans to be implemented by the government, it’s not plausible to assume that UNSMIS will be any more able to fulfill its mandate in the future than it is now. And so we are reviewing the recommendations of the Secretary General and the Joint Special Envoy. We are consulting closely with our partners in the Council on next steps. And we are working with the British and other colleagues on a draft resolution along the lines that Ambassador Lyall Grant articulated.
I’m happy to take a couple questions.
Reporter: Ambassador, Kofi Annan said Iran must be part of the solution, which seems to flip precisely what you had said that Iran is part of the problem. Do you think anything has changed in terms of—or what has he succeeded in doing by meeting in Iran—in Tehran?
Ambassador Rice: Well, I can’t characterize what Kofi Annan may believe he achieved in Iran. The U.S. view has been very consistent and clear. Iran is definitely part of the problem in Syria. It is supporting, aiding, and abetting the Assad regime materially and in many other ways, and it has shown no readiness to contribute constructively. And so we have taken the view that because it has contributed on the negative side of the ledger so profoundly and shown no readiness to employ whatever influence it has to persuade the Syrian regime to stop the violence, that it is not at this point prepared to play a constructive role.
Reporter: Kofi Annan described Mrs. Clinton’s talks to Assad as very dangerous, that she uses—she used very dangerous words, according to some leaks, that’s what she said—
Ambassador Rice: You’re quoting leaks as the basis to your question?
Reporter: How do you view Kofi Annan’s approach now—the rapprochement regarding Syria and Iran and Iraq at the same time and at the same time criticizing the United States?
Ambassador Rice: Well, I have not heard Joint Special Envoy Annan criticize the United States. We work very closely and constructively in support of Joint Special Envoy Annan and his plan, and we are now continuing to work in the Security Council to put the weight of this Council behind his plan. Our view is simply that UNSMIS is a tool to implement the Annan plan. Its ability to do so has been thwarted by the actions of the Assad regime. As we look at the question of renewal and we look at the challenge of how we put the full weight of this Council behind the Six-Point Plan and behind what was agreed in Geneva, our view is that this Council needs to put that kind of plan under Chapter VII, make it clear that it is binding on the parties, and we ought to make very clear, as Joint Special Envoy Annan said today again in the Council, that there ought to be clear-cut consequences for non-compliance.
Reporter: [inaudible] you said you could not guarantee that it would be renewed. Is that still the case or does the United States now support the renewal of the mission? And what kind of consequences? Are these economic sanctions?
Ambassador Rice: We mean consequences under Chapter VII, including sanctions—I mean, specifically sanctions. I don’t mean to allude to other consequences under Chapter VII. Our view is that the resolution and the question of the renewal of UNSMIS is one that the Council will have to try to come to agreement on. We think that a simple rollover of UNSMIS without the Council being clear that it is prepared to put the full political weight that we have behind these observers on the ground and behind implementation of the Annan plan, is insufficient. It will not accomplish the goals that we all seek. So, in the course of our discussions inside the Council, we’ll see whether it is possible to do so. Thank you.
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