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Powell Speaks to Reporters

Aired November 12, 2003 - 14:19   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. A little bit of breaking news to tell you about. Secretary of State Colin Powell at the State Department having spent a little time with the Mexican foreign minister is talking with reporters. Let's listen.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: ... 24 individuals who are representing all the people of Iraq. We will continue to move forward with our reconstruction efforts.

As Ambassador Bremer briefed us this morning, the power situation is improving, the export of oil is increasing in terms of the quantities being exported and the revenue being generated.

Many other things are happening within the economy and within the society that are positive.

At the same time, we candidly took a look at the security situation. It's a difficult situation. But we are confident that our commanders will get on top of it and our intelligence experts will be able to penetrate these remnants of the old regime who are trying to destroy the hopes and aspirations of the Iraqi people.

We had good discussions on the political process of how to move forward and put in place a system that will return sovereignty -- a process that will lead to a system and a means of returning sovereignty to the Iraqi people as soon as possible.

Ambassador Bremer will be returning to Iraq to share these ideas and respond to the ideas that were presented by the governing council.

And when decisions have been made, they will be duly announced.

With respect to migration, we have been very candid in our discussions. There are some issues that we think we can achieve some success on in the not-too-distant future that don't involve legislation.

But we don't want to have a high level of expectation that can't be met. And so what Secretary Derbez and I agreed to with our colleagues in other departments in other departments is that let's not lose the vision that our two presidents have.

We know that our people are looking for progress. So, let's now work hard in the months ahead to achieve the steps that you're talking about. And it's a strong message that Secretary Derbez just conveyed to President Bush.

POWELL: And we will be doing everything we can to get the easy steps taken care of as soon as we can, while we work with Congress to get a more permanent set of steps put before us that we can consider and see if we can agree to between both nations and make sure that these are steps that our legislatures will also agree to.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, despite progress in reconstruction, there are still reports that the Iraqis are losing faith in the occupation forces and that this may be leading to -- this may embolden the remnants that are attacking U.S. forces. What's your assessment of the faith in U.S. occupation forces?

POWELL: And there are reports also that the Iraqi people have faith in what's going on. They see the improvement in their lives. And they want us to stay until such time as they are able to reassume full sovereignty over their country.

There will be ups and downs in attitudes and feelings. But our position is clear. We will remain long enough to make sure that the Iraqi people have the opportunity to put in place a government that is democratic, that will live in peace with its neighbors, that will use its oil revenues to benefit its people and not to threaten its neighbors.

And when that day arrives, when Iraqis are prepared to resume full control, you can be sure that we will end the role of the Coalition Provisional Authority and return to normal relations with the new Iraqi state.

And so, this is the time for perseverance. It's a time for patience. The president is as determined as he was at the beginning of this effort to make sure that the Iraqi people have a state they can be proud of and the international community can be proud of.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, you mentioned the ideas that were brought by Ambassador Bremer from the Iraqi Governing Council. But what can you tell us about a certain dissatisfaction within this administration with the work that's being done on the ground by the Iraqi Governing Council and any ideas that are being discussed -- put forward by yourself or others in the president's Cabinet -- for accelerating the pace of political reform and perhaps even putting forward an Afghan-like interim leader?

POWELL: We're looking at all sorts of ideas. And we do want to accelerate the pace of reform.

POWELL: We want to accelerate our work with respect to putting a legal basis under the new Iraqi government.

And we are doing everything we can to get the governing council equipped with what they need in the way of staff, what they need in the way of procedures, in order to do the job that they want to do and we want them to do.

This is a difficult work that we are at. To take 24 individuals, put them together and give them this kind of responsibility requires patience, as they develop patterns of work and patterns of operation, as they staff themselves for these important responsibilities.

And so we are committed to the governing council and we intend to help them in every way that we can.

The specific ideas that were discussed, or what might come out of that, let's just wait and see how that develops after Ambassador Bremer gets back and shares the ideas with the governing council.

QUESTION: A Mexican question, please.

Going back to the immigration agreement, if you could please elaborate on what concrete steps you are looking forward to. You know, a lot of advocacy groups...

O'BRIEN: With that, we'll leave the secretary of state's briefing as the subject matter moves on. The secretary of sate referring to the 24-member Iraqi Governing Council and how difficult it is to get a group of that size to move in a timely way with the December 15 deadline out there for the institution of a constitution.

The concern is that a 24-member governing council may not be able to pull that all together, requiring a degree of patience. Colin Powell, secretary of State, having spoken with Mexico's foreign minister addressing issues related to Iraq.


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