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Colin Powell IV at Associated Press Roundtable

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman For Immediate Release

June 25, 2001

INTERVIEW Secretary of State Colin L. Powell At the Associated Press Roundtable

June 22, 2001 Washington, D.C. MR. REEKER: Let me -- I'm Philip Reeker, the Deputy Spokesman. Just a note, we are on the record here. If the Secretary chooses something that we'll do on background, he will note that. And Barry, can you start?

Q: Unfortunately, two Israeli soldiers were just killed in Gaza. I was going to ask about the Middle East, also because your trip is coming up. I have heard two different Arab leaders, Shaath and the Egyptian Foreign Minister, both almost identical pitches for an observer force, for more definition of timeline, but virtually no cooling-off period. In fact, Shaath said yesterday, you know, we should blend it with confidence-building. Could you tell us how much you might do on those issues?
: These are all questions and issues that are out there -- a monitoring force, the length of the various segments as you go through the Mitchell Committee Report -- and they will all have to be dealt with -- timelines. They will all have to be dealt with in due course. But I don't want to lose sight of the most important thing, and that is the level of violence going down. Because nothing starts. And unless the level of violence goes down, Prime Minister Sharon has been very, very clear as to what he wants, and that's zero. And the Mitchell Committee Report calls for the cessation -- unconditional cessation -- of violence. So all of these other things, I think, flow from what is happening on the ground with respect to violence. For a 24-hour period, the incident rate was quite a bit lower than it had been in recent weeks. But then you have the terrible roadside bomb that kills two soldiers. And I think someone else was wounded. It is hard to say to anybody who is responsible for those soldiers that the level of violence has gone down or is at an acceptable level. So my consistent theme, since the day I walked into this building, is that we have got to get the violence down, we have got to break the cycle of violence, we have got to restore some level of confidence and trust between the two sides and with their security forces and their security leaders. And until that level goes down and until you have got some confidence built up between those two security forces and the leaders, it is going to be hard to get into the Mitchell Report. That is what the Tenet work plan hoped to do. And we will see when I get over there next week -- sometime Wednesday or Thursday -- what status we are in and what the two sides think about progress with respect to the Tenet work plan, and how close we might be to the beginning of the Mitchell process. But it is very difficult to predict day to day where we might be because it has been quite a roller coaster.

Q: In fact, the President used the phrase, "crushed," the violence has to be crushed. He was very straightforward about it. The observer force, though, is that a -- Shaath says you have it under study.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we always have it under study because there will be demands and expectations, from some of the parties anyway, that there has to be an independent force that will -- or an independent -- not force, but an independent group that will look at incidents that come along so that the incidents have an independent view and not just two people accusing each other and no way of resolving it. And the only way to resolve it is to counter-attack or retaliate, which gets the cycle of violence going back up. How best to do that remains to be seen. Some people think the EU is the right answer; others have other answers, under the UN auspices. But I have made no judgment about the nature of such a force or its sponsorship. It is all in the area of consideration and study, because until the cycle of violence goes down, until this cycle is broken in a way that is acceptable to the sides, then the question is almost moot.

Q: All right, just a quick follow-up. They do speak in those terms -- the Palestinians and the Egyptians. They would very much like to have the Americans involved, some role. As you weigh this, are you weighing the possibility that American involvement in some sort of group--

SECRETARY POWELL: I have taken no option off the table. But we have -- you know, there is no plan across the hall about how many Americans will do this, that and the other. But I am keeping all of the President's options open.

