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Secretary of State Powell Meets with President Verhofstadt of Belgium.

Aired December 19, 2001 - 14:49   ET


WOODRUFF: We're interrupting that report to move quickly to the State Department. Secretary of State Colin Powell has just met with the E.U. President Verhofstadt of Belgium.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: ... with whom I've worked closely on a number of issues. We spent our time this afternoon talking about the situation in the Middle East. I'm very pleased that the position of the European Union and the United States are so closely aligned. We both remain committed to the Mitchell process as a way of getting to negotiations between the two sides on the basis of U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338.

We took note of the speech that Chairman Arafat gave earlier this week and we are united in our encouragement to Chairman Arafat to implement the actions that were called for in his speech in order to get the violence down to a point where we can begin serious discussions toward a cease-fire.

We are also united in our desire to do everything we can and to encourage others to do all they can to ease the plight of the Palestinian people, who are existing in very, very difficult circumstances.

And so it's a pleasure to have the prime minister and the high representative here again, and I'm pleased that we have such a commonality of views on the Middle East, and I look forward to working with the European Union even more closely on this issue in the days and months ahead.

We have not given up hope. There are some optimistic elements in the equation. There are some conversations taking place between security officials on the two sides.

POWELL: General Zinni will be here in the State Department tomorrow for consultations, and he remains on the case, on the job, and we will look forward for an opportunity to send General Zinni back to the region to continue to pursue the quest for a cease-fire, negotiations and peace.

Mr. Prime Minister?

VERHOFSTADT: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

First of all, I want to underline, after this fruitful discussion of today, that there is a common position of the United States and the European Union about the situation in the Middle East. I think very important was the speech -- the intervention of Mr. Arafat. And secondly, also, a few signs that it is going in a better direction, a few steps that they're going in a good direction.

And I think what I have underlined here is the absolute necessity that we continue to pressure both parties, but certainly Chairman Arafat, to go in implementing everything he has said in his speech. And I think that, with the good cooperation between the United States and the European Union, it's possible certainly to have new, better results in a short period of time.

So Mr. Solana is staying here in Washington to continue his work with our American friends and to further analyze the situation and to further ask from Chairman Arafat new steps, new efforts that can be the basis then for a relaunch of negotiations for a cease-fire in the near future.

QUESTION: Neither of you mentioned the war on terrorism at all, and that's where we usually go after these opening statements. Can you tell us what you discussed on this? And I'm sure that you would have had to get into what's next, with all the speculation swirling around, and also, along with that speculation, that the EU doesn't necessarily support what the U.S. wants to do next, whatever that may be.

POWELL: We did touch on the war on terrorism and the situation in Afghanistan at the end of our briefing and our discussions.

POWELL: Our real focus today, though, was on the Middle East. But we did note the fact that the military campaign is going well, and we are pleased that discussions seemed to be nearing a conclusion with respect to the International Security Assistance Force that is being prepared to go in. And we are hopeful that a U.N. resolution will be finished in the next day or so to authorize that force, all coming together so that the interim authority can take over this weekend.

We did not get into any details about what's next, because this really is a continuum of our activity. We're all working closely together to go after the financial infrastructure of terrorist organizations around the world, to chase Al Qaeda wherever it exists throughout the world, to make sure that we're sharing intelligence and law enforcement information with each other.

The European Union has been steadfast in its support of our efforts, and the European Union has been on the forefront in this campaign against terrorism, and I did express my appreciation for that continued support from the Union.

But we didn't talk about targets or where we're going next. We are all united in this campaign against terrorism, and there will be opportunities for cooperation and directing our efforts against targets as they come along in the future. QUESTION: General Musharraf is visiting China right now. Are you concerned if Pakistan joins the Shanghai Cooperation Organization?

POWELL: I know he is visiting Shanghai. I had a nice conversation with President Musharraf today, and I have no idea as to whether or not this is a serious consideration for him or not.

QUESTION: Did you tackle the question of knowing if it could possible to create a special team, a special force to implement the cease-fire in the Middle East? Did you tackle this question?

POWELL: We talked about the issue of monitors, not a force, but monitors. And as the United States has indicated previously, if both sides agree that the presence of monitors at some point will be useful, the United States will be willing to play a part in providing such monitors.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary, on Pakistan, could you talk about the cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan in terms of border control? And do you think that the -- such cooperation will continue as you try to question and prosecute Al Qaeda leaders?

And for the prime minister, if you could take the issue of extraditions and the death penalty -- obviously it keeps coming up, and do you think that cooperation with the U.S. can be reached on this?

POWELL: On the first question, the cooperation with Pakistan has been absolutely superb. I was able to, again, thank President Musharraf this morning for that cooperation in making sure that we work together, so that Al Qaeda leaders do not find refuge or find a way to escape through Pakistan. And the Pakistani military has been very cooperative and forthcoming in their work with General Franks and his team. And so we could not have asked for better support from the Pakistani government than we are receiving.

VERHOFSTADT: We are working on the topic that you have mentioned, you're examining the whole question. I can tell you that our whole action plan against terrorism was an action plan of more than 17 different actions is now -- we are now implementing it.

And I think that we have done big achievements. We have created European arrest warrant inside European Union. Inside European Union, our last summit, we have also make a common definition on terrorism. We have put together the first list for terrorist organizations, groups and persons. And on the freezing of assets, we have also putting together all the regulamentation (sic) that is necessary.

So I think that at this moment, we have really implemented, I think, 80 to 90 percent of the whole action plan that was put together. And I think that in the fight against terrorism, the European Union has done everything what is necessary.

As you know, a huge number of European countries are also candidate to participate in the security force in Afghanistan. We hope that we could reach a resolution of the Security Council, now, Friday, the fastest as possible. And I think that things are going in good direction.

So what we need now is peace in the Middle East, if possible, and there we are working together. And the best way to reach that, I think, is a very common, firm cooperation between United States, European Union, moderate Arab countries, Russian Federation and the United Nations. And that is the reason why I'm here, to work on it and to have this common approach and common policy.

POWELL: Thank you.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell?

WOODRUFF: Secretary Powell, meeting with the prime minister of Belgium, Verhofstadt, and his -- who also happens to be right now the president of the European Union. Just quickly, they talked primarily about the Middle East, their common approach to the Middle East.

We did hear Secretary Powell say that the United States is looking for an opportunity to get General Zinni back into the region as a potential mediator. And we also heard Powell saying that they are seeing some positive signs. He also said the U.S. is prepared to send in monitors if they would be needed, American monitors.




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