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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2001 > July

Remarks With British Secretary of State Of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jack Straw

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Press Availability
Washington, DC
July 11, 2001

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is a distinct pleasure for me to welcome British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to Washington. I am pleased to note that the Foreign Secretary has chosen Washington for his first overseas bilateral visit. This is an important comment on the crucial nature as well as the strength of the unique US-UK relationship.

I also want to pay special tribute at this time to the hard work and dedication of Foreign Secretary Straw's distinguished predecessor, Robin Cook, who I worked with very, very closely. Mr. Cook has been a valued partner and colleague, and I look forward to enjoying the same relationship with Foreign Secretary Straw.

We know Mr. Straw by reputation and for his impressive four-year tenure as Britain's Home Secretary in charge of justice matters. Mr. Straw is known as a tough-minded leader on British law and order issues, and I know that we will benefit from his experience in that field as he applies it to the difficult foreign policy challenges and opportunities that we will face in the future.

In our meeting so far today, the Foreign Secretary and I had the opportunity to discuss the current situation in the Balkans and especially in Macedonia. We reviewed our mutual efforts on Iraq and the Middle East. And I am sure over lunch we will have the opportunity to discuss many other issues, to include the future of NATO, missile defense, and ESDP, the European Security and Defense Policy and Program and Initiative.

The breadth of our dialogue, both before this meeting and at lunch, reflects the numerous areas of interest shared by the United States and the United Kingdom. As always, Britain's commitment to addressing such diverse areas of international concerns as the Balkans and the Middle East, to name but two, is deeply valued by me and my colleagues throughout the United States Government.

I know that the President shares this view and that he looks forward to his upcoming visit to the United Kingdom on July the 18th, where he will call on the Queen and meet with Prime Minister Blair.

And so, Jack, it is a great pleasure to welcome you here to the State Department for the first time, and I look forward to many, many future such meetings. Thank you, sir.

SECRETARY STRAW: Thank you. Mr. Secretary of State, sir, ladies and gentlemen, it is a real delight to be here on this, my first visit to the State Department as Foreign Secretary, and as Secretary of State Colin Powell has just said, my first bilateral visit, although as a result of our joint attendance at both the NATO Council in Brussels about four weeks ago and the Goteborg European Union-US Summit, I had been able to make the Secretary of State's acquaintance, and I am very grateful to him for the cooperation and assistance which I have received from him over the four and a half weeks in which I have been performing this office.

I am also grateful to you, Colin, for those very generous words about my predecessor and very old and close friend, Robin Cook. And I know that I have a lot to live up to in following in Robin's footsteps, who carried out his position as Foreign Secretary in the first Blair Government with very, very great distinction and very close relations with the United States.

As you have said, I spent the last four years as Home Secretary. Necessarily, that meant that most of my time was spent at home inside the United Kingdom, but I developed in that period very close relations, particularly with Janet Reno, the then-US Attorney General, on many issues of mutual concern, and we developed joint programs. And that gave me some insight into cooperation with the United States Government.

Of course today, in this new position, it is a very, very much bigger canvas. The United States and the United Kingdom have a uniquely close relationship, to pick up a phrase of our Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and I look forward very much to building on that relationship in the months and years ahead.

The Secretary of State has already given you an outline of the subjects which we have already discussed and are going to discuss over lunch. I am now very happy to take questions.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is your (inaudible). Do you have a Plan B for the Arab-Israeli conflict? Do you have a Plan B for rescue (inaudible) these foreign sanctions (inaudible)?

SECRETARY POWELL: With respect to the situation in the Middle East, the plan that is out there -- A, B and C -- is the Mitchell Report. The Mitchell Report gives us everything we need to move forward. It calls for a cessation of violence and hostility toward one another, it calls for confidence-building measures to restore trust and security cooperation, and it also leads to negotiations on final status. It is everything the party needs.

And the way to get started in the Mitchell Committee Report is to get the violence down to a level where both sides feel comfortable in moving forward. I continue to encourage both sides to work toward that end, and we hope that the Palestinian side will continue to make efforts to bring the violence under control and to assert control over those elements that are within the Palestinian Authority's domain and within the Palestinian movement. And we hope the Israeli side will avoid taking provocative acts that cause the situation to become unstable again, such as some of their settlement activities and such as the destroying of Palestinian homes.

This is the time for all sides to do everything they can to get the violence down, create conditions of calm so that there is every incentive to move forward and start the Mitchell Plan.

With respect to Iraq sanctions, the United Kingdom and the United States worked very, very closely to relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people with the smart sanctions, as it is called, regime that we put forward. We got 14 of the 15 members of the Security Council to support that effort, but we did not get Russia to support that effort.

