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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Holds Hearing on Colin Powell's Nomination to be Secretary of State

Aired January 17, 2001 - 4:17 p.m. ET


KRYA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now, another hearing taking place at this hour is the confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of Colin Powell. He's been warmly welcomed by Democrats and Republicans thus far. We are going to listen in for a moment during this hearing.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: ... have with the Russians over this. But the point I was making is that the framework that that treaty was designed for was a framework that really isn't relevant now. We are moving forward with the capacity to develop missile systems, missile defense systems, and the only way we can eventually move forward to that goal is to see the ABM Treaty modified or eliminated or changed in some rather fundamental way from the manner in which it has been implemented since it was signed in 1972.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: Well, I know you connected that, as you must, to any form of national missile defense and all of the other dynamics, our allies, which you spoke to rather clearly I thought this afternoon.

An area that didn't get much coverage I noticed your testimony this morning and not much here in the conversation we've had today is Central Asia: Turkey. As you know -- we talked a little bit about this -- I was in Kazakhstan last month for a tropical vacation...


... and that is an area that I think we need to spend a little bit more time focused on, Central Asia: geopolitically, strategically, energy. And as you know so well, that is really the southern buffer zone for the Russians from Islamic fundamentalism, which they are very concerned about.

One of the thoughts that I have had -- and I've discussed this with others in that area and the Russians -- is that that surely is a common denominator, self-interest issue that we have with the Russians, and with many of our Middle Eastern allies as well. Islamic fundamentalism is not good for most of those countries, and it's creeping, and it's dangerous, and it breeds more terrorism.

Would you talk a little bit about that and maybe link in the Turkish connection? POWELL: I couldn't agree with you more. I think Turkey has been one of our steadfast allies for so many years, and I'm very proud of the relationships that I've had with Turkish leaders over the years and the Turkish armed forces. And I hope to be able to use those relationships as I begin my stewardship as secretary of state. So I'm committed to a strong Turkey and a Turkey that is making a major contribution still in Europe.

And I hope that some of the problems that currently exist between Turkey and its other European partners with respect to how to integrate the EU and the non-EU contributors, NATO contributors, to the European Defense and Security Initiative can be worked out, and I think I can perhaps play a role in that.

But when you go from Turkey then to the east and to all of those other nations that you're talking about, you're getting into a bread basket of instability with great oil reserves, which will attract attention and attract those who wish to exploit wealth from that region. It is a region of great concern to the Russians, because it is their soft underbelly. And I think it maybe an area that we can talk to them and discuss with them how we can be helpful, but we will have to be cautious and careful so that they don't think we are tripping on what they consider, as you well know, their near abroad.

So I think we can begin delicate conversations that suggest we have a mutual interest in increasing stability in that region of the world, and making sure that we get the sensible solution to bringing out the wealth of that region for the benefit of the rest of the world and to provide wealth to those nation, who so desperately need it.

HAGEL: If I might, just one additional comment, Mr. Chairman. As you know, Mr. Secretary, the Clinton administration put in place an ambassador for that region, and I think the focus there has been somewhat hit and miss. But -- but Secretary Albright did understand, and I think President Clinton did, the importance of that, and I hope that you all would look look at reinvigorating that commitment.

Thank you.

POWELL: I well. I'm aware of her -- of the ambassador and the role being played by the ambassador in the region, and I will take a look at it as I realign the troops of the State Department.

SEN. JESSE HELMS (R-NC), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Gentlemen, our friend is about to lose his voice. So be as brief as you can, please. First...

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your patience, general, in trying to cover these last few areas here, and we're going to get it done here and get you on your way here.

A couple of quickies. Let me just mention again I don't -- I'm not interested in engaging in a discussion about it again. We talked about this: Northern Ireland. There's a great sense of optimism I think within both communities, both traditions in Northern Ireland over the Good Friday Accords and where we're heading with that. I'm not suggesting it needs any immediate attention specifically, except to the extent that I would hope that the new administration would see the value in trying to at least offer their good offices where appropriate to assist in achieving the goals contained in that -- in that historic accord and bringing an end to one of the long outstanding conflicts in Europe.

So we've talked about it again. I don't expect you.

POWELL: And I certainly agree with you. And I will...

BOND: I appreciate that. The -- again, I just want to mention briefly -- I know Senator Biden and Senator Helms have raised it -- and that is with regard to the department itself and the moves that you want to make in order to get this up to speed. I underscore the points.

PHILLIPS: Following a number of confirmation hearings for you. That of John Ashcroft, attorney general. Right here, you were watching the confirmation hearing for Secretary of State Colin Powell, the nominee. At issue there, they were talking about Northern Ireland. Also, missile defense systems and Central Asia.



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