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Press Availibility With Secretary Powell

Press Availibility With Secretary Powell

Secretary Colin L. Powell
HIV/AIDS Information Booth
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
December 1, 2004

(1:45 p.m. p.m. EST)

SECRETARY POWELL: (Inaudible) World AIDS Day, I am pleased to have the opportunity to visit some of the wonderful facilities that are here in Haiti and see some of the terrific work that is being done that we have been supporting to deal with the problem of HIV/AIDS in Haiti. It is a serious problem here. The United State contributed 20 million dollars in 2004 and next year we will be putting in 40 million dollars. This is addition to our other development assistance programs.

On this day, we note throughout the world the importance of the world coming together to deal with the problem of HIV/AIDS -- through the education and training of our young people, through investment in the development of vaccines and looking for that eventual cure, the purchase and distribution of anti retroviral drugs, and we understand the challenge that HIV/AIDS presents to the world. We have seen what it has done in parts of Africa. It is spreading to other parts of the world. Nobody is immune, no society is immune. It is important for us to educate our young.

It is important for us to make sure that those who are stricken with the virus are not be seen as anything but someone who has an illness that has to be treated, has to be dealt with, not to be stigmatized in any way, but to be treated as a fellow human being.

So I am pleased that on this World AIDS Day I am able to visit a facility of this type and to know that we have had something to do with creating such facilities and we are doing it around the world. The President has made this a major priority of his administration. We started out by supporting the global health fund with Secretary General Annan and then of course the President's emergency fund, which puts a total of 15 billion dollars overall into our HIV/ AIDS effort.

Thank you very much for allowing me to say these few words on this very important and critical subject.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) has apparently changed his mind is now intending to run for leadership of the Palestinian (inaudible). Do you encourage or discourage his candidacy and what are the prospects of peace (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well I have not seen once and for all what his position might be. And I think we'll just have to wait and see what is his final decision on this matter. Of course, he is in Israeli custody for crimes he was found guilty of, which makes it somewhat problematic for his candidacy. But until I've seen -- actually of course, this is the first I've heard of this change -- I don't have any other comment to make.

QUESTION: How would you describe the mood or atmosphere of your meetings today with the interim government and the political leaders?

SECRETARY POWELL: The meetings and the atmosphere were good. But there is concern. We have got to get the security situation under control. They are hard at work on that. And I will be meeting with the UN commanders here and the UN representative here, the secretary general, in just a few moments time. And then we've got to get about a political dialogue -- national reconciliation. That's why I focused in my press conference earlier today, on the national dialogue that Secretary General Annan and the government will be initiating in January.

All these different points of view, all these strongly held feelings, in different groups and parties throughout Haiti, can't just keep going off on their own and wanting only their way. They have to find ways to compromise with each other and you do that as part of a national dialogue and that's why that is so important.

The only outcome that will satisfy the international community and the United States, is an outcome next year based on a free, fair election -- where everybody is allowed to participate -- that is not fraudulent, not stolen. And we will not accept any outcome that is fraudulent or stolen or any outcome that rests on the use of force in any way.

The security, I think, will get better as the UN force increases its size and capability in the weeks ahead. And we have to disarm all of these individuals throughout the country who are using violence, using guns, to intimidate people, to threaten people, and to keep the Haitian people from achieving a better future for themselves.

The meetings were good. Much progress has been made since the beginning of March, but there is a lot more that has to be done and the major single focus of our efforts has to be security.

QUESTION: You were here almost 10 years ago. I remember you came to review the U.S. troops who were here on Operation Restore Democracy. That was 10 years ago and the people the U.S. helped restore are now no longer in power and are accusing the U.S. of somehow overthrowing him. How does that feel to you personally and as a statesman?

SECRETARY POWELL: I am deeply saddened by the fact that the opportunity that was given to Mr. Aristide 10 years ago was wasted. It was unfortunate that it was wasted. But now the Haitian people have a new opportunity.

They have an interim government that does not seek permanent political power and really wants to get the country to a free, fair election. They've got the international community that has dedicated a great deal of money to the reconstruction of Haiti, to helping the Haitian people. You've got the UN presence here and you've got a UN force here.

So Haiti is once again being given an opportunity. And the challenge is for Haitians to take advantage of this opportunity by having this national dialogue, by coming together, by speaking out against violence, and by working with the UN, building up the Haitian national police force -- so that they can get these forces of darkness, these forces of the past, theses forces who go out into the street, these chimeres, to deal with them and let them know they cannot prevail, because nobody will recognize any government in Haiti that is not based on a free, fair, open election -- the kind that is being planned for next November.

Thank you. 2004/1342 [End]

Released on December 8, 2004

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