Q: Isn't there more at stake here than just the narrow issue of Israel versus the Palestinians? Isn't there a ripple effect here that could affect relations with Arab countries, affect the situation in Iraq, your efforts to get smart sanctions? Could you elaborate on that?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. I mean, there is a great deal of distress throughout the Arab world about this situation. Hopes were built, expectations were raised with the peace process last fall, and with what is often called the Taba arrangement. And then those expectations were not met, and the promise was lost. And I give credit to my predecessors here in the building, and to President Clinton for putting so much energy into it, but it didn't work. And as a result, that went away and new elections were held in Israel, and before peace comes security. And that has caused a great deal of distress throughout the Arab world, and they want to see this problem resolved, and they would like to see America resolve it right away. But it isn't that easy. So we are working on it, and we are trying to persuade our Arab friends -- and I think we are having some success with it -- that we are deeply involved, we are involved quietly at a time when you don't see us on-camera. When I am on the phone every day, no one sees it. It is not a TV item. It may be an AP -- occasionally -- interesting item. But it certainly doesn't get television coverage. But short of being with them in the same room every day, this is the closest thing to it. And I think most of our Arab friends understand the level of our engagement. They can see it in different kinds of ways than they might have seen it last fall. The fact that the entire international community has rallied around one position, and that is, the Mitchell Report is the answer. It takes a lot of time to bring such a coalition into a coherent, consistent view. And we have been able to do that with the help of the coalition members -- Kofi Annan -- it's not coalition, but a group -- Kofi Annan and Javier Solana and my frequent contacts with foreign ministers who have a particular interest in this, whether it's Joschka Fischer or Hubert Vedrine or Igor Ivanov, in other countries, France, Germany, Russia and others.

So we have been successful in doing that, and frankly I have been getting good marks, at least privately, from the Arab leaders who come and drop by. And it still is the case, however, that good marks aren't as important as getting the job done, which is to get back on a negotiating track leading to a peace process. And there will continue to be unhappiness in the Arab world until we see them doing that. And it makes it harder, yes, to move our Iraqi policy forward. And there is another element to it, in that the Arab public is far more informed than they might have been in previous years, with television, but especially with chat rooms and the Internet, that tends to field the mass feelings and to pass on the mass feelings. So yes, it has made things more difficult, and the two issues -- for example, with the situation in the Middle East and what is going on in Iraq -- tend to start getting connected, and the Iraqis try like the devil to connect them.

Q: Are you concerned that some countries in the Arab world might join the rejectionist camp?

SECRETARY POWELL: Rejection of what?

Q: Rejection of peace.

SECRETARY POWELL: No, because there is no alternative. The alternative is absolute chaos, which would serve no one's interest. And so all of us are committed to the peace process, every Arab nation, Israel and the Palestinians. And the reason for that is these two peoples must find a way in due course to live in this one land together, in this piece of land together. And they will have to find out a way to do that in due course. The alternative is chaos and continued death and violence and destruction. And so we cannot reject a peace process, we cannot reject a movement toward peace, we cannot reject the fact that sooner or later we will have to get in negotiations which will deal with these very, very difficult issues and resolve them.

Q: Will George Tenet have a continuing role in this process?

SECRETARY POWELL: George will play a useful role. I don't think it will be a case of George flying back every week or two. It's not even so much as his official title as DCI as it is the confidence that people have in him because of his previous role in the last shot at this. And so we will use George sparingly, though. George is not going to become a negotiator or a permanent interlocutor.

Q: Will he be doing what he was doing in the Clinton Administration -- meeting with the security forces, officials?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, that is what he did when he went out. But no, he is not replicating that model again.

Q: He's not going back?

SECRETARY POWELL: He may go back, but it is not a matter of him having some quasi-permanent presence in the region.

Q: How would you describe the level of US involvement now, as opposed to the Clinton Administration? I mean, you have just talked about being deeply involved. Do you think that you are engaged as --

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I don't feel any obligation to compare what we are doing to what the previous administration did, and I don't think it is an appropriate comparison anyway. We have a new Israeli Government. We had an election. And the new government came in because the old government was destroyed at Taba. And a new government came in, and it took us a while to wait for them to come in. They didn't take office until early March, and they came in with an approach that said we want peace, but security has to come first. And so for the Bush Administration to be measured against what my respected colleagues did in the previous administration at Camp David, at the Eastern Shore -- what am I thinking of?

Q: Wye.

SECRETARY POWELL: Wye. Or what they did at Taba or at Sharm el Sheikh. It really isn't an appropriate comparison that we are either doing more or less than they did, because you can check travel schedules. It is an entirely different situation. And I expect to be evaluated against the political and strategic situation we are dealing with now, as opposed to the one that existed in the previous administration or any other prior administration before that. And I would say that in this Administration, with the new political situation we have and the new dynamics that exist now, we have been very, very engaged. Maybe we haven't had long meetings at these various places, and there is no peace plan that has been put on a table which would generate that kind of long, involved shuttle-type diplomacy. Because the issue has been security, and it is security that has to be achieved, reflected in a breaking of the cycle of violence, so that we can get the Mitchell Committee recommendations going, and then ultimately get through the confidence-building period and then into negotiations again. Now, once we get into negotiations -- and that is some distance away, some time away -- once we get into that, we may then have to use a different model of involvement, particularly if you are going into very extended, non-stop negotiations. And I have some experience with those kinds of negotiations from my days as National Security Advisor in the Reagan Administration and arms control with the Russians. But we had a new political and strategic situation that I think required a new way of approaching it.

