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If everyone could take your seat. Thank you. Good evening everyone, I am Karen Donfried with the German Marshall Fund. And I have the pleasure of introducing this next session of Brussels Forum. It's a conversation with Javier Solana, moderated by David Ignatius and I hope that you have already started to notice some unique aspects of Brussels Forum. The one that I want to highlight for you right vnow is our desire to create venues that are more intimate and that allow for a more intensive discussion. We are trying here for more interaction and for more engagement and less formality. This is the beginning of that portion of Brussels Forum. We will continue with that tomorrow with the Early Bird breakfast and the Night Owls and we would invite you all to pick and choose among those sessions to come, to engage, to enjoy. And with that I want to pass the baton to David Ignatius who is a GMF Board Member and an esteemed columnist at the Washington Post. So let the dialogue begin. Thank you Karen. We have called tonight's gathering a fire side chat. Thank goodness I don't see a fire place actually going or we'd be even even warmer than we are. But we do have an opportunity to talk tonight informally with the person that, I as a journalist, would most want to be sitting across from tonight because he is the person handling the most delicate and important issue facing the world and we are going to talk about that in a minute. As you all know, Dr. Solana is the EU High Representative for Foreign Security Policy. As I am sure most of you know he has just come from two days of meetings in Ankara, Turkey with Ali Larijani, the Iranian National Security Advisor, in which Dr. Solana has begun very quite discussions trying to see if it's possible to resume more formal negotiations about the Iranian nuclear issue with the Iranians. And I know that these discussions by definition are sensitive. I am delighted that you are willing to sit here with us and give us some sense, so I want to begin by asking you Dr. Solana what those meetings on Wednesday and Thursday with Larijani were like? Just give us the sense of the tone, how you felt when the meetings ended. Well thank you thank you very much David and thank you very much for the Brussels Forum for this opportunity. You can imagine the question that David has posed to me is not an easy question to be answered. If I answer in great detail it may have more difficult to continue and and if I do not answer in great detail you may get frustrated. So I have to choose what is the best, I think that I will try to to do something that you don't get frustrated completely but I can continue with this negotiation. But as you know these negotiations did not didn't start last yesterday or day before yesterday. We have been engaging with Iranians, first on behalf of the European Union from 2003 when you remember to put it in context that Iran, their first agreement. In that agreement as you remember probably it was an offer and it was a commitment or the demand of Iran to stop suspend their activities in the nuclear field. That was 2003. Then as you remember we went to the Paris agreement that was later on and we continue it still or the format of the Europeans. But it was very important and I think this is very important to understand what has going on is that I have to give it moment to other countries, in particular the United States with fundamental join. And negotiations or the beginning of the talks were not only with the Europeans but also with United States, the Chinese and the Russian Federation. So therefore they, the members of the Security Council plus the European Union were trying to see how we can handle the nuclear issue nuclearization on the on Iran. With Dr. Larijani, I have met in many occasions. I met in two big occasions in Vienna and Berlin last year before we failed in those negotiations and we had that the Security Council, three resolutions which are now already approved unanimously by the Security Council. Then, as you probably remember we met again in a very important moment. Remember that in the in the meeting that took place in Munich this year, there were two very important speech, we have had many, but let me remind two. One was the speech of the President Putin that made some first pages in many news papers and then was the invitation of Ali Larijani to participate in that forum, well it is the first time that Dr. Larijani appear, lets say in public in a format of an international conference in which among the public among the people who are listening was a their newly appointed Secretary of Defense of the United States, Mr. Gates. I had a very long after that with him, a very long meeting with him after that and we agreed to have another conversation in a few days later on. I tried to talk to him and I talked to him on the phone and I made an offer. It's an offer that never was replied. So, we continue the double track approach, open the negotiation channel and open also the track of the United States or the United Nations. So we continue in the United Nations because it is a move in the direction that that we have demanded. Now, not long ago after the second or the third resolution, in fact I talked to him on the phone again and I told him if he would be in a position to talk again, and to resume and well, one after a couple of conversations on the phone we decided to do it to Turkish Government offering their their country and Ankara was were we met. Now on the conversation that took place in the last two days I would like to say that they were constructive conservations. When I say constructive