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Powell Discusses North Korea, Iran, War on Terror


Powell Discusses North Korea, Iran, War on Terrorism

Interview by regional news syndicates August 1

Any substantive discussion of North Korea's nuclear weapons program must be "a negotiation among six parties who have equities," Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an interview with U.S. regional news syndicates August 1.

"What North Korea has been doing is in direct contravention to understandings and agreements they have with some of their neighbors," Powell said. "And therefore, North Korea has to explain and answer to China, South Korea, Japan, Russia, the United States the nature of their policies and everybody has an equity."

He continued, "I think it is quite appropriate, in fact, I think it is essential that all of the parties be involved" in any talks with North Korea."

Powell said that U.S. policy "is to work diplomatically with our partners and the North Koreans to find a diplomatic political solution to the problem."

He also cited the positive role played by the Chinese in moving the negotiations forward. "They are using their influence in a very effective and positive way -- it was through Chinese efforts that we got to the trilateral step, and through Chinese efforts that we are at this next step."

Regarding Iran, Powell said the United States is concerned about that country's nuclear energy program and is "particularly engaged with the Russians on their support of the projects such as we share.

"We want to see whether or not Iran is so committed to creating an indigenous fuel cycle that they don't need outside help after a while," Powell said. "And we believe that the international community is more and more coming to the conclusion that we have to do everything possible to persuade the Iranians one way or another that this is not the direction in which they should be moving." Powell stressed that seeking nuclear weapons will not "do much" for the Iranian people, and that such activities are "destabilizing to the region." He added that "benefits await the Iranian people at some point in the future if they abandon this kind of activity of trying to develop weapons of mass destruction and they foreswear support of terrorist activities."

The Secretary said that the global war on terrorism is "alive" and "active," citing international efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq -- "and what we're doing with friends around the world either through intelligence activity, law enforcement activity, military activity."

Powell added that the United States has been strong "on the 'demand side' of the global war against terrorism by improving the way in which we watch our airports, and the way in which we have knowledge of those who are coming to our country, the visa changes we have made, the INS [U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service] work that's underway, the investment that's been made in the Department of Homeland Security and the work that [Homeland Security secretary] Ridge has been doing."

In response to a question on Saudi Arabia's contributions to the war on terrorism, Powell said that the U.S. relationship with that country is a good one.

"They gave us support during the Iraq war through use of facilities and whatnot. They have become much more aggressive in the global war on terrorism," he said. "They are a major oil producer in that part of the world, and they make sure that there is a steady supply of petroleum that we need. We pressed them to change some things they have done in the past with respect to how charitable contributions have previously ... been funneled to certain religious organizations that are teaching more than religion. And they have been responsive to our concerns."

Powell said that the United States and Saudi Arabia are working together on a broad range of other issues as well.

"We had a number of child-custody cases that a difference of approach and policy would resolve a number of them. There are many more yet to be resolved and we're working with the Saudis in a cooperative manner," he said. "They were very helpful in the Sharm el Sheik summit as we got the roadmap underway. And so I think we have a good relationship with the Saudis. They are doing more for us and ... when they are disagreements or policies that we think they need to take another look at, we engage with them as friends of 50 years."

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