World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Powell Press Briefing En Route To Puerto Rico

Press Briefing En Route San Juan, Puerto Rico

Secretary Colin L. Powell
On Board Plane
June 8, 2003

SECRETARY POWELL: I want to thank you for joining the party on a Sunday afternoon, and on our way to Santiago, Chile for the annual General Assembly of the Organization of American States.

Chile was host back in 1991 and the centerpiece of that OAS meeting dealt with, or the Summit meeting at that time, I should say, dealt with democratic governance. Not OAS meeting, but Summit meeting. So they re hoping to sort of recapture the spirit of that democratic governance meeting at this OAS General Assembly being held in Santiago.

You can see that the theme of tomorrow s meetings, which I ll be attending but also a continuation of what they re doing there today, would be on keeping up the momentum to a democratically forms democratic governments and the integrity of the democratic process. So I look forward to meeting with my colleagues as well as holding a number of bilateral meetings.

After all the time and attention that we ve spent on Iraq and the Middle East and elsewhere, looking forward to once again turning our diplomatic attention to our own hemisphere. That s why I was particularly anxious to attend this General Assembly meeting. So I d be delighted to answer questions about meetings coming up, what we re doing in Argentina on Tuesday, or any other issues that might be on your mind.

QUESTION: A lot of the major countries down there, certainly Argentina, Chile, Mexico strongly oppose the US involvement in Iraq. Do you see some lasting scars from that difference?

SECRETARY POWELL: Wounds heal, sometimes they leave scars, sometimes they don t. I don t see any lasting scars here. We ve got strong relations with Chile and Mexico, the two of immediate interest because they re the ones who had problems with the second resolution. With respect to Chile, people thought that it would affect future relations, but as you know, we signed the Free Trade Agreement with Chile on Friday in Miami. Ambassador Zoellick and my colleague Foreign Minister Alvear. I m sure we ll talk about it, we were disappointed in the Chilean position, but we re moving on now and we re anxious to talk about the future and not the past and I don t see any lasting consequences of their position.

Similarly with Mexico, my colleague Foreign Secretary Derbez had a conflict so he won t be there tomorrow, he s in Europe. But I ve been in constant touch with him, and even though once again here we were disappointed in the Mexican position over the second resolution, we re moving on now to see what we can all do together to help the Iraqi people.

QUESTION: Cuba, obviously, Cuba is moving in quite a different direction. What do you plan to say about Cuba, either publicly or privately, to your colleagues there?

SECRETARY POWELL: In my intervention tomorrow, I will talk about Cuba rather directly. I ll point out once again that 34 of the 35 nations of our hemisphere are moving in the right direction, at different rates and with occasional setbacks, but Castro s Cuba remains the anachronism of the hemisphere, and it s not getting better. Their human rights behavior has deteriorated in recent years, especially in recent months. The OAS has noted this. The European Union within the last 24 hours has announced restrictions on travel of European Union officials to Cuba, so I think the rest of the world is now starting to take note of Castro s increasingly poor human rights behavior. We will not shrink from pointing this out at the intervention tomorrow.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. A few months ago, there was a report sorry (crosstalk). There was a report a few months ago, I don t know what became of it, that in Iquique which is up near the border with Peru, there had been a discovery of Pakistani passports by Chilean police, I don t know if you know anything about this, and a possible link to Al Qaida terrorists within Chile. Does that mean anything to you? Have you heard this?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, you ve just dipped your bucket into my well of ignorance, so we ll try to get you we ll try to see if we can run the story down for you, but I don t have that one in immediate recall.

QUESTION: What are you going to say to President Kirchner about Argentina on Tuesday when you see him during your short stop? In Argentina, about relations with the Argentines. What do you expect from Argentina?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well listen, I think that other than Secretary Martinez, who represented the United States at the inauguration, I m the first senior official of the foreign policy community from the United States visiting with President Kirchner, and I really want to listen to him as he tells me about his plans, his aspirations, what he hopes to do in his administration. I will certainly convey to him the President s good wishes. He and the President have spoken on the phone already. I expect that we will set a date for a visit for President Kirchner to come to the United States at some point in the not too distant future, although we don t have a date yet. I ll tell him that it is our intention to have good relations with Argentina, and there have been some economic difficulties in the past which we hope these new policies will allow Argentina to get on top of these difficulties. The United States stands ready to help. And so I think that this is really just sort of an exchange of views, and opportunity to meet a new President and a new Foreign Minister while I was in the region, but I m not pressing a particular agenda. Diplomatic garden-tending, as we say.

QUESTION: There are two questions, Mr. Secretary two questions. Could you tell us about your bilaterals, number one? Number two, a few months ago, when you were speaking before a BET-sponsored event, the Black Entertainment Television Network appearance in February, you were asked about Chile in 73 and you said this is a period of which we are not particularly proud, in terms of US activities. Could you tell us what you meant? Did you mean possible involvement in the 73 coup against Allende? What particularly did you mean?

