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Powell Interview on CBC Television With Henry Cham

Interview on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Television With Henry Champ

Secretary Colin L. Powell Washington, DC April 25, 2003

(10:45 a.m. EDT)

MR. CHAMP: On any number of occasions, Mr. Secretary, you have given reassuring statements about this current tense relationship between Canada and the United States, but I can tell you that Canadian officials, Canadian politicians and a good deal of the Canadian people believe that there is going to be some consequence for their stand at the United Nations prior to the war. They see a canceled presidential trip. They see some vague responses to their requests about participation in Iraq. What are the reassurances you can give now to the Canadian people about this relationship?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, the first reassurance is I think self-evident. The United States and Canada have been great neighbors and friends for so many years. We have been through so many experiences together, war together, peace together, the NATO alliance, one of the greatest bilateral relations on the face of the earth, our unguarded borders, the trade that goes across our border. I could go on and on, the number of people who go back and forth. That's the real strength of the relationship between the United States and Canada.

Sure, we can have disagreements and issues come along that might make an outside observer say, oh, heavens, something has been fractured, but there's no fracture in this relationship and there will be no consequences for Canada.

But, obviously, we were disappointed that we didn't get the kind of support that we had hoped for from Canada at the time of the UN deliberations. That's now behind us. We are all now unifying again, throughout NATO, throughout the United Nations, and with anybody who wants to play a part we're all unifying again to help the Iraqi people. Saddam Hussein is gone. That issue has been dealt with. The regime is gone. And now we are rebuilding a country, giving people hope. We had a report this morning from General Garner, who is in charge of our reconstruction effort there, about the people in the north who are happy to be free of this dictator and are cheering Baghdad's coming back to life. The Shias in the south are suddenly realizing they can practice their faith. So Canada can play a role in this rehabilitation/reconstruction effort.

MR. CHAMP: But you know the relationship issue between Canada and the United States is not just solely between Canada and the United States. At the beginning of the week, Vicente Fox in Mexico was talking about exactly about the same things, that there's disappointment being registered by Washington towards his government. Chilean diplomats talk about the possibility of sidetracking their free trade agreement because they, too, took a stand in the Security Council.

What is the future of relationships between the United States and some of their neighbors when the disagreements appear to be genuine and real from some of your neighbors?

SECRETARY POWELL: Our neighbors are sovereign democracies who can determine what their positions should be. Obviously, we are going to press our case and hope you will join us in common cause on a particular issue. But with respect to Canada, with respect to Mexico, with respect to Chile, these are close friends of ours -- all three -- and we will work our way through with this. We are not plotting in the basement of the State Department or the Pentagon or the White House or anywhere else how to get even with these three friends.

Were we disappointed? Yes. Was there a tenseness as a result of that disappointment? Yes. Will we get over it? Sure, we will. The Chilean Foreign Minister will be here to see me on Monday, and I am sure she and I will have a great conversation.

MR. CHAMP: Mr. Secretary, there's been some suggestion that there's a bit of vagueness at the moment in terms of what Canada's contribution can be to reconstruction and humanitarian aid in Iraq. What thoughts do you have for Canada?

SECRETARY POWELL: Canada has such skill in this kind of effort and such experience with respect to peacekeeping operations and with respect to helping people in need around the world. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have a great deal of expertise that might be useful as we go forward with the reconstruction of Iraq. So it is up to Canada to decide what contribution they would wish to make or what participation they are interested in, and we and the other members of the coalition are looking forward to discussing this in greater detail with our Canadian colleagues. It's a bit of a moving picture right now. The war is not yet completely over. Stability operations are just really getting underway. We're just starting the political process. We're just assessing what our needs are and we're just now beginning to engage once again with the UN to determine what role the UN should play. They played an important role yesterday when we had a unanimous vote of an extension of the resolution that gives Kofi Annan the authority to sign contracts under the Oil-for-Food program.

MR. CHAMP: But no question the Americans will have the prime role in terms of the future for Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, let's be candid. It was a coalition of the willing with the United States and the United Kingdom in the lead, and Australia and other nations involved, that took on this task in the face of direct political opposition from a number of nations around the world, and, frankly, from Canada. And so we paid the political price, the price in blood and the price in treasure to bring about what I think is a historic result, and the Iraqi people believe it's a historic result, and so I think we have some equity, some standing at the head of the class, so to speak, to make sure that this goes in the right direction so that our investment pays off, pays off not with a military victory but it pays off with a political victory, and that political victory is a new Iraqi government that is firmly based on democratic principles and will be proud to join the family of nations of the region and of the world.

MR. CHAMP: Moving ahead to the roadmap on peace, another direct followed result from the war in Iraq, the issues of the Palestinians and the Israelis, you've taken some pretty significant steps on the key issue, at least for the Israelis, the security issue. You've warned Syria. You've warned Iran not to mess about in Lebanon, to stop their support for terrorism. What else can you do to assure Israel that their security will be in place?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I hope that with the appointment of a new leader in the Palestinian Authority, a Prime Minister, Mr. Abu Mazen, and I hope he will be speedily confirmed with a vote of confidence by the Palestinian legislature next week, that gives us somebody who is not a failed leader like Arafat, somebody who we can work with, somebody that will have authority, somebody who has stood down Arafat and got his cabinet the way he wanted it. And I hope that Mr. Abu Mazen understands that his first task must be to make sure that violence comes to an end and terrorism comes to an end.

With that as a beginning and with the roadmap as the way forward, I believe both sides can now take steps, take reciprocal steps and gain confidence with each other, and begin to trust one another and move down a path to peace.

MR. CHAMP: And you are --

SECRETARY POWELL: And we are talking to the Syrians and the Iranians and others who have played in this grand game over the years that this is the time to stop playing, to stop supporting terrorist activities, and allow Israel and the Palestinians, with the help of the United States and other members of the Quartet, to move forward down a path of peace that will result in the creation of a Palestinian state, which is what the Palestinian people want -- a state where they can raise their families and achieve their own hopes and dreams, living side by side with the state of Israel.

MR. CHAMP: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POWELL: You're welcome. [End]

Released on April 25, 2003

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