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Colin Powell - U.S. Foreign Policy after the UNGA

Remarks at the Foreign Press Center on U.S. Foreign Policy after the UNGA

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington Foreign Press Center
Washington, DC
October 2, 2003
2003/999

(11:00 a.m. EDT)

MR. DENIG: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center. A special welcome to journalists assembled in the New York Press Center as well.

It is a delight, a privilege and an honor to welcome back to our podium, Secretary of State Colin Powell, especially so soon after a very busy week with the UN General Assembly. The Secretary will have brief opening remarks, and then will be very glad to take your questions.

Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Paul. It's a great pleasure to be back at the Foreign Press Center. I will keep my remarks brief so that I can get to your questions. I don't have a great deal of time this morning, but I did want to stop and spend a few moments with you.

We had a very busy week in New York last week at the General Assembly proceedings. The President had an opportunity to meet with a number of foreign heads of state and government and a large number of foreign ministers, as well. I met with over 100 foreign ministers in the course of the five days I was up there.

The major item of discussion among a number of items of discussion, of course, was the situation in Iraq. We had an opportunity to describe the progress that has been made, but also to lay out the challenges that are ahead -- the challenges with respect to security, and the challenges with respect to generating the necessary funds to help the Iraqi people rebuild their country, a country that will rest on hope and democracy, and not on that evil regime which is no longer there and is not coming back.

We also had a chance to share with our colleagues in New York progress that has been made with respect to the formation of the Governing Council, with respect to the creation of cabinet ministries. The infrastructure is starting to come back up. As of this morning, for example, the power situation is over 4,000 megawatts -- higher than it was under the last days of the Saddam Hussein regime -- and will continue to go up.

Schools are open. You've seen pictures of that. USAID informed me this morning that one and a half million individual school kits will be issued to children over the next few days as we get ready for full opening of schools; and a great deal of additional work is being done with respect to the educational system -- all part of training a new generation of Iraqis to be leaders and to be responsible members of a civil society that is free and open and democratic.

We talked about the resolution, as you might expect, and yesterday evening Ambassador Negroponte presented the draft resolution to the Perm-5 members, permanent representatives, and this morning he will be doing it with the elected ten; and I've had a number of conversations with my foreign minister colleagues over the last 24 hours to tell them what our approach is in the resolution.

And the approach, simply, is to make it clear in the language of the resolution that the United States is anxious to return full authority to the Iraqi people as quickly as is possible, but at the same time, recognizing that much work has to be done before one can do that. Ministries have to come up, institutions have to be in place, a constitution has to be in place; otherwise, what are you resting the nation on, to whom are you giving authority, and with what authority will they act, unless it's the authority contained in a constitution, and unless the people in charge of executing that constitution have the legitimacy of an election based on that constitution?

This takes time. As much as we would all like to see it happen tomorrow, it will take time. And we will take the time necessary to make sure that the Iraqi people, when they do assume full control of their country again, do it in a way that will make sure that the country is stable, living in peace with its neighbors, is democratic, and will be a pride to the people of Iraq.

I will be in touch with my foreign minister colleagues over the next several days to get their reactions to the resolution. The resolution also talks about a role for the UN Secretary General and his special representative, broader than the current role. Once again, it invites the Governing Council to submit its program and timetable for assuming additional responsibility in the weeks and months ahead, until we get through the process of a constitution and elections.

It seems to us that the Iraqi Governing Council is the appropriate institution to determine what the programs should be, working with the Coalition Provisional Authority, Ambassador Bremer, and in cooperation with the Secretary General's special representative. They are in the best position to tell us what that program should look like, what the timetable should be.

We are anxious to see it move quickly. As you know, we would be very desirous to seeing if they could get a constitution written six months after they start the work. We'll see whether they're able to do that or not, but we have to have some times out there, some phase lines out there, as we say in the military, to encourage prompt action so that we can get down this road as quickly as we can.

I hope that once we receive the comments back from the various members of the Security Council, we can take this to action in the very near future. That is dependent upon the comments that we receive back and what adjustments, if any, would be required in the draft resolution.

I'll stop right there in the interest of time and go to your questions.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I'm Mike Ignatiou, from MEGA TV, Greece. I don't have a question on Iraq, I have a question on Cyprus, and Aegean interests. You met recently with foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey. Can you tell us if you discussed this problem with the two foreign ministers, sir?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, I discussed it with the foreign ministers. I told them that we believe that the plan put forward by Secretary General Kofi Annan is a good basis for discussions, and we hope that both parties will continue to see the Annan plan in that light. And if either side has changes that they'd like to submit with respect to that plan, let it be part of the discussion between the two sides in the implementation of the plan, and let's not go back to ground zero and try to rewrite the plan.

But I encouraged both sides to do everything they can to keep the process of reconciliation moving forward, and to try to do it as quickly as possible, because certain actions will take place within the EU in the middle of 2004, which if we don't have progress or success by then, it will make progress and success more difficult after the middle of 2004.

QUESTION: Samir Nadir, Radio Sawa. Mr. Secretary, you said the electricity is getting better than during the Saddam regime. What other improvements taking place in the reconstruction efforts, and what do you expect to achieve in the donors conference in Madrid?

SECRETARY POWELL: In a number of places we see improvement -- schools opening, hospitals functioning, reaching the point where in the next few months the Oil for Food Program will be phased out and a substitute program will be in place. We are seeing improvements in sanitation, in sewage. We have put into our supplemental request to the Congress funds for improving the telecommunications system. We expect the cellular system to be coming back online in the near future as contracts are issued.

We are doing, I think, a lot better with respect to security of the pipeline, although there is a great deal of smuggling still going on. But we are going after the smugglers, as you have seen in press reporting.

So in all of the aspects of civil life, and in all of the aspects of rebuilding the infrastructure that one would look at, whether it's roads, electricity, water, sewage, schools, hospitals -- all the things that make people more satisfied with their life, those are all coming up.

But the security situation is the area that requires considerably more work. And that's why now you will see us expedite the training of Iraqi policemen, and the raising of an Iraqi national army so that Iraqis can become increasingly responsible for their own security.

At the donors conference, we will -- we are in touch with all of our friends and allies now encouraging everyone to make as large a contribution as they can. The World Bank will be giving its estimate out. We have asked for $20 billion on top of the monies we have already spent.

I wouldn't expect that the international community could match that number, but we hope they will do the best they can. And we'll be in very close touch with our colleagues in the international community over the next several weeks. The resolution, of course, I think, will help in that.

QUESTION: Thank you so much. Welcome back, Secretary.

SECRETARY POWELL: It's good to be back.

QUESTION: My name is Ota, Japanese Wire, Kyodo News. My question is on North Korean issue.

Yesterday, we had very bad news from North Korea. Foreign Ministry spokesman said we finished the reprocessing of the spent fuel rod -- 8,000 -- and also they made a switchover. That means that they're going to use this plutonium for making nuclear weapons.

And also, two days ago, UN delegation with North Korea sounded very reluctant to participate in the next round of talk with six-party. What is your message to Kim Jong-Il, Mr. Kim Jong-Il, right now?

Thank you so much.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, first of all, I would say that this is the third time they have told us they'd just finished reprocessing the rods. We have no evidence to confirm that, and so they say, once again, they have reprocessed the rods and they say, once again, that they are going to go forward with their program.

I believe that this is a matter of the most serious concern for the international community, and I think North Korea's neighbors should also be delivering a message to Kim Jong-Il that the solution to the problem is for them to stop moving in this direction, continue to participate in the diplomacy that is underway. The United States is reviewing the results of the six-party meeting that we held in Beijing not too long ago, and we are examining ways, in cooperation with our colleagues in the area, to provide the kinds of security assurances that might help to move the process further along.

But the North Koreans go out of their way to make these statements from time to time. And we will continue to pursue diplomacy and not react to each and every one of their statements, which seems to be a repeat of the previous statement.

QUESTION: Michael Backfisch, German Business Daily Handelsblatt.

Mr. Secretary, according to the draft for the new UN resolution, the role of the United Nations should be "strengthened," which opens the way for theological discussions what that might be. Why don't you put the United Nations in the driver's seat of the political process? You would get the money, you would get the troops, and the President would have one problem less in the array of problems he has right now?

SECRETARY POWELL: The UN, to my knowledge, has not asked to be put in the driver's seat, even though people have suggested this role for it. But the UN has many things it can do, and it will certainly be in the car as we go down the road. We want the Iraqis to be in the driver's seat, with respect to recreating the ministries of government, with respect to how they will write their own constitution, how they will hold their own elections, how their ministers will start to interact with their own people.

We have to have Ambassador Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority still the governing authority in charge, because we undertook that responsibility and obligation as a result of this conflict. But the UN has a very major role to play, a vital role to play, and I think the resolution lays that out and gives a role, an important role, to the UN and to the Secretary General's special representative.

The UN is having difficulty right now because of the security increasing their presence and to some extent they have drawn down their presence. And so I think this is something of a red herring to say, "Why don't you just solve all of the problems in the world by finding someone in the UN Secretary General's Office that you can just hand this to?"

But the assets needed to do this, the military assets needed to reestablish security, the funds needed to put in place the infrastructure that has been destroyed by Saddam Hussein over these many, many years, I think still, appropriately, should be handled by the Coalition Provisional Authority, and responsibility and authority slowly given to the institutions of government that the Iraqis put in place as these institutions come into place and demonstrate their ability to receive the funds and accept the responsibility.

This isn't an effort on our part to hang on for as long as we can. We want to move this process along as quickly as possible. But I think it's a bit naïve to suggest that any time in the next couple of weeks or months, you can simply say, "Here are 25 people. They seem to be getting along. Let's give them responsibility for the country."

They don't have the ability to exercise responsibility or authority over the whole country yet. And I think we have to do it in a careful, responsible way in order to make sure that we do not leave a failed state behind; that we leave a vibrant, thriving state; and that will take time, it will take a great deal of money, and it will take the continued presence of an organized authority, such as the Coalition Provisional Authority, with the military, economic, civilian and other assets that the Coalition Provisional Authority has access to.

