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Powell, Annan Hold Joint News Conference

Aired August 21, 2003 - 09:50   ET


COLIN POWELL, SECY. OF STATE: ... spoke to the secretary general this morning. We reaffirmed that they will not succeed.

The United Nations remains committed, the coalition remains committed, the United States certainly remains committed to stay in Iraq and to make sure that the promise that has been brought to Iraq by the elimination of the Hussein regime will be achieve, will be made available to every Iraqi citizen.

I am very pleased that the secretary general reaffirmed that the United Nations would be staying in Baghdad and we will be working with United Nations representatives in Baghdad on security matters. We want the humanitarian workers and other workers in Iraq -- the construction workers and others -- to have a safe environment. It's a challenging environment, but we'll work closely with the United Nations to make sure that they can perform their work in as safe environment as is possible considering the circumstances.

We're pleased with the progress made in Liberia so far. We see this morning that the head of the transitional government has been named and are pleased that the United States was able to play a role with ECOWAS, and I'd like to congratulate the secretary general for his efforts as well as the ECOWAS leadership for their efforts in getting Mr. Taylor out of Monrovia and peacekeepers in and hope in as well.

The Middle East situation is challenging the international community once again today. And I call upon all of my colleagues in the Security Council of the U.N., other members of the international community, the members of the quartet, Arab nations to step up now and insist that the terror perpetrated by organizations such as Hamas must come to an end.

POWELL: Call on Chairman Arafat to work with Prime Minister Abbas and to make available to Prime Minister Abbas those security elements that are under his control, so that they can allow progress to be made on the road map, end terror, end this violence that just results in a further repetition of the cycle that we've seen so often. It has to end. The Palestinian people, the Israeli people deserve better. And those who are determined to develop the road map must not be allowed to succeed.

And you can be sure that the quartet, the United States, secretary general, as members of the quartet, will continue to move toward that end. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Sergio de Mello, can you say a few words about him? What he represented?

POWELL: I knew Mr. de Mello. Sergio was a wonderful human being. He was a dedicated international public servant. He took on this new mission wanting really to do something else. He wanted to continue his work at the Human Rights Commission. But he did it because a soldier, a soldier in the cause of peace.

And my heart goes out to his family and my heart goes out to the Brazilian people. I know that this has been a shock to them. I've spoken to the foreign minister of Brazil twice in the last 12 hours to convey our condolences and to do everything we can to make sure that Sergio is returned to his homeland with dignity and with honor.

QUESTION: (inaudible) encourage other member states to contribute troops to the security situation in Iraq?

POWELL: The secretary general and I spoke about whether other steps might be appropriate, and Ambassador Negroponte will be working with the secretary general's staff and my Security Council colleagues to see what language might be appropriate.

POWELL: We'll looking at, of course, reaffirming our determination to succeed in Iraq. We're looking forward to language that might call on member states to do more.

The president has always felt that the U.N. has a vital role to play and he has said that repeatedly. It is playing a vital role; that's what Sergio and his colleagues were doing. And so, we are now just exploring language with our Security Council colleagues.

QUESTION: Are you ready to assign authority over economic issues making to the U.N. in order to encourage participation?

POWELL: I've had no such request and I think there -- let's put one thing in mind: Some 30 nations are now participating; it is an international coalition. There are 22,000 troops there from these 30 nations. Five other nations are in the process of sending troops and 14 other nations are in conversation with the coalition on troop contributions. But perhaps additional language and a new resolution might encourage others.

Other issues with respect to the role the U.N. has to play, all of this can be discussed in the course of our negotiations on a resolution.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the Tuesday bombing in Jerusalem, the bomber came apparently from Ramallah. Would you now reconsider your position to the security fence Israel is building? And also, are we at the end of the road map as a result of the new violence?

POWELL: At the end of the road map is a cliff that both sides will fall off of. And so, we have to understand the consequences of the end of the road map. So it is not the end of the road map.

I believe both parties understand that a way has to be found to go forward. The alternative is what? Just more death and destruction, let the terrorists win, let those who have no interest in a Palestinian state win, let those who have no interest but killing innocent people win? No. That is not an acceptable outcome.

And I think both parties realize it and I think both sides should recommit themselves to finding a way forward.

With respect to the fence, we've spoken about the fence previously.

QUESTION: Are you comfortable with the idea of expanding U.N. mandate now in Iraq? And how difficult to get a consensus in the Security Council after the bitter legacy of this past winter?

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: No. I think the issue of Iraq is of great concern to everybody, regardless of the divisions that existed before the war. There are many who were against the war who are now coming together to help stabilize Iraq. And I think the stability of Iraq should be in everyone's interest. And this is why I would want to see everyone come together to help to stabilize Iraq and the region.

I think the question of U.N. mandate and the U.N. role, we have focused on economic and political reconstruction. And on the question of security, we have no intention of recommending U.N. blue helmets.

