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Powell & Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini

Remarks with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini after their Meeting

Secretary Colin L. Powell C Street Entrance Washington, DC January 21, 2003

SECRETARY POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's been my great pleasure to welcome my new Italian colleague, Franco Frattini, for his first visit here to the State Department. And we have met previously, but this is the first hosted occasion, and I look forward to having a very strong and productive relationship with the Minister.

Over the past hour and a half, we have discussed a number of issues -- the strong state of US-Italian relations -- and that gave me the opportunity to thank him for all the support that Italy has been providing to the United States in the global war on terrorism, and especially to thank him for the contribution that Italy is making to our efforts in Afghanistan, not only helping to train a new judiciary, but a 1,000-man alpine unit is en route to Afghanistan to work with our forces.

As you might expect, we also discussed the other issues of the day. We talked about Iraq, North Korea, touched on Iran, touched on recent developments within Europe, the expansion of NATO and the expansion of the European Union, and a variety of other bilateral issues.

The Minister knows of the strong affection that exists in the United States for almost all things Italy, and especially driven by the very strong Italian American community that we have here in the United States.

And so, Franco, it's a great pleasure to welcome you here and I look forward to hosting you many more times in the future.

FOREIGN MINISTER FRATTINI: Thank you, Colin. Thank you to my friend and colleague, Colin. And I would like to say that we spoke about many things. We spoke about the international crisis and very many delicate issues.

I have confirmed Italy's desire to remain united and present in the international coalition in the fight against terrorism. Italy has agreed to participate by sending 1,000 alpine troops to Afghanistan, and it gives me great pleasure to know that Italian soldiers will fight side by side next to US soldiers. This is a sign of friendship, of solidarity, and of our participation against international terrorism efforts.

And it is clear that this confirms Italy's desire to participate within a US alliance and that this has an historical and moral value. This was expressed directly by the Italian Prime Minister to the Italian -- I'm sorry, the American President, Mr. Bush.

QUESTION: Mr. Minister, could we ask you if your support for the United States includes being in a coalition with the United States should it come to taking military action against Iraq?

And Mr. Secretary, if I can squeeze in a quick one, is it possible now that the United States might have to go without the Security Council's approval?

FOREIGN MINISTER FRATTINI: There is only one issue at stake, and that is that we will have to read the report that will be presented by the inspectors on January 27th. Only then, we will decide. I have said, and I will confirm again today, that Italy will support the United States in the unfortunate event of a war. And, obviously, this will be done within the UN framework. I do not know what the report says. We will have to see it and read it and then decide. And Italy will not pull back.

SECRETARY POWELL: I can just piggy-back on what the Minister said with respect to the second question. The next step in the process is to receive the report on the 27th, see what the inspectors say, and then we'll be in consultation with our colleagues in the Security Council and other friends around the world as to what the next steps should be.

The President made it very clear from the very beginning that Saddam Hussein must be disarmed one way or the other. If the international community is aligned, then I think it can be accomplished, hopefully peacefully. If not peacefully, then by force. One way or another, Saddam Hussein must be disarmed.

And we will not be distracted by games. We will not be distracted by suddenly finding a few missiles here or suggesting a level of cooperation tomorrow that didn't exist yesterday. It's time for him to come clean, stop playing games, and stop trying to deceive the international community. And you will hear us reinforce this point in the days ahead.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the Israeli Prime Minister has told The Washington Post that the Quartet is nothing and shouldn't be taken seriously. What do you think about that and whether you should go ahead with the roadmap?

SECRETARY POWELL: As I said yesterday in New York in response to a similar question, we believe that the Quartet is important, it does important work, each member of the Quartet makes an important contribution; and the roadmap is a result of a great deal of work done by the members of the Quartet and other parties, and in due course we will move forward with the roadmap and we think it's a way forward, and I hope all parties will agree with that in due course.

QUESTION: (In Italian.)

FOREIGN MINISTER FRATTINI: My position is that I haven't spoken directly to the French Minister. I had said that Italy is not part of the Security Council and Italy does not have the veto right. But Italy will be consulted. And my only answer therefore is that since we haven't read the report, it's premature to say. I cannot base my foreign policy on if's and but's.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much.

(The Secretary escorts the Minister to his car.)

QUESTION: An American was killed today. Do you have any reaction?

SECRETARY POWELL: I am saddened that an American life has been lost. And that's about all I have. I don't have any more details on it.

QUESTION: Sir, can you --

SECRETARY POWELL: I've got to get to a meeting. Sorry. [End]

Released on January 21, 2003

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