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Powell With Jordanian Foreign Minister

Remarks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Jamil Al-Muasher

Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release

April 5, 2002


Remarks By Secretary Of State Colin L. Powell And Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Jamil Al-Muasher After Their Meeting

April 5, 2002 C Street Entrance Washington, D.C.

THE PRESS: Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday, Mr. Secretary, Happy Birthday to you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Big plans for your birthday, Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY POWELL: Beg your pardon?

QUESTION: The first question: big plans for your birthday?

SECRETARY POWELL: Family plans. Quiet.

I'd like to welcome once again my colleague the Foreign Minister of Jordan, Minister Muasher. We've had a good conversation for the past 30 minutes reviewing the situation in the region. And this is the first occasion I've had to express to him my thanks and admiration for the role that King Abdallah and the Jordanian Government played in the Arab Summit last week, which produced what I think is an historic document. It was introduced by Crown Prince Abdallah of Saudi Arabia, but the significant thing is it now reflects the view of the entire Arab League. Twenty-two nations expressed their willingness to make peace with Israel in a collective way, and to, in due course, have normal relations with Israel.

There are still, of course, many difficult issues that would have to be solved before such a vision would become a reality. But the vision is there, and reality begins with a vision.

We hope, both of our nations, that the current violence we are witnessing, the tragic situation we see in the region on our television sets every day now, will soon be brought to an end. The UN has spoken clearly on this on a number of occasions, and I think President Bush spoke rather directly and clearly to it yesterday in his speech.

I want to express my admiration for King Abdallah's hard work to achieving peace, his hard work in doing everything possible to solve the current crisis in which we find ourselves. And I hope that we will be finding a way out of this crisis in the very near future, and I look toward my trip to the region. I will be departing on Sunday, and the exact details of my trip and itinerary will be known in due course.

Thank you very much. My colleague.

FOREIGN MINISTER MUASHER: Thank you, sir. I had a very productive meeting with Secretary Powell. I'm glad that he could receive me on his birthday, also. We had an extremely productive meeting, and we supported and welcomed the President's statement yesterday signaling not just Secretary Powell's upcoming visit to the region, but hopefully the beginning of a process, a political process that would lead us out of this present situation we find ourselves in. And I talked to the Secretary about the need to link this security aspect of the problem to a political process, and I think that we both agree on the need to do that.

As you know, we are going through a very difficult period in the Middle East. We all want this security situation to subside, and we are all looking for ways to de-escalate the crisis and put back the peace process on track. In the Arab Summit last week, we feel we have been able to come up with a historic document, that promised a collective end to the conflict, that promised a collective peace treaty between the Arab states and Israel, that promised security guarantees and an agreed solution to the refugee problem.

And in that, I think we came up with something that addressed the needs of all peoples of the region, Arabs and Israelis alike. It is an initiative that is serious, and that is one that we intend to push through even though the present difficulties might overshadow it for the time being.

I'm very heartened and very hopeful, and very grateful, by the United States' stand, and by the United States' commitment to the process. The United States has done a lot in the past, and we look forward to working with it hand in hand in order to get ourselves out of this present situation, and hopefully move to end the occupation and establish peace and security for all.

SECRETARY POWELL: If I just might add one word to what the Minister said, just to reinforce his point that Tenet and Mitchell are all for one purpose, and that is getting to negotiations, getting to a process that will lead to a settlement.

The political dimension is key, and we have to bring it as far forward and as early into the process as is possible. And I think the President in his speech yesterday once again made a firm commitment to that political process, under the terms of the various UN resolutions -- 242, 338, and 1397.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, aren't you concerned that during the time between your leaving and arriving in Israel that Prime Minister Sharon may indeed use the opportunity to escalate operations against the Palestinians, with a possible attack into southern Lebanon?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think that the President's statement yesterday was rather clear, and the interpretation is further reinforced by the UN resolution last night, that the President's expectation is that the incursions will stop and the withdrawal process will begin as soon as possible -- or without delay, whichever formulation you choose. And it is not related to my trip. As soon as possible, without delay, and that is the President's expectation.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Ari Fleischer is saying in Texas that you have no plans to meet with Arafat. I don't think he elaborated on that. Is there a problem getting to Arafat, or have you made some decision? Could you explain a little bit?

SECRETARY POWELL: General Zinni met with Chairman Arafat today, and so obviously we can get to Chairman Arafat. It's just that my itinerary is still being worked out by my staff, and the places that I'm going to visit. And so I think what Ari meant to say -- and I'm quite sure what he had to say, because he said it yesterday as well -- no plans at this time, simply because there are no plans at this time, not that there won't be plans in due course.

I plan to meet with as many leaders as I can in the region, reflecting all and representing all the points of view and the parties in the region.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, why are you withholding criticism from the Israelis? Because far from withdrawing, they have moved into a new Palestinian town today. And also for Foreign Minister Muasher, sir, what is your reaction to the -- at least the lack of an explicit commitment to meet with Chairman Arafat during Secretary Powell's trip?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think that the President's statement of yesterday was rather clear: that he is asking Israel -- and the UN put this in the form of another resolution last night - - to cease operations and to begin the process of withdrawal. And it is the President's expectation that this will happen as soon as possible, and we will see what happens in the days ahead.

FOREIGN MINISTER MUASHER: I think we all agree on what the next step should be: to stop the incursion into Palestinian cities, and as the President said, to start the withdrawal process, and get back the peace process on track. And we are all working hand in hand with the United States and with all other countries that are involved in the process in order to make that happen.


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