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Powell Interview on Brazilian TV Globo


Interview on Brazilian TV Globo

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

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, let me start by asking you your assessment this morning of the situation in Iraq.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think coalition forces are doing a marvelous job. Baghdad is, for the most part, now liberated. But there are a number of other places in Baghdad that -- in Iraq that have not yet been secured. So the campaign continues. This is not over yet. We shouldn't start over-congratulating ourselves. There is a lot more work that has to be done.

But I must say, yesterday was an historic day as we saw the people of Baghdad cheer and welcome coalition forces come into the city. They are free of the dictator who has been suppressing them, terrorizing them and killing them for all these years, wasting their treasure on weapons of mass destruction and threatening neighbors.

Now we are beginning to look not only to finish the campaign but to look beyond the campaign to bring humanitarian aid into the people of Iraq, to begin the rebuilding process, not rebuilding from this three-week or so war, but rebuilding from two-plus decades of destructive activity, of devastation wrought on Iraq by Saddam Hussein.

We also are anxious to see that the international community play an important role in that rebuilding effort. The United Nations has a vital role to play.

And most importantly, we believe we have a responsibility now to help the people of Iraq form a government that is representative of all the people and that is committed to keeping the country intact and putting in place a democratic system decided upon by the Iraqi people that will provide a better life for its people and will live in peace with its neighbors. So there is a lot of work to be done, not just for the coalition but for the entire international community.

QUESTION: You spoke recently with the Brazilian Foreign Minister, and he told you that Brazil would help in the reconstruction of Iraq, if it was not a military -- under a military umbrella. Now, will Brazil help if you have your way and have the international community and the UN involved, or will Brazil not help if the Pentagon has its way?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I have to -- it's up to Brazil to make its judgment, but you're suggesting an incorrect choice. The Pentagon and the State Department are linked together on this. There is only one policy, and that policy is that initially the military has to be in charge because we have now defeated the regime that was there, and so we have responsibility, the military commander, to secure the country and stabilize the country.

But we all know that the UN has a vital role to play and we will be going to the UN to determine what that role is and to get UN endorsement for the new interim Iraqi authority. There is no disagreement between the Pentagon and the State Department, because that is the President's policy and that is the policy we will be following.

And in my conversation with the Foreign Minister, I made it clear that we would welcome any contribution that Brazil wishes to make, and Brazil will have an opportunity to see how the UN role is structured as we move forward.

QUESTION: Are you able now to support an altering of the permanent membership of the Security Council of the UN?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think it's a subject that comes up frequently, but we have not had any conversations recently about changing the permanent membership from its historic membership of the five countries from the post-World War II period. And so whether that's going to happen anytime in the near future is still a question that hasn't been dealt with.

There have been many suggestions over the years that the membership of the UN, the permanent membership of the UN, should be changed to reflect more contemporary -- a more contemporary situation than the situation that existed at the end of World War II. But so far, those have just been conversations, ideas; no real movement in that direction yet.

QUESTION: Brazil is a candidate, a declared candidate. Would Brazil be able to count on your support for its candidacy?

SECRETARY POWELL: Oh, I could not possibly answer that question now until we see what -- if it was open for changing membership, who other candidates might be. But I think certainly, in terms of its size, in terms of its importance, in terms of the role that it plays not only in our hemisphere but on the international stage, Brazil is a very important country that, if we were going to open up membership, if the UN decided to do that, it is certainly a country that would have to be looked at very carefully for that purpose.

QUESTION: What is, in your opinion, the role of Brazil in the hemisphere?

SECRETARY POWELL: Brazil is, by virtue of its size, by virtue of its economy, it is a major economic player in our hemisphere and it is also an example to other nations in the hemisphere of a democratic system. We are working very closely with President Lula. He and President Bush have already established a good relationship.

We are watching with great interest as he works on improving the economy of Brazil and we are moved by his commitment to improving life for all Brazilians, and especially his commitment to doing something about making sure that every Brazilian has a decent meal and that you fix the agricultural sector and you also fix the investment climate so that you can get greater investment in Brazil, which of course will help the economy and ultimately achieve the purpose that the President has, and that is for every Brazilian to believe that he or she has a bright future and a future that includes a good education, a good home, quality healthcare, and a meal on the table, as President Lula is fond of saying.

QUESTION: Finally, Mr. Secretary, I need to ask you what will be the international repercussion if, by chance, the United States do not find weapons of mass destruction and if the number of civilian killed in Iraq is massive?

SECRETARY POWELL: I am confident we will find weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt in my mind that this regime had such weapons. We have the evidence. For the first several weeks of this campaign, the troops have not been looking for weapons of mass destruction; they've been dealing with the military forces of Iraq. Now that they are slowly being defeated, we can turn our attention to looking for these systems which we know have been well hidden and concealed over time. So I don't think that that will be an issue or a problem.

QUESTION: Deaths of civilians?

SECRETARY POWELL: There have been civilian deaths, but I think our record is very, very clear here, and it's a good record. We have done everything we can to minimize loss of innocent life or to destroy property. We have gone after military targets. We have gone after command and control targets. We have gone after leadership targets. People see on their television lots of explosions in Baghdad, but the next day you find the people of Baghdad walking around, going to markets, going to schools, because they've learned that the U.S. is very selectively going after targets.

Nevertheless, accidents do happen, people do get injured and killed, and we regret any loss of life. And we will take care of those who have been injured and we regret the loss of life of those who died.

But at the same time, let's remember that under Saddam Hussein a hundred times more Iraqis were sent to their death, and not as a result of an accident of war, but as a result of a deliberate policy of a dictator who tortured them, who put them in prison, who allowed rape to be committed indiscriminately.

And so if there is concern about deaths among the people of Iraq, or children who lost their lives because they weren't being adequately fed over these past years, the fault really rests with Saddam Hussein and the nature of his regime and the way in which he terrorized the people of Iraq. Those days are over. The people of Iraq welcomed the coalition forces yesterday. The campaign isn't over. There is still more fighting to be done, more cities to be liberated.

But yesterday in Baghdad, the whole world saw what the Iraqi people, what the people of Baghdad thought about Saddam Hussein and his regime when they pulled down that statue with the help of a couple of American servicemen who pulled up with their tracked vehicle. They didn't need any guards. They didn't need any infantry battalions to protect them. The people of Baghdad protected those young Americans as those young Americans helped them pull down that statute.

And with the coming down of that statue, we saw the coming down of a terrorizing regime and we saw the opportunity for a new government to be created that will be representative of its people and live in peace with its neighbors and use the wealth of Iraq, its oil, to benefit the people of Iraq.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

[End]

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