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Powell & NATO's Lord Robertson After Their Meetinq

Remarks with NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson After Their Meeting

Secretary Colin L. Powell Washington, DC May 5, 2003

(1:30 p.m. EDT)

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's been my pleasure to again host Lord Robertson here. We've had a good conversation. I've had the opportunity to thank George for the work that he has done in preparing NATO to accept responsibilities in Afghanistan for the next ISAF deployment. I think this shows the valuable nature of this great alliance that we are a part of and that they are able to go out of area to an area that is far away from the traditional boundaries of the Alliance, but it shows that the Alliance recognizes that it has new kinds of responsibilities and is responding to new challenges and to new threats.

I am also pleased that NATO continues to consider a potential mission in Iraq and we'll be exploring that in greater detail in the days and weeks ahead.

George, it's a great pleasure to have you here. We'll keep this short and allow you to say a word, and then we'll take a question or two.

LORD ROBERTSON: Colin, it's nice to come to rainy Washington and talk to one of the key allies in this great Alliance. When we were here together in February, we said that we wanted NATO to play a role in Iraq, and as a result of the request of Germany, the Netherlands and Canada, the North Atlantic Council decided on the 16th of April that we would take over the operation of the International Security Assistance Force in Iraq, and, in doing so, change the whole of NATO's history and move forward to a position where we now deal with the real and serious problems of the 21st century as and where they exist. It's a heavy responsibility, but the new NATO, the new reengineered and transformed NATO, is up to the challenge and looking forward to further challenges in the future.

QUESTION: You meant to say Afghanistan, right? Not Iraq?

LORD ROBERTSON: I meant to say Afghanistan. I do apologize. I'll do the speech again, if you want. (Laughter.) Afghanistan.

QUESTION: A-f-g -- (laughter).

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there's a report this morning that the United States is prepared to acquiesce in North Korea's possession of reprocessing again and some spent nuclear fuel. Do you have any comment on that?

SECRETARY POWELL: I saw a press report that said that. We do not want to see North Korea have a nuclear capability. We believe it is also the opinion of all of North Korea's neighbors. North Korea entered into an agreement with South Korea in 1992 that they would not do that, an Agreed Framework agreement with us in 1994, and has made other commitments that they would not move in this direction. But they have moved in this direction.

And we will continue to work with our friends in the region -- Japan, South Korea, China, Russia, Australia and others -- to have a solid front in making it clear to North Korea that it would be in their best interest to remove and eliminate all programs and facilities that they have that would lead to the development of nuclear weapons.

At the same time, it is up to the North Koreans to make an informed judgment as to what they wish to do, and we will work with our friends and allies to make sure that whatever they might already have or might develop in the future is not something that would be exported to the rest of the world. It's a dangerous situation.

But this is the time for us to work with our friends and allies and try to impress upon North Korea that better opportunities await them, support awaits them from nations in the region, if they would simply begin acting in a more responsible way than they have in the past with respect to nuclear weapons programs, as well as proliferation activities and other activities of the regime such as the drug trafficking that they do, if you'll take note of the ship that the Australians stopped not too long ago. These kinds of behavior will not help the people of North Korea come out of the serious economic difficulties that they find themselves in.

And so we'll continue to pursue the President's policy of diplomacy on a multilateral basis, working with our friends in the region, as well as with the United Nations.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, on the United Nations, can you tell me how your effort is going in trying to get the sanctions lifted on Iraq? I think General Garner was saying that they are having trouble getting gasoline because of the sanctions.

SECRETARY POWELL: We are, of course, anxious to have the sanctions lifted. I am not sure that's the direct cause of the gasoline shortage in Iraq. But, certainly, General Garner is on the scene and knows better than I do.

But we are in close consultation with a number of our allies. We, I think, are making progress on specific language that we might want to see in a UN resolution, and our consultations will increase in intensity in the next several days, frankly, and over the next week or two, in order to get some agreement on the kind of resolution that we think would be successfully acted upon by the Security Council.

We are committed to lifting the sanctions and are anxious to see that happen as soon as -- as soon as we can.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I just returned from a short trip to Kashmir, and people are telling me there that they want to lead a normal, fear-free and without terrorism life. And what role the United States play in that?

And what do you think message Mr. Secretary, Deputy Secretary Armitage says he is going to India, what message he is carrying from the you and from the President?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, Deputy Secretary Armitage leaves this afternoon for a trip that will take him to both India and Pakistan. And over the last several days, I have spoken to Foreign Secretary Sinha of India, and I have spoken to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Jamali, as well as President Musharraf.

We are pleased that some of the developments that have taken place over the last ten days or so, with positive statements coming from both sides, with an intent to restore diplomatic relations, with the opening up of transit routes. And so this is a moment of opportunity where both sides seem to be reaching out, and Deputy Secretary Armitage will encourage this process of reaching out, and the United States will be ready to assist both sides as they move forward.

So I think we have seen this positive development, and we should appreciate this positive development and build on it. Certainly, all of the people in the region, Kashmiris and others, want to live a peaceful life, want the same thing that anyone else wants in life, and that's a safe, secure environment in which one can raise a family and look to a more promising future for your children. And we will work with both sides as they begin this new series of steps that we hope will lead to a more positive relationship between the two nations.

QUESTION: On Iraq, General Garner was talking about an interim administration, Iraqi administration, in the coming -- in the coming weeks, and he named about five or six potential leaders for this group. They're all exile leaders that the U.S. has been working with before, but he didn't seem to single out any Iraqis from within the country. And isn't this contrary to what you've been saying all along and the White House has been saying, that it's important for both Iraqis inside and outside the country to be part of an administration?

SECRETARY POWELL: The President's goal is to allow the Iraqi people to decide how they will be governed, and we would expect that in the process that is now underway, with the two meetings that have already been held under the supervision of General Garner and Ambassador Khalilzad and Ambassador Crocker, we are giving them that opportunity to decide how they will be governed.

We would expect that the government, when it is formed, and on the way to that government, the creation of an Iraqi interim authority, would draw on the experience and the dedication of those who have been outside, so-called exiles who have been outside and have been committed to the liberation of Iraq, as well as the experience and knowledge of those inside. And we think the best solution is a combination of those, from the outside and inside, but above all, a combination decided upon by the Iraqi people.

And I think General Garner was reflecting our desire to continue and accelerate these series of meetings so that in the not too distant future we will have developed a core of leaders that could be designated as an interim authority. And that continues to be the President's goal and General Garner's mission.

Thank you very much.

LORD ROBERTSON: Can I just make one --

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, please.

LORD ROBERTSON: Can I just clarify what I said earlier on, just in case my faux pas* stands on the record? NATO made a historic decision on the 16th of April to take on responsibility for the International Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and we did so at a time when many people said that we would never get consensus in NATO in anything after the debate on Iraq.

In relation to Iraq, the matter is being informally discussed, following the meeting we had last month with Secretary Powell. No decisions have been taken yet, but everyone recognizes that there is a challenge there for the whole international community.

Thank you for your indulgence as I correct what might have been a dangerous answer.

QUESTION: -- NATO role in Iraq? What is your envision of that?

LORD ROBERTSON: As I say, we're looking at it informally at the present moment. Things may become clearer in days to come -- a lot more clear than my first answer, anyway. (Laughter.)

Thank you. [End]

Released on May 5, 2003

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