Powell Press Briefing on Board Plane To WSSD
Press Briefing on Board Plane with Actor Chris Tucker
Secretary Colin L. Powell En Route Johannesburg, South Africa September 3, 2002
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, thank you for joining me on this rather quick trip over and back. I think it will be an interesting and exciting trip, and it certainly is an important one. We have a very powerful delegation already there and they ve been doing terrific work under the leadership of Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, as well as Andrew Natsios, who s been there and now he s with us, going back over after some other side trips, and with representation from (inaudible), and all of the other agencies. Christie Todd Whitman is there now.
I ve been getting regular reports from them, several times a day for the last week or so, and I m pleased at the progress that has been made on the Johannesburg plan of action, unlike some previous conferences. Some of you may have memories of Durban last year.
This is a conference where people came to do serious work, to debate important issues, and come up with a plan of action that was not just rhetoric, but things people could actually get their teeth into and execute on. That s why I m particularly pleased about the very fine reception that our initiative for partnerships, different kinds of partnerships, received, and that so many other nations are responding to that idea of public/private partnerships. As you know, we ve announced a number of them already: water, energy, Congo Basin Initiative, housing initiative that you ll hear more about tomorrow.
I m pleased that other nations are joining in this because sustainable development is not just aid. Sustainable development is aid, it s education, it s the environment, it s trading, it s opening up economies, it is good governance, it is the rule of law, it is ending corruption. All of these things have to be taken into account, and I think that the strategy that the United States has brought to this summit reflects all of that. With the President s Millennium Challenge Account that you re all familiar with, an additional 5 billion dollars a year, when we get it implemented in 3 years time will go to those countries that are in need but that have also demonstrated a willingness to put in place the rule of law, good governance, educating their youngsters, and taking care of their resources and ending corruption. That s the right way to go about it.
I ll also be making the point to the summit participants that they have to remember that 80 percent of the resources that are available to help developing nations are in the private sector. That once again reinforces the importance of partnerships and reinforces the importance of making your country a welcoming place for private partnerships where the money will be used properly. It will be protected by the rule of law. It will not be wasted, and it will go to the benefit of the people. So I m very pleased at everything I ve heard from the delegation so far and I ll be briefed by Undersecretary Dobriansky and the others when I arrive.
I m also appreciative of the NGOs who have traveled from the United States, as well as a number of private citizens and political figures, and I m bringing over with me now one more very important figure who I m sure you all recognize Chris Tucker, famous movie star, comedian, but more than that, a committed young man who is making a mark for himself not only in the world of entertainment, but by his presence here. Other things we have done with Chris that have shown that he realizes that at this point in his life, with all of his success that he s already enjoyed, he has to use part of his time and energy to give back and think about people in need. Chris, it s a great pleasure to have you with us, and now you ve got the rest of the interview.
MR. TUCKER: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you, and it s an honor, thank you for having me here on the trip. I m excited about the trip and about the conference. South Africa is very important and I m just looking forward to seeing the important solutions and different things that can be done to help the problems on the continent of Africa. So I m looking forward to the conference. Thank you.
SECRETARY POWELL: Okay, what have you got?
QUESTION: You ve got quite a diplomatic flurry going on on your schedule there. Can you give us an idea of the types of things you plan to discuss with some of these other heads of state?
SECRETARY POWELL: It is quite a busy day tomorrow, with lots of bilateral meetings with different heads of state. We ll talk about, first and foremost, the summit and the outcome of the summit. We ll thank them for their participation and cooperation. Then there are a variety of bilateral issues with each of them that I ll take up.
With President Mbeki, I m sure we will talk about the situation in the Congo and some of the success that we ve seen recently with his leadership, and we ll show our support for that effort. I m sure that we will also discuss the difficult situation in Zimbabwe, a country that is desperately in need and doesn t have all of those things that I described earlier that are essential for drawing in trade and investment in your country.
I m seeing the Prime Minister of Russia tomorrow night, I m sure that we will discuss a variety of trade issues. I d like to review with him how things are several months after the summit meeting in Moscow back in late June. We will shake hands and congratulate ourselves on having solved the great chicken war of 2002, finally.
There are a variety of other leaders, I expect to see the Albanian President, the Danish Prime Minister, and a number of other leaders. I m going to try to keep the focus though on sustainable development and the summit. I m sure there will be regional issues they ll want to talk about, of course.
QUESTION: There have been a lot of protests, the United States is getting a lot of flack for things, the NGOs and some of these developing countries feel the US has not done enough. Do you think there s a kind of dichotomy between what the US is actually doing and the perception that you re not giving enough?
If I can ask on Zimbabwe, there have been some reports that the United States would join a call by other nations at the conference for Mugabe to go. Do you think it s time for him to step down, and will you be talking to other leaders about this?
SECRETARY POWELL: I guess it s our place in the world as the largest economy in the world and the wealthiest country in the world to be looked at for leadership in helping developing nations. I think the United States has provided that leadership, especially President Bush with his commitment to expanded AGOA action, with his leadership in getting the Doha round of trade talks going, and passage of the Trade Promotion Act recently which will liberalize trade even more - also with the Millennium Challenge Account, with what we have done on getting the Global Health Fund up and running to deal with HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis. With just the regular aid account seeing real increases in the first two years of this administration. I ve been able to get increases in the regular accounts before we even go to the Millennium Challenge Accounts.
