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Powell Press Remarks With PNA's Saeb Erekat

Powell: Press Remarks With Saeb Erekat, Palestinian Delegation Member

U.S. Department of State Office of the Spokesman

Remarks With Saeb Erekat, Palestinian Delegation Member

Secretary Colin L. Powell Press availability following meeting Washington, DC August 8, 2002

SECRETARY POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We've just had a good meeting with Minister Erekat, Minister of Interior Yehiyeh, and Minister of Economics and Trade, Mr. Masri.

We reviewed the situation in the region. We reviewed the work that we are doing together on the three-track approach of security, of economic development and humanitarian assistance, and also our commitment once again to a political track.

I reaffirmed to the Ministers that the President is committed to doing everything possible to find a way forward, recognizing the difficulties that exist and condemning the violence that afflicts the region and occasionally thwarts our ability to move forward. But we will not be deterred. We will continue to move forward.

We had a good discussion on security cooperation and some of the things we're trying to do in the very near future, and they will be having additional meetings here. And we had a good exchange on the humanitarian situation, the economic situation.

So I am pleased with these discussions. The discussions will be continuing over the next couple of days, and then we are anxious to get some specific actions started, especially with respect to security.

Related to this, I spoke to Secretary General Kofi Annan this afternoon, and he has a representative going over to the region this weekend to take a look at the humanitarian situation from all sides, Mrs. Catherine Bertini, who does important work in this regard.

Minister Erekat.

MINISTER EREKAT: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you very much. I would like to echo what the Secretary mentioned. We had a very in-depth serious discussion with the Secretary that focused on the four tracks: the political track and the human catastrophe that is facing the Palestinian people, and also the security track, plus the reform that we are doing. And I would like to say, Mr. Secretary, that the Palestinian reform is Palestinian reform; it's done for Palestinian interests, by Palestinian will, and it's not being dictated by anybody. And we hope that this reform will be helped and encourage by starving their attempts of deform that the Israeli reoccupation constitute as far as our towns, villages and refugee camps, which have turned into the biggest prison in history.

It's really ironic that today, 50 percent of Palestinian children under the age of five are facing malnutrition; 48 percent of Palestinian women are anemic; one-third of the Palestinian population live on handouts; there is a serious threat for outbreak of diseases. The Secretary is very well aware of this and we appreciate the fact that the Secretary spoke to the Secretary General in order to see what can be done to alleviate this human disaster that is engulfing 3.3 million Palestinians at this time.

The Secretary assured me and asked me to convey to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership the commitment of this administration as far as the political track outlined by President Bush's speech at the United Nations, Secretary Powell's speech in November, and also the Prince Abdullah's initiative which was adopted by the Arab League, 242, 338, that the endgame is specified with a Palestinian state. We really hope to see an action plan that will define the timelines, the mechanisms for implementation and the way stations that will take us towards this endgame.

We reassured the Secretary of Palestinian commitment to peace, to reviving the peace process and to put it back on track, because that's the real interests of Palestinians and Israelis, and we must begin a process of de-escalation and de-confliction with the help of all parties that are interested.

Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.



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