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America's New War: Colin Powell Speaks at State Department Briefing

Aired September 14, 2001 - 14:16   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: But I need to interrupt this just a second, because the secretary of state is just starting his briefing, and we want to know what he has to say.


COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECY. OF STATE: ... and the support that the Congress is giving to our efforts. It shows the United States as a nation, as a people coming together in this time of crisis and showing our determination to move forward deliberately and decisively to deal with this particular incident, as well as the broader threat represented by world terrorism.

I have been in touch with a number of officials, in addition to the Cabinet meeting and the very moving memorial service that we just had up at the National Cathedral earlier in the morning. I spoke to the foreign minister of India, Mr. Singh, and I was very pleased to receive an exceptionally strong statement of support from the Indian government, and we had heard that previously, but he confirmed it this morning.

POWELL: I've also had conversations with the Portuguese foreign minister, the Saudi foreign minister; Moroccan, Tunisian foreign ministers; my colleague, Foreign Minister Tanaka of Japan. I'll be speaking to the Israeli defense minister in a few moments, and I have a call into the Syrian foreign minister. This will continue throughout the day for me.

But beyond that, we have instructed our ambassadors around the world to go in and talk to their colleagues in those capitals to let them know how serious we are about this, and begin to set the stage for any other requests we might have for them with respect to what we do as we go forward.

In addition, our regional assistant secretaries here in the State Department have been inviting in ambassadors resident here in Washington to discuss the situation with them and to receive any questions they may have, and to pass on any guidance that we have available to them.

As you know, we are waiting to hear from President Musharraf of Pakistan, and I'm quite encouraged that the Pakistani government is taking this so seriously and so deliberately, and our ambassador is waiting for a reaction from them.

I might also say that I'm pleased at the actions of the Australian government in activating the ANZUS Treaty as an expression of support -- a little similar to what NATO did -- but those alliances that we hold dear and have used so effectively to keep us together as friendly nations over these many years are now, it seems to me, paying off as people come forward to help us.

POWELL: I'm also pleased at expressions of support we have received from countries, such as Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan and others, that are coming in. I don't have all of them on my list or in my memory. And Richard Boucher will in the course of the day let you know who we have heard from and what kind of responses we have received from some.

And let me just stop there and take a couple of questions before I have to make a phone call.

QUESTION: Any indications of what the -- well, did you get a positive response from Pakistan? You're going to call the Syrians; any indications yet of their position?

POWELL: Yes. President Assad sent to President Bush a very strong letter of support in efforts against terrorism. Now, of course, we have had a mixed relationship with Syria over the years. And in the course of my conversation, hopefully, this afternoon with my colleague, I'll pursue the spirit of the letter that President Assad sent to President Bush and see where that takes us.

QUESTION: And any indications from the Pakistanis, even though there is no final answer?

POWELL: So far, I am very encouraged, but I think it's best that I do wait for a final answer.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Indian media says that that government handed over some maps to you today of guerrilla camps and other training areas that Afghanistan is said to be using. Can you confirm that that's...

POWELL: I can't confirm it. I just don't know. Richard could chase that down for you, but I can't confirm it here. It wasn't mentioned to me in my phone call at about 9 or 9:30 or 10, whenever I had, or about 10:30, I guess it was, with the Indian foreign minister.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, we've heard a lot -- yourself and other Cabinet members and officials say as we reach out to countries and ask for help that you're either with us or you're against us. Now, of course, we hope that all countries will be with us. But if we ask for something from a country, we ask them to root out terrorism in all its forms, or to provide logistical or any type of other support that we need for any eventual military response, if they decline, if they say that they won't do what the U.S. asks, what are the consequences for, quote, "being against us"?

POWELL: I think we have to be careful as we go forward, and we intend to be. We're talking with countries that are friendly to us, and we will present requests to them and see what they are able to do, within their capacity and within their political circumstances.

POWELL: But if we find the particular countries, especially those that might be serving as a haven or as a well-known supporter of this kind of activity, and they are simply unresponsive, and we deem that unresponsiveness to be contributing to additional terrorism or to the fertile ground in which terrorism thrives, then that will certainly affect the kind of relationship we're going to have with them in the future.

