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Powell Answers Reporters' Questions

Aired March 28, 2003 - 13:02   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The secretary of state, Colin Powell, is speaking to reporters, speaking about North Korea, but expected to answer questions as well.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: ... channels to see if we cannot begin such discussions. We're hard at work on it. Some suggest that we're distracted because of Iraq, but that's not the case. We're spending a great deal of time pursuing these diplomatic alternatives.

QUESTION: What is the formation of their multilateral talks? And how would you induce (ph) North Koreans into that talk?

POWELL: We are still exploring a variety of options and avenues. And the one thing I can assure you is that we'll be in the closest coordination and consultation with our South Korean friends as we go forward. I have nothing to announce or to say at this time about any particular format or forum.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, have you spoken with Foreign Minister Ivanov about your concerns that Russian firms are selling military- related items to Iraq?

POWELL: Yes, I have regularly. I spoke to Mr. Ivanov most recently I think two days ago, perhaps three. And as I think I've said before, I gave him additional information at that time which he is using with his various ministries to look into the matter and run it to ground. But I haven't spoken to him in the last two days.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, your Korean counterpart this morning suggested it may be time for a bold initiative along the lines of the Nixon administration's initiative toward China. Did that come up in your meeting? And what are you views on the utility of such a measure?

POWELL: We discussed a number of ideas. My colleague presented us with a road map of things that we might do with respect to the situation with North Korea. And I found it to be an interesting approach, which we will be examining. We also talked about other things we might do in preparation for the summit meeting later this spring when President Roh visits.

You will recall that when we started our dialogue with North Korea last year before the nuclear issue broke out into the open, we were thinking in terms of a bold initiative, something that would move this relationship between the nations in the region and North Korea onto a different plain in a way in which we could help North Korea with its economic problems, with problems of starvation and other difficulties they're having within their society.

And those kinds of ideas and options and the kind of ideas and options that the minister mentioned in his speech this morning are the table, it seems to me, once we deal with the issue of nuclear proliferation, proliferation of weapons and some of the other activities that are ongoing within North Korea with respect to their military expenditures.

I think a lot is out there waiting for North Korea once they realize their obligation to comply with the international agreements and bilateral agreements they have previously entered into with respect to nuclear weapons.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, regarding Iraq, are you considering to any degree a peaceful solution here now? And are there any contacts from the Arab side, especially Saudis regarding a peaceful solution about Iraq?

POWELL: We stay in close touch with our Arab friends in the region. I had a conversation with Foreign Minister Saud a couple of days ago. But I am not aware of any initiatives and I don't think any such initiative would be appropriate at this time.

Saddam Hussein was given his last chance. We now have a war under way and we will prosecute to its end, and that end will come in due course. Our commanders are confident and we are confident in them. And unfortunately, it was Saddam Hussein who brought this war upon himself and his regime. And he will be removed and so will his regime.

QUESTION: You said the United States has not made much progress on (inaudible) powers to come to a multilateral forum. Do you think the United States will be eventually successful for that?

POWELL: I didn't say we were not making much progress. You said we were not making much progress.


POWELL: We are hard at work with our friends in the region, and a number of contacts and discussions are under way.

And we will see what happens. I don't want to make any predictions or promises that I'm not able to keep at the moment.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, are you concerned by reports that Syria is also allowing people to move across its border into Iraq to fight against the coalition forces, and also that it may be not just allowing the Russian equipment in, but perhaps contributing other materiel to the effort?

POWELL: I'm sorry, I haven't seen those reports this morning, so I can't comment on them.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, given the present political mood, would you like to see the Powell Doctrine being implemented in the war in Iraq?

POWELL: I have absolute confidence in the commanders who are running this war. And who says it is not being implemented, whatever it is you describe it as? There's a clear political objective: disarm that country of its weapons of mass destruction. You have to do that by removal of the regime. You use decisive force to do it. I can assure you that's what those generals and admirals are over there doing. And I know it; I trained them.

Thank you.

BLITZER: All right. So that's the secretary of state, Colin Powell, speaking to reporters, answering questions, expressing full confidence in the way U.S. military commanders are conducting this war.


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