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US's Powell & Rumsfeld Meet Aus's Downer & Hill

Press Availability With Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, Australian Defense Minister Robert Hill, and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld

Secretary Colin L. Powell Benjamin Franklin Room, Harry S Truman Building Washington, DC October 29, 2002

[audio; DSL/Cable; dial-up modem]

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Secretary Don Rumsfeld and I have just completed a day of extremely productive discussions with Foreign Minister Downer and Defense Minister Hill. And Don and I were delighted to be able to return the hospitality that was shown to us last year in Australia when we had the previous meeting.

This annual meeting reinforces the strong ties between our two countries and never have these ties been stronger. Since September 11th, 2001, Australia has stood with us in the global campaign against terror. And the vicious terrorist attack in Bali on October 12th, which took so many Australian lives, has only steeled our shared resolve.

In this time of mourning, our hearts go out to the courageous people of Australia, who time and again have been our ally in war, our partner in peace, and a force for freedom around the globe.

The attack in Bali has placed our ministerial discussions in even sharper focus and our discussions covered the full range of issues from Southeast Asia to Iraq, from regional security to missile defense, and of course the global war on terrorism.

Given our shared values, it should not be surprising that there is a great depth of cooperation, similarity of objectives and broad harmony of views between our two countries. We both recognize, for example, that the political and economic challenges facing Indonesia will be of vital importance to both our countries and to the region. Both of us seek the dismantling in a prompt and visible manner of North Korea's program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. We also agree on the need for Iraq to abandon its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and that action must be taken if Iraq does not do so in response to the international community.

And the United States and Australia are more committed than ever to moving forward together to end the scourge of terrorism. I know that I speak for the entire US contingent when I say that we look forward to heading Down Under for next year's ministerials.

And so Alex, Rob, a great pleasure to have you here. Alex, the floor is yours.

MINISTER DOWNER: Can I say, from Australia's point of view, we had what could only be described as a high-quality, wide-ranging and lively round of talks during dinner last night, and especially during today. And these talks did demonstrate the great vibrancy and relevance of the Australia-United States alliance and the good shape that it's in and the close alignment also of our strategic interests on so many of the major issues on the international agenda.

As Secretary Powell has said, the talks covered a range of security challenges, first and foremost the war on terrorism. I think we went from a point of having immense sympathy for the United States for what happened on September the 11th to reaching a point of great empathy with the United States when we saw what happened to Australians in Bali on the 12th of October this year.

So in our discussions on terrorism, we emphasized the need for close cooperation by both of us, by Australia and the United States, with Indonesia and other partners in Southeast Asia, and the need for each country to take responsibility for the elimination of terrorism within their own borders.

On Iraq, I can say that from Australia's point of view we have been urging the United States to do all they could through the United Nations, and we've been impressed by the United States commitment to work hard towards an appropriate resolution in the United Nations Security Council. Australia strongly supports the United States resolution. We've been doing what we can internationally to try to help garner support for that resolution, and we hope that it will successfully pass through the Security Council before too long.

On North Korea, we agreed that we'll not reward bad behavior; rather, we'll work to maximize solidarity among relevant countries in insisting that North Korea totally abandon its nuclear activities. And we'll work, obviously, very closely with each other and other countries in the East Asian region to consider what further policy steps might be necessary as time goes on.

Again, as I said at the beginning, these have been high-quality and lively talks, a meeting between friends who agree on the great strategic issues of the time and partners who I know will continue to work together in the future successfully in the way we've done in the past.

Don.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Yes, sir. Thank you, Colin. As Colin mentioned, we had meetings in Australia last year and we were very pleased to host our fellow ministers here in the United States, and we agreed that we will meet back in Australia next year and we look forward to that.

The meeting has been a good one. We've had excellent discussions on the war on terrorism and the situation in Asia more broadly, the security environment there. We have received reports from Admiral Fargo, the combatant commander of the Pacific Command, and General Cosgrove, which were helpful and constructive.

It's important to say, I think, that following the September 11th attacks Australia was one of the very first countries to join with us in invoking the ANZUS Treaty for the first time in history. In Afghanistan, Australian special forces have fought shoulder to shoulder with US forces and played an important role in the defeat of the Taliban and the al-Qaida in that country.

Australia suffered the first non-US fatality in Afghanistan in February of this year, Sergeant Andrew Russell. Friends of Sergeant Russell said that you could rely on him to never let you down. The same can be said of his country, which has demonstrated a clear commitment to combating the evils of terrorism.