conversations this is not an expression to just to get out of the out off the way of the questions with journalist, they were constructive in the sense that it was some potential motion that we have to see, we can exploit in a another meeting that we have agreed to have in let's than about ten days. Now we talked about many things, we talked about the nuclear program; we talked about regional issues in which Iran has a very important role to play. And we talked about another thing that to my mind is important and I think may maybe in this Brussels forum in which we have just lent relations important to to these castles. The Europeans are playing an important role, they are engaged. We have to see a how much the United States is ready to engage. I think that at this point in time to have also the United States opening a channel of communication with the with Iran will be worth thinking about it. On the on the nuclear issues or on every issues? On everything, I mean if you look at the wider Middle East, one has changed in wider Middle East in the last period of time, there is no doubt that the one important thing is that after Iraq, after Afghanistan, Iran is there, not because it wasn't before but Iran is there much more important because other country that were competing with Iran are going down. If you go down others go up and Iran has gone up and I think it's very difficult to continue in a situation in which Iran is considered a country with you cannot you cannot organize some kind of dialogue. And I think and I would recommend and I am not the only one, many other people recommend that, I think that it will good and I intend to talk I would be in Washington in the coming days and I will be trying to explain in more detail that they can do now in public what I I hope is the the possibility in which a movement can take place. With that I don't want to say at all because I didn't say it in public and I would not say it in public now, that the difficulties are overcome, that's not true. We have many important hurdles that have to be overcome. The majority of hurdles are there still. But I think we have to be tenacious in trying to seek how we can we can overcome those hurdles. And your feeling is that that you are going to recommend specifically to Secretary of State, Rice My feeling is that - when you say here that that the US ought to open a channel of its own. No, my feeling is that we have an interlocutor that these valleys are interlocked. So an interlocutor that does have relations with the Supreme leader, therefore that you are talking to somebody who really conveys the message that we can convey to the Supreme leader of the of Iran, number one. Number two I think that we have somebody which has a degree of sophistication which is to be appreciated. I never had a meeting with him in which in I found somebody with not a very sophisticated mind. Give us give this audience a sense of what it's like to talk to Ali Larijani. You have had that experience, few have. What's it like to be sitting with him? Well he is a sophisticated man, as I said. He is a - by profession as a philosopher, his brother is the leader of a Mathematical Association or the Mathematical Academia in Iran, so he belongs to a sophisticated family or sophisticated group of the he is a somebody you can engage in a rational rational manner. You are not talking to a wall, you are talking to somebody which is really gets engaged with you. He is tough I mean, and he is not an easy negotiator in sense that he doesn't yield in until he is really sure that he can yield. But I think that when you look at at the Middle East at large I think to - to think that we are going to find in the stabilization of a wider Middle East. If we fail to open in some channels of communication with Iran I think we are going to commit a mistake. In that sense I think that what the recommendations of people like say the Baker Report or some the statement that even the Secretary of Defense has made, that Henry Kissinger has made, I think that go, to my mind, in the right direction. We may fail but when we try to or the United States tried for instance to recuperate relation with China time ago nobody would guarantee that China will be today that in the role that China is playing today. So I think we have to be a little bit more bold in trying to see if we can resolve these problems. Now let me say Let me just ask you Dr. Solana that the - you know when you ask Henry Kissinger, our Former Secretary of State about what he did with China and the opening to China in 1971-72' and why it would be relevant in terms of a similar opening to Iran, he said the key was to identify Chinese national interests, United States national interests and see where they converged. And I wonder you have now had these many conversations with Ali Larijani; can you identify Iranian national interests, Western national interests and their convergence? Have you begun to do that and do you think that kind of dialogue will lead some where? Well, I have been trying to to identify this this region that you have mentioned and I have talked to Henry Kissinger in many occasions about that because I think that it can be found that a potential convergence of the interests of not only of the United States but the Western world, but remember that Dr. Larijani said in Munich something very repeated very many times, he said we are a regional power, we want to find our place in the world in which there are bigger problem than bigger powers than ourselves but we want to identify our position and we are willing and ready to talk to anybody to do that. Now this is what I I think is the role that