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Powell Meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister

Aired September 26, 2001 - 14:59   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Our coverage continues now with the Secretary of State Powell. He has been meeting with the Egyptian foreign minister and they are before the cameras.


POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

It's been my pleasure to host my dear friend and good colleague, the foreign minister of Egypt, Minister Maher. We have had a good conversation reviewing the situation in the Middle East in light of the developments of today with a successful meeting between Mr. Shimon Peres and Chairman Arafat. We will both be working closely together to assist the Palestinians and the Israelis to move forward from this new beginning.

And we've also had a good discussion of the events of September 11 and what we have been doing together since then. I expressed my appreciation to the minister and through him to President Mubarak, for the strong words of support and for the condolences we have received from the Egyptian people. And I, in turn, extended my regrets to the families of Egyptians who were lost in the World Trade Center.

And I also expressed my appreciation for the commitment that Egypt has made to working with us as we move forward to deal with the scourge of terrorism. Egypt, as all of us know, is really ahead of us on this issue. They have had to deal with acts of terrorism in recent years in the course of their history, and we have much to learn from them and there is much we can do together.

So I welcome my colleague and I look forward to continued cooperation with him, his associates, and with the Egyptian government as we move forward on this campaign.

POWELL: Mr. Minister?

MAHER: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. It's always a pleasure to meet with you, even in difficult circumstances, because the message I brought was a message of reiterating our condolences and reiterating our solidarity, the solidarity of the Egyptian people, president and government with the United States, and our determination to work together in the fight against terrorism.

As the secretary said, we have suffered from terrorism, and it is only normal that we should join any attempt to get rid of this scourge from which the world has suffered and continue to suffer.

We are cooperating with the United States in many ways, and we have discussed this matter. We have discussed our opinions, and we exchanged ideas about the best way to do that.

We believe that the United States, as the government of a country that believes in law and justice, will act on the basis of a case -- a good case -- and I'm sure they have a good case -- against the culprits who committed this horrible crime of September 11.

We also talked about the necessity of establishing an international consensus around this fight which is manifold and will take a long time.

I explained our ideas about the international conference, which is not a substitute for the necessity to punish the culprits.

We also discussed the Middle East question and the role that the secretary personally, and the United States government have played in bringing together the meeting that took place this morning between Chairman Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres, which was a promising meeting and development. And we both are determined to continue to help both parties to reach the stage where they can resume -- after the implementation of the Tenet and Mitchell recommendations, they can resume negotiations on the final status negotiations.

I come out of this meeting reassured, and our friendship, as I can report to you, is as strong today as it has always been.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there are many people who are (OFF-MIKE) now in the Pentagon or even on the Capitol to have more targets, and specifically, for new military campaign in the Middle East and other countries in the world. What do you think about this?

POWELL: Well, I don't know about those reports. But what we are focusing on is terrorism and going after terrorists, not only those who are responsible for this event on the 11th of September, but who are responsible for other terrorist activities of a global reach.

We are not using this as a way to punish nations indiscriminately. I can assure you that President Bush sees this as a long-term campaign that he will pursue with patience and perseverance in close consultation with our friends and allies.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, with the new development in Gaza, would you like to comment on this new security zone in the West Bank?

POWELL: We are in discussions with our Israeli colleagues about their ideas for security. And I think with the progress that we have seen in today's meeting and knowing that other meetings are coming up, then all issues in contention, such as this, are available to be put on the table as these meetings go forward. And we'll be following that progress and taking a more active role as the meetings begin to -- one follow the other. QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the president went to the CIA today and forcefully defended the job that George Tenet has been doing. Do you feel that you are getting the information that you need from him to do your job?

And Mr. Minister, could you comment on how Mr. Tenet is viewed in Egypt and in the Middle East?

POWELL: Well, from my standpoint, George Tenet's doing an absolutely outstanding job. I consider him not only a trusted friend, but a great working colleague. He is providing to the State Department all that I would expect from the CIA. We have excellent relations between the CIA and the INR Bureau that does intelligence here in the State Department. And I certainly share the president's judgment that Director Tenet's doing a terrific job.

MAHER: The only comment I would make about your question is to tell you that George Tenet has many friends in my country.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, we've heard this administration say time and again it is not into nation-building in Afghanistan. But clearly, if the Taliban continues to stand in the way of bin Laden and the terrorist network, is the U.S. government going to remove the Taliban or encourage other groups within Afghanistan to go after the Taliban? And if so, who fills the void?

POWELL: As our campaign unfolds, you'll see we're going after the Al Qaeda network. We're going after Osama bin Laden. We're going to do it in a way that is mindful of the suffering that is currently being inflicted upon the Afghan people.

And hopefully, a better day is ahead for the Afghan people. But right now I'm not prepared to say, nor is the United States government prepared to say, how they might be governed in the future or what might be the fate of the Taliban regime.

As the president has said in his speech, and as we have said repeatedly, those who provide a haven or harbor this kind of terrorist organization must be prepared to pay consequences for their actions.

Thank you.

BROWN: Secretary of State Powell meeting with the Egyptian foreign minister. This is a series of meetings that have been going on now for days. Earlier in the day, the secretary of state met with representatives of the Dutch government, the Irish government. Yesterday, the Japanese prime minister was in town.

The Egyptian foreign minister said: We are cooperating in many ways with the United States. One of the problems here is we are not always sure what that means. Neither the State Department nor the White House will say what is specifically being asked of these other countries, these coalition partners, and what in fact they are agreeing to. So it's a little hard to know what cooperating in many ways means.

