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Unofficial Notes on the Media Briefing with Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada

June 12, 2002
Whistler, British Columbia

Note: The following is an unofficial notes as taken by Madeline Koch. Reporters' questions are unattributed and summarized.

Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Jim Wright, Political Director

L'objet de ce réunion est de vous informer de ce qu'il se passe d'aujourd'hui. C'est le premier d'un série de briefings d'aujourd'hui et demain.

Those of you familiar with the G8 process will recognize that since Birmingham in 1998, the foreign ministers have had a different meeting with their own agenda, to allow us as foreign policy ministers to get together to discuss issues not necessarily on the leaders' agenda, but also some of those issues, and then report to the leaders prior to their meeting at Kananaskis later this month.

Au sommet de Gênes, le premier ministre Jean Chrétien a dit que ce sommet sera plus simple, moins formel, de donner la chance pour les leaders de parler entre eux avec le moindre de formalité possible. Nous avons l'intention de suivre ce modèle ici à Whistler.

We'll meet, as with the leaders, as informally as possible considering the complexity of the issues. We'll therefore not be issuing a communiqué, because everyone, particularly at Genoa, was concerned that a great deal of time was being spent with ministers negotiating the communiqué. But there will be a chairman's statement at the end of the meeting, which of course you'll get a copy of and which will summarize the conclusions of what's taking place. We'll do our best to keep you and the Canadian public and the global public informed at all time about regular media briefings, releases and through our Web site as to what is going on. I'll personally try to give you as many briefings as I can, and in the press kits you'll find the background information of what is going on.

As for the agenda, as you know from looking at it, the first session, which is this afternoon, is looking at counterterrorism, Afghanistan and the India-Pakistan situation.

On counterterrorism, in response to the leaders' request on September 19, we will be discussing the foreign ministers reply and we hope to issue what we're calling a progress report on our efforts , which I think you'll find interesting as to the various countries are co-ordinating and what measures have been taken.

On Afghanistan, we will be discussing the development of the security sector and particularly the reform of the security, the eradication of opium in Afghanistan, and our G8 work and how we can co-ordinate it in these areas. We will also be obviously reviewing the emergence of the progress emerging at Jurga, which is taking place as we are meeting here, and we'll be seeing how they are establishing a transitional authority there.

Comme vous le savez aussi, nous avons publié le 31 mai un communiqué sur la situation indo-pakistanienne. Le membres qui on récemment visiter ce pays vont nous informer de leurs plusieurs discussions de la part des États-Unis, de plusieurs de nos homologues, de M. Straw évidemment.

Après le premier séance je reviendrai cet après-midi à 18h30 pour vous donner des résultats de ces discussions de cet après-midi. Ca sera suivi par une sessions de photo on aura dans le réunion de travail, suivi par un dîner de travail ce soir où nous discuterons ce soir de la situation du Moyen Orient.

Demain, nous parlerons de la question de xxx le contrôle des armements et plusieurs autres questions régionales, le Balkans, etc.

After that, we'll meet, there'll be a joint press conference that so you can ask questions of all the foreign ministers that are here.

So we have couple of pretty heavy days ahead of us here, a heavy schedule. I have to leave shortly to prepare, and I have bilaterals this morning and we are going into our meeting this afternoon. I can stay to answer a few questions and then I have to go an prepare but I'm leaving my political director, Jim Wright, who can answer more questions. I'll be with you some other time to answer some more questions.

Q: Given the deep divisions among the G8 on Middle East, what will ministers come up with?

I think probably - you frame the questions as deep divisions. Certainly there are in all matters of international affairs, we live in all democratic societies, there are a variety of views of what should be done. We'll have the chance to discuss that. That is one of the great opportunities of these meetings: We'll have the European leaders here of the G8 and of course we'll have the EU here. We'll have an opportunity to sit down with Mr. Powell and actually review the situation in the Middle East with a view to how we can co-ordinate our efforts. What I would hope we will come out of this meeting is certainly a recognition for a need for an international conference to move process of peace forward, and whatever our differences may be as to the details of what we should be doing, at least we can be co-ordinating and supporting one another in ensuring we get a political dialogue going to solve the terrible problem.

Q: Is there a difference between Bush as candidate and Bush as president in terms of nation building and the Indo-Pakistan situation.