we have to play now, fairly difficult, but none of these things are easy. I mean You get the feeling that he is ready that he and and the Supreme Leader behind him are ready to talk to United States? I think that they are can I say something a little bit unorthodox? Please. Anything except, no comments. I mean, we've since we are off the record of course, with televisions and all that is the best managed to be off the records to be listened by so many people that doesn't matter what you say. I say without any hesitation yes. And you say that obviously on the basis of your conversation with this authoritative Iranian? I would like to say with any hesitation yes. I don't want to be there at first page of a newspaper tomorrow. You, I can't assure you that you won't be. And I I want to make a dangerous announcement, this was handed to me and so I am going to read it. 'Please announce there is wine and cognac available.' Note for you and me, know I guess. No. I don't - I don't think it's for you and me. Dr. Solana just staying with with Iran a little bit longer, I am sure you noted this week that Secretary of State, Rice in an interview with the Financial Times, stated explicitly that the United States does not have a policy of regime change towards Iran. And that was a very deliberate effort by the State department to send the signal that we do not threaten your security and I wonder if you think there are other things that the United States could say and do that would may send additional messages to Iran that would be important in this period in reassuring them. I think it's very important what Secretary Rice is doing. Not all the vis-ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â -vis Iran, I think in the last period of time, she is making a tremendous effort to to try to to steer the course of the foreign policy in United States in a manner that I appreciate very much and I like very much. As I said, I will be talking to her personally on Sunday again. And I talked to her on the phone long length long enough. I think that and still there is more things that can be done. I mean, the statements are very important because remember that you are talking about two countries, that don't have relations for 20 years or more than 20 years which is a tremendous length of time. Imagine the amount of things that have happened in 20 years in the world. How the most important power in the world, United States with the regional of power so significance like Iran can be for 20 years without any contacts. I mean, when I remember that the leaders of the United States, they asked me how is Teheran? Because they they just don't have any idea what is Teheran. And I tell them how is Teheran and how is Teheran in the streets and how is Teheran when you go to the hotel where I spend the night when I am in Teheran. And I tell them in Teheran I find that in the hotels, there they they would themselves celebrate it of, upper middle class or middle class that exists there and I told that is Hollywood. In Teheran very beautiful peoples, sophisticated peoples you know. What happened the following morning about these people I don't know? But I can tell you that people are there. We could achieve it and I talked to them. So the Teheranis are very complicated society, with a tremendous number of layers, is the prison empire is not is not a What would be other other ways in which the United States could speak to this very sophisticated society as you say? I have visited there and have the same impression you do that would speak to security concerns that they have. I mean, people wonder about some understanding about naval traffic in the Persian Gulf as one item. But what are the things that you would think would be important statements on security? Well, the the important thing is that this is to find equilibrium, the balance in the Middle East, that you don't have to give the impression that by talking to Iran you are giving Iran the supremacy in the region. You are not saying Iran is the most important power in the region that will be absolutely unacceptable by the Saudis, unacceptable in Egypt. So you have to deal things in an equilibrium manner which is balanced and you don't change the relation of forces which exists already on the on the Middle East. Now, I mean, I have so many experience or many sentiments along all these years talking about Iraq and about Iran with President Mubarak, with the King of you know, Jordan. I remember for instance talking about Prime Minister Maliki. If you talk to the Egyptians about Prime Minister Maliki, they will say that he is the worst person that can exist in the world. I mean, even worse than the worst President or Prime Minister that has been in Israel and Israeli for them is You have to see how we handle this situation, which are the important Sunni countries. Consider a Shiite leader which is in Iraq, somebody which is really catastrophic because he is not trying to catch the Sunni Shiite community in Iraq together. And this is a profound sentiment. Now let me tell you one is (indiscernible) that I have lived myself. I was in Egypt. Two days after the execution of Saddam Hussein. Do you remember that Saddam Hussein execution was known to the world through a telephone, through a mobile telephone? Well that guy that person that took that picture with a mobile telephone and was transmitted to the Arab world, created an impact on the Arab world that he doesn't know, for the person who did it. I saw in Egypt, I saw in Jordan the pictures of Nasrallah the leader of Hezbollah that were covering the streets of at that time still, the street of Cairo, the streets of many countries, many