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America's New War: Colin Powell Meets With Turkish Foreign Minister

Aired September 27, 2001 - 13:35   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: To the State Department. Colin Powell with Turkey's foreign minister.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: ... with my colleague from Turkey, Foreign Minister Ismail Cem. We have met many times over the last eight months, and I think that's a sign of the strength of our personal relationship as well as the relationship between our two countries.

On this occasion, I was pleased to express to the minister our deepest appreciation for the messages of condolence we received from the Turkish government and the Turkish people over the events of 11 September and express my condolences to him for the lives of Turks or Turkish-Americans who were lost at the World Trade Center. We both recognize it is a world trade center and so many countries lost citizens in that terrible tragedy.

I was also pleased to express my appreciation to the minister for the other support they have provided to us in this time of crisis, overflight support, and the support they have given to us in the United Nations and within NATO councils. We do have a strong relationship with Turkey and I know that in the days ahead, as our campaign against terrorism unfolds, we will be able to count on the support and active assistance of our Turkish friends.

So Mr. Minister, it is a great pleasure to have you here again.


First of all, I want to say that the Turkish people feels deep in their hearts the suffering of the American people. And just to summarize all our talks, we are together with the United States in this fight against terrorists.

Today, we had the opportunity of comparing our analyses, our views, and we tried to look into some areas of mutual interests of some particularities which will bear, in effect, on the composition and on the effectiveness of the coalition against terror.

And I'm very glad to see that the American government is doing the utmost, first, to have a strong effective coalition, and second, to bring this fight against terrorists to its end.

And of course, terrorists does not have a religion; this is complete nonsense to call one or the other of terrorists organizations referring to Muslims or to Islamic terrorism or to Jewish terrorism or to Christian terrorists. That's one aspect which is of importance, of relevance.

The second one, is that terrorism does not have a geography. When we talk terrorists and the bad that they do to people, it's not only that particular country, that particular region, but terrorists are present with its organizations, with its tools and means in Africa, in Asia, in Europe as well. And we should, in our fight against terrorists, we should always see that it's a global problem, with which we have to deal in all geographies, in all continents, without any discrimination and with total solidarity.

I want to thank my American counterpart and the American people in this courageous fight that they are initiating against terrorism, because we have suffered a lot because of terrorism, and we know how valuable the American leadership in this field is for all humanity.

And I thank you, again, Colin, for this meeting.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, as you all well know, with events in the Middle East and elsewhere there are -- even though the United States if fully engaged in its war against terrorism that other areas of U.S. policy must go on. And what can you say to those that suggest that how U.S. foreign policy is dictated and, perhaps, changed in the future will not suffer because of the U.S. war against terrorism?

And for Mr. Foreign Minister, as your country is deeply engaged in the Mideast as well, how do you see the United States engagement in the Middle East crisis and its ability to help mediate this conflict as essential to the U.S. war on terrorism and maintaining a coalition of Muslim states and other states? Thank you.

POWELL: Well, we don't have the luxury of only focusing on one problem. At the same time that we're mounting this campaign against terrorism, we're preparing for the president's trip to Asia next month to the APEC conference. We're working with our NATO allies, our friends in the European Union in a variety of trade and other issues. As you know, we're deeply engaged in the Middle East. We continue to work on HIV-AIDS programs in Africa.

And so, even though terrorism is a priority for us right now, I can assure you that we are able to cover all the other bases and recognize that the United States has global responsibilities. And the priority for a particular of time on one subject does not mean we can ignore all the others.

So I can assure you, we're hard at work across the entire spectrum of interests and issues that we have.

CEM: Well, I have always advocated that U.S. presence and involvement in the peace process is the decisive factor and no other country can play such a role. And I am very much -- I'm very content that, thanks to the assistance of my colleague, Colin Powell, this meeting between Shimon Peres and Arafat took place. I think it is essential for the composition and effectiveness of this coalition that we are trying to build up. In fact, I was in Palestine and Israel three days ago, and tried to speak with both parties insisting for them to get together to consolidate this declaration of cease-fire and to build upon that cease-fire a quest for talks, for negotiations and for peace. I think U.S. has a lot to do -- a lot to contribute to this process, and I'm very happy that this is taking place. Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what's the reaction to the overture that Jesse Jackson, that he should come to Afghanistan?

POWELL: I spoke to Reverend Jackson last night and again this morning, and he advised us that he had received this message from Taliban leadership. I said to Reverend Jackson last night, and then confirmed again this morning, that our position is rather clear as laid out by the president in his speech last week. And that is, the Taliban regime knows what it must do and should do with respect to the presence of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and also with respect to the bases and facilities in Afghanistan. And as the president said, this is not an issue for negotiation.

So Reverend Jackson is fully aware of our position and the strength of our position. And whether he does or does not accept an invitation, whether one has been offered or not -- and there seems to be some confusion about that -- is up to Reverend Jackson. But we have nothing to negotiate. They know what our position is.


POWELL: He is free to travel. I don't know what purpose would be served right now, since the position of the United States and the international community is quite clear. And so, it's a matter for he and whoever he was speaking to over there to decide.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, just a few days ago, the Taliban said they couldn't find Osama bin Laden. Yet, today we have hear that the message of the clerics has been passed on to him that they would appreciate him leaving the country. How credible do you find this now? And do you think that this is an attempt...

POWELL: How credible do I find which report?


POWELL: I don't know how to handicap Taliban reports. I'm quite sure that whether they found him or hadn't found him, knew where he was or didn't know where he was, he got the message.

QUESTION: Sir, do you think this is an attempt by some in the Taliban to gain some sympathy from the United States to show that they're trying to take care of this?

POWELL: I don't want to speculate on what their motivations might be. What they ought to be motivated to do is to comply with what the president put on the table last Thursday night in clear certain terms: Turn over Osama bin Laden, his top lieutenants, root out the Al Qaeda network within Afghanistan, destroy the bases and let us have access to see that those bases have been destroyed.

Thank you.

CEM: Thank you.


HEMMER: Colin Powell in Washington at the State Department, with the Turkish foreign minister. Three items that appear critical at this point, the last coming coming on these reports we're getting, that Osama bin Laden has been given a message by the leading cleric at the Taliban in Afghanistan to leave that country.

The report's unconfirmed at this time, but you heard what Secretary Powell said. He said -- quote -- "[H]e got the message."

Before that, reports about Jesse Jackson talking with Colin Powell last night and today about possible intervention, a possible mediation role with the Taliban. Colin Powell saying the U.S. position is firm, this is -- quote -- "[N]ot a negotiation."

Also, it should be pointed out that seeing Colin Powell with the Turkish foreign minister, another long line of dignitaries we have seen paraded in front of cameras and microphones for about two weeks now. We can anticipate to see this in the coming days and weeks ahead, as the U.S. continues to reach out and bulling that coalition in its war against terrorism.




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