ANNAN: So really it's either a multinational force that oversees the security arrangements with the U.N., focusing on the economic, political and social areas where we do our best work, including the humanitarian aid.

QUESTION: Can you say a consensus of the Security Council on that given what happened over the winter?

ANNAN: I think it is possible. I think it is possible to get a consensus, but it'll take work. It will take consultations and negotiations, but I will not exclude it.

And I think, as I said, yes, there were divisions last winter. There were divisions before the war, but we all realize that it is urgent to help bring peace to Iraq, bring peace to the region. And an Iraq that is destabilized, an Iraq that is in chaos is not in the interest of the region or the world. And we do have a responsibility to ensure that.

POWELL: My conversations with a number of Security Council foreign ministers over the last several days reaffirmed to me that they were interested in moving forward and helping the Iraqi people.

And you talked about the disagreements over the winter, but during the spring and in the early summer we passed 1483, we passed 1500. So I think there is a willingness to come together to help the Iraq people. QUESTION: How risky do you think is it for the United Nations to be perceived in the Middle East as to be either too close to or identical with the United States?

And a question for the secretary of state, if I may: Secretary of State, to what extent are you still in synch with the rest of your administration over Iraq? And would you stay the course through a second term, if there is a second term for the Bush administration?


ANNAN: Let me say that the U.N., obviously, is its member states. The United Nations has to work with all the member states, including the U.S.

And I think one has to be careful not to confuse the U.N. with the U.S. The U.S. has its policy and the U.N. has its policy. I think this was demonstrated very clearly in the spring in the discussions leading to Iraq. Most people forget that the council did not to support the war in Iraq. The council took a different position. And that the U.N., working with the other member states, including the U.S., has been able to get a quite a lot here done in Iraq, as we speak today.

Sergio de Mello acted under the Security Council mandate and had an independent mandate, even though he cooperated very effectively with Mr. Bremer. But the U.N. mandate was clear, and what Mr. Bremer's mandate was was also clear, but they did cooperate. And I think even the Iraqis will tell you that they did see the difference, that even though they were cooperating, they were two separate organizations, as it were.

POWELL: The United States only has one foreign policy; it's the foreign policy enunciated by the president. I can assure you that I'm in synch with that foreign policy, in synch with the president.

I serve at the pleasure of the president. I no longer comment on idiotic summer stories.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is the United States willing to cede power in Iraq to the U.N. in order to get other countries to contribute troops?

POWELL: We have said along -- the president made it very clear many, many months ago -- that we want the U.N. to play a vital role. We believe it is playing a vital role.

The issue of ceding authority is not an issue that we have had to discuss this morning. We both understand the role being played.

The secretary general just spoke to the U.N. role. And we all understand what the coalition provisional authority is doing. 1483 and 1500 took account of that relationship, so I think we're on solid ground there. We also have taken note of the fact that we now have a governing council that has received acceptance in a number of quarters. And we hope that as the governing council, working with Ambassador Bremer, get more and more actively involved with the work of reconstruction and in assisting in the running of the ministries and are seen as representing the Iraqi people, that will give confidence to the Iraqi people and give confidence to the international community that we are on the way to making sure that a government is being formed that will represent all the Iraqi people and will be democratic.

And I hope that as we go into the fall more and more international organizations will come to recognize the role of the governing council and endorse that role.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there does seem to be great will to offer troops and more money to stabilize Iraq among Security Council members, even those who were opposed to the war, but not under coalition control. How do you propose to square that circle?

POWELL: We now have 30 nations, as I said, that have contributed 22,000 troops under coalition control. You have to have competent control of a large military organization; that's what the coalition brings and that's what U.S. leadership brings to the coalition.

Five other nations are in the process of making their final decisions to send troops, and we're talking with 14 others. So that is close to 45 or 50, or something like that.

POWELL: And so that is an international presence. There is an international presence. And we will continue to work with other nations who might be willing to make contributions.

And I don't think there is a problem. I think anybody making a contribution, a military contribution, sending their young men and women into harm's way, want them to be under solid, responsible, competent military leadership of the kind that is being provided by the coalition and the military component of the coalition under General Abizaid's command.

QUESTION: Mr. Powell, did the U.S. offer to provide more security to the U.N. and the U.N. turn that down?

POWELL: You mean in the -- previously?


POWELL: I've heard these stories, but I'm not aware of any facts related to those stories. I don't know.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

HEMMER: Powell and Kofi Annan at the U.N. headquarters here in New York City. A couple very interesting comments there offered by the secretary of state and the secretary general, talking of a possibility of calling on other member states. If you would get some sort of U.N. resolution for the operation in Iraq. A new resolution, Colin Powell says, may encourage others to join the international effort. Colin Powell said it a couple times there, 45-50 countries of being part of the operation right now.

Kofi Annan saying regardless of the past division, stability in Iraq is in everyone's interest. They are in lock-sync on that right now.


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