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Secretary of State Holds Press Conference with German Foreign Minister in Washington

Aired November 20, 2001 - 11:08   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: The secretary of state now at the microphone at the State Department in Washington.

COLIN POWELL, SECY. OF STATE: ... Afghanistan's next steps politically, diplomatically and militarily. I had the chance to again thank the minister for the very strong support that Germany has provided to us since the 11th of September, and as part of building the coalition, we also talked about some European regional issues, and we also talked about the Middle East. And I had a chance to share with Mr. Fischer the responses that I received from the speech I gave yesterday.

I was pleased that Prime Minister Sharon has announced the formation of the committee that I referred to yesterday and welcome the visit of Assistant Secretary Burns and General Zinni in the not- too-distant future. And I was also very pleased at the response from Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.

Chairman Arafat called me as soon as I got back to Washington yesterday to express his satisfaction with the speech and to say that he was ready to cooperate. And I've also had other expressions from Amre Moussa, chairman of the Arab League, and others.

So we have a new opportunity before us, an opportunity that I hope both parties will seize, and the United States will do its part. And it has always been reassuring to have the strong support of Minister Fischer and his government.

Minister Fischer travels through the region on a fairly regular basis, and I've always welcomed his council and advice on these matters, and I know that I will continue to receive that in the months ahead.

So Joschka, once again, welcome.


It's a great pleasure for me this nice morning to be here in Washington. And, first of all, I want to congratulate my colleague, Colin Powell, to his very important and impressive speech about the Middle East peace progress yesterday. I think this is a very important initiative, and we are ready to cooperate and to give any support, as the Federate Republic of Germany, as Europe, to go ahead with the peace process.

The situation in the Middle East is very complicated, but I think the United States is in the driver seat. First, the speech of the president in the General Assembly, I think, was also very, very important and now the speech of Colin Powell. We are very happy about the positive response of Arab leaders and of the Israeli prime minister.

Secondly, we are talking about Afghanistan. We are looking forward now for the meeting of the U.N. with Afghan leaders to form a transitional government. We will very closely cooperate here with the U.N., and I think it's very important to push forward now and speed up the political process.

And we are, of course, in close cooperation with all of our allies, especially with the United States and the United Nations, with the international aid community, to push forward very important international aid for the Afghan people. Humanitarian aid is very important.

We talked also about the summit between the two presidents of the United States and Russia and the relations between the West and NATO and Russia.

So it was, all in all, a very fruitful and successful discussion.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Minister Fischer, you said Germany will cooperate very closely. There's a report that you will host that meeting. Can you confirm that Germany is the site for the parties -- the multiparty meeting?

FISCHER: Yes, I can confirm that. Before the meeting with Colin, I had a phone call with Mr. Brahimi, and he informed me about the decision of the U.N. to have this meeting in Berlin, and we are very happy about that.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, what do you think about the Israeli government's decision to build permanent housing in Hebron after your call for an end to settlements yesterday?

POWELL: Well, we have always had a position that these settlements are a disturbing and destabilizing factor in our pursuit for a solution to the Middle East crisis. And the position I state yesterday was a reaffirmation of the United States position. And I hope, in due course, as we get into the Mitchell committee report, the issue of settlements will be dealt between -- the two sides will deal with this issue once and for all.

You will recall that the Mitchell committee report requires the end of all settlement activity. Both sides have signed up to that report, and it is one of the confidence-building measures they will have to deal with once we get into the cease-fire and then out of the cease-fire and into the Mitchell report, which will be a continuation, of course, of a state of non-belligerency. QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you tell us what the U.S. position is on seven days of quiet before confidence-building measures would be implemented?

POWELL: My only concern right now is to get the meetings going between the two committees with General Zinni's assistance, and that will happen, and the two sides can then discuss the conditions and circumstances on which they move forward, so I don't really have to talk at this point to the seven-day issue.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, this morning you mentioned in the opening of the reconstruction conference, you mentioned setting up a steering committee and then an implementation committee. Why should people not look at this as just more committees being set up? What's actually going to come out of this meeting this morning?

