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Bush in Europe: National Security Adviser Rice Addresses Crowd in Poland

Aired June 15, 2001 - 08:47   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you live right now to Warsaw, Poland. We've been watching developments there all morning because U.S. president George Bush is there on one of his stops in his European tour.

Right now, his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, is speaking in Warsaw.

Let's have a little listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: ... of democracy and the consolidation of democracy in Spain.

So the point that he has been making is that Europe is changing, Europe has been changing, it's changing for the better, but the one thing that will not change is the American commitment to Europe, the American commitment to partnership with Europe and the American commitment to the fact that that partnership gives us an opportunity to do many extraordinary things in the world.

So with those opening remarks, I'll take your questions.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

RICE: Let me use the question to say that tomorrow when the president meets with President Putin, he will sound many of the same things that he's been sounding throughout this trip: that this is a new day for Europe; that the Cold War is over; that one of the most important aspects of the new Europe is a welcoming and open invitation to Russia to take a rightful place in Europe; that Russia has some important choices to make about its commitment to democratic principles and institutions, about it's willingness and ability to live at peace with its neighbors, about its commitment to economic reform, but that the president's vision of Europe is one in which Russia belongs and fully belongs.

In that context, you know that the president has also talked about a new security framework that replaces the old Cold War framework that was represented by the ABM Treaty, a treaty that was signed in 1972 when the Soviet Union was deep into the heart of Europe. In fact, when this country, in which we're standing right now, that is now flying the flag of NATO, when this country housed Soviet troops in large numbers as a part of the war SUBPAC, which no longer exists, if ever there was a place to make a point about how much has changed since 1972, this is it.

So when the president talks to President Putin, he will make that point about the new security framework. But I don't think that anyone should expect there to be specific proposals on the table tomorrow. This is an opportunity for the two presidents to get to know each other, to establish a personal relationship. And for the president to sketch out his broad vision of how he would like to see U.S.-Russian relations go, but not to make specific proposals to the Russians.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... does he expect Russia to make any specific proposals? And what happened to the (OFF-MIKE)

RICE: There will certainly be an appropriate time in appropriate channels. Several ideas that we want to put on the table with the Russians about how we might be able to cooperate on missile defense, on nonproliferation policy, what mechanisms might be available to us to discuss these issues as well as what kinds of ideas we might have.

And we hope that when those talks begin, that the Russians will bring ideas of their own. But tomorrow is really not the appropriate venue with really the presidents having only a couple of hours to get to know each other, to get into specific proposals about what that might mean.

QUESTION: You say that those proposals might come next month during the meeting at the G-8 between the two presidents?

RICE: Well, certainly we would expect the dialogue between the two presidents to continue to evolve over this period of time. But you know, there are other officials that will need to get involved in discussions of any specifics about this framework.

And though I think it's the hope of both presidents to keep the discussions at a very high level, I don't think you would expect the presidents themselves to sit down and try to design the new security framework. That, I think, will be left for later.

QUESTION: Those past two questions on sort of atmospherics and on the trip itself. Number one, the president has not been meeting with opposition leaders, NGO groups, he hasn't done anything formally with those.

And I'm wondering how you would respond to some of the analysis here in Europe that this sort of hermetically sealed approach to the trip has reinforced the image of Bush as somewhat of an elitist person who is not all that curious about different cultures and different countries?

And second, are you leaving here with a sense that you somehow, in any way, turned a corner on European -- on what the president called "receptivity to missile defense"?

RICE: Well, the president -- first of all, we are going to take another trip to Europe, and these trips have to be thought of together.

But the president is meeting with the elected representatives of the people of Europe. And he went to the European Union, he had many meetings to take care of there. He, of course, was in Spain. It's been a very busy and very hectic trip.

But the president's curiosity about Europe is very strong. It is also true that through these elected leaders, I think he's getting plenty of evidence that democracy is alive and well in Europe, that there are competing voices.

And he goes out of his way to talk about some of the debates that are taking place in the United States. They go out of their way to talk about some of the debates that are going on in Europe.

So I think it's been a wonderfully successful trip from the point of view of getting to know his colleagues with whom he's going to have to work for the next several years.

In terms of atmospherics, I think it's really been wonderful. I cannot tell you how heartened I was particularly by the NAC, the North Atlantic Council meeting the other day. I have been to a number of NACs in my career, and I have never seen one that was more receptive: where people were more willing to talk openly; where there was a lot of support and indeed gratitude for the way in which this administration has taken on the new security framework issue; a lot of talk about the importance of the consultations that we've launched, about working through this issue together; And, I have to say, a lot of support for the president's contention that we have to move on to something new; that the world has changed.

I would say that at least -- probably every leader, but I'll not make the claim -- let me just say that at least 70 percent of the leaders talked about how much the world had changed. Everybody talked about the fact that yes, there were new threats. And several of the leaders -- and I might add several of the leaders of large countries as well as small countries -- noted that we have to think about defense and offensive reductions together as the way to address the new issues.

So yes, we did feel a new receptivity. We do think that this ball is moving, and the president is looking forward to continuing it.

QUESTION: Dr. Rice, why does the president feel that he needs to tell Putin that the United States is not Russia's enemy? Does the president feel that Russia has come to take the United States to be its enemy?

RICE: I don't think that the president does believe that, but it's important to say it because the Soviet Union was the enemy of the United States. And it's really a way of just underscoring how much the world has changed. It's a way of putting that chapter behind us. It's a way of talking about different this world is than the world that we inhabited with the Soviet Union, where you had this implacably hostile relationship, where really the world breathed a sigh of relief at every summit when we signed an arms control agreement because really that was all that there was to the relationship. It was a kind of substitute for a real political relationship.

So he's just underscoring with that statement that we think it's time to move on.

MCEDWARDS: You are listening to President George Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, speak, live from Warsaw, Poland, sounding very much like the president did, just a few hours ago, when he spoke there about his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both of them seem to want to downplay expectations out of that meeting, saying it's really a get-to-know-you session, that the real specifics about Bush's proposed missile defense plan may not even be discussed.

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