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Powell And UN Secretary General Kofi Annan

Remarks with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan After Their Meeting

Secretary Colin L. Powell C Street Entrance Washington, DC June 11, 2003

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. It's always a great pleasure to have the Secretary General Kofi Annan in the building and we had a good conversation over lunch talking about a range of issues. The issue, of course, this morning that was uppermost in our mind was a terrible tragedy that befell innocent citizens on a bus in Jerusalem this morning. Of course, we condemn this action but we recognize that as we proceed down the roadmap, as we try to make progress, there would be those who will do everything they can to stop progress from being made. There are those who do not wish to see the Palestinian people achieve a state living side by side in peace with Israel.

And this is the time for us to remain steadfast, to continue moving down the path that was laid out at Aqaba last week by the leaders who were assembled, and it is the time for the entire world to once again come together to condemn this type of violence and to call upon all nations and all parties to condemn these wanton acts of terrorism which take innocent lives.

And I know I speak for the Secretary General when I say that we extend our condolences to the families of those whose lives were lost today in this attack and we once again are committed to moving forward along the path laid out at Aqaba.

Mr. Secretary General.

SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN: Thank you very much. As the Secretary of State said, we had a very fruitful discussion. We covered lots of grounds.

But on the Middle East issue, let me also offer my sympathy and condolence to the families who lost their loved ones and those who are now in the hospital. But I think it is important that the leaders stay their course. What happened this morning is utterly reprehensible, but it should not deter the leaders from moving ahead.

Obviously, we should deal very firmly with all these terrorist attacks, but the only path to peace is the roadmap, the promise of Aqaba. We all were very hopeful after the meetings of Aqaba and the statements the leaders made with the strong support of the President. We thought finally we were going to move forward, and I hope the leaders will not be deterred by these violent acts.

I would also indicate -- want to say that we did talk about Iraq, the developments in Iraq, the UN operations in Congo and the multinational force which has landed in Bunia to help calm the situation. We talked about the situation in Liberia and other issues of common concern.

We should take your questions now.

SECRETARY POWELL: We particularly focused -- if I may, we particularly focused on Burma, if I may, on Myanmar and condemned the continued detention of Aung San Suu Kyi.

And in a parallel way, I would like to point out that in Zimbabwe we see a similar situation where opposition leaders trying to express their dissent to the government are being detained and who are putting at considerable risk of personal injury as a result of that detention and we condemn these kinds of activities.

Barry.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, on another subject. Hans Blix says he's the victim or the target of smear campaign. Do you care to say anything about this?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, no smear campaign that I'm aware of. I have high regard for Dr. Blix. I worked very closely with Dr. Blix over the last eight or nine months. I know that the President had confidence in him as well.

And what we're doing now is looking forward, not looking backwards.

QUESTION: Well, can we also ask the Secretary General whether he believes there was a smear campaign or pressure on the inspectors?

And Mr. Secretary, could you comment on Senator Biden saying today that he believes that there were people in the administration, in the cabinet, not yourself, who hyped the available intelligence in order to push toward war sooner than the UN was prepared to push toward war?

SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN: Let me say that Blix is a very professional person and a very honest person. He did a very good job and he had universal respect for his professionalism and his efforts. I'm sorry to see him leave at the end of the year. He is a very good public servant and I am sure he's going to remain engaged, and we haven't heard the last of him. As to the smear campaign, I can't really get into it except to say that I have seen some articles in the press, which I have considered unfair, given the work that he has done.

On the question of the quality of the intelligence or it's been hyped, obviously, material intelligence was given to the inspectors who used it in Iraq. We know the result. It didn't get very much. I don't think I want to go beyond that.

SECRETARY POWELL: I didn't -- I didn't hear Senator Biden's comments this morning. But the President asked me to make the definitive statement on the view of the United States with respect to weapons of mass destruction, and I did that before the Security Council on the 5th of February. We stand by that statement and we are continuing our work in Iraq with the exploitation of documents, with the interrogation of individuals who may have knowledge of these weapons of mass destruction programs, and with onsite inquiries as well, and more experts are going in. And I think one should be careful about making judgments as to what was hyped or not hyped until the exploitation is finished. Thank you.

MR. ANNAN: Thank you very much.

# # #

[End]

Released on June 11, 2003

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