Perhaps you would be in a better position to detect the differences between Mr. Bush as candidate and as president, but I think the world and all of us in the G8 welcome a great deal welcome the interest and activity of the U.S. As you know in Afghanistan the U.S. is playing not only a role in searching out al-Qaeda with our support and the support of other countries, but also a very constructive role in the trying to the security that was before in Afghanistan to enable that the Afghan military to perform in the proper conditions. We all consider that to be extraordinarily important because if you go back to the time of before, of the warlords financing the operations of access to opium and drug money, we could go back to a point where Afghanistan could well again be a centre of terrorism because there won't be the civil society, there won't be the control over activities there. So I think the U.S. commitment to help rebuild civil society and rebuild government in Afghanistan, to ensure good government there, their commitment to that is very welcome by everybody in the world. We will certainly encourage Mr. Powell to continue in that vein and I'm Mr. Chrétien when he speaks to Mr. Bush will congratulate him.

Q: Is there a procedure to get the messages from the dissenting voices outside to the foreign ministers?

That's a very good question. I think it's very important we recognize that Canadians and any other visitors who come to Canada have a right to express their views as to what we are doing. We live in democratic societies. I'll be interested personally in that. I personally, I hope to have an opportunity later this morning to meet with the person I understand is the leader of the group coming up. I'll discuss with her. [She could give me] a representation, and I'll make sure its communicated to my colleagues. I think it's important that we all recognize that we live in a free and open society and we have the right to have their differences, but they to be peaceful and they have to allow us to continue our work as well.

Q: Are there two or things you want something firm on from this meeting?

We've got to get something, we want a clear understanding as to how we can best co-ordinate efforts in terms of the counterterrorism measures we have. There are a great number of measures out there, and the list may be long, but as we've seen by the news this week in the U.S. the problem is extremely complex. So I think it's very important work on that file, but we need to continue to co-ordinate at all levels of government, not just legislators and adopting legislation at the United Nations and on the international front but also at the police level and helping countries that are less fortunate that we are, in order to enable them to prefit [?] at airports, documentation, document control or otherwise. I think that's certainly one of the preoccupations of those who coming here. Clearly we will be looking at the issue of Afghanistan at well because we need to get concrete measures there as well to ensure that situation does not develop again.

By putting out those priorities I am certainly not suggesting that the priority of the Middle East or Indian and Pakistan issue. As you know, we emphatically consider if there is an attack on either side it would be a challenge to all of us in terms of peace in the world. But I didn't put it at the top of the list because we're very encouraged by the recent signs of deescalating tensions, but we are also conscious of the need to keep pressure on both parties to ensure discussions to make sure that no new problems arise.

I'm getting a note - I can take one last question.

Q: What do you think the outcome will be on the international conference, given the mixed messages from the White House?

This is clearly an issue we'll take up at dinner tonight, so I don't want to say anything more that would prejudge my colleagues are going to say. But as you know there are various instruments, there is the United Nations, the quartet, the U.S. proposition for an international conference. So what is the role of the G8? Should there be a discrete role for the G8 where we can - to use that awful expression - bring value-added? That is what we'll try to ascertain tonight. I believe that we can, if we work together, do that but we'll have to explore that.

Thank you very much everybody. I hope you enjoy your stay here in Whistler and that it is productive for you, and we'll try to do our best to make sure information is available...


Q: Can we expect statements on any issues, such as the Middle East, or India and Pakistan?

I don't want to get out in front of ministers, as Minister Graham indicated the focus this year is very much on the discussion among the ministers. We're trying not to get into problems that previous summits have run in terms of negotiations of communiqués. There will be a chair's statement at the end. We'll look to see whether there's a consensus among ministers to deal with one or two issues in terms of separate statements, but at this juncture I don't want to get out in front of the foreign ministers themselves. It's their decision. Rest assured that if there are separate statements that emerge earlier than the one that will come out tomorrow midday they will be communicated to you right away and the minister will speak to you within the terms of his media availabilities.

Q: Is there any chance of a briefing on the Middle East tonight?

We'll take a look at that I don't want to make a commitment at this stage. We will want to be guided to certain extent by the discussion the ministers have but if it's possible and appropriate, we'll try and help you.

Q: Do you anticipate a consensus on the issue of the international conference?

Those are all important questions. I'm quite certain that over the course of the two and a half hours the ministers will spend discussing the Middle East, the international conference will be a key issue - if, when, where. I know that from our foreign minister's perspective, he's anxious to see this conference go forward and go forward sooner than later, but we'll have to see whether or not a consensus among the others on this. The ministers will speak directly to it when they are here on Thursday when they will speak to all of you.

Thank you very much.

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