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Queries at APEC Foreign Ministers Joint Presser

Response to Press Queries at APEC Foreign Ministers Joint Press Conference

Secretary Colin L. Powell Los Cabos, Mexico October 24, 2002

QUESTION: I would like to ask a question of Mr. Colin Powell, U.S. Minister.

Regarding the Iraq attack, it is said you are preparing the military activity in Iraq. What do you think will be the impact of the APEC economy after you start attacking Iraq? Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: The United States is working hard to find a diplomatic solution, which is why we have engaged the United Nations Security Council in the most intense set of discussions. Those discussions are continuing at the United Nations in New York and I have had a number of very helpful discussions here among my APEC colleagues.

We are very mindful of the concerns that you raised. Obviously, we always have to plan for whatever contingencies might exist in the future but no decision has been made with respect to military action. President Bush has said repeatedly that he hopes that this can be solved peacefully.

But it is absolutely clear -- and I think there is agreement among my colleagues and agreement among all of the members of the international community -- that Iraq must face its obligations, it must stop violating the UN resolutions that apply to it, Iraq must give up its weapons of mass destruction.

And I hope that the United Nations will come to closure in the near future on a new Security Council resolution that will make it clear that if inspectors go back in, they go back in with new authority and with all of the ability to disarm Iraq that they might need to complete that mission, and that finally, there must be consequences if Iraq does not comply with this resolution.

So let us all hope that this is a matter that can be resolved peacefully, but the outcome has to be Iraq disarmed of weapons of mass destruction.

When we see the kinds of terrorist attacks that afflict so many countries represented here today and we see what's happening around the world, it's clear that as part of the efforts against terrorism there also has to be an effort against those nations that develop weapons of mass destruction which, if they fell into the hands of terrorists, would be the worst sort of consequences for all of us to contemplate.

And so I believe that our efforts with respect to Iraq should be considered part of our overall campaign against terrorism. We have no ill will against the people of Iraq but we believe that they are led by a very despotic, dictatorial regime, and this regime has to respond to the demands of the international community.

QUESTION: (In Spanish.)

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much. President Bush is coming here to talk about economic development, to talk about trade issues. He will also talk about terrorism and will also talk about the issues of the day. I believe President Bush would solicit the support of his fellow leaders here for our efforts against global terrorism and our efforts against weapons of mass destruction development, especially in the hands of rogue states. But we are determined that forums such as this should not be exclusively devoted to a particular crisis of the day but to the purpose for which APEC was created, and that is to benefit all the peoples of the Asia-Pacific region.

And so the President is coming here to listen to his fellow leaders, to share ideas with respect to reduction of trade barriers, with respect to how we can cooperate, to protect our societies, protect our peoples; but more importantly, improve the lives of our peoples by improving our respective economies through trade, through social development, through the enhancement of civil society and through enhancement of educational opportunities for our young people, healthcare for our people and issues of this nature. But, of course, we will spend some time on the crises of the day and I would certainly say that the situation with respect to Iraq is one, but President Bush would not wish to see it dominate this meeting.

I would like to ask my colleague, Ambassador Zoellick, to add a word.

AMBASSADOR ZOELLICK: Of course, terrorism is a blow to all our economies. And as we've seen most recently, some of those here, for example, our friends in Indonesia and the Philippines, have taken recent, hard hits. Therefore the United States has, since September 11th, emphasized that its overall security agenda has to complemented by an agenda that will promote opportunity and growth and hope. And indeed, it was the meeting in Shanghai with our Chinese Chair that helped promote the overall completion of the launch of the Doha agenda last year.

And at this meeting with our Mexican hosts, we had some further work about trying to move that agenda forward. So we certainly recognize that you need to have a strong, healthy, global economy to deal at the same time one is coping with security challenges. And indeed, as President Bush has said, "While we do not believe that terrorism finds its roots in poverty, it finds its roots in a much deeper evil." And indeed, if you look at the backgrounds of most terrorists, they tend to be middle class or above, but there is no doubt that countries that are struggling to be able to maintain national cohesion and offer economic prosperity become the breeding grounds. And that's one reason why through our free trade agenda, through our work with the global negotiations, through our regional efforts, that President Bush has been firmly committed to trying to increase the possibilities for growth and opportunity and hope.

[End]


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