SECRETARY POWELL: Richard will give you this list of bilaterals. In addition, all of the Ministers will meet with President Lagos tomorrow.

The statement I made at BET that evening was just a reflection that it was not a pretty period in history, but I don t want to get into any further details, I don t have anything to add to that statement. I ll leave it at that. The statement stands as uttered on BET.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you mentioned the EU and their move regarding Cuba. Obviously the EU has a lot of leverage over Cuba. Are there plans for the US and the EU to do anything together in addition regarding the treatment of dissidents?

SECRETARY POWELL: I haven t spoken to the EU presidency, either Minister Papandreou or with Javier Solana about specific plans, but in light of what they said, and the fact that we do have a US-EU meeting coming up before the end of the month, it s an area that I ll probably pursue with Minister Papandreou and Solana, now that they have taken these actions.

QUESTION: The President asked you to make the Middle East peace process, the roadmap, your highest priority. What steps specifically will you be taking to follow through on that?

SECRETARY POWELL: The President asked for Dr. Rice and I to place this at the top of our agenda because he s placed it at the top of his agenda. Got that. I ve just gotten off the phone with Ambassador Burns, Assistant Secretary Burns. In light of the events overnight and in the area, we re immediately, we re already in touch with Abu Mazen, with the Israeli side, making sure that we don t allow this kind of terrorist activity to achieve the terrorist purpose, which is derail our efforts toward the roadmap. It is this kind of hands-on direct involvement that you ll see even more of in the weeks and months ahead. Senior Director Elliot Abrams and Assistant Secretary Burns are working together today in Washington to make sure that everything stays on track, and over the next several days Mr. Burns, Ambassador Burns, and Mr. Abrams will be working with Ambassador Wolf in putting together the coordination group that the President announced in Aqaba. I expect Ambassador Wolf to go over toward the end of the week to begin setting that team up. So it is that kind of hands-on involvement.

As you know, the week after I guess it s the end of next week, I ll be back in the area in Jordan, in Amman, at the world economic conference, the Davos conference, and I m sure that will give me an opportunity to meet with a number of officials in the region and may also be an opportunity to meet with some of my Quartet members, colleagues. So it will be just much more intense involvement and engagement. We are all now committed to the roadmap. There was a great deal of debate about the roadmap, but what you see now is the whole Administration, the Bush Administration, lined up to support the roadmap. Foreign Minister Sharon accepts it. The Palestinian side accepts it. The Arab leaders accepted it when we all met in Sharm el-Sheikh and started to give, are giving their support to it. We expect more out of the Arab nations as we move forward. So you ll see that kind of coordinated, coherent and dedicated involvement from the Administration, from the Arabs, from the Quartet members, to make the roadmap work and not let us get derailed by acts of terror that are intended to derail. We can t let them win.

QUESTION: Could you tell us a little bit about what Ambassador Wolf and his team are supposed to physically be doing there?

SECRETARY POWELL: There will be a number of parts to the team. There will be a security component which will include intelligence people, police experts, others who can help the Palestinian Authority rebuild their police institutions and their security institutions. There will be an economic dimension to it so we can see what assistance we can provide to the Palestinian authorities as they try to rebuild their economy. In due course, we will probably have a political element to it as the discussions go to the next level of engagement on the roadmap. We re prepared to expand the group as demand increases for their work. The first thing I want to see them do, though, is to get in place and serve as a bridge between the two sides to facilitate discussions on security, police activities, openings, monitoring Israeli performance with respect to the outposts. All of the things that the two sides said to each other last week that they would do, or that we expect them to do. I think that we can play a coordinating and monitoring, a coordinating and monitoring role between the two sides. That s what John [Ambassador Wolf] is going to be doing. John is particularly gifted at this kind of complex coordination. As you know, he s a 33-year career foreign service officer. In recent months, he s the one that was handling the UNMOVIC work for me in New York at the UN.

QUESTION: Yeah, a couple of questions on that. Is there any possibility that you might go to Jerusalem during your Amman trip? And secondly, you talk about economic aid to the Palestinian Authority. Are there any legislative restrictions on that? Are you proposing to give the economic assistance directly to the Palestinian Authority? Are there any legislative restrictions on that? And secondly, as a matter of principle, how are you going, how do you propose to get around this problem of violence, and then the Israelis say, we can t do anything until the violence stops, and you can t stop the violence, again and again?

SECRETARY POWELL: Four questions, I ll try to remember them in order. I haven t made any plans to go yet to go anywhere besides Amman, but there is always that possibility. There is some flexibility in the schedule at that point. With respect to assistance we provide, it wasn t so much just assistance we and others might provide, but seeing if we can do things to get the Palestinian economy started, and not just as a deliverer of aid. With respect to resources going into the Palestinian Authority, especially money coming back from the Israeli-held revenues or other revenue coming in from the European Union, we re increasingly confident in Minister Fayyad s ability to control monies made available to the Palestinian Authority in a way that can be seen as accountable, transparent, and so the Palestinian people can see that their money is being handled properly and not being wasted in any way.

