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Powell Addresses Reporters

Aired December 16, 2001 - 08:32   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.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Secretary of State Colin Powell.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE OF THE UNITED STATES: ... military forces, but I can't ignore the possibility that he might not be. He might have gotten out. But as the president has said, wherever he is, we will get him; whether it takes one day, one week, two years, he will be brought to justice.

It's important to note, though, that the Taliban is finished and al Qaeda is in the process of being finished off in Afghanistan, but our work is not done. There are lots of al Qaeda cells around that we have to go after throughout the world.

QUESTION: So why was General Zinni recalled from the Middle East?

POWELL: I brought General Zinni back to consult with him on the situation. He's been out there for three weeks. It was always our intention to bring him back for consultations sometime around the Christmas period. And in light of the developments of recent days, it seemed appropriate to bring him back.

We have to take a look at what both sides have done, make an assessment. But he has not been taken off the case. He has not been taken off the mission. He remains the special envoy. And I hope that after our consultations, and if circumstances seem appropriate, we'll certainly send him back to continue his work.

So he hasn't failed. The parties right now have not been able to reach a point where we can start the kinds of conversations that I was hoping to get started with General Zinni.

QUESTION: Do you think Yasser Arafat is no longer the leader there, or what is his ...

POWELL: It's not for me to make him a leader or not a leader. The Palestinian people see him as a leader, and he is the recognized head of the Palestinian Authority. And so we will work with him. And I will continue to talk to Chairman Arafat and General Zinni and my colleagues in the State Department and our consul general in Jerusalem, Mr. Schlicker will continue to talk to Chairman Arafat. We can't give up. We can't walk away. The stakes are too high. And so we will continue to do everything we can, as we have in the past, to get a dialogue going that will lead to a cease-fire, and from a cease-fire to negotiations that will allow these two peoples to live side-by-side in peace. Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Secretary of State Colin Powell. An exit interview, if you will, after having done "Meet the Press" at NBC Studios in Washington, talking about the Middle East, the mission of Mr. Zinni and the situation vis-a-vis Israel and Yasser Arafat.

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