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Powell, Michel Discuss E.U., U.S. Cooperation

Aired September 20, 2001 - 13:20   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We are interrupting Bill Delaney's report to take you to a meeting now, Secretary of State Powell with the European Union President Louis Michel; he's the vice prime minister from Belgium, head of the European Union.

We'll listen.


COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: ... my European Union colleagues -- European Union President Louis Michel, also Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium; High Representative Javier Solana, with whom I do a lot of work on Middle East issues as well; and Commissioner Chris Patten.

I also might note that earlier this morning, President Bush spoke to Prime Minister of Belgium Verhofstadt, who is currently the president of the European Commission, and as you know the European Commission will be meeting tomorrow evening to look at the results of our work today, and to take further action with respect to this crisis that we are all working our way through.

Our meetings today have been very productive and we have focused on how the European Union can work with the United States and best pool our strengths to combat terrorism. We have distributed, and I think you already have a joint statement that summarizes our common commitment to a campaign against worldwide terrorism, and it lays out a set of follow-up activities.

If there are two words to describe the tenor of our discussion they would be "solidarity" and "resolve." The European Union's principled response to the September 11 attacks and to our call for a worldwide effort against terrorism is just the latest demonstration of the fact that a strong, united Europe is good, indeed essential, for the United States, for Europe and for the world.

Our common objective is security for our peoples. Let no one doubt the will and the power of our free societies to defend the security of our citizens, even as we safeguard our democratic values.

Today, my EU colleagues and I discussed how the European Union and the United States can join forces with other nations from around the world in a wide variety of areas. As set out in our joint statement, we have agreed to intensify cooperation among our law enforcement authorities and facilitate the exchange of information; to tighten up on aviation security, our immigration and visa controls, and our export control and nonproliferation regimes; to disrupt terrorist plans; dry up those sources of support; roll up their networks; and bring terrorists to justice; and bring those aiding and abetting them to account.

POWELL: As I mentioned earlier, the European Council will meet tomorrow evening in Brussels in an extraordinary session and I have no doubt that the Council's session will result in further concrete expressions of the solidarity and resolve that characterized (OFF- MIKE)

Like to turn the floor over to my colleague, Messieurs Michel.

LOUIS MICHEL, EUROPEAN UNION PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Colin. First of all, I have to thank you very much for the way in which you have the leadership of all this and it is real pleasure to exchange views with you and it makes things easier, very often.

I'd like also to say that it's good to be here, as Europeans, in a spirit of total solidarity and we've feelings of deep sympathy with the American nation. We, EU, presidency commission, our high representative Javier Solana and member states have been working very hard to establish a strong partnership with the U.S. I think, honestly, that we succeeded in doing so.

Now, I'd like to give you the general approach of EU about the present crisis. I'm also very glad that we have a common statement to present. This proves the full understanding and solidarity between U.S. and Europe. Now, what this European approach of this crisis, first of all, together the EU and the U.S. must take the leads in this endeavor. There must be the nucleus of a strong reply by the international community. We are in favor of a strong transatlantic coalition to fight terrorism. All international organizations and the U.N. in particularly must be engaged in this endeavor.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368 considers these recent terrorist attacks as a threat to international peace and security. Combating terrorism is both about protecting the lives of our citizens from terrorist attacks and about safeguarding the fundamental values of our open democratic and (OFF-MIKE) societies.

This EU-U.S. leadership must be based on permanent, timely and comprehensive consultation at all levels.

Now, just a few words about the future actions of the EU approach. I think you know we worked already actively on a comprehensive and effective plan. So I announced several measures and several decisions that different councils, European councils, have decided. EU transport ministers will continue to work on innovative, more effective air safety measures. It's important that not only the U.S., but also every country takes immediate measures to ensure security of flights to, from and within its territory.

EU foreign ministers will examine in the coming weeks a report by the EU presidency, the European Commission and the EU High Representative some concrete measures that will increase the EU capacity to effectively fight terrorism together with the U.S. and other partners.

EU finance ministers will urgently address the issue of the financing of terrorism. They will need to examine the availability of legal tools that will prevent terrorists from generating and transferring funds to finance their attacks against our countries.

And EU justice and interior ministers have met today and agreed on the need for a European (OFF-MIKE) this important measures to improve law enforcement, coordination among EU member states. Ministers will need to examine if this benefit can also be applied to extradition requests from known EU countries. It has been decided that EU member states would strengthen the intelligence capacities and increase their cooperation in these fields.

No less than 33 measures were put forward in this council. Eight of these measures are directly linked with the cooperation with U.S. And we also ask our U.S. friends to react to what these measures and these proposals.

And of course we hope and we are waiting for these reactions in order to discuss them still tomorrow at the council of heads of states and ministers of foreign affairs that will take place in Brussels Friday afternoon.

I think cooperation between U.S. and Europe is very important to fight against terrorism. It is our common enemy and we must, in a common way, together, overrun this enemy.

POWELL: Thank you very much.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, we're hearing here explicit measures. At the White House, the Saudi foreign minister is speaking of support, but it's just a general statement. Is there any specifics behind it? In fact, there's a report that the Saudis would freeze the bank accounts of some of bin Laden's primary supporters. Is there anything to that? Is there anything specific from that end?