The President has also made a strong commitment to providing anti retroviral drugs to break the mother-child transmission of the HIV virus. A number of education programs, I m going to be announcing more of those in the very near future, related to the Middle East. So I think we ve got a very, very good record.
We d like to do more. We re always trying to find ways to do more, but I think that we have done a lot and I think we ve had a good story to tell, a good story to rest on. It is always the case, though, that people will comment on the United States and occasionally criticize us for not doing even more. I think we ve got a good record and I think it s a record we can all be proud of defending.
With respect to the second part of your question, on Zimbabwe we have long felt that the people of Zimbabwe would be better off if there had been a change in leadership. The election recently held, we think, was fatally flawed. I have spoken out about this regularly, the United States government has spoken out about this regularly.
For those of you who were with me on my Africa trip last year, at the University of (inaudible) in South Africa, I spoke directly to the challenge that Mugabe was presenting to Africa and to the world. We could see improper behavior, we could see corrupt governance, and the world should speak out about it and stand up to this kind of action.
We have not seen any improvement in the situation since then. I m not aware of a specific call at the summit for his removal so I have nothing to say to that. I ll perhaps learn more about that when I arrive, but I would not want to hypothesize about what we might do if there was such a call. I ve only heard the report that you mention but I haven t seen anything officially and I don t know who is making the call.
QUESTION: Okay, I ll ask the dreaded Iraq question. Do you feel that there is a split in the administration over what should be done on Iraq? Or is this a normal discussion within an administration? I mean, the Vice President s words seemed to be much stronger than yours along going ahead with an intervention against them.
SECRETARY POWELL: We are discussing Iraq and we are discussing every aspect of the issue. We are discussing the threat that this regime presents to the rest of the world. We are discussing the simple reality that for almost 12 years now, the Iraqi regime has refused to comply with a number of UN resolutions and dozens of conditions that they were supposed to meet. So they have affronted the international community.
It is a challenge not just to the United States but to the international community and to the United Nations. We are discussing within the administration and with our friends and allies and with the international community and the United Nations how we should respond to this. It is a serious matter. There can be no question that he continues to pursue these kinds of weapons of mass destruction. He threw out, or made it impossible for the inspectors to continue 4 years ago. So it is a very serious issue and we re discussing it in a very serious way.
The only position that really counts at the end of the day is the President s position, and we are all working hard, and we are all working in harmony to make sure the President has the very best information and all the different insights that exist within his cabinet that can be brought to bear on this so that he can make the best decision.
QUESTION: Do you see a decision coming in the next 2 months?
SECRETARY POWELL: Now that the holiday period, the summer period, is over and all of our European colleagues are back to work, and the United Nations General Assembly will be meeting next week, I think you will see that the President will pull all of these threads together. Keep in mind what he said a couple of weeks ago. He said he was patient, he said he was consulting, he said that he would take all of that consultation into account as he made his decisions, and I m quite confident that s what he intends to do.
QUESTION: Just one follow up on that, Mr. Secretary. Do you disagree with Vice President Cheney on the issue of UN inspections in Iraq?
SECRETARY POWELL: The point the Vice President was making, and he made it very powerfully and very vividly, is that inspections in and of itself may not give you the assurance you need. The inspectors were there for years. They found a lot, no question.
For the years they were there, they found a lot, they discovered a lot, they provided a baseline, but they didn t get it all and they didn t find it all, and so the Vice President was, I think, making the case that you can t think that just because the inspectors go in, that that solves your problem. The issue is not the inspectors. The issue is disarmament. The resolutions call for disarmament, not inspections. Inspections are one way of getting at that question. Whether it s the only way or there are other ways that have to be used to get at the question of disarmament is the debate that we re having within the entire international community.
QUESTION: So why is it that there s this perception, you gave the interview the other day to David Frost, talking about the need for inspections, whereas the Vice President said inspections don t matter, we need to have regime change and he s got these weapons. Can you see how there s a difference internationally in your two views and how other countries may see it as different views within one administration? Just Monday, Tariq Aziz said, look, I don t know which member of the administration speaks for the entire administration? (inaudible)
SECRETARY POWELL: Tariq Aziz knows perfectly well what needs to be done, and for years, he has been on television and manages to have reported without comment his assertion that they have no such weapons. This is nonsense, utter nonsense. He knows it s nonsense, we know it s nonsense. It s a con that the Iraqi regime, and especially Mr. Tariq Aziz has been pulling on the international community for years, and where we are now is that it s time for the international community to speak back.
With respect to what the American position will be, the President will articulate it, he will articulate it and he will articulate it fully in the near future. I see that there are lots of differences. Some are real, some are perceived, some are over hyped. My David Frost interview - which you haven t really seen, all you ve seen is a promo for my David Frost interview, I call your attention to BBC this weekend for about 40 straight minutes of it - it s a 9/11 interview mostly, and you ve all had 9/11 interviews. All that was on last weekend was a promo, right Richard? It was an outtake, or it was an intake that was used as a promo. You ll see the rest of it. What I was saying in that interview was administration policy and the President s policy. The President s called for the return of inspectors, as you will recall.
