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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Powell, Robertson Brief Press

Aired February 20, 2003 - 09:39   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We need to go to Secretary of State Powell, who is making a statement that we'd like to pay attention to for one moment.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: ... outcome, and I know that the Turks are pleased and we are certainly pleased. It shows the vitality of the alliance and how we can find solutions to the most vexing difficult problems. But what you need to find in such solutions is a good leader, and George Robertson is such a good leader. I thank him again for the hard work he and his staff put into this effort.

I also briefed the secretary general on where we are with respect to Iraq and other issues. We also talked about Afghanistan, noting the work that has been done there over the past year-plus in putting a society in a country and a government back together and the continuing need there is now and will be for military presence in the form of not only OEF, Operation Enduring Freedom forces, but the International Security Assistance Force.

And we noted that perhaps NATO can play a more active role as an alliance and not just member-nations of the alliance participating in ISAF. And so, in the weeks ahead we'll be exploring with Lord Robertson and his staff how best to accomplish this, and I'm very pleased that NATO is willing to play this more forward-leaning role. And it's, once again, a sign of the vitality of the alliance and the continuing relevance of the alliance.

And so, George, it's a great pleasure to welcome you here, sir, and I invite you to say a word.

LORD GEORGE ROBERTSON, SECRETARY GENERAL OF NATO: Thanks very much, Colin.

It's good to be here in the State Department, and I like compliments and praise as much as anybody in politics or out of politics. But I want to place on record my thanks to you and to your people, both here and in Brussels for the efforts that they put in; and, indeed, to those of the other nations who were determined to find a solution.

After some pretty tough talking and some strong opinions being raised, we got a result on Sunday night -- late Sunday night, and we made a decision that led to a deployment yesterday of the protective measures for Turkey and within a week the AWACS planes that defended America after the 11th of September will be flying over Turkey, defending another ally under threat.

That's what the alliance is about; strong and powerful in defense of the common interests and common values that we stand for, and assuring everybody in the United States that the transatlantic link remains as strong as possible, that we can repair any damage to NATO's public reputation quite easily by the comments that are made and especially the needs that are done.

As you say, Colin, Afghanistan is an area where NATO is now helping Germany and the Netherlands to mount the International Security Assistance Force, helping to bring peace and stability to that troubled part of the world, and the countries that are there just now, the Netherlands and Germany and to be followed on by Canada, are looking for more NATO support, and that's something that the alliance will look to because we're interested in stability.

And, of course, Afghanistan has been for too long an exporter of trouble, instability, drugs and trafficking. And if we can help to reduce that threat to the whole of Europe, then NATO will play its part and do it strongly too.

Thank you very much.

POWELL: Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is the aid package for Turkey still at an impasse? Has there been any given on either side since we last saw you?

POWELL: Well, as you know, we spent a lot of time over the weekend with our Turkish colleagues. I was with them till midnight last Thursday night. Then the president saw them on Friday. And then I reaffirmed to them yesterday morning in a phone call to the prime minister that our position was firm with respect to the kind of assistance we could provide with respect to the level. There may be some other creative things we can do, but the level was our ceiling. And I know that they are in consultation now within their government, within their council of ministers, and I expect to hear back from them before the day is out. But I have nothing further to report.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, when do you expect a second resolution to be put forward? Roughly what shape do you think it will take? And will it set any explicit deadline for Iraqi compliance?

POWELL: We are in close consultation with our friends in the Security Council and other nations around the world about continued Iraqi noncompliance with 1441. There was an article in the paper this morning that illustrated once again that they will take process and convert process into the way of avoiding their obligations under 1441 and we view this with great seriousness. It's the case we made last Monday at the United Nations that what is wanted is compliance and not necessarily more inspectors or more monitoring because Iraq knows how to thwart those kinds of efforts. And in the absence of such compliance, we believe that it is appropriate to put down a resolution in the very near future. I can't tell you exactly when we will do it, but it is not going to be in the far distant future, but within the near future. And I think I will not discuss what the elements of the resolution will be until I've completed the consultation with our friends, and the same goes with respect to any time lines associated with the resolution.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, have you heard from Dr. Blix on what he's asking of the Iraqi's, vis-a-vis, the Al Samoud 2 missile and other components related to it?

POWELL: No, I haven't heard anything today. As you know, the Al Samoud, as he identified it and the components such as engines and test stands and casting machinery and casting chambers and things of that nature are all prohibited items. You're not suppose to have them. And they're in the process, I think, of being positively identified and tagged. And I will await to see whether Dr. Blix directs Iraq to take any action with respect to those specific items, but I haven't heard anything today.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, as you know better than the rest of us, right now the U.S. does not have the nine votes that would be necessary to pass a resolution. Is it a definite that the U.S. will submit a resolution even if you think you don't have the votes? And how do you intend to win over at least nine if not more members of the Security Council to persuade them that Iraq is not in compliance?

