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Colin Powell Interview On CNN With Andrea Koppel

Interview On CNN With Andrea Koppel

Secretary Colin L. Powell

Washington, DC

July 2, 2002

MS. KOPPEL: Is it realistic to expect the Palestinians to undertake these reforms that you've alluded to there while the Israelis are still occupying their territories, and knowing that even if they do all of this, in three years they're only going to get a provisional state? They still have to negotiate borders and all of the other final status issues.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it will be difficult for them to undertake transformation unless we can get some relief in the degree of containment that exists there right now. With the Israelis --

MS. KOPPEL: So the Israelis should begin to withdraw?

SECRETARY POWELL: Let me finish the answer. The Israelis right now believe that the activities they're undertaking are necessary for their self-defense. We hope that they will soon come to the conclusion that things are starting to improve, and they can release their hold in some of these places. They don't want to be sitting there in this occupation mode, and we have been in conversation with them.

And if we're going to get transformation, the Palestinians have to be able to move back and forth. They have to be able to assemble. They have to be able to bring new leaders in who can actually work. And so we are in discussions with the Israelis about that, as well as with the Palestinians about that at different levels.

And we hope that in the months ahead the Palestinian people will have a chance to see their leadership transform itself, bring in new institutions, new leaders, and hopefully they will reach the judgment that perhaps they do need a new leader. I mean, there was a major demonstration in Gaza yesterday, where thousands of Palestinians protested against their own current leadership.

And so there are these fissures within the Palestinian leadership that suggest maybe people are starting to realize, where are we getting with the current leadership that we have, and perhaps we should consider new leaders.

MS. KOPPEL: Even some of those who support the President's new Mideast policy have said that the administration is setting the bar so high that, in effect, what you're doing with your policy and the situation is putting it on the backburner. Are you saying that American domestic politics played no role in this decision?

SECRETARY POWELL: I would -- why would I have -- I didn't say that, and I'm not saying it now. It has nothing to do with domestic American politics; it has to do with the fact that we have a very difficult situation.

The bar is not that high. The bar begins with, and it's at a level that says, stop the terrorism, stop supporting terrorism, stop condoning terrorism, stop perhaps even financing organizations that are participating in terrorist activities. That is not an unreasonably high bar. You leap over that bar, and you'll find that the next one is not that hard to get over either.

=And that is the beginning of discussions with the Madrid Quartet, with those individuals that Ambassador Burns, my assistant secretary for this part of the world, is organizing in London today that will help the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leaders begin to put in place a more effective security structure to keep the violence under control. So there's a way forward, and I don't think the bar is too high. It is --

MS. KOPPEL: But you seem to say we're talking about more meetings, more meetings, the same way that, before the President delivered his speech, you had consultations with the Quartet. And it just seems as if that's going to go on for many, many months without results on the ground.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, you don't get results unless you do have meetings and you get people to begin working together and to cooperate with one another. I wish that you could snap a finger and end all terrorism, but it's going to take the Palestinian leaders and the Palestinian people to make a judgment that this kind of terrorist activity and this kind of violence will never lead us to that which we want, which is a Palestinian state.

And what President Bush said is: I want for you a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel; I will help you get there; let's see if we can do it in three years. But the first thing we have to do is to get the terrorism under control because you cannot have dialogue between two people, trying to acquire peace between the two of them, in this atmosphere of bombs going off. And every time we got close, every time these meetings really did start to produce a positive result, bombs would go off and set us back. That has to end.

MS. KOPPEL: Speaking of terrorism, today the State Department -- actually last night -- put out another Worldwide Caution to Americans, expecting possibly an attack against American interests.

Do you foresee a date, Mr. Secretary, when the American people -- not only those living overseas, but here in this country -- will be able to go down to the Washington Mall or Manhattan and not worry about a terrorist attack?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think it's going to be some time before we can reach that level of comfort again in our society. But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy our society. People will be on the Mall here on July 4th. I'm going to be in Philadelphia celebrating. I'm going to be entertaining here on July 4th. My family is going to be out and about.

We're going to be vigilant. We're going to be alert at all of our embassies around the world. We're going to be on the alert. We're going to protect ourselves. But we're also going to enjoy ourselves and celebrate our holiday -- because we're Americans. We don't walk around afraid of our own shadow. We have the courage of our conviction and the courage of our values system. And we believe in this nation and we're going to celebrate the 4th. But we'll be vigilant.

And for those who wish us ill and those who are creating this level of concern, slowly but surely they will be defeated over time. President Bush told the American people this will be a long, slow campaign and we must have patience.


Released on July 2, 2002

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