Australia is, as we have known over many, many, many decades now, a steadfast and dependable ally and friend. We are delighted to be able to have our friends and fellow ministers here in the United States.

MINISTER HILL: Well, I would simply say that the terrible experience of Bali has only reinforced our determination to defeat this scourge of terror no matter where it may be. It emphasizes the global nature of the threat and that whilst it needs to be addressed at source in such places as Afghanistan, we nevertheless have to also attack it where it's being realized. And this has been brought home to us in the most stark and terrible way.

We are pleased that we will be doing so with the United States. We have worked well together in Afghanistan and a considerable focus of today's meeting and the meeting of the militaries that took place yesterday is on how we can continue to work together even more effectively in the future than what we're doing now. So issues of interoperability, coalitions, all of that type of thing, is high on the agenda.

We have, I think, achieved a lot in the last 12 months. We, unfortunately, are going to have to achieve even more in the years ahead and our military, in doing so, has our leadership and support in that goal.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, on Iraq. Some of us are reporting that the United States is now prepared to make changes on the margins of the resolution, not the key core issues, in order to get an agreement so the resolution can be approved by the Security Council. I wonder if you can tell us whether you think that's enhanced -- if the reports are correct -- enhanced chances of an agreement.

And if I can ask a specific, how long do you feel, how much time do you feel, if you would, Iraq should be given to list its chemical and biological weapons? The original idea was 23 or 30 days, however you look at it.

SECRETARY POWELL: The US draft resolution that's up there being considered by the Council says 30 days for the presentation of a declaration from Iraq, and we still think that's enough time. They know what they have, and they can respond in that amount of time.

With respect to the resolution, there are still a couple of outstanding issues that are rather basic. Our friends in the Security Council know our views on these issues and we know theirs. There may be a way to bridge these remaining differences, and that's what we are working on very intensively today. Either between my conversations with others or Ambassador Negroponte's conversations with others, we've been in touch with all of our colleagues, permanent colleagues on the Security Council today. I've had two conversations as well with Kofi Annan.

So we're hard at work and I think we're getting closer, but our basic principles remain the same. A clear indictment of Saddam Hussein's past behavior and current behavior has to be in the resolution. There has to be a very tough inspection regime, and I'm very pleased that Dr. Hans Blix of UNMOVIC and Dr. El Baradei of IAEA in their presentation yesterday to the Security Council were supportive of the tough inspection regime that's in our draft resolution, with some little tweaks in the margins, but in principle they agree with it.

And there have to be consequences, otherwise Iraq will try to deceive and distract. They may try anyway even in the face of consequences. And there have to be consequences, and we cannot accept any language that suggests that in the presence of new Iraqi violations, those violations would be ignored and there would be no consequences.

How those consequences would ultimately be administered, dealt with, it can either be by an action of the Security Council or, as President Bush has repeatedly said, if the Council does not act, if the United Nations chooses not to act, the President has what he believes is the authority needed, and frankly, the obligation to act with like-minded nations to disarm Iraq.

But there is a way, I think, to preserve both of these positions -- the Council acting or the United States acting -- and we have worked to accommodate both of those positions within the draft resolution that is before the Security Council now.

QUESTION: I have a question to Secretary Rumsfeld and also Senator Hill. Secretary Rumsfeld, does the US want Australia to be part of any military force to disarm Iraq, if necessary, without a specific UN resolution? And were specific elements of that discussed today?

To Senator Hill, given the need for Australia to focus on the Southeast Asian region, is the Australian Government prepared to make such a commitment and would ground forces be involved?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, with respect to the first part of the question, the President of the United States has not made a decision as to whether or not force will be required with respect to Iraq so we've not gotten to that point. I would only say that whatever the United States ever does, we value having a close working relationship with Australia and, as always, those decisions are up to Australia.

MINISTER HILL: Well, we share the goal and determination of the United States to see an end to the weapons of mass destruction program of Saddam Hussein and we are seeking to do that through the United Nations process and we trust that that will be successful. We are pleased that the United Nations Security Council has now accepted its responsibility and is addressing the issue.

So I wouldn't want to preempt that because I'm hopeful that that will work and it can be achieved without the use of armed force. But our bottom line is that we do want to see an end to this program. It's gone on for too long, and I think we're at the stage now where through the processes that were embarked upon it must now end and the threat must therefore be removed.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Secretary Powell, it's been six weeks, I believe, since the President addressed the United Nations on September 12th. How long are you prepared to wait before forcing a vote in the Security Council and perhaps making some of our friends and allies stand up and be counted?