Q: With the violence having been so persistent there going into these meetings, what in any of these developments do you see as something to be optimistic about?

SECRETARY POWELL: One, they are meeting. Two, George was able to get them -- the meeting before had two levels, as you may know -- I'm sure you do know -- but what we had succeeded in doing before George went out is we did have security officials talking to each other under American hosting. And then we had raised it up another level, and we had Ambassador Indyk and Consul General Schlicher going back and forth. But not a great deal is coming out of those discussions, and they were all security, not political or negotiating discussions. And then George went over after we had the Mitchell Report, something concrete to work with, and then George went over several weeks after the Mitchell Committee didn't produce an immediate response, and he put down his work plan, which essentially pulled them together on a work plan. And since that work plan was put down and they both accepted it Wednesday before last, if memory serves me correctly, there has been a slight drop in the number of incidents per day, if you were averaging them out. But it is not enough yet. And there has been some action on both sides to increase access and control the violence, but not enough yet. And so we are still going through this period, but there have been a few hopeful signs.

Q: That is what I am asking about. What are those hopeful signs?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, a few hopeful signs they've been meeting. I mean, they met yesterday. I think they are meeting again tomorrow, and I think the 24th. So the meetings that George put in place are taking place, and they have taken on a more positive tone between security officials. The Israelis have opened access from -- a level of access that had not existed previously so people can get back and forth. The overall number of incidents per day has been dropping, even though each one is nonetheless unfortunate and a tragedy, and any moment of the day we could have a more serious one. And so meetings are taking place, they have a somewhat more positive tone, the overall incident level has dropped, not to the level it has to go to. And frankly, it is not a whole lot to grasp, but it is something. And that is what I am going to try to build on when I go there next week.

Q: If I could change the subject? The Europeans are openly unhappy about US plans to move forward with missile defense.

SECRETARY POWELL: All Europeans?

Q: Most Europeans.

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I wouldn't accept that.

Q: Some Europeans. But where is the advantage of a US moving forward with this when we need the Europeans in so many other areas?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I don't think they are going to withdraw from NATO or blow up the EU because we are going forward. Last week in Brussels, the President had an opportunity -- and in other fora, as well as Brussels and Gotteberg and elsewhere -- he had the opportunity to take his case on why he thought missile defense was important, to talk about the threat and talk about what he felt was his obligation to provide security for the American people and for our allies, to move forward with missile defense. And frankly, he got a pretty good reception from a number of countries, whether it was Spain or Poland and a few others. Some people had pooh-poohed that, saying oh, well, those are not the really important ones, but every one of them is important in the nineteen.

Q: Well, France, Germany.

SECRETARY POWELL: And in France and Germany, nobody said no. Questions were raised about the ABM Treaty and what a new strategic framework would look like; questions were raised about our technical ability to do this in the first place; and questions were raised about how this all fits into the overall strategic framework the President is thinking of with respect to reducing strategic offensive weapons and proliferation efforts. And so in an alliance of 19 nations, where you throw something into this that is new and different and controversial, I would expect there to be a lot of debating. But I can say this: there was more favorable comment and more openness and more willingness to consider this last week than there was before the President started the consultation process on the 1st of May. I think we have made progress. And the Russians came and had a good meeting with the President on Saturday last. And they haven't changed their mind. They still think that the ABM Treaty is at the center of the strategic framework. But they said, let's talk. Because they can see the threat as clearly as we can see it. And that is what we are going to do, we are going to talk. But the President is committed to move forward, and he is going to move forward as aggressively as he can, as aggressively as the technology will permit, and in due course the technology will run into the constraints of the ABM Treaty. And (inaudible) we'll have to see what to do.

Q: Is this worth the investment of the President's political capital? I mean, not only do you have key members of NATO unhappy with it, but you have got the Democratic Senate. I mean, the reception this week, or last week, to it on the Hill was fairly negative. You have got Chairmen of both Armed Services and Foreign Relations now skeptical. Is this really worth pushing ahead at this time?

