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Powell, Solana Press Briefing

Aired April 20, 2004 - 09:33   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. You know, we have been talking about Colin Powell, who is outside the State Department taking questions from some of the journalists out there. Let's listen in to a little bit of what he has to say.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: And the concerns that he has I am sure that we can address. The concerns that others have expressed I think we can address.

The fact of the matter is the president is absolutely committed to his June 24th, 2002 speech. The creation of a Palestinian state; that is our commitment. We have not stepped away from that.

We have to face the realities on the ground and what we have to take a look at it is not just the disappointment of the moment but the fact that, for the first time in decades, that which has been asked for is going to happen: the removal of settlements, the removal of settlements from Gaza, some from the West Bank.

And that is the beginning of a process. And the president has stated repeatedly that as the process goes forward, it has to be consistent with the road map and all final settlement issues have to be mutually agreed upon by the parties.

But, you know, for years we have been trying to move forward while ignoring the realities on the ground. And what the president did last week in an exchange of letters with Prime Minister Sharon, we are going to move forward in a way consistent with the road map, removing settlements finally but consistent with the current realities on the ground. And we decided it was time to explicitly talk about these current realities on the ground and use that as a way to go forward, not a way to go backwards.

JAVIER SOLANA, SECRETARY-GENERAL, COUNCIL OF THE EU: Secretary, very briefly. I would like to say three things.

First, it's fundamental that we continue saying that the final arrangements correspond to the negotiation of the parties. The final state of negotiation belongs to them and it's very important that we keep on saying that.

Second, it's very important that the quartet meets and, as is going to take place, and analyze the situation and then give a push in that direction. Thirdly, it's very important that we get the withdrawal of Gaza right this time. And we are ready from the European point of view to cooperate on that.

But I think we put the three things together, the insistence on the final state of negotiations, on the road map and the quartet meeting, and ultimately the withdrawal of Gaza, we may give the momentum which is needed to move the process forward.

QUESTION: How could you say that the U.S. position has not changed when the president, this administration are publicly taking the Israeli position on settlements? ]

We're not talking about Gaza. Nobody is disagreeing with Gaza. The problem is the West Bank and East Jerusalem; there are four major settlements that house over 100,000 Israeli settlers. And the U.S. position is pro-Israel on that.

And the right of refugees, how can you say this will not jeopardize or influence the final status solution? I mean, you're publicly endorsing the Israeli position.

POWELL: The president said nothing about what settlements should remain. The president said that we are taking note of the fact that the settlements are coming out of Gaza, four are coming out of the West Bank in the north. It's the beginning of a process.

Every previous negotiation recognized that as a result of population changes and other changes on the ground, adjustments would be appropriate and necessary in due course to find a solution. And the parties have to mutually agree to these adjustments. It all rests on the agreement of the two parties and that's what the president has said.

But he says to the parties we must recognize that these adjustments will be required because of the changes that have taken place. And he has not endorsed any particular outcome at this point because the outcome has to be mutually agreed upon by the parties.

QUESTION: On Cyprus, still there are four days to go and don't you think it's their right for the Turkish-Cypriots to know what to expect if a no comes from the north?

POWELL: Our concentration right now is doing everything we can to get a yes. I think it is possible to get a yes. I think that, as both Greek and Turkey examine the terms of the plan that the secretary general has put forth, they will come to the realization that it is in the interest of both parties to vote yes. And that's what we're focusing on, not any consequences of a no vote or split vote of any kind.

O'BRIEN: That was Secretary of State Colin Powell. He's at a joint news conference with Javier Solana, the secretary-general of the Council of the EU, outside the State Department. They are making some comments, taking some questions. Many of the questions, as you heard, really regarding what the president's actions recently, after his meeting with Ariel Sharon in Israel and some sort of angry questions from some journalists there.


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