And so we extended the existing sanction regime for another five months. The good news in that is that it stays in place, the sanctions regime. The revenue that the Iraqi Government gets will still go through the Oil-for-Food program for the most part. There is a little bit of leakage, as we all know. And we will continue to insist on controls of all items that might go toward the development of weapons of mass destruction. And during this five-month period, we will work with the frontline states and also work with Russia to see if we cannot find a way to square the circle where Russia will find that its interests are well served, and the interests of the people of Iraq, if not the regime of Iraq, are well served by a modification of the sanctions regime.

QUESTION: Thank you. As you know, China has (inaudible) for the care and feeding of the Navy Surveillance EP-3. The Pentagon says it cost up to $5.8 million to dismantle the plane and bring it home. It may cost another $40 million or $50 million to put it back in service or get a replacement.

I have a two-part question, sir. One, do you intend to pay the China bill, and if so, how much?

Two, would you send a separate bill to China to cover our expenses?

SECRETARY POWELL: All of that is under review at the Pentagon, and the Chinese have sent us a bill, and we have a different view of what the expenses should be. And I really do have to direct you to the Pentagon with respect to what they are negotiating with the Chinese with respect to the payment of the first bill, and judgments with respect to any additional bills that might be placed against the Chinese Government or additional bills they might try to place against us. So I have to divert that back over to the Pentagon for their answer.

QUESTION: I have a question for both Mr. Powell and for Mr. Straw. A few hours ago, the Hong Kong legislature voted to give China the right to fire the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. You met today with Mr. Tung Chee-Hwa, and I just wondered whether you believe that this in any way violates the agreement of the basic law that granted autonomy for 50 years to Hong Kong if it was absorbed by China?

SECRETARY STRAW: Well, I have not been briefed on this. I am happy to get you a response later on, but I doubt very much whether it would violate the basic law. We will have a look at it and let you have a response.

SECRETARY POWELL: I haven't been briefed either. I met with Mr. Tung earlier this morning, and the issue did not come up.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, in your meeting with Mr. Tung, what issues did you raise? Did you raise the issue of the Falun Gong and other human rights issues in Hong Kong? And how would you categorize Mr. Tung's response?

SECRETARY POWELL: We talked about human rights issues in general terms. I made the point clearly to him that in our relations with China we would always raise human rights issues with respect to individuals and movements that are trying to enjoy free expression and any constraints on that free expression. He understood my point. He gave me the position of their government. But these issues were discussed and raised -- were raised and discussed.

QUESTION: If I could ask you both about Macedonia. Speaking of Plan Bs, negotiations in Skopje seem to be looking rather dicey at the moment, and there are reports that the rebels are already rearming for a possible collapse.

Can you tell us your assessment of the situation there? And what is your Plan B should the negotiations collapse?

SECRETARY POWELL: We have always looked at this in two ways, both a political track and a security track. I am pleased, frankly, that the political track has shown quite a bit of movement in the last couple of weeks, after Mr. Leotard and Ambassador Pardew went to Macedonia and worked closely with the government.

Obviously, both sides are now staking out negotiating positions, but I think the framework that has been put down by Mr. Leotard and Mr. Pardew is a good framework. And I hope as they move forward in these negotiations, they will find common ground so that we can get a political agreement. Because on the security track side, NATO has made it clear that they are willing to come in under permissive circumstances to receive weapons that are being turned in. But that is as far as it goes right now.

I have not seen these particular reports you mentioned of rearming, and I hope that the NLA will understand that there is no military solution to this crisis. We have made the same point to the Macedonian Government, and the real answer -- the Plan A and Plan B -- has to be a political settlement, and that is what we are working hard to achieve.

SECRETARY STRAW: As the Secretary of State has indicated, the only way forward in Macedonia is through these negotiations. Now, it often happens in such situations of conflict that there are highs and lows in the negotiations. But currently, they are in a better position than I think many of us expected or feared two or three weeks ago.

Both sides, the Albanians and the Macedonian Slavs, have agreed as part of the peace process arrangements with the proposals from Badinter, the constitutional expert, that, first of all, constitutional, democratic systems of government are the only way forward; and secondly, and as importantly, that the territorial integrity of Macedonia has to be maintained. There can therefore be no redrawing of the boundaries.

I am very grateful, as I expressed to Secretary of State Colin Powell in our meeting, to the United States for them upgrading their efforts in Macedonia through Ambassador Pardew's appointment to work alongside the EU's Representative Leotard. And we continue to hope that this process will produce a satisfactory result. If and when it does, then the arrangements which the NATO Council have agreed can come into force, but only then.

Thank you.


SECRETARY STRAW: Thank you very much.

Released on July 11, 2001

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