I am not threatening so much as I am saying that this has become a new benchmark, a new way of measuring the relationship and what we can do together in the future and what kind of support we can provide to you in the future across the whole range of issues and activities.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the last two days, you've been saying how important you think it is that despite the events here -- the tragic events here that it's still very, very important for the Israelis and the Palestinians to have high-level meetings between Chairman Arafat and Foreign Minister Peres. Now, Prime Minister Sharon has now called that meeting off.

And secondly, you're speaking to the Israeli defense minister later. Are you going to bring up his comments that were quoted in an Israeli newspaper this morning in which he said that the disasters in New York and here were a catastrophe for Arafat because the Israelis have killed 14 Palestinians since then and nobody noticed?

POWELL: I don't know what we'll discuss. I haven't seen those comments. But I know him rather well, and I'm sure we'll have many things to discuss, but I won't prejudge what I might raise, or what he might raise, and announce it before he raises or I raise it.

I would still hope that a way is found for the Israelis and the Palestinians to meet. When they meet, is the judgment for them to make. We have two leaders who have to judge their own interests.

We believe a meeting is important to get the process started. This conflict isn't going away, and I don't think it's going to be solved by continuing conflict between the two sides. So that I hope that the conditions will present themselves soon, so that a meeting can begin.

But I think it is also fair to say that the events of the 11th of September have fundamentally changed the way in which people look at terrorism and acts of terrorism.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, as your strategy to fight global terrorism begins to take shape, and as these international coalitions that you've been trying to build solidify, it's obviously a very different war that you're preparing to fight in that the enemy is not in one country. Could you explain this to us?

POWELL: Yes. I was raised a soldier, and you're trained, there is the enemy occupying a piece of ground, we can define it in time, space and other dimensions, and you can assemble forces and go after it.

This is different. The enemy is in many places. The enemy is not looking to be found. The enemy is hidden. The enemy is very often right here within our own country. And so you have to design a campaign plan that goes after that kind of enemy. And it isn't always blunt force military, although that is certainly an option. It may well be that diplomatic efforts, political efforts, legal, financial, other efforts may be just as effective against that kind of an enemy as would military force be.

And the point the president made this morning is that the whole Cabinet's involved, and we're going to use all the tools and weapons at our disposal to fight this campaign and to win this war.

POWELL: I only have time for one more. I apologize.

QUESTION: Do you have a message for the Taliban?

POWELL: Is it a vote? That's the question.


POWELL: The message is: "To the extent that you are providing havens, support, encouragement and other resources to organizations, such as the organization headed by Mr. Osama bin Laden, that is attacking civilization, that is killing innocent people" -- and I would give this message to any other regime in any other country that might be doing similar things -- "to the extent that you are doing these sorts of things, even though we have not yet -- notwithstanding words like prime suspect, we have not yet identified Osama bin Laden as the direct perpetrator, but the evidence" -- we have a lot of evidence -- "is mounting, which will allow us to determine in the near future who it is. But he certainly is the leader of that kind of organization.

"And to the extent that, governments, such as the Taliban government in Afghanistan, supports such things, you need to understand you cannot separate your activities from the activity of these perpetrators. And in our response, we will have to take into account not only the perpetrators, but those who provide haven, support, inspiration -- financial and other assets to the perpetrators, as the president said in his very first set of remarks some days ago."

Thank you. I do have to go.

BROWN: Secretary of State Powell, now going off to make more phone calls to foreign leaders. A couple of things he said jumped out at us. He said, basically saying to other countries, you're either with us or against us on this question of terrorism. He said today, I'm not threatening those other countries, it's just a fact of life. And then when he talked about Afghanistan and the possible harboring of terrorist, including Osama bin Laden, he said they will be held accountable if that what it turns out to be. He also said the Syrians have sent a strong letter of support and characterized that relationship diplomatically as mixed, somewhat more contentious than that.



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