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Powell Interview by RAI Television of Italy

Interview by RAI Television of Italy

Secretary Colin L. Powell Washington, DC January 29, 2003

QUESTION: If United Nation doesn't approve a new resolution and you will lead the coalition against Iraq, you will ask Italy to follow this coalition also without United Nations approval?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, right now, our goal is to achieve the disarmament of Saddam Hussein. We would much rather do it under the authority of the United Nations with a coalition that is responding to the United Nations resolution.

If we find it is necessary to use military force, a peaceful solution isn't possible, and we put together a coalition of the willing, we would, of course, welcome Italy to be a part of that coalition. But that is a judgment for Italy to make. And the facts will be there. Italy has been very supportive of the effort to disarm Saddam Hussein, and I am sure that Mr. Berlusconi and Mr. Bush will discuss this issue when he is here tomorrow.

QUESTION: This is the main question: What will be the role of Italy? Italy's a little concerned about a possible war. What will be the role in a possible conflict?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, this is not a question for an American to answer. If it is necessary for force to be used, either under a new UN resolution or under existing authority, and the United States leading a coalition of the willing, there will be many needs. There will be needs for transport. There will be needs for combat forces. There will be needs for organizations to go in after the conflict to help with the rebuilding. Italy brings a wide range of capabilities, but it would be up to the Italian Government to decide.

QUESTION: You see also the possibility of being on the battlefield, I remember 12 years ago, was very involved, Italy. You remember, we put --

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't want to speculate on what Italy might do. I think I must leave that in the hands of the Italian Government to make a judgment based on its own analysis and based on the views of the people of Italy, the Italian people.

QUESTION: Yeah, it's already happened for Afghanistan. We have, you know, mountain rangers.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.

QUESTION: Is the role of mountain --

SECRETARY POWELL: Italy has played an important role, an increasingly important role, on the world stage in participating in these kinds of operations. And my new colleague, Foreign Minister Frattini was here last week and we discussed this, and I was especially pleased at the contribution that Italy has now just made of the Alpine troops to the force in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: What about the concerning of Italy? What you feel to say to the public opinion?

SECRETARY POWELL: I want to say to all of our friends in Italy that I hope that you will look carefully at this matter with respect to Iraq. I hope that you will understand, as we believe we understand, that this is a danger, a danger to the world, for this kind of a regime and this kind of man, Saddam Hussein, to continue to develop weapons of mass destruction -- chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear weapons. These are weapons that kill people by the hundreds, by the thousands.

And it is not just a problem for America or a problem for the neighbors of Saddam Hussein. If these weapons get loose and get in the hands of terrorists, you might see one of these weapons show up in Italy as a terrorist weapon. And so it's a problem for all of us, and I hope Italy sees it that way and all Italians see it that way and will support our efforts in the United Nations, and, if it is necessary to use force, one way or the other, then Italy will play a responsible role in participating in a coalition of the willing.

QUESTION: What about the new -- how you say? -- the new evidence that you have and next week you will say to --

SECRETARY POWELL: It's information and intelligence material that we have had, and we will use that information and that intelligence to fill in the blanks that were created by Dr. Blix the other day when he said that the Iraqis are not yet disarming and are trying to keep information away from Dr. Blix and Dr. El Baradei. We will show how they try to do that kind of thing. And we will also put forward additional information that will substantiate the claim that they do have programs to develop chemical and biological weapons, as well as nuclear weapons.

QUESTION: Actually, Minister Secretary of Defense, Italian Defense, said United States will have the bases. What is logistically that you need from Italy in Italy?

SECRETARY POWELL: I would yield to my friends in the Pentagon to talk about specific basing issues, but we have always been pleased that in times of crisis Italy has made its transfer -- it transshipment bases, I might say, or, you know, air corridors and refueling facilities and other access agreements that we might need, Italy has always been forthcoming and I would expect Italy to be forthcoming again in the future.

QUESTION: And any way you can see also an imperative role of Italy in the possible conflict?

SECRETARY POWELL: I would hope that if a conflict comes Italy would recognize the seriousness of the conflict and would feel an obligation to participate in ridding the world of these evil weapons and this evil regime.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. [End]

Released on January 29, 2003


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