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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Powell Says Northern Alliance Should Not Play Dominant Role in Post-Taliban Government

Aired October 23, 2001 - 05:24   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.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We are at 24 minutes after the hour now and that is time to check the latest developments in America's war on terrorism.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: In Washington, D.C., both houses of Congress will be in session today. But House and Senate office buildings will remain shut until a security sweep for anthrax is completed.

HARRIS: The Senate Judiciary subcommittee is going to hold a hearing on the way law enforcement in general is handling biological threats.

KAGAN: Colin Powell is scheduled to meet with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres today.

HARRIS: And U.S. fashion designers intend to launch a cooperation called shop for America.

KAGAN: I'll participate.

HARRIS: I'm sure many women will. At least many friends of mine will. Its purpose is twofold. One, to restore consumer confidence, and then two, very important here, help raise money for the attack victims.

KAGAN: Oh, so it's not a running up your credit cards, it's doing your civic duty.

HARRIS: There you go.

KAGAN: I like the sound of that.

Back to Secretary of State Colin Powell. He has been forthright about this. He says that the Northern Alliance should not play a dominant role in any post-Taliban Afghan government. It is a delicate issue mired in politics and diplomacy.

Robin Cook, leader of the British House of Commons and a member of Prime Minister Blair's war cabinet, has a lengthy background in U.K. affairs and we're lucky enough to have him joining us from London.

Mr. Cook, good to see you.

ROBIN COOK, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Good to see you, too.

KAGAN: First of all, can you comment on that delicate balance with the Northern Alliance and trying to please other now U.S. allies, like Pakistan?

COOK: Well, it's very important that the government of Afghanistan which emerges is one that is broadly representative of all the peoples in the major ethnic communities in Afghanistan. Our foreign secretary, Mr. Straw, made a speech on that last night and he repeated our commitment to making sure that we get a government that represents both the Tajik Uzbek minorities which are in the Northern Alliance and also the Pashtun ethnic community, which is the base of Taliban. All of these groups have to be in a future government and unless they're all there...

KAGAN: But Mr. Cook...

COOK: ... that government is going to be unstable.

KAGAN: ... is that a realistic goal, to get these groups that have not seen eye to eye for many, many years to get together and run a government and a country as one?

COOK: Well, it is certainly true that there have been some 20 years of war in Afghanistan, first against the Soviet invader and then subsequently between the different ethnic communities within Afghanistan. So it's not going to be easy and nobody should pretend or imagine it will be. But it has to be achieved because there will be no stability in Afghanistan if any one of these major ethnic groups is left outside.

And, yes, we can do it if the rest of the world puts its effort into it and agrees on a common strategy. That is why we are keen to see the U.N. also being involved in bringing together the countries of the region, the major donors, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, in making sure we secure a partner we can work with in Afghanistan.

KAGAN: I want to ask you about the military angle right now. What can you tell me about the U.S. request to have British troops participate in raids on the ground, be part of the ground war?

COOK: Well, we've made it clear from the start that we are very keen to play our part in the military campaign to bring Osama bin Laden to justice and to break up the terrorist network, which is a threat to Europe as well as to the United States. And that is why we have said we are willing to look at options of participating in any campaign that does involve ground troops.

We don't ourselves speculate about what we might do ourselves in terms of our special forces. But we are willing to play our part in making sure this action is effective and carried through until its successful. KAGAN: The other front here, Mr. Cook, in the U.S. has been the war on anthrax and trying to protect American citizens. I understand this has been a concern for British citizens, as well, not just the real threat of anthrax, but the deal of working with hoaxes as well.

COOK: Well, first of all, it's a deep concern of both the government of the United Kingdom and of the people of Britain that this threat has broken out of the United States and we feel deeply for the distress that this must cause among the people of the United States.

We have had no specific real threat of an anthrax attack on the British people. but you are right, we have had a large number of hoaxes and that is why we've been asked again to strengthen the laws so that those that cause unnecessary fear and disrupt the activity of the ordinary public will understand that they do run the risk of very severe penalty.

KAGAN: And finally, I want to call on your diplomatic expertise and look at the increasing tension in the Middle East between the Israelis and the Palestinians in light of the assassination of the Israeli tourism cabinet minister. What is the answer in getting things to settle down in that part of the world? Is it more U.S. involvement?

COOK: I think we've all got to be involved and have all got to play every part we can. And the United States has enormous influence within the Middle East and has a longstanding, very close relationship with Israel. And I know that the administration will want to use that to make sure that we do urge restraint on both parties.

The long-term future for the peoples of the Middle East can only be secured by making sure we do get a peace settlement. Unless we get that peace settlement, there is going to be no guaranteed security for Israel and no justice for the Palestinian people. it's in both their interests that we pull back from the brink and get back to the negotiating table.

KAGAN: You preach restraint and yet this is a word that neither side appears ready to hear or willing to hear. What would you say to each?

COOK: The tragedy of the past year is that there have been already too many funerals and with each further funeral there is more bitterness. We desperately need to see an end to the action on both sides and an end to the casualties on both sides so that we can get a climate in which the political leadership can try and find a political solution.

There is going to be no solution either through terrorism on one side or military invasion on the other side.

KAGAN: Robin Cook joining us from London. Sir, thank you for your time today. Appreciate it.

COOK: Thank you. HARRIS: Very eloquently expressed. But those are words both sides have heard a number of timers in the past year.

KAGAN: Have heard. They're not behaving like that, no.

HARRIS: I wonder what it takes to make someone listen. Well, we'll be watching and we hope you continue to watch this morning. The consequences of war often have a human face. We take a look at that.

KAGAN: And when we come back, casualties from both sides of the globe, a closer look at the rising number of victims.

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