SECRETARY POWELL: The President thinks it is, and I support the President. Presidents decide where to spend their political capital. And he believes this is sufficiently important with respect to the security of our nation that he will spend political capital on it.

Q: This is not something you actively pushed before you became a member of this Administration. Has your mind -- have you had your mind changed?

SECRETARY POWELL: Au contraire, au contraire. I have been at this for 17 years, and I was in the Reagan Administration when SDI was first brought on the scene, working for Cap Weinburger and as National Security Advisor, I made it clear to the old Soviet Union that we were going forward with SDI whether they liked it or not. And so I have been a supporter of this. Now, have I been in recent years? No, I have been off doing other things in recent years. And have I always been curious as to whether or not the technology could do what we hoped it could do? Sure. I am a military officer, not a -- not a -- well, let me stop right there. (Laughter.) But I tend to look at things analytically and where are things going to go.

Q: I think you told, on the plane coming back from Africa, that you have kind of wrestled for two decades with the issue of when exactly you would bump up against the ABM Treaty. You knew it was a --

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. It's out there. You'll bump up against it. But I also know that when we do bump up against it, a solid case can be made that it no longer serves the same purpose that it was intended to serve in 1972. I don't know if I have used this one with you on the airplane, but if there was no ABM Treaty tomorrow, if one of my lawyers walked in and said, whoops, somebody failed to date it when it went up there in 1972, so it is null and void, what fundamentally would change? What would the Russians start doing tomorrow that they wouldn't do today as they saw us move forward with a limited, modest defense, with total transparency, as the Senate and House would make sure it had, and everybody saw what we were doing? Would the Russians really run out and start MERVing their warheads and doubling the size of their strategic force? I don't think so. Because they -- at the end of the day, as they watch this thing develop, they will see that it is not a threat to their ability to deter anything they think we might be doing or getting ready to do.

Q: Doug Feith over at the Pentagon --

Q: Putin said that very thing--

SECRETARY POWELL: What?

Q: Putin said that very thing on -- what day was that interview on?

SECRETARY POWELL: I said it at the meeting.

Q: No, Putin said that very thing.

SECRETARY POWELL: Putin.

Q: We are going to start rearming our warheads.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, you've got what he says and what they actually do. I just -- you know, I am not in charge of Russia, but I don't think that that's what they would do.

Q: You think he was bluffing?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think that's what he would do. I don't think he would find a real reason to do that once he actually sat down and said, "What will this cost, and tell me again why I am doing it."

Q: Doug Feith over at the Pentagon has a theory the treaty is invalid because it was with the Soviet Union.

SECRETARY POWELL: There are lots of theories.

Q: That's why you're looking for --

SECRETARY POWELL: But I believe, and my lawyers will -- I will lay this on my lawyers -- that if you look at the legislative history of what was done when the Soviet Union ended, the treaty goes to Russia, and the other states that -- Ukraine and Belarus and Kazakhstan, they all got rid of them. So it all goes to Russia, and there are exchanges with the Senate over the years that make that case. But Doug has got a good legal argument, but the prevailing wisdom is that the treaty is in effect and it is in effect with the successor state, Russia.

Q: Can we flip a coin? And frankly, I don't understand why there isn't more emphasis on cutting back offensive weapons. The Russian -- former Defense Minister -- I heard him the other day -- complained -- they made a proposal -- I guess Clinton --

SECRETARY POWELL: Who is this?

Q: The guy -- he's the security advisor.

Q: Ivanov?

Q: Sergeyev. Everybody seems to have the same name. It gets very confusing.

SECRETARY POWELL: (inaudible). Yes, very confusing.

Q: They're either Igor or Sergeyev. But he says they've made a proposal to how to negotiate cutbacks, and the Administration seems to be thinking unilaterally. I don't know what the problem is. Wouldn't you want to engage them in negotiations and help your ABM cause -- help your missile defense cause?

SECRETARY POWELL: We will. Secretary Rumsfeld hasn't yet completed his analysis and review of what an appropriate level is, and when that's done then judgments will be made as to how to go to that level. One way to do it is to do it unilaterally, just say we're going to this level. There is nothing -- when the START II level says 3,000 to 3,500, it doesn't say you have to have 3,000 to 3,500.