In any case, the Egyptian foreign minister with the secretary of state today -- Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: And in that vein yesterday, the defense secretary, Aaron, said those coalitions are going to be revolving, if you will.

Just quickly, from the diplomatic to the airline front, it's an industry seriously hurting right now. Thousands and thousands of Americans still afraid to fly. President Bush saying this is going to be a priority among his many priorities right now.

Our Kelly Wallace joins us now from the White House with some breaking news -- Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Judy. You know, it has been a priority of the Bush White House, also the U.S. Congress, ways to improve airline security. We do know President Bush when he travels to Chicago tomorrow will unveil a package of proposals to boost airline security. Exactly, what he is proposing is taking shape.

Administration and congressional sources telling my colleague, senior White House correspondent John King, the proposals will include calling for armed air marshals on virtually every flight, U.S. commercial flight. Also, likely to call for a greater role by the federal government when it comes to screening airport luggage, baggage and luggage at airports.

Another proposal the president to push for stronger and more secure cockpit doors. This is not really controversial after what we have seen on September 11. Many saying that more steps need to be taken to make a more secure cockpit and make it certain that people can't get from the other part of the plane into the cockpit.

The president, as for one of the other controversial parts here, sources telling again my colleague that the administration very much against letting pilots carry weapons in the cockpit. We had heard from the airline pilots union making a recommendation that pilots should be able to carry weapons after they've been trained to use them as another security measure. The administration against that.

And the other controversial part here is the sense of what role should the federal government play when it comes to airport security. There had been some talk about allowing federal employees, having federal employees be the ones to check baggage and luggage. Administration appears to be not siding with that, maybe calling for something, according to sources, some federal standards, some federal training for airport security.

So a greater federal oversight without having full -- a full federal role for airplane security, Judy.

So, that's what's taking shape. The president again, Judy, going to Chicago to unveil these proposals tomorrow -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, Kelly, on the one hand, the word you're getting and John King getting, the administration wants the federal government not to be intimately involved in all this. But who is going to pay for the air marshals, for the stronger doors and the rest of it? Are these -- are these all going to be left up to the airlines to do this?

WALLACE: Well, that's certainly a very good question. We do know in that $40 billion measure, that emergency aid package that Congress passed very quickly to help with New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, $3 billion of that the administration wanted and Congress agreed to go to improving airline security. So obviously, some of the money coming from there.

It obviously will be probably on the part of the federal government and the U.S. Congress to approve this money. It's going to cost a lot of money to have more secure doors, as you said. More money to have an air marshal, an armed air marshal on virtually every U.S. flight. There are some 5,500 flights, I think, on a daily basis or 6,500 in the U.S.

So again, it will be expensive, and likely to be a part of the federal government and also probably on the part of the airlines -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Kelly Wallace at the White House. I want to tell our viewers that we'll have much more on this topic coming up in just a few minutes on "TALKBACK LIVE."

Two days after President Bush moved to tie up the finances of Osama bin Laden's alleged network of terror, there were some long hidden facts that came to light in a hearing on Capitol Hill.

And CNN's Allan Dodds Frank was there. Allan, what did we learn?

ALLAN DODDS FRANK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the surprise was that the senate's two experts on money laundering, Senator John Kerry and Senator Carl Levin, provided this surprises.

The first was Senator Carl Levin, who's the chairman of the permanent investigation subcommittee, who's been looking into money laundering, and he described a Web of banks in the Western world, in the financial capitals of the world connected to a bank in the Sudan that was initially funded, he says, by Osama bin Laden and that remains in business, called the Al Shalmal (ph) Islamic Bank. And Senator Levin said that this bank still has corresponding connections, he believes, even ongoing today to major banks in London, Frankfurt, Geneva, Vienna, Paris, Beijing, Jakarta, Johannesburg, South Africa, and did have relationships with three big banks in New York.

Those relationships in the New York banks have been stopped, Senator Levin said, since the United States in 1997 imposed sanctions on the Sudan.

The second big surprise came from Senator John Kerry, who more than a decade ago investigated the collapse of the bank of Credit and Commerce International. Now, you may remember that one. That was the biggest global money-laundering scandal ever, multibillion-dollar collapse.

That bank...

WOODRUFF: Some major Washington figures toppled as a result.

FRANK: That's right. Now, that bank was used not only by drug smugglers worldwide, but to help fund the Mujahideen, the people who were recruited from the Islamic world to fight the Russian soldiers.

Well, what Senator Kerry is that government stumbled across this as part of its investigation, sort of as a collateral piece of the millions of pieces of paper they came into -- accounts, a number of accounts, he said, belonging to Osama bin Laden. And he said when the bank was finally shut down, that hurt Osama bin Laden and it was a serious economic blow. We'd never heard that before.

I mean, it's long been suspected that Osama bin Laden had connections to that bank, which was dominated by Pakistanis and Saudis, some of whom he still has relationships today, intelligence sources believe -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: That is just fascinating, and I'm sure that just raises many more questions about where the bin Laden network is getting its money today.

FRANK: He wasn't a big figure when they came across these facts. That's why it sort of went under the rug.

WOODRUFF: All right, Allan Dodds Frank, thanks very much for that reporting.

All right. Now, we're going to send it down to Atlanta to "TALKBACK LIVE" and Bobbie Battista.



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