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Special Event

Powell Discusses Reviving Mideast Peace Process

Aired February 24, 2001 - 11:09 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Secretary of State Colin Powell is in Egypt. We're going to go live now to Cairo to check in on his first overseas diplomatic mission and listen in as he gives his first news conference.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

AMRE MOUSSA, FOREIGN MINISTER OF EGYPT: ...orders following the serious developments and decision, we welcome the Secretary of State as we welcome the role of the United States as the main sponsor of the peace process and as a friend of Egypt.

The meeting with the president between the president and the Secretary went through all the items on the agenda from the natural to regional to the peace process and other issues of common concern. It went very well. Also, our meeting, which lasted for quite some time, touched on those issues too. We look forward to working together in order to bring back the peace process on track and reach a just and lasting peace as soon as possible and put an end to the tragic situation in the occupies territories. The -- and also, of course, on the other issues pertaining to the stability in the region, we will continue to be in touch and be in consultations.

The -- if you wish to say a few words, I'd be most grateful.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Minister and good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I'm very pleased to be back in Egypt and to have had the opportunity to meet and consults with President Mubarak and with the foreign minister.

I've known President Mubarak for many, many years and it is good to renew that friendship. He has looked as a wise leader not only by his own people but by people throughout the region and throughout the world.

And this occasion also gave me the opportunity to strengthen my relationship with the foreign minister and look forward to working with him in the months and in the years ahead.

President Bush asked me to make Egypt the first stop in my Middle East trip to seek the advice and counsel of President Mubarak on several critical issues. And we discussed the deterioration of the situation between the Palestinians and the Israelis and the escalated violence, which is causing all such concern. In our conversations, we recommitted ourselves to the search for peace based on U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. We also discussed the need to relieve the burden on the Iraqi people while strengthening controls on Saddam Hussein's efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction and the means for their delivery.

Egypt and the United States have a long-standing and extensive military-to-military relationship, which grew stronger as we stood as comrade-in-arms to defend an Arab state, Kuwait, from unprecedented aggressive some 10 years ago. And we stand ready today to meet any similar challenge to the international integrity and security of the states in the region. We are also cooperating, as you all know, to develop new opportunities, to trade and investment and to strengthen Egypt's participation in the global economy.

We will meet again shortly and I look forward to that meetings. And President Bush has invited President Mubarak to visit Washington on April 2. And President Mubarak has accepted that invitation. And President Bush and I look forward to seeing him then to further cement our strong relationship with Egypt.

Thank you very much.

(CROSSTALK)

MOUSSA: OK. Let them -- OK, go ahead.

QUESTION: The Egyptian press -- the editorial commentary that we've seen here that have been bitterly aggressive in denouncing the U.S. role and not welcoming (OFF-MIKE) very, very painful. And I'm wondering whether you will need to accomplish anything during your meeting to persuade those concerns without the air strikes against Iraq and the continued (OFF-MIKE).

MOUSSA: Go ahead, General.

POWELL: Well, I received a very welcome from the leaders. And I know there is some unhappiness as expressed in the Egyptian press and I understand that. But at the same time, with respect to the no-fly zones and the air strikes that we, from time-to-time, have to conduct to defend our pilots, I just want to remind everybody that the purpose of those no-fly zones and the purpose of those occasional strikes to protect our pilots is not to pursue an aggressive stance toward Iraq but to defend the people that the no-fly zones were put in to defend, the people in the southern part of Iraq and the people in the northern part of Iraq. And these zones have a purpose and their purpose to protect the people, protect Arabs not to affect anything in the region. And we have to defend ourselves.

We will always try to consult with our friends in the region so that they are not surprised and do everything we can to explain the purpose of our presence. We had a good discussion -- both the foreign minister and I and the president and I had a good discussion about the nature of the sanctions, the fact that the sanctions exist not to the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people but for the purpose keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction.

We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they have directed that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was 10 years ago when we began it. And frankly, they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.

So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq. And these are policies that we're going to keep in place but we're always willing to review them to make sure that they're being carried in a way that does not affect the Iraqi people but does affect the Iraqi regime's ambitions and ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction. And we had a good conversation on this issue.

(CROSSTALK)

MOUSSA: I would wish to borrow two expressions from what the Secretary has just said that this situation should be under constant reviewing so it's not a stagnant situation that we accept things as they are but should be reviewed.

The other thing is that, as the Secretary said, he felt to the enormous -- that there is a feeling of unhappiness. That was what is taking place in Iraq.

What we need now is to have -- to give the full chance for the talks that are going to resume or start to after tomorrow in New York between the government and the Secretary General of the United Nations about the whole question of Iraq and the Security Council Resolutions. The -- and the Secretary General is going to listen to what the Iraqis have to say concerning sanctions, concerning the situation of 10 years et cetera.

So this meeting should be given full opportunity for both parties to talk, to listen and then judging on the results of such meeting, I believe, we shall be reviewing the situation. So there are certain stations that -- coming up and we see what will come...

PHILLIPS: That is Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa alongside Secretary of State Colin Powell. It was Secretary Powell's first overseas diplomatic mission to the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Europe -- giving his first news conference overseas talking about the bringing back the peace process to the Middle East. His first stop was in Egypt. That was on request by the President. They also discussed Iraq, trade and investment.

We'll continue to follow Powell's trip as it continues.

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