POWELL: Well, there's no resolution down, so whether we have the votes or not is something of an academic question. We still believe that a resolution is appropriate.

We're working on such a resolution. And we don't put a resolution down unless we intend to fight for that resolution, unless we believe we can make the case that a resolution is appropriate. And when we put a resolution down, we will then convey the argument to all the members of the Security Council as to why it is a proper resolution to support, and I hope we'll be able to achieve the support needed to pass it.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, today in the paper some representatives of smaller countries on the Security Council are saying they actually wish they weren't in those seats right now because of the extreme pressure that the U.S. and other people are putting on. What can you say to that? And I'm also interested in whether you agree with Lord Robertson that the sort of breaks and tensions in NATO can be easily overcome?

POWELL: With respect to the latter part of your question, I certainly do agree with George. I've been around this business for many years, and I don't know how many times I have gone through: wither NATO; the end of NATO; what comes next; the Warsaw Pact has gone away, why hasn't NATO. And voila, it's still here.

And I remember when I was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all the Russian generals would say to me, "Well, we got rid of the Warsaw Pact, when are you going to get rid of NATO?" So how can we get rid of an organization where people keep applying to join? And so, it has gone from the 16 nations that we had, heading now to 26 nations, and it's a vibrant alliance which can deal with the kinds of problems that it just dealt with.

And it continues to be the single -- the single organization that links the trans-Atlantic community, North America with Europe, and it will continue to have value far into the future. And these problems come, they get dealt with by democratic nations working together, and they get put behind us and the alliance continues to move forward.

With respect to the elected members of the Security Council, there are always tough issues before the council. All I ask of each of these nations is to weigh the facts, weigh the evidence, read Resolution 1441 again, and come to a considered judgment when it's time to vote.

I believe that we should put trust in these countries, whether they are big or small. They all have sovereign rights to decide. We present our case. We don't threaten, we don't suggest that blackmail is in order. We present our case. And hopefully, the power of our argument will persuade them to vote with us. But there are always difficult issues before the council and this certainly is one of them.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you tell us what you expect to get out of the trip to Asia this coming weekend? How long after that do you think there might be a meeting with the North Koreans? And do you have a response to these articles of late that suggest that by not traveling more that you're somehow abdicating the job there?

POWELL: Yes, I have found that interesting over the period of the last 10 days.

Just for the record, I took 16 trips last year, 41 countries, and I also receive a large number of visitors here. So I think I'm on the road a bit.

But I ultimately have to make a judgment of where my time should be spent. I'm principal foreign policy adviser to the president, and so I have to spend a goodly part of my time with the president. But I also have responsibilities to travel, and I do that.

But through the power of modern technology, the use of e-mail and telephones, that is another way to be in touch with the world without only living in an airplane to do so.

So I think I have a right balance between phone diplomacy, diplomacy here in Washington and diplomacy on the road.

With respect to the trip coming up, I'm looking forward to conversations in Japan to thank them for the strong support that they have provided to the United States in a number of areas, but especially with respect to the Iraq crisis.

In China, I look forward to discussions with Foreign Minister Tang and other leaders. This, I think, will be the fifth time that I have met with Foreign Minister Tang in the last seven weeks, which I think is some evidence that we are in touch with our colleagues around the world.

And certainly the situation in North Korea will be a subject of considerable interest and discussion, but I cannot say to you now that we have found a way to arrange a meeting -- a multilateral meeting to consider the North Korean situation. But the United States and China does have a shared view that the North Korean nuclear program is not acceptable and that the Korean Peninsula must not have nuclear weapons, and that is a position that President Bush and President Jiang Zemin took publicly when President Jiang Zemin visited Crawford.

And then, of course, I think the highlight of the trip will be the inauguration of President Roh in Seoul next Tuesday, and I'm very much looking forward to returning to Seoul for that occasion.

Thank you very much.

ROBERTSON: Thank you.

ZAHN: ... those of you just joining us, that was Secretary of State Powell and NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson bringing us up to date on some of the things they talked about.

On the issue of Turkey, the secretary of state was asked if the aid package was at an impasse. About all the secretary of state would say, that there are some "creative things" -- quote -- that we can do.

We don't know exactly what that might lead to, and on the issue of a second resolution being offered by Great Britain and the United States, about all the secretary of state would commit to is the fact that it would be offered in the near future, and he would not confirm whether it would be an explicit deadline for Iraqi compliance. And finally, both Lord Robertson and Secretary of State Powell pointed to what they called the vitality and the relevance of NATO, and said any damage done to the reputation of NATO over the last couple weeks can quite, in their words, be easily overcome.

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