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Powell Interview On ABC's Good Morning America

Interview On ABC's Good Morning America With Diane Sawyer

Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release
April 2, 2002


Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on ABC's Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer

April 2, 2002

(7:10 a.m. EST)

MS. SAWYER: Good morning, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POWELL: Good morning, Diane.

MS. SAWYER: There is another report out this morning that Ariel Sharon has once again suggested that the resolution of this is exile for Yasser Arafat, a "one-way ticket out," in his words. Would the United States accept that?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we think that Chairman Arafat still has a role to play. We believe that as a leader, he can speak out against the kind of terrorist activity we have seen. We think he can do a better job in calming the passions of his people. We think he could do more with respect to bringing organizations under control.

Sending him into exile will just give him another place from which to conduct the same kinds of activities and give the same messages that he's giving now. So until he decides that he's going to leave the country, it seems to me we need to work with him where he is. And where he is, is in Ramallah. And I'm pleased that the Israelis have committed that they would not do anything to harm him or to kill him. And we are continuing to press Mr. Arafat to do more with respect to bringing this violence under control, and to speaking out against these kinds of terrorist activities, which are destroying the promise for peace.

MS. SAWYER: But Prime Minister Sharon has said that this could go on for weeks. How long are you prepared to let him keep Yasser Arafat enclosed and isolated in that room?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it's not quite "in that room." He has flexibility. And I have talked to Prime Minister Sharon; and he has food, he has water, he has utilities, and has the ability to communicate, as we all know.

I'm not sure how long the Israeli incursion will keep up. Prime Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Peres and other Israeli officials have said that they don't intend to stay in these areas permanently, and so I think it's some -- perhaps some weeks, but I don't know. That's up to them. But what they're doing --

MS. SAWYER: You will accept this going on some weeks?

SECRETARY POWELL: -- what they're doing, what they're doing is routing out terrorists. What they're doing is picking up weapons. What they're doing is trying to destroy this infrastructure of terrorism. And we understand that.

But we also know that, as they say, they will have to leave these areas in due course. And at that point, we've got to have a process ready to move forward, to get into a ceasefire and into political discussions. And that's what we're focusing on.

MS. SAWYER: A couple of quick questions. Secretary Rumsfeld said yesterday that he had talked to you, and that he is ruling out American peacekeeping troops in the region. Is that correct?

SECRETARY POWELL: We have no request for American peacekeeping troops, and we have never said we would send American peacekeeping troops in.

MS. SAWYER: So they're ruled out?

SECRETARY POWELL: Last year, when the President met with the other G-8 leaders in Italy, we committed at that time that as we got into the Tenet work plan and the Mitchell peace process, there would be some small number of American monitors that might go in to help stabilize the situation. But we have not been considering American troops going in as peacekeepers, which is where this report got started two days ago.

MS. SAWYER: I know that you're following the situation from here, but so many people have called for high-level presence there. What will it take for you to go personally over to the Middle East?

SECRETARY POWELL: I've been twice, and I'm ready to go again as soon as a purpose would be served. We thought we sent a very high-level presence when the Vice President went just a few days ago, a few weeks ago. And he met with the Israeli leaders, and he said he was willing to meet with Chairman Arafat, to leave the area, come back and meet with Chairman Arafat, if certain conditions were met. And the conditions were rather easy to meet, if you were determined to do that, and that was to get the violence under some level of control, and especially commit yourself to the Tenet work plan.

At this late date, I say to Chairman Arafat, unconditionally commit to the Tenet work plan. Let's get the two sides talking to one another on security arrangements to stop this violence. Let's move forward. We know that suicide bombers will not achieve the purposes of the Palestinian people. And we also know that ultimately the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, will finish what they're doing and have to leave the occupied territories where they are now doing their operations, because they will -- this will run to an end in due course. And we'll be right back to the need for a political process, a security process, to get us moving forward.


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