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Powell With UNSG Kofi Annan After Meeting In D.C.

Remarks With His Excellency Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations After Their Meeting

Secretary Colin L. Powell
C Street Entrance
Washington, DC
December 16, 2004

(9:50 a.m. EST)

Secretary Powell and His Excellency Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations speak to the press after their meeting. SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good morning, ladies and gentlemen. The Secretary General and I just had a very productive meeting, where we discussed some of the many challenges that we are dealing with in the world today. We had a good conversation on the situation in Darfur and the need for us to do more. I told the Secretary General I had spoken to Vice President Taha yesterday and will be in touch with additional Sudanese officials in the days ahead. We also talked about the dialogue taking place in Nairobi to solve the north-south issue, so-called Lake Naivasha talks.

The Secretary General and I also discussed the situation in Haiti and a number of other areas in the world where the UN is playing such a vital role and the United States is working alongside other nations under a UN mandate to bring peace and stability to these troubled places in the world.

We had a good conversation on election preparations in Iraq. As you know, the Iraqis themselves are responsible for the conduct of the election and the UN is certainly doing a good job in supporting them. The Secretary General has increased the number of UN personnel in the region and, as you heard yesterday, he has announced they'll be opening offices in due course in Basra and in Urbil. And he advised me that some 6,000 Iraqi personnel have been trained in the conduct of the election and over 130,000 have been identified to actually run the various polling stations. So the UN effort seems to be on track in support of the Iraqi effort. They have the principal responsibility.

It's always a pleasure to welcome the Secretary General. And I don't know if this will be our last formal meeting here before I depart, Mr. Secretary General, but welcome, pleasure.

SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN: Thank you very much. As the Secretary said, we've had a very good discussion this morning and let me say a word about Iraq, that apart from the support we are giving to the Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission, we also are looking ahead down the line beyond the work we are doing to ensure that the elections in January are successful. We are looking ahead next year. If the government wishes to work with them on the constitution, work with them on the referendum of the constitution and, of course, the next national elections, and so we have a whole agenda ahead of us and we are determined to work and help the Iraqi people succeed in this effort.

I would also want to say that we did discuss Afghanistan, where the UN, in that situation, the UN ran the elections, which were very successful. This was only the presidential elections. We are now beginning to look ahead to next year, next spring, for the parliamentary and municipal elections, where we are also going to work with our Afghan partners to ensure that we run fairly successful elections.

We also had the opportunity to talk about UN reform and the proposals put forward by the Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. I think it's an excellent report and it gives the membership an opportunity to bring the UN into the 21st century, and I hope the reform proposals in that report will be taken very, very seriously by members, and I look forward to U.S. leadership and cooperation as we try to reform the organization.

And this also gave me a chance to thank Secretary Powell for the excellent cooperation and the wonderful work he has done around the world, and we at the UN are going to miss him. We did work extremely well together. So thank you very much.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Kofi.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary --

SECRETARY POWELL: Excuse me a minute. Excuse me a minute.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you mentioned that the Iraq election program and the UN support for it is on track. Are you confident at this point that the United Nations is doing enough? And, if not, what specifically would you like to see done differently?

SECRETARY POWELL: The Secretary General reports that he is on track with respect to the planned efforts that the UN is making and is expecting to make in support of the Independent Election Commission. And so you may want to add a word to that, Kofi.

SECRETARY GENERARL ANNAN: No, I would want say a word about that. I think we are -- as I said, we are on track with technical preparation, and so what we had to do, we've done. Obviously, there are other aspects of the elections which the Iraqi Government will have to take care of, particularly the context in which the elections are held, security-political environment, and the efforts which we are helping them on to try and pull into the process those who are outside the process to make it as inclusive as possible. The more inclusive the process, the likelier that the results will not be contested.

So, from a technical point of view, we have done all that we need to do. We have enough people in there to do the work, and if need be, we'll put in the staff we need to get the work done. It's not a question of numbers. It's a question of what you need to get the job done. And are we doing the job? Yes, we are doing the job.


QUESTION: Has the Oil-for-Food program or the Oil-for-Food investigations been discussed today in your meetings?

SECRETARY POWELL: We did touch on it briefly in our meeting and we know there are a number of inquiries underway. Mr. Volcker is doing his work and there are inquiries taking place up on Capitol Hill here and we're waiting for the results of those inquiries. The Secretary General and I noted that we're both deeply concerned about this matter and we want to get the truth out and we want to see these investigations come to a conclusion so responsibility and accountability can be assigned. And the world wants to see the results of these investigations as soon as possible, as well.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, have you had a chance to see the new bin Laden audiotape? Do you know if it's --


QUESTION: -- actually him?

As you've probably heard, he praises the attack in Jeddah. I'm wondering if you're concerned this could lead to more attacks in Saudi Arabia?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have not heard the tape and I know that our intelligence community is analyzing it to see whether it actually is bin Laden; it appears to be. But I will wait for the results of that analysis.


QUESTION: Could I just follow on to that? Is he, is bin Laden taunting the U.S. and Saudi Arabia with these tapes? I mean, what's the purpose here do you think?

SECRETARY POWELL: He's a terrorist. That's what terrorists do. He is a criminal; he's a terrorist; he's a murderer. And we're going to continue to hunt for him until he is captured and brought to justice. But let's wait and see the authenticity of this tape and give our intelligence communities time to really examine it and make sure it is bin Laden; it appears to be.

But what he's trying to do is to incite. And he is on the run and he will be brought to justice eventually, I'm confident.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary --

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, one more and then we have to go.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I just want to ask Mr. Annan if he feels disappointed that he did not meet with the President or his deputy to talk about your side of the story of the Oil-for-Food program and whether you feel snubbed, as some reports said, by the President?

SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN: No, not at all. I don't feel snubbed. I will be seeing the National Security Advisor and we have lots of technical issues to discuss. And the President and I have met on many occasions, and we also do talk on the phone. And so I don't feel that if I come to Washington and we don't get the chance to meet I should feel offended or snubbed. This is the nature of things.

QUESTION: And your comments on the Oil-for-Food, sir?

SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN: I think the Oil-for-Food is something that I am concerned about and would want to get to the bottom of it. And I am anxious to see the investigations concluded as quickly as possible so that we can get -- put it behind us and focus on the essential work of the United Nations.

QUESTION: Are you disturbed by continuing accusations against your son?

SECRETARY POWELL: As I noted earlier, we are doing a lot of work together with the United Nations. We want to support the United Nations, support the Secretary General in his work. And as we noted earlier, we have confidence in the Secretary General. We want to get to the bottom of these matters as quickly as we can, and that is in our mutual interest to do so.

Thank you.

QUESTION: One on UN reforms?

SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, on the UN report -- the UN Reform report?

SECRETARY POWELL: It's cold out here.


# # #


Released on December 16, 2004

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