Q: No.

SECRETARY POWELL: So you can have any level you choose to. So whether or not we choose to go to this level outside the treaty or not is a call of ours. I don't think the Russians would mind if we did. I don't know why they would. Or maybe we could do it as a part of a negotiation. The instinct right now is why not just do it unilaterally.

Q: Can I ask you about Iran? You heard what the Attorney General said yesterday about elements of Iran being involved in the Khobar Towers bombing. Your predecessor was reaching out a year ago to the Iranians, not to much effect. Do the events surrounding the indictment and the statement by Mr. Ashcroft yesterday change anything between the United States and Iran?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think so. It shouldn't be a surprise that we have always been concerned about Iranian support for terrorist activities and involvement in terrorist activities. And so the fact that there was an indictment yesterday that points some fingers in the direction of Iran should not shock us or cause us to adopt a policy position that we didn't have the day before. It reminds us of the nature of this regime. But it is also a country, if not a regime but a country, where 78 percent of the people just reelected a gentleman who is something of a reformer, at least that is one of the appellations attached to him, but he certainly seems to have different ideas than the supreme leaders within the country. And it is not so much who he is but the fact that 78 percent of the people are suggesting that perhaps they as a country, as a nation, should be thinking in new directions. That I find very, very interesting, and we'll wait and see how that level of political support for President Khatami manifests itself in changed policies.

Q: Shifting to Colombia, Rand did a study about a week ago that suggested that maybe more attention should be given to counter-insurgency instead of just counter-narcotics. Is anything like that under consideration at all, that Plan Colombia and its successor --

SECRETARY POWELL: No, not as part of Plan Colombia, or as I try to call it now, the Andean Regional Initiative. That is counter-narcotics, economic development, alternative crops for citizens who are in those areas, human rights training, and enhancing the police and military capability to do counter-narcotics work. But Plan Colombia -- now to be known as ARI because it's more than Colombia and more than just destroying coca crops -- is not a counter-insurgency effort.

Q: Do you see any need to give more assistance in counter-insurgency?

SECRETARY POWELL: I haven't given it any thought and I haven't seen any studies or papers come forward yet. Obviously when you get rid of a threat like counter-narcotics, when you bring that under control, hopefully in bringing such a problem under control and giving people new hope in moving in a new direction, you make the country less vulnerable to insurgent activity.

Q: On Africa, since President Bush announced the fund for AIDS, to fight AIDS, the donations have been sort of trickling in. Is it going to take just a little bit more, for lack of a better term, arm-twisting with some of the other countries, particularly colonial countries, to put more funds into that --

SECRETARY POWELL: Former colonial countries?

Q: Formerly colonial countries.

SECRETARY POWELL: That's a slightly more accurate term. (Laughter.)

Q: Can't get anything past you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, no, unfortunately, you can. (Laughter.) I think France has put up 127 million over three years. Britain, I think, has put up 100 million. Mr. Gates has put up 100 million, his foundation.

Q: All of the nations that are smaller than the funds that the United States put in and got criticized for not doing enough.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, but right now the fund is about 582 million, and with our initial $200 million seed capital, that's not a bad start. But it is nowhere near meeting the need. And so I hope that the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS next week will give added energy to the arm-twisting effort that you describe. Everybody should be coming up on this. Every European country, the whole EU. The President took this message to the EU last week at our summit meeting in Gotteberg with the commissioners. He asked me to make that point. And at our luncheon in Gotteberg, after the President gave a rather impassioned statement about HIV/AIDS and asked me to talk about my trip, I very candidly said over the table to them, you've got to find a way quickly to show your commitment to this; the EU has to give a lot more. I also don't think we should just restrict it to the big affluent former colonial powers. We really need to engage everybody. You know, you have the March of Dimes type activity, the Walk for the Cure type activities. I would like to see this become a worldwide mobilization that is not just governments but private citizens, foundations. My work with America's Promise before I came back into government gave me an inclination or an instinct as to how much money really is out there in private foundations that could be brought to bear on this, and corporate giving. And it doesn't always -- some companies like Coca-cola might say, well, we'll make a separate judgment whether we contribute to this fund, but, hey, look at what we're doing. We're going to use this huge retail establishment, the system we have in these countries. Every Coke truck going by is a rolling billboard; every Coke truck that delivers Cokes can also deliver condoms. And so that kind of involvement is probably as valuable as a financial contribution. And a number of companies are now looking for this kind of creative response using their footprint in these countries to do something. I saw some statistics yesterday that were just mind-boggling. Botswana -- 36 percent. That's what the president told me his infection rate was. In a country of 1.5 million people, 36 percent are infected. This infection alone is going to reduce -- has reduced -- the expected --

Q: Life span?