cities in the Arab world taken away taken away. So imagine what is the sentimental there still are, and remember also draw the conclusion of what the society we live in is not a YouTube, this is a little telephone. Picture can change the world much more than many as pictures that we can do. I mean, these are good lesson, that we have politicians to draw. My hope for you is that this is going to be really big on YouTube our discussion tonight going to be shown over and over. Before we leave the subject of Iran and your talks, you are scheduled to see Dr. Larijani again in ten days, ten days to two weeks. And I wonder if you could give us the sense first of whether you will go to that meeting alone. There had been some talk state department that maybe you would have representatives from the U3, France, Germany and Britain with you at that next meeting. There had been some speculation that may be you would even have a Russian and a Chinese representative with you. What about that? What do you think is the right format for this next meeting? And if you could just briefly tell us what, in your mind, will be the agenda at least that you wanted to describe publicly for it? About a format the format probably would be more or less the same, that we had in this time wish one plus one which has no taker or two no takers. I think this is the manner in which you can advance. Remember that we are only talking about the preparation for negotiation that will be done with other people. Therefore, I think this is the best the best format to my mind. Now we get we got yesterday when we bought some things that they have to think and some things that we have to think. And in the time that goes from today of yesterday and till the next time we have to think among ourselves. We have think in between the Europeans, the United States, Russians and Chinese to get what position together, how we can move? The position that we maintain is very clear. For us it's fundamental that the suspension on the process of enrichment takes place. That is a good decision that is already in the Security Council resolutions. So that will be probably at the beginning of the discussion again. But from there on we can move and I wonder we will be able to move. My Iranian sources have told me in the last two days that if you go to that next meeting just repeating the same basic talking points, suspension suspension for a suspension that you are not going to get anywhere. And so my question is do you think that you will have enough flexibility on the part of this group of nations that you are representing, that you can do some real negotiating? As I said at this point in time we are not negotiating. The negotiations will be after this phase is over. This is a phase which is paving the way in order to have the negotiations. Well, unless you can open enough space on these issues there won't be a negotiation, will there? Well, as I said that I will try to open this proficient space to pave the way so that negotiations will take place. I think that in these preparatory talks we should not engage for longer than let's say 30 days-45 days something like that, I don't think we need more than that to see it really - If at the end of this period of time we can really start the negotiation. - While the preparatory talks are going on - that we have the current set of UN Sanctions expires May 24th if I am not mistaken, so would you recommend that no further sanctions be imposed while these preparatory talks are taking place to see if you can get back to Well there is I have been very careful with the dates, I said about 30 days, in 30 days still we will be more or less on the on the feel of these of these resolution, on these couple of resolutions, three resolutions which are (indiscernible) counts. We have to see if we can show that before these resolution to comes toward to an end and get us to talk if nothing has been achieved to another to another to work for another negotiation, for another Security Council resolution. But I mean to to give you me my general impression the Iranian government, the Iranian people are very people that need to be respected, there is no doubt about that, its an important country, it's a country with history et cetera but we have to be also tough with them and then tell them that what we think and tell them why 25 members of the Security Council three times unanimously have voted for a particular resolution vis-ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â vis Iran. And this is not because that as they think that the Americans that have been putting pressure on the and the all the members of the Security Council its because there are countries in the world that have concerns about where the nuclear program of Iran is going and they have the obligation to give guarantees to the world that this is a peaceful process that compatible with Non Proliferation Treaty. This is the essence of that negotiation; it is the essence of that preparatory work for paving the way for the negotiation. And and just the last question, as you got on that plane yesterday in Ankara to come back to Brussels and reflected on the the two days of conversations, what was in your mind? How would you how do you sum it for yourself as you left Ankara? Well I had a tremendous number of of idea that came to my mind, some of them I have put it down in paper and is in the computer, for me the most important thing is that the commitment that we did and remember that it was a very important day, if not only because of the meeting with the with Larijani, we were in Ankara, we were meeting with Abdullah Gul, which today has gone through the first vote