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Powell and Foreign Minister of Spain Hold Press Conference

Aired April 10, 2002 - 12:07   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We take you live now to Madrid, Spain, where Secretary of State Colin Powell has gotten together with the foreign minister of Spain. They are about to address reporters and leaders alike.


JOSEP PIQUE, SPANISH FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): ... short press conference where we don't have much time, so at the most we have 15 minutes. And immediately after, Mr. Solana will be joining us in order to give another press conference devoted to the bilateral elements of the relationship between the United States and the European Union.

So in this first part, I would ask you to please focus your questions on the bilateral relations between the United States and Spain, and specifically on what we have just done. That is to say, the signing of the protocol of amendment to the Agreement on Defense Cooperation between the United States of America and Spain and the Declaration of Principles for enhanced cooperation in matters of defense equipment and industry.

If you will allow me, I would like to make a very short introductory comment, to later give the floor to Secretary Powell. I think that what we have just done, signing the protocol of amendment, is a wonderful example of the excellent relations between our two countries, between the United States and Spain.

Slightly over a year ago, both governments signed a political statement that intended to be a qualitative step in the relations between the United States and Spain, that it was to be comprehensive, all-encompassing, including the political dialogue; cooperation in every area, industrial, cultural, defense, technological, against organized crime, against terrorism; and that enabled us to build a truly privileged relationship between our two countries.

Shortly after one year, we have achieved it, I think we can say now, and both sides are very satisfied with having met our goals. The revision of the defense cooperation agreement was already established as a priority, and that statement has undergone very intense negotiations, but in a wonderful spirit, with a wonderful spirit, as is proper to countries with such great relations as ours.

The results are truly very positive. And I would like to underline the Spanish government's satisfaction, my appreciation to the negotiating teams who have done a wonderful job, and in addition, not only to the members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but also to the members of the Spanish Ministry of Defense and, most especially, Minister Trillo for his extraordinary cooperation so that this agreement has come into fruition.

You all know the terms of the agreement. It was presented during the press conference after it was approved by the cabinet and also in a joint appearance by the minister of defense and myself last Monday afternoon.

So without -- it's not a question of going into details now, but I did want to underscore how pleased we are with the signature of this amendment, which gives a framework of strengthened cooperation and certainty and which lays the foundations for other fields of cooperation.

With this, I give the floor to Secretary Powell.


COLIN POWELL, SECY. OF STATE: ... Minister, let me also express my pleasure at the signing of these two documents, the protocol of the Agreement on Defense Cooperation as well as the Declaration of Principles.

I think both of these documents show the deepening of the relationship between the United States and Spain, a relationship that was strong to begin with, one that the United States treasures, one that President Bush appreciates.

It was also manifested in the strong support we have received from Spain in the campaign against terrorism and the support that the Spanish government has given us in every imaginable way since the tragic events of the 11th of September of last year.

I also want to express my thanks and admiration to both teams of negotiators, all the negotiators who worked on this over the past year and did such a terrific job. And we have much to be appreciative of from your efforts.

I also want to express my thanks to the Spanish government for hosting the ministerial meeting today between the United States and the European Union. And you'll hear more about that in a few moments from the minister and my colleague -- our colleague, Javier Solana.

And I also want to thank Minister Pique for hosting the very important meeting we had early this morning with Secretary General Kofi Annan and with the European Union and with the Russian Federation in the United States, which I believe produced an important declaration with respect to the situation in the Middle East.

So my thanks to you, and I share the pleasure that you expressed on these two new agreements. PIQUE: Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, since you left Washington, Prime Minister Sharon has said that it would be a tragic mistake if you were to meet Chairman Arafat, and there's been another suicide bombing.

Do you feel that your mission is now in jeopardy? And are you willing to make the kind of long-term commitment to mediation that seems essential, if you're to succeed?

(UNKNOWN): Excuse me. Let me say that you have to wait because we have very few time. So we have to avoid questions on the...


POWELL: One, I think my mission is not in the least in jeopardy. I am going to Jerusalem tomorrow evening. I look forward to my meetings with the Israeli leaders on Friday.

And I believe it is important for me to meet with Chairman Arafat. He's the leader of the Palestinian people, and I think the Palestinian people and the Arab leaders with whom I've met over the last several days believe that he is the partner that Israel will have to deal with at some point -- he and the other leaders of the Palestinian Authority.

The reality is that no other Palestinian leader, or for that matter Arab leader, is prepared to engage as a partner until Mr. Arafat has had a chance to express his views to me and to others.

And so, I hope that there will be no difficulties in arranging a meeting with Chairman Arafat. And I think if we are going to move forward, such a meeting is appropriate and important.

QUESTION: Can I follow that up quickly, please?

Mr. Secretary, you've made reference several times in the last few days to other Palestinian leaders. Will there be other Palestinian leaders at the meeting in addition to Mr. Arafat, and is that at the U.S.'s request?

POWELL: I don't know who else might be there. We haven't arranged that meeting yet. But other Palestinian leaders, I hope, are able to meet with Mr. Arafat today. I don't have a report of that meeting, but that was our expectation for today.

QUESTION: But none scheduled with you?

POWELL: I have not yet arranged my schedule.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, on the same subject, Prime Minister Sharon has just issued -- has asked the United States not to push Israel too hard for an immediate withdrawal. He said, "I hope they know that Israel is struggling for its survival." What is your response to that?

POWELL: I think the president has spoken clearly. We understand the difficult situation that Israel finds itself in. But we believe that the best way to relieve this tension, the best way to move forward and provide a solution to the crisis that we find ourselves in is for withdrawal of Israeli forces. And the president has been reinforcing that point of view every day.

QUESTION (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): The ministers of foreign affairs and of defense explained at Congress that, for the first time, the agreement includes cooperation between both Spanish and American intelligence services in order to fight international terrorism.

The Spanish minister of defense told me that this was going to be regulated, that these operations, this cooperation was going to be regulated. But I would like to know the U.S. secretary of state's view on how this cooperation is going to occur in Spain.

POWELL: The purpose of these agreements is mutual cooperation. So everything we might do in any of the areas covered by the agreement will be joint efforts, mutually agreed upon, and working in the spirit of cooperation that has developed in recent years.

PIQUE: If you'll permit me.


PIQUE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): These operations -- and the minister of defense and myself explained this at parliament very clearly -- that, as the secretary of state has stated very clearly, are done together with the Spanish security forces and with full respect of our sovereignty and under the responsibility of Spanish authorities. But after this action, this has to be regulated.

But this is, for the first time, submitted to the parliament. It's submitted, but it has been going on for many years now, and when I say many years, I mean many years.

So I think it's a good thing that both sides, especially the Spanish side, have made this effort of transparency, of openness, vis- a-vis the parliament. The regulation is going to include the operations, the procedures to be followed. That for obvious security reasons, it is not in order for them to be open to the public, but that there should be parliamentary procedures that guarantee and safeguard the necessary security aspect.

More questions?

QUESTION: If there were to be United States military action against Iraq, on its own or with allies, how important would the Spanish bases be? What percentage, say, of flights might use the Spanish bases?

POWELL: We have no military plans before the president at this time with respect to Iraq. And so I don't think it'll be useful to speculate on how any such operation would be conducted.

The president has received no recommendation from his advisers, neither me nor the secretary of defense forces operations, and therefore it would not be appropriate to even speculate about such operational details.

PHILLIPS: Spain's Foreign Minister Josep Pique and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell wrapping up a joint news conference there in Madrid, Spain, as Secretary of State Colin Powell gets ready to head to Jerusalem.





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