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Secretary of State Talks to Press About Bombings in Israel

Aired May 8, 2002 - 11:48   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.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Want to take you live now to the State Department, in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Powell talking about the latest bombings in Israel.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: ... all of the visitors we've had here and the consultations we've had with the European Union, with the United Nations, with the United Kingdom, with Crown Prince Abdullah and King Abdullah, who is here today, and many other figures. We are gathering all the different ideas that are out there. We continue to move forward.

We continue to look at ways to reform the Palestinian Authority. And we look at ways to bring hope to the Palestinian people through economic development and humanitarian efforts. And we look forward to security activity that Mr. Tenet will be pushing forward next week when he goes over -- whenever he goes over. I expect it'll be next week. So that remains our agenda.

And it also remains part of our agenda to look at a political way to go forward. And we're gathering all the ideas as to how we can do all of that.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, the Israelis are saying that the United States now agrees with them, that a prerequisite to political talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians must be the overhaul of the Palestinian Authority. This is what officials are saying who are traveling with Sharon on the way back. Is that correct?

POWELL: We talked about the need to see reform within the Palestinian Authority. And we'll be discussing this with the Palestinian leaders and various elements of the Palestinian Authority in the days ahead.

But we didn't get into any detailed discussions of what might be a precondition for something else.

I think reform is essential. We heard both the president and the prime minister speak about that strongly yesterday, and we have spoken about it at other times.

But at the same time, I think we also have to consider the humanitarian part of it, the economic part of it and the political dialogue.

And we know what the prime minister thinks, and we'll certainly be taking his thoughts into consideration with the thoughts and views of many others as we go forward.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, but how relevant can Arafat be now? He failed to prevent the two attacks yesterday, and yet Prime Minister Sharon is going to go back and have to -- have to work on this political process, saying that Arafat should be made irrelevant. Did yesterday's events affect your view on whether Arafat is still relevant?

POWELL: Yesterday's events were troubling, and every time one of these events happen, it takes us off a course that we were on for a while, but I think it's a course that, ultimately, we have to get back to, because no matter how many military operations one conducts or how many suicide bombs are delivered, at the end of the day, we have to find a political solution.

And I recognize how difficult it is with some of the parties who are there, some of the leaders who are out there and with this kind of violence and with responses that will come and acts of self-defense. But at the same time, we cannot lose sight of the reality that a political solution, ultimately, is what will be required to bring this long-running crisis to an end.

Thank you.

KAGAN: Some comments there and answering some questions from Secretary of State Colin Powell, in light of the latest suicide bombing taking place in Israel, the secretary of state calling the latest events troubling, taking us off course for a while, but he says it simply comes down to the simple point that in the end, it is a course that we must get back to, and saying that a political solution is the only thing that will lead to peace and calm in the Middle East.

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