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Governo Italiano





SECRETARY RICE: As to the position of the United States, I think we've said several times we do not want to be the world's jailer. We have no desire to do that. But we do have a particular problem, which is that there are very dangerous people who had to be held somewhere so that they could not continue to plot terrorist attacks, commit terrorist attacks and indeed would not be a danger to peaceful societies.

We are making specific steps to try and reduce the population in Guantanamo as much as possible, including efforts to return people to their home countries when it can be done so safely. It sometimes though is difficult when we have concerns that people may indeed -- that we cannot receive assurances that people will not be persecuted if returned to their countries.

And so it is not an easy process of negotiating the terms of return of prisoners from Guantanamo to their home countries, but that is very often the best solution. And for those countries that have people in the population, cooperation on getting them back to their home countries with promises not to persecute but also with promises to, so to speak, keep them off the streets would be very helpful.

Finally, we do hope to be able to bring people to trial because I understand that there are concerns about what people have characterized as indefinite detention. We are, of course, awaiting a Supreme Court decision on the legality of military tribunals, the constitutionality of military tribunals, but you can be certain that we would like nothing better than to proceed to try people, to get them back to their home countries and to one day, as soon as possible, see that there is no need for Guantanamo.

QUESTION: My question is both for Dr. Rice and Minister D'Alema. And I have an additional question for Dr. Rice. What's your prediction for the soccer match tomorrow between Italy and United States? And do you have an exit strategy from the world championship?


INTERPRETER: The question is both for Secretary Rice and for Minister D'Alema concerns your conversations on the Middle East. Have ideas or suggestions come up in debating this matter on how to move beyond the stalemate of the peace process presently in that area and for the possibility to have a more active role of a Quartet in this phase?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER D'ALEMA: As to the second question, well, we were quite cautious and prudently decided that it would be better to meet before the match so that nobody would be in a bad mood, no bad feelings, no shadow looming over relations between our two countries.

As to the Middle East, certainly we share the desire and the will to act on the advance possibility of peace through negotiations. These are difficult times. There are many sensitive issues at stake. There's a hurdle which is represented by the Hamas government which is refusing to comply with the conditions that have been submitted to it in terms of recognizing Israel, rejecting violence and recognizing the agreements which had been signed and these are, indeed, indispensable conditions for a true negotiation to be resumed.

At present, it is essential to stop these political difficulties, these difficulties in the political situation from turning into a terrible humanitarian crisis hitting the Palestinian population in the territories. That is why it is very important to develop a support mechanism to support the Palestinian population. Such a mechanism is being developed by the European Commission, but for the mechanism to be truly effective, it is essential to engage the World Bank in Israel as well, because this is the only way for the mechanism to meet its objectives.

Second, all of us, including the international community and the Israeli Government, should all, at present, have a conduct which is very prudent, so as to help those components within the Palestinian front and primarily, President Mahmoud Abbas to open the way to a true peace negotiation.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Let me just say that I agree completely with Massimo that the first problem is to get over the hurdle of Hamas' refusal to accept the standards -- international standards of the recognition of Israel's right to exist and the renunciation of violence. We will do what we can to strengthen President Mahmoud Abbas. He is, after all, the duly elected president of the Palestinian Authority and a man who has declared himself for a two-state solution and for peace.

While we are still working on some elements of the international mechanism, I think we are close to substantial agreement on it. It's still -- there is some more work to do within the Quartet, but I believe that we will come to a solution. And it is important to have a way for donors to address the needs of the Palestinian people without contributing to the Hamas Government.

SECRETARY RICE: Now to the most difficult question of the press conference. I learned a long time ago not to hold strong opinions or predictions about something about which I have so little expertise as soccer, or European football. Obviously I would like to see the United States do well, but even I -- a pure novice in watching soccer -- knows that they will have to play a lot better than they did two days ago in order to avoid a very early exit from the World Cup.

Thank you.



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