And I'd like to ask Secretary Rumsfeld whether you believe that anything is being lost by this period and whether there will come a point where you think it is necessary for the US to take some kind of unilateral decisions here.

SECRETARY POWELL: It has been six weeks, but this has been a very complex issue and I think we have accomplished quite a lot in six weeks -- getting a tough inspection regime, getting agreement, I believe, on most of the resolution, and listening to our friends and allies and trying to accommodate their views.

But I think your question is correct, Andrea, in the sense that we're getting close to a point where we'll have to see whether or not we can bridge these remaining differences in the very near future. I don't want to give you days or a week, but it certainly isn't much longer than that. I think sometime in the very near future we will have to see whether or not we can get, for the most part, consensus on our resolution, and if not, we'll have to make a judgment as to whether we start putting resolutions up, competing resolutions for votes.

So I think it's in the very near future, but we are closer. And what I'm impressed with right now is that all of the ministers that I'm in contact with are anxious to find a solution that would draw the greatest number of yea votes for such a resolution.

QUESTION: Secretary Rumsfeld, are you concerned that if this stretches out very much longer, if this stretches out too much longer, that it will diminish the ability of a military force to launch a successful action, if it is necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein militarily?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, as anything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to different courses of action, and clearly the President of the United States made a judgment that going to our Congress first and to the United Nations second had more advantages than disadvantages. And those were all considered and weighed at the outset, and I fully agree with his decision to do so.

QUESTION: This is a question for Secretary Rumsfeld and Senator Hill. And the question is specifically on the terrorist threat in the Southeast Asian region. Secretary Rumsfeld, could you give us your assessment of Bali? Do you think that the Australians were specifically targeted there? And do you think that the terrorist threat in the region remains acute?

And I'd like to ask the same question to Senator Hill.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, I can't say precisely what was in the minds of the people who engaged in that terrible act in Bali. The target was what it was and the effect was what it was, namely that a great many Westerners were killed and a very substantial number of them were Australians.

There were hundreds and hundreds of people trained in terrorist training camps at several locations across the globe in recent years. They were trained well. We've seen the terrorist training manuals. We've seen the effects of their acts. They are disciplined, they are reasonably well financed, and a great many of them still exist in the world in many handfuls of countries. And the threat is real, it exists, and our task is to continue to keep pressure on them all across the globe and make life more difficult for them, to capture them when we can, kill them if we must, and to make it more difficult to raise money, to make it more difficult to move between countries to recruit, to retain people, make everything harder for them. And that is what -- share intelligence.

And that's what some 90 nations -- the biggest coalition in the history of mankind -- 90 countries are engaged in this global war on terrorism and it is because of that and the sharing of information and the law enforcement efforts that the pressure is being applied. And I think it's fortunate for people all across the globe that that cooperation is there.

MINISTER HILL: Yes, we don't know for sure the target, but if you look at those who were harmed, it was Western interests, in particular the citizens of Western countries, and it was Indonesian interests, citizens of Indonesia, the Indonesian economy, pressure on the stability of the Indonesian Government and so forth. So if that describes those who suffered as a result of the attack, it's a fair indication, I think, that that was the purpose of the attack.

The threat scenario remains high, and I hold the same view as that you've just heard, and that is that the linkages not only are we learning more about the extent of terrorist networks throughout Southeast Asia, and they are extensive, but we're learning more about the interrelationship between those networks and the interrelationship between them and others out of the region, in particular from the Middle East.

And the more we learn, the more we appreciate the extent of the challenge we face. It's going to be a long and difficult struggle, but it's one that we must face and one that we must defeat.

QUESTION: A question for Secretary Powell and for Secretary Rumsfeld. Secretary Powell, how much time do you believe that the Security Council ought to have if the inspectors encounter obstacles in Iraq? How much time should the Security Council have to consider that and decide on a response?

And for Secretary Rumsfeld, do you have any confidence that the inspections can be thorough enough to uncover all that Saddam Hussein has in the way of weapons of mass destruction and is it basically a fruitless exercise?

