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Powell Remarks After Group on Strategic Issues

Remarks After Participation in the Consultative Group on Strategic Issues Meeting

Secretary Colin L. Powell C Street Entrance Washington, DC September 20, 2002

(1:20 p.m. EDT)

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We have just finished a very productive meeting of a new group that was created in Moscow at the time of the Moscow summit by President Putin and President Bush, the Consultative Group on Strategic Issues. And we'll be meeting once a year with a number of working groups supporting us. The two Ministers of Defense from the United States and Russia, and of course the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs from the United States and Russia.

We all know each other and have met many times before, so this, I think, was a particularly productive session for us. The two Ministers also had a chance to meet with President Bush earlier this morning and exchange views on a number of issues, and President Bush and President Putin had a phone call earlier this morning to set the stage for our meetings.

In our meetings today, we talked about a variety of regional issues, the situation in Iraq, the situation in Georgia, in Afghanistan and a number of other areas. We also expressed our pleasure at the manner in which we have dealt with strategic forces issues, the ABM Treaty and missile defense over the past year. We both noted that both in the United States Senate and in the Russian Duma there is good progress on the ratification of the Treaty of Moscow and both sides are confident that the Treaty will be ratified, hopefully before the end of the year.

We talked about proliferation issues. We also talked about non-strategic nuclear issues, outer space, and a full range of items that structure our relationship.

All of us, all four of us, as well as President Putin and President Bush, and I think I can speak for them, are very pleased at the way in which US-Russian relations have developed over the past almost 22 months now of this administration. We have worked our way through some difficult issues where we had major disagreements, but we did not let those disagreements stop us from moving forward because we recognized it was important for the two nations to move forward on the basis of friendship, and not on the basis of the enmity of the past.

And so it is my great pleasure, and I know it is Secretary Rumsfeld's great pleasure, to have had the Ministers Ivanov with us here today, Sergey and Igor, it's been a pleasure to have you both and we hope you enjoy the rest of your stay here and we look forward to the next meeting.

Thank you all very much.

(The Secretary escorts the Ministers to their car.)

QUESTION: You talked about areas of disagreement. Is there -- you referred to friendship, but also disagreement over the last 22 months?

SECRETARY POWELL: This particular reference I was talking about the ABM Treaty. We still disagreed, but we went forward.

QUESTION: Yes, but is there a disagreement on a resolution? Is there still a disagreement on a resolution?

SECRETARY POWELL: As you heard the Minister say earlier over at the White House, we are in conversation about how to bring Iraq into compliance with its obligations concerning the UN resolutions of the past 11 or 12 years. Our Ambassadors in New York are talking to one another, I've had good conversations with Foreign Minister Ivanov last night and again today, and we are going to try to move forward together.

We didn't get into the specifics of the resolutions that are being considered. We recommitted ourselves to finding a way forward that would bring Iraq into compliance, and I think they're open to hear our arguments and we're open to hear their arguments. And so the split that has been much spoken about earlier this week I don't think is quite the split that people have portrayed.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, would you care to comment on the apparently proposed plan by the administration for preemptive action as a new policy for the administration?

SECRETARY POWELL: Preemption has always been part of any national security strategy that I'm familiar with, and as National Security Advisor some 15 years ago, I was responsible for the first document. And I think the way you will see it portrayed in the National Security Strategy -- I don't know if you've read it yet -- it suggests that it has always been an option for the President.

What we see now, however, in light of so many non-state actors who are not containable on the scene in the form of terrorists, I would think that the doctrine of preemption, or the idea of preemption, should rise a little higher, because when we see something coming at us we should take action to stop it.

And so I think it has always been part of the toolkit available to a President, but I think it's a little more important now, a little more visible, and rises in significance with respect to the tools available to us. And I think it's put in the proper context in the National Security Strategy.

Thank you. Have a good weekend.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Russian guests provided you proofs of connection between Georgian leadership and terrorists. Do they look convincing for you?

SECRETARY POWELL: They provided us some information that we will be examining, and until we have made that examination I don't think it would be appropriate for me to comment yet.

Thank you.

[End]

Released on September 20, 2002

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