We re also pleased that the Arab leaders, when they met with the President in Sharm el-Sheikh and in their statement, said that they would be ensuring that the resources that they provided for the Palestinian Authority would be going into the right channels, to Mr. Fayyad, and they would no longer be allowing any revenue to be going to any organizations that are supporting terrorist activity in any manner. A very powerful statement came out of the Arab statement at Sharm el-Sheikh. Did I leave something out? What was the fourth one?

QUESTION: The general principle of how you propose .

SECRETARY POWELL: The general principle is that we have to persuade both sides that we, both sides know this already. We know that in the presence of continued terrorist acts of violence, it s going to be hard to go down the road to the roadmap. And so the Palestinians have to do everything they can to bring it up to control, and we have to help build up their capacity to do so. But I m impressed by Prime Minister Abbas clear statements renouncing the armed intifada, renouncing terror and violence, not because the Israelis or the Americans want him to do it, but because he understands that it doesn t take the Palestinian people where they want to go, and that s toward a Palestinian State. And now we ve got to help him develop that capacity. Minister Dahlan, who is in charge of security, has made it clear that as he develops the capacity to act, he will act against these kinds of terrorist organizations, and we also know that Israel will continue to do whatever it feels it has to do in order to defend itself against these kinds of terrorist attacks. But what I hope we have achieved as a result of Sharm el-Sheikh and Aqaba is an understanding that even in the presence of violence, we must not abandon our efforts to move forward, to try to execute the steps of the roadmap.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. How concerned are you about Hamas decision not to engage in negotiations with the new Prime Minister.

SECRETARY POWELL: Did you all hear that? How concerned I was about Hamas stopping its discussions with the Palestinian Authority. I am concerned. I am concerned that Hamas still doesn t get it, that their activities will increasingly be seen by the world, by the international community, as not allowing us to move forward toward peace, toward a Palestinian State. That s the message we have been giving consistently to not only the parties right in the region, but to Syria, and to Iran, and it s a message I m asking all of our other colleagues in the EU and elsewhere to communicate, and so I am concerned that Hamas did break off the discussions and I hope that they can be persuaded to reengage with Prime Minister Abbas so that they can be seen as someone who is committed to peace and not just committed to acts of terror which will not bring peace and will not bring a Palestinian State into being.

QUESTION: In your television appearance this morning when you were asked if the Administration would cooperate with inquiries into the weapons of mass destruction intelligence question, you said absolutely, that you thought that would happen. Dr. Rice said that she thought the CIA was very busy and occupied with other matters that were urgent at the moment. What do you think would be the best way to proceed for the Congress and the American public in terms of answering some of the questions that have been raised?

SECRETARY POWELL: You know, we re all busy. CIA is busy with many things but I also know that, I think Director Tenet was scheduled to testify this past week, I don t know if he did or did not. But we ll find ways to provide information to the Congress if the Congress asks for it. I believe that the committees of the Congress that are already in existence, the select committees on intelligence, my oversight committees and the Pentagon s oversight committees and the intelligence community s oversight committees are more than adequate to the task of looking into this. As requests for information are made, we ll provide them. But I don t know that there is any need for new committees to be created. It seems to be that the committees that are there now have been following this all along. They have had information provided to them all along. Director Tenet has testified up there repeatedly, Deputy Director John McLaughlin has testified repeatedly, Mr. Armitage has been up there, others have been up there. So I think that we have been providing a lot of information to Congress and are prepared to provide more.

QUESTION: Since nobody else has asked about Iran, the IAEA report about Iran is coming out on Tuesday, we ve seen a little bit of what it s going to say. What s your next diplomatic move in Iran, and can you give us some sense of the principals meetings you have been having over the last couple of weeks on this question and what the outcome has been, if any?

SECRETARY POWELL: You probably know more about the IAEA report on Tuesday than I do. We re looking forward to reviewing it and then see what steps are appropriate, but I can t tell you right now until I do see the report. The question really is before the IAEA, what steps do they feel will be appropriate for Iran to take after the report is issued? Principals meetings, I don t normally report on principals meetings, but I ll just summarize it to say that our policy with respect to Iran, despite all the speculation and breathless reporting, has not changed.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. [End]

Released on June 9, 2003

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


North Korea: NZ Denounces Missile Test

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has denounced North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test. The test, which took place this morning, is North Korea’s third test flight of an inter-continental ballistic missile. More>>


Gordon Campbell: Zimbabwe - Meet The New Bosses

At 75, Mnangagwa is not exactly what you’d call a new broom. As many observers have pointed out, his track record has been one of unswerving dedication to Mugabe ever since the days of anti-colonial insurgency... To these guys, things had to change in Zimbabwe, so that things could remain the same. More>>


  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC