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Colin L. Powell On Release of Japanese Hostages

Interview on Tokyo Broadcasting System International with Shigenori Kanehira

Secretary Colin L. Powell Washington, DC April 15, 2004

MR. KANEHIRA: Thank you so much, Secretary. We just received the good news from Baghdad that three Japanese civilian hostages have been released in Baghdad.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.

MR. KANEHIRA: What is your reaction?

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm very pleased. I was very worried about the Japanese hostages and I'm so pleased that they have been released and they are safe.

MR. KANEHIRA: However, the group that took the four Italian hostages, they are taking as four Italian hostages. I'm sorry. However, that group that took four Italian captives claimed that it killed one of the hostages because Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi rejected its demands that he withdraw Italian troops.

It seems to me that both Prime Minister Koizumi and Berlusconi reacted in the same way. What do you think of the different outcome -- the reason for different outcome?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I don't know. We don't know who these criminals are who are holding hostages, and we regret that one of the four Italian hostages was killed.

The important point here is that both Prime Minister Koizumi and Prime Minister Berlusconi realize you can't give in to terror, you can't allow yourself to be put at the mercy of terrorists.

We regret any hostage situation. Nobody wants to imagine what it would be like for a member of their family to be taken hostage, and we will do everything we can to rescue these people.

But you must not give in to the hostage-taker. You must not say, "Oh, it's okay, we will now do what you want." Because they will just place new demands on you.

The civilized world must stand against this kind of activity, and I am pleased that Prime Minister Koizumi, Prime Minister Berlusconi, President Bush, President Blair and other leaders have the courage to stand up against this kind of threat from terrorists.

MR. KANEHIRA: In the history of the modern nation, it is said every government has an obligation to protect their own citizens. Some people in Japan are saying that those who are kidnapped are willing to take risk and they were expected to assume the responsibility for their own act. What is your comment?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, everybody should understand the risk they are taking by going into dangerous areas. But if nobody was willing to take a risk, then we would never move forward. We would never move our world forward.

And so I'm pleased that these Japanese citizens were willing to put themselves at risk for a greater good, for a better purpose. And the Japanese people should be very proud that they have citizens like this willing to do that, and very proud of the soldiers that you are sending to Iraq that they are willing to take that risk.

But even when, because of that risk, they get captured, it doesn't mean we can say, "Well, you took the risk. It's your fault." No, we still have an obligation to do everything we can to recover them safely and we have an obligation to be deeply concerned about them. They are our friends. They are our neighbors. They are our fellow citizens.

MR. KANEHIRA: According to the latest information, Usama bin Laden sent an audiotape with the intention to divide the coalition of European countries with current security situation increasingly unstable. What are the implications for the United States?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, he is exactly what we have told the world he is -- a terrorist -- and we have to reject any demands that come from him. You can't negotiate with Usama bin Laden. He is a terrorist. He is a murderer. And he must be seen as that and he must be brought to justice.

And I hope that, because of this tape today, the world will once again see him for what he is and come together even more strongly than we have in the past in this common fight against terrorism.

MR. KANEHIRA: The last question. I read through your biography, My American Journey. It's very impressed. And your government scoffed at the comparison between Iraq and Vietnam that have been made. However, increasingly, the American media is making a comparison and the American public are more and more seeing the similarities.

And even if it is a false comparison, as the Administration argues, what is the danger of this perception perpetuating in reality if a complete exit strategy is not soon discovered?

SECRETARY POWELL: We do have a strategy. And what makes Iraq different from Vietnam or any other conflict is that it's Iraq, not Vietnam; it's Iraq, not Lebanon. It's Iraq.

And we have a clear strategy of what we're trying to achieve in Iraq. The first goal we had was to remove a regime, an evil regime, a dictator. He's gone. We did that. We accomplished it. So there's no confusion about our mission there, and we accomplished that mission.

The next mission was to build a democracy, to put in place a functioning democracy in Iraq that its people could be proud of, and a country that would live in peace with its neighbors. We are working on that objective now. And we have put in a great deal of money. We have put in a large number of soldiers. We have brought in the UN. We have brought in many nations to help us.

And so we are going to achieve that goal, too. We have not lost sight of our goal. We know what our objective is and we are applying the resources to that objective. And we will be successful.

MR. KANEHIRA: Thank you so much.

2004/409

[End]

Released on April 15, 2004

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