Beijing, 3 November 2003 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner discussed situation in Iraq and relations with Iran in China


Consolidation of security situation in Iraq is a sine qua non for reconstruction of the country - dialogue with Iran to be continued

Beijing, 3 November 2003 - Foreign Minister Ferrero-Waldner’s talks with the Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing were also dominated by the situation in Iraq and relations with Iran. "The almost daily bomb attacks and assassination attempts targeted at the occupying troops and humanitarian organisations, as well as at Iraqis working with the latter, make it dramatically clear that consolidation of the security situation in Iraq is still a long way off. However, security and stability are a sine qua non for any political and economic reconstruction of the country, and are also essential if Iraq is to make a constructive contribution towards security and stability in the region as a whole", stated Ferrero-Waldner.

Ferrero-Waldner and her Chinese counterpart shared the opinion that the unanimous passing of Resolution 1511 represents a positive signal for the Iraqi people, the international community and the reconstruction of Iraq, as well as underlining the authority of the UN Security Council. Ferrero-Waldner said that the resolution’s main objective must continue to be the acceleration of the process of restoring sovereignty to the Iraqi people, adding that in her view the stipulations regarding the multinational force and the Governing Council (the obligation of the multinational force to report to the Security Council, the clause governing the Security Council’s responsibility to review the mission and requirements of the multinational force after one year, as well as the provision that the mandate of the multinational force shall in any case expire upon completion of the political transition process) were of eminent importance. "Austria would have very much liked to see a stronger role for the United Nations and more concrete statements regarding the timetable for Iraq’s transition to full sovereignty. However, a will to compromise was doubtless required from all sides in order to be able to achieve the vital message of Security Council unanimity. Now we are all hoping that the security situation will improve and that the financial and political outcomes of the Madrid Donors’ Conference can be translated as soon as possible into concrete and immediately tangible results on the ground for the Iraqi people", continued Ferrero-Waldner.

In this context the Foreign Minister stressed that from Austria’s standpoint it is important that the reconstruction of Iraq proceeds along transparent lines, under the auspices of the United Nations and in a secure environment. "As the latest bomb attacks have shown, the security situation will still have to be substantially improved before opportunities for a sustainable development of the country can be created", Ferrero-Waldner stated, adding that she and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing both agreed that the stability of the entire region can also only be furthered through successful reconstruction of Iraq. In this context Ferrero-Waldner pointed out that Austria is also considering plans for the training of Iraqi police and will continue her humanitarian commitment in Iraq, including the rehabilitation of a hospital and health centres in southern Iraq within the framework of the “Adopt a Hospital” programme. Moreover, once the security situation improves Austria plans to establish a therapy centre for war-traumatised children in cooperation with her Human Security Network partners Slovenia and Jordan. In order to raise additional funds for this project Ferrero-Waldner is co-organising a benefit gala at the Orangery in Vienna on 19 November together with the Austrian Health Minister Maria Rauch-Kallat.

On the subject of relations with Iran, Ferrero-Waldner stressed in her talks with her Chinese counterpart that Austria is still in favour of pursuing as comprehensive a dialogue as possible with Iran. "Within the European Union, however, the unanimous position is that Iran will have to make urgent headway with some difficult political problems before relations between the EU and Iran can be intensified. At present the focus is clearly on the great concern regarding Iran’s nuclear programme, as expressed in the final conclusions of the European Council of 16-17/10/03 and the final conclusions of the Council of EU Foreign Ministers of 29/09/03. Following the successful talks held in Teheran by my EU colleagues, the Foreign Ministers of Germany, France and the United Kingdom, it is to be hoped that rapid progress can now be achieved in this area. The way and manner in which Iran implements the agreed measures will decide our further procedure with regard to the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme", explained the Foreign Minister.

Ferrero-Waldner emphasised that Austria has always advocated pursuing a policy of dialogue in the discussion with Iran, adding that in her view maintenance of the dialogue is important in order to create a basis for discussion and ensure that Iran is not isolated. Austria’s position in this context was also clearly illustrated by the country’s specific role in the Dialogue Among Civilisations. "Our hopes for progress show that we have no wish to isolate Iran; on the contrary, we want to firmly integrate the country into the international community", concluded Ferrero-Waldner.