And for Foreign Minister Fischer, what specifically does the German government plan to do in terms of reconstruction and also in terms of your hosting of this meeting next week?

POWELL: We thought it was important to get started on the reconstruction effort, and so we brought representative of ministries from around the world to Washington to form a steering group to start to make plans with respect to what's going to be needed. It's not just another committee. Committees are how you bring people together, and then you pass the hat.

And you can be sure that this is the beginning of a process. There will be other meetings. The Japanese will be hosting meetings. And as we go down this process to more senior-level meetings, we will get concrete contributions in terms of money and other resources that will be needed by the Afghan people to rebuild their society.

FISCHER: Well, to answer your question, first of all, reconstruction is not an easy thing. It must be well-organized. It's not only the declaration of a political world to reconstruct the country. We made the experience in the Balkans that it must be well- organized. And by the way, now, we had the election in Kosovo, very successful outcome. We had the change of the Constitution in Macedonia, very successful outcome. We had successes in the reconstruction.

So I think the Balkans is a very good example that things must be well-organized, and Germany is fully committed to that on the international level but also on the bilateral level. The chancellor announced that we are ready for a substantial contribution and a sustainable contribution not only a short-term perspective. And I think this is our responsibility as the antiterror coalition that we will help, in a sustainable way, the Afghan people.

And the second question is very easy. We are glad and honored to be the host for this meeting. And what we can do, we will contribute, but not here by public announcement, but with the close cooperation with Mr. Brahimi and the Afghan...

HEMMER: Take your pick of topics there. The secretary of state meeting with the German foreign minister in Washington, talking about the Middle East, talking about the future for Afghanistan. The news item in that briefing, the German foreign minister confirming at this time next week in Berlin, Germany will play host to the different Afghan leaders to forge forward with the possibilities of future government on the ground there in Kabul.

At the State Department, Andrea Koppel joins us now live.

Andrea, sorry about that.

Start with Middle East. Based on this speech yesterday, what reaction gauged thus far, given the fact that it's 24 hours later now?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thus far, Bill, at least the State Department's interpretation of the reaction from the Israelis and the Palestinians who has been relatively positive one. Both sides seeing and hearing some of what they wanted to hear from the administration. In particular, the Israelis hearing Secretary Powell yesterday point out that there must be a hundred percent effort on part of the Palestinian leader to end the violence, and that the violence must come to end immediately to get the talks going.

The Palestinians hearing Secretary Powell refer a couple of time to immediate end of Israeli occupation of the West Bank in Gaza. That a very important part for the Palestinians.

So at the moment, it appears that both sides are reacting quite well to this speech, but it remains to be seen in the days and weeks ahead whether or not what Secretary Powell announce already actually have any impact on the ground, Bill.

HEMMER: Got it. Andrea, hang on one second. The secretary of state back at the microphone now. We will listen and if see if there's anything relevant.

POWELL: ... $25 million for the capture of Osama bin Laden, and the legal paperwork is being accomplished, but that's our position.

Thank you.

HEMMER: Talking more about the bounty, 25 million announced yesterday from Donald Rumsfeld, leaflets being dropped from the sky.

Back on the ground in Afghanistan, Andrea, if you tell us, what are you picking up in terms of a future government in Afghanistan, knowing now this meeting will take place possibly on Monday of next week in Berlin?

KOPPEL Well, what we are hearing right now, Bill, it's still somewhat unclear as to exactly who the representatives will be at that Berlin meeting, which could take place even as soon as this weekend. What we know is that the former president of Afghanistan, of the Islamic republic of Afghanistan, Mr. Rabini, has said that he will send a representative to the meeting, he, of course, being the president of the United Front, which has control of Kabul right now. So that was an important development. But it's still unclear as to who might represent the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, the Pashtun majority there.

But at the moment, the United Nations quite confident that this meeting will happen, will happen in Berlin, and will be at least the first step toward developing what the international community and the Afghan people say they need and want quite quickly, and that would be broad-based transitional government in Afghanistan -- Bill.

HEMMER: Thanks for hanging out, Andrea Koppel at the State Department. Many thanks, Andrea.




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