in the Parliament of Turkey, to be the next President of Turkey and probably will be, so it was also taking place in a very important moment and a very important place which is Ankara, all these things together commit me more and more and more to the work with all these countries of the wider Middle East which are not only strategic for us but is more than that. If you don't find a good relationship with all these countries and I include include Turkey, Iran, Iraq all these things, all these countries we will not be in a position to stabilize a very important and strategic region for the world. But if you allow me to say as European we are talking of also about a part of our neighborhood. I mean the European Union is large and and we are touching those countries in our border. Therefore for us the stability in that part of the world is apart from the strategic is also a question also of neighborhood. Let me ask you about the next part of this process that you spent your days thinking about now. And that's the Israel Palestinian issue and your role as part of the quartet process in assisting, supervising that and give us your sense of how Secretary of State Rice's diplomatic efforts to find what she she calls it a political horizon for a Palestinian state is going and specifically, I gather that in the conversations that have taken place so far, one big issue is, you know, how will this new state handle its borders, its customs, soon they will talk about security issues and one thing that comes up is will we use EU help as as they have begun to do already and so I wonder are there specific ways that you see the EU contributing to the infrastructure that will work for this new Palestinian state? Well, let me something saying that I think we have we have had and still we have a window of opportunity. I think that the position of United States, new engagement of the United States, particularly of Secretary of the State, the new engagement of the Quartet and it's making some difference. Now let me analyze the three basic elements to my mind that have to be analyzed. A, one the situation in Palestine, in Palestine we have a new Unity Government which as you know has been complicated for some, easier for others. But I think that what we have seen lately in the last period of time is that the stability of the Palestinians may be something that may take place may take hold in any case is fundamental if we want to get peace. If we thought that Palestinians are at war it would be impossible. I have I am very happy to see that for instance the Minister of Economies Mr. Fayad has been in Europe, has been with me, he is a very good friend of mine and I am not going to let receive him because he is part of the government and will continue receiving him. And I am very happy to see that he has been in the United States that we had received because he was a friend of the United States also. So we have there something that may begin to work at least with some elements of the government number one. Number two, I think we have a serious problem also on the other side, in Israel. We have to see what is the result of the investigation committee of the events of the summer. I think the situation now is practically paralyzed in Israel as far as ideas or movement until we see the result of that and we will know it in two or three days. Number two number three, I think it's very important very, very important to me the summit that took place in Riyadh. The summit of the Arab league in Saudi Arabia not long ago was very important. I would recommend everybody which is engaged with these problems to read the conclusions and to read and to listen it is in internet the speech of king Abdullah. King Abdullah made a very to my mind fundamental speech in that summit. He recognizes the responsibility of the Arabs that they can not throw that responsibility to anybody including to Israel. Now what is important of that summit is that the Arab initiative has been revitalized. And I think in - the person probably who has understood that better is the king Abdullah of Jordan. He gave he gave an interview to Haaretz the newspaper one of the newspaper of Israel pretty clear saying that they wanted to convey to the people of Israel and explained clearly what is the Arab initiative he had received in Amman to members of the Knesset and he has also offered also the possibility to go to Israel to talk and to explain in a something that may remind you what happened with Sadat. You remember to when Sadat went to talk to the Knesset, it was a very important breakthrough. Now I think that the planets are getting in a south so distribution, that you were intelligent and we put enough energy and we put enough focus and focus is very important and enough resources. We may be able to move the process the process forward. The question mark is time. We don't have much time. We don't have time and pulse time in Israel, we don't have time in the United States because we may have the situation dominated by the electoral campaign too early. As far as Europeans is concerned we will continue to reengage. We are engaging to Quartet, we are engaged to the United States, we have now the only people which are on the ground on the ground are Europeans on Rafah or in other crossing points and you have the people from the European Union, policemen and people of of other of other instruction but on security issues also. When you think about the Arab peace initiative of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and the working group that has been formed with Jordan and Egypt and perhaps other countries that will present this proposal to the Israelis, one idea