QUESTION: Jesus Esquivel, from the Mexican magazine, Proceso. Mr. Secretary, a few days ago, you and your spokesperson made a call to the Ambassador of Mexico to United Nations to be in a better -- more positive way. My question to you --

SECRETARY POWELL: When? Two weeks ago?

QUESTION: A few days ago, you made the statement, in an interview with Mexican television. And my question to you is: Do you see a difference between, Mr. Secretary, Luis Ernesto Derbez position on the Iraqi situation and another position on the Ambassador of Mexico to the United Nations? Can you be more specific what are you requesting from the ambassador?

SECRETARY POWELL: I work with the Foreign Secretary, Luis Derbez. We stay in close touch with one another. I called him yesterday -- yesterday, I think it was, yesterday afternoon, and advised him that we would be providing him with a copy of the new draft resolution. And I asked that he carefully review the draft resolution. And I hope that he will find that we have incorporated many of the suggestions that have been made by our Security Council colleagues, and I hoped that once he had looked at it, and studied it, and consulted with his colleagues, and with his permanent representative, the ambassador in New York, he would be able to support it. And he is the one that I deal with. Ambassador Negroponte deals, of course, with his Mexican permanent representative colleague in New York. But I deal directly with Mr. Derbez.

QUESTION: Aziz Fahmy, MBC Middle East Broadcasting Center.

Mr. Secretary, how the new resolution will differ from the old one, particularly vis-à-vis how you envision the role of the multinational force? And do you think they will have a task of stabilizing force, or only peacekeeping force?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think they're probably one and the same. But we view the multinational force as having the imprimatur of the United Nations and not just a U.S. only force, or U.S., UK and coalition partners. But it still has to be a force under a single authority to be an effective force, and that single authority must be in the presence of a U.S. commander, since we have the bulk of the force there, and the only one with the competence to and ability to command such a force.

But I think it would be involved in both the stabilization and peacekeeping activities, to the extent there's much difference between the two right now. Once we stabilize an area and get rid of the threat in that area, then hopefully the peacekeeping activities can be rapidly passed off to Iraqi police or Iraqi authorities, the paramilitary units that are being created as well as the police force, and in due course, a national army.

One of Ambassador Bremer's top priorities right now is to train up a police force, and, on the part of General Abizaid, to train up a national army in order to get this into the hands of the Iraqi people and Iraqi security forces as quickly as we can.

QUESTION: Parsuraman with the Press Trust of India.

Sir, I want to ask you whether the United States regards the India's war against terrorism as part of the global war. The reason I'm asking is that every time when asked about India or Pakistan, the mantra here is dialogue, but the Prime Minister of India has made it very clear, as Israel has done in a different context, that there can be no talks or dialogue as long as terrorism continues, cross-border terrorism continues, which Pakistan is either unable or unwilling to stop.

SECRETARY POWELL: We have condemned cross-border terrorism, and it's a matter of discussion with our Indian and Pakistani colleagues at every opportunity. And the President discussed it with both Prime Minister Vajpayee and with President Musharraf. We, at the same time, recognize that, as we are committed to defeating terrorism, there are still opportunities for dialogue.

And when you think of how far we have come in the past year with respect to the challenges we were facing in the subcontinent when, 14 months ago, we were worried about a major war breaking out that might turn nuclear, and now we have seen the exchange of high commissioners, there have been other steps that have been taken.

And so even as we fight terrorism of the kind manifested by cross-border activity, there is still room, I believe, between the -- for the two parties to engage in dialogue and find ways to go forward. And that was the message we provided to both parties.

QUESTION: Umit Eginsoy with Turkey's NTV Television.

Mr. Secretary, you met with the Turkish Foreign Minister in New York last week and he asked you to take a concrete step against the PKK in northern Iraq, according to Turkish officials. What is your position on that?

And in a related way, are you hopeful that Turkish troops would contribute to the multinational stability force in Iraq?

Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: On the second point, we hope that the Turkish Government, the Turkish parliament will find it appropriate to provide forces to the multinational force, and that's a judgment that they will have to make. We have provided information to the Turkish Government as to where such forces might be useful.

There are a number of very tricky issues that we have to work out, and I appreciate the forthcoming attitude shown by the Turkish Government on this subject.

With respect to PKK-KADEK, we consider them to be terrorist organizations and we have assured the Turkish Government that we see them no other way, and we will do everything we can to make sure that that terrorist threat is dealt with and does not continue to harm innocent Turkish citizens. But we're still working on how to go about that in the most effective way.

You'll have to forgive me, but this is going to be a short one today. I promise next one will be longer.

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

QUESTION: Anything about the wall?

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Your position on the loan guarantees?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, the issue is the fence, and the Israeli cabinet made some decisions recently. The President continues to believe that the fence presents a problem, and to the extent that the fence intrudes on Palestinian land, that problem is exacerbated.

We also have concerns about continuing settlement activity on the part of the Israelis, and we are examining the loan guarantee program to determine what we should do about it and how it should be reflected in the actions we might take, either with respect to settlements or the fence. But those discussions and deliberations are underway.

MR. DENIG: Mr. Secretary, thank you.
[End]


Released on October 2, 2003

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