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Colin Powell Reports on Meeting With U.S. Spy Plane Crew

Aired April 6, 2001 - 11:13   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: A reminder to our viewers: We're standing by waiting for Secretary of State Colin Powell to give a briefing from the State Department. You'll see that live here on CNN.

Meanwhile, let's squeeze in a bit more of news while we wait for Secretary of Powell, and that is out of Washington. Word of new security threats to U.S. interests in South America. For more on that, let's go to our Jeanne Meserve -- hi, Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, there are, indeed, what the State Department is calling active security threats in three South American countries, serious enough for officials to close three U.S. embassies and consulate. Shut down are the embassies in Quito, Ecuador, Asuncion, Paraguay --

Excuse me. I'm going to interrupt right now, go to the State Department for Secretary of State Colin Powell.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: ... his counterparts in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and there has been movement in the discussions and negotiations. And we are encouraged at this point, and those discussions continue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Earlier this morning, at 10:25, President Bush received a briefing from Brigadier General Sealock, who spent an hour with the crew members. General Sealock was accompanied by our consular section chief from Guangzhou, Mr. Ted Gong. The president was advised by General Sealock that all of the crew members were in fine shape, they're in good health, they're in high spirits, their morale is great. And to quote one of the things that the general said to the president, "Make you feel real proud. They look good."

They are residing in Chinese officer quarters, so they are being cared for well, in these equivalent of Chinese officer quarters.

And the rooms that they're in are clean and well-lit, and they have all the provisions they need. They are receiving catered food from outside, so the Chinese are taking good care of our men and women. They are two to a room. The three ladies are in one room together, and the aircraft commander, as the commander, is in a separate room. We expect to see them again tomorrow and are making arrangements to see them on a regular basis until this matter is resolved. There is no indication of any physical or verbal mistreatment.

So just to conclude or summarize, President Bush had an excellent conversation and was reassured by General Sealock as to the condition of the crew, and I hope the families will take comfort from this report.

The negotiations are moving forward, and I hope to hear again from Ambassador Prueher and his fine team. And I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the ambassador on the fine work that he and his staff have been doing out there under very, very challenging circumstances.

So we have some movement.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, a small question. You say you expect to see them regularly. Have the Chinese consented?

POWELL: Yes.

QUESTION: OK, and the larger question is on the larger issue of getting them released. Where does that stand now? Has the ambassador made that point?

POWELL: We are in very intensive discussions and negotiations and exchanging ideas and papers, and there has been movement. But that's as far as I'd like to go right now.

QUESTION: Can you say exactly what? Can you be a little more specific as to why you say you're encouraged?

POWELL: I'm encouraged because there has been movement and because we are exchanging rather precise ideas as to how to bring this to a conclusion. And that's as far as I'd like to go at this time.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is there any talk of any joint investigation? Is that part of one of the proposals?

POWELL: We're discussing a number of ideas as to how to exchange explanations, to use the term of art that I gave the other day.

Thank you very much.

MESERVE: Secretary of State Colin Powell speaking in the State Department briefing room this morning, reporting on the visit this morning by U.S. officials to the crewmen being held on the ground in China.

He reports that they are in fine shape, good spirits, they look good, they make you feel proud, they're being kept in Chinese officers' quarters, being fed catered meals, and he said they expect to see them again tomorrow, and the Chinese have consented to seeing them regularly. As to the status of negotiations to see those detainees released, he said, "We are encouraged. We are exchanging precise ideas about how to bring this to a conclusion."

With me now Paul Bremer. He is a former State Department official.

Thanks so much for joining us. What do you make of the secretary's comments?

PAUL BREMER, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think the fever has broken in this crisis. It seems -- looking at it from the outside, it looks to me as if, within the last 24 hours, the senior leadership of the Chinese government decided they want to get this behind them, and now it's a question of finding the right terminology to do that.

MESERVE: Why do you believe they want to get it behind them?

BREMER: Well, I think, once they calmed down after this accident, they realized that China has a lot at stake here. They've got a very important relationship with the United States, not just on economic terms but politically. We have an important relationship with Taiwan that they're interested in. They're interested in security in Asia, Korea. There's a lot -- a lot at stake here for the Chinese.

MESERVE: But that being the case, why has this dragged out as long as it has?

BREMER: I think they really had -- the Chinese government is not great at crisis management, and I think they really had to find a way back from some of the statements they made -- rather emotional statements they made on Sunday and Monday. The president out of the country. The senior foreign-policy adviser's with him in Latin America. So they had a communications question. In any case, I think it's clear they've come to a decision to get this behind them, and let's all hope that's what's going to happen now.

MESERVE: Do you have projection how long it may take?

BREMER: I think you're talking about days now. This -- this, hopefully, will be over by the end of the weekend.

MESERVE: The secretary of state being very careful about his words.

BREMER: Well, of course. That's what a secretary of state or any good diplomat does.

MESERVE: Including yourself. Ambassador Paul Bremer, thanks so much for your insight on that.

And now, we go back to Daryn in Atlanta.

KAGAN: Jeanne, thanks so much. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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