that people talk about at the State Department is whether there should be a gathering of the Quartet you know, may be of the permanent members of the Security Council to kind of be there to support this effort. So you should have kind of a mini Madrid Conference We have a simpler idea which I think will be much important to do it roughly and it will be easier. As you know we have a Quartet, United States, European Union, Secretary General of United Nations, Russian Federation and the other side Egypt, the Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Jordanian which are another four countries which are being very engaged. I think that we have first to meet the four plus the four. And I think we may have the first opportunity in Sharm el-Sheikh on Wednesday. On Wednesday as you know will be meeting of the neighbors of Iraq in Sharm el-Sheikh. The Secretary General of the United Nations will be there, I will be there, Secretary Rice would be there, the Russians will be there, the Arabs will be there. It may be an opportunity that on to margins of that conference that meeting we may have the first four plus four meeting. I think that will be very important to these four plus four in one in one shot or in two. We will meet also with the parties. That meant with Israel and with the Palestinians. That will be the beginning of an engagement of the international community, the Arabs and non Arabs, with it they That is something that I would like very much into a start. I don't know if it will it will start at this week. I hope that meetings of that nature that I just mentioned, I am sure that will take place - I am sure not all of them, not all what I mentioned but we have organized already part of them and probably with others we will have to wait until early May, late April or early May, we as you know, for instance in Israel it will be very difficult before the analysis of the commission. Their investigation commission to have the possibility to do it but as soon as that takes place I think you should it should be done also with Israelis. First we have to do it at Quartet, our Quartet with Israel, never we have met with Israel, we have to do it. Israel never accepted it I think. And now they have the moment to do it. And then with the Palestinians and then to see if the four plus four plus two we can meet. That will be the simple thing to a start and a simple manner to a start. And if we are able to do that it will be a fantastic fantastic step for and Secretary of State, Secretary Rice I think is in the same wavelength that what I am expressing. We have talked a lot together and I think we we we think more or less alike on this issue. Before we go to the audience for questions and comments, I want to ask about one more big headache. And and that is the current tensions with Russia. President Putin made a big speech yesterday in which he warned that he was prepared to suspend the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, the one of the key arms control agreements for Europe because of his concern about American intentions to place anti missile defenses in Poland and Czech Republic. So I want to ask you what practical concerns do you have for European security, for the security especially of the EU's members in the east as a consequence of what president Putin has said. Well I think that there are several things in the question. I mean we will start by the by the basic part of the statement of President Putin on the CFE treaty. I think that the statement has much more political value than a security or military value. Remember that after the revision of the of the CFE treaty that were done in Istanbul that the blocks do not exist any more, it is the countries which are participants on the CFE treaty. Therefore I don't think that it will signify much more from the point of view of security. It's more of in a statement of mistrust or lack of comfort if I may say on the global situation in security - on the security in general. I think the CFE is a very basic corner stone. But as I said, in Istanbul an agreement was signed it was agreed, that agreement in Istanbul was done after the first enlargement of NATO and after something that they know very well because I wonder what to negotiate. I negotiate with the Russians, in that case with Mr. Primakov, the first NATO-Russia agreement. And that was done days before the first enlargement of NATO, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. And that was based they brought the changes in the CFE Treaty that took place in Istanbul summit. Now Russia accused the NATO countries that they have not ratified the CFE treaty. But it is true that Russia is not complying also with the Istanbul agreements in particular to some of the elements of the deployments of their forces in (indiscernible) and Georgia etcetera. I think what we have to do is to talk more of all these issues. For a long time we have not communicated too much between ones and the other some of these issues. And I think we have to recuperate sentiment of much more cooperation, otherwise we are going to be slowly into a situation that would be much more difficult to be solved. I think that we have the obligation to talk, the obligation to analyze these things clearly, transparently, we are going to have a summit with President Putin, the 18th of this month of month of May, and Samara and I hope that from our point of view we will, we will try to move to the dossier forward in general trend. The presence of Secretary Gates in Moscow, it has been a good visit, I am pretty sure that Dr. Rice is going to continue to get meetings with his counterpart Mr. Lavrov and I think, the one