SECRETARY POWELL: On the first question, I can't give you an artificial answer. I do know that we've structured the resolution in a way that when it becomes obvious to Dr. Blix or to Dr. El Baradei that they're being frustrated in their work and there is a violation, they are to report immediately to the Council, and the Council is to convene immediately to consider this report. I can't tell you now how long it might take them to consider such a report or what action they might take, but as their clock is ticking there is a clock that is also ticking on the US side as to whether or not the violation is of such a nature that the President makes a judgment in due course that he should act if the UN chooses not to act.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: With respect to inspections generally, they tend to be designed and fashioned to be used on a country that has made a conscious decision that it wanted to open its doors to the world community, allow inspectors to come in and validate something that they want the world to know, namely that, in this case, that they do not have weapons of mass destruction.

Needless to say, to the extent a country is not cooperative, it is relatively easy for them to frustrate and make difficult the inspection process. So it's generally used in a case where a country wants to open its doors and prove to the world that it is doing precisely that which the world is hoping it would do.

In terms of finding and disposing of or disarming all of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, they have been on a conscious effort of dispersing them across their country in a variety of locations, and that is a process that even in the best of circumstances with full cooperation that they would -- it would still take a good deal of time.

QUESTION: I'll ask Secretary Powell about the reports out of KL (Kuala Lumpur) overnight in which suggest that North Korea, in talks with Japan, had quite bluntly refused to abandon its nuclear weapons program. That being so, is it your view that for Australia and Japan to continue down the path of normalization is, in fact, to reward delinquent behavior?

And could I also ask if Mr. Downer would comment on that general proposition?

SECRETARY POWELL: I've read that report and it's consistent with what North Korea has been saying in recent days. I can just go back to what Prime Minister Koizumi said, and that is unless North Korea gives up this program -- and I draw your attention to the trilateral statement that was issued in Los Cabos at the APEC meeting between South Korea, the United States and Japan -- unless North Korea gives this up, then it would not be possible to move forward toward normalization. And I think that's the right answer.

It is also our view. And you saw the 21-nation APEC statement saying that North Korea has to give up. We are not going to buy this program again. Their cooperation was purchased once before in 1994 with the Agreed Framework, the NPT and all the other obligations, as recently as a couple of weeks ago, and the Pyongyang declaration entered into by Prime Minister Koizumi and President Kim Jong-il. This was an element of it. And they have violated these agreements.

And I think the first step toward a resolution of this matter is for them to acknowledge that they have done it again -- and I think they have acknowledged it to a standard that all of us can accept. I mean, they've done it. They've said so. And they didn't deny it when they put out another statement last Friday.

And now they have to eliminate the program, give it up, abandon it, destroy it -- whatever word you choose -- before they can expect the rest of the world to assist them in their difficulties -- their economic difficulties, all the other problems that are affecting this nation. No North Korean child can eat enriched uranium. No North Korea peasant is going to get a job enriching uranium. It is fool's gold for North Korea, and the sooner they realize it and give it up and start to get about the possibility, the prospect of joining of a world that wants to try to help them. If they will start to behave in a more responsible way, the better off they will be and the better off the people of North Korea will be.

And that's where I hope all of us will come to that conclusion, and I'm very pleased at the response we've gotten from Australia on this matter, as well as from Japan, South Korea, China and Russia.

I draw your attention also to President Jiang Zemin's statement in Crawford on Friday where he made it clear the Chinese position is no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. And I'm sure that China will act on that principle.

MINISTER DOWNER: Well, in our case, we have some very limited links with North Korea. We have diplomatic relations now. We have provided quite a lot of financial support over the years to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization. We provide food aid through mainly the World Food Program and some technical assistance with agriculture as well for North Korea.

But I visited Pyongyang myself a couple of years ago, and it's perfectly clear to me that North Korea wants to try to benefit from international contact and to try to get a trading system going and to try to attract investment into Korea. As Secretary Powell says, they need to feed their people, which at the moment they're unable effectively to do. They need to create jobs and a lively economy. None of those things are happening in North Korea at the moment.

The point here, though, with the enrichment -- uranium enrichment capacity that they've admitted to, is that there will be no reward for bad behavior. They won't extract more out of us in order to address this problem of the uranium enrichment plan. If they want to advance their interests, if they want to generate jobs, if they want to have a greater capacity to feed their own people and develop their own economy, then they have to get back to the Agreed Framework, adhere to the parameters of the Agreed Framework, and they have to abandon uranium enrichment.

And so that's a message we've transmitted already to the North Koreans. As Secretary Powell says, with the United States, with South Korea, with Japan, we've all pretty much come to this one conclusion. I think that for the time being this is the way we'll be managing the issue.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you.

[End]

Released on October 29, 2002


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