POWELL: I met with Prince Saud last night and I was with him this morning when he spoke to the president, and he may have spoken in general terms at the time you heard him, but he was rather specific in our conversations about things they will do within the kingdom to support us in this effort. And I would prefer to let the Saudis, however, announce what their specific measures are rather than me.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, is the European Union in Europe for the U.S. the prime partner in the battle against terrorism or is the U.S. more working with individual countries?

POWELL: I think it's both.

We have been enormously gratified by how institutions, organizations, have come forward, whether it's NATO, the European Union, the Organization of Islamic Conferences, the OAS invoking the Rio Treaty. But we are also pursuing our agenda with individual countries as well. And I have been very gratified by the response we have gotten from organizations as well as from individual countries. And there are many ways to go after this and we are pursuing all those ways, either through organizations or with bilateral contacts.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you give us a reaction to the action or the statements by the clerics today in Afghanistan on the fact that they would be willing to see Mr. bin Laden go if he wants to go voluntarily?

POWELL: Voluntarily or involuntarily, we believe that Osama bin Laden has to be put under control and turned over to authorities who can bring him to justice, and it should be done rather quickly. And so I saw the clerics' statement, but we want action not just statements.

He should not be given haven in that country. He is responsible for tragedies around the world. He is responsible for causing Afghanistan and its regime to be looked down upon by the rest of the world, and the sooner he leaves and is brought to justice, the better off I think the world will be and the better off, I think, the Afghan people will be.

QUESTION: In the European Union you have 15 countries with sometimes different sensibilities. Not all countries perhaps want to go as far as, for example, giving troops, planes and so on. The American public sometimes thinks that countries who don't want to go as far as that are not completely soldiery. How do you understand that?

POWELL: We are very sensitive to what individual countries can do. And it's not just the 15 countries you referenced in Europe, but there are 180 countries, and many of them have come forward and offered their support. In some cases it may just be support, in terms of support in principle, rhetorical support, because that's all they're capable of doing. In other instances it may be more aggressive action: working with us on getting after financial flows, getting after information flows. It might involve helping us with tracking down people and arresting them. It might be intelligence sharing. And at the end of the day it might be joining us in a military operation if that is what is required.

And the United States understands that each country will have to make its own individual sovereign decision as to the extent with which it can participate in this coalition. But there is a place for everyone to participate if they are against this common enemy.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you spoke a few days ago about the possible American communication with the Taliban -- direct communication between the United States and the Taliban. Has the failure of the Pakistani efforts rendered that unnecessary at this point?

And a question for Mr. Michel: Would you favor an additional U.N. Security Council resolution before the United States undertook military action?

POWELL: We don't rule it out. We don't see a basis to initiate a conversation. But that may well be a possibility if they're prepared to do what is required, and that's turnover Osama bin Laden, not talk about turning over Osama bin Laden, but turn him over. And not just Osama bin Laden, but all of the other lieutenants in the infrastructure that exists within Afghanistan.

This isn't a campaign against one individual but also the network that he is the leader of. And when we have dealt with Al Qaeda, the network, Osama bin Laden, the individual, we will then broaden our campaign to go after other terrorist organizations and forms of terrorism around the world.

It is a long-term campaign. It will be done in a deliberate way. It will be done in a decisive way. And we will show patience, but we will also show persistence and perseverance until we are successful in this campaign.

MICHEL: The decision has been taken already, so for the rest I think what's important is the cooperation and the information we'll have from together and from each other. That's important.

I'd like to say this: Until now all the countries have shown total solidarity. And I didn't feel any difference in the statements of the different countries. So this discussion, if there are different sensibilities, this discussion maybe can take place. But it hasn't taken place yet until now.

So you cannot be suspicious about the position and the statements of some countries. Just wait and you will see, I think, the solidarity is ready to go much more further than you think.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, today a group of influential conservative voices here in the United States wrote a letter to the White House asking this administration to broaden the campaign, irrespective of whether or not there are direct links found to state sponsors like Iraq. Is this is a reasonable expectation, and is this something that you could see when you're talking about broadening the campaign that would be included? And I'd like to ask Foreign Minister Michel also for his comments, please.

POWELL: I have read about the letter. I haven't seen it. But we welcome views from everybody as to how we might go about this campaign. But the president has a clear idea in his mind and has given us our instructions as to how we will begin this campaign, and what the focus of our efforts will be initially. And I'm sure he will describe this to the American people tonight in his speech.

MICHEL: Well, I think, first of all, it's important to remember that it is a campaign against terrorism. That's the first object and his first aim. Now, maybe we can consider -- but we'll see if we can consider that there are new opportunities to build up new relationships with some countries. But we have to examine that, and it is not really the moment to examine that now. The first aim is to win against terrorism. POWELL: Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: We've been listening to Secretary of State Powell and the president of the European Union discussing cooperation between the union of European countries and the United States. Talking about cooperating across a range of actions: airport security, intelligence cooperation and, among other things, visas and immigration.



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