SECRETARY POWELL: The life expectancy from 64 to 49. I mean, it's astonishing and it's amazing. And it's going to happen. And it is mathematical. It will happen.

Q: So but there is some hope though that statistics like that would make people immediately respond in alarm and put more funds into that effort immediately.

SECRETARY POWELL: You would think so, but it hasn't happened prior to this, and the Botswana statistics have been known for some time. But now something is happening. And it is not just a matter of funding. The president of Botswana, just as the president of Uganda, Museveni -- the most important thing that has to happen is not a huge fund being created by somebody outside the country, but leadership within the country on every aspect of the treatment and prevention, with prevention being the way to break the cycle at the end of the day, and treatment as a way to preserve life and to take care of those who are suffering with the disease. And treatment need not always be as -- is not just the use of anti-retrovirals. That is hard to administer -- anti-retrovirals. But passing the disease, the infection, from mother to child -- you can do something about that right away by medications that you give to the mother, medications you give to the infant as soon as the infant is born, and then by trying to provide formula, which may have a cultural problem and difficult to do. But nevertheless there are ways to reduce that transmission rate by 80 percent if you can do those things that are not hard -- not that hard to do if you work at it -- and not that expensive to do if you work at it. So the countries that I saw in Africa that are getting on top of this now, such as Uganda, are doing these kinds of things. And when you listen to the president, he cuts no slack. He says, "This is what's causing it. It's heterosexual sex in this country, and it is irresponsible heterosexual sex."

And, you know, it kind of jars you when you hear it, particularly in different cultures that exist, but that is the kind of leadership message that has to be given and the leadership position that has to be taken. And then the rest of us have to help with drugs, lowering drug prices, getting in place the health care and delivery systems to administer anti-retrovirals, making sure that every hospital knows how to deal with women who are having a baby and are about to pass the infection on and what to do about it, and starting to educate kids, not when they're in high school or high school age, but when they're six, seven, eight and nine, and drilling it into them, just like we do here with anti-smoking and other kinds of campaigns.

Q: Do you expect the Administration to come up with a request to Congress to put up some more money?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think we'll have to review that in the next budget cycle because this was sort of out of cycle. We essentially found the 200 million from other accounts and stole it from other accounts. But as the President prepares the 2003 budget, I'll make a case for finding more money and asking for more money. MR. REEKER: We've got time for two more, I think, so people that haven't had a chance --

Q: Well, I'll just ask a broad question. You've been on the job five months, I think.

SECRETARY POWELL: Is that all? (Laughter.) Are you sure?

Q: Yesterday it will have been five months.

SECRETARY POWELL: The day before yesterday.