QUESTION: As the debate has played out in the last two weeks, the international community has begun to respond, and a lot of it is rather negative to the notion of some sort of unilateral action by the United States, or even US proceeding along this course. The Russians have come out against it, the Chinese, the French. How much does that raise your level of concern as the President tries to make the case in the coming week or so?
SECRETARY POWELL: The President has not decided upon nor announced a unilateral action or as you described it, a course of action. Now, there are courses of action that are postulated and speculated upon, and once they re out there, everybody starts responding to that, and that s in the nature of a full, free, open debate on a subject.
As the President has said, in Crawford I guess the week before last, he s taking all of the advice he gets into account, he s consulting widely, and he will approach this patiently and he has not made any decisions, either of the unilateral nature or of the multilateral nature. But he is listening carefully and I think in the very near future, he will answer all of the burning questions that are on your minds and lips.
QUESTION: Does that international reaction play a factor in the decision-making here?
SECRETARY POWELL: When you re consulting, you have to listen to everything, and you listen to positive responses and negative responses. I spent an enormous amount of time on the phone, as you know, I m something of a phone freak, but I ve been on the wires pretty constantly for the last week talking to all of our friends and making sure I understand their point of view, making sure they know where the President is, not where some people say the President is, or people who are not even in the government who claim to know where the President is, or the President hasn t decided yet where he is. So I think we ve been able to put it into perspective.
I will be meeting with leaders tomorrow, I will be up at New York at the UNGA for the better part of a week, which will give me additional opportunity as it will give the President for the 2 days, 3 days he s up there, to hear from our close friends and allies around the world.
QUESTION: I just want to make sure I understand sort of the import of what you re saying. The President s UN General Assembly speech will sort of be the kickoff of a campaign by the administration to convince the world of a course, and also, can you tell us, has the President reached a decision on the way for the UN authorization is not needed but it would be helpful politically?
SECRETARY POWELL: I didn t say the UN speech was the kickoff, but nice try. Obviously, at the UN next week, there will be leaders from around the world. The President, of course, will speak as will many other leaders, and I would not prejudge right now what the President is going to say next week, but obviously this is a very timely issue.
With respect to additional resolutions from the UN, that depends on what course of action the President decides upon and the other members of the Security Council decide upon, if anything. But it would be premature for me now to confirm to you that that s what s going to happen next Wednesday or what we re thinking about with respect to resolutions. Obviously, all of that is in the mix.
QUESTION: In your conversations with friends and allies, have you begun to ask for their support for a specific course of action yet?
SECRETARY POWELL: We ve spoken in diplomatic and political terms. If your specific question is with respect to military options, I have not, no. Sure, I constantly explore with my foreign minister colleagues diplomatic options, inspectors in, inspectors with what other support for the inspectors, the nature of the inspection, any time, any place, can we really get an inspection team in that would give confidence that we re going to get to the root of the matter, or is it going to take something more than inspections? There are a lot of things that get discussed. We have excellent lines of communication with all of our friends around the world on this, and there s a good solid exchange of views back and forth.
As you noted, the European Union foreign ministers met this past weekend. I spoke to fully more than a third of them before the meeting last Wednesday and Thursday, and then I ve spoken to at least 4 of them since the meeting, just to coordinate with each other and understand where they re coming from, where we re coming from, not only on Iraq, but on Article 98 negotiations, the Middle East, and all the other issues that we stay in close touch with our European friends on.
QUESTION: There are others in the administration and in Congress perhaps who say that an international consensus on what to do with Iraq is not necessary. Is it your view that you do need support of key allies around the world in any action or any course the US would take?
SECRETARY POWELL: There are lots of views in the administration, outside the administration, up on the hill, throughout the talk shows, media, and throughout the international community. The President s considering it all, and in due course, he will let you know how he plans to approach this problem.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
QUESTION: I wanted to know what particularly made you want to get involved with Africa, and would you like to be in a movie with Secretary Powell?
MR. TUCKER: Well, I m doing this movie, I m playing the President of the United States, and the name of it is Mr. President. I ve been doing a lot of research. I ve been fortunate enough to meet with the Secretary of State, and also I ve traveled to Africa several times to promote movies. I fell in love with the continent. I ve been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time there, to meet the people. I went on a trip with the Treasury Secretary to Africa. I learned a lot on that trip. So I have a history of Africa, so I m really excited to go to this conference to learn even more about it.
To answer your second question, I would love to do a movie with the Secretary. I m basing a lot of my character on the Secretary so I want to make sure that I represent the office right. Thank you.
QUESTION: Will you accompany the President to Africa sometime next year?
MR. TUCKER: I hope so, but it s not confirmed yet, but I hope so.
MR. TUCKER: Well, I think that for the Secretary of State to come to the conference is a very, very big thing, and I think that something good is going to come out of it. I hope so. I m just looking forward to seeing what solutions can be done to help some of the problems around the continent.