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Powell Speaks About Missile Defense Plan

Aired May 29, 2001 - 10:37   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.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Ken, let's take a pause for moment. If you would please listen in to this news conference that's taking place with Colin Powell, Secretary of State Colin Powell in Budapest. He is said to be commenting possibly on Macedonia.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: ... will come out together, and we are always looking for ways to reduce the level or our committment. Secretary Rumsfeld was asked by the president to look at worldwide commitments and try to lower them in order to reduce cost and also reduce the OPTEMPO that is affecting our force structure.

And so Secretary Rumsfeld and I are always looking at ways to reduce it. But if you'll notice, we have not taken a single unilateral action with respect to reducing the size of U.S. contributions to either SFOR or KFOR.

It's always been in the context of the six month review, or on one occasion, I think we were over the expected or authorized strength, and we reduced down to that authorized strength.

I did encourage my colleagues this morning to be more aggressive in shifting the burden to those kind of units that are better able to deal with the emerging environment.

For example, NATO has committed 19 MSUs, as they are called, Multinational Specialist Units, consisting of Jean D'an Marie (ph) and Caribinetti (ph) type units, and only 11 of those are now in place, these platoon-level organizations.

So let's get the other nine in place, because the mission is shifting. It's more of crowd control and protection of civilians and other kinds of missions that could be handled by noncombat troops.

And so we're putting pressure on our colleagues to provide more of these kinds of units, but it's all within the context of good dialogue. It's all within the context of meeting our obligations to SFOR and to KFOR.

And although you will read stories from time to time about disagreements within the United States government -- it may be on the pace, it may be on how much pressure to apply and when can we shift more -- but there's no disagreement on the basic principle that we went in together and will come out together.

With respect to the strategic frame work that we are consulting with our allies on and the Russians and the Chinese and other concerned nations, I made it clear to my colleagues this morning that President Bush sees this in terms of an overall strategic framework dealing with offensive weapons, missile defense, proliferation, nonproliferation, counterproliferation, cooperative arrangements and agreements -- a whole range of issues that would reflect the new strategic environment and not the old strategic environment.

We're looking at reductions in offensive weapons. We're looking at what technologies are available to deal with limited missile attacks coming our way.

I made it clear to them that this is a real consultation that President Bush launched on the 1st of May with his speech at the National Defense University and not a phony consulation. We really want to hear back from our allies. We are an alliance, we believe in this alliance, and we're going to consult with our colleagues as we move forward.

But at the same time, I made it clear to them that we know we have to move forward. We can see the threat, the threat is clear, and we have to deal with that threat.

And we'll do it in a way that I think will enhance overall strategic stability, and it will take us time to persuade everybody of that proposition, but I think we'll be successful at the end of the day.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

POWELL: I think the question related to enlargement of the alliance?

QUESTION: Yes.

POWELL: It wasn't a specific agenda item this morning, but it was covered in the communique. And obviously, this will be an issue that I'm quite sure the heads of state and government will address when they meet in Brussels on the 13th of June.

The exact manner in which we approach Prague 2002 and how we will make judgments and against what standards we will make those judgments with respect to expanding the alliance will be announced in due course, but I have no particular announcement for you today.

I think it is clear that the alliance has shown that it can take in new members, as it did recently a couple of years ago, and within a short period of time, those new members are fully integrated and making a contribution to the alliance. And so the alliance is open for enlargement, and the pace and the circumstances and the conditions of enlargement will be made known in due course.

PHILLIPS: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on a two-day meeting in Budapest, addressing NATO foreign ministers, talking about security issues in the Balkans, also U.S. missile defense plans and relations with the European Union.

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