Q: All right. Just broadly, the Bush Administration came in with, at least the perception was they were going to do things differently, maybe a little more hands-off policy here, less involvement in the Middle East, Korea, and even maybe there was some thinking that we'll go present our missile defense plan and everybody will jump on. And has there been a reality check, so to speak? Have you found that it's more difficult to get countries and things involved or -- sorry -- going your way than you thought?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, first of all, it has only been five months. I mean, it's not like we've been here for five years and everybody is now wondering and we're slowly getting engaged. I think it's appropriate for a new administration to come in and review some policies, especially policies that you had strong views about when you were campaigning for the office. And so, for example on Korea, the President wanted to review our policies with respect to Korea and proliferation before moving forward, and monitoring and verification. With respect to Iraq we found a sanctions policy that was practically collapsing, and it took us a while to figure out what to do and then try to generate a consensus, and we're still having difficulty with that one. We've got a political consensus but we're having bureaucratic difficulty in getting a list together. In fact, we're going to have a tough battle next week, and it is kind of astonishing to me that countries -- some countries in the P-5 that were arguing for years that we ought to simplify the list, sell more, make it easier, don't hurt civilians, now are frustrating that effort for reasons that are not entirely clear to me. And but we're going to work on that. We're going to keep swinging away at it. What is important and what is interesting is that there is a political consensus that we need to change these sanctions; what we don't have yet is the technical consensus, and that is what we are going to be working on next week. And hopefully we'll be successful. If not, we'll keep working on it. But I think that we have a chance of success. But it's a little odd to see the criticism that comes because we have saved the political principle of sanctions even though we haven't gotten all the technical details straight, and those who were wanting this all along now are frustrating our ability to get it. It's kind of curious. So that made life interesting for five months. I think we had a lot of success in our hemisphere with the Summit of the Americas, with meetings with President Fox and Chretien, Prime Minister Chretian -- pretty well solidifying our views in the Western hemisphere -- 34 countries out of 35 dedicated to democracy and economic freedom. And the President's trip to Europe last week showed that, hey, guess what, no, we are not abandoning Europe. We are as attached to Europe as we have ever been, we are attached to NATO. I used to get the question all the time, "Why do you need NATO? The Warsaw Pact is gone." Well, I don't know, people keep applying; it's hard to close it down. (Laughter.) You know, I'm sorry. I don't know why they want NATO, but they do. And the reason they want NATO is they want North America, they want the United States, they want to be part of this great Euro-Atlantic partnership. And the name of that club is NATO. And so it is, rather than being a declining organization, a thriving, growing one. The big debate is how many are you going to let in. And no matter how many you let in, there is going to be another group that is going to want to come in. So it is a successful alliance, and the President wanted to show his total support for that alliance and his support for the relationship that exists between the United States and the EU. Sure there are difficulties with missile defense and Kyoto, but the President held to his position. He felt strongly about these issues and he held his position. But I've been through some very tough times in NATO over the years, in deployment of ground launch cruise missiles and Pershing II and all kinds of things, but it's a great alliance that usually manages to find an answer at the end of the day. We will with this issue, as well. And so I think we're having a pretty good run now with Europe. On Africa, I think my trip and the President's commitment to the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act and the Global Health Trust Fund we talked about shows that he sees that as a priority area. We had a little hiccup with China over a plane. We are now unbolting the plane's parts and we'll get it home in due course. And I think that irritation will be behind us and we'll go on to a more productive relationship with China. The President is looking forward to his trip, and I expect to visit there in the not-too-distant future. And with North Korea, we finished our policy review and now we're in touch with the North Koreans again trying to set up meetings as soon as we can. So we think things are coming together. Not bad after five months. Not bad. I'm pretty pleased with it.

Q: Can I get the last one?

SECRETARY POWELL: Barry, you can't get the last question. (Laughter.)

Q: No, no. George, actually. I was going to ask about peacekeepers, but in a sense we're whipping at your and I think we're in the wrong building for that because, you know, Rice and Rumsfeld -- I don't want to start -- but, you know, had serious reservations about peacekeeping. And I watched you on Macedonia the last couple of days, and I think you want to say yes, but you don't quite say we'll be part of it, if all their job is to -- if their job is simply to be a depository for weapons. I mean, this --

SECRETARY POWELL: What was your question, George? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY POWELL: This is all -- (laughter).

Q: Fair enough. That's fair.

Q: Japan. In about a week, you're going to be seeing the new Japanese Prime Minister. Don't you think 50 some-odd years after World War II that it's time for a more expanded role for Japan in international affairs?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think Japan plays a very expanded role in international affairs now. It is one of the great contributors to humanitarian efforts to aid other countries. I think your question really goes to the issue of security activities, in part. And Japan has been for 50 years incredibly faithful to the constitution that we helped write for them. And they have done more in recent years with respect to pushing that a little bit with respect to peacekeeping operations and the like. And now the new Prime Minister has come in suggesting let's have a debate about this, let's discuss this within our society. Should we be doing more? Should we be more than just a self-defense force? A very cleverly chosen term. And it is something for the Japanese people to decide, and they will have a strong and vigorous debate about this. But it is not something for the American government or the American people to dictate to them. I think they will have to come to their own conclusion as to the nature of their military force and whether that military force is consistent with their constitution. It's not for us to impose.

Q: I think that wraps it up.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much.

Q: Thank you for your time.

SECRETARY POWELL: What was that -- on background? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY POWELL: You know my rule: everything is on the record.

###


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