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Powell Interview on Indonesia s Metro TV

Interview on Indonesia s Metro TV

Secretary Colin L. Powell Washington, DC April 10, 2003

QUESTION: And joining me live from Washington, D.C., now is U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. Good morning, Secretary Powell.

SECRETARY POWELL: Good evening, sir. How are you?

QUESTION: Fine, thank you very much. Now that the U.S. forces have entered Baghdad, could you elaborate what exactly the U.S. plans for post-war Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, now that we have entered Baghdad and the regime has essentially been brought to an end, we now want to provide an environment of security and stability for the Iraqi people and begin the flow of humanitarian aid, healthcare materials, clean water, and start to organize the Iraqi people so that they can put in place a new government.

The United States is fully committed to allowing the Iraqi people to come together and create a government that is democratic, that is responsive to the needs of all of its people, that will get rid of weapons of mass destruction, that will not support terrorist activity, that will no longer repress and torture its own people and will live in peace with its neighbors. That is our sole goal and we are committed to that goal and we are working with every element of Iraqi society.

You see our troops on the streets of Baghdad and other cities in Iraq now being welcomed by the people of Iraq. They now feel that they are free and they have been liberated. But the United States comes not to stay; we come to help them create a good government that will keep the country intact and not break up, and that all views will be represented in a government that is committed to peace, freedom, democracy and living in peace with its neighbors.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) some reported that 2,000 Iraqis died in the last 21 days. Is it worse to bring democracy in such a way?

SECRETARY POWELL: We don't know how many civilians were killed. We worked very hard to minimize civilian casualties, and you can see the use of precision weapons and you can see the care that our soldiers took in making sure that we did not go after civilian targets. We do regret, however, any loss of life.

But this loss of life is nothing compared to the loss of life that was caused by Saddam Hussein during his many years of dictatorial leadership. Stories are now coming from the Iraqi people, now that they can speak freely, about the torture chambers, about the jails, about the other means that Saddam Hussein used to suppress the people and to terrorize them. And nobody has caused more death to innocent civilians than Saddam Hussein did during the course of his regime.

But that regime is now ended. We will do everything we can to help rebuild the country, not rebuild it because of the damage that took place over the last three weeks, but because of the damage that was done over the last 25 years by a leader who used the wealth of Iraq, its oil, to purchase weapons of mass destruction and to invade his neighbors.

This time, the oil of Iraq, the wealth of Iraq, will be used by the Iraqi people to serve the Iraqi people. And for those individuals who were injured in the course of the last several weeks, we are bringing in medical facilities, we are bringing in the means to restore their hospital facilities and to take care of those who have been injured.

QUESTION: Do you think that democracy, in the Western sense, could work for Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: We believe that democracy, not in the U.S. sense, but democracy as a political ideology, is good for any nation that wishes to practice democracy. Indonesia is a democracy, the United States is a democracy, but we're not identical.

The people of Iraq will be given the opportunity to decide what kind of democracy they want, and we hope and we are confident that with our assistance and the assistance of the United Nations, the assistance of so many nations in the world that now want to help with the rebuilding, we hope that their form of democracy will respect the rights of all of the different people within Iraq -- Kurds, Shias, Sunnis, Christians, others -- and it will be a representative form of government that will be answerable to its people and not answerable to the barrel of a gun.

QUESTION: And back to the post-war reconstruction. Who will bear the funds for the reconstruction?

SECRETARY POWELL: The United States will contribute a great deal of money to this effort and we will help in many other ways besides money. And we have put out a call for other nations to step forward and the United Nations has put out a call for funds. A large amount of humanitarian supplies and equipment are already heading to ports where it can be moved into Iraq: tens upon tens of thousands of metric tons of wheat and grain, large quantities of water. We are also bringing in experts who can restore the water system and, frankly, make it better than it was just three weeks ago.

So there are a number of nations who will step forward. So far, 58 nations have indicated to us that they want to participate in the reconstruction effort. And we're working with Secretary General Kofi Annan to get the full resources of the United Nations involved and for the United Nations to play, as President Bush has said, a vital role in the rebuilding and reconstruction effort.

QUESTION: Pentagon has accused that Syria of providing safe haven to the Iraqi leaders. Do you have any information on the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, we have no information about the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein. We don't know if he is dead or if he is alive, but clearly he is no longer in control. He hasn't been seen in weeks and none of his other ministers are around today. So we believe that the regime's control has been broken. Where he is as an individual I don't know, but it really doesn't make any difference any more. The regime has been brought down and the Iraqi people are now facing a brighter future.

And the best example of that, frankly, are the faces that you see on your television set now of the Iraqi people cheering, celebrating, welcoming coalition forces. They realize that coalition forces have not come to oppress them, but have come to give them a chance for a better life.

QUESTION: Thank you, Secretary Powell. It's a pleasure talking to you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much. [End]

Released on April 10, 2003

ENDS

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